Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Milo was born excited.

I spent a lot of his life reprimanding him for what basically amounts to being delighted by living. I feel like shit about that now. Crucial life lesson: Don’t try to change personalities. Of dogs OR people. They are who they are and all your efforts to shape them into what you want them to be are wasted. Now that he’s gone I wish I’d spent more time appreciating his wild soul instead of trying to tame it.

He was all heart and love. A fucking fireball of hair and slobber and tongue and tail.

I used him as a barometer with which to measure people who came to the house. Milo was into everybody, considered everyone a potential best friend, Frisbee thrower or belly scratcher. He didn’t discriminate. You could be robbing the house but if you offered to throw the Frisbee for a few, you were Milo’s greatest pal. So if you came to my house and didn’t at least bend down and acknowledge the tornado with a tail glued to your legs, chocolate eyes challenging yours, (Frisbee. Frisbee? FRISBEE?) then you are not my people. If you grimaced when he walloped your hands and face with that bubble gum-colored tongue then you are not my people. If you flinched when he tried to force all 90-plus pounds of his body into your lap then you are not my people.

I once dated a guy who visibly cringed the first time Milo moved in for action. Suffice it to say, that guy didn’t get any action from me either. 86’ed him in my head on the spot. Love me, love my dog. Because my dog is love.


How do you spend those last horrific hours before an appointment with death? I didn’t know what to do with myself, but Milo did. After a week spent curled in sickness on my bed or next to it, he wanted one last tour of his neighborhood.


You should know that Milo was an expert escape artist. He could escape the yard even as you stood there looking right at him, waiting for him to pee. There he is looking at you with innocent eyes, you check your phone for email messages – look up quick because you know how he is and there he is all innocent-like – check one more message, look up and he’s gone. A real sidler, that one. Eased his way out of the backyard and then black lightning down the road. Boom. Nowhere. Everywhere.

I’ve logged many hours driving around my ‘hood, looking for him. But if he didn’t want to be found, you were shit out of luck. He came home when he was goddamn good and ready or when some neighbor turned up with him; damn near grinning, tail a-waggin,’ thirsty as hell and exhausted.

What a pain-in-the-ass he was. But how glad I am that he escaped all those times and had himself an adventure.


Yesterday he gave me a look. Like he knew his time was limited. We either sit around the house moping or we get our asses out there and enjoy one last adventure.

It was freezing and he was weak. But he kept at it. I let him lead the way. Just kept pace with him and talked to him. I laughed, I cried, I raged at the fucking Lyme disease that was ravaging his once vibrant body.

On and on he walked. One hour ticked into two. The snow swirled gently and I remarked aloud - as I always do with Milo - that it was like we were in a snow globe. I’d clock a single flake; watch it float down from a cinder block-colored sky then blow back up several feet before meandering back down again. Milo would linger at favorite haunts, turn his nose skyward and sniff deeply for several minutes, savoring each location one last time. If I tried to walk before he was ready, he wouldn’t budge. He stayed until he was ready to move on.

Several times I’d attempt to gently steer him homeward, worried that it was all too much for his exhausted body. But he planted his paws on the road and straight up refused, so I let him take over. We’d come to intersections and I’d let him turn whichever way he wanted.

Do your thing my sweet boy. Go where you need to go.

We zigzagged around the neighborhood until Serge joined our slow parade and we ended up at a nearby park where Milo eased his tired body into the icy river one last time. He waded slowly, pausing often, pushing his sweet nose high into the air to sniff. He lapped at the water with relish even though it’d been days since he had drank anything at home.

I watched my best friend quietly, murmuring words of encouragement every now and again, marveling at what a gift it was that he had kept me walking around the neighborhood, allowing me time to rage and cry and laugh and remember and thank him and apologize and cry some more… right up until the end.

And then we walked home.

Boom. Nowhere. Everywhere.

Reader Comments (21)

Heartbreaking. Love to you.

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAvitable

So sorry for the loss of an awesome boy....

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterElle

Love for you and your tiny humans. xxo

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRichelle

I'm so sorry for your loss, Monica. I've never had a dog, but have always admired your love affair with sweet Milo, so special. Thinking of you that.

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

I am so very sorry to hear that you have lost your boyo.

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSaffron

Tough year my sweet monica...My heart is breaking for you because your heart is broken. I wish I could be there to help ease the pain a bit...hugs to you my favorite girl.

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermama

So sorry. But Milo and Max will be with you always.

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRon Cori

Thank you Monica for such a moving tribute to your friend. It brings me back to my own feelings about another wild soul who was my best friend through many years, including my divorce. Thank you. Peace.

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarty

Beautifully wrought. Much love to you.

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterE.

Damn I am sorry.

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterkaren

aw, he could not have had a better life than with your family. So sorry for your loss. You will never regret taking him out on that last day on Earth. Beautiful memories and words.

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered Commentergina

That fucking breaks my heart. Though you and Serge have done nothing but love your fur kids, so you did well.

February 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMiss A

Monica I am so sorry. And so heartbroken for you that you are being handed another loss to grieve so soon after Max. I hope that you are doing as well as can be expected. You're an amazing Mom to your four and two legged babies.

February 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKirsty

So sorry for your loss! My heart breaks thinking of saying goodbye to my own old furbaby. I certainly sympathize. All the best to your whole family.

February 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKim Q

Having one, last dip in the cold river... it is a lovely way to start saying goodbye.

February 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

That truly sucks...many tears for you right now. Our dogs are the best parts of us...makes it such an awful loss when they leave. Thinking of you and your family...

February 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

Like you, I adore my k-9 kids, I cried and cried reading this touching and beautiful story. I'm so glad I got to know Milo. Hugs to Milo!!!

February 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMaile

Wonderful story.

February 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBart

So, so sorry for you and family.

February 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCristin

Trying hard not to cry as I read this at work. I'm so sorry for the loss of your sweet Milo. Sending hugs to you and your family.

February 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

A beautiful but heartbreaking post. So sorry for your loss, Monica. xo

February 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChristine from Canada

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