Posted by: Bob McMichael | September 10, 2010

Goodbye, Glenna

Glenna Skye McMichael

Glenna Skye McMichael 2000-2010

I put Glenna to sleep yesterday, then drove to McCall and buried her in Dave and Lori’s pet cemetery. Angus kept me company the whole day, and seemed finally – on returning home – to realize she was gone. When Leslie got home from work she cried hard because she hadn’t been able to at work. I felt bad for her and tried to cheer her up. We’ve been taking turns grieving. I seem to do it better alone for some reason.

I’m almost, but not quite, embarrassed by how much this whole dog thing has affected me. She was my first dog and was my unflagging companion for the most intense decade of my life. I got her just a couple weeks after quitting academia and moving to Boise, where I had no job and knew nobody. If I’ve learned anything in the 24 hours since she passed it’s that I vastly underestimated how sad I would be.

What I want to say most is that she helped me with a lot of things. I realized this early on in our relationship. Here’s an excerpt from a log I kept for the first month or two, when I was trying to develop a freelance writing career and struggling with writer’s block:

“This morning Glenna wouldn’t eat. She’s developed this weird habit of running to her bowl, grabbing a mouthful of kibble, and dashing a few feet away, dropping the bits to the floor, and eating them one by one. As I stood on the carpeted and dog-free side of the little fence between the kitchen and the living room, I looked down and watched her drop her mouthful of food directly below me, the chickpea-sized dark brown chunks scattering randomly over a foot-wide circle on the white linoleum floor. For an instant I noticed her trying to decide which bit to go for first but she seemed stymied by too many choices, and in the same instant I recognized myself in her rapidly moving, gorgeous hazel eyes.

“Writing is such an odd medium of communication. We take reading for granted, those of us lucky enough to be able to read, and we kind of need to take it for granted or we would not be able to finish reading the back of a milk carton. But writing can’t be taken for granted because the writer faces infinite choice on every level – word use, sentence structure, paragraph strategy and organization, rhetoric. And much more. Choice expands exponentially, of course, for those writers who choose their own topics. And this explosion of choice I watched Glenna experience with her chow this morning helped me realize something about the “writer’s block” I’ve experienced lately. I have too many things I want to write about, so many that I don’t really get to any of them. It seems obvious now, but was nothing but frustrating in the midst of it.

“And the great thing is that Glenna not only revealed the problem to me, she also provided its solution by coming as close to writing as a dog can. She began her day’s food intake by picking up one piece at a time, finishing it, and moving on to the next one. And I went to my computer and wrote this.”

Glenna and me in Pettit Lake

Click to see a photo album of Glenna



  1. Rough duty, I had to put down a great dog a few years back and I still visit that last moment with mixed and confused feelings. There was also the greatest dog I’ve ever had the pleasure to know, a brilliant fellow and constant companion from my early twenties into my late thirties who I couldn’t bring myself put to sleep. One day while sitting with him as he lay there hanging by a thread as he had for months I leaned over and said, “It’s OK you can die if your ready”. He looked into my eyes then took a breath and died. I hadn’t realized he was waiting for permission. Sounds like fiction but the absolute truth.
    There is no letting go or end of grief when you lose a friend like them.

    • Thanks for your rich words, Roscoe. Amazing story about giving permission to die. I don’t doubt it at all. I’m learning new ways each day that I have underestimated the connection with my first dog, and with the pain of loss. Thanks again for reaching out. Take care. Bob

  2. In 2003 I had to have my first dog put down. She had congestive heart failure and it was the hardest decision I ever made in my life. She was my guide through my thirties. There was never a day that she didn’t bring a smile to my face and make me realize how fortunate I was to have her as my companion. My boss just had to euthanize his 1 1/2 golden retriever this past Monday due to a viral infection which decimated his white blood count. When my boss came to work on Tuesday to tell us about Zach it brought all those emotions to the surface again. I realized you never get over the first one. The hole in your heart lessens with time but the depthness of the loss is always there. The first one teaches you things you never knew about yourself or the world around you and for that we can always be thankful.


    • Thank you for your kind words. I’m truly touched by them.

  3. […] days after putting my beloved Glenna to sleep, we needed to honor her by going to one of her favorite places in this world. It is also one of […]

  4. […] her, during which time I rarely hunted with her because she ran too big and hunted for herself, she was buried in my brother-in-law’s yard in the mountains not far away. Dave dug the hole, which, empty, […]

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