A Man and His Dog: The Unending Bond

Life With Dogs is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.

A fan submitted this story to us, and it is a must-share.  Grab the tissues…


Eddie Wetmore with his Kronk

When I was growing up, I was told two HUGE whoppers by my dad… he had the best of intentions, mind you, but these were just plain wrong. I have found smaller ones, for example: it turns out that honesty (like a few other virtues that come to mind) is sometimes vastly overrated. Or that ‘there’s good in everybody’. That one has turned out to be a big disappointment (and dead wrong) as well.

But these two are the biggest. The first: There was no such thing as monsters. I haven’t figured out whether he was lying to me, or just wrong.

I have been dealing with a particularly savage monster for a while now. His name is Osteosarcoma (bone cancer – unbelievably aggressive and QUICK), and he has picked our friend Kronk out as his victim. Kim and I have been fighting tooth and nail for over three months, but each day we get a little weaker and the bad guy gets a little stronger. We know we were going to lose in the end, of course-but that in no way changes one’s obligation to crawl into the ring and deal out as serious a beating as you can manage – until you just simply can’t. The bells rings and the final round ends.


We did manage to forcibly take some additional time – by breaking a few heads and going some places we don’t normally go we snaked some compounds that gave the cancer a severe setback-fighting the various government agencies that didn’t want us to have it for some reason. But we could only hit the ‘snooze’ button a certain number of times before we are faced with the inevitable; the birth certificate is a two-part form. And, sooner or late, the second page is going to come into play.

There is always something uniquely horrible about looking into friends’ eyes and knowing that they are in pain. That they don’t understand why you can’t do anything about their hurting, or even why it occurred in the first place. Why, as leader of the pack, you promised to protect them against all that would do them harm and are failing so miserably. And yet, even as you flail and rail and scream into the night they forgive you; they are concerned about the howl of misery that you are fighting to keep from leaping from your lips and slashing at the very sky. And why your promise includes yourself as one of the ones that you will protect them against. No matter how hard you rail, no matter how loudly you scream. There comes a point where you are hurting them to hold off your pain as long as you possibly can.

The second lie was this: that time heals all wounds. No, it doesn’t. The best you can hope for is that you’ll learn to live with gash in your soul, and maybe avoid tearing it open too often. But the hole that has been torn in your very being never truly goes away. Like a mirror that shatters in front of your eyes – you can still make out the image, but the picture will never ever be whole again. All you’ll ever be able to do is catch glimpses out of the corner of your eye of the crystalline multi-colored fragments of endless shattered dreams. Dreams of playing ball. Dreams of barking at leaves, at chasing motes of dust in a sunbeam. Dreams of long walks by the lake, sniffing and sniffing and sniffing. And grinning. God, how I am going to miss that grin.

And you wonder how this can happen to someone that has never ever hurt anyone in his life. I have had a rougher life than plenty of people; was on the road for a great part of my college life (went weeks at a time without seeing the sun) and have seen some things that will truly make one question whether there can possibly be a God that watches over us. Of course, that pretty much proves the point, for without some sort of caretaker this race would have been doomed a long long time ago-taken to ground by the first woodchuck that we happened across. By why does Kronk have to go, when so many undeserving manufacturers of misery seem to thrive? But if it hadn’t been for one of those trogs I never would have met Kronk in the first place-perhaps there is a plan after all.

Kronk and Kim Wetmore

If I was running things we (dogs, cats, people) wouldn’t have different life spans—with reference to Ernie Stewart we would live rip old ages and pass side-by side a few hours apart in warm safe beds.

And how can one ever survive losing a parent-or worse losing your child? Bill Steffins said it to me best; Kids kind of expect to bury their parents. Parents never expect to bury their child. If I am going through this after only knowing a non-vocalizing furry pain-in-rump (sometimes) for a few years how can anyone ever keep going? I would give anything to keep that question rhetorical…

One of the things that we were proudest of in Kronk was how many other mutts he helped rehabilitate; our goal was to have him spend out his days going to the old-folks and retirement homes to cheer those guys up a little. With that loopy grin and his doofy head shake everyone who ever met him instinctively trusted him. Except with salmon – don’t trust him with salmon. He weighed that cost-benefit and elected to go for the goal.

I am trying to focus on the good that he has accomplished – at the joy that he brought into our and countless other lives. He didn’t just sit in a back yard somewhere; he served as an ambassador to help increase awareness that – like people – your appearance doesn’t dictate who you are. And he converted quite a few people that would have otherwise not known how much fun he could be, or how happy a big slobbery mutt can make you. The older folks didn’t seem to be terribly amazed that he was friendly – they just seemed to be happy that he was paying attention to them without any reason other than he liked them. Going to miss that as well.

Just left the vet after looking at an x-ray that appears to be a time-lapse of mushrooms growing; the lungs aren’t even recognizable anymore. Of course this isn’t a judgment call-I guess I can Thank God for that small mercy. I think about the nights getting up to take him out at 3 a.m., the picking of his 100 lb carcass out of bed every morning (he was sleeping with Kim – I got the sofa) and placing him back in bed every night. The specialty food, the running home at lunch to give him pain meds. Having to watch him on the sofa; he wanted to go harass and play with the other dogs but we couldn’t take the risk of him shattering an already fragile leg. The constant travel to get high pH water, the reading of so many bloody labels to avoid processed sugar that I was ready to scream (it’s in EVERYTHING!) Fighting to get him to go outside to pee (it hurt to walk) and then fighting again to get him to come back to dinner. We would do it again without hesitation.

But as I drive home from the vet’s (I pulled off the highway to write this before it escaped my mind; typing on this crappy little cell-phone is a punishment itself) I am struggling with the fact that there will be only one more sunrise. No more ball playing. No more licks or mooching from the table. No more ringing the back door chimes to be let out. No more snoozing in a comfy sunbeam. No more nuzzling my arm when he wants to be petted.

And I guess now I realize that Dad lied to one more time: Big Boys Don’t Cry. I can hardly see the road. 


Louis Edmond Wetmore



10 thoughts on “A Man and His Dog: The Unending Bond”

  1. …well, big boys may not cry… but good men with wonderful hearts certainly do. Sending strength and good thoughts your way… this was a beautiful account of a beautiful and wonderful dog with a wonderful human companion.

  2. So sorry for your loss, perfectly understand how you feel. We lost our dog at the beginning of the year and the wound is still very much open. We are learning to live without him but he is in our every waking thought, every day, day and night. Kronk had the best Mum and Dad and if he could have his time over again he would pick you two as his pack in a heartbeat.

  3. So sad to hear of your loss, a beautiful dog with a lot of character, I too lost my best pal Zak , a Plummer terrier to cancer of the spleen in march 2013, and I miss him so much ,

    • I lost my Diana, after 12 years of companionship…..it was unconditional love. I feel so sorry that I had to leave her at home all alone for 3/4 hours at a stretch…..because there was no one to look after her……but she had never left me alone……she was always there following me wherever I went….Even when I was in the bathroom she used to sit outside waiting for me to come out ….Now she is gone…..she left me…Death has separated her from me…. I love you , Diana and I always will….

  4. We lost our 13 yr old border collie, with whom we spent many happy hours. Taking him to be euthanized was so hard, and we both cried. Had to carry him around, up and down stairs, etc, in the last few days. Will never be able to replace him. He was found by the dog catcher along the Deschutes River, with a broken rope around his neck, and we rescued him from being euthanized then because they thought he was “crazy”. He was the best “crazy” dog we have ever had. So, the next 12 yrs. were happy ones with him.

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m sending comforting thoughts and prayers. I know your grief. He’s always with you, but running, nuzzling and slobbering without pain.

  6. i did not expect to cry like a blubbering baby…but i did. as i read your story, i felt myself go back to 1991 when stationed in nebraska. we had two rotties…ogre who i describe EXACTLY as you describe Kronk…and then Falco who was “special” meaning he was less than capable to learn obedience or behavior training hehehe. Ogre was a therapy dog too…visiting veteran homes, children’s rehab centers, was a reading therapy dog, and occasionally visited retirement homes. he was my 120lb lap dog who let rabbits, squirrels, kittens chew on him daily while he just laid on the floor for them. i miss him dearly and think of him often, especially when i run into another gorgeous rottie. i miss his snoring like an old man. i miss him whacking the door handle to open door. i miss the panic in folks’ eyes as we approached and then the giggles after we walk by cuz ogre licked their faces and then kept going…as if to give a High-5. time heals NOTHING! it’s what we do with that time that has healing power. i feel your pain. as gut wrenching as this is, as devastating as this is…it reminds us that we are alive and we are compassionate folks. it makes us great human beings. our DOGS make us great human beings with deep empathy for like souls.


Leave a Comment