This has been a sad week for us as we said goodbye to our dog Quinn. It’s something I’ve been bracing myself for, but it still feels like it all happened so fast. Quinn has a really long story, and as my husband said earlier this week, he was hard to put into words.
For now, I’ll say that Quinn was a rescue dog who came with a lot of behavioral and medical issues, and he was hands-down the most challenging and grumpy but also goofy and lovable dog I’ve ever known. I don’t know where to begin in describing his many quirks, but I loved each and every one of them. He changed our life in so many ways, and everything about our daily routine feels so different and empty without him.
Last summer, we found out Quinn had a cancerous tumor growing on one of his adrenal glands, but due to his age, surgery wasn’t an option. Our vet helped us create a plan to manage the pain and secondary symptoms to give Quinn the best quality of life possible in the meantime, but eventually the tumor would grow and either metastasize or press into his vena cava and cause a rupture that would kill him.
We never knew exactly how old Quinn was, but the vet estimated he was 9 or 10 when we adopted him almost 5 years ago. In the last six months, the decline in his overall health had been steady, but starting Sunday night, we noticed changes in his usual symptoms that seemed to be speeding up. By Tuesday, he wouldn’t eat, could barely stand, and seemed dazed and disoriented.
We took him to the vet and had his tumor checked by ultrasound again. It had grown from 1 cm to 5.5, and the cancer had also spread to his liver. So on Tuesday night, we made the difficult decision to let Quinn go peacefully rather than wait for the cancer to run the rest of its painful course. After everything the poor dog had been through in his life, the last thing we wanted was for him to go out in desperate pain or panic.
At first I thought I’d just skip this week’s challenge, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to make a portrait that in some way honored Quinn and reflected how much we already miss him.
I think the truest words I know about loss come from Mary Oliver, who, sadly, passed away this week also. I first read her poem “In Blackwater Woods” the year I lost my dad, and its ending been etched in my mind since then.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time come to let it go,
to let it go.
So it’s a long story, but that’s what I had in mind for this portrait. Rest in peace, Quinn Bear. You deserved so much better than what the first part of your life gave you, and even though I miss you, I’m happy you’re finally free.