Carter (2001-2010)

I can’t believe it but he’s gone. Carter, my adorable dog of nearly nine years died yesterday. I already miss him.

He wasn’t eating. Paul mentioned half-eaten bowls of food while I was gone. And this has happened before. Anytime I leave, Carter’s appetite gets very small. Dutifully doing his best to cheer things up on Via Nizza, Paul went to the store half a dozen times, coming home with half a dozen different types of dog food, offering a new flavor when the most recent seemed to have quickly gone out of favor. But it was a long visit. By the time I came home this weekend Carter had lost a lot of weight. So much so that he wasn’t his frisky friendly self when I finally arrived. No signature growl-whine, no rubbing against my legs. Just a brief and shaky appearance before he lied down again on the living room floor. Maybe he’s just weak from not eating, we thought. I hoped.  When I noticed his trouble walking though, I called the vet.

Then we were off. Together Carter and I navigated the Roman streets in search of the 24-hour clinic our vet recommended. GPS guiding us, scooters zipping by, one last adventure.

Three hours of x-rays, ultrasounds and blood tests resulted in a diagnosis, but not a good one. What we thought was a broken heart turned out to be the final stages of lymphoma. While I cried, the doctor explained that there was nothing she could do. He wasn’t eating because his body was too sick, not because I’d been gone. In fact, he seemed to have waited for me. But  now he was suffering, his vitals were shaky and she recommended putting him down. So, I stroked his head, held his paw, and told him one last time, “I’m right here. I won’t leave you.” He tucked his head down and drifted off. Then he was gone.

I knew it wasn’t good as we headed out the door yesterday. I knew that big dogs rarely make it past 10 years old. But it was still stunningly sad.

There are things that make every pet unique and Carter had many. I’ll miss his eyebrows raising one at a time, laying his head on a toy-turned-pillow, letting Phoebe pull his fur, whiskers and ears and most of all I’ll miss his pep. It was a delight to have someone get so excited every time I walked in the room. Even if it was only a brief trip from the kitchen.

And that dog has seen me through many things: New York apartments, boyfriends and bad dates, dinner parties and jobs. On 9/11 he single-handedly cheered up the New York Fire Department and a division of the Marine Corps as the young soldiers petted and played with him on the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue. Carter drove down to Tennessee with Colleen and I when it was time to work for HGTV. And thank heaven he did, since I knew not a soul there. The first time he saw a deer in our two-acre yard, he just cocked his head to the side, staring curiously. A city dog to be sure. Then it was back to New York, to Washington and eventually to Rome. We’ve hiked, jogged and camped, but most of all, we walked. If there was a  pedometer to record our trips together it would only need to say, “a lot”. And it would probably be covered with dog hair.

I’m sorry that Phoebe won’t know him more, but I’ll tell her about him for sure. It’s the end of an era. And it was such a good one.



Filed under Carter

12 responses to “Carter (2001-2010)

  1. Amy

    I’m completely sobbing right now. It is just so incredibly sad. He was a beautiful dog, such a lover. We only knew him for such a short while, but I know we’ll miss him! My heart goes out to you — so much love between you two. Call if you need anything, anything at all. Un grande abbraccio.

  2. Hard to think of you without Carter in the same breath, because as long as I have known you, he has always figured into every story, maneuver, timetable. I am especially moved that he waited for you (I agree with the vet). Sending big love across the waters.

  3. Emily

    Oh Charity…I am so sad to hear this news. Maris is a little perplexed by my tear stained face right now so I will have to keep this short…but I always thought Carter was a dream dog – especially the time I spent the night at your place and he was the only functioning heat source in the apartment 🙂 I’m heartbroken you all lost your buddy.

  4. Jen

    Charity — I am so sorry. This is a moving tribute to him. He was a good dog…

  5. Oh, Charity, I am so sorry. What a shock to have to say goodbye to him. I know what true friend and companion he was to you over such formative years. My heart aches for you. Hopefully Phoebe will be on the move soon and that pedometer will start clicking away again!

  6. Robert Mathews

    Charity, we are very sorry to hear about Carter. It is very hard to see a friend go but you have all the good times to remember. I have tears in my eyes after reading about it. It was good that you could be with him at the last. We are keeping you guys in are prayers

  7. Peggy

    Charity I am so sad to hear about Carter.He was an amazing dog and I have heard many stories about him and had the pleasure of meeting him when we vistied your mom and Wade.I go every Sunday and look at the Rome report to keep up on how your beatiful baby is growing.Their pictures always make me smile…

  8. Jennifer

    I cry for you. I am so sorry. Our friends are truly angels sent from God. He was such a wonderful dog. Ginger will get a treat in tribute to Carter. I am sending lots of love and comfort over to Italy as thoughts and prayers. Jennifer

  9. Wendy Henken

    I am so very sorry, Charity. I know how hard this must be for you. Losing my Buster changed my life and I’m certain this will change you. But you are better having had him in your life. How precious our pets are to us. My thoughts and prayers are with you. So, so sorry.

  10. Mom

    Carter Bugs was also a very special buddy of mine. To hug him was a giant mass of fur and warmth!
    So sweet and gentle and a best walker around after Beau Beau couldn’t walk up the hill with me anymore. He will always be in my thoughts and prayers. Love, MOM

  11. Mary Jane

    I didn’t realize Carter went off to the great playground in the sky. Maybe he will play with Timmy. Carter looked like a huge stuffed dog I got Timmy when he was 18 months old that he still had, was with him in the hospital, and still lives in his room. Their family has a Cavalier, not a multi-person dog. Timmy always wanted a big dog. I am very sorry you lost such a magnificent friend and first of Phoebe’s friends. I bet he was great with her. If you can bear to think of it, you probably sent Timmy a good friend.

  12. charityc

    Thank you Mary Jane. Such a nice note and I appreciate it very much. Best to you and your family.

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