In Loving Memory: Salty 1999-2009

Posted March 11th, 2009 by Mike Cherim

On Sunday, March 8th, I asked my white German shepherd dog, Salty, if he wanted to go for a walk. He seemed depressed so I thought it would cheer him up. He didn’t really seem up to it, but would follow me to the ends of the earth so away we went. He didn’t run ahead as he usually does, he barely kept pace with me, and he actually stopped once as if he was tired. I got very concerned so we turned around and went home. I called the veterinarian.

On Monday the 9th I brought him to the vet for a checkup. The doctor was very concerned because his symptoms were indicative of a splenetic or splenic tumor. I left Salty there for x-rays, an ultrasound, and if deemed necessary, an exploratory surgery to further assess the seriousness of the situation. The surgery was needed as the x-rays and ultrasound were showing some serious and foreboding results, and his red blood cell count was about half of what it should have been.

The tests showed two rather large tumors on the spleen. The surgery showed that these were malignant because the disease had metastasized to the liver and other organs. This meant it was terminal. I was presented with two choices. I could bring Salty home, in pain, with no chance of permanent recovery, only to suffer more as the tumors spread, or I could opt to euthanize him.

I couldn’t bear the thought of putting my beloved dog down, but even more so I couldn’t bear the thought of watching him suffer for a month, maybe two, while he slowly died. Already he seemed depressed so I made the choice to put him down, mercifully. I gathered my family and we all went to the vet. Salty had recovered from the surgery enough that we could say good bye. After a few minutes of extremely sad sentiments, the vet injected my dog with a chemical that would end his life.

I wailed uncontrollably. Shit, I won’t try to kid you, I’m crying right now as I write this. My love for this animal was and is deep and unconditional. Just like his love for me was. I brought him home, removed two feet of snow to expose earth by his favorite squirrel tree, dug a two-foot grave in the cold but not frozen earth, and I put Salty’s body to rest. I covered him and put rocks over the soil. I planted a small marker at the head of his grave. My family and I stood around his resting place, all in tears, and again said good-bye. We will all cherish his memory forever.

For the past couple of days I have looked in all of Salty’s places around the house, always close to me, but he’s no longer in those places. I’m a wreak. My heart is broken. Slowly the tears have stopped flowing so readily. And I even laughed at something today… though I don’t remember what it was. We will miss him so much. I am having a hard time letting go. That’s why I’m writing this: To memorialize him. I feel as if I cannot do enough to commemorate his existence on earth and his place in my life.

He made me his “master,” and it was an honor for me to be that. But our relationship ran deeper than that. Second only to my children, Salty was my best friend in the world. He loved me in ways only a dog can love a person. If you have had a dog in your life you will know what I mean. If you haven’t had the privilege then you’re missing out on one of the most powerful things life has to offer.

I miss you, Salty. Rest in peace good boy. I hope your spirit is with me, my friend. And maybe someday I will be fortunate enough to be with you again. We can finish that walk. I love you with all my heart and soul, Salty.

60 Responses to: “In Loving Memory: Salty 1999-2009”

  1. Adam Fitzgerald responds:
    Posted: March 11th, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Mike, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Losing a pet is one of the hardest things to ever go through. They are our companions, our friends, our shoulder to cry on when no one else understands. It is obvious the love that you had and will always have for your friend. You can rest easy knowing that Salty lived out the best possible life he could have thanks to you and your love. A dogs capacity for love of its owner can not be measured, for that much love is unable to be contained. I am sure Salty showed that to you every day of his wonderful existence. God bless you and your family during this difficult time and may he watch over your beloved friend.

  2. John Faulds responds:
    Posted: March 11th, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    That’s so sad Mike. I felt quite teary just reading it. We’ve got two dogs too - a border collie and a labrador - and they’ve both got a few years left in them hopefully. I’m not looking forward to when one of them does go - we’ve got two kids under two who will no doubt be devastated when it does happen, not to mention how the dog that is left behind will feel.

    Salty was a good-looking dog. :(

  3. Georg responds:
    Posted: March 11th, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Always sad to lose a close friend. He was a nice and friendly dog.

  4. Gill responds:
    Posted: March 11th, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Mike I’m so sorry. I know how much that hurts.

  5. Steve Grobschmidt responds:
    Posted: March 11th, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Mike, I just recently added your blog to my list….and I’m so sorry to hear about your loss.

    As a lifetime dog lover, I know exactly what you mean, both about the unique friendships they provide and the absolute gut-wrenching heartache in losing one.

    All my best to you and your family.

  6. Steven Clark responds:
    Posted: March 11th, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Mike, all I can offer is condolences from myself and “Flopsy Mopsy” (a koolie cross)… it is a very touching story. It’s very hard to choose the best answer out of two unacceptable ones.

    Our thoughts are with you.

  7. Valamas responds:
    Posted: March 12th, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Hi Mike, sorry to hear of you loss. I see a dog like yours here : on the top right hand side.

  8. Tommy Olsson responds:
    Posted: March 12th, 2009 at 2:42 am

    My sincere condolences, Mike.

  9. S Emerson responds:
    Posted: March 12th, 2009 at 3:53 am

    My condolences, Mike.

    Lost my best buddy almost 17 years ago now and still miss him.

  10. David Zemens - 1955 Design responds:
    Posted: March 12th, 2009 at 8:10 am

    The love of a dog is the only true love money can buy.Anonymous

    Twenty seven years ago a good friend gave me a book about how to train my new Labrador Retriever puppy, and inside the front cover he had written this quotation. Truer words have never been written.

    My current dog, Guinness, is the third dog we have owned since I recieved that book. Her two predecessors are both long gone, and along with them a part of me that can never be replaced. They truly were two of my best friends.

    The only way to avoid the pain, Mike, is to never have experienced the remarkable love and respect of Salty. Only a dog owner can ever know how great an experience that was.

  11. Blair Millen responds:
    Posted: March 12th, 2009 at 9:13 am

    That’s desperately sad news Mike. I’m in tears myself just reading through your post (and the images of beautiful Salty didn’t help either). My thoughts are with you and your family.

  12. H. Michael Karshis responds:
    Posted: March 13th, 2009 at 12:49 am

    My eyes are all wet and salty.

    Sad news man, it’s hard to lose a best friend and companion. Salty was one good looking pooch. I’m laying here fixin’ to crash with our two rescue dogs Ringo and Dazy at my feet and side - they are missing my wife and daughter, they are at the beach.

    I think I would have made the same incredibly hard and sad choice.

    Peace Mike and good night Salty,


  13. Romy responds:
    Posted: March 13th, 2009 at 8:56 am

    What a beautiful dog. I’m so sorry. :(

  14. Deborah responds:
    Posted: March 14th, 2009 at 9:35 am

    I am so sorry to hear about Salty. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

  15. Karl responds:
    Posted: March 14th, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Oh how terribly sad, Mike. My condolences to you all.

  16. Scott responds:
    Posted: March 16th, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    What a beautiful dog Mike. I was choked up reading this. I think you were around when I lost my first pet and it was a sad time in my life. I cherish the memories as I’m sure you will.

  17. Mike N. responds:
    Posted: March 18th, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Wow, I totally know the feeling, Mike. I was just jumped on the desktop real quick for a form plugin, and this just gave me one of those moments where you stop and think for a minute. You know you just gotta keep on, it’s hard, but that’s life.
    Regards to all who knew Salty.

  18. Dave Woods responds:
    Posted: March 19th, 2009 at 7:24 am

    So sorry to hear about Salty, Mike. My condolences and thoughts are with you and your family.

  19. Belinda responds:
    Posted: March 19th, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Mike, Gee, Sarah and Chris,
    I have started writing this message about 50 times and cannot come up with the words that I want to say. We arrived home this morning from vacation and received your message on our machine. I cannot stop crying, because I know how much Salty Joe meant to you and your entire family. I can only say that I am so happy that I made the decision to give Salty, as a pup, to your family, and know he had the best life in the world. Cherish ALL your memories forever, because those memories are now YOUR treasures…I remember the times on C-Keeper and Cuervo Flies, when I had to rescue Salty because he ate too many crab bodies. No more said…
    Love you Salty Joe and somehow, tell the family that you are alright and in no more pain. As you know, the decision they had too make was from their hearts and they will love you always.
    Mike, PLEASE SMILE, Salty Joe would want it that way…
    Love you all,
    Belinda and Tony

  20. Simon responds:
    Posted: March 19th, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Sorry for you and yours Mike. Had to give up my cat of seven years recently, as we were moving cities and to rented accomodation where no pets are allowed. Your post brought it all back. Take care.

  21. Jeff responds:
    Posted: March 19th, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Made me tear up a bit - i know that exact feeling when I lost my dog. Keep your head high. You will always have great memories :)

  22. Rob Hadfield responds:
    Posted: March 20th, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Mike, words cannot say how sorry I am to hear about your loss, I know how you feel and I know there is nothing that I can say that will make you feel better. I will miss the images that you post of salty as he has some funny looks and so beautiful too :) but I also know that you did the right thing for him when it was time for him to leave.
    In time you will just remember him and smile to yourself when you think of the things that you and he did together or should I say got up to together!
    My thoughts are with you and your family :)

    All the best,

  23. The Green Family responds:
    Posted: March 25th, 2009 at 2:41 pm


    I don’t even know how I landed on this page (but I am so glad that I did). One minute I was looking at Smash Magazine, and the next thing I know I am crying at my computer over beautiful memories that don’t even belong to me. I went through something very similar to your experience. It was one of the hardest decisions my family had to make. It was however the most selfLESS decision we ever made. It makes my heart smile to think that Salty and Shadow are hanging out, and having the time of their lives in Puppy Heaven. Salty was and is a beautiful soul. His memory will always be alive within these stories that you share with us.


  24. Marco responds:
    Posted: April 3rd, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Hey Mike.

    My apologies for the late reply. My sincere condolences on your loss. I know these things are never easy to deal with.

    I still remember “Poochie”, our little cockapoo terrier, who died about 10 years ago. It helps to remember all the good times we had…

    Stay strong. My thoughts are with you and the family.


  25. Catherine (Cleyn) responds:
    Posted: April 4th, 2009 at 4:45 am

    Mike, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss.
    My thoughts are with you.
    I am so happy I got to know Salty, even if only photo-wise. He was such a great and good looking model.
    He will always have a special place on my website…
    All the best to you and your family.
    Catherine (Cleyn).

  26. Stomme poes responds:
    Posted: April 21st, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Wow, those photos are beautiful. It truly makes this a memorial, because just looking at the first photo I can almost feel the top of his head with my hand and smell him. Thanks for sharing your dog’s memory, and your loss, with us sometimes-anonymous internet peoples. I had to do option 2 with my 16-year-old black lab mix– the last member of the family for me. She didn’t like to get more than her feet wet, despite the lab in her, so I’m seeing her standing on shore watching Salty and Shadow and who knows else splashing around the sea.

  27. Stomme poes responds:
    Posted: April 22nd, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Ah, even though she was black, her name was Blanca (long story)… I did mean the Shadow posted by your friends, they sounded like water-loving dogs. Blanca would wade a little, that’s about it. That she was so old when she died made her both a childhood and adult friend, which is a bit unusual.
    Gosh I’ve even gone back to look at old photos of her now : )

  28. Debra responds:
    Posted: May 7th, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Dearest Mike -
    My heart is so heavy as I came to my computer to find some solace in the form of memorials to our best four-legged friends. My 9 year-old Lab went in for an ACL surgery yesterday; everything was going smoothly; great heart rate; had super blood workup the week prior; they were almost finished with the procedure, and out of nowhere, her heart just stopped. The vets did everything they could to revive her, but to no avail. I’m crying now as I write this to you, as we too got up this morning and started our “routines” but with no Gabby. Her brother Sam, was with us the whole time while we were digging her grave in our pet cemetary out in the meadow. I know that I have to be there for him, too. I know that I have so much love to give, and as a certified dog trainer I experience the amazing bond that people have with their dogs, but…in all my years-not unlike you with your Salty-I have never had as close a relationship as I had with my Gabby. Thank God we can all say we’ve had at least one of these relationships. Your writing is amazing, and captures the bond and joy that you shared with your boy. Thank you for sharing your memories, pictures and love with all of us out here in cyberspace. It truly makes a difference.
    Peace - Debra

  29. klaus responds:
    Posted: May 20th, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    “If you haven’t had the privilege then you’re missing out on one of the most powerful things life has to offer.” This is so very very true. And lots of people sadly miss out. I was luckier than you were: my setter recovered after being very ill for months, and I feel blessed having had the gift of another good year. I believe I know what you must have felt and are still feeling. But trust me, he’ll always be with you. klaus

  30. Michael Penner responds:
    Posted: May 28th, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    There is no companionship equivalent in human relations as that which bonds between us and our animal friends. The word “pet” is almost insulting where such a bond exists. My condolences.

  31. Miscbytes responds:
    Posted: July 3rd, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    I’m so sorry about your beautiful Salty, but you made the ultimate UNselfish choice when you had him put to sleep instead of bringing him home to be in pain and misery. I’ve known many people who are a lot more worried about their own feelings rather than asking themselves if their pet is enjoying life or not. You did a wonderful thing for your beloved companion.

  32. Barry responds:
    Posted: July 20th, 2009 at 8:59 pm


    I just came across your post. I know time helps heal, but it brought back memories. One of the hardest things I ever had to do was put my dog to sleep. I cried and sobbed. Next to burying my father, holding my friend in my arms as he drifted away was the saddest day of my life. Thanks for sharing,

  33. Bob responds:
    Posted: August 18th, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Hi Mike,

    I was looking for a form and ended up here.

    We have had to put both our dogs down in the last 2 years. Like Barry, holding my shepard as he slowly stopped breathing left me in tears. When we had to take the 2nd dog in, I couldnt stay in the room.

    My little girls missed the dogs, so got a kitten that Christmas. I find myself frequently holding her and thinking about my dogs. She has been great therapy.

    I hope you find another companion animal. There are many out there that deserve a human like you.

  34. Craig Hesser responds:
    Posted: August 19th, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Hello Mike,

    We first “met” shortly after your loss occurred, in early April, and you never alluded to what had transpired. I had a similar loss, but not the same way. About two years ago, we had 5 cats and 4 dogs at our big B&B in Italy. The dogs were two husky-border collie mixes - brothers, a 100% dog female who looked like a small English setter, and a full-bloded yellow Labrador female, and I had bonded well with all four. All were young - between 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 years. The cats were a mix of various appearances and ages and nationalities (three French, two Italian). All nine managed to get along together rather well.

    But one rainy evening when we came home, we found one of the cats dead - she looked a little strange, and I decided to take her to the vet the next day to see what had caused her death. The next day, the vet said that it
    had to have been a car that hit her. She was completely damaged inside, even though the sin was not broken. That was strange: we live about 1 km from the closest road, but maybe she had been “out” and was hit and just managed to make it back home before she died. We went back to a more-or-less normal life with four and four. A few weeks later, I found another cat dead, and this one (not one of ours) was in almost the same condition as the first. This could not have been any automobile. Before we could get straight in our heads what was going on, we lost another cat - this time one of the ones from France, and I put my foot down. It had to be the dogs, there was no other possibility. We made a short term isolation solution, but it could not stay that way. Watching the dogs play with a visiting small dog friend lster on, I saw what was happening - the “English setter” female was “herding” the friend- like sheep - and it got rougher and rougher until I had to stop her. I’m sure the same thing happened with the cats, since they were not afraid of the dogs, and they ended up being treated like rubber toys. I don’t believe it was with malice.

    We decided that we had to get rid of either the dogs or the cats. The cats (at least some of them) had come from France with us, and it was only fair that they received priority. But we could not imagine giving dogs away in Italy! If you have never lived in Italy (not just visited for a few weeks), you cannot imagine the lack of respect and (yes) the fear the Italians have for dogs. We finally found a solution: I found, with the help of our German vet, a home for house pets without homes for adoption in Germany, near Frankfurt.

    We decided, I called, and when they had space for the three (the sweet young Laborador was to stay with us), I bundled them into the station wagon at 10 in the evening, and we took off for Germany - a 12-hour trip. I drove through the night and arrived at the home at about 11 am. I was a wreck - first the drive and the lack of sleep, and then the thought of what was coming. I will spare you the details, but I was in tears while we were doing the information transfer, and then I had to leave, and I could see the three of them looking at me and I felt as guilty as original sin. I drove about 1/2 km and had to stop and cry. About 20 minutes later, I could see again, and slowly carried on with the trip back to Italy.

    I have told myself that I had saved the lives of the remaining cats, but that’s something of a whitewash in my mind. In any case, this story does have a happy ending - all three dogs, Gordon, Jimmy, and Betsy, were adopted - independently - by three different families and all three families have children, cats, and a nice fenced garden for all to play in.

    Thanks for letting me get this off my chest - I don’t think it will help, but it’s been bottled up inside me for two years.

    I really like your blog design, and I hope you keep up the good work.

    Craig Hesser
    San Biagio della Valle, Italy

  35. Mort Cherim responds:
    Posted: October 5th, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Dear Mike: Playing around and came across your Loving Memory to Salty. Teared me up a bit and made me think back to Japan and holding Sloopy in my arms and crying when I had him put down after he tore you up. I didn’t know what else to do and unfortunately it has changed me and my relationship with dogs….a change that makes me feel sad but even after all of these years (almost 40 years) I still have visions of Sloopy tearing into your face. I wish I could forget that scene but I can’t. Your sentiments about Salty were powerful. Lots of Love, Dad

  36. Anthony responds:
    Posted: October 26th, 2009 at 5:55 am

    Reading this post brought a tear to my eye and I really feel for you Mike. My best friend; Puddles, my eight year old mutt fills a special place in my heart too, that is hard to describe, but you nailed it with this post how I feel towards him and what a strong connection we are lucky to have in our lives with our four legged friends. Best regards and sorry for your loss.

  37. cartouche d'encre responds:
    Posted: October 28th, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    I felt tears in my eyes while reading your article. I can understand how much you love Salty? Try to remember him with happiness like how you had enjoyed the days with him. Thank you so much for posting this blog.

  38. Vera responds:
    Posted: November 20th, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    A sad but touching story. Salty was lucky to have people who loved him deeply and took such good care of him. And now he won’t have to feel any pain anymore. I am sure he had a good, full life and in a way it is lucky you were able to offer him a peaceful ending to it. Shed some tears myself just reading this. I’ve lost several pets and they all were so very dear to me so know how you feel.

  39. Ron responds:
    Posted: August 4th, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    hi mike, i just read your post about your dog salty, and im really2x sorry to hear what happened.

    im sure he’s in good hands now, and you did the right thing.

    God speed…:)

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