Vaughn Hardacker here: This past month has been an emotional roller coaster. On January 29th we were forced to have our seventeen year old Maltese, Maggie, put down. She had been failing rapidly and was blind, deaf, and living in constant pain from arthritis. Throughout my life I’ve had a number of pets but this was the first time I have had to have one put down. It is an experience that I never again want to have.


I started feeling guilty the minute we made the decision (actually I wimped out on that one–Maggie was my domestic partner’s dog and I left the final decision to her) and now three weeks later, I still feel as if I have betrayed her. In the nine years I was in her life, Maggie taught me about unconditional love and trust. On the drive to the vet’s office, she rested in Jane’s arms and all I could think of was how she trusted us and we were about to end her life. I’ve often thought that when my quality of life deteriorates and quality of life is no longer good I wanted to end it. I’m certain that Maggie’s QOL was gone and all she did was sleep twenty hours a day but I asked myself: What gives you the right to make this decision? Would Maggie agree with our decision? I can only rationalize our actions and tell myself that Maggie is no longer suffering.

Jane had periods of crying from the moment she made the toughest decision she’d ever made and I (the world’s most adept at pain avoidance) vowed no more pets: it hurts too much when they pass on. However, watching Jane’s grief as she perused facebook looking for puppies made me relent. I realized that while a new dog could never replace Maggie’s place in her heart, a new pup would help her deal with the grief. Henceforth, Skipper, a nine week old Yorkshire Terrier (aka Yorkie) entered our lives.

Skipper has a lot of Maggie’s mannerisms and some that she didn’t share. It has been over twenty years since I’ve had to train a puppy and it has opened my eyes to how they can be like a human child–for instance, instead of the 2:00 A.M. feeding, there’s the 2:00 A.M. pee call. It has been just over three weeks since we brought Skipper into our home and we have found him to be extremely intelligent–as a matter of fact, in the short time he’s been with us, he’s already got Jane and I trained…


About Vaughn C. Hardacker

Vaughn C. Hardacker has published six novels and numerous short stories. He is a member of the New England Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, and the International Thriller writers. Three times he has been a finalist in the Maine Literary Awards Crime Fiction category, SNIPER, in 2015, THE FISHERMAN in 2016, and WENDIGO for the 2018 award. The second installment of his Ed Traynor series, MY BROTHER'S KEEPER was released in July 2019 and is available through all major booksellers. A signed copy can be ordered directly from Vaughn ( THE EXCHANGE his most recently published crime/thriller was released on September 4, 2020. His next thriller, RIPPED OFF, is scheduled to be released by Encircle Publications in January 25, 2023. He is a veteran of the U. S. Marines and served in Vietnam. He holds degrees from Northern Maine Technical College, the University of Maine and Southern New Hampshire University. He lives in Stockholm, Maine.
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  1. Michele Dorsey says:

    Letting Cheddar (my thirteen-year-old golden retriever) go left a hole in my heart the size of Texas. I guess it’s just a sign of how much we grow to love our dogs that when they are gone, like with your Maggie, we hurt like hell. Glad you have Skipper to help heal.

  2. John Clark says:

    Pets tend to sneak up on you and are very hard to lose.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I feel your pain. Not a good experience, but you gave err all the love you have and she knew it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So true, we lost ours 4yrs ago. No new puppy yet.

  5. bethc2015 says:

    2 sweet looking dogs. It is a hard decision to make and one that no one else can help you with. I wanted my vet to tell me what to do, but that is not fair or reasonable.

  6. L.C. Rooney says:

    Such a difficult thing, deciding to let them go. I love this final line from “A Dog’s Prayer”; it’s been a comfort to me each time I had to make that heart-wrenching decision: “I shall leave you knowing with the last breath I draw, my fate was always safest in your hands.”

  7. Kay Bennett says:

    Just remember that yorkies can be hard to train, not because they are not intelligent. They are. No it is because they are hard headed. That being said my yorkie was very unyorkie. He ended up being my service dog. He made the decision for us, although I probably should have made it a bit earlier since his quality of life had gone down. My heart is with you all

  8. That look of trust is so hard, but I think one thing they trust us for is not to let them suffer too much. My little pom reached out and drew my hand closer to him and licked it. I hope it was a thank you.
    I am glad you decide to adopt a new baby. The laughter does ease the pain.

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