Dean Koontz

Recently I read two books by Dean Koontz, A Big Little Life and Watchers.

Both books featured golden retrievers as main characters. Koontz has a tendency to write books that have dogs in them, and in most cases the dog is a golden retriever.

I really liked A Big Little Life. It had me laughing most of the time and crying in the end. The book is about the Koontz’s first pet dog, Trixie, whom they adopted from Canine Companions for Independence. Trixie was an extremely intelligent golden and Koontz shares her many antics throughout the book. If I had known how the book would end though, I would not have read it because the way he describes Trixie’s last moments was too similar to Aspen’s. The way he described her breathing had me sobbing for almost half an hour. It’s been a year since Aspen passed away from Leukemia, but the way we lost her still bothers me.

The book, Watchers, also had a golden retriever as the main character, so got my attention right away. Einstein has escaped from a military research laboratory along with another highly intelligent, but not so cute or cuddly creature.

I don’t want to give any of the book away because I thought it was quite well written and worth reading. I just found it to be a little too unrealistic for my taste. I am not a science fiction fan though, so if you are, read this book, and if you aren’t, read it too because Einstein was adorable.

I Wonder…

A year ago you had to leave us.

We know you didn’t want to go, but the Leukaemia was too hard to continue fighting.

I wonder where you are today.

I wonder what you’re doing.

I wonder if Phoenix found you and walked along side you as you entered your new home.

I wonder if we’ll get to see you once we leave this place…

Or is it a place where humans are not permitted entrance…

I wonder if you and Phoenix have found Harley and Thor…

It really doesn’t feel like a year since you left.

But, then it also doesn’t feel right that you’re gone.

Aspen, we miss you SO much!!!

Aspen lies on a pebble path

Aspen at 8 years of age

Until we meet again, rest peacefully our Golden Princess.

In The News: Origin of Popular Canine Cancer Found

In just over a month, it will be a year since we lost our golden princess to an aggressive case of Leukaemia.

Even though this isn’t the same type of cancer Aspen had, I still thought of her when I read the following:

Recently, scientists discovered the point of origin for a common canine cancer. According to researchers, this highly contagious cancer in dogs has been traced to an ancient Malamute type dog.

A Canine Transmissible Venereal tumour is passed from one dog to another through sex, licking or even touching one another.

CTV is common in street dogs throughout the developing world, but has not yet entered countries such as Canada or the United States.

Geneticist, Elizabeth Murchison, and her team have learned that the cancer is a living fossil and the tumours contain the DNA of a single ancient dog who lived 11,000 years ago.

Pretty darn neat, eh?

If you would like to learn more about CTV, please check out these two articles on Pet MD and Live Science.

Would Have Been

Aspen as a very cute, fluffy puppy

Aspen at 3 months

A side view of Aspen looking out onto a lake

Aspen at 7 years of age

Aspen lies on a pebble path

Aspen at 8 years of age

Today would have been Aspen’s 10th birthday.

With all my heart, I wish she was here to celebrate this milestone.

I wish she was here, to eat a cupcake made especially for her.

I wish she was here, to show off a new collar or bandana bought specifically for her.

I wish she was here to carry around and play with a toy bought just for her.

Instead, we’ll have to settle for remembering the good times we shared with an amazing golden friend who cannot be here.

Happy 10th Birthday Our Sweet Golden Girl

If It Should Be

2013 seems to be the year for losing our doggie friends to cancer. Since losing Aspen, we have learned about the passing of four other friends: Martin, Bosley, Felix, and just recently, Harley and Lotta.

Felix, a male black lab with his handler.

Harley, a big Rottie/german shepherd cross wears a colourful birthday hat.

Picture of Lotta, a big female yellow lab.

As a little tribute to our canine pals, we thought we’d post this poem:

If it should be that I grow weak,
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then you must do what must be done,
For this last battle cannot be won.

You will be sad I understand,
Don’t let your grief then stay your hand,
For this day more than all the rest,
Your love for me must stand the test.

We’ve had so many happy years,
What is to come can hold no fears,
You’d want me not to suffer, so
The time has come, please let me go.

Take me where my needs they’ll tend,
And please stay with me to the end.

Hold me firm and speak to me,
Until my eyes no longer see.

I know in time that you will see,
The kindness that you did for me.

Although my tail it’s last has wagged,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.

Please do not grieve it must be you,
Who had this painful thing to do.

We’ve been so close we two these years,
Don’t let your heart hold back it’s tears.

– Author Unknown –

Until we meet again, take care of one another.

Phoenix Loved Avril Lavigne

Last night after Huib left for work, I started listening to Hits 1, on Sirius/XM Radio.

Avril Lavigne has a new song out, called Here’s To Never Growing Up. It began playing as soon as the station tuned in, and I started thinking about Phoenix.

Don’t get me wrong, I think about Phoenix a lot, but hearing Avril made the memories come back stronger.

Phoenix loved Avril. He’d be sleeping on the couch (before he went deaf of course) and as soon as an Avril Lavigne song came on the radio, Huib said Phoenix’s tail would start wagging to the music. It was so strange!

It’s hard to believe he’s already been gone for a year and nine months.

Both Phoenix and Aspen were such a large part of our family. It’s hard to put into words how much their deaths have effected us.

Aspen has only been gone two months, so the pain and tears are still quite fresh, but we still miss Phoenix.

i hope they are running through fields, chasing leaves and enjoying crab apples together.

this is a picture of Phoenix and Aspen from 2007. Phoenix is standing with a very muddy Aspen in the wooded area behind our former condo building.

I hope they both know how much we love and miss them each day.

I also hope they know that they don’t have to worry about us, they did enough of that while they were still with us.

And to think this post all started from a song that came on the radio…

A Letter To Aspen

To Our Sweet Golden Girl:
It’s been a month since we had to say goodbye.

Thirty-one days since we learned the terrible news that would take you away.

I still can’t believe you’re gone…

i still expect to hear you moan and groan while I’m preparing breakfast, lunch or dinner.

and I still walk slowly through the kitchen, making sure I won’t trip over, or step on you.

But, I don’t hear your noises anymore…

And, I don’t find you sleeping by the kitchen table or in the living room chair.

Even though you never asked for much, the house still seems too quiet.

In a couple of months you will have been ten…

but Leukaemia took you away.

And you’ll forever be nine years old.

Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your life.

You made us laugh…

You made us cry…

And, most importantly, you gave us memories that will forever remain in our hearts.

“Wounds heal in time, but they always leave scars.”

Isn’t that so true…

Rest Peacefully Our Golden Princess

On Thursday, March 14th, 2013, at approximately 3:30pm, we said goodbye to our Golden Princess.

Aspen stands in a blanket of fallen leaves.

We didn’t know Aspen was seriously ill. We had decided to take her to see Dr B because she didn’t seem to be herself and she was beginning to refuse her meals.

On Monday, Aspen was wrestling with rogue.

On Tuesday, Aspen only finished half of her turkey wing, so we thought her jaw might be sore from chewing beef bones and icicles, so Huib gave her a can of salmon instead, and she slowly ate it.

On Wednesday, Aspen seemed uninterested in interacting with anyone, and was hesitant about eating both her breakfast and dinner. I decided to brush her and look for any abnormal lumps or sores, but found none. I did notice that her heart seemed to be beating a bit quicker than normal, but I thought it might have just been her hatred for being groomed. but, I sent Huib an iMessage and he suggested I try to make an appointment with Dr B.

Thursday morning we woke up really early and piled everyone into the Orlando. aspen seemed tired and was panting a bit, but again, we weren’t too worried – it was 3am. when she went to jump into the back of the Orlando though, she didn’t quite make it and Huib had to help her – this made us worry a bit. On the drive, aspen sat up a few times and panted, but she always laid back down and didn’t seem distressed. when we arrived in Guelph, we let everyone relieve themselves and Aspen did both, so we returned to thinking it was going to be okay.

As soon as Dr b entered the examination room and saw Aspen lying on the floor, panting, she said she was concerned. She checked her heart rate, her temperature and listened to her lungs before she told us she didn’t feel it was going to be happy news. she was worried about Lymphoma and tumours on her spleen, but when she shaved her abdominal area to do an abdominal aspiration (to check for blood), she found unexplained bruising, and began to worry about anemia. she took some blood and sent it off to be tested.

She asked us to stay in the examination room with aspen until the test results came back because she wanted aspen to remain calm and relaxed. We sat with her for three hours, taking turns sitting on the floor to pet her.

When the test results came back, it wasn’t good news at all. We had known something was wrong from the way Aspen had begun to have more and more difficulty breathing and getting comfortable throughout the day, but we were hopeful that Dr b could do something to help her.

Aspen was diagnosed with a very aggressive case of Leukemia.

Close up of Aspen from our walk along the closed road near our house.

Dr b told us that Aspen’s white blood cell count was through the roof and her red blood cell count was beyond being anemic. She felt that Aspen wouldn’t make it through the night, let alone through a chemo treatment. She said that if we decided to try chemo, she could have aspen in for a round in the evening, but we all worried that she may die on the treatment table. It was so hard to get all this news. We were in complete shock and felt helpless. We worried about giving up too early on our golden girl, but we worried even more about putting her through a treatment that could either kill her or cause her pain and suffering that wouldn’t even end up giving her back any semblance of a life.

We sat for two hours with Aspen, talking about the options and spending as much time as we could with her, because deep down, I guess we already knew what our decision was going to have to be.

By 3:00pm, aspen was having more and more difficulty breathing and getting comfortable. She was so warm and it was heartbreaking to watch her struggle. at 3:20pm, we told Dr B that we had decided to let Aspen go. she felt we were making the best possible decision.

Aspen sits in front of a flowering apple tree.

Huib and I sat beside aspen, while Cessna, rogue and Canyon laid around us. Dr b began inserting the anesthetic and Huib said aspen passed before she had even finished inserting half of it. We feel as though she must have been ready to go. her body was just having too much trouble fighting to stay alive.

I meant to tell our blog readers about her passing sooner, but her sudden death has left us in a state of confusion and disbelief. It just happened so suddenly, that we are having trouble coming to terms with it all. We know time will heal some of the wounds, but we still keep wondering if there is something we missed or something more we could have done.

Rest peacefully and chase all the leaves you desire our Golden Princess. You and Phoenix are back together and I know you’ll both take good care of each other.

We all miss you little girl, and the paw prints you’ve left on our hearts will never be forgotten.

Huib’s Wives

Picture of just my face. I am wearing a fleece toque that has ear flaps and braided ties that hang down from each side. I'm smiling.

Close up of Aspen from our walk along the closed road near our house.

Or, at least that is what Aspen likes to think.

The Case Of The Decapitated Valentines Teddy

On Tuesday, February 19th, 2012, at approximately 10:30am, a 64 year old man came upon a decapitated pink teddy bear.

When asked to describe the scene, he said: “I came out of my bedroom and as I went to walk through the living room, I saw the headless body of a plush, pink teddy bear lying in front of the television stand. nearby, I saw white fluff, but did not notice the head of the Valentines teddy”.

When asked if there were any witnesses to his discovery, he said: “I saw a young woman sitting on the couch surrounded by her four guilty looking retrievers.”

When questioned, the woman declined to point any fingers.

When the other four witnesses were asked what they had seen, each of the retrievers looked at the calico cat sitting on the television stand.

Conclusion:
A pink Valentines teddy bear was found decapitated and gutted in front of the television stand, and according to the retrievers…the cat did it.