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A Guardian’s Goodbye

May 10th, 2013 by Guardian Campaign


When we think of being Guardians we usually focus on the advantages that the language has for our animal companions. We rarely consider that Guardianship is a two-way street and that it can also have a profound effect on our own lives as well.

This point cannot be made more clearly than when the time comes to say goodbye to our loving friends. Whether from illness or natural causes, the passing of our companions can be one of the most excruciating moments that we experience in our relationship with them. Remembering what it means to be a Guardian can be a great comfort during that challenging time. It was for me. 

Two weeks ago, I said goodbye to my cat and dear friend, Cody. Cody was beside me through twenty years of many of my life’s ups and downs: the passing of both my parents, my first marriage, the dissolution of that marriage, finding love again and raising two children.

I didn’t expect to say goodbye to Cody on that day. I didn’t realize it was the day that lung cancer had come to claim him. We thought we had six months to get used to the idea of “goodbye,” but six hours later my husband and I found ourselves back at the emergency hospital. As they were stabilizing Cody, I sat in the lobby feeling a suffocating vise-like sensation in my chest as we listened to the doctor tell us our options – the chance of prolonging Cody’s life through invasive measures or euthanizing him.

Stunned and saddened, the last thing we wanted in the world was to say good-bye. Twenty years was not enough but fifty years wouldn’t be either. The time had come to make a difficult decision. But how to decide what was best for him? It was in this moment that remembering I was Cody’s Guardian brought me clarity and provided me with much needed comfort.

As Guardians we are here to protect, watch over and to do what is best for our animal friends. And although our lives cross in friendship and in love, we also understand that animals have unique needs of their own and a purpose to fulfill that is independent of ours. I thought of the beautiful words in the Guardian Credo, “we have a responsibility, as guardians of our animal companions, to ensure that their physical and emotional needs are met, and that our commitment to them is a commitment for life,” and in remembering those words, it became very clear to me what we needed to do.

I turned to my husband and the look in his eye told me that the same tape had been playing in his head. We both wanted what was best for Cody and didn’t want to prolong his suffering needlessly. When we put Cody’s needs ahead of ours and allowed that criteria instead of our own pain to guide us, it became clear that it was time to say goodbye.

A few minutes later Ken and I held hands with each other and paws with Cody. We thanked him for all the love, joy and the many memories he gave us throughout his life. I took him in my arms, holding him close to my heart, as the doctor administered the injection and held him there until his spirit left his body.

He was our friend and we were his Guardians.

Carlyn Montes De Oca

For more information on how you can be part of the Guardian Campaign please contact…

Dr. Elliot Katz
Carlyn Montes De Oca
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And if you haven’t seen the “I’m a Guardian Video,” please take a look now and share it with others.

We look forward to hearing from you!

108 Responses to “A Guardian’s Goodbye”

  1. May 22, 2013 at 11:54 am, Carlyn Montes De Oca said:

    Thank you, Rob. Tears and love so often flow together:)


  2. May 22, 2013 at 11:51 am, Carlyn Montes De Oca said:

    I agree, Deandra. i was just thinking that they are our Guardians too, as i was taking my morning walk. Thank you for sharing.


  3. May 21, 2013 at 5:27 am, rob said:

    i just had tears run down my cheeks thank you for sharing this with us all


  4. May 13, 2013 at 9:44 pm, Carlyn Montes De Oca said:

    Thank you so much, Mary!


  5. May 13, 2013 at 11:42 am, Carlyn Montes De Oca said:

    Laura, thank you so much for sharing this blog and also for having the foresight to save it for the future. One thing that our animal friends always provide when they leave us is the opportunity to love again by adopting another friend. Having a written piece like this, a poem, a piece of music or whatever it is for you, to give you comfort and clarity when the day comes again to say goodbye – is good thing. Thank you for commenting.


  6. May 13, 2013 at 11:35 am, Carlyn Montes De Oca said:

    Caroline, thanks for your comment. We are anchors for each other:)


  7. May 13, 2013 at 11:32 am, Carlyn Montes De Oca said:

    Ronnie, yes they know when it’s time. So glad you had 23 rich years with your kitty. Yes, we’re Guardian for each other:)


  8. May 13, 2013 at 11:30 am, Carlyn Montes De Oca said:

    I agree, that’s a good idea to have on hand, Sherry.


  9. May 13, 2013 at 11:29 am, Carlyn Montes De Oca said:

    Dear Katie,
    what a beautiful and poignant story. Thank you for sharing. You and Tigger were so lucky to have each other and the memories you will always remember of such a special boy.


  10. May 13, 2013 at 11:24 am, Carlyn Montes De Oca said:

    Tanya, thanks for your comment. It really helped to think of ourselves as Guardians in this situation. Everything really became clear for us and God knows in those moments clarity is everything.


  11. May 13, 2013 at 11:19 am, Carlyn Montes De Oca said:

    Thank you, Rosa. MO sounds like he was truly loved by an awesome Guardian:) Thanks for sharing your story.


  12. May 13, 2013 at 11:18 am, Carlyn Montes De Oca said:

    thank you, Stan.


  13. May 12, 2013 at 5:02 am, stan corzine said:

    hey carlyn,
    thanks for writing that and sharing it with me
    I found it very moving and I miss cody
    has it really been twenty years ????
    these lifetimes go by fast eh?
    gotta make the most of ‘em !
    peace and love
    hope all is well


  14. May 11, 2013 at 9:01 am, Rosa Maria said:

    Dear Carlyn;
    Eight years ago I had to say goodbye to my dear love and companion toy poodle MOTI. MOTI- was my little “puff” who gave me his unselfish love and brought great moments of joy and happiness to my life. As of this day I remember how heartbroken I felt. Thank you for your beautiful post. As I read it sad memories came back but it serve as a reminder of my responsibilty as a guardian. I can understand your feelings and send you many blessings.


  15. May 11, 2013 at 7:39 am, Tanya said:

    Beautifully written Carlyn. You and Cody loved each other purely and unselfishly right up even until the end when you put his needs above your own desires (something that is not always easy for us mere mortals.)


  16. May 11, 2013 at 7:18 am, Katie said:

    Thank you for sharing Carlyn. I have lived my life in grace with many animals. But the story I would like to share with you is of the passing of my golden Tigger. With her went a completly family and my childhood, but at the time I didn’t see those things.

    She was a spitfire, so happy when I finally moved home from college to be with her everyday. Happy as a clam, smart enough and goofy. In October of 2011 my sister called me saying her breathing want right, I rushed to their house where I quickly concurred. We waited for my mom and headed straight to the energency vet. While I never wrapped my head around the exact diagnosis, what I did understand was that thre was fluid on her heart, she had cancer, and the outcome and prognosis were vague at best.

    They drained the fluid that night and ran some other tests. We were sent home to rest unsure if she would be with us in the morning. But she was. When I brought her home a laid on the ground holding paws with her for hours, crying over my soon to be lost sister and friend. But she didn’t die. We had already decided that was To be the end of her treatment, amymore seemed cruel. We never expected to have more then a few more days but she gave us 2 more months.

    In December 15 (possibly 16th), I went out if my way to stop at my moms house, something told me I was needed there. What I found broke my heart. Tigger in her bed, my mom on the floor, and the two of them saying goodbye. I joined them. We waited for my sister to get home and she said her last goodbyes as well. Then we scooped her up and took her to the vet.

    While the vet got everything ready my mom told me a story of another dog from my childhoods passing and how it was different then the others because she felt it, I didn’t understand.

    I laid there, hugging Tigger, but calm. I watched the first shot that would make sleepy but chose to hug her during the rest of the procedure. Suddenly, I felt a whir through my entire body and a siring pain through my heart. In that moment her soul left her body, joining with mine for her final goodbye. She gave me the greatest gift one being can give to another upon departure from this world.

    At this moment I began to bawl and fled the room. I was fine before the vet could pronounce her dead, and my mother understood why.

    Sharing this story now, even after years if tears and new love with many more furry friends I shed many years over my beloved friend and sister.


  17. May 11, 2013 at 2:14 am, Ronnie said:

    My Kitty lived to age 23 with a good quality of life. The heartbreaking morning I brought her to be euthanized, she had gone down-hill rapidly. But waiting at the vets, very weak, Kitty lifted her head & turned to me. I truly believe, to say “Goodbye.” Thank You & Bless You, My Kitty <3 We were Guardians of each other <3 & <3


  18. May 10, 2013 at 4:56 pm, Carlyn Montes De Oca said:

    Thank you, Jennifer. You are right. No matter what:)


  19. May 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm, Carlyn Montes De Oca said:

    Thank you for your very kind words, Diana. Blessings to you too!


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