A Collective Thank You…

I am simply overwhelmed by the wonderful emails, e-cards and comments…and am once again reminded of the caring and wonderful hearts found within this community of bloggers and book group readers. I would like to respond individually to each of you, but instead decided to post this collective thank you. Please know I am reading your loving words and it helps me with the pain of Caribou’s loss. Many of you expressed surprise at her passing because she appeared to be getting better…so I thought I would give a bit of an explanation.

Three weeks ago, Caribou fell ill – a visit to the vet provided no definitive diagnosis, but we were strongly suspicious of spleen cancer. Canine spleen cancer is horribly aggressive. There is no effective treatment to prolong the dog’s life and life expectancy is typically 18 to 28 days once diagnosed. Caribou survived 24 days.

A week ago Caribou had a frightening episode where she suddenly lost control of her hind quarters and fell down. She was weak and unsteady for two days and then seemed to rally and get better. In retrospect, this was the first real sign that her spleen had begun to hemorrhage and her collapse was due to a sudden drop in blood pressure.  But at the time, I was hopeful. Perhaps this is a good time to say that in the last 24 days Caribou mostly enjoyed her life. She was not in pain. She played with her toys and even chased a couple of squirrels. She woke up every morning with a smile and “can do” attitude with which she always faced the world. It was easy to pretend all was going to be okay.

On Monday, however, I began to feel uneasy. Something was not right with my girl and I was growing fearful that there might be something I had not done for her. I contacted a wonderful vet – Dr. Jen – who is a certified acupuncturist and who had helped Caribou years ago when she tore a muscle. Our appointment was yesterday. Caribou woke up seemingly okay, but as the day progressed, she seemed not like herself. By the time we got to Dr. Jen’s office, she was very lethargic. Dr. Jen gave her a thorough exam and I agreed to a 10 minute ultrasound of Caribou’s belly which confirmed our worst fears. There was a large tumor on the spleen and Caribou was actively bleeding into the capsule around the spleen. Unable to make a decision, and shocked at how quickly things were changing, Kip and I took Caribou home…hoping we would get a little more time with her. That was not to be.

Caribou’s condition worsened. We had been told that eventually the spleen would rupture and this would be catastrophic, traumatic and painful for Caribou. I knew I could never allow her to be frightened or in pain. So we called Dr. Jen who drove the 30 minutes to our home to help ease Caribou’s passing. She was in my arms, laying on her bed and with all her toys and possessions around her. At one point, she looked at me and I saw she was ready even though I never would be.

It is so hard to lose Caribou – she was so special in so many ways…from being my partner in Search and Rescue, to being the reason I got out of bed each day during a period of very deep depression, to introducing me to Kip. She was my unwavering friend, walking by my side each day and accepting me for who I am. And in the end, I am grateful that she was able to die the way she lived – with dignity and peace.

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    • Kathy on January 30, 2009 at 15:23

    Caribou sounds like she was so special. Your post brought tears to my eyes.

    • Karen on January 30, 2009 at 15:31

    I also have tears in my eyes thinking of your loss – what a wondeful friend and companion. My thoughts go out to you.

    • Michael Kindness on January 30, 2009 at 15:47

    I cannot even imagine what you are going through, but the line about her looking at you and you could see she was ready, well, that said it all. She’s at peace now and you will find peace too.

    My thoughts are with you..

    • Darlene on January 30, 2009 at 16:00

    Wendy, thank you for sharing this part of Caribou’s life with us. I can only imagine how hard it was to even write this and as I read it I was crying with you. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    • Sue on January 30, 2009 at 16:05

    Wendy, I am so sorry for your loss. Remember the good times and all the good Caribou did in her lifetime.

    • Megan on January 30, 2009 at 16:32

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. In my experience, it seems that our pets do so much more for us than we could ever hope to do for them. Caribou sounds like a great dog and a great friend. You’ll definitely be in my thoughts and prayers.

    • Molly on January 30, 2009 at 16:36

    Caribou was obviously such a blessing in your life — but what a blessing you were to Caribou! She knew such unconditional love and acceptance from you. Her life on earth was enriched because of you, Wendy. Her “can do” attitude was a testament to your constant love and encouragement. Such shallow words at such an emotional time; I am truly so sorry.

    She is freely chasing many “squirrelies” in doggie heaven right now.

    • Lynda from Redding on January 30, 2009 at 16:37

    Wendy, I am so saddened to read of your beloved Caribou’s passing. Please know you are in my heart as I know what a difficult time this is for you.

    My personal hope is when our time comes, and we leave this earth, all our beloved pets will be there to greet us!

    Sending you a BIG hug and loving thoughts.

  1. My husband and I occasionally talk about how difficult it will be to lose our Millie someday, and as I sit here crying, all I can think is that I hope it can be this peaceful, that we’ll have the strength to make the right decision for her, and that we’ll be able to honor her memory and the love she brought into our lives with an equally beautiful tribute. We’re thinking of you.

    • Lezlie on January 30, 2009 at 17:34

    You know you did the right thing. They do let us know in their own way. They are a treasure and do more more for us than we can ever return. All they ask is that we are there for them when they need us most. You are a great dog mom, Wendy. Caribou was a lucky girl. Hugs.

  2. I know that nothing can take away the pain you are feeling right now over the loss of your beloved Caribou. We had to put our Aussie down last year, and my husband had a really hard time. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. My heart breaks for you right now.

    • Tammy on January 30, 2009 at 18:10

    Oh, Wendy, my heart goes out to you. I understand so well the loss of a beloved pet who is really a member of your family. Though you know in your heart you did the right thing, the pain sometimes feels unbearable. My love and hugs to you.

  3. What a difficult thing to do. I’m so sorry. My thoughts and love to you.

    • Dana on January 30, 2009 at 18:22

    I’m so sorry Wendy. We lost my Dad’s german shepherd in a very simlar way a few years after his death. It was devastating. We will miss him forever as I know you will Caribou. She was blessed beyond measure to have you as her mom.

    • Heather on January 30, 2009 at 19:00

    Once again, Wendy, I’m so sorry for your devastating loss. Losing your best friend is so incredibly difficult. Thank you so much for sharing with us the story of Caribou’s passing, and I’m very glad for you that you were able to spare her some pain in the process.

    • J.G. on January 30, 2009 at 19:01

    My thoughts and prayers are with you in your grief. Bless you for having the love and courage to do what was right for Caribou. May you find comfort in remembering her happy, useful, graceful life.

    • Kristi on January 30, 2009 at 20:31

    Oh, Wendy, I’m so sorry. I haven’t been around the blogs for a few days and I didn’t realize. Man, how I dread this day with my two…

    Big hugs to you, Kip, and the other fur children who I’m sure are missing Caribou, too.

    • Alyce on January 30, 2009 at 20:46

    Thank you for sharing with us.

    • Darby Lohrding on January 30, 2009 at 20:53

    I am so sorry. I am crying with you and praying earnestly for you both!
    darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

    • Joan on January 30, 2009 at 20:56

    Wendy, I am so sorry about your doggie. I love the name Caribou. I am Joan from Weekly Reads. I miss you. Sniff sniff.

  4. Wendy this is so beautiful. I’m a puddle.

    • Maudeen on January 30, 2009 at 21:04

    I just heard about Caribou and I am so sorry. May your wonderful memories and caring friends help you get through this difficult time.
    (we miss you at Weekly Reads)!

  5. Dearest Wendy;

    I could only read a small amount of Caribou’s passing as you know our Joey passed on Sept 28th and that is still so raw.

    I am sooooooooooo very sorry. I know your pain and I wish had a magic way of easing it. Just know I lift you in prayers and offer cyber hugs to say I truly care.


    • Sheri on January 31, 2009 at 07:23


    I am so very very sorry. Your post brought me to tears. I told my girls about Caribou and they were so sad.

    There are just no words to express how much I feel for you during this AWFUL time. I can only pray for you and hope that you are able to find some peace in the upcoming months.

    Hold onto Kip and hang in there…


    • Memory on January 31, 2009 at 08:18

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I teared up reading this; I know just how hard it is to watch a dog go through something like that, and I empathize with you completely. I hope you and your family are holding up okay. My thoughts are with you.

    • Lori L on January 31, 2009 at 10:09

    I am so sorry for your loss, Wendy.

  6. This post did make me cry, but what a beautiful tribute.

  7. Your words and tribute to your great friend has moved me to tears and makes me all the more grateful for my relationship with my dog…..thinking of you at this sad and difficult time.

  8. Caribou sounds like a great companion and friend. I am sorry that you lost her, but she is at peace now.

  9. Wendy from the first time I read about Caribou until today I savored your sharing the joy of your dog with me. Your words are so heartbreakingly beautiful. Thanks for sharing Caribou with us all! Hugs.

    • Bonnie on January 31, 2009 at 18:34

    You wrote a beautiful tribute to Caribou. What an amazing friendship that you shared. I am so touched and moved by your story. I lost a beloved dog when I was in college and emphathize with your pain and loss. You were both blessed to be in each others lives. Focus on those beautiful memories and know she is at peace.

    • Jennifer on January 31, 2009 at 19:01

    I empathize your pain. I hope you are doing as well as can be, and would call me if you want to talk. I’ve been thinking about you for the last two days, yet haven’t called because I know sometimes there just isn’t anything to say that would be of comfort. Please know that Mike and I are thinking of you and Kip.

  10. I am so very sorry to hear about Caribou’s passing. I can only imagine your pain. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    • lenore on February 1, 2009 at 00:53

    We went through a similar thing with Daniel’s mother’s dog who was really my favorite dog in the world. She gave us the same look that said she was ready to go. Still a moment that always brings tears to my eyes when I think of it.

    My thoughts are with you.

    • Nymeth on February 1, 2009 at 03:10

    I am so sorry for your loss, Wendy 🙁 You’ll be in my thoughts.

    • Lynda on February 1, 2009 at 03:45

    My husband and I went through a similar situation in April when we lost our beloved dog Freddy.
    It’s the hardest thing to make these sort of decisions, and although it’s difficult for us to let them go, we know we have to do what’s right for them.
    They know you love them and always will. Even now I cry when thinking about it – but treasure all the wonderful moments we had together.
    My thoughts are with you at this difficult time.
    With love and best wishes, Lynda

    • Jenny on February 1, 2009 at 07:52

    I’m so, so sorry. Losing a pet is incredibly painful, and I hope you’re doing okay and taking care of yourself. You’re in my prayers.

    • Kim on February 1, 2009 at 08:17

    Oh Wendy,
    I am so so sorry. I too cried while reading your post. Pets are so trusting and loving and become such a part of our lives. Caribou sounds like she was a magnificent dog and I hope your wonderful memories of her will sustain you as you grieve.

    • Nise' on February 1, 2009 at 10:32

    I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Caribou.

    • twiga on February 1, 2009 at 16:36

    Wendy, thank you for sharing this with us. I cannot imagine how hard things are for you right now. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your grief. Again, I’m so sorry!

  11. Your post brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely tribute to a beloved, loyal pet. Again, I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • Anna on February 2, 2009 at 10:28

    I appreciate you sharing the story with us. ((HUGS))

    • Lisamm on February 2, 2009 at 12:54

    I’m so sorry Wendy. This was a beautiful tribute to your girl. {{hugs}}

  12. My heart goes out to you, Wendy. Caribou had a great life and she was a great companion. I’m so glad you shared her with us.

    • Darcie on February 2, 2009 at 15:21

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss!! We lost our cat this summer very suddenly and know the shock and sadness of loosing a member of the family. It is such a blessing that your vet would come to your house and let your wonderful friend go in peace in her environment. Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your family member.

    • trish on February 3, 2009 at 13:49


    • Kathryn on February 3, 2009 at 17:30

    Oh Wendy, I am so very sorry for your deep loss of Caribou. I read all of your post, though it made me cry. I have two dogs myself, and every day the thought passes through my mind about how sorrowful it will be when they leave. My heart and thoughts are with you.

    We know each other from WeeklyReads, and we miss you there!

    • Lisa on February 4, 2009 at 08:25

    I’ve only been reading your blog for a short period of time but wanted to stop and leave a comment on this entry.

    I’m crying because I’m so sorry about your Caribou. I lost my baby and best friend, Zoe, my cat in 2006 and I still struggle with it everyday. I loved her to pieces.
    Your Caribou sounds like a wonderful companion and I’m just so sorry that you lost him but thankful that there are people like you who love their pets and take care of them so well. I’m sure he is in a place where he is pain free and is watching over you..

    Sending hugs your way…

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