Dooley’s Journey

–He’s given us fifteen years of joy and we’re doing our best to let him know what that has meant

My brain screamed “oh shit!” right before the jar of chicken-in-broth baby food exploded in the microwave. Instead of six seconds, I punched in six minutes. I can’t think straight these days. Stress has reached its boiling point and I’ve been functioning on autopilot.

I broke down in tears. I couldn’t help myself.

The baby food was for our boy, Dooley, who is in the final chapter of his life. As I wrote in another story, one day he was fine, and the next, every minute of his fifteen years hit him like a pile driver.


Dooley Just Turned 15

Since this inevitable point of no return came to pass, he’s been back and forth to see our long-time veterinarian. His initial blood work didn’t show anything concerning, but his total lack of interest in food certainly was.

A couple of days ago, during our last visit with our vet, he told us that he suspected cancer. He’s not sure where, or what kind but tests at this point would be fruitless. Too, since Dooley lost two pounds since his last exam, “Dr. Matty” as we call him, suggested, well…you know. We had the option of either doing “it” that very day, or taking Dooley home for a couple of days in order to have sufficient time to say our goodbyes.

We took him home, and at this juncture, our sweet boy has been spending most of his time snoozing on the loveseat in our family room.

He is so skinny that it hurts our hearts just to look at him, but the love in his beautiful eyes never wavers. Thankfully, he doesn’t appear to be in any pain. Daily, I administer a steroid by syringe to tamp down any inflammation in his little body. This has appeared to boost his appetite, which has been virtually nonexistent.

That said, Dooley gets food whenever he wants it, which is at varying times throughout the day. He lets me know by getting off the loveseat and following me to the laundry room where I dole out a handful of kibble — one of the few things he’ll eat now — or some of the aforementioned baby food.

He doesn’t eat much, but anything, even a few bites, or licks of the pureed chicken, is a small victory.

My husband and I know that we’re just buying time, so we watch him carefully for signs of discomfort. Again, he seems very content to dream his kitty dreams and purrs as he always has, whenever we caress him. I’m very careful whenever I touch him because he’s so bony.

Last night, he surprised me by virtually gobbling up the kibble I fed him. When he finished, he looked at me, at my place on the floor beside him, and asked for more.

Of course, he got it. Anything he wants at any time.

Our other two kitties, Conor and Lorna, sense that their big brother isn’t doing well and our very sweet with him. Lorna, our spitfire grooms Dooley, and he lays there, content, while she washes his head.

Our fervent hope is that, when it’s Dooley’s time, he’ll pass in his sleep, so that we don’t have to make The Decision. Perhaps that sounds selfish, but you pet parents will get it.

It doesn’t matter as whatever is necessary, we’ll do.

Meanwhile, as I don’t know what the next day will bring, indeed, the next hour, every minute we have with our precious boy is a gift.

Thank you for reading.

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Sherry McGuinn
Sherry McGuinnhttps://medium.com/@sherrymcguinn
Sherry McGuinn is a long-time, Chicago area, advertising/marketing writer, blogger and, for the last fifteen years, screenwriter. A big-time dreamer and proud of it, Sherry has had two short films produced, one in L.A., the other in New York. Both won several awards and screened at festivals but she is still "fighting the good fight," in order to become a full-time, working screenwriter. A passionate straight-shooter who never rests on her laurels, Sherry writes about damn near everything because how do you encapsulate…life? Unflinching in her determination to “just tell the truth,” Sherry strives to educate, engage and inspire others to follow their dreams. A lifelong animal lover and advocate, Sherry resides in a Chicago suburb with her husband and their three fabulous felines.


  1. A heart felt story it is so hard to loose a fur baby. It’s never easy. I’ve had plenty of pets over time but my Sheeba is special to me
    I rescued her from the pound. She’s a female long hair Chiwawa. So beautiful but she’s already 7 yes old when we got her
    I hope she lives a long life. bI know I will feel a deep void when she is gone. Blessings