Tribute to Millie

Q. Would you share more personally about a time when you were not in a good place?

A. Let’s Talk! Thanks for asking. Last week as my column posted about not being in a good place, I faced an even darker cloud. My absolutely wonderful dog Millie died suddenly from pneumonia. My heart is broken beyond belief. All of our Let’s Talk conversations about grief are being lived out now as I process the many losses and changes this brings. I can hardly see this page for my tears.

IMG952984I would love to share some of the helpful stories and words of encouragement sent to me. I expect there are many of you who have had a pet die and your own heart sought or still seeks recovery.

Why dogs live fewer years than humans A vet was called to examine a ten-year old dog named Belker. The dog’s owners and their son Shane, age 6, were hoping for a miracle. But the vet examined Belker and broke the news: Belker was dying. As the vet and family talked about the sad fact that animals’ lives are shorter than humans, the young son spoke up and said he knew why. “People are born so that they can learn how to love everybody all the time and be nice,” Shane explained, “and dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

The way of the doggie “We know when we get these small warm beings that we will outlive them, but somehow we think it will be easy when the time comes, but it never is, for anyone,” my friend Margaret Stocker shared. “This makes me wonder why we do that, but then I believe what [pets] give us in life far outweighs the heartbreak and sadness when they leave us. That is the way of the doggie and it is what they live (and die) for. . . .” Margaret has encouraged me to think of the good times, to remember that I did my best for Millie, and that I loved her deeply.

As I reflect on my own new transition from a not-so-good place, let me share this collection of sayings about things that dogs teach us:

  • When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
  • Never pass up an opportunity to take a joyride.
  • Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
  • Never pretend to be something you are not.
  • If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle the loved one gently.

For Deeper Reflection
And this verse on the source of comfort is as applicable whether our loss is a person or a beloved pet:

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercies and GOD OF ALL COMFORT who comforts us in ALL our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in ANY affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant though Christ.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at



  1. This is excellent. It’s so true about how dogs give us so much love, how they comfort us when we need comforting simply by being present and staying close to us. This is a wonderful post and a good reminder, especially, to live in a deeper way, even in the not-so-good places in the same way that dogs do as outlined in the “things that dog teach us.” So true!

    • Thank you for your comments, my beautiful daughter! Thank you too for loving Millie well these almost 12 years. I see you always living in a deeper way “no matter what” and being emotionally present and close with your family and friends. LOVE YOU, mom

  2. So sorry about Millie. Pets definitely leave pawprints on our hearts.

  3. And always try to be that wonderful human our dogs think we are.

    • Dearest Margaret – more great words from you!!!! Millie always thought I was more than I was … but never thought about it until your saying it. Waaaaaaaaaaaah – where’s that Kleenex? Love, Helen

  4. Joan Collins says

    This is heart wrenching news, and I too have suffered the loss of a precious furry friend, more than once over the years. There is no replacing of that little one, but perhaps in days to come, your eyes will feast on another ‘tail wagger’ who will reach out and grab you, bid “please take me home”! Pets are a treasure that too many overlook…

    • Dearest Joan – So glad Millie got a fairly recent visit with you, ever carrier of joy to big and little alike. I’ve been encouraged to let another fur person into my heart! LOVE, Helen

  5. Mary Jane Lewis says

    So sorry for your pain! Can only imagine the emptiness you feel.
    Seems like you learned early how to love people and be nice. Shane sounds like a very perceptive kid!
    Hang in there, Buddy! It will get a little easier.

    • My dear MJ – one more time your words are great support. You are a true buddy and do understand. Besides that – you were one of Millie’s first friends!!! LOVE, Helen

  6. I’m so sorry about Millie. I was praying for her the night that you got the call. I was so hoping the outcome would be different. I’m thankful for all the sweet memories you have of Millie. I’m encouraged by your lessons that we humans can learn from our dogs. They are all so very true. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

    • Dear Vicki – I can’t thank you enough for your thoughts and prayers that dreadful night. God’s sovereignty is mysterious at best. You are so kind. Blessings, Dr Helen