Guest contributor: Debora Black

Getting Outside Saturday: It Was the Best of Times

categories: Cocktail Hour / Getting Outside


Lymphoma isn’t curable in canines, but the last of your savings account buys you a nine-month remission.  You and your white dog, Io, sit on the floor with Tycho during his treatments.  You bring Tycho back to strong with soft-mashed eggs and warm chicken.  It will be the three of you for as long as you can.  You are all together in your home when Tycho dies.  You are pressed against him and watching his life pass out of your hands.  You don’t make a sound because there is no sound to make.  The next day you load Tycho’s body into your SUV, and you and Io drive him the four hours down the mountain to the crematory in Fort Collins.  By the time you see the facility behind the trees, you are shaking and still not believing, and you begin to cry, but you get that under control before you open your car door.  You and Io wait long hours before you have your boy back and your hands are wrapped tightly around the warm box.  It’s another hour before you reach Poudre Canyon and the long road to home.  Io is sleeping in the back.  The box is on the console beside you.  You put your hand on it now and then to make sure.  You begin the slow climb back into the mountains.  You watch the full of night arrive.  You lose track of the road and the canyon walls and the river far below.  You drive carefully, rising up into the blinding black, into the bright silent stars, into the untouchable place of Tycho, Io, and you.

Io, Debora, Tycho.

Debora Black is a writer and athlete living in Steamboat Springs, CO. 


  1. Lorna Hamilton writes:

    Oh Debora, I really do not want to admit this but I am weeping a little bit. I was lucky enough to know Tycho and am still enjoying the white dog. I am so fortunate that you trust me enough to share your writing, your favorite books and your funny, wonderful fur friends with me.

    “You drive carefully, rising up into the blinding black, into the bright silent stars, into the untouchable place of Tycho, Io, and you.”

    Ah, so beautiful. This IS the moment captured. Much like your essay on snowboarding you take your reader RIGHT there. These are words that will stay with me forever. Thank you for sharing this. I agree with Tommy when he said, “it makes me want more.”

  2. Bill Lundgren writes:

    thank you for that Debora… sitting here, surrounded by slumbering and vastly fulfilled dogs reminds me of the ways they enrich my life.
    we are always enriched, both dog and person, by the inter-species interaction

    • Debora writes:

      Hi Bill Lundgren–happy to hear from you! Well there is nothing like slumbering, vastly fulfilled dogs…and I agree with your thought…so nicely stated.

  3. Tommy writes:

    DB, beautiful story, so tender and sweet, left me wanting more. D.W. is right, I felt like I was in your Four Runner, looking over your shoulder, on the way home. Left me wanting to finish the ride and see how you became whole again. Beautifully written, as usual – More, More!

    • Debora writes:

      Hi Tommy! Thanks for reading and for the nice support! Experiences like these are so personal, it’s a difficulty, as a writer, to feel like you capture some of it. But you know all about that being a poet who chases down the words to express all of those deep running passions…”The Muse” I still land on that last line of yours!

  4. Toni writes:

    Very touching piece Debra. Your words are a somber reality check to all of us that have loved their pet as a member of their family. My fear of that day coming for Sam & I is paralyzing, but that is the beauty of true unconditional love. All we can do is cherish each day that we have with them & love them with all of our heart. As you clearly did/do for both Tycho & IO.

    BTW, I love the short hair, looks great on you!

    • Debora writes:

      Sam…the maker of friends, mascot of Austin, soul-mate, reviewer of bands heard from balcony , thunder hater, cross-dresser, and all around cool guy (with days and days and days ahead).

  5. Tina writes:

    What a touching story about the hardest part of having a pet. It brought back memories of my Chico. Thank you.

  6. D. W. Jacob writes:

    Pretty familiar with Ms. Black’s writing. Have always enjoyed her ability to bring the reader into the moment. Great ability to convey the emotion of the moment.

  7. Stephan Zittel writes:

    You’ve captured what we all go through when we lose our best friend. It’s a difficult time, eased with memories of all of the great times and love we experience together. Thanks Debora.

    • Debora writes:

      Katrina…beyond all things…magical…a very loving soul and a rabble-rouser! Completely unforgettable. Those little ears bouncing away as she trotted down Lincoln Avenue–a working girl back then, at the art gallery.