After our previous cat Smokey was euthanized in 2013 at the age of almost 20 we swore we could never go through the grief again.
However fast forward to July 2014 and a neighbour alerted us to a story of 2 cats (2 years old brother and sister) who needed rescued as the owner had addiction issues and was no longer living at home. As cats protection were full and the poor things were booked in to be put to sleep we had to step in. And so arrived Missy and Smudge. Despite their less than ideal start to life you could not have dreamed of a more adorable, affectionate and loving pair of cats. Both identical, except Missy a bit smaller than Smudge. Smudge had a left front white sock, Missy had the right sock !
Soon after moving in Smudge's wonderful affectionate character became apparent. Very much a sleeper during the day he would roll on his tummy for a cuddle any time you passed whatever bed, box, chair or other weird and wonderful place he had chosen to sleep that day ! So cool and laid back, never a hiss or scratch. Just took everything in his stride. Occasional boisterous playing with his little sister but always the best of friends together, sometimes sleeping on our bed with my wife and I, leaving us little room. We didn't care ! As we live at the end of a very quiet single track road with maybe 2 or 3 cars a night passing, we let Missy and Smudge go out and do their thing, albeit always anxious when they were out and looking for them if they were the slightest bit late. LED collars with long strips of reflective tape always fitted at night for maximum visibility to cars. Some bells had to soon be added to Smudge's as he was very keen to pay his keep bringing home mice, rats, rabbits and other weird and wonderful presents ! The bells helped a bit but he was still a rascal for catching things and wanting extra big cuddles when he brought them. He was very much a night owl, going out for 4 hour stints and knocking the window to get back in. Many a night of broken sleep I had letting him in and out not that I minded. If you ignored him he could actually push up the window handles, put his weight against the window, open it and let himself out ! So clever ! Later on we had a GPS collar on him sometimes and he covered an astonishing distance on his night time adventures !
We loved his naughtiness and placidness at the same time. I tell no lie when I say he would never hiss or be nasty no matter what you did to him. Just an angel. At the beginning of this year we took Sammy in, a poor neglected stray who turned out FIV + when we had him health checked, so he was kept separate from Missy and Smudge within the house. This didn't phase Smudge at all he just got on with doing his thing. Every day we told them all how much we loved them and often said to each other how lucky we were to have such adorable cats in our lives and how we couldn't bear to think of the day they'd be gone. No need to worry now though, that day was at least 14 or 15 years away. After all, Smokey was nearly 20 when his health failed and we had to let him go....
On the 28th of August 2017, a day that will forever remain etched in my memory, everything changed. I work offshore on oil rigs and at half past midnight on the 29th my wife sent a whatsapp message that Smudge had been out since 18.30 and hadn't returned. I knew straight away it was bad - he always did 4 hour stints maximum. After a sleepless night hoping for the message to come saying he was home - it never came. I made arrangements to head home that morning as I was in no fit state to be working. Meanwhile my wife, family and friends searched for Smudge, hoping against hope that he had just got locked in someone's garage and would soon appear. At around midday as I was just packing my bag awaiting my helicopter transit back to the beach, I got the message from my wife that Smudge's body had been found in the grass just about 10 feet off the road, right across the road from our house. Not a mark on him, but obviously run over by a driver who didn't stop.
So followed the worst day of my life, travelling home in a state of shock and grief I cannot describe. I finally arrived home on the morning of the 30th and my wife and I spent the day lying beside and clinging to Smudge's lifeless but beautiful body before burying him in the garden that evening. What followed and has still not abated as I write at the end of October was sorrow beyond description. Guilt and regret saying 'if only we hadn't let him out that evening / if only he'd crossed the road a minute sooner etc. etc. He must have crossed that road without incident thousands of times in the 3 years and a month we were lucky enough to have him, but whatever happened that night, his luck ran out and as the driver didn't stop, we will never know exactly what happened.
I torture myself trying to work out exactly what might have happened, feel grief and guilt that I was away from home for the last 2 weeks of his life. Every time we look at the hundreds of photos we have of him it just breaks our hearts and we cry. This has just utterly crushed us. I cannot put it into words how much we miss him. We have to just try to adjust and be strong for our other adorable cats as I cannot see at the moment how one 'gets over' this. It's so strange that even with the other cats around, the house seems so eerily quiet without Smudge's presence. I'm self employed and couldn't face work for nearly 2 months after Smudge's passing. Now back at work offshore for the first time since, Smudge still dominates my every thought. When busy it goes away for a while sometimes, but then hits like a knife in the heart. It is helpful to talk about this on here as so few people understand how you can feel this way about a pet - they just don't get it.
We were so lucky to have our darling boy for the time we did, albeit so very short. And we will miss his affection and cuddles forever. Rest in peace beautiful Smudge until we meet again xx.
The Story of Chester
Chester Bighead, CGC, TT
2004 - 2018
Beloved Family Member and Teacher
Chester came into our lives in the fall of 2004 when Cydney Cross who was then working at Mohawk Hudson Humane Society asked if we would consider fostering a severely demodectic pitbull puppy. The puppy had a large head on a very thin body and virtually no hair. After Dr. Amy Plavin witnessed the introductions between our Honeydew and the puppy, one lick and it was a go. We adopted him soon after and he physically grew into a stunning brindle dog thanks to the veterinary help of Dr. Plavin and Dr. Carrie O’Loughlin. Behaviorally, he was more of a challenge. I am grateful for the guidance of Kristin Vanderpool, Chris Danker and Pat Miller who led me from a path of harsh corrections to one of kind communication. It paid off – we competed for five years in the agility ring and while we were not stars – mainly due to my poor handling skills – we had fun. I will especially remember the pairs class we did at the Saratoga USDAA with Bonnie Kelleher and Mighty Joe.
As Chester aged and had two TPLOs, he retired from the competitive life to continue to enjoy playing with Paul and his Cuz, hiking around the property, attacking his tire, laying in the grass and playing tug with Helen of Troy.
But over the last few weeks, despite the great therapeutic care he received from Dr. Kristin Gundersen and staff, his age caught up with him and Chester could no longer walk without assistance. A large mass was found in his spleen. We elected to make his last days as comfortable as possible and Paul and I learned how much closer we could get to our boy. Today, with the kind assistance of Dr. O’Loughlin - who saw Chester successfully through several serious crises including the hay in the gut episode - and Kathy, we let our boy go.
I am grateful for the wonderful memories that we have recorded in pictures (thank you Barry Rosen, Heather Bohm-Tallman and Dieter Gehring), artwork by Neil McClain and Ann Watkins, a gorgeous pin likeness of him by Elaine Bloom, a pendant by Cindy Crounse, and a book by Julia Szabo. I am grateful to Cydney, Barb Nizinkirk and other staff at MHHS for saving him. I am grateful to the wonderful women at Fitter Critters and Alden Beane at True Balance Animal Wellness for their physical therapy skills that definitely enhanced Chester’s life. Thanks also to Barbara Hollis who welcomed Chester for his stint being a therapy dog. Thank you to the staff at my old job who welcomed puppy Chester especially Nick, Molly, Maria Jeanne, and Ed. I remember fondly the hours we spent at Mahogany Ridge – particularly with the late Irene Derreberry in her freestyle class dancing together to My Guy.
I am grateful to Mary of Oak Hill Grooming for her tender and patient pedicures; Dr. Tanya Holonko who alleviated Chester’s upper g.i. issues; to his many human friends who always elicited his smile – among them Mary Gleason, Kevin and Melissa McGrath, Mark and Missy Frey, Deb Ferguson and Frank Murphy, Susan Veach, Stephen and Susan Stone, and Traci Landauer. Thank you also to Trish Marciano and more recently Kelsie Krein for their excellent care when we were away.
I decided to name Chester after my beloved late brother and consulted with Leslie Rosenberg before I went public with that name – she advised, “based on the love, respect and care you give your dogs, no one will be offended.” I think she was right.
Most of all, I am thankful to my husband Paul who loved Chester as much if not more and for the sweetest boy who gave us 13 ½ years.
March 26, 2018
The Story of Simba
Strength ,dynamism , adaptation, those are the words and qualities that come to my mind when I think about my Simba, a lion disguised as a cat that I was blessed to have with me for almost 4 years; to me Simba was more than just a companion, to me he was some kind of a master, I always tried to learn from him because in my life I had been failing so many times trying to adapt to situations and carry on , instead he showed me what it is to fight back and what it is to precisely take the things into a lighter way, into a carefree way that I always wish I had on all my human problems.
Simba was some kind of a prince, you could tell just by looking at him, sometimes me and my sister would just go by him andlay down and pay our respects to him like if he was a divinity because in all truth he was our little amazing divine prince and he will always be; Simba never lost his dignity ortemper for anything , he was very regal in pretty much anything he did “you close the door in front of me?, fine i’ll just meow for one minute and most likely go find something else to do and ignore you for the rest of the day, i won’t drop onto my knees to beg you to open again the door” , that’s pretty much how he would most likely think.
Simba was a very social cat, he was an indoor cat but coming from the thing I had taken him from the street at the age of 3 months, he still would want to try to get out sometimes and meet the other cats, sometimes he would just look at them by the window and talk to them for a long while; he was very gentle he would never hiss at any other cat unless that cat happened to be a dog, he was the most amazing creature I had ever seen before.
Simba would always do his “ cat duties “, that’s how I would tell my sister, meaning that Simba would always come to cheer up anyone in the house who was not feeling well, he would always come to greet visitors or watch them in case they tried to do anything bad; he never broke anything in the house never a single problem never a pee out of his box, he was absolutely the synonym of perfection, I have not had other cats but believe me if I had a way I would add his picture next to the word -perfection- in the dictionary.
Simba was just that unlucky to get a mortal disease,feline leukemia, for whichhe was religiously vaccinated yearly, a thing that was just so not expected a thing that rushed into his life and in a window of time of 35 days took him away but oh my dear feline friend, you should have seen how he fought that thing.. you should have seen how he went through two transfusions trying to fight the thing off, you should have seen how with an hematocrit of 9 he would still find the force to come on my desk and come snuggle me, and 2 days before leaving he would still find the force to hop on top of the printer and wait for all the family to come home, because in that very night we were gonna celebrate his fourth birthday; you also should have seen how into his last days, the night before I had an important test at university, he found the strenght to jump onto the library and get a little sample bag of dry food I had there stored randomly and just run with the bag into his mouth as a little dog and breaking it with his amazing teeth to get the food out of the bag, I was so sad and devastated that night but I saw him fighting like that and it also gave me the strength to keep pushing in what I was doing.
A few nights after that, he suddenly rushed into a very bad metabolic acidosis, all his precious blessed tissues were not getting anymore oxygen because the cursed virus had his bone marrow anihilated, I did recognize how bad he was suffering that night and I rushed him to the clinic so that iIcould immediately end the long and amazing fight of the best friend I could ever have.
Please if you happen to roam onto these words I have poorly organized onto this little stream of my consciousness, please spend five seconds of your time to send a little wish for my Simba, the prince of cats, please I ask you to honor him as I would honor every single creature of this world, I have nothing left to do now that just honor him for the rest of my life and let others know who he was and what he did.
Simba I don’t know if there’s another place after this, a bridge or a city or a garden but please just know my darlingthat I will have you with me in my mind and in my heart until the last breath of my little sometimes empty mortal life. I love you very much mio grande piccolo pezzo di gatto.
♫ ♪ “Oh my darling, son solo al mondo mentre tu mi parli son solo al mondo mentre"
The Story of Hazel
Our beloved family pet, Hazel, sadly passed away due to cancer on 17th January 2017, just shy of her seventh birthday. Her loss will be felt deeply by the whole family: myself, Mum, Theo, Syd, Trixie and Sylvie. Each of us loved and doted on Hazel- our first ever dog- and she was very much a member of the family. Sylvie, who, at 7 years old, can’t remember a time before Hazel, even called Hazel her ‘sister’.
I remember when we first saw Hazel- with her gleaming coat, and shining, hazel-coloured eyes, she was a beautiful puppy. Indeed, I could never quite get over how we managed to end up with quite such a pretty dog. When collecting Hazel, we were warned by the breeder that she may be unhappy for the first few nights. Separation anxiety, we were told, is quite normal, with puppies often pining for their mother. Yet the second we brought her home, she was an absolute bundle of energy. She was quite a sight: a tiny blob of fur, zigzagging and slaloming under table legs and wagging her tail so hard it looked like it was going to fall off. No separation anxiety with this one!
Although she never lost that sense of fun and energy, she calmed down over the years, becoming a mature, sensible Labrador. We even took her along to church for the special pet services. Whilst she lay down and rested during the readings and addresses, she joined the congregation in standing up every time we sung a hymn! She was a very sweet dog, and you were always guaranteed the most enthusiastic greeting from Hazel. I worked some night shifts last summer but, even if I came back at 3 o’clock in the morning, she would stir herself from her slumber to come and say ‘hello’. Whatever the time, she was always so pleased to see you!
Hazel was definitely happiest when she was on ‘walkies’, especially when all 5 of us siblings went out on a long walk with her at the park. She was very lucky to live near some fantastically huge parks. These are among my fondest memories: all of us together, as a gang. Hazel was undoubtedly the heart and soul of our little gang. Her life may have been short but- to quote a friend- she could not have been more loved. Rest in peace, pal, and we hope you enjoy doggy heaven.
The Story of Buddyboy
This is the story of my best friend whom we named Buddy but, lovingly called Buddy Boy. We lost him on Sept 12, 2016 after his short battle with a leg tumor, which had most likely spread to his brain. Buddy was just two months short of his 13th birthday when he left us. Buddy was a sweet boy who couldn’t walk a couple hundred feet without getting stopped and complimented for being such a good and beautiful dog.
Buddy’s favorite snack was peanut butter and I always made sure he had a cup full of it when I left for work everyday. Whenever I cooked BBQ, he would patiently sit by me and wait for his own portion of meat and hot dogs. Buddy loved to be outdoors and he had a special spot in our yard where he would leisurely lounge under the tree and watch people walk by. He loved all the simple things in life and had no requests other than to be loved.
A month ago, he started limping and I took him to the vet and after an X-ray and medical exams, the doctor told me he may have cancer. Even though he could not walk on his rear left leg, I promised him that I would carry him in my arms downstairs every morning and every night to let him release his bladder and other stuff. Sadly, a week ago he started having seizures which made him to go in coma the night we had to put him down.
I had always made a promise to myself to give him extra food before he passed away, to buy his last ice cream and to cook him his last BBQ Italian sausage. I also had wanted to be able to just look in his eyes, and tell him how much we loved him. I wish I could have taken him to his favorite lake for one last time. I wish I could have hugged him one last time while he was still conscious and assured him that soon he would be OK again.
But sadly, he never got a chance to eat his last meal or go to the lake one last time. His place in our home is empty and he has left a gaping hole in our hearts. We look in the sky every day and send him our love. It will be hard to turn the grill on again with out him being by my side. We still look for him in everything and he has forever changed our lives. He has taught us so many lessons on loving unconditionally, having patience, and finding the joy in small things like laying out under the sun.
I hope there is plenty of peanut butter and BBQ wherever you are. Our beautiful Buddy boy, rest in peace and it was the greatest pleasure to have you in our lives. From: Leo and my daughter (Chiara) who chose Buddy !
The Story of Monkey
FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND
Fourteen pounds of organic matter… fur, skin, tooth & claw, yet a thousand times that in spirit, instinctive prowess, detached intellect, and raw, primal majesty. A sentient being that pushed through life entirely on her own terms, yet selflessly shared her wondrous soul with her family. She was a proud, wild thing that tempered her untamed spirit with such grace and depth, the likes of which most people could never approach. She was capable of such unconditional love from a bond that ran true to the centre of her being; so understanding and knowing, perceptive and intuitive. This was my mentor in learning to connect with another living being. This was my Monkey.
Monkey was a tongue-in-cheek moniker bestowed upon her for an unyielding inquisitiveness in exploring her environment and laying claim to her domain. A more fitting proper name would have been Bambino Pantera (baby panther in Italian.) By definition feline, but so much more than any word could ever label or define. More lion than cat… she showed me how to temper a feral inner being with incredibly evolved grace and wisdom. True unto herself, she defied the domestication of her life in the mortal realm by retaining that essence of the wild in her soul. She demonstrated how to tame the chaos of the universe with such detached focus and intrinsic acceptance, allowing the world to unfurl without succumbing to its forces and accepting the terms of life’s realities without being beaten down by them. All the while, she exhibited an unending capacity for camaraderie, friendship, and pure love. The spirit of this regal creature can never be quelled; not by sickness, nor by death, and not by the innumerable incongruent vagaries of the tangible world.
Her spirit lives on, through countless lessons imparted over 20 years that she shared with me. She was my spirit guide, my mentor, my anchor, and my beloved companion. Never to be forgotten, she will live within me for all of my days; her goodness, freedom, and wisdom an integral component of my passage through this material life. She showed me how to live life better, and I am forever indebted to her for this insight. Your presence is sorely missed, Monk’. Your departure leaves a void that will not ever fully close. You were something incredible; a bit of magic in the material world, a rare exaltation in this mundane physical realm.
Wait for me on the other side, Monkey… I will be looking for you.
The Story of Ralph
Where do I start regarding my beautiful boy Ralph? 3 years ago I lost my best friend Willow, a beautiful silver grey tabby and my world came to an end, after her death I told myself no more cats as I couldn't go through that pain again. But - about a year later my daughter bought home this tiny little ginger kitten who we named Ralph.
Well I told myself there was no way I would fall in love again and I really tried to keep him at a distance so I wouldn't get hurt again but he was having none of that. From day one he started to win my heart with his sweet little ways, he gave the most amazing nose rubs when he said hello and boy did he have a loud purr especially when having cuddles.
He had this habit that when he was asleep he would make these little moaning noises as if talking in his sleep to himself. Each night he would come up when I was asleep or had just gone to bed and would give me the biggest nose rub that sometimes don't know how he didn't break my nose then lie on my chest right under my chin for his nightly cuddles. One of his favourite things he liked to do was take rides in the wheelbarrow, he would jump in, put his paws over the front so he could see where we were going then I would push him around the garden.
Sadly last Monday at only 2 years old he got run over, the vet couldn't save him and I lost the most beautiful boy ever. I'm trying really hard to focus on all the funny and happy times we had but feel like my heart is broken. The little monkey was a prolific hunter and most days we had little presents left for us normally under the kitchen table as he got to know when he brought them upstairs for me in the night I would chase him or set them free which wasn't any fun for him.
I will always love you Ralphy boy, don't ever forget that and thank you for loving me back xxx
The Story of Ellie
It is hard to sit down and write one thing that stood out more than another with Ellie’s personality; there are just so many lovable traits, but I will focus on one which has made a difference in a number of people & dogs lives along with my own.
Ellie; who went by a few names Miss Ellie, Ellie-Mai, Munchkin and Munch. I tend to think she preferred Munch because when I would say this name an alertness and playfulness beyond her normal demeanor would come over her, so I kept this name hers and my secret.
Munch was a true Westie in every way, from her tenacious drive to her fun loving, social character. It is this socialness that touched a number of people including myself.
Since I rescued Munch in November 2002, when she was only 7 weeks from a puppy mill, she immediately showed her social colors with everyone she came in contact with. Now, one might say that this is how she was supposed to act because all puppies are affectionate, still this part of her personality stayed and grew with her throughout her life.
There was never an outing; a walk where she wouldn’t stop and wait for the person walking behind us to come near us or run up to folks passing by so she could lay on her charm. She brought smiles and laughter to elderly women and men; so often that when they would see me without Ellie, they’d become concern and question her whereabouts, once they knew she was fine, they’d ask how I was; I had to smile. She managed to win over a few homeless people in my neighborhood and by doing so I saw the joy she brought them and I gave any; all pocket change whenever I could saying it was from Ellie. A woman who often sat on the park bench where we’d go told me that she came to park hoping to see Ellie and that when she didn’t see us she was sad. The woman always allowed Ellie to lick her face and bring a stick to her, Munch loved playing fetch. We always played fetch but after Ellie’s diagnosis in mid- February, I made sure that stick fetching would be a ritual with every walk, no matter the length because Ellie loved this so much.
Ellie was equally sociable towards other dogs no matter the size or breed. I recall during a visit to a nearby vet’s office, a man brought in his frail elderly Cocker Spaniel to be put to sleep. The poor pooch was blind and in pain; Ellie instinctively went to him and licked his face; a few tears fell from my eyes as I watched him respond and later I held; hugged her so much. There was never an incident where another dog showed aggressiveness to Ellie, though within the last month of her life dogs she had known for while, like a Westie pal of hers tried to turn on her. They didn’t injure her in any way as they would have had to go through me and I was always her protector. The owners were baffled as to why their dogs were acting like that. I think that perhaps they sensed Ellie’s illness and were scared.
Before Ellie, I rarely said hello to anyone I encountered while walking, today I often will smile and say hello, give money whenever I can and other times I just smile because I can see my little Munch winning the people over.
She was an amazing companion and wonderful friend. I miss her so much because she was my little girl and by touching so many people with her friendliness, her kindness she taught me and others a few valuable lessons in life.
Rest in peace, I love you Munch XXX
The Story of Blaze
I never wanted a Bullterrier. After all, they have a "reputation". Vicious, unpredictable dogs, right? Wasn't I unprepared for the conversion I was to undergo.
Just under 11 years ago my husband took my then 8 year old daughter to "look" at some puppies, ostensibly for his dad. They arrived home that evening with a little furry rugby ball with needles for teeth. Well what was I going to do - send them all packing? Within an hour of her arrival this little girl had stolen my heart. Shall we just gloss over the chewed shoes, gardening disasters and other teething troubles we experienced during Blaze's puppyhood? I think so... Let me concentrate rather on her loving disposition, her endearing, sometimes frustrating need to keep at least one human in sight at all times, her fondness for physical contact (usually entailing her planting herself bodily on one's foot). She loved everyone devotedly, but no one more than her master... my husband. Should he ill-advisedly leave her to go to the bathroom and not let her in with him, she would plaster herself up against the door and adopt her very effective "abandoned orphan" face and pose. Upon his reappearance she would greet him excitedly as though he'd returned from exile in a far away place.
Through the years she made many human friends visiting our home and on her walking routes who grew to love her and look forward to a chat with her. She took all adulation as nothing less than her due. She would talk... Complaining of insufficient attention, or demanding walks, a game or a share in whatever one might be eating (sulking balefully if you refused her anything albeit bad for dogs). She loved anything with wheels - cuddling up to the refuse bin, vacuum cleaner or wheelbarrow like they were pals. She snored like a tractor, could produce odours so noxious they could obliterate a small village and would wipe her mushy mouth on the cat after eating. At 30 odd kilogrammes believed she was a little fluffy lapdog and in spite of her typical stiff bullterrier physique loved to cuddle. She was afraid of the dark too. Her sweet nature and affectionate ways completely changed my view of her breed and made me a bully advocate.
Her illness started reasonably quickly and after a month of return visits to the vet and slight improvements reversing a bit more each time, we woke up one morning to a clearly suffering pup. The vet told us that it was either liver or heart cancer and Blaze wasn't going to get better. My husband made the heartbreaking decision to say goodbye and Blaze slipped peacefully from our lives. We will never forget our girl... She was my daughter's partner in crime, my cuddlebug and my husband's shadow. Rest well Blaze... There never was a dog like you.
The Story of Balu
German Bread Mantel Great Dane - My lifeline of support for nearly 7rys
Formally: Registered Name, Tuxedo Button – Balu was acquired 10/05/06 from a breeder, mainly as a playmate for another American Breed Mantel Great Dane “Bula.” Their reasons, were that she didn't grow tall enough to be a show dog. Within just a few days it was clearly apparent that Balu's previous life had been traumatic, she showed signs of; head ducking, food hording, barking aggression/stalking towards men built like the male breeder and wearing a ball cap. At first it was a very scary situation at the dog park wondering if she would have further aggression, but thankful she never showed this behavior.
Instead, Balu was always the comedian! She had never been introduced to toys, so she knew nothing of playing with a ball or fetch. But within just days she latched onto a small fleece pillow and until her death her “woobies” were her security blanket. I couldn't leave a room without her being right on my heals, even stepping on flip-flops walking thru the house, and showing signs of always wanting to be nearer to me than anyone else. Which I certainly didn't mind!
On 11/07/2007 I was injured on the job, chronic in bed for over 8 months, and didn't work for 3 years. After 3 months my X left me and Balu with me. This was a very difficult time in my life, I could barely care for myself and had trouble with mobility. Balu instinctively knew I needed her help and would assist me in getting up from the bed or sitting allowing me to put my weight on her getting around the house.
Needless to say I was indebted to her, because through 6yrs of hardship, she would even straddle over me saying, “Come-on mom you can't lay there in that bed!” Licking me on the face, “We gotta get outta the house for my daily walk or visit to the dog park.” Balu gave me this emotional support for all of this time. I provided her with a Holistic Diet, due to allergies, even though it was hard to afford, she never went a day without. The night before she became sick we were at the park, doing her normal 2-3 mile daily walk. She never had health issues and wasn't showing signs of bad hip trouble either, even though her 10th Birthday was coming up on 06/05. Everyone we encountered was always amazed at her health condition, but I attributed it to her daily exercise. When she became ill she went from the hospital to a specialist, but was gone within just three days. Balu was the only one in my life for 6 1/2yrs. I feel so blessed, and grateful for my time with her, and the endless emotional support she always gave. There are 4 complete sets of a “23 Series Children's Books collection" that will be dedicated to her life!”
The Story of Frankie Bones
Frankie Bones came into my life during the summer of 2008. We met on a camping trip out at the Kern River. Frankie was rescued by my two close friends Ama and Mardi Jay. He was living in a car, and often held captive in a bathroom of a small smoke filled apartment for up to 8 hours at a time. During my adoption of Frankie I was going through a difficult time of depression and angry for several severely traumatic events in my life. I didn’t realize it, but by adopting Frankie I was prescribing myself a solution for my clinical depression. Frankie quickly became my therapy dog, and I became his pack leader.
Frankie never left my side. He would sleep on my lap or under my desk at work, and on my bed at home. We were inseparable. Frankie was my first dog that I owned on my own, so I treated him with affection and love as if he was my own child. I don’t have a child, but now that I had a chance to raise Frankie, I know that someday I will be a good parent. That was one of countless lessons I learned from this little guy. My Fiance Sarah met Frankie about 2 years ago. She was an animal lover, and was suffering from separation anxiety from the loss of her kitty named Junior. Frankie helped her heal from that loss, and quickly became her companion too. I started a new job here in San Diego, and was not able to spend as much time with him as I liked. Sarah filled that void for me.
Now that Frankie is gone, I can only look back at the fun we had. The places we’d been, and the people who’s lives he touched as a service animal. We all need a little Frankie in our lives to help get us through the day. Right now in this stage of the healing process, I don’t see how I’m going to ever recover, but I know if Frankie were here and could speak to us, he would want us to be happy, and not so sad for his departure.
Unfortunately, Frankie was attacked by coyotes on Saturday , May. 17th in Grape Street Dog Park in San Diego CA. Sarah and I tried so hard to save him, but it was not to be. We had to make the hardest decision of our lives that night, but found the courage by looking down at his little face in my arms.
The Story of Hanesy
It is with profound sadness to tell you that I lost Hanesy last night. She was my pet, my pal, for 17 years.
August 1997- May 5, 2014
Somebody once said that the best part of a relationship was how you felt, how you were, and how you acted in that relationship. With Hanesy, that was easy. It was always pure love. We were glued together. If I was sad, she purred. If I was happy, she purred. If I was okay, she purred. In fact, she purred all the time around me. She loved me, and I loved her. Ah, that purr. It resonated deep within me. She purred even as she was dying when I held her.
I hope for everyone's sake, we all find that perfect relationship.
Luba and Hanes
The Story of Lola
9 years ago in April my sister and her friend were driving down the road in a little town in Delaware. Sitting next to the roadside was a box. Something inside my sister told her to stop. When she looked inside there was a little black kitten. I was working with a rescue and my sister brought the kitten to me. That little girl came to be my Lola. She was special from the very beginning. She was all black with gold eyes and she was a polydactyl. She would become even more special.
Lola was very intelligent and very loving. She loved to be outside climbing trees and one time even climbed up on the roof of a friends mobile home. She would follow me every morning into the bathroom and sit on the tub waiting for me. She would wait in the hall for me to chase her down the stairs always looking back to make sure I was still behind her. When I was cooking she would sit on the table and paw at me she had to be involved in everything I was doing. She needed to see and smell everything I put in my mouth. She would sit on my lap watching TV even eating popcorn. I miss her sleeping on my pillow above my head and hearing her purr.
Lola was my companion for nine years when she left to go to heaven. It has been very hard adjusting to life without her. It is a day to day process. I miss her more than I can even explain. Now all I have are memories but they are beautiful memories. I am adopting another black cat because I know that Lola would want me to share all the love I gave to her with another unfortunate cat. Although she will never be my Lola she too will be special.
The Story of Leonard
I received my cat Leonard as a Valenties day gift when he was just 8 weeks old. Leonard has been a true gift. He has demonstrated unconditional love, warmth, beauty and playfulness. In his moments of music appreciation he reveled in cello and Leonard Cohen. He was a joy to love and care for. When he was 8 weeks old he used to curl up under my chin at night to sleep. And up until his last breath he slept nightly right next to my head. Thanks for giving me so much Leonard and hanging in there for 24 Years. I will never forget you my precious one. Holding you in the light.
The Story of Jess
I was just three years old when I first saw little Jess and have few memories from before then. I didn't like the litter runt under the chair staring at me with big, terrified eyes but my mum loved her instantly and by the time she was sitting in my lap in the car for the journey home, I did too. Jess wasted no time demonstrating what an individual and extraordinary cat she would be by climbing from under the dashboard and into the bonnet of the car and travelling to her new home inside the engine! She was pulled out shocked and limp by an AA man but miraculously she had survived the trip without a scratch and we brought her inside to begin her life with us.
She was a terror at first, for two or three years we couldn't even put our feet on the floor in the if she was in the room for fear of them being attacked and my hands bear the scars of many a temper tantrum. But Jess' feistiness was endearing because she would not be bullied by any of the local cats or dogs despite her small size. On one memorable occasion she chased a fully grown Siberian Husky away from a plate of barbecued sausages in our garden. She was also a renowned hunter, and made her last kill only weeks before her death to kidney failure.
Jess had a lovely and distinct personality and a unique relationship with all four human members of our family. Most wonderful was her need to be near to my sister and I at all times. To her we three we a litter of babies, a gang that had to stick together. She would follow us out of the garden when we were kids and sat and meowed outside of rooms when we shut her out by mistake. She was such an important member of the family that she would even sit and eat with us at dinner time, clearing our plates of leftovers and making us all laugh with her sweet cat quirks. As she got older she mellowed and it was safe to sit with feet on the floor. She also got even more cuddly and was the most loving and comforting company during my adolescence. Her death was quick and shock but at least she got to be Jess until the end, sharing her last meal with us at the table just two days before our painful loss. The family is heartbroken without her and she has left a void that we will struggle to fill but the 17 years we enjoyed with her will always warm our hearts.
Sweet dreams Jess, we all love you so much.
The Story of TJ
TJ found me the week my mother died. She was injured, small, and alone, looking for someone to take her in. It took 2 days for her to at last be caught and our love for one another was solidified. She was my best friend and a great mouser, playful and loyal. She followed me everywhere and if I was not home, would meow out of loneliness for me. She also would come when her name was called or when I sang the Meow Mix song or even if I just meowed to her. She was by far the smartest cat I've ever had the pleasure to be owned by.
2 ½ years ago she was diagnosed with 2 inoperable brain tumors. She was given the slim prognosis of lasting even 6 months and the vet felt it was more likely she wouldn’t live past a month. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to my best friend. Vitamins and prednisolone extended her life as did her big heart and a whole lot of love.
I will miss her more than I can say. The emptiness is almost unbearable right now-she’s not at the door when I come home, not rising up to greet me when I get up, not meowing at me to pick her up to sit beside me on the couch. The hole in my heart is huge, and I still need her to comfort me. TJ, I love you-I know I will see her again someday.
The Story of Skye
Skye: December 4th 2001 - November 26th 2013
Skye was an absolutely incredible girl who brought so much love and joy to our life. From our first minute together until our last, she gave our family so much. I believe that her spirit will continue to guide our family, as she has done for the past 11 years. We are grateful that she was able to enjoy a full life and that her passing was peaceful and quite beautiful.
She was the most loving and patient dog anyone could hope for. She liked to entertain and was a goof ball - but a gentle one. She loved with her whole heart and brought so many smiles to everyone who met her. Always eager to please and always up for an adventure. She was everyone's best friend, especially mine, as the two of us grew up together. Always ready with a kiss or a slipper or a mitten or whatever she could find, Skye was a unique dog whose personality and special soul will never be forgotten.
I will always be thankful for what Skye brought to my life. She will always be loved and always be remembered.
The Story of Rufus
We first got Rufus when I was five years old after my first dog Barney died who was a Cairn Terrier. After seeing a Norfolk Terrier on the television my Mum wanted one and we found a Norfolk Terrier breeder. My sister, my Mum and I visited Rufus and his brothers and sisters several times before taking him home. I picked Rufus because he was the only black and tan puppy in the basket and he instantly drew my attention as he was a friendly little chap. He fitted quite comfortably in my hand. None of us could leave him alone when we brought him home and he was a great little character.
My fondest memory of Rufus as a puppy was him hopping like a rabbit as we played with him in the garden and his love for water. In the summer when we first got Rufus we would put the paddling pool out and we would play. My sister and I managed to put him on top of a bodyboard and let him float along the pool whilst he tried to bite the water coming out of the hose. After a few years went past we decided that Rufus should have friend so he wasn't lonely and so we bought Meg our other Norfolk Terrier who completed the family.
Meg loved Rufus and constantly watched over him till the day he died. She constantly tries to find his scent around the house and garden and it breaks my heart that she doesn't realize she won't see him again. I wish I could do something to replace Rufus for Meg so she isn't on her own when we go out during the day.
Rufus's biggest love was his food and there was many times we would trip over him in the kitchen as he waited by our feet for food to drop. At the time my Mum and Dad hated it when he got in the way whilst they cooked but since his been gone we miss telling him to get out of the kitchen. His favourite day of the week was Sunday which was when he and Meg received their Sunday roast. My mum used to feed them everyday at five o'clock and when five o'clock arrived he would bark to my mum to tell her he wanted his food. We used to say that he was close to talking to us in English but it didn't matter because we knew exactly what he wanted which was normally food.
When we went to Cornwall we would let him and Meg run along the beach and each time Rufus would run off to a family having a BBQ on the beach and try to eat their food. Back in our hometown of Upminster in Essex, Rufus wasn't as outgoing as he was in Cornwall and didn't go out for walks much which we think is because of the cars driving along the road. Nevertheless, he loved being at home and was a great friend to have around the house. He rarely left his bed but loved venturing out into the garden with Meg by his side. During the months before he died, he would sit under our apple tree and eat all the apples whilst laying out in the sun.
During his last years Rufus and I created a special bond that I don't believe I'll ever have with another animal. He was next to me in my bedroom when I did my homework, he would come and say hello in the morning and he would lay by my side when I watched tv. Rufus was loved by all of us and lived a happy life. He died in his sleep in his cage on Tuesday the 19th November 2013.
Time has gone so fast and it feels like an end of an era now he has gone. It still hasn't sunk in that I won't see him ever again and I truly believe it never will. I don't know if I'll ever come to terms with his loss but I loved him like a brother and I feel like I have lost something inside me. I look at the photos and videos of him everyday. I wish I could go back in time and spend some more time to be with Rufus. It is a massive loss for my family and I. He has been a part of my life since I was five years old and wish I could start it all again. He was a great friend to me and I loved him with all my heart.
The Story of Tony James
Tony James came into my life by pure luck ... My then boyfriend and I were heading to a friend's house when we decided to stop by an animal hospital to look at their adoptable kittens. From the moment I saw this all white kitten with green eyes I knew he was meant to be mine. I named him Tony after my great uncle Tony - then thought he he also deserved a middle name so added James which sounded good for such a sweet boy !!
From the start Tony and I had a strong bond ... he enjoyed giving me "love paws" and sleeping in my hair. If you asked him if he wanted a brushing, he would reply with a meowing "YES!!". He also was a lover of ice cubes in his water dish!! Through tough periods in my life Tony was there with love paws, cat kisses and purrs!! I knew I could get though anything with "T-bone" in my corner!!
When he became sick with stage 3 kidney disease that soon turned into stage 4, we lovingly cared for him through at home "Kitty Hospice" . We gave Tony prescribed pain meds, sub q fluids and other medications to stimulate his appetite. But finally the time came when I had to say goodbye to my baby. As I held him in my arms with tears running down my cheeks onto his white fur, I told him how much I loved him and that he would soon wake up in the arms of an angel. When the vet told me my Tony was gone, a part of my heart went with him.
A Tribute to Charlie
It has been a year next week since my Charlie passed away due to the carelessness of a speeding driver near my home. I cannot talk about it because it is still too painful. All I would like to say is that he is dearly loved and forever in my (shattered) heart.
The Story of Nina
On February 2001, I decided that I was going to get a dog. I never had dogs before, so I didnt know what I was getting into. I bought Nina on that February evening and since then, we were inseparable.
At the time, I was living with my parents in Puerto Rico. My dad is a firm believer that dogs should not be sleeping with you in bed, but my views were different. The first couple of days, Nina stayed in the living room and barked every single night because she couldnt see me. Then one day, I decided that I was going to wait for my Dad and my Mom to go to sleep sneak Nina into my room and sleep next to her. Well, that lasted 2 1/2 months. My dad went downstairs one night and didnt saw Nina, so he came upstairs and found Nina with me.
That's when I decided to get a job and a new place to live.
I got married in 2004 and moved to Savannah, Ga. By 2006, I was feeling more tired that usual. So, one day I went to take a nap and all of a sudden Nina jumped into bed and started hitting me with her head in my belly. At the time, I didnt know what was wrong! For almost 5 days every time I went to take a nap, she would jump up and lay down next to me but her head would be on my tummy. That 5th day, Nina started barking while I was sleeping. I got up and I noticed I was bleeding, I was pregnant with my daughter Joyce. At the time Joyce was born she had 3 strokes and during those hard times Nina was always by my side and my daughter's side.
On Christmas Eve 2010, we took Nina to the Emergency Animal Clinic. Her liver was enlarged they thought she had cancer. By January we had to move to Germany, so we took Nina and our 3 other dogs. The vets were telling us that she was not going to last that long because of her cirrhosis of the liver. At the time I was pregnant with my second child and for me that was a horrible thought. I had taken such good care of Nina for so long, I took her to every single appointment that she had. Why did she had to get sick?
I started doing some research and I found special meals that you can prepare for your dog with liver problems. And it worked! On April 2012 we moved back to the states. We found this awesome veterinarian who took care of Nina until her last breath. Unfortunately, Nina then developed pyometra. We did all we could do. Soon after, before going to sleep one night, my husband and me sat next to her and I told her "Nina, if you are hurting and suffering it is okay to go - we will be okay". My husband went upstairs and I stayed with her not knowing that that was going to be her last night with me. By morning, my best friend was gone!
It has been 13 days since she left me (April 13, 2013 at 2:34 am) yet I still feel her presence. I miss having her and her following me around. I miss coming to the house and her jumping with joy to see me and mouthing my hand so I would get on the floor to play with her. I wish I had a time machine to go back and spend all that time with her again. Even though I have 3 more dogs, I miss every second I spent with Nina. She thought of me so much....that unconditional love and devotion that she had for me will always be in my heart.
Nina, I love you and miss you. I will see you in the Rainbow Bridge. Love you!!!
The Story of Sylvan
One day I was walking past a pet store and I saw the most beautiful puppy ever!! He looked like a small snowball with big black eyes and nose. Instantly I felt the connection. I took that puppy home and we stayed together for seventeen years.
"Sylvan" was a little rascal at first - the first year of his life he would chew on everything!!! He chewed on shoes, checkbooks, carpeting... and yes even toilet paper! On his first birthday Sylvan stopped his strange chewing behaviors but not with the toilet paper. That continued on and on and on. Needless to say, the bathroom doors had to be closed at all times! Sylvan was a 'typical boy' in my opinion. He loved to roll in mud and play with dead worms: he would roll on those too - as a matter of fact, anything dead he always found and rolled on - it was gross!! I loved him anyway!
From the moment I got Sylvan we went for long daily walks - at least a mile in the morning before work and a mile after work. Sylvan loved going to the park where he didn't have to be on a leash. That's where we went most of his life. He loved all the seasons but Winter and Summer were his favorites. He loved the snow! He would dig his nose in the snow and roll around in it until he realized his paws were getting cold. In the summer he loved to swim in lakes. Sylvan had a lot of exercise througout his life and by him getting exercise I stayed pretty fit myself! Thanks Sylvan!
Sylvan wasn't a big people person. He only had eyes for me. When I met my husband it took a while for Sylvan to like him. My husband actually had to bribe Sylvan to like him by buying him a steak for dinner - Sylvan was sure happy!! Sylvan was actually in our wedding pictures! And we even danced to a song we dedicated to him. Then the children came. Sorry boys, but even after the children, Sylvan was still first in my book - I used to call him my first born! My youngest son adored Sylvan and Sylvan adored him. He never let any children pet him but Sylvan sure loved my son!
Sylvan was a healthy dog most of his life. He did break his foot once from running so fast and tripping and twisting it somehow. And when he turned 16 we saw his health begin to diminsh! Sadly, he left us on March 18, 2013. Sylvan was 17 years old ! He will always be a big part of my life. I miss him terribly but it is nice to know that he is probably running in a park right now or swimming.
Two nights after he passed Sylvan came to me in a dream - he was standing in front of me and it was completely black around him. I looked closer and he had small angel wings on his back. And he looked like he was smiling at me. This dream is helping me get through the loss of my best friend. I know he misses me terribly, like I miss him. But he is in a better place now where all his aches and pains are now gone!! I love you Sylvan!! See you!!
The Story of Chance
She came into my life Thanksgiving time 1997 and gave me a lifetime of reasons to be thankful. The last of the litter, left behind by those who had picked through the pups before me, yet I know there was no better “pick”. I named her “Chance”, because I was bringing her home to be a companion to my cherished “Bailey”, I had no idea if the chance I was taking would go well, but they quickly became fast friends and the three of us became a family.
Our family time together was short lived as Bailey died an untimely death a few months later. My heart was broken, but I looked into Chance’s beautiful brown eyes, held her soft fuzzy muzzle in my hands, and found the strength to move forward. Together we missed Bailey, and together we healed as much as one can after such a loss.
After a year of adjustment, it was time to find a new companion for Chance, and so, Tucker joined our family. That first day, a tiny 6 week old Lab puppy chased a fearful giant German Shepherd around the dining room table and I thought we were in for a long road; but within 15 minutes the chasing became a game, and right before my eyes, Chance blossomed into a Mom, tolerating the teething little terror who now pounced on her head and pulled at her ears. She showed the patience of a saint and gently raised the little pup with gentle nudges and nibbles of love. The two dogs became inseparable for all the years we were granted of Chance’s life.
Chance was such a special soul. She was regal and dignified, yet retained the playfulness of a puppy her entire life. I will always remember her leaping in the air to catch her football, burying her toys in the snow in front of me as I tried to shovel so I would play with her, and the two of us playing her favorite game of “chase” from room to room throughout the house. She and I had a soulful connection beyond what I have shared with my other dogs, and her allegiance to me was unquestionable. It was like there was a palpable physical cord between us and neither of us was at peace when any circumstance kept us apart. She would comfort me in difficult times by lying by my side with her head gently resting on my leg. She always made me laugh with her playful antics, and she forever amazed me with her intuition and intelligence. She had a commanding appearance, her size and dark coloring often giving strangers pause, but she was as gentle as a lamb and always greeted everyone with love and kisses. She was brave and yet vulnerable, and never to proud to seek the comfort of Mom’s embrace and quiet song when winds blew strong or thunder roared.
When our time together was coming to its end, she fought beyond what was comfortable for her to stay by my side, and I returned that love, by letting her go. The cord that bound us in life is now stretched between two worlds, but it is no less palpable. My many memories, her final kisses, volumes of photos, and special keepsakes help to patch the hole in my heart, and I take comfort in knowing that she is at peace and out of pain. Tucker and I will always miss our Angel Chance, but we are grateful for the time we shared together as a family and we will honor Chance’s life and memory with our eternal love.
The Story of Misty
Misty was a beautiful little gray canary that came into our lives quite by accident. We had never had a bird before. If we had, we would have known that the reason Misty was left at the end of the season was that he wasn't a well bird. But his singing - even while in his solitary cage at the back of the store - completely enthralled us. We brought him home and Misty continued to delight us with his song.
He spent his life on a large shelf above the kitchen sink where he could look outside and see other birds at the feeders. There were no drafts, it was warm and cozy and Misty loved his seed mixture and a few toys. But mostly, he loved to sing. He would sing to Bach, he would sing to the vacuum cleaner (perhaps to drown it out) he would sing when we whistled... any remotely melodic sound was an excuse for a virtuoso performance by Misty.
Sometimes, he would be quiet, but if we left the kitchen, the center of our family life, he would begin singing to draw us back in. One of my most cherished memories of my father is him sitting in a chair in the kitchen in his declining years, cane in his hand, listening to Misty sing. But Misty's life was to end soon after my fathers. He developed feather cysts and despite great efforts by excellent avian vets, they kept returning. Eventually an infection killed him. He literally sang until life left his sweet form.
While our family has had dogs and cats before and mourned them deeply, this was the first time our hearts were captured by a bird. Misty was buried in our back yard during a ceremony in which many tears were shed. He was a glorious example of precious life in a small musical feathered form.
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