LOSING GIBBS – Marilyn Armstrong

On February 8, 2020, Gibbs died. We had no warning that there was something seriously wrong with him and until he died, he was eating, alive, and active.A lot of people seem to have missed this post, so I’m posting it again. I miss Gibbs, especially when I’m feeding them. I automatically grab three dishes, then I remember — just two.

Bonnie was the dog who I was worried about. I’m still worried and every time she sleeps deeply and I go to wake her, I’m afraid she won’t wake up.I would love another dog but I think maybe we are too old to be good doggy parents … and too poor to afford another one. Just the veterinary care is getting to be beyond our means. But there are so many dogs who need homes now and we are a good home. Here’s the original post.


Today, sometime around the middle of the afternoon, Gibbs died.

He was having what seemed a normal day. Up in the morning, begging for treats. Barking like crazy at anyone going up or down the stairs. Then, he went to sleep on the sofa.

We were going to a concert and friends were coming over for dinner and coming with us, so I was just getting ready to get dressed for the event. Garry went in to feed the dogs. Gibbs didn’t show up for dinner, so he came in here to shake Gibbs awake, which we often have to do because he was had become a very heavy sleeper, something  I attributed to aging.

Gibbs

Garry shook him, but he didn’t wake up. He shook him again. Gibbs normally woke as soon as you touched him. I had that instantly bad feeling you get when something is very wrong. I went over. His eyes were open and were unresponsive. He was warm and his nose was cool and moist, but he was not breathing.

Gibbs

He had died on the sofa in his sleep sometime between mid-morning snack time and four in the afternoon.

We had him for 3 years and 11 months. He was just about to turn 13 in April. He arrived on my birthday, nearly four years ago. He never seemed as old as Bonnie. I  always assumed he would outlive her.

I hope we gave him a good home. We had him at the vet just four days ago for his 3-year rabies shot and while we were worried about those enlarged glands in his neck, he was on antibiotics in the hopes it was merely an infection.

The vet said it had to have been some kind of cardiac event, possibly a slow-growing tumor — the kind you never know about because there’s no prelude, no warnings. We’ll never know for sure.

On the way back tonight, I almost went to look in the shed to see if, by some miracle, he had woken up. But I knew better so I didn’t.

I’ve had many dogs over the years, but I’ve never had one simply die in his or her sleep like that. I’m a bit in shock right now and of course, we have to take him to the vet for cremation tomorrow. I would have liked to bury him here, but we live on rocks and without a backhoe, we could not dig deep enough to bury him properly.

He didn’t make a sound while he died and I was sitting just a few feet away. He must have been asleep. Owen points out that he died on his favorite sofa without that terrible, prolonged illness that is typical of old animals. I hope we gave him a good home. At least for these last years, he was free to come and go and get some of the love he never got when he was young.

Rest in peace, Gibbs. You were a beautiful boy.

29 thoughts on “LOSING GIBBS – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. So sorry to hear of your loss. It seems so sad when our pets die because they love us unconditionally and are always grateful for any kindness we give, how could we not love and spoil them, and they are always there for us when we need a non-judgemental friend to just listen, or hug. I feel your sadness and shed some tears for your loss. I’ve lost several great pets in my life, they are never forgotten. I have others, but because of those before I couldn’t see my life without a per, but more than just a pet, my child. perhaps a bit crazy to some people, but I receive as much from them as they from me. I am sure you gave Gibb a great life. Rainbow Bridge you will meet again.

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  2. Oh I DID miss your post earlier or I would have responded. I am so sorry he’s gone. I have loved him from afar, through your wonderful photos of him. I didn’t know his story but now am so happy you found each other for the last part of his life.

    Sending you both lots of love. and also understanding (at least from my experience of this kind of loss).

    Hurts some child part of us like no other loss…

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  3. I’m so sorry for your loss, Marilyn, Gibbs was, indeed a very beautiful boy. I suppose the consolation is that he did have a wonderful life with you, because you love your dogs deeply and genuinely. He’d have known that – animals always do. They know when they’re well off. And if he had to pass away, I can’t imagine a more peaceful and painless way to go. Of course, it’s very distressing for those left behind, and such a terrible shock for you happening like that, but it was better for him. I feel your loss, and am sending you all my best wishes. ❤

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    • A lot of people have said that if they have to go, it sounds like Gibbs found the best possible way to do it. And you know, he never made a sound. Not a grunt or cough or anything. He just … died. In peace, so maybe that’s the better way.

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      • I’m still shaken. First person to try and wake Gibbs. I didn’t want to believe it. He was gone? I’d named our Scottie lad after my favorite TV hero, Leroy Jethro GIBBS of “NCIS”. Our Gibbs fit the taciturn Mark Harmon characterization of the lead, the “Boss” of the long running series. We had bonded in the last few weeks, playing paw taps. Gibbs wasn’t given to “hanging out”. He was a solitary guy who kept tabs on “Sis”, Bonnie. He also kept newcomer, Duke, in his place.
        I’m glad I had those last few days and weeks to get closer to Gibbs. I’m also happy he left us on his own terms.
        Simper Fi, Gibbs. You’ll do!

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  4. I am so sorry for the lost of Gibbs, Marilyn and Garry. I imagine the surprise of the unanticipated passing adds to one’s confusion. And on the other hand, I am glad for Gibbs that things were so comfortable and peaceful. As I often have discussed with patients and clients over the years, going suddenly and quietly in ones sleep is “good” for the leaver and extra hard on the left. Peace and healing to you all.

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    • To the best of our knowledge, there was nothing wrong with him and the saddest part of trying to convince Garry that he was not going to wake up. I miss him, but I am glad we gave him four good years after his many years of living in a cage.

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  5. We lost our Riggsie 7 years ago, and I still miss him almost every single day. Whenever I see a German Shepherd being walked down the street, I want to run out and hug it. I miss Morgan, too, but for some reason I was able to accept her passing more easily. Puppy Cody is ok with all this, though, because every time I think about one of her predecessors, Cody gets extra hugs.

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