Friday Firesmith – Lilith Anne the Muttress of All the Magnolias

Lilith and I meeting in 2012

Lilith Anne began slowing down a couple of years ago. The decline was almost unnoticeable, but one day, she doubled back to the house instead of following me and the rest of the pack into the woods, as we would do when I got home. It was on these daily trips Lilith would bring me a magnolia leaf she had found. Always a magnolia, and she would never hand it over until we were back at the house. I stopped getting leaves from her. She stopped running and playing with the other dogs, and this too was a slow process. 

Lilith has never been one to get her feet wet or go out into the rain, but she started peeing on the deck instead of going into the yard, and then one day, she peed in the house. Mobility decreased slowly, but in the last six months, things began to simply fall apart. 

A fungal skin infection refused to respond to treatment, and I was bathing her every other day. She stopped eating. When she could no longer get on the bed I would help her up, and then I started helping her down. Finally, Lilith stopped wanting to get on the bed, and then she stopped getting on the sofa. The two dog beds we had in the house, one in the living room and the other in my bedroom, became all the exercise Lilith could handle, going from one to the other. 

Lilith, the Bringer of Magnolia Leaves

Last month, Lilith stopped pooping and was in a great deal of discomfort. I took her to the vet’s and expected the worst. They did ex-rays and found a pinched nerve in her back that was making pooping painful and difficult. A host of medications to address this issue, as well as a UTI, and a little hope was what they gave us. In two weeks, the vet said, she might be better. Not would be better, not will be better, but might be. Maybe. I was given two weeks more with my dog, and I knew it. 

Lilith didn’t respond well to the meds. She peed on herself now, while she was walking, or sleeping. We tried putting diapers on her with limited success. But Lilith no longer had any quality of life. She ate when it was tuna or cooked eggs, but her mobility was almost gone. Two days before I was supposed to take her back in I called them and scheduled Lilith to be put to sleep. 

When we arrived the cheerful woman at the desk stopped smiling. She looked at the screen and looked at me. “Yes sir, we’ll get Lilith in immediately.” 

They took Lilith in, put a port in her right front leg, and she and I lay on the floor alone together for thirty minutes, saying goodbye, getting her ears petted, and letting her know she was loved. The vet came in, told me to take all the time we needed, but Lilith was tired, she hurt, and she wanted to go. 

As I held her head in my hand, the first injection eased Lilith into sleep. The next stopped her heart. I held her as long as I could, then I let Lilith go. 

She’s buried under some young magnolia trees in the woods. 

Take Care,

Mike

Lilith at the end

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

32 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Lilith Anne the Muttress of All the Magnolias”

    • Chef, I always wondered what your real name was. You’ve given us some great material. Thanks! But no heaven would be a heaven without unconditional love. I got twelve years of that from Lilith Anne, and a lot of magnolia leaves, too.

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  1. Having had to put down too many dogs, I have found that it is never a decision that I take lightly. I do know that I have a duty to sit with my dogs and let them die knowing that they are not alone. They always seem to know that it is time to let go and go on to their next adventure, but it has never been easy for me. We put down our last dog, Max, about two months ago and he will be the last as we are both in our upper seventies. I miss him every day…

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    • Richard, I’m hitting that age I have to think about my pets outliving me, and what to do if that happens. But letting a pet go without me sitting there with him, or her, is unthinkable. They have to know I am there in death, as I am in life. why anyone would allow someone they love to die alone is not something I understand.

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  2. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve been there and I know it ias best for the beloved pet and the worst for us. Bless you for doing what was right for her.

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  3. “When you think your dog has died, it has just fallen asleep in your heart. And by the way, it is wagging it’s tail madly, you see, and that’s why your chest hurts so much and you cry all the time. Who would not cry with a happy dog wagging its tail in their chest. Ouch! Wap wap wap wap wap, that hurts. But they only wag when they wake up. That’s when they say: “Thanks Boss! Thanks for a warm place to sleep and always next to your heart, the best place.”
    Mike, I’ll email the rest.

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  4. I’m so sorry, Mike. This is one of the hardest and most painful decisions we have to make. But, according to a vet, there is never a good time to do so. There’s only “too soon” and “too late”. And of the two, “too soon” is better.

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    • Martha, I agonized over what to do when Lilith was at the vet’s two weeks earlier. But had I acted then, would I have forever wondered if the meds would have worked? But now, I wonder if I caused Lilith to suffer for those two weeks. There is so much to consider, and at the end of the day, only the heart can say. I wish I had acted sooner, but….. Thank you for your words of kindness. At this point in time, they are needed.

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    • John, she was just a puppy. Lilith had endless energy, wore her brother Lucas out, and he was three times her size. She would race around the property as if she would live forever. She just didn’t.

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  5. I thank you for sharing the Magnolia Queen of Hickory Head with us. I know your pain all to well. I’m so sorry. She was such a beautiful, sweet girl.
    I know it’s the hardest thing to do, yet it is the kindest as well. I keep telling myself that. I always stay with my dogs too, I hold them and pet them too. I don’t want them to be alone at the end. I want them to know how much I love them. I wish I did believe in Heaven, I’d love to think my girls are all playing together waiting for me to bring them treats. (As if that’s where I’m going)
    It’s really not fair that they don’t live long.

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  6. As far as our dogs outliving us and wondering what would happen, too many of them wind up at the pound with zero chance of being adopted. It is either live out their lives at the pound or be put to death. That is it…and that is why I have started living without a furry friend.

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    • Richard, if I never had a reason to hate Christmas, that’s when a lot of people turn their old dogs into the pound so they can get puppies. Worse, in two months, those same puppies are surrendered to the pounds because they same people can’t handle the new energy. I think Jessica might be my last dog. She will live another six years or so and after that, I think my heart can’t take this sort of loss anymore.

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    • Hi Scoakat, Lilith had a lot of fans. Throughout the years, her adventures with Lucas The Loki Mutt, and the Magnolia leaves were fun to write about, and read about. In the end, we all knew it would end like this, and here we are. Damn.

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  7. Damn Mike. It seems my partner is chopping onions. Looking at the same maybe this Friday for my cat of 12 years. Will toss one down for Lilith and you. It will be a joy to cross that rainbow bridge myself. Peace sir.

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    • Brian, I had a few the day after Lilith was gone. It seemed odd to wait at the door and not hear her nails slowly clicking across the deck. In the morning I didn’t have to make her breakfast, or try to get Lilith to eat, and her bed lay empty in the corner of the room. No more meds, no more checking to see if she needed to go out, no more of the things that seemed to be a part of her life. No more leaves. Thanks for your kind words.

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  8. We never know if we are doing right for our pets. I think when we wait too long, it’s often for us and not for them, but you had only her in mind. And now, you need to remember what a long and wonderful life she had. From what I’ve pictured from your writings, I can’t imagine a better home for any dog, especially a bigger one like Lilith. Think about some of the crazy or funny things she did or unique qualities she had. Anything that brings a smile to your face or soothing to your heart. Take care.

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    • Martha, Lilith was bonded with a large Weimaraner named Lucas. One day they were playing chase so Lilith leapt between me and the counter, thinking Lucas would stop, but he charged through, knocking me flat on the floor. I lay there, getting licked in the face by both dogs, head swimming, trying not to black out, and couldn’t breathe from all the attention they were giving me. No more zoomies in the house became a rule. But those two. When they were both alive life was never dull.

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  9. Mike: I am very sorry for your loss. It is never easy to lose a loved one–whether they have 2 legs or 4.

    A magnolia tree as a headstone seems very appropriate.

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    • Tim, things almost got weird. I was always going to bury Lilith next to Lucas, but his resting place is underwater right now. The Magnolia trees near Lilith’s grave seemed the best place. But we got eleven inches of rain two days ago. Had I waited until after that no dry spot on my property would have been found. I have no idea what I would have done.

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  10. Run in paradise, sweet little girl, free from pain, remember those you loved and know how much joy you gave them by just being you.

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  11. Oh, so hard to lose that furry family friend. Lilith knew love through the end. Helping her end come peacefully rather than selfishly keeping her here is a gift of love. I know you will miss her. Perhaps that is how Aqaba came to you– to help with your healing.

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  12. Lilith was a lucky girl to have found you to begin with.
    I may have said this before, but as the chief person responsible for taking the last 4 or 5 of our pets to be put down, I’m always amazed at both how easy and hard it is to do. Easy (quick) in that it only takes the shots and a couple of seconds – and they’re gone. Yet, so hard for us humans to process.
    Also, this: “Life is just a series of dogs”

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  13. 27 comments and mine 28; so many dog lovers touched by your story! Thanks for sharing. As for maybe letting her suffer for teo weeks, forget it. You did what you thought was the best for her at the time and that shows how much you loved her. 🐕

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