05 October 2007 by Published in: General musings 18 comments

Augie came to live with us in January 1996. He was just over six weeks old, and he weighed about 8 pounds. He was a gorgeous honey-colored golden retriever puppy. The breeder had nicknamed him Bubba because they thought it suited his personality. His mother was small, only about 50 pounds, and his father was a grand champion showdog.

Our first golden was named Caesar. It suited his personality. We decided to stay with the Roman emperor theme, so we named the new puppy Augustus, Emperor of Olde Orchard, which is the name of our neighborhood. We called him Augie for short, although the name Bubba stuck with him, and, because he was like a giant teddy bear, we also called him Bear. We got him because Caesar was very destructive during the day when we were at work because he was bored. We figured that if we got him a playmate, it would stop. And that’s exactly what happened. The two of them were attached at the hip from the moment we brought him home.

Augie grew into a 105 pound barrel chested guy. He was huge. He was also the only golden retriever I’ve ever seen with absolutely no interest whatsoever in retrieving. I think he figured it was beneath his imperial dignity.

Instead, what Augie wanted was to be loved. We sometimes called him Bubba the Love Sponge, not because of the idiot shock jock, but because he was like a sponge. He just sucked up the love. His favorite thing to do was to sit next to us on the couch, lean against one of us, and get loved. He would be in heaven. He was the embodiment of unconditional love.

He was a Stepford dog. There was nothing he hated more than being corrected, so we usually only had to tell him not to do something once, and that was that. He was big, gentle, sweet, and the most loving dog in the world. He was also a big fraidy cat. He would not go down the steps until he was almost six months old and 60 pounds. I used to have to carry him down. Finally, one weekend while I was off at Gettysburg, Susan and her mother coaxed him down the steps with bits of hot dog, and that resolved that.

He absolutely adored cold weather and snow. His favorite thing in the world was to lay out in the snow, just enjoying it. We used to refer to cool weather as bear weather. We found it very difficult to get him to come inside when it was bear weather. He just wanted to enjoy it. Another favorite thing of his, as you can tell from the photo, was sitting at the gate to our back yard, just watching the world go by.

Augie was a real Type-B personality. He was very laid back, and definitely a follower. However, when Caesar died, it fell upon him to become the pack leader, even though he wasn’t really suited to it. Other than his bad hayfever allergies, the cataract he developed in one eye, and the bad arthritis that he developed as he got older, we were always really lucky with him–he was always very healthy. He also got very hard of hearing as he got older, but Susan and I were both convinced that some of that was a convenient excuse not to come in out of the bear weather. He would just pretend he couldn’t hear us calling him. ๐Ÿ™‚

A couple of weeks ago, he suddenly lost interest in his food. He vomited, and there was grass in it. He’d had gastritis previously, so we figured maybe he was having another attack of gastritis. The next day, he was fine. He was eating, and drinking, and even playing a bit with Aurora and Nero. Everything seemed okay.

This morning, he ate his breakfast, and went outside. He seemed to be okay, so I went to work. When I got home from work, he was laying down, and he’d vomited again. I got the dogs outside, and he just lay down on the ground. That wasn’t like him at all. I brought him in and he wouldn’t eat. He just lay down. I got him to eat a cookie, but that didn’t stay down either. He was obviously in distress, and in my heart of hearts, I knew it was something serious. When I carried him out to the car, I could tell that he’d lost at least 10-15 pounds in the past few weeks, as he was much lighter than I’d remembered in a very long time.

We took him to the emergency vet clinic tonight–they’re open 24/7/365–and they told us what we feared the most. He had advanced cancer, and he was bleeding internally. They gave us two options: risky surgery and chemo that might have bought us six months, or putting him down. Neither Susan nor I could bear the thought of putting him through an ordeal like that at his advanced age, especially if it would only buy us a few months, and even then, nothing was certain. That left us with no option but to put him down.

They gave him an IV and hyrdrated him a bit, and he was up and walking and his tail was wagging, and for a few minutes, it was like he was okay again. But we knew it was temporary. We spent a few minutes with him, snuggling and petting and loving him, and then the vet came in, and he left us quietly, gently, and without suffering. As I would have expected of him, he went quietly into that good night. He just lay his head down and went to sleep. He’s now in heaven with Caesar and Cleo, young and healthy again.

We’ve now lost all three of our original pack of goldens. That’s now three of them in the last three years. Fortunately, Nero is 2 1/2 and Aurora 1 1/2, so hopefully, we’re going to get a break from this for a few years, because the pain is intense. I know we did the only thing we could for Augie, and I know it was truly merciful, but it is incredibly painful and incredibly difficult. I’m cried out and feeling emotionally drained just now. I’ve literally just lost a best friend, and it hurts. A lot.

I know I will see him again some day. For now, though, I miss him already. Sleep well, Augie. You’re missed by Susan, Nero, Aurora, and me. You will always be in our hearts.

Scridb filter


  1. Brooks Simpson
    Sat 06th Oct 2007 at 1:31 am

    Take care, all of you. My condolences.


  2. Craig A. Warren
    Sat 06th Oct 2007 at 1:57 am

    I’m very sorry to hear the news, Eric. Best wishes to you and your family.

  3. Rick Allen
    Sat 06th Oct 2007 at 7:18 am

    Eric, I’m very sorry for you loss, buddy.

    I never know what else to say, but trust me that I understand your pain.

    Rick Allen

  4. Art Bergeron
    Sat 06th Oct 2007 at 7:33 am

    Eric, the two of you have my deepest sympathies. Carol and I have two Shiloh Shepherds and know the love that our animal friends bring to a family.


  5. Sat 06th Oct 2007 at 9:34 am

    Thanks, guys. We really appreciate it. It’s hard.


  6. Duane
    Sat 06th Oct 2007 at 11:26 am


    3 years ago, my dad had to have his absolute best friend in the world, their dog of 14 yrs. put down. I know what we all felt like then, so I feel your pain. I still think of Sam quite often, but rather than doting on the fact that he’s not here anymore, I remember all the fun times we had together, the play-wrestling, the long walks he’d love me to take him on, the dead groundhogs (his trophies) that he’d bring home when he managed to sneak away and go hunting, and so forth. Pets are members of the family, and losing one is harder than a lot of people think, so I feel for you, my friend. I truly do!


  7. Rob Wick
    Sat 06th Oct 2007 at 11:52 am

    Wow, Eric. I know there will come a day when my little buddy will join yours and I do not even want to think about it. You and Susan have my condolences and thoughts.


  8. Bill Satterlee
    Sat 06th Oct 2007 at 1:09 pm

    I am so very sorry. I know your pain from our own losses.

  9. Sun 07th Oct 2007 at 9:38 am

    It’s very tough indeed. We’re blessed with the time we have them. Every one who has a favorite pet knows just how difficult it is to say goodbye, and everything changes once they’re gone.

    Auggie’s in a good place now. Like the ones I lost, just remember that one day his tail will wag again as he welcomes YOU home.

    That’s paradise.


  10. Mon 08th Oct 2007 at 8:44 am

    Praying for you buddy.

  11. Jim Epperson
    Mon 08th Oct 2007 at 10:06 am

    We had to put down our 14 year old Border Collie, Bobbie Lee (guess where that name came from!) several years ago, so I definitely appreciate your pain. Bobbie was going through serious organ failure and it was just her time to go to that great sheep pasture in the sky. We’ve had great luck with our Border Collies over the years.


  12. Nick
    Mon 08th Oct 2007 at 11:12 am

    My condolences. I went thru the same thing about 6 weeks ago.

  13. Sean Dail
    Mon 08th Oct 2007 at 12:13 pm

    I’m so sorry, Eric. I lost a beloved pet to lymphoma in May (after a couple of months of chemo), and I’m still not over it. I know what you’re going through.


  14. Axel
    Mon 08th Oct 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Hi Eric,

    i’m from Belgium and living right now in France and read as regular as possibe your blog. I wisgh to send you oru condolonces. It’s 10 days now when we lost our cat who stayed with us for 5,5 years. We know how it feels to lose a loved pet…

  15. Axel
    Mon 08th Oct 2007 at 3:27 pm

    our condolences, we lost our cat now ten days ago. We wish you strength…


    Axel (a belgian living in france and intrested in the civil war)

  16. Roy Archbell
    Tue 09th Oct 2007 at 8:28 am

    Our sympathy. You know we feel your loss. It is like losing a family member because they are family members. ๐Ÿ™ R&C

  17. Matt
    Wed 10th Oct 2007 at 12:42 am

    Very sorry for your loss(es). As steve allen said, “old men miss many dogs” (not that you are old of course), just too bad they don’t live longer.

    We lost our son 3 years ago, but his best buddy was his mut, who is now 15. He is really slow, and sometimes to sore to get up. Do they make doggie depends? I am dreading the day when we will go through what you and your wife did. Just know you are not alone.

  18. Thu 11th Oct 2007 at 9:05 am

    Thanks, everyone. It’s not been easy, but we’re moving ahead. The two younger dogs still miss Augie, and they’re still looking for him.

    We’re all hanging in there, and we’re alll doing okay. We apppreciate the concern.


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