their Paw Prints
Forever on our Hearts
May 22, 2012
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened. - Dr. Seuss
Over the past seven months, patient Patches and Mom Judy have really become a part of the Veterinary Cancer Group Family. Our hearts go out to their family as Patches has just been laid to rest. Son Eric shared the following narrative and picture of some of the dancing days he and Patches shared.
Patches smiled. A lot. Her mouth would contort in such a way it almost seemed like mimicry, like she wanted you to be impressed with how almost-human she was. You can't help but smile when smiled to.
She has been very ill for the past few months, and last night was the worst of it. Last night, we knew. Putting an animal down is hard; you try to make the right decision, you try to give it as much time as possible, but you also try not to let your animal suffer during the time that passes because of your inability to accept the loss.
I was the one to close the car door on her. The door was open, and I was petting her. She attempted a smile, but it was clearly hard. She refused to make eye contact, while I desperately tried to get her to look at me. I guess I just wanted to see her one last time, you know? To actually see her. But I think it was a pride thing. So I accepted this, and settled for giving her kisses on her forehead.
It was silent outside. There was a breeze, and cars whizzing past, and people walking, and birds flying, and yet I couldn't hear a thing. All I could hear were the kissy-sounds I was making on her forehead. I stopped making the kissy sounds. And she smiled in the silence, and gingerly turned around and moved toward the front of the car. And I shut the door.
It won't be as poetic an ending for my mom and stepdad- they're the ones taking her. They will be in the room with her when it happens, and they will be the ones that have to hear the doctor say meaningless assurances, like, "She lived a long, good life," and "You did everything you could do," and maybe routinely hand my mother a pamphlet on dealing with the loss of a pet.
But not for me. Instead, I get poetry.
I can hear everything again. I can hear the cars, the birds, the people, the buzzing of insects. I can hear the breeze. And I know she's gone.
Patches loved to dance. She would jump up and put her paws around my waist, and we danced. Despite numerous sponsor offers, we decided the world of competitive ballroom dancing just wasn't "our thing," and agreed that we would only dance for the joy of it at home. I am posting this picture because this is how I want to remember her… smilin' and dancin'.
It is with great sadness that the staff of Veterinary Cancer Group Los Angeles must bid farewell to a very special friend. Destiny Stone has recently crossed over to the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. Destiny was a true member of the Veterinary Cancer Group Family for so many years and her Mom has a place in our collective hearts. Diagnosed with cancer in 2005, Destiny was a long-time 'survivor', initially on a regimen of chemotherapy and later merely needing maintenance medications and routine examinations, all the while watching to be sure the cancer was kept at bay. The family never missed a VCG event or an opportunity to help educate the public about pet cancer awareness. Destiny even had a celebratory "Bark Mitzvah" for her 13th birthday! Destiny and her Mom were really able to make a difference in so many lives, often just by sharing and connecting with others. We know Destiny will be sorely missed but hope memories of her smiling face will help to bring at least a bit of comfort to those she left behind. Click here to read a few words that her Mom wrote for us a few years ago.
So long, Destiny, our sweet friend...
(The narrative below was written about a happy Golden that we, in the Los Angeles office, have had the pleasure of knowing, spending time with for the past nearly three years. We send our thoughts to the family during this hard time.)
July 9, 2011
Miracles rarely happen. But for the last seven and a half years my family has been blessed to have one in our family. He existed on this planet as a golden retriever but he was not just a dog. He had gifts that were beyond most people's belief or comprehension. He literally changed people's lives and in some cases altered the universe. He was a force of nature. Anyone who knew that big head and big brown eyes will tell you he was incredible.
O'Brien touched so many people's lives. One day my dad was walking him down the promenade in Battery Park and a homeless man came up, hugged O'Brien and actually said to my dad, "your dog just gave me a reason to live another day." OB made kids dying of cancer at NY Presbyterian Children's Hospital not only smile but even get out of bed just to play ball with him. He was the best friend of a little disabled girl named Lauren who lived in my parents building in New York. She had play dates and sleep overs with OB. OB seemed to just 'know' that he was her best friend. He received get well cards and Christmas cards from the staff at the Ritz Carlton. He turned many people's days at Hughes Hubbard from bad to good. Everyone who met O'Brien loved him. It was impossible not to.
The head of a premier veterinary hospital here in Los Angeles said yesterday, "O'Brien is truly a miracle." In OB's way too short lifetime he impacted and changed more people's lives than many could hope to do in a century. And OB did this all while fighting a long hard battle with two forms of cancer and epilepsy for the past three years.More than anything O'Brien changed my family's life. He made us smile, laugh, and loved all of unconditionally. He was my Dad's best friend in the world, my Mom's second child and the brother I never had. Our other dogs worshipped him and loved him unlike anything. He gave us so much and he will live in our hearts eternally.
There are so many people that I want to thank for believing in us and O'Brien and making the last three years possible. (Due to space here we have had to condense. -ed) So while I cannot list them all, i will point out my amazing, loving family, our co-workers and employers, OB's support team of groomer and sitter, our wonderful family veterinarians Drs. Brad Capper and Tania White in addition to Dr. Rosenberg and the Vet Cancer Group staff, especially those OB was most familiar with like Megan, Kirsten, Tara and Carmen; SCVI Dr. Rachel Schochet for knowing OB literally inside and out yet always believing in his strength and resilience no matter what the pictures said. And Dr. Peter Erling of Advanced Critical Care for always being there for us all and giving us these past eight months together. To you all and many more, I admire your love and dedication and we are all eternally grateful for all that you did for him.Finally, OB, Thank you for inspiring me, taking care of me and our family, and for always giving me faith.
O'Brien Scherer passed July 6, 2011 at approximately 8pm. He died with dignity and pride. He fought until the very end and he had a good last day. He wagged his tail for us, ate a steak, and looked up at us with so much love in his eyes, knowing we were all there in the room with him.
I am creating a fund in my parents and O'Brien's honor, under the Saving Spot 501C3 non-profit organization. I have named the fund "O'Brien's Gift". The fund will be utilized to treat at least one dog a year that is diagnosed with cancer yet in a situation ion where the family cold not otherwise afford the treatment yet posses the strength, love and compassion that is also needed to pursue cancer treatment alongside a loved one. We are specifying that the selection of each family and dog will be overseen by Drs. Mona Rosenberg and Peter Erling and that the medical expenses be covered by O'Brien's Gift. If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to O'Brien's Gift. To learn more, visit the Saving Spot website or facebook page and look out for O'Brien's Gift. To be able to help other pets with cancer in the name of O'Brien would mean more than anything to me and my family.
OB you are forever in our hearts. We love you more than anything. You are an amazing and beautiful creature... Our true miracle.
All our love,
Lizzie, Millie, Sam, Riley, Nick and Nina
June 29, 2010
Dear Dr. Rosenberg , Dr. Dutelle and the VCG staff,
Thank you for taking care of Miss Ellie. I would like to let you know how much I appreciate all the care and support you and your staff provide for us. You have been Miss Ellie's second family for the past 4 years. Dr. Rosenberg and Dr. Dutelle, I really appreciate all the expertise and support both of you provided for us during good times and bad. Kim and Joy, I would like to thank you both for all the advice and support that you provided us with during Miss Ellie's radiation therapy and after. Adam, Erica and Suzanne, thank you for all you did for us I also would like to thank the rest of the staff- you have all helped and supported us and Miss Ellie during the 4 years we've been at your facility. Finally, thank you all for Miss Ellie's paw print. It is the only tangible thing that I have of her. I will cherish that forever.
Miss Ellie was a "problem child" since she was a puppy. She developed resistant UTI when she was a puppy. Then she came down with GI problems (we were in and out of critical care). And the cancer hit her not once but twice! She made up for all the "trouble" she caused us by being extremely loyal, cute and sweet. I was willing to go to the end of the earth for her.
Saying good bye to Miss Ellie is especially tough since she was my "special baby". I feel that a part of me had died along with Miss Ellie. I've had to say good bye to quite a few dogs before her, but what I have with her is a lot more special. It has been a month since I lost her but I still turn around excepting to see her running into the room with a shoe in her mouth, her nose nudging me to tell me to let her out to the front yard, her belly flopping into the swimming pool, her lying upside down just so I can scratch her belly, her cuddling by my feet sleeping…
I just want to thank you all for the special part you played in Miss Ellie's life, it really meant a lot to all of us. You've been our second family for the past 4 years and will always be part of us forever.
Last Wednesday night I said good-bye to Buzz, my cat, my boy. Letting him go was the single most painful act I have ever agreed to and then had to endure. But it was time, perhaps long past time. He had stomach cancer, and though for while we were able to fend off the disease and extend his life for an additional four months, it eventually overcame him. The chemotherapy treatments were a fortune, but in a heartbeat I would have doubled down if I could have him for another four months. I've had my share of pets, but Buzz was my child.
Like most special gifts he came into my life by chance one morning when his starving pregnant mother showed up at my doorstep. In return for taking her in she bore me Buzz. I have written* pages on why he was so dear to me, but what I loved most about him was that he trusted me. And the fact that he was a cat made that trust all the more special. He had swagger and was independent, yet he was a sweetheart. He would lie on my chest for an afternoon nap, allow me to scratch his soft furry belly and smother his face with kisses, and then accompany me for a walk at night. He is irreplaceable.
I write this note five days after his passing and I am still unable to stop grieving. I am incredibly grateful for the nearly fifteen years he gave me, yet I feel terribly cheated that he was taken from me so soon. He was my beautiful boy, and watching him fade ripped my heart apart. But he fought and he fought and on his last living night, frail and a shadow of himself, he still managed to crawl up onto our bed and lay next to our heads and purr.
His dishes of food and water are gone, his litter box is no longer, and I can now kiss my wife's neck without fear that she will have an allergic reaction. And though I no longer have to fight him for my chair, hurry up and feed him before I'm scolded, or worry about him getting into a spat with the neighborhood bully cat, I know he is still here.
I wake up in the morning to see his lovable face. He's there waiting to be fed when I enter the kitchen. I notice him sleeping on my chair when I walk into my office. And he greets me at the front door when I return home. He has a beautiful soul and before he left his body I asked him to be there when it becomes my turn, and I trust and know that he will. My boy.
Thanks and bless you,
Veterinary Cancer Group was pleasantly surprised by a unique "testimonial" from one of the special families that we are very lucky to get to know. Dillion, a brave little Glen of Imaal Terrier, will sorely be missed by his family. Visit this amazing Los Angeles Times Blog L.A. Unleashed, written by Dillon's Mom. You'll see Dillion had the very uncommon, yet not at all un-charming, side effect of hair loss. Those lucky enough to have crossed Dillion's path know his short stature was far outsized the spirit and character he possessed. We'll all miss you little guy.
Our Beloved Lucky
To The Veterinary Cancer Group
We know Lucky is in a much better place, barking at passersby and chasing lizards and rabbits. We are grateful for all your efforts to cure her. Your caring treatment will always be cherished and made her passing easier.
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