More than a Dog

Tara Wray is a photographer…and a dog person. Her pictures of dogs are haunting and beautiful and every bit as distinctive as pictures of individual people. I interviewed her shortly after the death of her beloved dog, Nighthawk. Then my friend Tobin’s dog died, and he told me that he sometimes felt ashamed for feeling so much about the death of a dog–a dog who had been his only companion throughout the pandemic.

It seems that a lot of people feel like they have to hide the amount of grief they experience when their dogs die. But the death of a dog can be just as painful–sometimes more painful–than the death of a human family member. This is a show about dog love…and grief at their loss. And there is absurd singing.


More about These People

Learn more about Tara Wray and her beautiful work.

Tara’s latest project, Pickledog

Learn more about Tobin Anderson

Learn more about musician Brian Clark’s band, The Anachronist


  1. Meg Carrol
    Meg Carrol May 31, 2022 at 10:21 pm | | Reply

    Hi Erica, I’m a devoted listener to your show and one of the things I love about it is how every little slice of life you share is so profound; without meaning to be at all! I listened to this episode with a good deal of apprehension; I wanted to be sure I was sober and happy before I listened. My dog Max and I grew up together. Not in the way you think of people growing up with dogs but I got max when I was 20, and underprepared and dumb. But, I’m 31 now and max will be 13 in November and we’ve learned a lot. This episode gave me the words to what I know I will inevitably feel with his passing. And to forgive my guilt. “ that to me would be saying who cares about love or who really needs love. It is what it is to me in my little corner of the universe and that’s really all of any of is have is just our little spaces that we carve out for ourselves and whatever we put into those spaces and however it get assigned value is different for every single person on the planet. Just because I feel my dog doesn’t mean I don’t feel for people that are going through things that are bigger; but it’s not an Olympics of suffering.”

    I have so many more things to reflect upon thanks to this episode. And all the more beauty to appreciate because of it.

    Thank you,
    Meg & Max aka Maxy aka maxine-y aka doo-Tini aka the teen bean, the great boy beany

  2. Natasha Donovan
    Natasha Donovan June 3, 2022 at 1:34 pm | | Reply

    I stumbled upon this show through 99 Percent Invisible and I’ve been listening to the back catalogue and loving every second of it, but this episode was the first that prompted me to comment.

    My dog Luna (Lu, Lulu, Monkey, Chicken, Monster, etc) is almost 10 and just now starting to show her age a little. She used to have thick black spots around her eyes (passersby would often compliment her on her “makeup”) and the fur on her face is now almost completely white. She still bounces around on walks and I hope she has several good years left, but no matter how much longer she’ll stay, the years she’s spent with me have been an immeasurable gift. As Mary Oliver said: “Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased”. She has been by my side through great heartbreak and grief. She’s always curious about the smallest corners of the earth; equally excited to explore the wilderness as she is to wander around a hardware store – everything is worth careful examination in her opinion. She loves destroying rotting logs and hates crows with an inexplicable passion. I fully expect to grieve her death as deeply as I would a close human family member or friend, but of course…it’s all worth it.

    Thanks for creating such a beautiful show,
    Natasha and Luna

  3. Cherie
    Cherie June 6, 2022 at 9:26 pm | | Reply

    Thank you for this episode. Yes, ‘more than a dog’ says it all. 5 years later I still miss my dog Betty. I dream about her all the time. I will never forget her, but I will have many more amazing dogs, and I will love them all. PS- Don’t tell
    my other dogs, but I think I will always love Betty the most.

  4. Randy Sweatt
    Randy Sweatt June 19, 2022 at 2:28 pm | | Reply

    As people who are routinely taking in strays for the past 17 years, me and my girlfriend are well acquainted with the grief and sadness that follows the death of these dear companions. Kato, a yellow kitten joined our family about six years ago, and he became my little buddy. Two years later he disappeared and I searched every day. Finally, on the third day I found him, both front legs broken and mangled. He had been attacked, likely by a raccoon, likely because Kato was not afraid of anything and just wanted to be friends with the raccoon, just like he did with the deer in our back yard.
    After we had him euthanized and he joined the others in our back yard cemetery, my grief lasted a very long six months. It took that long before I could finally avoid weeping during my daily reminiscence of him.
    Well, here we are four years later, two more rescued cats added, bringing our family to five.
    All our dogs have long since passed – hope a cat story can be tolerated.

  5. Theo Exploration
    Theo Exploration September 28, 2022 at 6:25 am | | Reply

    Hi, Erica,

    I’ve been listening to your show, numerous episodes, for about a week.
    I like listening to your voice, and the connection you have with Vermont.
    I just listened to “More than a Dog” (I think part 2), and these honest stories returned me to my self, and a time of joy, and grief, I experienced with my pup and best friend of 8&1/2 years. Yeah, that was the best 8&1/2 years of my life.
    Listening about the cremation options brought it all back hard and fast, and my throat swelled up, my heart got tight,
    And the tears found their path. Thank you. I want to keep listening. I’m feeling shy, but wanted to say hi, and thank you.

  6. Kelly DAWSON
    Kelly DAWSON September 30, 2022 at 8:25 pm | | Reply

    This episode is profound, poignent and heartbreakingly beautiful. I have never heard a better understanding told of what it is to love a dog and to lose a dog. The things I thought only I did. Like sing made up songs to my dog…it made me laugh and cry. Thank you for this and for explaining the grief I have been unable to with these conversations.

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Extras, chatter, and other observations (and show notices, of course):


  • erica commented on Armand’s Garden: Ha! We’d been together long enough that I fig (...)
  • Felicia Cooper commented on Armand’s Garden: Thank you for saying "I know. But try." (...)
  • Kelly DAWSON commented on More than a Dog: This episode is profound, poignent and heartb (...)
  • erica commented on More than a Dog: Thank you for taking the the time to write in (...)
  • Theo Exploration commented on More than a Dog: Hi, Erica, I’ve been listening to your show, (...)