Our Story

IMG_4120One sunny Saturday morning in early June, my husband, Mike, and I wandered through the dog kennels at Woods Humane Society. When he turned left down an aisle, I turned right and walked alone along a concrete pad lined with cages. The frantic barking made me feel a little anxious, a little sad.  

Mike and I knew we wanted a medium-sized dog, so I kept that in mind as I went down the aisle.

Chihuahua. Chihuahua. Rottweiler. Chihuahua. Pit Bull. Chihuahua. Jack Russell. 

And then, there she was! A skinny cattle dog with a gray body and a black head.

“Oh sweetie,” I said, “look at you! Your head doesn’t even match your body! You look ridiculous!”

She didn’t bark and she didn’t back away. She just looked at me intently with bright brown intelligent eyes.

I knelt down and held my hand out. She leaned against the wall and gently sniffed me. I squeezed my fingers through the chain link and petted her neck. Such soft fur! Such big bat ears!

I smiled and stood up. “Mike! Come look at this one!”

While I waited for Mike to find us, I read the form on the front of her pen:

IMG_4119A few minutes later a shelter worker took Mike and me out to the play area. Trellis-soon-to-be-named-Kali grabbed a rope toy and threw it at Mike’s feet. He laughed and picked it up, tossing it across the yard. 

Kali tore off after the toy and trotted it right back to Mike. He tried to grab it out of her mouth but she wouldn’t let go.

“Drop it,” he said.

She did, and then she slowly backed away, never taking her eyes off the rope. 

Mike and I looked at each other. 

Kali Deley, 2000

Yep, she was the one!

While we filled out the adoption paperwork in the office, a shelter worker went to get Kali. I nervously looked out the window onto the courtyard between the kennel buildings. The young volunteer came around the corner with Kali prancing on a leash. She walked slightly sideways, her ears perked and eyes alert, her black tail with its white tip held high like a bushy flag. 

I had waited so long—since I was a teenager—to get my own dog. Here we were at last. I started crying.

Mike reached over and grabbed my hand while we waited for Kali to reach us.

This was the best day of my life.

Our euthanasia story

Time went by and eventually time caught up with us.

IMG_0055As she neared her 16th birthday, Kali’s kidneys started to fail, and then her heart, and then her poor little belly swelled up with fluid her heart could no longer pump, and then she started fainting, and then …..

And then it was time to make the most difficult decision of our lives. 

Was it time to put Kali down? 

Yes, of course. 

Yes, maybe. 

Yes, probably?

God it was awful not knowing for certain.

We wanted to say goodbye to Kali at home, so Mike made a few calls until he found a mobile vet that would come to our house. Her name was Blanche and she walked in and immediately went to Kali.

Dr. Blanche sat down on the floor next to Kali and gently stroked her. “Tell me more about her symptoms,” she said. 

We told her about the fainting and the weekly trips to the vet to drain the fluid from her abdomen. We listed her medications, which didn’t seem to make any difference. We admitted Kali didn’t move much anymore and lately had to be hand-fed. 

And then Blanche told us what we already knew but had not been facing:

IMG_0045“See how Kali just lays here,” Dr Blanche said, “ how she didn’t even look at me when I first walked in?”

We nodded our heads.

“But your other dog is curious, right? She showed interest in me, she wanted to know who is this stranger coming into her home?”


“And do you see how Kali can barely hold her head up?”


“That’s because holding her head up puts pressure on her windpipe because of the edema, and that makes it harder to breathe. So she keeps her head down,” Dr. Blanche said, gently petting Kali. “That’s no way to live. The poor baby is hurting.”

We knew she was right.

IMG_4269While Dr. Blanche readied the first syringe of sedative, we led Kali over to the pallet Mike had prepared for her. We sat on either side of her, and fed her small bits of liver to distract her.

Dr. Blanche looked up at me. “I need you to not cry right now,” she said. “Kali needs you to be strong so she’s not scared, okay?”

I blinked back the tears and whispered, “Alright.”

Mike reached over and grabbed my hand while we waited for Kali to leave us.

This was the worst day of my life.

I did what I always do when life hurts — I wrote my story. I talked to other Pet Parents and wrote their stories. I researched end-of-life pet care and wrote what I learned.

The result is my book, Saying Goodbye to Your Dear Dog. In honor of Kali, I’m here to support you when you need to make the most difficult decision for your pet — with love.