We put Mochi down today, after a 9 month battle with cancer.

Until the last three days she was more full of life than any dog, or any person, I have ever known. She was enthusiastic about her walks, excited to go for rides, and ready for anything that came her way. The cancer began to wear her down at the end, but right up to 3 days ago she was excited to go for a walk.

She was the bravest and most patient dog I could ever have asked for. The cancer was in her foot and leg, and had to be bandaged every couple days. The process was clearly painful for her, but she was always so patient, and made it so easy for us to change the bandages.

We had her for just over 9 years; we got her on her second birthday from a dog rescue home, a week after we brought home Yuki, our other dog. Those two have been together the entire time, and I worry how Yuki will handle this.

The day after we brought her home we found out that she loves adventure, even if it means jumping over a 4 foot fence to get to it (she was helped by the 2 feet of snow). We fixed the fence problem, but from then on had to be sure she was in a secure yard or on a leash: the first squirrel that came along if she were off leash would have sent her on a miles long chase.

She loved rides and going places. She loved playing in the snow. More than anything she loved chasing snowballs: she would chase them until I thought her little heart would burst.

We always took the dogs to the beach with us, for a week at a time. She never got tired of beach walks and would run with me on the hard sand for as long as I wanted to go. And she was a fierce and determined hunter: she would lay in the yard for hours in the evening, hoping that a mouse or rat would wander through.

She loved to snuggle; she slept with us more often than not, and generally by morning one of us would be pushed to the side of the bed as she snuggled up tight as a tick. That could be pretty annoying, but I’ll miss it all the same.

I think what I will miss most is the way she greeted me every night after work at the gate, with a happy dance and a shiba howl. No matter how shitty my day was or how terrible the commute, seeing Mochi always made it OK.

I estimate that I walked her more than 3500 times; we spent about 12 weeks at the beach; spent every 4th of July at a cabin away from fireworks; we nursed her through 4 surgeries; went through a dozen harnesses; traveled thousands of miles; and we gained at least a little happiness every day because of her.

She was a beautiful dog, a happy dog, and she died before her time. I loved her more than I can say, and I would never have wanted a better dog or a better friend.

It’s the bargain we make with our dogs: they give us all the love, the joy, and the companionship that they can for the years that they have. In exchange we take care of them and give them our love, and at the end we do them a kindness; a kindness that must be given with courage and grace; a kindness that breaks our hearts. It’s a bargain I have to fulfill one more time, with Yuki, but right now I don’t think it’s a bargain I can ever enter into again. Each time we put down a dog it digs a deeper hole in my heart, and I don’t know how much more I have to give. It doesn’t get easier; it’s as if each time is the accumulated grief of all the times before.

I loved that little girl, and putting her down was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I promise my dogs, and myself, that I’ll be there at the end, and they know right to the last moment that they are safe and they are loved.

I should take comfort in that, but I can’t.

Mochi and Yuki a couple weeks after we brought them home.
Mochi and Yuki in a play fight.
Mochi snuggling with Yuki.
Mochi in the front yard.
Mochi: Feb. 15, 2005 - May 4, 2016