If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans…

December 2003 I met my first baby girl.

I had been looking forward to wearing my new Will Woods’ Sgian Dubh with my kilt tonight (at the Friends of the Smokies’ Evergreen Ball) ever since Will and I first discussed the blade several years ago.  I was looking forward to watching the knife that Mike McCarter made and donated draw in bids at the auction (It sold for $250). As they say, “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”. My wife and I had to cancel at the last minute, our 14 year old Labrador – Billie Holiday passed away this evening.

from a couple of years ago…

I don’t know if she knew it was her “gettin’ up morning”, but see seemed normal enough at breakfast. I was at the venue for the Ball, helping set up, and later in the afternoon she was lying in my daughter’s room, intently watching us clean the guinea pig cage.

An hour later after I had showered and began to put my kilt on, my wife couldn’t get her to come to dinner. She was still lying in my daughters room. When we helped her up she could barely stand. We got her outside to pee, but she couldn’t walk back inside. I carried her to the living room, aware now the the gravity of the situation. My wife and kids gathered around and we all sat with her, petting, crying, and praying. Her breathing was very labored, but after about 20 minutes or so she suddenly seemed agitated. She struggled to get up, I helped her, and she stumbled the 10 feet or so to her kennel. She laid down on the dog-bed with a thud, and her breathing became shallow. She began to make some shallow gasps and in less than 10 minutes or so she was gone.

She was 14. Last weekend she went for a birthday hike with my son (and the rest of us) at a local Civil War fort. Only about a mile, but it was a nice day for a walk in the woods.

The last picture I have of Billie. Last weekend, at Fort Higley, on a sunny Tennessee afternoon.

A week prior she got to play in the snow one last time. She grew up in Idaho, where she used to plow through a snowbank as a puppy, disappearing completely, and bursting through to the other side. I had actually said a prayer a couple of months ago that she would get one more snow.

Now she is gone and things feel a bit emptier tonight. But I can’t think of a better final chapter to a 14 year journey. She died surrounded by the ones who loved her, at home, and literally when she decided it was time to go to her kennel and go to sleep. We should all be so lucky.

George Carlin once said, “Life is a series of dogs…” Billie was my first dog. My mom adopted one when I was in high school. But Billie was mine.

My kids will get another dog this summer I am sure. When they are in middle school I will get another hunting dog, probably a German Shorthair, as they are better suited to Tennessee.

Next summer we will take the kids out to Yellowstone and a visit to my wife’s and my old stomping grounds. We will dump Billie’s ashes in the South Fork of the Snake River, where she used to swim and play. It will be a good thing for all of us.

But I am done writing for tonight. It might be Monday before I am back to it. I need a night off tomorrow I think.

So I raise a dram of Laphroaig to my sweet Billie Holiday. God Bless The Puppy.


Related, and also because it makes me smile:


  1. TheStoic says:

    Sorry for your loss. As you mentioned at least she was with family, surrounded by love. Billie and your family will be in our family’s prayers tonight.

  2. DENNIS O'BRIEN says:

    Sure sounds like she led a full life and got just as much love as she gave. You’ll have her memorie forever. RIP Billie.

  3. There is no better wat6than surrounded by those you love and love you. You have the hard job now.

  4. Van hill says:

    What a nice tribute..they do become family

  5. Malcolm Aalders says:

    I am heart-broken. I love that dog so much. The life that you all gave her was beautiful, and her manner of passing was beautiful as well. I’m sure I’ll love the next generation of dog, but, Billie will always occupy a part of my heart.
    I’ll talk to you soon, and best of luck explaining death to the kids…I believe this is their first experience with it.
    Rest in Peace, Billie…the angels can scratch you behind the ears now.

    1. Aunt Helen was the first but at least for T not as personal.

      Your niece and nephew are holding up well.

  6. Michael Schoeneberger says:

    So sad, so sorry. Very tough to lose your dog

  7. Sam L. says:

    My wife wanted a dog, so we went out looking, and our little dog picked us. My condolences.

  8. tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    thanks for that.
    “help me to be the person that my dog thinks i am.”

  9. Pat Carver says:

    Such a sweet and sad story. Thanks for sharing. This quote always gives me some solace when we loose one of our fur babies.

    “It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.”

    1. Thank you for that. This morning has been rough. There is a gap in our school morning routine where we would normally be dealing with her.

      After a fairly smooth day yesterday I wasn’t ready to have the feels this bad this morning.

      1. Sam L. says:

        Nobody’s prepared for the feels. They either hit hard or ramp up, but then they start trickling away. Takes a while to notice the trickle; probably not until it’s mostly gone.

  10. Sean H. says:

    Wow, that broke me. Haven’t had a dog since my little 50 lbs lab cross “Maggie”died a few years ago. She was the joy of the 16 story apartment building I live in, the community dog you could say. When I had to put her down because of cancer, there was 11 people who came to witness and pet her in her last moments. I don’t know if I could do it again. She made it to 14.5 years.

  11. stuartb says:

    It’s a terrible thing to lose a friend. McThag (The abode of) just lost his too and paid tribute with a very touching poem by Kipling:


  12. Mike L. says:

    God Bless you and your family in your loss. I am convinced that these animals have a role with us in the next life. Trust you will get to meet her again.

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If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans…

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