In memory…

Four years now…

The day my dog Kilgore Trout died.

A lot has happened. Mostly for the good. As if Kilgore (and perhaps his older sister Casey) were watching over me and Kris. I’ll be announcing my next documentary in the coming weeks. Not another rock doc. This time I’m taking on a much weightier subject. I’m pretty sure Kilgore would approve. Perhaps he’s the one who led me in that direction.

I still think about him every day. I wish he were here to hang with Springsteen, who is in so many ways a baby Kilgore. I just wish he were here, period.

What follows (below the photo of my tattoo, and the shot of Kilgore which inspired it) is one of the best thing I feel I’ve ever written . . . certainly the most heartfelt. I present it again as originally written. Hug your pet, grab a box of tissues and read on . . .

My first tattoo (at the age of 50), placed so that Kilgore can peek out from under my shirt sleeve and still make me laugh.
Kilgore jumping. Casey is not amused.

A tumor the size of a grapefruit. I saw it on the x-ray, filling the space between his liver, his spleen, and his stomach. Perhaps encroaching on his lungs as well. Suffocating Kilgore Trout from the inside out.

At first we thought it was a reaction to Previcox. A drug given to him just about four weeks ago to help with his hips. He was having the worst time walking, this glorious pup who would jump, would bounce, like on a trampoline whenever he saw me.

(watch the clip that now opens my website as proof . . . t’s 45 seconds that will make you smile.)

At first the drug did wonders, until he stopped eating, starting vomiting. Side effects all, so many serious side effects. How could this fucking killer pill be on the market?

I am angry. I am seething. I know Previcox did not kill my dog, but it certainly didn’t help there in the end. A shot of Pepcid did for a while. But still the appetite nowhere near the vacuum cleaner-like enthusiasm with which he used to eat. Less and less every day. And the vomiting returned. Bile, from his mostly empty stomach.

More Pepcid. But it didn’t seem to help this time. Finally a trip to the vet. You could see it in her face as she checked him stomach. Perhaps we should get him x-rayed…now. The normally busy hospital would take us NOW.

So I dropped my wife at home so she could tend to our other dog, and drove Kilgore down to Central Hospital in New Haven. It was quick. He sat by my feet afterwards as I waited on word. The receptionist said the vet wanted to speak with me. She gave me the news. None of it good.

How long does he have? I asked. A few days, was the response. Or perhaps to the beginning of next week. (This was a Thursday.) The x-ray technician showed me the tumor. It was massive. All encompassing. There was nothing to do but make him comfortable during his last few days.

But a small meal of Kentucky Fried Chicken pulled from a breast was all he could manage. A few strips of it really. And a little water to follow. That would be his last meal. My dog who could eat anything and everything, from a full edition of the Sunday New York Times to financial magazines (he especially loved to “tear into” MONEY and KIPLINGER’S) to, well…anything he could find in the yard., gross or not.

Whenever I put a 12-pack of beer away, he’d wait patiently, then snatch the empty box as I pulled out the last beer and put it into the fridge. Then he’d play keep-away with it, or tug-of war. Or he’d lie right down and start ripping it to confetti. He especially loved Rolling Rock boxes.

But he could eat anything and everything, always without repercussion. Now, nothing…

He walked around on his own on Friday. Venturing out into the yard, up on the couch with a little help. He wagged his tail, but mostly slept a lot.

That night, Friday, what would be his last night (october 24), I slept on the couch with Mr. Trout. Well, he slept on the couch. I was mostly on the coffee table, but that was ok. He rested his chin on my leg, I scratched him behind his ear.

My wife and I kept asking anyone we knew…how would we know when it was time to put him to rest? Well, he told us.

Kilgore got up twice that night, went out into the yard, slowly, but surely. But then came the morning. Almost two days now without food or water. And when it came time for him to go outside, he made it through the door, but had to lie down after only a few steps. He couldn’t get up. We knew…

We had already made an appointment at the vet for Saturday morning. Originally for a check up to see if there was anything else we could do. But now I needed to call them, and change the appointment until late in the day. The last appointment of the day.

He couldn’t really walk, so I carried my friend out to my Jeep and laid him down in the back. And, the three of us took his final ride. My wife sat in the back with him, as I went into the vet office to make sure everything was ready. Then I carried him in and laid him on the table.

After a while the vet came in an asked if we were ready. No, how could anyone ever be ready? But I knew he was in pain, I knew he was so tired, and I certainly didn’t want that thing inside of him to burst.

He lay, as he always did at night, two paws straight out in front, his chin resting perfectly centered between them. I squatted down so that I was nose-to-nose with my friend. He never took his eyes off me as the doctor administered the drug that would put him to sleep.

When his eyes finally closed, I kissed his head. Something he so hated until a few weeks ago. I’d always do it at night, and he rub at the top of his head with his paws as if I’d given him cooties, or something. It was a ritual. But he was wagging tail. And in my heart I always believed he was perhaps embarrassed in front of the other dogs, like why was I kissing his head in public?

But this would be the last time I’d get to kiss the top of Kilgore’s head.

Goodnight, my sweet prince, perhaps one day we’ll meet up on the other side.




Kilgore at 8 weeks
Kilgore chewing on a Tab bottle as Casey investigates
Kilgore Trout



12 thoughts on “In memory…

  1. What a beautiful story about a beautiful dog. I feel the pain in your words and also the love. I wish you peace and love and hope you have found another companion not to replace Kilgore Trout but to continue the great love you have to share.

  2. Life is pleasant and death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome. I have this ‘event’ to look forward to five more times, and I don’t regret it one moment. No heaven will ever be Heaven, unless my pets are there to welcome me. I wouldn’t want to go any other place.. 🙂

  3. My girl has been diagnosed with renal failure and as a result I now have to administer an iv once a day……needles are one of my biggest fears but in order for her to have an appetite, I must do what I have to……she has given me years of love and devotion! She is my heart…….I soon will face the heartache!

  4. Your Kilgore is beautiful and your tribute to him is loving. I know this heartbreaking decision and hanging on to the last moments and missing them so much. My sympathy for you and those who loved Kilgore,

  5. I’m so very sorry for your loss. My lovely Lonely Girl has been missing since July 4th, 2012. I believe a neighbor has killed her though her body has never been found. It is difficult living in limbo. Holding onto hope, not wanting to let go. But where else could she be other than at heaven’s door? She’d come home if she could. Is someone holding her against her will? I can relate to your pain. Your heartache. Your loneliness. My heart goes out to you. I really don’t know how parents of missing children breathe in and out day after day, or sleep night after night. A slice of life is missing. If my Lonely girl is in that peaceful place with Kilgore Trout, I know they are best friends.

  6. Wonderful story. I had a trout, his name was Sandy, my 100+ lb baby. He had lung cancer – he was gone very quickly and like you, he told when it was time. I will miss him every day until I see him on the other side! I love the Will Rogers quote, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”

  7. I am so sorry. My dog Buddy has a lymph node adenoma and he is in treatment too. Your story made me cry. Thanks for sharing that it must have been difficult

  8. Lost my American Bull Terrier to Cancer too. Heartbreaking. Vet was cold and not good. It was so sad, they ran a business only, She died right before we got her inside the office, he was ready just to take her away, didn’t even give me a chance to say good bye. You were blessed to be able to have a good Vet who cared and you were able to be there with love at the end. Cancer sucks, I use only natural products now because of all the stinking side affects. Same goes for the meds for people. I now have fond memories , it hasn’t been even a year, but I have two little dogs, she mothered with me which has helped greatly. Thanks for sharing your story.

  9. Your friend has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge…He is waiting there for you. He no longer has pain….is not sad or lonely, for he knows he will see you again. You are a wonderful man, and Kilgore Trout was a beautiful dog. Be at peace now, and know that he is in a better place. My little dog, Zekie had cancer and it was removed. I am sure that it has come back, but I will be with him until the end….and I’ll know when the time is right to let him go….just as you did. Ah, dogs…..they are our best friends, and our babies. They make life bearable when it otherwise wouldn’t be. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  10. Dogs are like potato chips, you can’t have just one. Painful as it is every time we lose one of these blessed God given creatures, the best therapy is to share our love with another one. Our dogs know us infinitely better than we know ourselves and they bring us infinite joy unlike that of any human. Like our children, each is unique and shares special gifts with us to love and cherish them forever. And the decision to let them “go,” when they deem the time is right, will never be easy. But we do it for their good, because we love them. Because we want them to be free of pain and suffering. And we will see them again. Because of all the creatures big or small, the Lord God made them all.

    I too cried like a baby when I read the story of your beloved Kilgore. I remember my own pain, so fresh, from each and every time I was in your predicament. Precious Teddy, Sasha, Pugsly and Persia. Dogs are God’s special blessings and they love us so much more intimately than we can even love ourselves! Bless to you for being such a good dog dad as Kilgore watches over you now…Until we all meet them again one day.

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