Dog’s Life

380 380_ () 380 380 We walked in the house this evening after being out all afternoon and the house smelled different.

It smelled like Hilde.

It’s been exactly one week since she was hit by the car. It happened right around this time, just before 7 pm, on a night that was wide open with possibilities. Maybe we’d take the boys to see a movie. Maybe we’d get Chinese. It had been a rainy week, a dreary day and I had been in a funk for most of it. I was on overload, emotionally and literally, a booked schedule, too many places to go, too many deadlines.

I walked Hilde outside to use the bathroom. We had fast learned that dogs don’t like going in the rain. It had been a rainy week, and it had been a battle for most of it; she’d step outside and then quickly retreat.

“I think my puppy is a diva,” I told my brother who himself had a weimaraner for a time. “She is giving me all kinds of grief.”

“Most dogs don’t like going on a wet ground,” he assured me.

That night, I let Hilde off her leash, rounded the corner and there she was, laying at the edge of the driveway. It happened that fast. One minute, our dear sweet Hilde was a part of the family, the next I am freaking out.

A good friend of ours happened to be the car behind the car that hit Hilde, and when I saw Mark, I knew I wouldn’t have to go near her. I was afraid to pick her up, afraid she would crumble into a thousand pieces. I stood at the top of the driveway, crying. The boys came out and started to cry too and I took them back in the house.

“Rachel,” said Mark calmly as I retreated, “is Paul home?”

“No,” I sobbed. He was on the way, but not home yet.

“Can you call him?”

I picked up the phone, dialed the number and told him. The fear in his voice startled me, and I found out later he thought I said it was Elliott who’d been hit. The relief he felt, mixed with the sadness of the actual situation, I can’t imagine.

Paul came home, he and Ethan took Hilde from Mark, loaded her in a laundry basket and rushed to the animal hospital. A few hours later, after midnight, they drove the two hours to Athens. On the way, Paul saw a car spin out of control in front of him, while we were on the phone, and I couldn’t sleep until he made it to the hospital at the University.

In the end, after all the ups and downs, the thoughts of Hilde back home with us and then the sadness of it being over, the range of emotions was incredible. This little dog brought us so much. What a short time we had her. Hey, I don’t have to pick up poop anymore. I’d pick it up in a heartbeat to have her here. Our boys are safe. We miss our dog. So many emotions.

What I decided, in those hours of waiting to decide Hilde’s fate, was that life is too short to be on overload. My mom spent the evening with me as I waited for calls from Paul. She talked me through some of the sadness, the overwhelming image of my sweet Hilde in the driveway. I shared about my day, how stretched I felt, how I take on so much more than I should simply because I CAN.

“I’m able to get all these things done,” I told her, “so I do. But it’s at a cost.”

For a long time, when the boys were all so little and I felt like I was either nursing or pregnant (it rotated every few months) I dreamed of the day when I could do some “real” work again — when I could freelance and go and do and accomplish something more than keeping everyone’s bum clean. And then I arrived to that point — I arrived — and I realized that yes it’s fun but it doesn’t come close to the importance of being a mom who loves caring for her children.

By the end of the evening I had talked through some changes I needed to make, to scale back in a way that put the joy back in just BEING with my sons. To sit and watch them explore the backyard, to cook a meal with each boy, to go to the library and take all the time we needed. To enjoy the ride. There is joy in the journey.

Saturday afternoon, Paul and Ethan came home from Athens, and we talked about our options for the dog. We knew what we had to do, and it broke our hearts. We called the hospital there and said that we had accepted that the best thing for Hilde was to let her rest in peace. It was painfully clear.

The week has been good. So many ups and downs. Tuesday I think I cried all morning as I tried to put the dog toys in a bag and simply could not. At daily Mass, a friend saw my tears, hugged me and told me I had to let go of any guilt. She was right. I’m trying.

Sunday, we went for a hike and right as we pulled in to park we spotted some of our very best friends unloading at the same trail. God is so good. We were able to enjoy several hours of spontaneous fun and relaxation with them, talk about the events of the weekend, and then Enjoy Life.

Thanks Hilde, for the lesson. 380″>



  1. Yet another reminder that life, however brief, is precious. Both the most lasting relationships and the shortest change our lives forever.

    God bless you. And Hilde. And my Racer.

  2. I’ve been following your blog for a while and I’m so sorry to hear about Hilde. I send you my prayers – at least with loss we can learn to celebrate life.