Still Hurting

It’s hard to believe Phoenix has already been gone for five weeks and five days.

I still find myself thinking about him each and every day.

Wondering where he is. Wondering what he’s doing.

Wondering if he misses me, as much as I miss him.

I’ve had people message me to say how much they are also missing Phoenix. He touched so many lives, that I know the pain of his absence is effecting not just our family.

I just don’t think people truly understand how empty I feel.

I’ve had people say they know how I’m feeling. But, I’m not sure they do.

I’m not sure how anyone can truly know how much I miss Phoenix. He was my partner for thirteen years. Even before Huib entered my life Phoenix was by my side.

He taught me the meaning of true loyalty.

He taught me the value of unconditional love.

He was with me through the toughest moments in life. He laid at my feet in the ICU, while I talked to my mom during her final hours. He gave me support when I watched my Granny leave this life.

Phoenix was also there during some of my major milestones. He walked me across the stage in high school. He walked me across the stage at the University of Guelph. He was there while I planned my wedding. And he helped Cessna become the companion I needed her to be.

With all the memories and all the love we shared, I really don’t understand how anyone can say they know how I am feeling.

Maybe you had a dog before that you loved, but they were not Phoenix and you are not me.

Maybe you were/are privileged to have shared your life with a service dog, but they were not Phoenix and you are not me.

Maybe you lost a friend who meant the world to you, but they were not Phoenix and you are not me.

Maybe you had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Phoenix, but you are not me and it was not the relationship we shared.

I talked to Huib a little while ago about my feelings surrounding how people keep telling me they know how I feel. I told him that only he could even close to understand the thoughts and emotions which plague me. He said that he could imagine how I was feeling, but that Phoenix and I shared a bond that not even he could explain. He said that even though he lived with Phoenix and watched him age, he could only wish for the relationship him and I developed. Phoenix refused to be anything other than a “Mommy’s boy”. Huib tried to be his buddy when Phoenix retired, but no matter how hard he tried, Phoenix constantly reminded him that he was not me.

Phoenix, Mommy misses you dearly. Even though I know you felt it was time to leave, it’s still hard to believe you’re gone. The house is so quiet and empty without your smile and wagging tail.

The others really miss you too.

Aspen still lies in the kitchen by the sink watching for you to come through the side door, or to appear in your favourite sleeping place.

Canyon has taken on the role of protector over the girls. He knows you’d want him to keep them safe, since that is what you did when you were here.

Cessna is quieter. She checks in with me constantly, making sure I’m okay. And she hates leaving me when we’re outside, worried I might need her help.

Rogue is so different. It’s like you’ve left your imprint upon her. She’s so much older and wiser for her age. And, she has taken over your job of being my constant shadow.

I hope we meet again. It may be a long time before I can be with you, but I know you’ve got people to keep you safe.

So, until then, rest in peace my faithful companion.

Where Were You?

Over the past few weeks leading up to the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, the same question has been posed all over the radio, television and internet –

“Where were you?”

I’ve thought about this question for weeks. Where was I? What was I doing? Who was I with?

On September 11th, 2001:

• I was starting my 3rd year at the University of Guelph.
• I was living with Phoenix in residence.
• I had been dating Huib for ten months.
• I was looking forward to a bright future.

I remember that morning. I remember walking down the hall from my residence room. I remember hearing a lot of people crying and talking in the lounge. I remember hearing the television. I remember stopping at the door of the lounge to listen. And, I remember the feeling of shock that came over me.

I had not lost anyone that day. I had no real ties to America. But, I knew this day would change my life forever.

September 11th, 2001 is a day that should never be forgotten.

It is a day when we all learned that no one was safe. A day when the world stopped, and cried together. A day when thousands of people and special dogs were lost.

Please take a moment, to remember and thank all who were lost.

Grieving

These entries are probably getting annoying, but I honestly don’t care because this is my blog, and the loss of Phoenix has left a gaping hole in my heart.

It has been two weeks since Phoenix left us, to walk across the Rainbow Bridge.

This means for…

14 days, I’ve woken up several times a night hoping to hear his shuffling feet or quiet snores.

336 hours, I’ve wondered who met him on his journey.

20,160 minutes, I’ve thought about the incredible memories we’ve shared.

And for 1,209,600 seconds, I’ve wished for just one more moment with him to make sure he’s okay.

I know time will heal these wounds, but right now it seems as though I will never be able to move on without Phoenix by my side.

In respect to the other canine members of the family, Rogue really seems to have matured overnight. It’s like Phoenix has left an ever lasting impression upon her. She still has her moments of silly puppiness, but her attentiveness and ability to learn what is expected of her, seems to have sky rocketed beyond her developmental age.

Cessna and Canyon don’t really seem phased by Phoenix’s absence, but I have noticed a bit more protectiveness over me from Canyon and that they just seem to be a little a little less energetic.

Here’s a picture my sister took of Phoenix and Cessna while she was attending Georgian College and we had brought them to visit her in residence.

Aspen is a little more noticeably bothered by the absence of her best friend. She lies by the door or the kitchen sink all day, where she can watch for Phoenix to return to his favourite sleeping spot. Her stomach seems to have improved since our return from London (where she had horrible bouts of diarrhea for days after Phoenix left), but she really doesn’t seem to have much energy to play. And, she doesn’t really want to pay much attention to us or even sleep in our room at night.

This picture was taken in the fall of probably 2007, on a side street near our Guelph condominium.

This picture was taken before I was placed with Cessna, so most likely in the summer of 2004 or spring of 2005.

Rest in peace our friend, we’re all feeling your absence, but know you’ll continue to watch over us for as long as you can.

Time Moves On

1 week ago…

I lost my friend.

7 days ago…

I lost a loyal companion.

168 hours ago…

I lost a teacher.

10080 minutes ago…

I said good bye to my free-spirited boy.

604800 seconds ago…

I had to leave behind the one, who taught me the true value of unconditional love.

Rest in peace my beautiful, old boy…

Phoenix Has Taken Flight

I know most of you probably already know, but Phoenix, left us on Thursday afternoon.

I’ve lost…

My beloved companion.

My loyal friend.

And, the one who taught me the value of unconditional love.

It was a tough decision, but I knew it was what he wanted. Dr B felt he was telling us he was tired and needed to rest. She checked him over thoroughly and found nothing obviously wrong, except that his heart was beating rapidly. Huib says his heart was probably filling up with toxins from not eating and using up his own energy reserves. Dr B told us she could do some tests, to check for cancer or give him pain killers to see if he improved, but she felt he had already made his decision.

Phoenix has always lived his life on his own terms, so it just seems fitting that he would be the one to decide when to leave.

It’s been a rough couple of days, but I know he’s enjoying his new home with friends and family of both the human and canine variety.

I know he’ll always be with me in spirit.

And I know it will take time for the wounds to heal.

It’s just lonely around here without hearing him shuffling around or snoring lightly in the night.

Rest in peace my sweet, old friend.

We’ll all miss you, but know you’re in a better place.

I’m still here

I stood beside your bed last night
I came to have a peek
I could see that you were crying
You found it hard to sleep
I whined to you softly
As you brushed away a tear
“It’s me, I haven’t left you,
I’m well, I’m fine, I’m here.”
I was close to you at breakfast
I watched you pour the tea
You were thinking of the many times
Your hands reached down to me
I was with you at the shops today
Your arms were getting sore
I longed to take your parcels
I wish I could do more
I was with you at my grave today
You tend it with such care
I want to reassure you
That I’m not lying there
I walked with you toward the house
As you fumbled for your key
I gently put my paw on you
I smiled and said “It’s me.”
You looked so very tired
And sank into a chair
I tried so hard to let you know
That I was standing there
It’s possible for me to be
So near you everyday
To say to you with certainty
“I never went away.”
You sat there very quietly
Then you smiled, I think you knew
In the stillness of that evening
I was very close to you.
The day is over…
I smile and watch you yawning
And say “Good night, God bless,
I’ll see you in the morning.”
And when the time is right
For you to cross the brief divide
I’ll rush across to greet you
And we’ll stand side by side
I have so many things to show you
There is so much for you to see
Be patient, live your journey out
And then come home to be with me

Tears Of Gold

Hi Everyone, it’s Aspen here. I’ve never been given the chance to take over the blog, but Mommy said I can let you all know about the e-mail we got from Grandma Doris last night.

It wasn’t a very nice message…

Grandma Doris told Mommy and I that Daddy (Kantung’s Nugget of Gold) and Uncle Nugget (Allen Parks Echo), passed away this winter…

I’m really sad about this.

I loved going to visit Grandma Doris in the summer and running with Daddy in the field behind their house.

Uncle Nuggy wasn’t as into running, he turned 15 this past year, but I still liked visiting with him.

I’m not sure I’ll like going to visit as much anymore, because now I’ll just have my pesky half-sister Moose stealing my Grandma.

Uncle Nugget was born in 1995 (Mommy couldn’t find his exact date of birth). He sired several litters, before retiring the year I was born (2003). He was a wonderful boy, full of happiness and personality. He passed away just after new Years from natural causes – he was 15.

We’re really going to miss you Uncle Nuggy!

Daddy, Max, was born on May 5th, 2001. From what Mommy could find, he sired over thirty different litters and has tons of daughters, sons and grandpuppies who are now breeding.

The last time we saw Daddy, was about two years ago, when I stayed with Grandma Doris for a week or two. Grandma Doris wrote Mommy to tell her about the adventures I was having with Daddy. We ran in the forest together on walks with Grandma Doris, and I liked running circles around him.

He had a cancerous tumor removed from his neck last fall, but the vet thought they had gotten it all. When Uncle Nuggy died, Grandma Doris says Daddy got really sad and stopped eating. They changed his food several times and after clearing up some tummy issues, they thought he was on his way back to health. Grandpa Larry’s Mommy passed away around the end of January and then Daddy also crossed the rainbow bridge a week later. They aren’t sure if the cancer returned or if he just died of a broken heart.

Mommy and Grandma Doris say I am a lot like Daddy, max. We both have a sunny disposition, but aren’t very smart. I just think we both know how to get away with things we don’t want to do…but, I didn’t tell you all that – shhh! Daddy’s favourite thing to do in the summer was to catch frogs in the creek behind Grandma Doris and Grandpa Larry’s house. Like me, Daddy Max never killed the frogs, but like to jump in the water to catch them and then let them go before they got too scared.

I’m really going to miss Daddy…

Rest in peace Uncle Nuggy and Daddy Max, we’re all going to miss you guys, but know you’re in a better place together…

Before I sign off, Mommy found this poem for me to share with you all…

My Forever Friend

I know that it must be different,
now that I am no longer here.
I realize how much I was loved
and how all of you did care.

I know it will be hard at first
when you look around for me.
Expecting to find me in my bed
or beside my favorite tree.

Someday you will begin to see,
although it’ll take some time,
the happy times you shared with me,
the memories are yours and mine.

I’ll remember you, my family,
and how much you meant to me.
So please don’t grieve and don’t be sad,
it was just my time to leave.

– Author Unknown –

Puppy news & Other Randomness

We got an e-mail from Karen of Red Labrador Retrievers to let us know that she thinks there are two females who might fit our needs. She said that she could be wrong, but from observing the litter, she thinks “ruby” and “pinky” will be a good fit – they name the puppies according to their collar tags. She describes “ruby” and “pinky” as being “very social, happy-go-lucky’s…middle of the road in the hierarchy, brave without being aggressive…they are all (entire litter) quick learners like both their mom and dad…all (entire litter) are happy to please, of course some more than others and they (“rudy” and “pinky”) are middle of the road their also…” We’ll have to wait for the test scores, but at least we know that there is most likely a puppy or two for us to choose from.

Sadly, Karen hasn’t had time to post updated pictures though…

In other news…

We got some very sad news from our friends, the pawpower pack. Mr. Pawpower’s golden companion passed away unexpectedly. Here’s some more details. I haven’t had the experience of losing a beloved companion, but know from losing both my mother and grandmother, that it can be heartbreaking and the wounds will take time to heal. Our thoughts go out to Mr. Pawpower and the rest of the Pawpower Pack. Rest in peace Rudy, you will be sadly missed.

I’ve been doing some research on courses I might want to take through the University of Guelph or McMaster University. I haven’t been able to find work and am tired of sitting around doing nothing, but training with the dogs and housework. I’m thinking that I’ll take a course or two each semester via distance education through one of the above universities and then hopefully re-apply for masters or occupational therapy when we move closer to London (Ontario) in a couple of years. Huib’s contract with the Kirkland & District Hospital is over in a year and if we can get rid of a couple more debts between now and next fall, I think we might look at moving back to southern Ontario, closer to friends and family. It’s been a wonderful experience living here, but it’s just not home.

My sister found out that the woman who owns the house she is renting wants to sell this summer. She doesn’t really like living here and thinks she will try and find work around Orillia or Gravenhurst. She’s going to visit some friends next weekend in Aurora, so has asked me to help her re-design her resume so she can hand some out on her way down. I’m excited to know she will be moving closer to her friends and a place she loves, but am secretly sad that she will be leaving. I know she can be frustrating, but I will really kind of miss having her so close.

I got an e-mail from Judi of Ramblin Goldens this weekend. I had sent her an update on Canyon since she owns his sire and brother. She told me they got their new female golden retriever puppy, Emmie, a couple of weeks ago and are really enjoying her. She hasn’t yet found a new home for Phoenix, Canyon’s brother, but has also not been looking too hard. She wants to work on some of his obedience before sending him off. I really love having Canyon and wish we could invite Phoenix to live with us, but I’m really not sure Huib will go for that lol! He is quite patient with my love of dogs, but has told me that he thinks five is a good number 

Finally, I have been in contact with a woman who runs a program that helps people train their pets to be service dogs. She used to work for the Lions Foundation of Canada as a Special Skills trainer, but has been working on her own program for about five or more years. The program is called Encouraging Paws Service Dogs and their website can be found here. The Director has informed me that her fees are $12,000 for assistance from puppy hood through to certification and follow-up help. This is a little out of our price range, so we have asked her how much she would charge for just help with certification. She said that her price is $5,000 for certification which is ten hours of assessment. To pass, she says that the dog must meet the standards of “the Blind Dog Act Federation” but I think she means the International Guide Dog Federation. She also informed me that her fee for advice and/or consultation is $500 an hour or $8.33 a minute. I’m not sure if we’ll end up going with Encouraging Paws, but at least we know there is someone willing to certify and/or provide consultation during the training process. I have some other contacts who have offered to give me advice and information when needed, so I think we’re finally ready to officially raise and train Cessna’s successor!!

She would Have Been 52

On Sunday (February 6th) my mom would have turned 52, but in September of 1998 diabetes decided she should forever be 39.

When Mom first passed away, I found it hard to think of Christmas, Mothers Day, her birthday, and the day she left us (September 25, 1998) without getting teary or feeling generally miserable. I would get moody or easily upset without warning weeks beforehand. I found it hard to listen to friends and other students talk about what they’d be doing with their mothers on Mothers Day or what they got them for Christmas. I felt as though the world should know Mom was gone and therefore no one should be talking about their mothers. Well, it’s been almost twelve and a half years and I’m noticing the days now sometimes pass without thought.

I still think about mom when I’m having a bad day or when something exciting happens. I think about her when I visit my sister and see my step-dad. I think about her when I’m not feeling well and wish she could be there just to offer a finger to hold – something I always did as a kid. I wonder what she would have thought about Huib and where we’d be now if she was still alive. Would we be living in Northeastern Ontario? Or would we be living closer to Aurora because that’s where her and Dad live? Would Brandi be the way she is? Would she still have that feeling of entitlement and expectation that I be there to catch her every time she fell? Or would Mom have made her grow up and make something of herself sooner than we were able to do so? All of these thoughts and questions move through my head whenever I think of Mom and what life would be like if diabetes had not decided she would forever be 39.

Even though you’re no longer with us Mom – Happy 52nd Birthday!!

A golden angel Passes

Yesterday Aries, a thirteen and a half year old female golden retriever took her last breath on earth to make her final journey across the “rainbow bridge” and join her canine friends. Aries had been losing weight over the past few months and had begun to refuse her food just after Christmas. On Friday night, just before her family rang in the new year, she began to tremble, seemed confused, and couldn’t get up or down without help. Her family worried, but couldn’t get her into the vet until Tuesday when they were told she probably had a tumor in her spleen which caused it to rupture – she was dying of internal bleeding.

I met Aries in 2000 when she was working as a dog guide for Lynette (handler of Endora & now DeeDee). They were living in Oakville at the time and I took Phoenix to visit for the weekend, so we could attend Midnight Madness. The Lions Foundation had asked clients to come with their dogs and I thought it was a good opportunity to meet Lynette, whom I had been chatting with online for over a year – we met on a client chat forum the LFC used to run on their website. Aries was a beautiful 3 year old and I instantly fell in love. Now looking back I think she is part of the reason I still have my love affair with goldens. I remember the visit well because it was quite the eventful first day. I had offered to brush Aries for Lynette and was sitting on the floor combing her when Lynette’s former fiance’s dog came over and began to pee in my lap. I’m not sure what got into him, but during the commotion of getting up and trying to clean up the mess, Phoenix went over and peed on his toy creating another mess. It’s funny to look back now at that moment, but I remember being horrified and wanting to take Phoenix directly home because I was so embarrassed. Aries was fine with the whole situation and just sat there waiting for me to return to combing her. The funniest part about the whole thing though, was that Aries was the one who tended to have accidents inside and that day she didn’t have even one.

Aries was never the greatest guide for Lynette, she had too many fears and stressed out easily, so after only 3 years of working she was retired and went to live with her parents in Cape Breton. I sadly never got to see Aries again, but Lynette made sure to keep me up to date on how she was doing over the years. She developed arthritis when she was about 10 and went deaf around the same time Phoenix did, but overall she was doing well in her older years – even her Inflammatory bowel Disease seemed to disappear in retirement. Even though she was never the dog guide Lynette found in Endora, Aries still remained a big part of Lynette’s life and I know she will be truly missed.

Rest in peace our little golden friend, even though you may not have been cut out to be a working companion, you were still a companion and have left your mark on many who knew you. I hope you find your new home to be even more special than the one you left behind.

A Tribute to those Dogs Who Were Loved & Lost

After posting my entry to commemorate Phoenix’s 14th birthday, I began thinking about all the dogs I have known who have joined their friends on the rainbow bridge and decided to take a moment to recognize them. If I have forgotten anyone’s dog please send me an e-mail or leave a comment and I’ll make sure to add them.

Whitney & Madison
I met these two wonderful goldens for the first time when I went to pick out Aspen at her breeder’s home in Hanover, Ontario. Whitney was already retired from breeding, but Madison was pregnant with her final litter and due in just over a month’s time. They were such friendly souls and loved having us come into their home. Whitney passed away about 4 or 5 years later at the age of 12 and Madison passed on about a year or so ago at the age of 12. Both girls passed away during the day while they napped in their favourite spots on the front deck in the sun. Doris wrote me a month or so after each of them passed on and to hear her sadness made me realize how special these dogs were to her.

Nelson
I met this wonderful boy for the first time when he was about 12 or 13 (not completely sure). Nelson was a hearing Ear Dog who devoted his life to serving and unconditionally loving his handler. He went absolutely everywhere with his handler and when he became ill, she did everything possible to keep him well. Most dogs tend to retire after the age of 11 or 12, but nelson was a trooper and continued to work until his illness got to be too much for him. Nelson’s handler was so distraught when he passed on, but she always knew he would watch over her and began the tough process of getting a new partner.

Pockets
I never got a chance to meet Pockets, but through windows messenger became good friends with her handler. Pockets was a Hearing Ear dog like Nelson, but instead of being a smaller dog, she was a medium sized black Labrador retriever. Pockets became ill pretty suddenly, having developed some lumps that were found to be cancerous. She lived for about a year after her terminal diagnosis and worked the entire time. Pockets was also a loyal and devoted friend, even when she wasn’t well she insisted on helping her handler in any way possible. Pockets passed away in her handlers arms, they had gone to visit a family member and while trying to walk to the house she just laid down on the lawn and fell asleep in her handlers arms forever. Hearing this story made me cry and hope that Phoenix will leave me in a similar manner – on his own terms.

Luther
I met Luther about a year after his handler first brought him home. Luther was a big, goofy yellow Labrador retriever from guide Dogs for The blind. Luther and his handler were inseparable, they taught one another so much about life. He knew many skills that weren’t taught in school and gave his handler an unconditional love that would never be forgotten. I got to see Luther throughout his working years and was amazed to see the bond him and his handler possessed. Luther retired around the age of 10 and a new guide was brought in to take over his duties. Luther and his handler still maintained their bond, but sadly a year or so after his retirement Luther was diagnosed with cancer and passed away shortly after.

Darwin
Darwin and his handler graduated with me and Phoenix in 1998. Darwin was about a year and a half older than Phoenix, having been with a handler previous to our class who became ill and could no longer use him. Darwin and his his new handler were perfect for one another, the woman had not had a dog before so Darwin’s experience gave him the confidence most of the others in his class did not yet have. I remember being given a chance to walk with Darwin and giving him back to the trainers with a big no because he had a sway to his walk that made it hard for me to walk and I just found him to be too slow. His handler had a gait that most of the other dogs found to be difficult, but Darwin took charge and they became a team. Darwin was not the greatest dog for his handler, but at the time he was what she needed – a loyal companion who would teach her what he could and guide her safely through life. Darwin became ill around the age of 10 and was diagnosed with throat cancer. His handler tried to do everything possible to make him better, but he passed away pretty quickly after being diagnosed. It took his handler about a year and a half before she decided it was time to return to Dog guides for a new partner. She was matched with a wonderful female black Labrador retriever named Cyder, who her handler thinks was sent to keep her safe by Darwin.

Nutella
I met Nutella for the first time in May of 2006 when we went to pick up Amber and teal from their breeder’s home. Nutella was a big female chocolate Labrador retriever who had to be the centre of attention. I got to see her a bunch more times over the next couple of years as we became friends with Catherine, aiden’s breeder. I will always remember how Nutella would continually bump my hand or arm to be petted, even if I had already been petting her for half an hour and just wanted to take a bit of a break. She would always be at our sides and tried her best to keep up when we went for walks in her favourite places. Nutella was stubborn and independent-minded, but she was Catherine’s loyal companion. Nutella lived to the ripe old age of 14. She began slowing down around the age of 12, but with the help of anti-inflammatories and supplements she kept on trudging along until it got to be too much. Catherine finally made the tough decision to let her go, but before heading to the vet she made a stop at Nutella’s favourite spot. They spent a while there together before getting back into the car and heading to the vet, Nutella fell asleep forever in the back seat. A small memorial was held in the backyard that evening and she was laid to rest in one of Catherine’s many gardens.

Annie
I met Annie in the summer of 2006 when we took Cessna to visit her puppy raisers. Bob and Velma do not know how old Annie truly was, but she joined their family a few years before they fostered Cessna when she wandered onto the beach at their cottage. They had put up flyers and asked neighbours about her, in case her owners were looking for her, but no one called or came so they welcomed her in. annie began slowing down around 2007, but with surgery to remove her lumps and anti-inflammatories she was able to comfortably live another couple of years. Bob and Velma had to finally make the tough decision to let her go in the summer of 2009 when Annie began having too much trouble getting up and down and when her lumps were coming back even worse. On her final trip to the vet, they gave her an extra dose of Metacam and the vet gave her the injection in the back of the truck where she fell asleep on her blankets and pillows that had been laid out for her.

Baron
I met Baron for the first time in 2004 I think, when he was first beginning his service training. I met him again in 2007 or 2008 when I began volunteering with K9 Helpers. At this point Baron was just about 10 and due to health issues was beginning the retirement process. His handler was finding it hard, but she began working with her new partner in the winter of 2009. Baron came to meetings once in a while, but his handler was careful not to let him overdo it. I’m sure he would have stayed by her side day and night if he could, but his heart was not good so she needed to be careful. Sadly Baron’s heart gave out one evening in 2009 (I think) and he crossed the rainbow bridge to join his friends.

Bear
I only had the chance to meet Bear a couple of times, one of them being in 2004 at a Dogs In the Park square dancing demonstration. I do not know much about Bear and his life, but knowing his owners I’m sure he had the life of a king. Bear was about 15 (I think) when he passed away from old age.

Jazz
Jazz was a big male black Labrador retriever hearing Ear dog. I only got to meet Jazz a few times, but will always remember his spirited personality. Jazz got ill suddenly around the age of 7 and passed away within a week. Shortly before his death his handler learned he had a tumor that was causing a blockage in his digestive track and could not be safely removed.

Cooper
I met Cooper when Phoenix was about 3 years of age. Cooper was a dual Hearing Ear and Special Skills dog. I didn’t really get to see much of Cooper after our first couple of meetings, but saw him a year before his death when he attended our first Walk for Dog guides in Guelph with his handler. It was so amazing to see what she had taught him and how much he had matured over the years. She had him take his own saddle bags off and give them to her before I could give him attention and then had him put them back on before they left. He was spoiled and loved by his handler, she actually wrote a beautiful memorial for him that we read at our third Walk for Dog Guides. Cooper passed away in his sleep a few days before our second Walk for Dog Guides in 2008. As far as I can remember Cooper was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 and had gone through all the available treatments, but he just couldn’t get it to leave his body.

If tears could build a stairway
And memories a lane

I’d walk right up to rainbow bridge
And bring you home again

Rest In Peace our canine friends, you are all missed and will never be forgotten…