There comes a time in life – where you lose someone really special in life, and wonder, why must we love, when it hurts so much to lose? The journey of loving and to have loved is the reason.
I know many have always wondered about the dogs in my life. When did I get my first dog? How many dogs do I have? Are they all purebred, rescued?
I also included an entry on my Facebook a few years back, on my first real dog loss – that I wanted to share with you all at the end of this post. Losing a furry baby is never easy, but our memories with them will remain with us forever.
In total, I have had 11 dogs in my family as of today. So this Part I will be about dogs I have lost but will never forget.
My first dog was a childhood dog. Both my parents have always loved animals, and my mom, grew up with all animals in her backyard from chickens to pigs. When I was merely 5 years old – my mom and dad saved up and bought their first purebred dog. It was a cockapoo named Mikey. We all did not remember Mikey too well. Back then, purebred dogs were hard to come by. Within a few weeks, someone had broken into our backyard and stole Mikey and my uncle’s Rough Collie. We did not know better back then, not to leave dogs unattended in yards. It was quite common back then!
After the heartbreak of losing both dogs – my parents did not get a dog till a few years later. Casey was a purebred German Shepherd. He was an unaltered outside dog. He was to protect us at home as both our parents worked two jobs each, day and night, and of course evening courses for my mom. Back then, interest rates on mortgages were a fancy 21%!!! Casey got bored of course, and always ran away by digging out of the yard. There were no daycare or dog walkers back then! He often got into fights as many dogs were unaltered in our neighbourhood of Southland Drive and Elbow – including 3 Wolfhounds that were our neighbours. I use to peak out the window as those big giant dogs sunbathed on TOP of their garage! Casey did not live too long, about 6 years later, Casey never returned my parents told me – but I remember overhearing that he had cancer in the throat.
At a young age, I remember the struggles my parents had and how they overcame each and every hurdle – including responsiblity of caring for a dog. They never used their 2 jobs each excuse or evening school or two young kids in their early 20’s as reason to give away a dog. Dogs were our family.
My first real dog, who I talk about below – was JJ. At 16, my parents finally let me have my first dog. My mom use to visit the pound, which was by her work almost every lunch.
She had fallen in love with JJ, who had been found in the south of Calgary with her sister. JJ had a chipped tooth already at a year old. My mom always said that JJ gave her the ‘I’m your dog’ look. She was adopted and saved from the euthanization list only a day before her date! JJ proved to be the terror of all our dogs and the most memorable of them all – which always proves, just because a dog drives you crazy and pushes all your buttons, do not give them away. They will be that dog that builds your family together, teaches your life lessons and on top – leave the deepest memories in your heart.
Being still inexperienced with dogs, all I knew was to walk the dogs – how often? I had no idea. We also bought low end dog food – because that is what Petsmart sells – we knew nothing about dog nutrition back then either. Rawhide? As long as it kept her busy. We also never crate trained her! She tore a hole the size of two dogs into the laundry room door where my parents kept her while we were at school and work. She tore up shoes, she opened cabinets – she chewed my parents newly purchased dining room chairs, my aunts brand new mattress… the list goes on. In the span of a few weeks – this street dog, would have not lasted in any other home. Every day we would come home, wondering what she had destroyed.
My parents never gave up on her though – which I think is the major reason why I will never give up on any of my own dogs. Families that give up on their furry family members, do not realize how much they are also taking away from their children in character development. JJ taught us so much as a family, and also taught us how to make things better, instead of giving up. If it was not for that – i would have never experienced the crazy bond that JJ brought to me – and of course – my ventures into the dog industry. It is because of her, that I strive to be the best in honor of all she gave me. With each frustration, leaves a mark of memory that will last forever.
JJ followed me through university life, she spent many days and nights alone. When I think back on it, my drive in the dog industry stems from my guilt of leaving her alone so often when I went to school and then went to my jobs in order to pay for school. The only time I got to see her, was when we would snuggle in bed. She would only stay long enough till I fell asleep.
My parents got another dog named Jaguar – a purebred rottie from a family friend down in Phoenix. I call him my brother and he literally was the dog that stole our hearts. He also opened my eyes on stereotypes and discrimination of dogs – my other focus for Sleep Rover – to Educate and not Discriminate. Jaguar was the most harmless dog you will meet. Dorky, silly and full of love. He was a terror though as he had no discipline. He was our spoiled brother who got away with everything. One thing he always gave us, was loyalty.
Siefer came along as I started volunteering for Animal Rescue Foundation – ARF
in my early 20’s. I wanted a rottie of my own as well – and Siefer looked like one – with his docked tail.
It was frozen on the Tsuu Tina reserve and they were unable to salvage it.
JJ was his mom, and i eventually learned that she over ruled anything I said. I was the lady that would always scream at offleash parks saying, ‘COME BACK HERE! JJ, SIEFER, COME HERE! Do you want a treat?’ Nothing would ever work! Eventually I was that dog owner that stopped taking my dog to dog parks because they were ‘bad’. At the end, it was my lack of training and patience and knowledge.
When I met Jimmy – JJ immediately gravitated to him in approval – and well Siefer – being the untrained dog he was, bit Jimmy through his thumb the first day he met him in his red zone state playing fetch. Jimmy has not left his side since – and became his first dog.
JJ was my flower girl at the wedding and Siefer was the ringbearer.
That same year of 2003 – we adopted Mei Mei from ARF.
We were fostering her, and her sister and brother. We fell in love with her.
For a few years – we moved 3 times landing in Saskatoon where we said good bye to JJ. JJ and Siefer passed away within a year from each other. It was tough for Jimmy and I to let go two of our babies. JJ was 15 years old. I had started prepping myself when she was 10 – and was so blessed to have her even longer.
When people say ‘you will know when it is time’ – you really do.
Siefer had passed away from cancer in the lung.
My detailed letters to them are below:
March 22, 2008 at 12:27am
When we got Jaguar and Siefer, they would both drive you crazy, however you would always put them in their place – and make sure they knew who was boss. No matter if they bit your bum, pulled your scruff of your neck, or barked at you to play – they knew not to mess with you. You were the queen.
I always call you my guardian angel – as every time I fell – you were there for me. When my family wasn’t there for me, you were – you saved me.
You were so much fun to be with, our walks around Douglasdale every night, our camping trips – and those offleash runs! You chased other dogs like prey – you evil person you. You also loved to run into the Bow River and pee in it.. then swim it – but we all know you hated to take a bath! “chong lerg ah!!” – you would burst around the corner and run away. However when you saw the river, you pranced and stuck your head in and loved it!!! One time in front of almost 15 people, you plopped down and POOED! OH my!
Remember the first time you met Jimmy? Our of all the men I met, he was one you walked up to, smelt and was okay with – you didn’t bark or howl for him to leave – how did you know?
You were also there on the most amazing day of my life. We practiced for weeks on you carrying the flowers down the aisle with Kendal – however the day of, you got stage fright – or you were too proud.. and we caught you on video snubbing Kendal – ‘no I will not do such a foolish thing in front of so many people! Do I look like a dog to you?’… I will always remember seeing you walk down that aisle as everyone smiled and laughed at you! You stood on the stage with a big grin, as if to say ‘yep, that’s my Joycie’. I am so glad you were there – as it wouldn’t have been the same without you.
I sit here on my bed, tearing as I write this. Not because I am sad, but because you have touched me in so many ways that I can not express. You are a part of me that I can never erase, but it feels so empty knowing that your not always going to be there.
I try to hold back tears, because I don’t want you to think something is wrong. I want to be strong for you as you have been for me. I can’t. My hugs turn to grasps.. grasping you to stay… my smiles fill with tears as I look in your eyes, my voice cracks as I ask you what’s wrong? I know what’s wrong..
You’ve been there for me for so long – for as long as I can remember – you spent 15 years building the person I am today. You have shown me a love for animals that I can spread to others.
So I beg to know, why dog’s can’t talk – because I see the pain in your eyes. The joyful soul and glitter has disappeared. You stagger to walk, you are trying your best, because you love walks, but can no longer enjoy it like you use to. You are embaressed that you can’t jump one step up on the porch, because you don’t want me to see you in pain – but I know it hurts..
You love food, any kind of food.. but you no longer want to eat. I made you special food, chicken breast with broth and rice and veggies, and you look at it with blank stares – when a month ago, you would have smiled and gobbled it all up. When I put the foodin your mouth, my heart aches… ‘Eat… please eat’.. I even bought your favorite – you love bread – over meat, you will eat bread – I bought you a donut, and you took it and dropped it… my heart froze in pain..
Vitamns no longer disguise your pain… and I know you no longer can hide it.. I know your pain threshold, and how hard you are trying to make me not worry.. to make me happy..
Am I being selfish for trying to keep you in my life as long as I can?
Am I ignoring the signs that you too have decided that life is too painful to progress.
I wish you could tell me.
So I sit here thinking, what would I want to be done – if I was in your position.
The answer is clear – and for myself, I would not be afraid, but for you, I am. I don’t want to lose the most important person in my life. My angel. I don’t want to make a decision – I wish you would tell me what you want me to do.
How I dread to take you and look in your eyes as you fall to sleep eternally… how I can feel how my father felt losing his dear beloved.
Deep down I know, that you will always be there looking down upon me..
I want to thank you – for all you have done for me. Those weeks during University where I would not come home for hours.. and leave you all alone in the basement – while you waited patiently for me. I am thankful for you when I moved on to a career, being away for 14 hours, while you stayed at home, waiting for me. All the times that I could have spent more time with you – I now regret and wish I had cherished more, but I thank you for always being loyal and forgiving, and always giving me your 100%. What true love is truly about. Thank you for blessing me by having you in my life.
I want you to know that my love for you matches no other – and I am going to miss you… how can I say good bye if I don’t want to let you go?
You are gone – but will forever be in my heart as a piece of me.
Today is a day that I will forget. The pain, the tears and the heart wrenching ache in my heart. I cry as silently as I can as I watch you slip away – away from your pain. Why does something so right seem so wrong?
Sometimes I wonder if I made a decision too soon – as I long to hold you. I look to the side, where you always sleep, and it is empty – just like my heart.
As tears flow down our faces – a sense of relief also follows through – knowing that you no longer are suffering the signs of aging. Your inability to eat and your inability to walk – the two things you love the most.
Even Siefer scurried around the house when we came home with your leash and you were nowhere in sight. It was so cute to see him cuddle with you before we took you in – how his senses knew something was wrong. I am so happy to know that we were there for you as you have been there for us many times.
I will always remember you, and still look forward to seeing your face when I open that door – only to find that you are not – and the emptiness returns.
All I need to do is remind myself all the happy days you gave me – and what a wonderful life we shared together. As age and death appears to us all – I know that you had a very fruitful long life that we should all be grateful for. No illness – no fractures – no signs till the last two months – you held on for your 15th birthday!
So when negative sad thoughts enter my mind, I need to remember the true meaning of life. To cherish all those around me that I care about with extra hugs and kisses. To not hold grudges and to not stress about the little things in life.
For now… I sit here.. wishing I held you longer.. kissed you more and took you to many more places. For you, nothing is enough as to me, you deserve the world… however I will pass on your strong view on life forward. How you held on so long just to be with us.. and although we can sense your pain, you hid it from us so we wouldn’t worry.
I hope you are up in heaven where you can rest and enjoy puppy heaven with Jaguar. You both were the star in our eyes and forever will be a part of us. Although I feel I am missing a part of you – I know you are watching us from above.. and Jaguar is tugging onto you JJ, and taunting you to play.
How i miss your voice, your howl, your nudging and your cute little eyes when you want that yummy food. How I miss you sweet kisses and your comfort when I’m sick. How I miss everything about you that words cannot express.
We all miss you JJ – and you will be forever remembered.
Feb 10th, 2009 – not quite your 9th birthday (Siefer’s birthday is March 15th)
Gives me heartache to have to write this yet for another dog. Instead of explaining it to everyone, I hope you don’t mind the mass email out. It’s quite draining emotionally and I am trying to say strong and smile lots so Siefer thinks that nothing is wrong.
I just came back from the vets in hopes of good news.
Siefer was diagnosed with Chylothorax last week. It is a build up of fluid and chyle in their chest cavity due to either trauma or cancer. This liquid is released throughout the body however when something is blocking the flow, whether it is cancer or getting hit by a car – the liquid leaks into the chest cavity.. putting strain on the lungs and heart.
Siefer’s lungs are quite small (they have shrunk due to the fluid in his chest) as we checked on xray and he has trouble breathing.. however he is such a trooper. More so sad is when he sits or sleeps.. the pressure persists and he groans in pain. It was cute at first but not so much now knowing how high tolerance of pain dogs have… that it probably hurts 10 times more then he’s letting us know.
We had 2 litres of fluid withdrawn from Siefer at the vet centre on Deerfoot. I was not having a great experience at this hospital as all they did was rush me and Jimmy through all these tests and speaking a language (vet language) to sound smart and not really do ANYTHING to explain the realties of his problem. Jimmy did more research as did I and finally realized there were two options.
1. Take out the cancer with a 50% success rate surgery – reason is it’s so close to his heart and lungs.. it’s a high risk surgery.. this is for cancer. We opted out of this due to the rate and the trauma his body would have after the surgery – especially he is a senior dog;
2. Put him on rutin and low fat diet (put him on bison) that should help the chyle flow and if it wasn’t cancer, this would fix the situation after the first withdrawal.
Unfortunately, this is week #2 of Siefer’s diagnosis – and liquid (at least a litre) has already filled his lung cavity. The image my vet gave me, was as if we were drowning.. that is what his organs are going through. She also advised me that because Siefer did not get better this 2nd week – and his chest refilled – that it is most likely cancer. We have 24-48 hours to make a quick decision before items like cardiac arrest – ‘drowning’ where his lungs start taking in the chyle fluid.. etc.
This vet is Dr. Amelia Falk – and I praise and thank her so much for her kinds words, her support and her opinions. It is very rare to have doctors that really care for the pet, including her calling me back for a follow up. I have never had that happen. I told her I felt uncomfortable at the 24 hour hospital, because Dr. Bohdnar spoke ‘vet language’, tried to push me to do a $2000k cat scan (I had already paid $1500 for the ultrasound/xrays/bloodwork). What was rude is he kept saying ‘if you can’t afford it’.. as if to belittle me during my rough state of mind.
We all know that money isn’t an object of the game – but there are humane ways to go about solving cases without shafting your client. He never recommended supplement care to treat in the meantime nor did he suggest fluid withdrawal to see how the body takes it. ON TOP he wanted to sell me dog food.. vet dog food.. for his ‘low fat diet’.. when truly we all know dog food is the cause of most cancers!! I asked ‘so raw food he should get off of???’ and he said ‘oh yes’. Seriously, if you cared for a dog… and knew about dogs and loved dogs… that would be the last thing on the list that you should even SAY! Speaking to a dog nutritionist and other vets, we all know raw food is healthier, more nutrient and the least fat and processed! GAH! So mad.
I won’t go on, with my disappointment with Dr. Bodhnar and the blond receptionist who was a horror to encounter.. but I mention this because I encourage all you pet owners to 1) save up for dog emergencies like we did.. in case it’s needed so you don’t have to choose between care/money 2) to get 2nd opinions if you feel the doctor just wants to make money off you. Unfortunately there are still doctors like that out there. It’s a shame. I am thankful to have Jimmy by my side for emotional support or I would have turned into a mad woman that day.
So right now, we are forced to either:
1) Drag Siefer through weeks of fluid withdrawal with no cure – and the cancer succumb to his body – and he suffers in the meantime;
2) Or euthanize him – the vet recommended 24-48 hours.. as he truly is suffering, he just has a high pain threshold.
I know our pets come and go.. and it’s sad when I hear people say ‘that’s why I’m never having a pet’.. it’s like telling people ‘why bother loving when death hurts so much’. I can never live without a dog in my life.. if not 10,000 dogs.. and on top – Siefer has given me so much love and laughs and hugs and kisses. Just thinking back makes me want to cry… but I can’t let him see it… I want him to know how happy he’s made me and Jimmy.. he is Jimmy’s baby boy. He has taught us not to take things so seriously, and although he was the boy in our pack.. he always would step down and give us cuddles when we needed it and was the only one ‘manly’ enough to hug us while we sleep. He was the easiest dog to train.
If you don’t know the story of Siefer – he was adopted from ARF when he was just 3 months old. My ex boyfriend and I went to look at a few dogs.. and Siefer wasn’t our number one choice. We had 3 houses to go to… and the 2nd house, was Siefer and his sister. His name at that point was ‘Duncan’. I sat on the couch and saw him and his sister playing.. all of a sudden his sister launched herself on the couch like a crazy dog and went crazy. Siefer however waddled over to me (his tail was docked because when they found him, it was frozen so they chopped it off.. he was such a trooper) and kissed my hand. What a gentlemen. After that I fell in love. Since then.. every time Siefer would meet someone, he would kiss them first.
Siefer was a really easy dog to train, and JJ was always there to set him straight. He learned quick not to mess with her – however as he got older, he also was her guard dog. Anyone that messed with JJ – he would lunge and get aggressive.. which we didn’t get a chance to work on. JJ was Siefer’s mommy… and Siefer was JJ’s bitch.. haha.. so we say it.
On JJ’s last day, Siefer kissed her and slept with her… he knew and she knew. In the past, Siefer would never go near JJ… so it was super special.
Unfortunately this time around.. it’s not much easier for us. It seems so quick and sudden… why? I always expected dogs to not walk, or not eat, or not move in order for me to euthanize them.. Siefer is different.
Siefer still loves his offleash walks.. and we’ve gone every single day. He goes for an hour and just loves it. When we go home.. he still tries to eat.. but I know he doesn’t enjoy it as much anymore… makes him puke each time… so we’ve made him rest each time.. I think the fluid blocks many organs from functioning properly.
Siefer otherwise isn’t whining, or showing any signs that would spark out as saying ‘please put me down’. However we are most likely just ignorant.. and not wanting to see it. He is in pain.. and holding back as much as possible. He is lethargic and can’t chase dogs and play with them because his lungs won’t let him… he forces down the food we feed him where he use to inhale his food. Yesterday he turned down his favourite liver treat. I had to give it to him twice and he ‘finally’ ate it to appease me.
But still.. i always hoped for the day that he would grow old.. maybe I was spoiled with JJ living till 15 years old. Siefer is 9 – and most large breeds live healthily till 9-10 – so we are blessed already. I guess he is lucky to not have experienced arhtirtis like JJ did, hip problems etc from old age – he all in all besides cancer is a very healthy boy.
I still remember last week when Siefer came home and Mei Mei was so worried. She smelt him all over and cuddled with him and couldn’t sleep for the whole night checking on him. I know she knows too that something is wrong. She smells his whole body.. and sometimes I think she has some sort of amazing trait that like JJ, she can detect when we aren’t well.
So I guess.. this email – is the email that I wrote similar to JJ’s with the similar ending. I know I will be bawling with Jimmy the day it happens .. which is tomorrow… but it is tears of loss.. however not tears of pain. We are so blessed to be able to care and spoil our dogs.. and so equally blessed that Siefer has taught us so much about dogs – and how to raise our future children and on top – to receive the unconditional love he has given us. He has also given us so much laughter and hugs and kisses that will never leave my mind. Out of all the dogs that have passed and gone, Jaguar, JJ and now Siefer – Siefer was the easiest to train, to love, to take care of. He is Jimmy’s cuddle dog – Jimmy’s best buddy. He is my little guardian.. taking care of mommy when dogs get too close. We always use to name him “siefer patrol” as since I had the daycare.. he was always calming down each dog.. and herding them. Although submissive to humans for tummy rubs.. he will always stick up to the dogs, big or small – to protect us.
Out of the 3 dogs, Siefer is the one that everyone has loved. Everyone is always like ‘I love Siefer dog’.. because Siefer always dishes out the kisses, the roll overs and the tummy rubs. I am so glad he’s put smiles on others people’s faces beside ours. Time flies by – but Siefer will always be remembered.
The layoff at Bell was sudden… however it was a blessing in disguise. If it didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have been able to spend so much time with Siefer and baby him and take care of him. Things always happen for a reason.. and although traumatic right now – Siefer won’t be leaving the earth with hatred and trauma… although in pain – he will know that mommy and daddy and their friends have been praying and thinking of him and love him!
JJ will have her Siefer dog back to be with her… and I know they will protect us from above.
Once again, thank you friends… and family.
February 12 – Siefer dog – it is the day after you have passed – and mommy and daddy miss you a lot. Mei Mei was sad not to see you home… and this morning she ran downstairs with her tail up, only to walk into the living room to find you weren’t there. Her tail went down and since has perched on the couch waiting for you to come home.
Daddy isn’t taking things so well – he missed you nudging his arm for a hug, throwing the ball and toy for you and listening to you bark. Harder it is when we go upstairs… every night you pop onto our bed to sleep with us.. and in the morning, when daddy leaves for work, you walk up and take his spot on his bed…. and this morning, you weren’t there with me.
I miss smelling and kissing you all over – you were such a cuddle bug. I miss your cute lil tail that was docked off when you were young.. wagging in excitement to go pee, to have a treat… to get ready for a long walk!
I hope you are taking care of JJ like you always do and try and play with Jaguar okay? He is super excited to see you I bet.
Everyone is missing you and our friends and family are so supportive.. we are so blessed, it has made things a lot easier on us.
We miss you lots and hope this pain that has seemingly pierced our heart due to your parting.. will heal itself with time. We promise to take care of your little sister and make her the best puppy ever. She misses you a lot more … as you were her big brother.. she followed you everywhere.
She is waiting for you…
Mommy & Daddy.. and Mei Mei
June 2009 – in memory of Siefer Dog