This One is About Our Dog Chloe, the Best Good Girl (Outdoor Diary)

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Humans Outside episode 365

It was a sad closing to the week in my house as we said “goodbye” to our dog of 12 years. We brought so much joy to each other. But it was time to let her go.

Chloe was there when I first started spending time outside for nature’s sake, so remembering her in an episode seemed like the least I could do to honor her place in our lives and the joy dogs bring so many of us.

She was a very good girl. Terrible breath; but such a good girl. This one is for her.

Some of the good stuff:

[:42] It was harder than I thought it would be

[1:30] What kind of dog is she?

[2:04] All about best good girl, Chloe

[4:18] Ever tried to write news stories while a dog snores?

[5:19] Please, pet a dog

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Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.

It’s not that I didn’t expect it to be hard. It’s just that it’s harder than I expected it to be.

I assumed that if I thought a lot about it ahead of time, that if I imagined the situation and had a plan for how to make the decision when the time came, that I would be sad but not devastatingly sad. But of course that’s not how it happened at all. It never is.

This is a sad one, guys. BUt talking about it helps, so here I am. And I hope when I tell you about my dog, you’ll have fond memories for yours or give them an extra cuddle today because you can.

We had to put our at least 13 years old, old lady dog down last week. I wasn’t sure this was a good topic for an outdoor diary, but the truth is that Chloe had been a part of our family for as long as I’ve been someone who made any effort to regularly go and experience nature for nature’s sake.

When people would ask us what kind of dog she was, I would say – well, she’s the kind you get at the shelter. We guessed she was a chow and terrier mix, somewhere around 55 lbs, with long, dark tan hair when it was grown out and light tan fur when we had her clipped for the summer.

As she got older, the dark tan got lighter, but Ill remember her best as the scruffy, one year oldish pup smiling at me from behind the gate at the shelter on Fort Campbell, Kentucky. I knew as soon as I saw her, that was our dog. And her name was obviously Chloe. Sometimes you just know something like that.

Chloe liked to run off, which is how we guessed she ended up at the shelter to start with. She would take off, bolting through the wireless fence we had at our rental in Kentucky as she moved like absolute lightening chasing a rabbit or a deer. When I brought my now 11 year old son Huck home from the hospital, she wouldn’t mind her own business and drove me absolutely bonkers for a time until we both calmed down.

And then they were happy pups together, often chewing on the same toys no matter how gross or inappropriate that seemed, or how many times I took them away from them. You can blame Chloe for the gaping hole in the head of Joseph from our the Little People nativity scene, as well as the destruction of several Little People villagers and firefighters. Just when you thought she’d grown out of that, back she started.

When we started camping when Huck was about a year and a half old, Chloe came with us. Out at Land Between the Lakes just north of the Kentucky Tennessee border, we’d let her stay off leash if there was no one else near us at the campground, and she would chase squirrels and deer to her heart’s content, bolting through the woods only to trot back exhausted awhile later and collapse under the picnic table. When we sat at the lakeshore, she’d chase the waves. We took her on the kayak only to realize she couldn’t exactly swim — oops — but it worked out. One night in the big tent Luke left her out of her crate which she always slept in at the time, and she clawed a huge hole in the netting in pursuit of a raccoon.

When I ran with the boys in the double stroller, she would run with us.

When we moved to Alaska I considered trying to rehome her. I was so overwhelmed with moving to Alaska, packing the car with kids and dogs, trying to find places to stay with her, figuring the whole thing out. But I realized ditching a family member wasn’t the right move, so of course she came too.

By the time we got to Alaska she was behaving more like an adult dog than a crazy lunatic puppy, and she relished our walks in the woods, chasing rabbits and squirrels, bounding down the trails. “You wanna go for a walk? Lets go for a walk” and she’d be ready to dash up the trail.

Most of my time with chloe was spent inside, especially over the past few years. She would follow me into my office, watching me pour my coffee and waiting in the living room for me to get it together and be ready to work. Then Id say “are you ready for work?” and she click clack behind me as I walked down the hall, then lay on the bathroom floor and snore while I tried to ignore her. I dunno if you’ve ever tried to write news stories while a dog is snoring, but it’s a little distracting. It’s also oddly comforting.

Over the years she got slower. We stopped taking her on the trails over the winter when the snow was deep because she struggled to move through it. Adopting our little dog Sam got her more active as they played together. But you could see time creeping in, doing what it always does. We watched her slow but steady decline over the last several months, getting sicker with what we self-diagnosed as cushing’s disease because she fit all the symptoms. But she was happy.

And then, suddenly, she wasn’t. And so one afternoon this past week we made one of the worst, hardest, saddest, most right decisions we could make. We carried her into the vet and sat around her on the floor of one of the patient rooms. And we said goodbye.

For many of us, dogs are one of the reasons we get outside regularly or the companions we go with. They are hilarious, maddening, helpful, comforting adventure buddies. Their exercise needs or happy doggy smiles push us into playing or cuddles or walks or runs when we aren’t that into it but they somehow know it’s just what we needed.

Telling you about Chloe seemed like the least I could do as gratitude for her many years as our friend. If you have a dog or see a dog, give them a pat while you have the chance. We dont deserve the joy they can bring.

Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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