A Memorial: Fund Raising for Puppy Up!

For almost twelve years, my Great Pyrenees Tulip was the farm’s jokester, a shiny-eyed, smiley-faced cross between an oversized seal pup and a benevolent polar bear. For twelve years she multi-tasked as the farm’s protector and its own personal stand up comedian. She died in my arms several years ago, and is buried just a few feet from the front porch, where she used to stand and bark at the coyotes who yip-howled their way down a ravine toward my young lambs. No coyote, or canid of any kind, ever bothered our sheep when Tulip was alive, yet she loved everyone equally, dogs and people alike, unless they appeared to be a threat.

Once I was awoken at 2 AM by hushed and hurried voices coming from my front yard. Alone that night, I peered out the window to see three shadowy figures moving around behind the spruce tree that anchors the yard. One of them darted out of the gloom and began to run–and I mean run–toward me and the house. I took Tulip by the collar, all 100+ pounds of her, and walked onto the porch. Tulip was barking as only a huge dog can; deep, thundering WOOF WOOF WOOFs coursing through the air as I said “Stop right there! I’ll let the dog loose if you don’t.” Of course, I knew that Tulip was most likely to run up and lick his face if I let her go, but my “visitor” didn’t. He stopped in his tracks and said “Oh gosh, sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. But my motorcycle broke down and I wanted to know if I could leave it here until morning.” His words weren’t quite so, uh, clear, being influenced by something I’d guess was at least 40 proof.  “Uh, sure, no problem,” I said. I might have mentioned that it would have been more polite to just leave it there and not wake me up in the middle of the night, but he left and I went back in the house and sat down with Tulip and took her head in my hands and thanked her for being there for me. Having her stand there beside me that night made all the difference in the world.

Here is a difference I would like to make in her name. I’ve joined the 2 million dogs campaign to help raise funds to combat cancer in dogs. It was started by Luke Robinson, who lost one of his beloved Great Pyrenees to cancer, and committed to walking his two remaining Pyrs 2,000 miles to raise money to fight cancer. That evolved into the 2 Million Dogs project, in hopes that 2 million dogs, walking just two miles, could raise a significant amount of money. Tulip didn’t die of cancer, but my first Pyr did (Bo Peep), as did my Border Collies Misty and Lassie.

So I’m in. I’ll be walking with friends (many from the UW Vet School Pet Pals program) in Madison on May 4th. Everyone who registers commits to raising a certain amount of money. I’ve set my goal at $3,000, but would love to do better than that. If you are so inclined, you can CONTRIBUTE HERE.

Whether you can afford to join in or not, I’ll love hearing memorials to one of your special dogs. Here is my Tulip, in a photo taken by one of our country’s best dog photographers, Amanda Jones.


Here is our last photograph of Tulip, resting in her grave, covered with the tulips that friends spontaneously brought to the celebration of her life, a few hours before we sent her over the bridge. She is resting in peace, but I’ll be joining millions of people and dogs all around the country, in an effort to keep our beloved dogs alive, just a little longer.

Tulip grave



  1. Marcia in NorCal says

    Wow. I think I can walk 2 miles. Neither of my very elderly dogs can walk 2 miles, but I’d bet I can borrow one for something like this! And I’ll be sharing this, one way or the other, with a BUNCH of friends, both near and far. Thanks for letting us know about this!

  2. Trisha says

    Marcia, you don’t have to bring a dog. Lots of people won’t (me included). Tootsie couldn’t go two miles, and Willie would consider it a nightmare. So it’ll be me and Jim and lots and lots of wonderful friends. And some dogs. I’ll bet they’ll let us borrow them for petting!

  3. Vicki M says

    I’ve have done the past three 2Million Dogs walks in our area and also work as a volunteer. The first walk in our area was only a couple of months after I lost my very first dog to osteosarcoma. I have never seen so many leashed dogs in one place without any significant scuffles (maybe a snark or two but no more) It was amazing. I think you’ll really enjoy it and it IS a great cause.

  4. says

    Wow, this post hit a soft spot today. My first dog is still with me, thank goodness, at 11 years old now. And has been joined by several other dogs since!

    But just this afternoon I sat with my best friend in her garden whilst she let her dog go. Dizzee was a wonderful collie (possibly a cross with a staffy) who loved life, but has battled aggressive cancer for the last 8 months and so although she was only 8 years old, today was time to say goodbye. She had a lovely last few hours enjoying the sun & having cuddles, but my friend is hurting, as am I.

    I’ll gladly donate if I can

  5. LisaW says

    Our first dog together as a couple was Sadie, the queen of dogs. We got her in 1982 from a retired farming couple in the country. She was a golden retriever and was the most benevolent of dogs. She kept things in order with a calm presence; she always knew how to respond to a situation and how to diffuse others. We didn’t teach her things as much as she taught us. Back then we had a fluctuating lifestyle, but she was always calm and steady. Everyone loved her, when we moved out of an apartment in a close-knit neighborhood, all our neighbors came to say goodbye to Sadie (not us so much). Once, we packed up the car and went on a three-month camping trip on a loop east of the Mississippi from Vermont to the Panhandle and back. She was the best traveling buddy and kept the armadillos out of our campsites. She loved New Orleans and Mardi Gras!

    When she was about 10, she developed bone cancer, and we had her hind leg amputated. It was a tough few weeks after the operation, but she never complained, never got grumpy, never did anything but knew we were doing our best to take care of her. As a tripod, she went camping, canoeing, on road trips. It aged her quickly, and as her muscles got weaker, I would carry her outside if she needed some help. One day, I set her down in the yard so she could pee, and she stopped and looked me in the eye and held her gaze for a minute or so, and I knew it was time. After all she had given us, she also gave us the sign that she was ready.

    Our vet at the time came to the house as a tribute to her. He didn’t make house calls and he didn’t euthanize outside of the office. But he came for her. He also made a contribution to Cornell Veterinary School in her name.

    I’m in.

  6. Rose C says

    Will be supporting you and the cause.

    I love Tulip’s last photo – it is beautiful. I also have one of my late dog Ludy who recently past away. She was bundled in towels like a sleeping infant as she laid in the back seat of my car (on her usual spot on car rides). I was driving her body to the crematory place. I’ve had plans of putting together her photos from puppyhood to the time that I had to let her rest, with all the lessons she had taught me along the way. Everything that I do for my remaining dog, Dani, as well as for other dogs that I encounter and interact with, I do in honor of Ludy. She rekindled and revived the love and fondness that I had for dogs as a young girl and got me started into yearning to learn more.

  7. patrick says

    Oh, my.What a reminder of beloved Tulip. She as was Bo Peep a story in devotion, courage and love.

  8. ABandMM says

    Hi Trisha,

    I’ll contribute. I lost my first dog Morgan to hemangiosarcoma and my Dad’s dog has lymphoma and has come out of remission and his time with us is coming to an end. The wonderful staff at the Florida Veterinary Referral Center have given us 17 more months with Charlie and we are so thankful. It seems like so many dogs are being diagnosed with cancer, especially lymphoma. I know of several people who have lost their dogs to cancer this past year.

  9. says

    October 30, 1999 – February 26, 2013
    There are plenty of sheep to herd and Angels to throw your Frisbees in heaven until we are together again.

    Molly, my beloved Border Collie, was diagnosed with Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC AKA Bladder Cancer) on March 11 2010. She fought the cancer as she lived her life, always giving 110%. Over the nearly 3 years fight she had only about 10 “bad” days. Molly underwent 6 different chemo therapy drugs, she had a urethral stent placed when the tumor blocked her ability to urinate, she fought a bout with pneumonia, and a bout with sterile nodular panniculitis. The last 2 years of her treatments were mostly done at UC Davis where Molly became somewhat of an “urban legend”. Each new vet student we met would ask if this was THE Molly, especially as we neared the 3 year mark since diagnosis. Through it all she was a trooper, never complaining, always content, as long as I was there.

    Molly lived a full and happy life. She lived in the moment, treasuring and LIVING every second of every day. She loved to herd sheep; she helped people as a therapy dog; she enjoyed agility; she put her ball drive to work at Flyball; she taught many a puppy good “doggie manners”. What Molly loved most in life was being with me our bond runs deep, we have and always will be attached at the heart.

    Molly’s tumor started bleeding, we were able to slow the bleeding for about 10 days, then nothing we did helped as we watched her red blood cell count drop. Molly lost her battle with cancer on 2/26/2013. She passed away peacefully with her head in my lap, eyes focused on mine as if to tell me everything was going to be OK. Her passing was shrouded in love by myself and by our valiant, loving vets and friends, Dr. Bill Culp and Dr. Carrie Palm at UC Davis.

    THE BEST DOG EVER!!! I will love and miss you forever, my Molly girl. Molly, you have the biggest heart, strongest spirit, and had an unbelievable will to live. You taught many lessons to so many people – a true inspiration!

    I’m in.

  10. Leda Van Stedum says

    My beloved dog, Frankie, a Mini Aussie died of liver cancer on February 26th, a mere few days ago. I miss him horribly! The house is so quiet!

  11. Laura Atwood says

    I’ve lost 2 Rotties, Carmilla and Beverly, to bone cancer and my Chow Chow, Monkey, to malignant melanoma. My current Rottie, Lily, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma but we were lucky to catch it in time. After having her toe amputated, she has been cancer-free for a year. I walked with Puppy Up in Fort Collins, CO and am now coordinating the first Puppy Up walk in Anchorage, AK.

  12. says

    I’m definitely in. Every year on the anniversary of my Bailey’s death from cancer I contribute to the Canine Cancer Foundation in her name. (And on the anniversary of her birth I contribute to a dog shelter. It’s my way of remembering her and keeping her memory alive.) I’ve also got a book project about to release and I’m hoping to donate the proceeds to canine cancer research. It’s a win-win–much of the research done on canine cancer is applicable to human cancer.

    Thanks for posting. Love the pics of Tulip. We ALMOST got a Pyr, but I was a little worried about the guarding tendencies, so went with a Golden instead. Now we have a Golden mix who really thinks he’s a Pyr. :)

  13. Trisha says

    I’m in a grading tsunami right now (450 pages of essay exams), but am truly touched at the response so far, and at the love behind your stories. More tomorrow or tonight, when I emerge…..

  14. HFR says


    My beloved Clara died of malignant histiocytosis at only 6.5 years old (she was an FCR, they are known for this cancer unfortunately).

    I am so envious of other’s stories of their dog’s gentle passing. Since Clara was young, I put her thru chemo (to which she did not respond well) and holistic treatments. Actually it was radiation that relieved her pain at the tumor site in her knee, so I did get another good 6 months with her after diagnosis. But after that I was tortured by the “You’ll know when it’s time” prediction that so many people told me about. That never happened with her and I constantly questioned if I was being selfish by keeping her here when she started to decline.

    She was the kind of dog who would never show when she was in pain or uncomfortable. She had a love of life that was boundless. When her appetite started to wane (she was a voracious eater), the vet told me that the cancer had spread throughout her body and I decided to let her go that day in his office. To this day, I regret that decision as she was not immobile at the time and I probably could have put it off without causing her too much distress. Was my decision partly selfish as I really could not tolerate the thought of watching her go through her decline? I often think someone should write the book about how NOT to say goodbye to your dog. I learned a lot from my experience with Clara and hope never to make an emotional decision again in that circumstance. (Tip: Never make that decision alone. Get trusted others input, because the vet will never advise you one way or the other as much as you’d like them to.)

    Wishing you lots of money raised for the cause. Tulip was beautiful!

  15. Melissa L. says

    I just had my beloved dog of 17 years euthanized on Feb. 1st. I feel so lucky to have had a dog who lived such a long and healthy life as most of my friends’ dogs died much earlier, many of them from cancer. My heart really goes out to those who lose their friends too soon. I made a you tube memorial video for Shadow at http://youtu.be/qZF7knSAd3w. I will check into the 2 Million Dog foundation and perhaps we can organize a walk in our area.

  16. says

    I just contributed in memory of my dad, John McComb, a great dog-lover who died of esophageal cancer; and my dear departed Bell, Brenda, and Daniel–all lost due to cancer. In addition, I’d like to honor Susie Eberhardt, a founder of our Stevens Point Dog Park; and my cat friend Gertie–both of them living with cancer. Thanks for alerting us to this; I didn’t know about it.

  17. says

    I wanted to start with a hug for HFR. Your are not the onky one with doubts about it ‘being time’ or making decisions with regrets in retrospect. At the same time, just keep in mind that feeling guilty about something – whatever – is also part of a mourning process.

    So here goes my story: we lost Janouk to cancer of the small intestine one june 6th, a week before he would turn eleven. Janouk had not been eating well for a couple of weeks. We had been to the vet several times and we thought that he had eaten something that lodged in his stomach/small intestine. Janouk had eaten all kinds of stuff from the street including a towel when he was only 6 weeks old and some cloth when he was about 6 months old, both times being very ill. He had eaten horse manure with straw, so we blaimed that. Since he was still eating, pooping and blood values were all normal, our vet was inclined to trie to do it conservatively: soft food, medication to stimulate the bowels etc. Janouk was not very well but not very ill either. We were going to London for a couple of days and was in doubt whether or not to go. So we went to the vet, who examined Janum agian, x-rayed him and found nothing really alarming so told us to go ahead and go to London. So we went. We brought Janouk and the two youngster to our regular dogsitter and left. The second day I called him and he told me Janouk would not eat anything. He tried everything for us, even pizza but nope, nothing… So he went with Janouk to our own vet who called us in London and informed us he wanted to operate because he thought there was an obstruction. He would call us later how things went. He called us later in the day, during the operation. He had never seen anything like it; three large holes and a totally abnormal intestine for about 2 cm, to close to the pancreas to remove. So standing in the middle of Piccadilly Circus we let our beloved Janouk go. In hindsight, of course I regretted going to London. Janouk just gave up when we left. But then again, was that such a bad thing? He must have been in pain, bravely battling on just because we were there, eating to please me, going on walks. Enduring the two youngsters. Hanging on. And there were no treatment options left.

    What did suprise and worry me, in hindsight, that our vet had seen nothing like it in 30+ years of practice but that no samples were taken for further pathological examination and that I have since heard several similar stories. So yes, I do believe we need much more research on the subject.

  18. says

    Thankfully I have not had to deal with the loss of my companions yet. My Great Pyr Beanie is just 5 years old and while I know that is middle aged for his breed I try to enjoy the present with him. He is my heart dog, there is no other dog like a Pyrenees in my opinion. I have a little story similar to yours Tricia, I leashed Beanie one night near 4th of July to get a group of teenagers out of our neighborhood as they were setting off cherry bombs right outside my house at 10pm! He did his job superbly and the teenagers made a hasty retreat! I will never be with out a pyr as long as I live!

  19. Marjorie says

    I love how people love their dogs. These stories both warm and break my heart. I remember hugs and tears being shared with one lady who had an old Lab who was in his last days of cancer. She had bought a runners stroller and had him carefully arranged in it so that he could spend his last days in his favourite park. I helped her push him up the hills and held her up when she broke down in tears with exhaustion and dispair. We also shared many laughs as she told me many funny stories about her patient. The human dog bond never ceases to amaze me. I have lost dogs, but not to cancer. However, I have lost many other human family members with cancer and I know what a heartbreaking disease it is. If I can’t find a walk in my area I’ll make a donation.

    Both pictures of Tulip are beautiful, but the one in her grave, lovingly laid to rest really touches me. I wish all dogs (people too) could have such a dignified and loving end.

  20. HFR says

    Thank you, Mirielle. Janouk was a beautiful dog and he clearly had a wonderful life.

    My Georgie is 13 and I’m leaving on vacation in a couple of weeks. Even tho she is in relatively good health and is in good hands, I will be worried the entire time I am gone. I think you are right that sometimes they wait until we are gone to go themselves.

    Wow, Trisha…450 pages of essays! My sympathies 😉

  21. Trisha says

    I just re-read every one of your comments, but I’m having a hard time focusing on the page. Something seems to be in my eyes. Must be allergies. I’ll wipe them up with tissues and see if I can type coherently. First, and most importantly, thank you all for your stories and to those of you who were able to contribute. I’ve never done a fund raising event like this, and I am finding it even more touching and humbling than I thought it would be. It means a great deal to me to be able to help this project, and I am so grateful that many of you are on board. What lucky dogs so many of you have had–dogs who were loved and cherished in the way that everyone deserves, but doesn’t always get.

    And to add my voice to HFR’s angst about when to let a dog go: I too have struggled about when to let a dog go. I’ve had dogs who did just what Sadie did, and told me in a way I couldn’t mis-interpret that it was time. I put one dog down too soon, I think now. I put one dog down too late and was wracked with guilt about it. That is why I so appreciate Mireille’s comment that guilt is a natural part of grieving. (I did write a blog on this topic, search for “love-guilt-and putting a dog down”). We just want the world to be one in which we have control, and in which we use that control perfectly. And of course, we don’t, and stuff happens to even the best of us, and it happens to our dogs too, even the great ones. A tough reality for us to face sometimes.

    But it’s been wonderful for me to re-visit life with Tulip, and how much she gave to so many; how much a part of the farm and my life she was. Right now I’m feeling lucky. So very, very lucky to have had her in my life. Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all, right? I’ll keep reading your comments, and thanking each and everyone of you for your stories and/or contributions. I just have to get that stuff out of my eyes so I can focus better….

  22. HFR says

    Wise thoughts from everyone. Thank you for the reference to the older post, I just read it and it makes so much sense. Loss of control is a bitter pill to swallow. For me, it wasn’t guilt over of putting her down, or even thinking I could have done something to save her. For me it was putting her down for selfish reasons, the wrong reasons. I did not want to watch her die, so I did it to help me, not her. I know I will never be able to put that behind me and move on, but I have learned to live with it. I’m not perfect and people can be selfish creatures, so there you have it. I just hope I never give in to that side of me again in that situation.

    When my parents were sick before they passed, I remember thinking how grateful I was not to even have the option of euthanasia. Sometimes I think the hardest thing for a pet owner, is that that choice is on the table. I do believe euthanasia is called for with animals as it avoids a ton of suffering, but it’s a pretty scary power to have in your hands.

    Anyway, thank you for the discussion. As always, very enlightening.

  23. Rose C says

    Thank you for sharing the video, Mireille. Lovely tribute to your beloved Janouk. Saw it when you shared it the last time. When I lost my dog Ludy around Thanksgiving last year, your video inspired me to make one for her too. I watched it more than ten times everyday for the following weeks and always laid a kiss on her nose from the computer screen. I still do whenever I watch it. They never leave us. I consistently find myself saying ‘my dogs’ when referring to Dani, my one dog who is still with me. It is as if Ludy never left us. I haven’t moved/removed a few things that are Ludy’s and haven’t done a few activities we shared with her but I function and do pretty ok. Dani doesn’t even appear that she realizes Ludy is gone, which I am actually grateful for.

    HFR, I feel the one person who can truly tell if it is time to make the decision for our dogs is us. If along the way we feel we need a trusted someone’s input, by all means we should get it. If we are comfortable in making the decision by ourselves given the situation and the facts presented, it is okay too. There is no right or wrong decision. In our hearts, we know when it is time. We are not making decision to take away their life, rather we are making decision to free them from actual or inevitable pain, discomfort, and misery. I didn’t lose my 3.5 yr old Ludy to cancer but for 7 months, her overall health had been on a slow steady decline. She developed complications and from the time she started showing signs of uncontrolled bleeding to the time when I had to make the decision to let her rest, it was quite fast and literally a tumultuous emotional roller coaster week for me. It wasn’t easy for her too, having to urinate every few minutes with clots (probably not able to fully empty her bladder each time due to the clots), being in a totally different environment in the hospital subjected to diagnostic testings and being handled to be examined, etc — but I made things as close to normal as possible when I visited her, even bringing towels and pillow case from home so she can smell some things familiar to her. I kept doing little silly plays I’ve always done with her and said things in the same tunes as I’ve always ‘sang’ to her. I know she could feel her body being weak, maybe even feeling lightheaded from her persistent bleeding and low blood count, but I don’t think in her mind she has an actual fear or concept of the dying process. I feel that what is important to our beloved pets in these times is that they feel they are not abandoned by the people they know, that they are not alone in this time of uncertainty when they do not really understand why they are feeling dizzy, weak, hard of breathing, etc, and that they feel safe and not threatened by anything in their immediate environment. It’s one of those circumstances when we know the outcome is inevitable and that there’s nothing we can do to stop it. We’ll just have to make decisions based on what we feel is right in our hearts and make our beloved pets feel safe, comfortable, and cared for.

  24. says

    I have lost 3 Golden Retrievers, 1 Spaniel and 1 Aussie to Cancer. Currently all 4 of my dogs are in good health. I just recently adopted my first Great Pyrenees, Gracie. She is here because we lost our Maltese to coyotes last summer. I never knew these dogs were so affectionate and sensitive. She is the light of my life. And now when she runs outside to bark at whatever she hears or smells on our property, I cheer her on and think of my little man. Amazingly, I rarely have to go out to tell her to come in. She stops on her own and slips through the doggie door and back into the house, a job well done!

  25. HFR says

    That is such a good point, Rose C. Dogs are not aware of the dying process and that is comforting. They just want us with them and they trust us to do what’s right. Ludy sounds like a wonderful dog who was lucky to have you for her short time here.

    What I meant by not making the decision on your own, is that sometimes we are too close to the situation. I think if someone had been with me that day, they may have been able to “talk me down” from the overwhelming feeling of doom that enveloped me. I looked at Clara and saw nothing but looming pain for both of us.

    I remember years ago, my friends dog was dying of suspected hemangiosarcoma. His main symptom was fluid around the heart. He had had it drained once and it gave him a very good six months. One day she called near hysterical saying that he had taken a turn and she was going to put him down. I told her I would be right over. When I walked in the door, he jumped up to greet me, wagging his tail and taking a treat. She couldn’t believe it. He ended up going another month before she had to put him down. And he was doing well during that month. I just think she was so anticipating that final step that she was too close to judge his condition. But, in the end, of course, we are the only ones who can decide for our dogs.

  26. Debbie S. says

    Trisha, your photo of Tulip in her last resting place threw me for a loop as it was all too similar to the last image I have of our Razzle. We buried him in late September between the pines on our property. Normally, we cremate our dogs but my husband wanted to bury him so as Razzle drifted in and out of heavy sleep, the autumn sun gently warming his old bones, my husband dug his grave…..like something akin to Falkner’s “As I Lay Dying”. Putting him in the ground was harder for me to bear than the trip to the vet and I can’t look at the rock pile now sitting atop the small mound without reliving that pain all over again. For some reason, I can deal better with ashes…..

    I hope to be walking for the 2 million dogs campaign.

  27. Gary Radice says

    I’ve contributed. Thanks, Trisha.

    I lost my first golden retriever, Sienna, to a nasty brain cancer in 2006 when she was 9 and half. She had two bad knees, allergies, was too long and tall, clumsy, and kind of goofy looking. She was also full of life, passionate about everything, and funny as hell. When I was around she never left my side. A good dog, and I’m tearing up thinking about her now.

    Our next golden, Carmella, was diagnosed with a rare GI tumor last July at the age of 7. After surgery to remove it she was given maybe 3-4 months to live. I decided to be as positive as possible and embarked on a plan to teach her a new trick every week for as long as she could handle it. Much to everyone’s surprise, she is still around 8 months later, happy and healthy, and I’ve run out of easy tricks! So instead we just spend a little longer enjoying our walks in the woods every day.

  28. Harriet Irwin says

    Trisha, Ashby and I will contribute. At 12.5 years she could probably do the walk but my knees couldn’t. I am so proud of you. And Tulip was the very BEST. H

  29. Rose C says

    HFR, I understand and completely agree with what you said. Sometimes, we need another person’s viewpoint on a situation, especially at times when we are overwhelmed by contrasting emotions.

    However, on making that difficult decision for our beloved pets, I’d like to think that there is no right or wrong decision, no right or wrong time to make it. Not to disregard how others understand and accept that guilt is part of the grieving process but I believe that whatever decision we make, whenever we choose to make it, it’s always the right time. No need to feel guilty about anything, you made the right decision at the right time.

    I’ll insert something personal here and hope it doesn’t offend anyone who feel otherwise: I had said before that I rarely, if ever, regret anything that I do or any decision that I make — not because I’m perfect and never makes mistakes nor because I always make the right decisions (heaven knows how screwed up many of the decisions I’ve made) — but because I always count everything as a lesson, a learning experience. Although, I also had said, if there is one thing that I can change, I would not have brought my dogs to the woods where I believe Ludy might have picked the tick that caused her to be ill in the first place. I do not, however, feel guilty that I brought them there because I saw how happy they were every time that we got ready and drove to that place. I saw how happy they were sniffing and walking and running in that place. I look at it this way: Ludy lived a short but happy dog life. Sure I miss her, from time to time I am filled with longing for the times that I cuddled and hugged and teased and played with her. I long for looking into her round eyes, feeling her soft curly hair, her rough paws against my cheek, her wet nose, and that warm spot on the floor that she leaves as she gets up from laying on it. But her time here was up. She ultimately does not belong to me and had to go back home. This is something beyond my control, no matter what the cause, no matter at what point in time it happened. What I am able to control is how I spend my time with her while she is with me, how I can make her feel safe, fed, and happy (in a dog’s way), and how I can make her last moments feel comfortable and without misery. I can only be grateful for the privilege and the time I was given to be a part of her life.

  30. Claudia says

    I have a photo just like that, of my beloved Ginger, aka The Pudden. She died in October, days before the ground froze up. Once the ground is frozen in Alaska, you have to wait till spring to bury your loved ones. So we had to dig fast. My friends (bless their hearts) came over with shovels and we dug a quick deep grave in the rain, and I climbed down with her and laid her on her side and told her that she means the world to me, and thanked her for all the good times we’ve had. Then I took a pic of her lying on her side with her legs folded up, just as she used to sleep. For one brief moment I thought I wanted to lie down there with her and have my friends cover us both with earth, but then realized I had to climb out of there and continue with the rest of my life. The Pudden died as she lived: happy, unexpected, full of joy and with her boots on. Just keeled over after breakfast and stopped breathing. She was 12. I assume it was hemangiosarcoma of the heart. The only thing that can reduce cancer rates is if we stop inbreeding within lines and breed for longevity.

  31. HFR says

    Rose C, that is such an interesting distinction to make: What we would change if we could, but we do not feel guilty about. I think that’s it in a nutshell. I would change things if I could, but regret is not the same as guilt.

    That idea of wanting to lie in the grave with them, is a perfect explanation of how we feel when we let them go. As I tell my friends when we talk about our parents getting old and sick and dying, it’s how life is supposed to go. We are supposed to outlive our parents, it’s the natural order of things. Somehow it never feels natural when we have to watch so many of our beloved pets pass. But we keep doing it. Which goes to show how much they give us to make that pain worth the grief. I remember someone told me years ago that in France they call dogs “Beasts of Sorrow”…sometimes very true. Thankfully they are also Beasts of Joy.

  32. Dena Norton ("Izzee's Mom") says


    I lost my first English Springer Spaniel, Izzee, to an insulinoma at the age of 9+1/2. That was nearly 6 years ago, but my memories of her are vivid. For many years, we had a cottage in southern Ontario. We live in suburban Detroit, Michigan, so the cottage was just an hour from home. Crossing the border was always easy for me. The customs agents would talk to Izzee, or ask me about her when they saw her in the back seat behind me. (Yes, she rode in a seatbelt harness.)

    When we’d turn in to the road leading to the beach where our cottage was located, Izzee would begin to whine. When I let her out of the car, she’d race around the house and leap into Lake Erie. Did I mention that she LOVED to swim?

    She taught her older sister to swim at the cottage the year our cousins brought her up from Atlanta. Bailey didn’t know what to make of the little waves running up and down the beach, but she followed Izzee into the water to chase sticks. Once they both grabbed the stick, one at each end, and brought it back in tandem. I wish I had a photo to show others, but it’s a highlight in my mental scrapbook.

    Izzee also got me into the world of dog training and obedience and Rally competition. I now teach puppy classes at our local training center, and she gets the credit for that, too.

    I donated in memory of Izz. Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention.

  33. Karen London says

    Trisha, I have loved all your dogs, but Tulip has an especially special place in my heart. She was joy and life and playfulness in the most magical way. I remember so much about her–the way she barked loudly enough to hear her a mile away, the way she frolicked with an entire litter of your Border Collie puppies, and even the unusual way she pooped with barely a squat. (It’s not clear why I remember that, but have no idea where my car keys are at the moment. Sigh) She was a lovely dog and I loved her very much. This fundraiser will be a wonderful way to remember her and to help so many others. Thanks for writing about her and giving me a moment to pause to remember what a delight she was to all!

  34. Nan says

    Syd was a husky/terrier mix who because of a strange tuft of hair that stood straight up on her head made her look like a Dr. Seuss character. She was sweet as pie to everyone (except teenaged boys! who she eyed suspiciously when they came to visit my partner’s daughter). It was with quiet confidence that she kept order in the house, often lying down on top of a toy if it was the source of a fight between the Lhasa-poos. Other than her occasional escapes for adventure (every girl needs to get away once in a while), Syd was the all around best dog… ever.
    When she developed a cancerous growth near her spine when she was 15, we opted for surgery and it was removed. The recovery was long and difficult for poor Syd but, true to form, she was a trooper. When she was better, we were elated and over the course of the next several months, she was like her younger self again. Unfortunately, the growth returned and this time it was causing her to have a terrible time getting to her feet or walking. We didn’t want to put her through another surgery and made the difficult decision to let our sweet Syd go. As we were saying goodbye, I leaned in and whispered in her ear, “Come back to us, Syddie, we’ll know you by your soulful eyes.”
    That was three years ago, and we’ve had a lot of loss around here since: TD, our pek/pom was 17, Casey, our Rottie mix was 14 and, Idgy, our feisty kitty was 19 when they went to the other side. With just Buffy and Duff, the 13-year-old Lhasa-poos and our cats, Lulu and Dottie, the house was quiet. (Ok, maybe not quiet with Duff around.) The plan was to let D&B live out their lives as the only dogs… until Syd showed up in the form of an 11-month-old Great Pyr named Rosie. We knew her right away by those soulful eyes. It’s been 6 weeks tomorrow since she joined the family and so far it’s been quite an adventure!
    Thanks, Trisha, for all the great info here and in your books. Good luck on the walk… happy to support your efforts for such a worthy cause!

  35. Melissa L. says

    It has been so helpful to read what everyone has to say about how difficult the decision to euthanize is. I was very fortunate in that I had two wonderful vets help me with this decision. Shadow had acupuncture every week for the last year of her life with a wonderful vet. Last summer I saw one of her (my vet’s) patients–a German Shepherd with the usual back/rear end issues. He was in bad shape and when I asked about it, my vet said that the owner wasn’t willing to put him down. I told her that when Shadow got to that condition to please let me know, because I didn’t want her to live when things got that bad. I know how easy it is for the deterioration to become the new normal and to be unaware of how much your pet may not be enjoying life. So–the last week of January, my vet said merely “I think we’re getting close”.

    The following week, I made arrangements for Shadow’s regular vet to come out to the house. Of course, two days before the scheduled euthanasia, Shadow rallied and I began to doubt my decision. When the vet came, I asked her whether I was acting too soon. She said something very profound that both reassured and comforted me–“You don’t want the last day of her life to be the worst day of her life”. These remarkable and compassionate women were there to help validate my decision and to give me permission to let Shadow go. I am forever grateful to them.

  36. Nic1 says

    Trisha, I always love reading about Tulip and also Luke too. They are dogs that seem to hold an extra special place in your heart and your love and respect just shines through on the page reading about them. When I first read ‘TOEoTL’, I made the mistake of reading it on the train, where I promptly wept buckets reading about the love you have for your dogs.

    This is an absolutely wonderful cause and a great way to remind people that we really owe it to the canine species to breed with health, temperament and function always at the forefront. We need well bred dogs. We owe it to them! They just don’t live long enough.

    I’m currently watching Crufts with very mixed feelings……the pure bred mentality has pushed the envelope way too far in a lot of breeds. However, cancer is the number one killer of mutts too. More research is needed…

  37. says

    Rescued a momma Pyr and 4 newborn pups on Valentines Day this year. Had them in my bathroom for 12 days till a rescue could take them (or they would have gone to a kill shelter-stat-so says the owner). Named momma Tulip after your Tulip (in tribute) and hope that I get to adopt her at the end of it all. I got to know her a bit after all this and she would make an awesome Therapy Dog. We’ll see. Maybe if all the stars align.

  38. Elise says

    We lost Stella 3 years ago last week, March 3rd. She had a liposarcoma on on her tongue that at first the vets thought was inoperable. We took her to WSU (Washington State University) vet school for radiation to shrink it and buy her some time. While she was anesthetized they got a good image of the tumor and felt that they could remove it without getting the main artery that runs through the tongue so we told them to go ahead. She was still under anesthesia from the imaging and the surgery was successful.

    We had to leave her there for 5 weeks while they did daily radiation – we live about 5 hours drive away. Every spring I am reminded of taking that drive and the time at the vet school. One of the vet students fell in love with her and took her home with her every day. I will love that woman all my life. We visited on weekends and when we picked her up she was weak but on the mend and the vets were hopeful that she’d live out her natural life with the cancer behind her.

    After 3 months of recovering – gentle walks, acupuncture, chinese herbs, strength building meals – she developed lymphoma. We tried chemo and that almost killed her so we went back to the recovery routine and she lived for 6 months – longer than they predicted.

    Those were the most beautiful and painful months of my life. As she declined my definition of “a good day” changed. What was a bad day in December qualified as a good day in January. Stella taught me the beauty of the moment. To appreciate what you have today because you may not have it tomorrow. Not to begrudge the time it takes to take her for a walk before work, but to relish it. I am so sad that I didn’t take her for more walks when I could and so glad that I got to love her and share my life with her. She gave me more than I can ever say and even though I am crying as I write this, I am also smiling with the memories. I love you my darling Stella and I miss you every single day.

  39. Trisha says

    To Karen: And Tulip loved you too! You were one of her favorite people. And that’s saying as lot.

    To Stella: You lucky, lucky girl. Would that everyone could be loved and appreciated so well.

    To Elise: I know exactly what you mean about relishing what we have. It’s so easy to forget and to be irritated or bored by things that we’ll miss deeply when they are gone. Thanks for the reminder, and for telling us all your story.

  40. Donna says

    Letting go of my boys have been the most gut wrenching experiences of my life – my beautiful golden boy Maxwell, my first dog ever, as an adult taught me so many things – many of those lessons I didn’t realize until later. I lost him on a hot July night to hemagiosarcoma, when I didn’t even know he was so sick – just 8 1/2 years old, he was with me one minute, then gone at the end of the day. I locked myself & Morgan my other golden in the house for days while I sobbed. Morgan was by my side for all of it. Morgan was always by my side – he was a velcro dog, but Max & Velcro didn’t sound as good as Max & Morgan did. Born on Valentine’s Day, he was a love puppy who became a certified therapy dog, he loved everyone but also was rather protective of me. I had friends say he would take a bullet for me & luckily he never had to, but the 2 people he met & didn’t like were not people i had anything to do with. The bond we had was powerful, palpable, noticeable to all who knew us & extraordinary. When he was diagnosed with lymphoma at age 10, I wanted to fight the fight -but it was found to be stage 4 & I know I had little time left with him. He had just visited disabled adults in a group home 2 days before. Always my eating dog, I knew when he didn’t want to eat that it was really time – not my time, but his time. After his last piddle of the night, he plopped on the living floor & didn’t move a muscle all night – the 1st time in his life he did not get up & come in to sleep the same room as me. I got up several times through the night, to find him in the exact same position as before – not a hair moved, same still expression & I knew what I didn’t want to know- that my time with him was closing. I took a photo of him that morning, still in the same place, to remind myself how he was at that end, so for me, I wouldn’t forget the pain he had, how he told me he was ready. Now I am sad every valentine’s day – it was just 5 years ago this year – but also humbled by the love & trust he gave me every day, every breath he shared, when he was with me.
    Trisha & all of us who have shared life with dogs, loved dogs, been loved by dogs,what a good way to honor our beloved friends.

  41. Denise Thai says

    Thankful to be able to read comments that help with my grieving the loss of two companions this month. They both had to be put down. Both had cancer. The first was seventeen and though it was terrible and sad I could accept it because she was old. She had a great life. As sad as it is, my beloved Annie followed her friend Tefka two weeks later with a diagnosis of cancer. I thought it would kill me. Still hurting so bad my body aches. My husband dreamt of them last night. Said they were running in the back yard. Playing, jumping, running. Thank god for these wonderful creatures. I will miss them forever.

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