09 March 2006 by Published in: General News 12 comments

Yesterday was one of the most difficult and emotionally draining days of my life. After writing what was posted last night, I just kind of sat here on the couch like a zombie. I was emotionally and mentally exhausted and could not focus on anything. I finally decided to go to bed about 10:30, and couldn’t sleep. On one hand I was spent, but on the other hand, I was too keyed up to sleep. Fortunately, the other two dogs wanted lots of love and attention last night–they lost a loved one, too–and Nero spent the whole night in bed with us.

It was just as hard at work today, trying to get back into my normal routine and focusing on the business matters that require my attention during the daytime. I was partially successful, but I kept seeing poor little Cleo laying there, and it was hard to focus. I got done what I needed to do. My partners and our staff were all wonderful–supportive and understanding, which helped me get through the day. Tonight, I’m just too drained to even think about writing. It’s a quiet evening watching TV and surfing the Web.

The problem is that Nero, at 14 months of age, is a fountain of boundless energy. He constantly wants to play, and constantly wants attention, and without Cleo to keep him occupied, it falls on Susan and me. Augie is too old to keep up with him. It’s constant and it’s nonstop.

Several months ago, we had decided that if we lost one of the older dogs, we would get another puppy as quickly as possible so that Nero would have another dog very close to his age for a playmate. Then, when the other older dog passed, we would not get a third dog again, limiting ourselves to two from then on. Seeing Nero trying to get Augie to play and his relentless pursuit of us to play only reinforced our belief. So, I called Nero’s breeder last night to see if she knew any other breeders with a litter coming up, and she indicated that, unlike last year, not all of her puppies were spoken for, that she has a litter that is ready to go home on Monday, and that she had three little girls from that litter that were available for adoption. Their bloodlines are very, very similar to Nero’s, and they will actually be cousins of his. So, we decided to go ahead and take the plunge. Our new puppy will come home on Tuesday. We have to come with a name for her that’s consistent with our Roman emperor theme. That way we will have two dogs within a handful of days of being exactly a year apart in age, and that should give Susan, Augie, and me some relief, as Nero will have a new playmate for life.

At first, I thought it might be a bit unseemly to get another puppy so quickly, but life is all about timing, and when this opportunity presented itself, we just couldn’t allow it to go by. So, even though Cleo will only have been gone a week, we will already have another puppy. The new puppy could never replace her, and I don’t expect her to. She will be her own little angel, and we will take her on her own merits.

Of course, this also means housebreaking and very sharp little puppy teeth for the second time in a year. Our existing house has almost no carpeting. Nearly all of the floors are hardwood, with some tile. Only three rooms in the house (Susan’s office and the two spare bedrooms) are carpeted. None of the rooms where we spend the majority of our time are carpeted. So, if the puppy makes a mess it will be easy enough to clean up, whereas, if we wait until we move into the new house, it will have carpeting throughout. So, that’s another benefit to doing this now instead of waiting even longer.

I will always love and miss my Cleo. But, it’s time to move on. It’s time to live life and enjoy the company of the ones we still have.

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to pass along words of condolences. They meant a lot to both Susan and me, and they helped give me strength to face the world today. Even though I don’t actually know most of you personally–and only know you from the Internet–you are all in our prayers, and we are in all of your debt.

Scridb filter


  1. Dave Kelly
    Thu 09th Mar 2006 at 11:48 pm

    Anyone perverse enough to have a dog named Nero could have a mate named Agrippina. Make sure the new home is well fireproofed as they mayhap will burn it down on you (all in good fun ‘course) ;).

  2. Fri 10th Mar 2006 at 10:12 am


    LOL. I would be afraid of the conflagration. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Fri 10th Mar 2006 at 10:23 am

    Hey, cool – you could nickname her “Grippy” ๐Ÿ™‚

    Whatever you come up with will be unique, I’m sure. I have always loved the Roman theme to the names – that’s my bloodline. We’ve traced my family back to 15th century Rome and I always thought your choice of theme to be neat indeed.

    Tuesday will be a new start in the Wittenberg household…


  4. Fri 10th Mar 2006 at 11:55 am

    J. D.,

    It will indeed. We’re working on coming up with a name. We will decide this weekend.


  5. Russell Bonds
    Fri 10th Mar 2006 at 8:49 pm


    I really feel for you, having had to put down our beloved old Labrador a couple of years ago. Best wishes during a tough time. –Russ

  6. Fri 10th Mar 2006 at 11:27 pm

    Thanks, Russ. I really appreciate it.


  7. Charles Bowery
    Sat 11th Mar 2006 at 3:04 am

    Sorry to hear about your loss. Mary Ann and I have a Great Dane, and have decided to use the German general naming convention- the first is Frederick the Great, Fred for short. I put him in the acknowledgments for my first book, and can’t imagine life without him. I will be in a similar state when we lose him sometime down the road. It’s fascinating, the place that dogs occupy in our consciousness. Best wishes.

  8. Sat 11th Mar 2006 at 10:42 am

    Thanks, Charles. I really appreciate your kind words.


  9. Anne
    Sat 11th Mar 2006 at 11:33 am

    Eric – I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Having been through it myself twice in the last two years, I know how you must be feeling. Whilst new puppies never replace the recently lost friend, they can do an enormous amount to help the grief and they soon worm their way into your hearts.

    Best wishes for the new addition – and I hope you don’t get too many sleepless nights or puddles!


  10. Sat 11th Mar 2006 at 11:07 pm

    Thank you, Anne.


  11. Cindy Intravartolo
    Sun 12th Mar 2006 at 2:12 pm

    Dear Eric,

    I’ve been a silent observer of your web site for some time and only get to check it out about once a week. I am so sorry to learn about Cleo. Having worked in the veterinary profession for over 35 years, I applaud you and Susan for saying good-bye to Cleo unselfishly with dignity and love. All too often I see owners, whose pets are terminal and beyond hope, extend the lives of those animals and prolong their suffering needlessly because of their own selfish refusal to let go. Saying good-bye to Cleo and letting her go peacefully was the best gift you could have given her at that time in her life. Ben Hur Lampman once said, “The one good place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master,” and that is where Cleo will reside forever. Best of luck with the new puppy!

  12. Sun 12th Mar 2006 at 9:47 pm


    We knew it was the right thing to do, and there was never any hesitation. That said, it didn’t make it any less difficult for us to do so. We miss her, but we’re glad that she didn’t suffer.

    It’s nice to hear from you. I was sorry to miss you the last time that I spoke in Chicago. I hope you’re well, and thanks for writing.


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