By Steve Moran

The Friday before last, I let my constant companion Bailey go to sleep for his final time. He was that once-in-a-lifetime dog who traveled many hundreds of miles by foot and thousands more by road trip. But his quality of life deteriorated to the point of no return.

We have known this was coming for months, but finally this past week, while I was traveling, it became clear the time had come. I had a few things planned to do with him and for him before that final trip to the vet, and those plans were upended by flight delays.

We spent a few last hours, then hustled off to the vet where they would gently let him fall asleep for the final time. The experience itself was caring, compassionate, and gentle. A couple of injections, lots of tears, and many happy memories, and it was all over.

But I completely missed one thing …

He Cared Too

My 91-year-old stepfather has lived with us since my mom passed away seven years ago, and his relationship with Bailey was a regular toss of treats as he passed through the kitchen. We told him what we were planning to do, and while he would have waited, he seemed to be pretty disconnected from the whole process.

When the time came to leave for the vet, my wife and I took Bailey, loaded him into the car, and headed out. It never once occurred to me that my stepfather would want to say goodbye too.

When we got home, he was very, very quiet, and we realized that he was crying, at least as much as we were. We had no idea. We were so wrapped up in our own emotions and our own grief that we barely noticed him. And this was a subtle form of ageism … or maybe not so subtle.


The slight was completely unintentional, but it was nonetheless hurtful — maybe even more hurtful because it was thoughtless. I have spent lots of time in senior living communities and other settings where there are large numbers of older people and seen many instances of those older people being treated as less important than others who are younger.

I thought I was immune to doing this thing that is so hurtful, even though unintentional. And yet I did it. I am hoping you can learn from my stumble.