One Fewer Passengers in Walden

I’ve had trouble getting back into the swing of posting anything since I got back from Ecuador. I’ve got some pretty good stuff from Ecuador that I hope to get posted Real Soon Now, but last week I had to make a tough, but inevitable decision.

We had visited a vet in Birmingham a couple of times, both of which Thor pooped on the floor. The second time it was, let’s say, not very easy to pick up. It had been hypothesized that Thor had an intestinal parasite. A fecal sample was needed for the test. The vet, seeing the puddles of poop strewn across the floor, said “Well, we have our sample!” (Note: Some of my media consultants have suggested that people are not interested in hearing about poop, but Thor farted in their general direction.) Anyway, the point of the vet story, aside from getting to mention poop, was that she said that her dogs had been afflicted with precisely the same condition and that she kept her dogs longer than she should have. This point stuck with me as I struggled with the decision. If an animal health care professional could not be expected to make the right decision about tell when to put her own dogs down, how the hell was I supposed to? Thor wasn’t clearly in tremendous pain, but it didn’t look like he was having just a whole bunch of fun, and often needed help standing up, especially on slippery surfaces.

Along about last Tuesday, I decided that it was time. Given that the last-resort anabolic steroids, which did bulk him up a little, didn’t help at all, there was only one solution. I called the vet and made an appointment for Thursday morning.

Several of us took Thor out to dinner on Wednesday night at Chez Liberty, a fairly upscale place, with excellent steaks and a dog-friendly patio. It was raining, and the tarp over our heads lost its rain repellent properties in the recent hail storms, so we had the dripping patio to ourselves. I tried to arrange the table so that water would drip between the plates. I ordered a too-big bone-in steak, and when the owner learned why we were willing to brave the storm in the rain room, he sent out a burger just for Thor. Thor ate his burger and a bunch of my very tasty, expensive, and rare artfully aged steak. When our desert arrived, there was a little bone along with it. Don’t worry, it was in a bowl by itself, not with the saffron ice cream. Thor seemed to have a pretty darned good time.

On Thursday, June 16, Thor went to the vet for the last time. I sat with him in his last minutes. After they gave him the first shot, which was merely a sedative, I waived my hands in front of Thor’s face and said “You are getting sleepy, very, very sleepy. . . .” Thor, apparently unaware that he’d been given a sedative, failed to get my very clever joke. Thor was a good dog, but he didn’t have much of a sense of humor.

I filled the rest of the day with errands and my own doctor’s appointment. That night I played a gig at the Pizza Kitchen. Friday, I really wanted to hit the road. I made it out of town by about one.

Here are of my pictures of Thor. Thor’s bad habits started when we first got him.

Thor, suddenly not so sure about life in California, was non-plussed to be dressed as “Thorio” (Remember Fabio and his “I can’t believe it’s not butter” commercials?). He did win a trophy.

Here is Thor with his Kitty, Modi:

Here’s Thor on the thrown I made him for the front seat. he was unable to jump up onto his thrown soon after I’d made it.

This entry was posted in All, Animals, Best, iLiveInMyVan and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to One Fewer Passengers in Walden

  1. Chris Crisalli says:


    I’m so sorry to hear about Thor. As you could tell from my visit with Malin and Jen, I’m a big dog person, and Thor brought much joy. My prayers go out to him. Best of luck on the rest of your journey. 


  2. Shellon says:

    I’m sorry about the loss of your amazing friend and offer our condolences. I’m thankful you were blessed with him. He had a really cool life, I expect.

    Shellon and Kelly North

  3. ebf9q says:


    I am sorry to hear about Thor and your loss.  About two years ago, I had to make the decision to put down a beloved pet.    I just hope someone is brave enough to do it for me when the time comes.  

    Best of luck on your journey.  Please stop in and see us if you find yourself having a hankering for some NC barbeque.


  4. Margaret Sallee says:

    So, SO sorry to read about Thor.  He was such a nifty dog who was such a good boy for you.  You made a difficult decision, but it sounds like it was the right one to make.  I only had the chance to meet Thor a few times and I’m very sad for you!  But, I hope you know that you gave that dog one hell of a life– just as he helped give you one hell of a good life, too. 

  5. Ken says:

    I can’t think of a better way to go: With a good meal and a good friend.

  6. degrow says:

    Jay, I’m very sorry to read about Thor. I’m sure you will miss his companionship on those long trips.

  7. Steven says:

    Not the post I’ve enjoyed reading the most :o(   So sorry to hear of your friend’s passing.  I remember meeting Thor back in San Francisco, where he kept the porch safe from various nefarious characters. Travel Well, Thor!  

  8. Linda says:

    So sorry to her that you have lost Thor – but I will bet he has his own blog and stories to tell now.

  9. Monica says:

    I  am sorry for the loss of your traveling buddy. I loved the story about when he went into the house to sleep with the college kids– 15 minutes after you fell asleep. He had some great adventures and was loved by many. That is a good life!

  10. Ross Young says:

    This is the only bad thing about having a dog.

    I am honored that you chose us for this meal, and it was clear on meeting Thor that he had a rich, secure life full of love and friendship.

    Ross Young/Chez Liberty


  11. dtrauner says:

    ….is knowing that the day is coming when they will not be around. It is such a difficult decision to make in any situation. I wish you peace and good memories of your time with Thor.

  12. Chris Riggs says:

    I haven’t been doing a very good job of keeping up with your journey, but apparently my mother has. She informed me today about Thor, and Matt and I send our condolences and wish you the best of luck in your travels.

  13. Lorrian says:

    I’m on a a drive-by from Katie’s blog…and now I’ve tears in my eyes.

    I’m so very sorry that Thor is no longer a passenger on your journey.  What a lovely life and honorable passing you gave him.

  14. Lorrian says:

    PS – I’ve borrowed a copy of “Thor and his kitty” to be my desktop picture at work.  What a face.


  15. tallnoe says:

    Wow, this is a hard post to read. But, I’ve been there. It’s such a tough decision to have to make.

    What wonderful pictures you have, though!

  16. jzzy55 says:

    Your unsentimental description of Thor’s demise is sad but looking at his photos I can see he had a wonderful dog life. He sounded like the ideal ride-along partner, too. My older poodle (a Travels with Charley kind of fellow) is suddenly having hind leg tremors, and I wonder where that is going to take us, and how soon.


  17. Pattie says:

    I’m so, so sorry to hear about Thor. This post made me cry remembering what it was like making that sad, ultimate decision for my own dog three years ago. Even though Thor will no longer be riding along in your van with you, I imagine he’ll be there in spirit, enjoying all the adventures you have ahead of you. Wishing you continued safe travels.

  18. hmbalison says:

    I’m so sorry to hear you lost your friend, Thor. Saying good-bye to a dog is heart-breaking.  

    Last year, our 10 yr. old Belgian Aztec got cancer. On the first day of summer, he had surgery, but it was clear the results were not good. I said good-bye to my sweet friend on July 19. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I still miss him. 

    May Thor’s gentle and fun spirit stay with you on your journey….

  19. Alesa says:

    Deepest condolences on your loss of Thor. I’ve seen my dog through three horrible medical crises in his 14 years, and it just gets harder every time. My only wish is for him to go in peace when it’s his time, and that God will grant me the wisdom to know when that is. My heart aches for you.


  20. Alesa says:

    I agree. Contemplating that day is the worst.


  21. jodysun says:

    I’m apparently not keeping up.  I just saw this today, and I’m very sad.  I’m so sorry for your loss.  And still hope you can make it to NH.  You can play with our dogs as much as you want.  Normally we limit peoples’ play time with our dogs, but in your case we’ll make an exception. :)

  22. jodysun says:

    I should add that we lost a dog a few months ago, in not nearly as humane a way as yours went — he was stuck in a car for 24 hours, and it was particularly hot out. This was Neil and Emily’s dog, Tank.  When you come visit, we’ll tell you the story of how that happened.  About a month later we got a new puppy, and our dog Kodi, who is normally wonderful with other animals, especially small ones, /still/ doesn’t like her!  These dogs, man. They have such personalities!

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