November flowers and vegetable love

Sage and Chaussette in happier times

Sage and Chaussette in happier times

As I write this, I’m sadly coming full circle to the beginning of my blog, which I’d started to help me grieve when Peri, the dog I’d had for thirteen years, became paralyzed and had to be put to sleep. I’d fallen into a dark place, feeling empty and lacerated, until I got my puppy Chaussette from a nearby farm. Her cheerful, inquisitive presence guided me out of the bleakness and helped keep me from falling back in when every job application I sent out over the summer either received a formulaic rejection letter or no response at all; it was incredibly difficult not to feel worthless.

Having Chaussette consoled me, though; I might not have been heading off to a full-time job with decent pay and benefits, but at least that meant I had more time to train my dog. She loved everyone, and every time I took her out in public, she would attract swarms of children and strangely intimate confidences from adults who came to pet her.

Now she’s dying. She’d begun having seizures when she was six months old, but they were brief, and she always bounced back within hours. I finally broke down and put her on Phenobarbital, and she had no seizures at all in August. In October, though, she began having them about once a week, and their severity was intensifying.

She still hasn’t fully recovered from her last episode in the wee hours of November 3. She seized off and on for almost two hours, and she was agitated the rest of the day; the next day, she kept having brief seizures several times an hour. I took her to the vet, and her prognosis isn’t good; she’s on potassium bromide now, but the vet cautioned me that puppies seizing this severely this young generally don’t make it very long, and that even if the potassium bromide works, it will eventually damage her pancreas.

I’m going to have to let go, and I know it, and it’s hard.

I know this isn’t a major problem in the context of world problems, not even a problem at all, really. But I refer you back to the entry I wrote about Peri, “My Heart Says Something Else,” in which I wrestled with the guilt over being distraught over a dog.

I’m mourning already, and I can’t stop myself.

But like so many people before me, I’m trying to find consolation in nature, and I’m finding it. Even on this bleak November day, there are flowers—I don’t know why, since the bees are long gone, but these are apparently floral optimists. I also found a carrot patch, spontaneously sown in spring and long neglected, which produced (unlike my more carefully tended raised bed carrot patch) a surprising abundance of fat, conveniently tapered carrots. Their impressive girth was especially gratifying since I hadn’t thinned them.

Flowers among the dead

Flowers among the dead

Most notable of my vegetable discoveries, though, were the Love Carrots. This pair, planted too close together, had entwined themselves around each other in what I can’t help seeing as a doomed but passionate embrace. I just find it inspiring that Shakespearean-level drama can transpire unnoticed beneath the soil and emerge into the light even in a bleak November.

I know where Chaussette will be buried, and I know that I will plant flowers on her grave, and I know that she will feed them. Like the flowers, like the carrots, she will defy death.

A doomed pair of carrots in their final passionate embrace

A doomed pair of carrots in their final passionate embrace



  1. I’m so sorry. All three of my dogs all ended up having seizures like that and eventually they don’t want to keep going through it. It’s hard to go through for all.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. If it’s not too hard for you, could you tell me if you put them to sleep and, if so, when and how you made the decision? The thing that breaks my heart is that Chaussette is so lively and inquisitive in between seizures; just when I think maybe she’s recovering, though, she has another episode. I’m struggling with when and how to draw the line. I’d be grateful for any advice you might have on the subject. In the meantime, I hope all’s well with you. Thanks again for writing to me! > Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2013 20:40:54 +0000 > To: >

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about Chaussette. My niece has a dog who is on that same path, and he’s become a member of the family after 10 years. Pets bring so much joy and comfort that it’s hard to let them go.

    1. Sad but true. One part of me knows that most of my fellow human beings–the ones who struggle to survive every day and the ones who have lost human loved ones–would be incredulous about grieving a dog, but the other part just can’t help it. What makes it even harder is that I’m constantly getting my hopes up, since Chaussette is so perky and full of life in between seizures, but just when I think the worst has passed, she has another episode. I can’t help thinking of Poe’s description of that same cycle of hope and despair he endured during the five years Virginia was suffering from TB. (Again, I know “beloved dog” and “beloved wife/cousin” aren’t in the same league, but the principle is similar.) I guess I’ll just have to keep living in the moment and try not to waste my energy with all this pre-grieving. In the meantime, I hope all’s well with you and that your students are proving themselves to be accomplished writers! > Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2013 20:46:19 +0000 > To: >

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