Tag Archives: Rainbow Bridge

Teddy’s journey ends

This is a blog post I didn’t think I would be writing for some years.  Unfortunately, some things are just not meant to be.

Teddy, the Beagle who so bravely came back from a front leg amputation last year, passed away on Saturday.  He was only 8 years old – gone too soon.

TeddyTeddy 10_9_14

Cancer took Teddy’s life away very quickly.  For the last 8 weeks or so, Jill had been saying things like ‘he’s not himself’ ‘he’s tired today’ or ‘he hasn’t been right since we changed his medication.’

We discussed diet, a different mixture of supplements, different medications, and different acupressure sequences…

Some days he seemed like his old self, others not.  Sometimes his liver function tests came back as abnormal, then re-tests would show an improvement after changing his core food.

But late last week, things turned quickly.

Teddy vomited up his breakfast on Tuesday and then stopped eating and drinking.  Another blood test showed highly escalated liver enzymes and Teddy was in trouble.  He was booked initially for an ultrasound on Monday but then he had to go to the vet on Friday for fluids and stayed overnight.  The ultrasound was moved up to Saturday.

And the ultrasound specialist had terrible news.  His report reads “These findings are consistent with metastatic neoplasia (likely sarcoma, adenocarcinoma, or carcinoma).  There is hepatic and splenic involvement (with likely metastases to lymph nodes and lungs).  Unfortunately Teddy’s prognosis is grave.”

Jill took a distressed Teddy home and her regular vet came to give him his final injection.  As Jill said, there was no choice.

When I saw Jill yesterday, she just said that in writing Teddy’s last story, she wanted his story to matter.

I’ve thought really hard about this.  I think everything about Teddy mattered.  He was a Beagle that was just a little too large to win in the show ring (despite winning best baby puppy several times).  Early on, Jill discovered that Teddy was born with bilateral hip dysplasia and she set about keeping him happy and healthy (I came into the picture in 2010 after an unsuccessful attempt at hydrotherapy, because Teddy also had neck problems that were aggravated by swimming).

When I lost Daisy last July, it was Teddy who would come and sit beside me in sympathy.

And then last August’s horrible accident and the amputation which was going to affect Teddy’s mobility as he aged.  And he came through it like a trooper.  When I adopted Izzy (my greyhound), I took her for a visit and a 3-legged Teddy was zooming after her as if nothing had changed.

So, what do Teddy’s last days tell us?

I think they tell us that no matter how well we take care of our dogs, and with our best intentions for seeing them to old age, we really have very little influence when the end comes.  We do our best.  And we have to make the right decisions for our dogs in the face of critical or terminal illness.

I’m glad that Teddy came through his amputation so well and that he and Jill had months together that they wouldn’t have had if she had decided to end his life then.  And I’m glad Teddy didn’t suffer for days and days like people suffering from terminal cancer do.

Teddy is one of those special clients that I will carry in my heart for the remainder of my days.  He was My Favourite Beagle.  Everything about him matters.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Joan Rivers was a dog lover

I was never a fan of Joan Rivers.  Her sense of humor was always a bit too course for my liking and, in her recent years as a fashion critic, I found many of her comments to be septic and often downright rude.

Nonetheless, I sympathize with her family, friends and fans at her loss.

There is, however, one very positive thing I can say about Joan Rivers.  She loved dogs.  This goes to show that we may have common ground with people who, on the face of it, we dislike.  Anyone who loves dogs cannot be all bad; perhaps this fact alone will remind us to keep an open mind…

Joan Rivers and her dog, Max, who passed away earlier this year (Photo by Chicago Now)

Joan Rivers and her dog, Max, who passed away earlier this year
(Photo by Chicago Now)

“Dogs are easier to love than people; they’re certainly more dependable,” Rivers once said in an interview with Chicago Now. “Once they love you, that’s it. A true friend in life is a dog.”

In her last known interview conducted in July of this year, Rivers spoke about her darker moments when, after the death of her husband in 1987 and a career that had bottomed-out, she contemplated suicide.  Her dog stopped her:

What saved me was my dog jumped into my lap. I thought, “No one will take care of him.” It wasn’t a friendly dog — only to me. I adored this dog. He was theoretically a Yorkie, his mother cheated. His name was Spike. He was the way you want your dog to be, devoted only to you. I was sitting in this big empty house in Bel Air, with a phone with five extensions which we no longer needed. I had the gun in my lap, and the dog sat on the gun.

An earlier photo of Ms Rivers with her dogs (photo originally from Architectural Digest)

An earlier photo of Ms Rivers with her dogs (photo originally from Architectural Digest)

Rest in piece, Ms Rivers.  I hope all of your dogs were there to meet you when you crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Crossing Eve

Today was a sad day at the Old Friends kennels of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.  When I went to sign in for the afternoon, I was told ‘Old Friends will be closing at 3 today; we’re crossing Eve.’

Crossing, as in the Rainbow Bridge.  Eve was a paraplegic when I met her last year, but she had a spirit about her which said ‘don’t pick me up, I’ll get there by myself thank you.’  And her best friend was Dumpling, the little toothless mixed breed girl that I fell in love with.

Eve, in May 2012

Eve, in May 2012

Eve’s progress and care was documented as part of the Guardian Angels program, which profiles special animals from around the sanctuary and encourages monthly donations.  Caregivers update the Guardian Angel journals on a regular basis.

From a distance, I monitored Eve’s progress through the journal; also hoping to catch a glimpse of Dumpling, which I did through this wonderful video:

Through Eve’s journal, I read about the donation of her mobility cart and options to keep it from chafing.  When Dumpling got adopted in December 2012, I read about Eve’s grief at the loss of her friend and the efforts of caregivers to find her suitable companionship.  And in March of this year, Eve exited the Guardian Angel program to give way to another special needs dog.

So when I arrived here last week, seeing Eve and other remaining Old Friends was a top priority.  It is a comfort to know that I was here at Old Friends today to say goodbye to her.

Eve today, before crossing

Eve today, before crossing

A painting of Eve hangs in the foyer of her kennels at Old Friends

A painting of Eve hangs in the foyer of her kennels at Old Friends

A final Guardian Angel entry is now live on the Best Friends website to mark Eve’s crossing.  Read it here and perhaps go back in time to read more about this very special, special needs dog.

Eve will be laid to rest at Angels Overlook, the cemetery for sanctuary animals.

Eve's mobility cart and stroller, which were used in happier days

Eve’s mobility cart and stroller, which were used in happier days

Vermont’s dog chapel

Stephen Huneck was the founder of Dog Mountain in St Johnsbury, Vermont.  An artist and sculptor who suffered from ill health, he wanted people and dogs to have the most fun they possibly could and enjoy their time together.   He cleared hiking trails and made ponds for dogs to swim in.   In the winter, he encouraged people to come and  snowshoe with their dogs.

He also established a chapel in the year 2000 where people could pay respects to their dogs who had passed or come and reflect in the company of their dog.  Stephen believed in the healing powers of dogs, nature, art and love and wanted to use his Vermont property in support of those values.

The walls of the chapel are covered with photos, poems and recollections of dogs who have crossed The Rainbow Bridge.

On Dog Mountain, there are also special parties like Dog Fest where dogs and people come together.  At these events, owners are encouraged to let their dogs off lead to play and act like ‘real dogs.’  These events also help to raise funds to keep Dog Mountain operating.

It’s a very special place and worthy of a visit when you travel to northern Vermont.

Postscript:  Sadly, Mr Huneck is no longer with us. After a life long battle with depression, he committed suicide on the 1st of July 2010.  His widow has pledged to keep Dog Mountain in business and devotes her time and efforts to this cause.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

In memoriam

On Monday, we lost a great dog by the name of Olliver (yes – that’s the correct spelling). A Dalmatian, Ollie had great spirit, which showed through even more when he lost the ability to walk in July 2010.  The veterinary profession have been stymied as to the reason for Ollie’s sudden loss of function and his owner has generously offered Ollie’s body for study at Massey University.

With the love and constant care of his owner, Ollie was engaged and alert until his sudden crash on Monday with internal bleeding.  I miss him.   Working with Ollie three times per week over the last year, we connected in a way I haven’t had the privilege of doing with any other dog.  Rest well, Ollie, my special boy.   I will take you with me for the rest of my days.


The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of Heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.  When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.  There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.  There is plenty of food and water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.  All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigour:  those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing:  they miss someone very special to them who had to be left behind.  They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddnely stops and looks into the distance.  The eyes are intent, the eager body quivers.  Suddenly he begins to break away from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.  You have been spotted and when you and your special friend finally meet you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.  The happy kisses rain upon your face, your hands again caress his beloved head and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you pass over the Rainbow Bridge together…

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand