The road to hell started a few weeks back when I noticed that Maggie was producing a croaking sound, especially after she exercised and ate. At first, I was not unduly concerned. Bulldogs are known for making noises from all their orifices. The alarm bells went off when she lost her appetite. The first visit to the veterinary and a blood test showed an increase in white blood cells. More tests pointed to a problem with one of the kidneys. Antibiotics were prescribed but failed to bring down the white blood cell count. The vet suggested a second round of more exhaustive tests. These examinations produced the worst possible prognosis. Maggie had an aggressive metastatic cancer which had already spread to the lungs and probably elsewhere. There was nothing that could be done except palliative care.

Maggie was seven years old. During those seven years, she became an integral part of our life. At home, she was always by my side. I cannot say she was special because all dogs are special, but she meant the world to me and to everyone at home. And I was her world.

And yet, I was, being asked to become her judge and jury: to decide when she should die.

I tried to convince myself that this wasn’t happening. That she had a bad case of flu and that she would shake it off.

I blamed myself for not noticing the signs earlier, even though the vet told me this kind of cancer could only be spotted when it was too late.

I looked at her and wanted her to tell me she was okay, that she would soon be back to her usual playful self.

Her breathing was becoming increasingly laboured, and her walking fatigued. She still cuddled and demanded attention. But the fire in her eyes was spent.

I didn’t want her to suffer. Not for one day, not even for one minute and see her gasping for air pained me. I made the call. I stayed with her till her heart stopped beating. By that time, I had no more tears left in me. I was broken.

I still am.

Sorry is not the hardest word, after all. Goodbye hurts much more.

Written by : Peter Portelli


  1. Joanna Gauci 25 January 2023 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    So sorry for this heart breaking loss. Only those who have pets in their lives can relate. We have 2 bulldogs 1 of them is 6 years old the other 2 years old. Can only imagine the pain you are going through 💔😔 fly high beautiful Maggie 🌈♥️

    • admin 27 January 2023 at 1:52 pm - Reply

      Hi Joanna, I have Maggie’s son. He is adjusting to the loss just like us.

  2. David Fenech 27 January 2023 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    My deepest sympathies Peter – unfortunately I’ve been there myself…. and I re-shed the tears I had thought I didn’t have when I read your blog.

    Excellent piece of raw emotion which I will not thank you for, since it helped the hurt to re-surface.

    Time numbs the pain.

    Until some choice words like yours opens the wounds again.

    It is a path we are all condemned to follow, one way or another, sooner or later.

    I hope you find solace in the fact that Maggie had the best of everything.

    Just as she undoubtedly gave you the best of her.

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