My Dog Is Dying. Now What?

My family and I recently found out that our oldest and first dog, Cody has stage 3 kidney disease. 

He's dying. 

The doctor said dogs with his condition usually live for about 3-6 months.

I'm gutted. We all are.

I can’t stop thinking about a line in one of my favorite songs by the band Dawes. It’s called, "A little bit of everything."

It is about relationships, struggles and regret. It's about the endless and sometimes pointless attempt to explain away why we feel the things that we feel. Pain, joy, suffering, love and all the other emotions that make us so perfectly broken and so imperfectly human. 

The first part of the song is about a young man poised to jump off a bridge and end his life. A kind police officer is trying to talk him down. He asks the man why he wants to kill himself. This is what the man says...

Oh, it's a little bit of everything. 

It's the mountains. It's the fog.

It's the news at six o'clock.

It's the death of my first dog.

I cry every time I hear that song. 

That line about his first dog. It's so specific and simple and heartbreaking. 

The first time I heard that song was in 2013. We had Cody for a little over a year at that point. My kids were 11 and 7. If you count in dog years, Cody was probably around 9 or 10. They were all the same age. 

My three kids.

I was writing a dad blog called Out-Numbered at the time. I called it Out-Numbered because I had a wife and two daughters. I was the only guy in the house. 

When we started looking for a dog, there was never any question that we would get a boy dog. 

It just seemed natural. 

Because I was outnumbered, we joked that this dog would be my only son. My first-born son.

Finally, some balance. 

I wanted to say things like, "come here boy" or "let's go pal" or "who's a good boy?"

When we found Cody, he was the only puppy left in the litter. Nobody wanted him because he was too big. We didn't care about any of that stuff. We had seen pictures and we knew he was the one.

I couldn't wait to pick him up. I was a 40-year-old man about to get his first dog. A rite of passage. I was so excited to meet the little guy. 

When I held him for the first time, I dropped him on his head. To this day, my wife still takes jabs at me for that. 

We didn't tell the girls we were getting a puppy. 

It was a complete surprise when we brought him home. It was awesome. One of those rare moments as a parent that makes it seem like you're doing everything right. Mother and father of the year type stuff. There was no TikTok back then but if there were, I'd like to think that post would have had millions of views. 

The kids grew up with Cody. Cody grew up with them. 

Brother and sisters. 

Father and son.

I've heard people say, that as a parent, it's not your job to be a best friend to your kids. It's impossible to parent your best friend. It just doesn't work.

With Cody, I get both. I get to be a dad and a best friend.

My dog is my best friend.

I ask him every day, "who's a good boy?" He looks at me and I know he knows the answer.

He's such a good boy. 

My sweet baby boy is dying.

I'm not ready for this.


  1. This is beautiful. We just put my dog down 2 weeks ago. Preface ~ I had no interest in a dog. I was the “anti-pet”. Going through a rough patch in my life when my staff literally pushed me out of the door to see a litter of Shih Tzus. They were cute, sure, but the runt of the litter was staring at me as if telling me I needed her but didn’t know it, and she needed me. I ran to the cash machine and brought Pookie into my office where she spent the day. We hadn’t named her but everyone called her my little Pookie and it stuck. On the way home I stopped at a vet who was open, and then at Petco for a crate and supplies. Oh, and I hadn’t told the boys, who told me I was crazy, too much on my plate already, etc. but they fell in love with her as did everyone who met her. She lived a wonderful life and walked with me through my journey. Around Thanksgiving she was diagnosed with renal failure, diminished liver function and a large tumor which was untreatable on her foot. I’ve counseled patients and families on end of life issues but this was different. I was conflicted about whether I was keeping her alive for her or being selfish. Ultimately we made the decision. It was traumatic. We still come home and expect her to be waiting on her perch. I still go to dump the extra ice into her water bowl. It will take time. We all miss her but know she lived in the end through love.

  2. We lost our 10 year old Portuguese Water Dog to hemangiosarcoma in September 2023. We had been given less than one month when we found out and were able to add a wonderful 4 months with a spleen removal surgery. There was a small chance it would cure her, but it didn’t. We were told that she would be completely fine until a moment where she would collapse, and that’s exactly what happened. As expected it was beyond excruciating for me, my wife and kids but when the moment came, we weee all there beside her, letting her know that she was loved and that she was such a good girl. She was a loving companion, daughter, and best friend and we still miss her terribly every day.


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