"We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."-- Henry Beston, circa 1925
George: July 1983 to June 1991 | Sky: August 1984 to June 1995
[credits: photo by Rebecca Schudlich; lighting by me (in my studio); ProPhotoCD scan from 645 negative courtesy Frank Caico]
"The best friend man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son, or daughter, that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and good name may become traitors to their faith. The money a man has he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our head.--Senator George Graham Vest, speaking to a jury about Old Drum, shot in 1869. Johnson County Circuit Court, Warrensburg, Missouri
If you're curious about the breed, check out www.samoyed.org.
The Rainbow Bridge Author not known
There is a bridge connecting heaven and hearth. It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors. Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows, hills, and valleys with lush green grass.
When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place. Thre is always food and water and warm spring weather. The old and frail animals are young again. Those who are maimed are made whole again. They play all day with each other.
There is only one thing missing. They are not with their special person who loved them on earth. So, each day they run and play until the day comes when one suddenly stops playing and looks up. The nose twitches. The ears are up. The eyes are staring. And this one suddenly runs from the group.
You have been seen and when you and your special friend meet, you take him in your arms and embrace. Your face is kissed again and again, and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet.
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated.
-- Ellen Piety, June 1, 1997
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she is only a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky meet and mingle with each other. Then someone at my side exclaims, "There, she's gone!"
Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in hull and mast and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of her destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, "She's gone," there are other eyes watching for her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "There, she comes!"
And that is dying.
-- Tracy Rhodes, July 4, 1997
Personally I'm into Queensland Blue Heelers, a.k.a. Australian Cattle dogs, but George RULES! That guy is oozing with personality and charm. I'm sorry about George's passing, I just lost a male Heeler about six months ago. Someone somewhere wrote that they felt like losing a dog was worse than losing a boyfriend/girlfriend. Maybe true, significant others have a way of comin and going, but dogs always seem to be in it for the long haul. Best of luck to you.
-- Terek Johnson, December 12, 1997
It was difficult to read George's story, what with the tears in my eyes. I am touched by your love, and I feel the pain for you. I too shall mourn George's passing, but shall rejoice in his life, for he was quite a character, I'm sure. The expressions on his face told stories all by themselves (himself). I have a Chinese Pug whom I love dearly, and now that he is getting on in years, I have thought about the prospect of having to say goodbye to him. I don't think I could ever love another dog as much as I love him, though, so he may well be the last dog I have. I am reminded of something I have read somewhere. It goes something to the effect that although we meet many people in our lives, we don't remember all of them, or even their names, but I can tell you the name of every dog I've ever known, and what they looked like and even what personalities they had. This may speak as well of every dog I've ever known, as anything else I could ever say.
-- Brenda Auburn, January 15, 1998
I promise to not to call anyone a "dog" ever again ... when that someone exhibits strong desire to be called something ELSE by behaving badly - I shall look for a name somewhere around a landfill rather than an animal world ... untill than I will devote more of my time to my cats ( 8 ) and show them more gratefulnes for what they are ... another nation !
-- Eada Kay, July 27, 1998
I promise to not to call anyone a "dog" ever again ... when that someone exhibits strong desire to be called something ELSE by behaving badly - I shall look for a name somewhere around a landfill rather than an animal world ... untill than I will devote more of my time to my cats ( 8 ) and show them more gratefulnes for what they are ... another nation !
-- Eada Kay, July 27, 1998
I cried reading this story and will sleep tonight remembering 1 year ago this week the passing of my Rottweiler boy to cancer. I only had my boy 2 years before I lost him. (Rescued from foster home at 5 years old) He suffered from the same illness as George. My Dr. caught it at his regular 6 month (senior visit)exam. He then explained our time was short, I could not leave him there that day, we brought him home. 1 month later "Bear" was very ill and dropped alot of weight (from 183 massive animal; hence "Bear" to 121 pounds)
We also have a female Rott who knew something was ot quite right, she insisted she be not more than 2 feet from Bear at all times.
He tried so hard to be strong for us,all of us, but staying strong was exhausting for him. It was time those last few hours, the "t-bone treats, the long rubs, the pictures, the crying" it sored by in what felt like seconds.
I also stayed until his last breath. As was said "freer" is the word. I held him and looked into his soft brown eyes and saw trust. His trust in me was so great that if it meant he would die, he trusted me, his mom, his owner, his love. He knew and released his tension enough to allow one last soft kiss to my lips. He died in my arms in seconds...I pressed my lips and nose against his 28" neck and inhaled his, smell, his softness him, my boy. It was both the saddest and most precious moment in my life. I think that the decision to end the misery is the hardest and most selfless act of any person, to hold the fate of the greatest friend in your hands, to overcome the pain and greiving to make a decision to end the pain like this, I commend any one person who gives this gift to their best friend, for you are their master, they deserve your love even though it may be in death.
This year Bear and I will take our final journey together to the redwood covered mountains by the coast, where he will roam forever free. I will visit the redwoods frequently with Tara to visit our best friend,our knight,our savor, our gentlemen, our love, our romeo,....."Our Gentle Giant" Bear.
Update: Tara was in a very saddened state, she moped for many months after, the sight of his collar sent her to our bedroom out of sight. Her love was gone, she hurt too, we were never prepared for the depression that she would suffer through. We were sure to spend more time with her, building her confidence and hope. We have a new man in our life - "Mugsy"(7 months). Tara has bounced back, and loves him just as much, we all find it easier to remember and discuss Bear's life .Mugsy is NOTHING like him. Still to this day if Tara hears Bears name she stands at the door at attention, waiting for our trip.
The love of a pet, surpasses any love...unconditional affection.
-- Lea Gonsalves, August 10, 1998
I have read many stories of people losing their precious animals but none have touched or moved me as much as your sweet story about your beloved George.What a true love story of a Dad and his dog son! George was so beautiful!Thank you so much for letting us share in your loving and also broken heart story of deep love and dedication. God Bless You. Barbara Williams
-- Barbara Williams, August 31, 1998
I have never read a story that made me cry as much as yours. George was a beautiful dog. I too will have to come to the most difficult decision I will ever have to make. Lady is 13 1/2 I've had had her sents she was a pup. We've been through so much together, and your right, there is no better compaign than your's truly. Lady is a German Shepherd, she has arthritis in her lower and middle back. I found this out recently in early June. One morning I went to greet her as usual, by saying how's my pooper doing, do you want a bone. She did not respond (meaning she did not get up right away). I thought she didn't hear me, so I said it again. This time I knew she heard me. I dropped to my knees, as she tried to get up. She just cried. I ran out the front door and yelled for my brother. There's something wrong with Lady, as I'm crying. My brother Rick, ran into the house, and tried to get Lady up. She wouldn't move, she just cried. I held her to comfort her. My husband walked in (he was at the store) and was terrified of the look on my face. My husband Ron, manged to get Lady up, and walked her around the house slowly. I called her Vet, and was told they didn't open until noon, it was only 9:45 am. That was the longest 2 hrs and 15 min in my life. Her Vet x-rayed her back, and much to our surprise, her hips were in great shape, it was her back that was causing her so much pain. The Vet put her on Glyo-Flex 600, and Rymidal. The next day she was doing much better; however, the Vet did say, Lady would have to be on this medication for the rest of her life. He also stated she was in very good health. Unfortunitly I would have to put her down when the time comes, the medication will only work for so long, and can not repair the damage. So for now, Lady has her Glyco-Flex to help her through what would be very painful. The Rymidal is only given when we take her to The White Moutains, (she loves to go swiming in a secluded lake we found) or any activity that may cause her pain. Everyday, I pay special attention to her, we play chase in the house, take walks, or I'll just cuddle up with her. She has given so much to me, I don't know what I'm going to do without her. Sometimes I cry, because I know she can't be with me for the rest of our lives. There was a poem I read, it said, all our friends are in a place where they play all day until their person comes for them, and they look up and see their person, and leave the other friends behind to play, and once again their together with their person never to be seperated again. I hope that is true, for there will be a big missing peace of my heart until then. God bless George, and all the other Georges & Georgetts.
-- Keya Costianes-Columbo, September 25, 1998
I cried too after reading your story, went home and cuddled my baby for hours, he seemed to understand. That's the way with samoyed's they seem to be know just what you're thinking and just what they need to do to make everything ok. I have had Cody (my samoyed) for 11 months now, and I can imagine a day without him. I love coming home to his chatty voice which seems to explain just what he got up to that day. My friends can't understand how I can be so attached to a pet. He too comes everywhere possible with me. To me he is a child and those who have children wouldn't be able to bare a day if they lost their baby. I hope I never have to endure what you did when you lost George, the thought of losing Cody makes me ill with sadness. I think your friends are amazing people, understanding your loss the way the did. I bet George is grateful that you didn't have to be alone at that time.
-- Rosie St Angelo, March 5, 1999
I cried too after reading your story, went home and cuddled my baby for hours, he seemed to understand. That's the way with samoyed's they seem to be know just what you're thinking and just what they need to do to make everything ok. I have had Cody (my samoyed) for 11 months now, and I can imagine a day without him. I love coming home to his chatty voice which seems to explain just what he got up to that day. My friends can't understand how I can be so attached to a pet. He too comes everywhere possible with me. To me he is a child and those who have children wouldn't be able to bare a day if they lost their baby. I hope I never have to endure what you did when you lost George, the thought of losing Cody makes me ill with sadness. I think your friends are amazing people, understanding your loss the way they did. I bet George is grateful that you didn't have to be alone at that time.
-- Rosie St Angelo, March 5, 1999
Unconditional love....witness it...live it.....know it...
As only a loving friend can offer...
-- Marika Buchberger, May 2, 1999
Just last night, I had to put my yellow lab down. She had tumors which had moved her intestines over making impossible to keep anything down. We discovered them on Tuesday after taking her to the vet out of concern. He gave her some medication for the pain and talked about facing it today but when she entered the check up room, and wagged her tail and proceeded to lick my hand, he ordered us to take her home, going on to say that she wasnt in any real pain yet so to take 2 or 3 days to be with her. I stayed up with her for 2 nights. She was so brave. She was my best friend. I am beside myself now. Thursday night she started bloating up and the mass became more and more firm so we called the vet to meet us at the office. He said we were just cutting her life short of the painful end stages. I felt like we were rushing her death until he had a hard time injecting her. He said that her veins had collapsed but he got the needle in. Through it all I was singing our song to her and saying that she was the first one that I was gonna look for when I arrived up there, and talked about how we'd run into each others arms and never let go ending with I love you and will see you soon. She was so brave, she just couldnt understand how I was gonna do without her. Who was gonna gaurd my bed at night who was gonna greet me when I got home from a hard day at school and see me off, who was gonna listen to me cry and be emotional over nothing, and who else would understand why I could never sleep at night who could understand me if she was gone? She was the only one I feel who did actually understand me. People are already offering me dogs but I dont want another one. Not now at least no dog could ever replace Lady. We picked her out from the orphan pet oasis, because while the other dogs were barking and jumping, you know being dogs, she was just standing wagging her tail with her head humbly bowed, hence the name. It was the hardest thing Ive ever had to do. To drive her down to the vets. She was a most obedient and complying dog and never wetted the floor and she was so upset with herself and embarrassed towards the end because the kidney also had a tumor and would push the urine out. She was also throwing up her food and some of her water but this was only in the last few days. She felt so apologetic and hung her head which I would always lift up and kiss and assure her that I didnt mind in the least bit. The night before the last the med really gave her a boost, so we played a mellow game of ball and went for a walk. Ive never experienced this kind of grief but thank God for giving me her so I could care about something so much to have to go through a grief process like this. Im going to make a collauge of her and I our pics and frame it with her collar on top of the frame. The vet was most sympathetic which I appreciate beyond words. Even in her last moments hearing my cries she stretched out her paw and stoked my arm giving me strength. She held our family together and now shes gone. Now I would like to thank Phil I cried and would stop just to begin again, I understand what you meant by the relief that you feel when you know that your best friend is no longer suffering. Georges story has played a touching role in my life, Im sure he was the best friend youll ever have. And thank you to Ellen Piety for the entry of Rainbow Bridge, which I believe with all my heart! God Bless all of you, phil and Eada your stories touched me. In Him
-- Jessica Headley, August 6, 1999
Thankyou for such a beautiful story of man and dog. It was, I found, a story of love more than anything else, and love is comforting to us all- the reality of it, in any form it is offered. This is a testimonial of powerful love and the force of love: I am always grateful to hear of it, but especially when it is about a samoyed and his loving dad or mom. I am in sam rescue, so this to me calls up the reasons and validates the reasons for me to be involved in such a worthy cause. It is also wonderful to see humans be worthy of the unconditional love their dogs give them.
-- Alice Barz, October 9, 1999
Wonderful story. For others that feel this love towards the animal kingdom, please remember to visit your local animal shelters and take home love for a lifetime and beyond.
-- Cynthia Kane, January 29, 2000
George and Sky look like wonderful dogs. A psychologist once told me "You can tell a lot about people by looking at their dogs. Dogs that act like dogs generally speak poorly of their owners. Dogs that act like four-legged people generally speaks well of their two-legged family."
Basically, he was saying that well loved and nurtured dogs turn out better than those relegated to the back yard and given inadequate stimulation. George and Sky look like wonderful dogs.
-- David Beoulve, February 5, 2000
I think George is all over. Closer than ever.
Do not stand by my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow, I am a diamond glint of snow. I am the sunlight on growing cane, I am the gentle autumn rain. when you awake in the morning hush, I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds on circling flight. I am the soft starshine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there, I did not die.
-- ruben romeu, April 13, 2001
Given to me before I knew what responsibility was
In a world where my life was not my own, I made my pain yours
Despite the grief, you loved me, and to my arms you would come
The love in your eyes, my saviour and my hope, to conquer my demons
I turned my life around and made you my little princess
You slept every night in my bed, held close and adored
How cute you looked in dresses, and never once did you fuss
You were so tiny, and yet so full of energy
I know daddy disliked you, but I didn't know what to do
I couldn't take you with me, and it broke my heart as I left
Did he hurt you much? Was my baby crying?
He did not tell me when you died. Mother did
He left you like a sack of rusted tools, no longer useful
Mother told me the vet buried you by Hudson. I'm glad
I'm so sorry. I didn't think it would end that way
How do you plan for someone so close to be so cruel?
Do you still know that I love you and always will?
I found a stuffed toy that looks just like you, named Muffin
It's not the same, but it makes the hurt seem less
It's over two years now, but I can never forget you
I'm coming, my baby. Mommy's gonna come for you and make it all better
Dedicated to the dog no one but me loved, no one but me cared for, and no one but me misses. My father named her "Phyllis Diller", he thought she was so ugly. They called her "Phee" for short. In my heart, she will always be "Candy", the name I wanted to give her. May my father get what's coming to him for her untimely death.
-- Maxi Rose, June 29, 2001
Thanks for the flashback. My granfather's samoyed was named Brutus. He was mistaken for a wolf and shot in Michigan.
Smartest dog I have had the pleasure to know.
-- PJ Swenson, July 10, 2001
What a wonderful tribute!! The writings and pictures are fantastic. I can only add a quote that is dear to me: "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." Anatole France
Connie Nelson Cochran
-- Connie Cochran, February 10, 2002
Had tears running down my face, when I was reading this story yesterday. Remembered our beloved Spitz Mixture dog "Ruby" (passed away 2 years ago) and the Yorkshire Terrier "Tami" (passed away 3 years ago). They both were older than 10 years. Today I came back to this page and my tears appeared again. You loved your George (and sky) truly and they loved you - as we loved our Ruby and Tami. We'll never forget them.
"Stay on these roads We shall meet, I know You feel so weak, be strong Stay on, stay on We shall meet, I know" (lyrics by A-Ha)
-- Stephan Voser, March 11, 2002
I live in a country usually known as the biggest Islamic country in the world. In Islam, dog is considered a very lowly animal. It is no wonder that so many dogs in my country were being treated very badly. I have 11 dogs at home, and I've had my fight over dogs when someone doing something I don't like to my dogs. Do you live in a country where there is a law protecting animals? If you do, then you should be grateful.
-- Himawan Kertonugroho, April 16, 2002
Thanks for sharing George's story with us. I just reread his story again, after reading it years ago. The first time I read it, my best buddy, Bear, was one and a half years past the time two veterinarians both told me he wouldn't live another month. I was trying to deal with the fact that any day I might have to make the decision to help my little pal leave this life. From the time the two vets gave me the bad news, I kept searching and finding solutions and remedies to problems the first two vets told me couldn't be solved. I was lucky that I had the resources and knew the right people to help me find solutions to Bear's various ailments. Also, Bear was a tough little guy who wanted to live and kept fighting to live, partly because he knew that's what I wanted him to do. More than once, when I was told he was now dying, he made what the vets all told me were simply miraculous recoveries that defied explaination. He wanted so much to please me. It has now been one and a half years since I finally gave in and put Bear to sleep. I knew if I didn't do it then, he'd suffer and he didn't deserve that. I felt somewhat guilty when the vet injected Bear, because he gave me that threatening nibble that he always gave me when I did something to him that he didn't want done to him. It was just his way of saying, "I'm letting you know that if I didn't love you so much, I might just consider biting you, if you don't stop doing what you're doing". But we both knew he would never, ever really bite me. It was just a desperate bluff. I fed him treats and he forgot about the injection. He loved those treats. Slowly, he became more and more tired and eventually he slumped into my arms, while still trying to chew yet another treat. He made the effort to give me one last kiss and then he was gone. He was just shy of his sixteenth birthday. Bear and I made it three years past the time the vets told me he had less than a month to live. Three years with very little pain or suffering, due to the right treatment, medications and lots of love and either just plain luck or maybe something more. The vet who injected Bear told me it was nothing short of an "absolute miracle" that Bear was able to live as long as he did. I brought him home, wrapped in a blanket, to bury him beneath his favorite tree in the back yard. When we got home, a crew of tree cutters were in our yard cutting down all of our citrus trees. Citrus canker had been discovered within 1900 feet of our yard and the state had ordered our trees cut down, in order to prevent spreading of the disease to nearby orange groves. Bear's favorite tree was being cut down. Late that afternoon, after the crew left, I buried Bear where his favorite tree (a Naval Orange) had been. He used to love to go to that spot and roll in the dead leaves that had fallen from the tree. That was probably the worst day of my entire life. Last week, exactly one and a half years after I buried Bear, I planted a Peach Tree at the head of his grave site. I look forward to the time that Bear's tree will grow full and "bear" fruit.
-- George Rhodes, May 19, 2002
What a great site this is, and what great pieces of writing have I witnessed here today!
I would like to add a picture of my new puppy..
-- Sam Kim, May 31, 2002
Thank You ! Wonderful stories...
In 1975 we were blessed with Tanya an English Samoyed female, small delicate loving but skitish due to mistreatment by former owners. She lived with us for 2 years until we found (an elderly single lady) who needed her more than we. But in the mean time she had a litter from which we kept Gandalf, his father being a Siberian Samoyed, a LARGE loving kindly 85 LB lapdog (at least he thought he was)that talked and sang with me. Gandy stayed with us until he was 6 and then we found a lovely farm family that needed a herding dog. Only because the leash laws are indiscrimanent and it was unkind to him to be kept penned up or worse, tied down.
If anyone ever tells you a Samoyed can not herd, laugh loudly... Gandy herded everything, children home to dinner when they were called.. even if they didn't belong to us.. pidgeons to the bird feeder.. even if they didn't want to go and flew away.. Canadian geese to the pond.. even if they fought back they went.. and fathers to a child that had just fallen off a bike but wasn't heard crying.
6 months after he left the mother of that family wrote us... "Thank you for bring him into our family. He is a perfect gentleman, even the cows like him. As you said he would, he has claimed his place in our home. It is the rug in front of the fire where he can watch the childrens rooms at night and family in the evening. How did we ever do without him."
Thank you.. the memories are still there and wonderful.
-- G J Moody, October 6, 2003
-- Linda Stanton, December 7, 2003
This piece originally appeared in the Oregonian on September 11th, 1925. By Ben Hur Lampman.
A subscriber of the Ontario [Oregon] Argus has written to the editor of that fine weekly, propounding a certain question, which, so far as we know, remains unanswered. “Where should I bury my dog?”
We would say to the Ontario man that there are various places in which a dog may be buried. We are thinking now of a setter, whose coat was flame in the sunshine, and who, so far as we are aware, never entertained a mean or an unworthy thought. This setter is buried beneath a cherry tree, under four feet of garden loam, and at its proper season the cherry strews petals on the green lawn of his grave. Beneath a cherry tree, or an apple, or any flowering shrub of the garden, is an excellent place to bury a good dog.
Beneath such trees, such shrubs, he slept in the drowsy summer, or gnawed at a flavorful bone, or lifted head to challenge some strange intruder.
These are good places, in life or in death. Yet it is a small matter, and it touches sentiment more than anything else. For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questioning, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps at long and at last. On a hill where the wind is unrebuked, and the trees are roaring, or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze. It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, and nothing lost--- if memory lives.
But there is one best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all. If you bury him in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, he will come to you when you call--- come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again.
And though you call a dozen living dogs to heal they should not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he is yours and belongs there. People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them then, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth knowing.
The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."
Will Rogers, 1897-1935
-- Travis Barth, July 21, 2005
FROM A DEPARTED FRIEND
When you think of me, grieve not, Nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk Of me as if I were beside you there. And when you recall those things I loved, please do not let the thought of me be sad...For I am loving you just as I always have...You were so good to me! There is so much I could have told you, but remember this: I loved you so-'twas heaven here with you!
-- James White, September 27, 2005
Lovely tribute to your friends George and Sky. I'm touched at how many of us feel this way about our dog friends.
I've kept alive a web site that I put together a LONG time ago, on behalf of my Westie. We still get a lot of visitors...and lovely comments. George and Sky remain alive through your web site, just as my Mac does.
Mac's homepage: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/jlawrence/macspage.htm
-- Janet Lawrence, November 1, 2005
Your story of sky and his death moved me as it would all animal lovers. 35 years ago we immigrated to the USA. There was no doubt our dog SEEMORE would come as well. Some years later, Seemore had heart problems, and the Vet overmedicated him causing his death. We were disraught with grief. I was concerned that SEEMORES death would be too traumatic for my daughter who was then only a few years old, and had no understanding of death. We buried SEEMORE in our garden. Just before, my daughter came runnimg out. She had one of her baby blanket and a page with a drawing and lots of love hearts. We covered SEEMORE in the blanket, and put the drawings and messages with him To keep him warm and loved into the the long days journey into night.
-- ROBERT BROWER, November 6, 2005
I lost 'Sam' My Yellow Lab last year to cancer at the age of 12 years. He was my best friend and we went camping in a motorcycle and open sidecar. Sam taught me 'To be the man my dog thinks I am' God be thanked for our canine friends
-- george Smales, December 18, 2005
We got a yellow lab, Sandy, in 1992 when I was 17, and my sisters were 15, 6 and 4. My Mom and Dad went to a shelter looking for a dog, and found her, 9 monthes old, calm, and patient, sitting there, waiting. She had been abused, then abandoned. She licked my mother's hand gently and wagged her tail. But we couldn't afford the fees. The next day while my mother was at work, Dad went back to the shelter with the last of the money we had and adopted Sandy for her. We almost didn't get her because she was scheduled to be euthonized the next day. When she got home, it was like she had always been there, and was so excited to see everyone when they came home, like she'd been waiting for us her whole life. She'd get so excited she'd pee, and be so sorry she did it we couldn't be too upset. We moved so much over the years cardboard boxes would make her so nervous Sandy would chew the hair off her butt. We put reighndeer ears on her at Christmas, and she snored when she slept. Mom would come home, and say "Mommy's home" and Sandy would just go crazy. As she aged, we expected problems with her hips, for her eyesight to go (cateract surgery was out of the question for my mother because she was afraid Sandy wouldn't wake up), and she'd get moody. We never saw the cancer coming. First the blood was in her stool, a little bit here and there, and over the last couple years more and more often in greater amounts until she was flat out bleeding. She lost weight, but still ate and drank well, and moved around decent enough so we didn't worry until she was vomiting blood. Finally, last February Mom let us know we had the weekend with her, then the vet would come to our house for Sandy. When the day came my sister took our kids, the same age my youngest two sisters were when Sandy came home, to the store, and it was me, my brother in law, my mom and dad. It was only supposed to take one shot, but the first one just made her sleep. She hadn't slept that good in years. Her snoring made us laugh because she really hadn't rested well in a long time. The second shot took her. We each held her, and cried. My mother was so brave. She said she and Sandy had talked about it, and it was ok with her what Mom was going to do for her. I never thought I'd ache like that. Now Sandy lives in our backyard with a headstone and her own night light (she never cared for the dark). Mom hasn't said "Mommy's home" since Sandy left, and we have 4 other dogs that greet her whenever she comes home. I see yellow labs now and they are all called Sandy-dogs. Yesterday one of my sisters brought home a yellow lab puppy named Nala (the name of another great dog we had that went off on her own one day to die, as dogs sometimes will when it's their time) that had been given to her at work. It's a sign, she said, and Mom believes her. I never thought I'd see Mom baby another dog the way she did Sandy, although she fusses over the others plenty. But that little yellow puppy brought out something in her I haven't seen in almost a year.
I am sorry for your loss, even after the years have passed. Lossing a faithful pet is so much worse than loosing almost anyone else in your life. Almost like loosing a child or parent. I hope the best for your family after your tragic loss.
-- April Hall, January 16, 2006
I lost a treasured friend today, The big black dog who used to lay Her gentle head upon my knee And share her silent thoughts with me. She'll come, no longer, to my call, Retrieve no more, her favourite ball. A voice far greater than my own Has called her to His golden throne. Although my eyes are filled with tears, I thank her for the happy years And for her love and loyalty, That she freely gave to me. When it's time for me to go And join her there, this much I know, I shall not fear the transient dark For she will greet me with her bark.
Image: Timber Dog.jpg
-- Ted Hannaford, February 20, 2006
Thank you so much Phil for telling us George and Sky's story... I first visited this page many years ago, when our corgi Buddy was a young pup and the thought of him ever dying never crossed my mind, because of George's picture on the bottom of photo.net.
Buddy passed away three days ago on May 29. We only found out he had cancer when we discovered a lump on his throat and he never had a chance. Upon his death, many feelings and emotions went through me (and are still going through me...) - guilt, sadness and overwhelming sense of loneliness. For the past few days, I have been struggling with getting on with life. He came into my life as a young pup and was the sweetest dog - always flashing his grin and with his gentle nature, calming me down and making my house feel like a home - how I will miss him... For ten years, he was always there for me - during tough times and good times - and I am ashamed to say that I was never able show him the same level of devotion that he did.
As the days go by, one of my fears is that I will forget Buddy and what he represented - the best friend a person ever could have. He never asked for much - just for our time. My wife and I would like to believe that he is now with his mom and brothers and sisters in that other world now, having the biggest reunion ever!! and will be reunited with us in turn when our time is up in this world.. We have made a promise to treasure our other dog as much as possible now who is also getting on in years. The only thing we can ever give to our dogs is TIME and our LOVE - they are not the materialistic animals that we are..
Thanks to all the lovely people who have posted on this site... for reaching out and sharing.
-- Andrew Tang, May 31, 2006
Samoyeds are the top of the dog food chain. Havoc, one of the greatest of all Sams, can be seen here: http://www.damnedgentlemen.com/hup.html . I believe you will enjoy this particular page on the site, but you will probably want to avoid the rest of the site as I am generally an uncouth jerk.
-- eric bishop, July 3, 2006
Hey Phillip, What can one say when the measure of love and contentment knows no bounds. We learn to teach our pet our ways, what they give back is a mirror of us. The interlocking of your lives becomes comfortable and enjoyable. The moment of seperation is heartbreaking to say the least because we want them with us for our life journey. That they so endure their commintment of love and devotion. They are too smart and they depend on us and we on them.~~~~~~~~~~~~ Always love your pet and they will love u right back. ~~~~~~~D.
-- D B, July 24, 2006
We lost our Bonnie, our Scotty, a couple of years ago. Smaller than George and Sky - a little dog with a big dog attitude....
Many of the sentiments here brought tears to my eyes, which I shared with our rescue Ciara, another Scotty.
Just remember - you can't have part of a dog......
Thanks for the tears and the memories.
Bob (& Lin)
-- Robert Greene, January 22, 2007
* * *
I have some sad news to share. I knew this day was coming for some time and the final week - it felt rushed. There are so many tough parts to this process and one of the major ones is making the actual decision that ... it's time
Being a family of one human and one dog adds to the solitude you feel.
Sadie passed away on Saturday the 4th.
She was my 15 year old golden retriever and lived 5,575 wonderful days surrounded with love where ever she was. I loved her... friends loved her... and even strangers loved her. Love was all she knew. It was like she expected it and I was worried all the time that she would be hurt the day she encountered someone who was indifferent to her.
At the vet's office, I didn't have anyone with me that day and the pressure build-up from heavy weeping turned into physical agony - sinus pressure, massive headache. You know the kind where you press your fingers against the bone structure of your face just to make yourself think you're relieving something... Actually, I probably made it worse as I tended to hold it in - not having anyone to hug.
Afterwards, I had trouble driving home. It's really hard to drive to a place you don't want to go. I just didn't want to go home and not have her there for real for the first time.
What to do, what to do... I knew I had seen every film I owned and there was nothing on the television. Music or reading, writing or drawing weren't going to do it for me. Sleeping wasn't an option as I felt plagued facing unending hours of time cursed with insomnia. I needed to escape.
With my attention on Sadie, I hadn't eaten all day and my mind finally registered the hunger pangs that had been there all along. Still nothing appealed as I drove past the neighborhood restaurants. I spotted Blockbuster and went in to find a worthy diversion. No specific title, genre, or performer held my interest and I began to think this was just another empty delay on the journey home.
Having recently read Viggo Mortensen's article Letter to Brigit in Bark magazine (Sept/Oct 2006) - - the types of articles I'd been seeking over the past months in quasi subconscious preparation - I felt with his canine affinity - I may be comforted with a Viggo film.
Up and down the aisles spotting this one and that one, I didn't want violence or sexual desire. I didn't want to re-watch something I'd seen recently or had at home. To the counter I went and asked for the Big Book. The rep there paged through it and looked up Viggo. Together we thumbed over the titles. Nope... nope... nope... Then I saw Lord of the Rings ... hmmm... I've never seen the third film, not sure I've seen the second actually and it's been a while since I saw the first.
What better way to escape sudden solitude and long lonely hours adjusting, than to do the back-to-back Lord-of-the-Rings extended-version marathon... So they pointed me in the direction of the exact shelf and I went and got I believe 7 DVD cases to watch 3 movies. I dunno - - - - you do the math...
Sitting on the couch and eating the remaining KFC of Sadie's last meal - still trying to bond with her - I began my films. Struggling to stay awake at times, not for the lack of interest but rather physical exhaustion from the day's events, I would fall asleep while watching, wake up and then rewind accordingly to begin where my brain had left off when last it was awake. Day turned into night / night turned into day - - it didn't matter. The plan worked extremely well - Saturday and Sunday had disappeared. It was a wise step to begin my healing process.
Monday, I made the crematorium arrangements with their first available opening (Tuesday 9:30 am) and went to work to avoid solitude. If no one asked about Sadie then I could make it through the day undetected in my private sorrow. I was at odds with myself. Suffering the loneliness of loss and wanting to be alone at the same time. It was like trying to stop TIME itself.
I certainly didn't want to announce her passing as coyly as we do standing at the proverbial water-cooler speaking of our weekends. My comfort was my priority and the automated response of condolences - as heartfelt as they would be given somehow felt cold and unbearable at the moment. I wasn't seeking pity and felt to share her passing unsolicited with co-workers - was seeking just that. But was I denying others by staying quiet? ... No ... My co-workers didn't lose Sadie.
Tuesday came and I walked Sadie's morning route leaving a farewell letter at the homes of the people who would normally stand vigil each day awaiting our arrival at their stretch of the sidewalk. Luckily, I was earlier than normal and rarely faced direct communication. I needed the letter to do the talking as I would choke up and needed to stay on track.
Neighbors true - but strangers really - and people I wouldn't normally talk to. Many of them lived on the next street over so they didn't even know where we actually lived. We were just a snippet of their morning ritual passing by their homes daily at approximately the same time each day.
Having dropped a letter off at the corner house I continued down the street. A good 15 houses later, a van pulling up caught my eye. It was the man from the corner house who found and read the note. He had interrupted his routine to catch up with me. I never heard his voice before since we had never spoken prior. But with an outstretched hand, a compassionate hug and condolences from the graces of a stranger - His actions made it a beautiful beginning to an unfamiliar day.
THESE were the people I needed.
I'm now in the car and to avoid the idle chatter of morning radio shows or unwanted songs, I listened to classical music on the way to pick Sadie up from the vet's office. I enjoyed the violins albeit somewhat somber and dramatic. They fit my mood.
Pulling in at the vet's, they too shuffled me to the back door as Viggo's article described. The vet herself had already prepared my ability to view the contents of the black bag I would be carrying to the car. The doctor knew me very well. Sadie looked exactly the same as I had left her 3 days before. I was surprised. I touched her and she basically felt the same. Her fur was no different. With watery eyes I smiled with relief, hugged and thanked my vet.
Carrying Sadie to the car, I got to hold her like a baby. Something I always liked to do when she was very small but could never do once she grew up and weighed 75 pounds. At that size she could always sense my lack of physical strength to accomplish it for very long and would wiggle away when I would attempt to do so. I was happy having this moment and the unwavering strength to make it from the door to the car carrying the most precious cargo I've ever carried.
The radio's classical music was now upbeat. It miraculously seemed to flow according to my actual mood. Mood first - music second (not the other way around with music dictating how I should feel). I was so glad to have Sadie with me - as fleeting as I knew it was - I was actually gleeful. With one hand on the wheel, I reached back with the other to the back seat and grabbed a hold of Sadie's hand and held it tight the whole way between vet office and crematorium. Her fur prevented me from feeling the intensity of her frozen state. And her frozen state provided the firmness to her hand that eased the sadness of her limpness Saturday.
It was as if I had three days to wean myself and this moment to touch her one last time - a true gift.
Jason, the crematorium manager, greeted me in a manner that could not have been more perfectly balanced between compassionate, professional, and functional. Never having met before, amazingly he could read my needs perfectly and truly followed my lead while still maintaining control of what had to happen.
He showed me each step we would take and accommodated my every wish. I am very much a visual person, and knowing what each phase actually looked like before entering Sadie into the equation was key to its success.
The room they called "the chapel" offered privacy and a setting much like you would find at a funeral home. I opted to have the casket removed and just laid my Sadie on the table. It was wonderful to have a cozy place to say a private good-bye. She looked so peaceful just as if she were asleep.
At that moment, I chose to capture my memories of the day with photographs. I came prepared in case I'd feel that way. God forbid I'd have the desire and no means to satisfy the need. There are no re-do's on a day like today. The photos could always 'disappear' later if I wanted, but they do not sadden me. They make my heart smile and put my soul at ease.
The challenge is knowing what makes me feel comforted doesn't necessarily comfort others, so they remain a reserved keepsake, shared only upon request.
I could have stayed in the chapel for hours but knew it was far better to move along. Jason came to hold the door and allowed me to carry Sadie to her final spot on the hearth.
The inside of the oven was actually quite inviting. I expected dark metal un-pleasantries... and instead found white, beige and rose colored stone-like bricks.
Laying her down and stepping back I couldn't help but think of Jesus' tomb. Certainly not an equality level or wanting to be disrespectful but in knowing it was simply... the best. For what had to be done, it couldn't have been a better similarity or image of her to remember.
Jason asked if there was anything else I wanted cremated with her before he lowered the oven door. I felt wise having covered that while in the chapel. I had already placed a special piece of my own baby blanket around her wrist. Looking at her now, she lay with her back to us so I reached over her and laid a Milkbone in front of her... just in case... and to lighten my mood. After all, it was my signature technique each time I had to leave her alone all those years. One final time felt important.
Now - that act - made me think of ancient Egyptian burial rituals so obviously through this whole process my mind is flashing all kinds of significant burial rites, beliefs, and images dealing with death, loss, and survival.
He closed the door and pressed the button. We walked away looking back over our shoulders as he pointed out the machine's signal lights. As they progressed - when the third one lit - he confirmed the fire was on her.
It was peaceful.
I intended to write in a journal I brought as a means to pass the time. But Jason was a talker just as much as I am and we filled the time. It didn't make me feel any less attentive to the thoughts of my Sadie as our conversation was relevant and yet... not depressing. Ask me what we specifically said the whole time and I couldn't tell you but it was meaningful just the same.
Almost and hour and half later, Jason wanted to check on her. I was his shadow. I couldn't let him go anywhere without me if it involved Sadie. And due to the time we spent waiting, he knew I would be okay accompanying him. Indicating to him I knew it might not be pretty, I positioned myself and gave him the okay to open the door.
The warmth bellowed as the brightness surprised me. The tremendous force of flames coming down from a center hole in the ceiling and breaking at the hearth's bottom forcing the flames to turn back up... I think I gasped... and with wonderment spoke just how I felt at that very moment. "It's beautiful" The flames danced fluidly and what remained of Sadie was gallant.
I had lost Sadie on Saturday. Today was about taking care of her remains. That which was Sadie was not in the oven and never had been. Only her physical representation had laid there. Her physical body would either decay in the earth - forever in one location. Or be cremated and kept with me where ever I may choose to live. Sadie was safely in my heart and mind with no chance of leaving. So too - that which was her physical presence - would soon follow me as well. I was happy.
Jason explained how he could tell if she was ready and what would happen if adjustments needed to take place. I was thankful that while she needed more time, he didn't need to move her closer to the center. Just about fifteen minutes later Jason donned protective eyewear and gloves while I stayed and watched from a distance as he carefully brushed her remains forward into a container to cool. He brought the container over for me to see before placing it in the freezer for rapid cooling. She was beginning to look like her brother's ashes. He had died 2 years earlier but this was the first time I accompanied anyone to the actual crematorium.
The box was now cool enough to touch and I was allowed to examine the remains and pull any pieces I wanted to keep prior to having the ashes processed to a finer state. It was a new twist of interesting and fascination for me. The pieces are so precarious, I am certain over time they too will turn to dust naturally. Setting some particular ones aside, I felt as though I was at an archeological dig and Sadie was some amazing discovery. This made me smile proudly.
Jason let me break down the remaining pieces to the level that suited me and when he could tell I wanted assistance, he offered to help finish the process. We placed her in her new cedar chest and he gave me a large paw print tin to house the bigger pieces I chose to keep separate. He walked me to my car and made sure Sadie was stable before leaving my side.
More personable service could not have been offered whatsoever !!!
I didn't hurt for having Sadie cremated nor did I hurt for being there or participating.
On a day I expected great sadness, came great joy.
* * *
Ironically, I started watching the extras of the Lord of The Rings: Return of the King DVD after my day on Tuesday and found out that Tolkien came up with a new term. Ucatastrophe - That at the moment of great sorrow and despair comes great joy and hope.
I won't say that I am not depressed or get weepy with the sadness of losing the companionship of Sadie or that I don't miss her terribly. I am just dumbfounded that through the participation of being there for her cremation - the vast majority or intensity of that immediate pain we feel when a loved one dies was eased so readily.
Being at the crematorium and waiting was a duty I strongly felt I owed to Sadie. I had no idea it would make me so content so quickly - that I'd actually end the process smiling.
I smiled when I met Sadie and I smiled when I said good-bye.
* * *
Here are the words I wrote in the letter I left for the neighbors and their pets we'd encounter on our morning walks:
Friends and Neighbors:
I wanted to thank you for the kind waves, nods and chats we've had over the years as we walked around the block. Sadie looked forward to those walks immensely. And even though she could no longer hear the barks of those wanting her attention, I noticed you and smiled as some of you bounced off your ceilings.
I've had Sadie since she was a wee little pup in 1991 and on Saturday she passed away. Her appetite really left her this past week and I could tell there was something significantly wrong. The doctor confirmed there was a mass in her abdomen and her liver was not functioning properly. The kindest thing was to take care of her right then and there.
Today I will accompany her to the crematorium and wait to take her home with me. I will see her through to the end.
* * *
Thank you (George, Sky, Phil and anyone who reads this) for allowing me to share my Ucatastrophe with you.
I've attached a collage of photos.
The first row is a collage of 3 pictures including the very first photo I took of her in 1991, her walking our morning route using my camera phone and the last photo I ever took of her before she died that fateful Saturday.
The second row left side is one of my favorite pictures of Sadie showing what I will call her "princess point" shaped head and her "oh, that feels so good" gaze at the person rubbing her chest at the very moment the photo was taken.
And to the right is a comparison of how she looked as a young lady compared to her white masked face as an elderly yet regal woman.
Image: Sadie Ford.JPG
-- Beth Ford, February 2, 2007
I miss Kali.
Kali was, and always be, the sweetest Golden retriever ever. Snow white at birth, she never darkened. And like the best of all dogs, she showed all who met her a love and loyalty undiminished by time. The other members of my dysfunctional family tired in time of her, but not me. She was my companion on morning jogs, even though I once tripped over her and broke my collarbone, and the second time, broke my fibula in two places. I loved Kali. While my kids didn't like walking her or cleaning up after her, for me, the time was always moments of love. I adored brushing her copious white fur.
In 2003, when Kali was six years old, my ex and I separated, and I saw her only weekends, when I came to visit my children. Kali recognized the sound of my engine as I drove up the hill, and began to cry to be let out to greet me. Soon, my teenage kids had better things to do on weekends than to spend time with their old dad, but Kali always was delighted to see me. She would often put one big paw on my foot, as if to say, "Don't go."
In January 2005, Kali began to limp inexplicably, and when the local vet proved unable to diagnose the problem, my ex drove her to Boston where I lived, where we took her to Angell Memorial for evaluation. The diagnosis from an MRI scan: An inoperable tumor deep in her left groin. Time? Perhaps a few months, until the pain would be too much.
I took her back to my apartment, inflated a queen-sized Aero-Bed, and fell asleep beside her. The next day, I set up a small digital camera on the floor, and took the one and only photo of us together. Then, I drove her back to Connecticut.
My ex took excellent care of Kali, and with pain meds, she did well until May. She'd have good and bad days. Finally, in early June of 2005, it was clear she was in great discomfort. She stopped eating. We agreed that I would come to Connecticut the next day, dig her grave in the woods where she loved to run, take her for one last walk there, and then to the vet to be euthanized. All night long, I agonized at the task facing me in the morning.
About 6:30AM, I awoke to a tearful call from my daughter, that when she came to leave for school, she found Kali stretched out in her favorite spot on the family room carpet, dead.
It seems that in the middle of the night, Kali rose from the spot on the floor of my ex's bedroom, and barked -- a very unusual action for her. My ex opened the bedroom door to let her out, thinking she needed to go outside to pee, which she did with increasing frequency as the tumor had grown.
But Kali went instead into the bedroom of my then 18 year old daughter, awakened her, and lay down briefly on her floor. She then got up, and went into the room of my sleeping 15 year old son.
And then, apparently, she went down to the family room and died quietly.
I drove immediately to Connecticut. She looked smaller in death than life. As I slid under her some black plastic sheeting I had bought for her entombment, her body heat from pooled blood was one last instant of comfort.
I worked for about an hour or so, digging a grave beneath some large oaks, and with my ex's help, carried her carefully wrapped and now-stiff body to the graveside. I covered her with stones as well as earth, to make sure no scavenging animals would disturb her.
And then, I stood by her grave, and thanked God for the years He had given me to enjoy her limitless love. She was a gift.
Today is Valentine's day, Kali. You will always have a special place in my heart. I think of you every day. Thanks for your unbounding, unconditional love.
Your partner misses you -- Mel
PS: This is Kali: http://www.tabblo.com/studio/stories/view/209702/
-- Mel Snyder, February 14, 2007
Thats imazeing how pets can be loved by us! i've never thought about it before. But thinking in that way comes when you looses it. Nevertheless i know that our pets never die untill we remember them.
-- fashy, March 21, 2007
aha, fashy. Thats right. We never feel lack in smth. untill loose. But live must go no. Nothing can make us forget our pets & taking care of another cant be forbidden.
-- snusik pusik, July 19, 2007
I will never forget our faithful chow-mix, Moretti. We got him at the pound probably 8 years earlier, and he was by no means young even then. He used to love to sleep outside at night, even in the winter with two feet of snow...in the summer I brushed his thick fur until there was a huge mound of it beside me. He was so gentle, never growling at anyone except in play, and always sad when left alone. I went away to college, but came back to visit one day. My Dad, Moretti, and I walked down to the river, and he watched us protectively from the bank as we kayaked. On our way back to the house we played with him for a while, marveling at his energy and vigor. The following week I got a call from my Dad, who was crying. He said that he couldn't talk much, but that Moretti had been hit by a car and killed. A few days later I received the full story in a letter...they looked everywhere for him when they got home, and immediately knew something was wrong. They walked along the road until the found his body, already cold. My father was devastated, but set out to bury him the next day. He walked around the yard, searching for a suitable place, then settled on a spot with trees overhead and a view of the river that just felt "right". As he finished digging the grave, his shovel hit something in the ground. They were the bones of a beloved horse, buried in the same spot many years before. My father says he felt of rush of joy, knowing that Moretti would not be alone, and that he had chosen the best place for his remains. Far away in Boston, I read this letter weeping profusely, full of gratefulness for having played with him one last time.
-- Sophia B, May 19, 2010
George sounds wonderful! Of course, I cried reading this for I know too well the love of a special dog. I know the devastation of losing such a beautiful soul. So much so, that my beloved Kiah (a German Shepherd x Kelpie) died four years ago and we have just now got another dog. His name is Finn and he is a Samoyed x Golden Retriever.
I laughed when you described how George would crash into a table and seem not to feel it because that is exactly what Finn is like. I love our Finn - he is very special.
Thank you for sharing George with us xx
-- Kte mularczyk, May 30, 2011
19 years later
-- Peter Pan, February 9, 2017