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Saying Goodbye: How We Knew (part 2)

Our Three Legged Bone Cancer Hero Dog JerryMy Soul Is Set Free

(Continued from Part 1.)

The next day we headed north to Yellowstone. It was just like the old days, traveling and hanging my head out the truck window.

I even made it up to the Continental Divide, for about the eighth time in our journey. Only this time, walking a few yards to the sign was all I had in me.

We took lots of pictures. As we got to Yellowstone, I was feeling OK, but very subdued from the bad episode the day before.

When we first started traveling with Jerry, we knew that his time would eventually come. If it happened while we were on the road, our biggest nightmare was that we would have to cope with it in some place we didn’t want to be in, some busy city with an unsympathetic vet who didn’t know anything about Jerry.

Jerry and Calpurnia Lead the Odaroloc Sled DogsA few days before we got to Yellowstone, I called Calpurnia’s Mom, TC., whose sister lives just outside the park. She gave me the name of a vet there, in McAllister, Montana. I tucked it away in the “just in case” file.

That night, my breathing was a little raspy, and my heavy panting continued. My legs felt like jelly, and I was having a harder time getting up and turning around in bed.

Mom and Dad slept in the next morning. At 8:30 am when Mom woke up, she thought it was strange that I hadn’t made noises to go outside. I heard her get out of bed, and as she walked over to me saying “Morning Jerry!”, she looked down, and saw that I had wet my bed.

“Oh nooooooo! Jerry, baby!” Mom cried out. Our eyes met, and as I lay there, I looked up and told her; “Mom, I’m so sorry, I just couldn’t get up to tell you. Mom, I’m tired.”

Dad got up to see why Mom was crying. She hovered over me, tears running down her face. I was still laying there. I could not find it in me to get up out of my wet bed.

“It’s time,” Mom said to Dad. “This is it.”

Our Three Legged Bone Cancer Hero Dog JerryWe knew it. This was the sign that we needed to know that his dignity was slipping away.

We always knew that if Jerry’s health was going to decline because of this stupid cancer, we would measure his dignity by whether or not he could get up to go potty on his own.

We realize there are many dogs out there that need help in this area, but are still living otherwise healthy, happy lives. In Jerry’s case, we felt that if the cancer’s effects coincided with incontinence, he would not be living the kind of life he was born to live.

The events of the previous few weeks, along with the incontinence, was the sign that we needed to call the vet in McAllister.

Making that call to the vet was the hardest thing we ever had to do. Explaining our traveling situation to total strangers. Detailing Jerry’s health problems coherently, without going into hysterics. Asking them to help us say goodbye. Luckily, Dr. Cashman was incredibly sympathetic, and agreed to help us that day.

We cleaned up Jerry, put him in the truck, and drove away from Yellowstone. It took everything we had to stay calm and centered, for his sake.

We drove quietly for two hours through the beautiful mountains. The vet’s little office was located at the end of a rural country road, in a setting that felt like home. Puffy white clouds floated across the big blue sky. This was the classic picture of Big Sky Country, Montana.

We went inside to meet Dr. Cashman. Our fears were put aside as we met a wonderful group of women who run the Meadow Creek Vet Clinic. Showing a great deal of compassion, they understood our situation as traveling fulltime RVers, and took the time to explain the euthanasia procedure to us.

Dr. Cashman would use two injections: one to sedate Jerry, and then a second drug which would be responsible for saying goodbye. She gently suggested that we allow her to use a catheter for the injection (a nominal extra fee) as dogs who have been on steroids typically have collapsed veins that are hard to locate. A catheter would make the injection go a little smoother, and be less stressful for everyone involved. We are so grateful she told us about that, and followed her advice.

Mom and Dad went inside for a while, then came outside. I was surrounded by an adoring fan club, and Dr. Cashman was one of them. She was wonderful!

Jerry is set free of his broken body.Dad helped me get out of the truck, and got my Barney blanket and some of my favorite stuffed toys. I plopped down on the lawn next to the office, and everyone loved and cuddled me.

Some dogs were barking out back, in the boarding kennels. I hopped over to them, and said “See ya on the other side, guys.” I plopped down tired, then went back to lay down on my blanket with my Dad’s help.

We spoke to each other in dog, that language that only pawrents and their furry kids understand. Mom and Dad’s eyes were all watery, and they thanked me for all that I’d done for them. We made promises to meet up again some day.

Then, Dr. Cashman and her assistant held me close, and gave me lots of love. I felt a tickle on my leg, but I wasn’t scared at all. I was just so tired.

One needs to be totally prepared for the final vet visit when the time comes. There is no second guessing at this point. We decided to remain with Jerry during the procedure, keeping our promise to be with him until the bitter end. Not knowing what to expect, we did the best to prepare ourselves for the worst. And though the tech had a difficult time finding a good vein for the catheter, once it was in, his passing was quick and peaceful. 

“You’re going to be OK,” Mom told me. “Thank you Jerry,” said Dad. Tears began to flow, but they feigned strength as they stroked my fur and held me close.

Jerry runs to meet calpurnia Within a minute or two, I felt so much better. All of my pain was gone, and I was free again!

Up I went through the sky, my spirit soaring high above the big puffy clouds! I was running again! Chasing rabbits and chickens! Swimming! And then I saw Lalla . . .

Some harsh realities do exist that one must also be prepared for, if they choose to know. Being the first time for us, we found it therapeutic to know.

Once  I was released from my broken body, my pawrents laid with me quietly for nearly a half hour. My muscles didn’t move as the vet mentioned they might. But my eyes didn’t close either, as she said they wouldn’t.

In search of total closure, my dad requested that he carry me inside. The vet cautiously told him that I would be kept in a freezer until the funeral home could pick me up the next day. He acknowledged the fact, and also understood my limp body must be put in a bag. He helped the vet do this, then gently laid me to rest, knowing that at this point I was free and my body was but a shell. A broken shell at that.

Tired Jerry and the Grand TetonsMy pawrents made the smart decision to pay for the visit up front so they could just leave afterwords. And it was probably the least expensive vet visit I ever had! While they silently drove back to Yellowstone, my dad swears he sensed me running through the sky along side the truck, all the way.

As hard as it was, we were extremely fortunate for this to happen in such a beautiful place, with such wonderful people. Even the sweet folks from At Home on The Range pet cemetery helped make this more bearable than we ever thought it could be.

We said goodbye to Jerry on a Friday. When we inquired on Monday about his remains, they said he was ready and offered to meet us as we passed through town to deliver a beautiful tin in a velvet bag.

Jerry will keep traveling with us until we find that special piece of land with the large shady tree to call his forever home.

Canine Cancer Anticipatory Grief Coping Guide


276 Responses to “Saying Goodbye: How We Knew (part 2)”

  1. This is so similar to our Jake’s story. Wish I had read this 5 months ago. Jake helped us make the decision though, he refused his medicine and choose the day, telling us it was time to do as we had promised him. I believe he was only a day a away from reaching the point where he wasn’t going to be able to get outside on his own anymore.

    • Maria I’m so sorry for your loss of Jake. Please don’t have any regrets, you did right by him by not waiting. As a lot of people have said through the years, better one day early than one day too late. Much love & condolences coming your way.

  2. I know it’s been a few years since you posted this, but it has been helpful to me as I prepare to say goodbye to my dog who was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma in his intestines about 2 months ago. He’s currently taking prednisone and I was looking for advice on when to stop giving it to him, as I’m looking at him this morning and feeling based on his behavior that ‘his time’ is approaching, any day now. Thank you so very much for sharing your experience.

  3. thank you for allowing your story to be shown, jerry was a wonderful dog with amazing pawrents, it is so hard to loose your best friend, last year we lost our 18 yr old daughter in her sleep it was very sudden as she had not been ill, her best friend and our pet for 13 yrs bingo a border collie although a senior was doing well, but on the day aleisha left us bingo lay down and refused to get up, he just gave up and he joined her the next day at the rainbow bridge, to keep her company as he had done all his life and to love her until we get there. we were in a world of darkness and never thought we would see light in our lives again, until toby came, he was a three year old shepherd cross who had been terribly abused, we didnt rescue him he rescued us and brought the sun back into our lifes, he is our angel dog, he has now been joined by alfie a border collie who had been neglected and abandoned and simba a 17 week puppy who was also dumped, dogs make our lifes worth living, wishing you all the best from manchester in the uk

  4. I saw your story on PBS tonight and read the story here afterward. I had a cat named Smokey, he was 17 and last May I had to take him to the Vet to say good bye. He was the other half of my soul and love him so much I can’t even describe. I knew that day in May would come sometime and I always vowed not to let him suffer when he told me it was his time, I could have extended it some with medication for a few days but would not have been fair to him to keep him with me because I did not want him to go. I was with him when he passed and was so sad but I know I loved him and he loved me and that was the important part. He had a wonderful life full of love and I will never forget him.

    Your story made me cry not just for Jerry but for Smokey, I miss him and love him still and it is still hard everyday he is not here. I don’t think you were nuts to spend the time you did with him, you loved him that is what is most important. If you don’t have love and value the love that comes into your life, not much to live for otherwise. Love is the most important thing we can experience and are given and should be valued and cherished for the time we can have it.

    I’m sorry for Jerry’s loss, I know what that pain feels like and it is not fun but I have great memories of Smokey and still can feel the love I have for him and his for me and that is nothing to be sad about, I know you must feel the same for Jerry.

    Jamie

    • Jamie, thank you for your very, very sweet letter. Our heart goes out to you, we know how hard it is to say goodbye to those we love. You are so fortunate to have had Smokey for such a long time, and we’re glad you can smile when you think about the life you had together. You did right by him by putting his dignity first, and he will repay you a thousand times for that by always being by your side.

      We too feel the same way about Jerry. He is still with us in so many ways, and always will be. A bond like that just doesn’t go away, as you know, and it’s there for eternity. Today, the 3rd, is a very special day for us, since it was on the 3rd of October that we had to release Jerry from his broken body. We always acknowledge it by lighting a candle in his honor. Your thoughtful note is like a sign from Jerry, telling us that he is never far away. Thank you, you made our day.

      Many hugs going out to you and your Spirit Smokey. May those memories comfort you for a lifetime.

  5. Hi, Jerry, I just watched your story on pbs. You were so lucky your pawrents loved you so much! It must have been great to travel all over the country and see all those beautiful places. I have a tripawd kitty named Shadow. He’s 11 years old, and he hurt his right hind leg while wrestling with my other cats. I thought he had just sprained it, because he didn’t cry, and still tried to talk without touching his foot to the floor. But when I took him to the vet, she said he had a tumor which had eaten the bone away, and his leg was broken! His leg was amputated, and after some rest and loving care, he is running, jumping and playing just like before. I’m so glad the vet was able to save his life! I trust him to let me know when he is ready to be free. I so appreciate your pawrents sharing your story. It touched my heart. With love from Michele, Shadow, Boomer, Charlotte, Bristol and Mikey! And give some kisses to my departed Sash and Natasha, over the Rainbow Bridge!

    • Oh we love Tripawd kitties! Thank you for sharing Shadow’s story. Cats and dogs are so brave huh? We will do anything to lead our people around and make sure the pack is all A-OK. I’m sorry Shadow got cancer but it sounds like he’s doing better? Bless you for helping him feel better, he’s got lots of living to do!

      Thank you for the nice words about the PBS show. It’s so sweet of you to let us know how much it meant to you, we are very touched by just the fact that you took the time to write. Thank you so very much!

      From one bunch of animal lovers to another, “Woof!” Paws up to you Michele, you are wonderful!

  6. Dear Jerry,

    I just saw your amazing story. I know my sweet boy, Fletch, is romping with you now. We lost him to cancer in May. We went the chemo route and hope it was the right decision. Instead of 2 months we had 7, but they weren’t as perfect as we hoped. We miss him everyday.

    Thank you for sharing your journey. Your pawrents were so lucky to have you and you to have them.

    We have since adopted 2 new dogs from 2 different shelters. They are loving, funny, sweet, silly and beautiful, but they can’t replace Fletch. It is so amazing what you guys do to and for your humans.

    Now run off and grab your Barney. Play a game of chase with my boy.

    xoxo

    karen

    • Karen, we are truly sorry about Fletch, you obviously loved him so much! Rest assured, he is running free and watching over you and your beautiful new pack.

      What a generous and wonderful thing you did to help these two dogs. Rescue dogs are the best and so are their humans!

      No, they won’t ever take his place, but with the lessons that Fletch taught you, you and your new pups will make a pawsitive impact on the world as the years go by, just like Fletch did. We all need more of that!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write, you made our day. xoxo

  7. I just wanted to say how touching your story was. I saw the Why we love cats and dogs special on PBS. I just finished reading your final blog entries and couldn’t stop myself from crying. My husband and I have four fur kids (Tosh 9, Mystic 4, Einstein 3 and Potato 2) and we travel with them as often as we can- before we got Potato we did a three week trip around the country- the Badlands, Yellowstone, the Oregon Dunes, SanFran, Las Vegas- and it was such a blast- harder than usual to plan looking for dog friendly hotels in the cities and dog parks in the desert but it was amazing to have them with us the entire time. We feel that we would like to do the same with our dogs when Tosh gets a little older. My husband adopted him from Animal Care and Control in Indianapolis when he was just a puppy and has been his constant companion ever since- We’ve been thinking to the future as we prepare for a move to Colorado next year and your story provides us with a sense of calm that we will know whenever the time comes for our oldest son… thank you so much for sharing 😀

  8. Dear Jim, René & Jerry,

    I just finished watching your story on PBS. And when the program was over, i hopped on the computer right away to read your entire story and blogs. You are truly one brave doggy! It sounds like you had a wonderful life…and also, you gave your pawrents a wonderful life as well. The story of you and your pawrents brought me to tears. I felt like i could really connect with all of you.

    I just lost my best friend and companion of 16 wonderful years due to cancer. His name was Willis, and he was the most loving, trusting, affectionate cat i will ever know. Like you Jerry, Willis was living in a cage for the first part of his life. It all started when i was 10 years old. My parents were getting a divorce and it was the first christmas without my dad in the house. I was taking it really hard. My mom knew this and didnt know how she was going to give me a good christmas due to the changes in our family. And then came Willis! Willis brought back the joy and happieness in our house. He licked my tears whenever i was sad. He never let fall asleep alone.

    Those were just a few things that Willis did to help me cope with my parents divorce. Time moved on and Willis and I grew up together. We were inseperable. He saw me go to my senior prom. He got to meet a few boyfriends here and there (and didnt really like most of them and wasnt afraid to make it known!) More time passed and at 22 years old i met the 2nd love of my life. His name is Jeff and i knew he was “the one” when Willis showed his approval by laying in Jeff’s lap and not showing jealousy whenever Jeff and I would get “close” (lol) One year later, I moved in with Jeff and Willis came with me. He adjusted very well to the new place and everything just seemed “right”. It felt great sharing my life with the two most important guys in my life. In August, When our wedding day arrived, we left for our honeymoon in Mexico the following day. I felt terrible leaving Willis for a week but I knew he was in good hands as my mother took care of him for the week (i still had to call everyday to check on him of course!)

    As the days passed by, i started to notice that Willis was throwing up quite frequently. He was eating and drinking alot but was quickly losing alot of weight. I remember looking in his eyes that night and telling him “Its ok if you need to let go. I’ll be fine. As much as i dont want to lose you, Just let me know when youre ready to let go”. I called the vet and made an appointment for a check up for the next day. I never thought in a million years that i would be making the toughest deciscion of my life. The doctor took a look at him and starting feeling around his belly. He said that he wanted to do some blood work and X-rays because his liver felt “large”. I looked at my husband and began to cry. I tried to think positive but couldnt stop myself from pacing back and forth in the waiting room. Then, we were hit with the bad news. “It’s cancer. And it’s in his liver”.

    Now Jerry, i know you’ve never felt this before but your mom and dad have and im sure they can relate to this feeling. It felt like i had been punched in the stomach. I didnt want Willis to spend the last part of his life in pain or in discomfort. I wanted him to leave this world with dignitiy. So, i made the deciscion to say goodbye to Willis. I stood by his side for the whole thing. The doctor asked if I was sure that i wanted to witness everything and i told him that I wanted to be the last person that Willis sees. I stroked him and kissed his head and thanked him for being my best friend. I truly believe that Willis waited for me to marry my husband before he let go. I belive that he wanted to make sure i was safe and taken care of.

    You see Jerry, as much as we gave you and Willis great lives and great friendships, you gave us much much more. And for that, your pawrents and I will be forever greatful. A human being will never truly know uncondtional love and loyalty unless they own a pet. I didnt rescue Willis…..HE RESCUED ME! Thank you very much Jerry for sharing your story with me and thank you for letting me do the same. Please say hi to my best friend up there for me and tell him that Mommy loves him and misses him everyday! Jerry and Willis : You left pawprints on our hearts.

    Sincerely, Jill Alves

    • Jill, thank you for sharing such a touching story with us, we are so glad you wrote to tell us about Willis. He was such a great cat, and what a beautiful thing that you both got to spend so many years together. We are so sorry that you had to say goodbye like that. Cancer is such a tough disease. When you get no warning like that, it’s even harder. You made a very brave decision and paid the greatest tribute to Willis by showing him that you had the strength to do right by him. It’s the hardest thing for a human to do, but it’s the kindest.

      Please remember that the love shared with humans and animals is unbreakable, it speaks to a higher power in the universe and never goes away. Our hearts go out to you, we are so sorry. May you always rejoice in the memories in the memories you shared and in knowing that Willis and I are having a ball and watching after our wonderful pawrents like you.

      xoxo
      -Spirit Jerry (& Jim & Rene)

  9. Hi Jerry,
    I saw some of your story on PBS then came to read it on the website. How courageous you were fighting this disease… and what wonderful parents you had. I didn’t have a dog, but I did have a cat that also died from cancer… her name was Trula and I had her for 22 years. I noticed that she wasn’t her self 4 years ago so I brought her in to be seen by her vet. There they ran an xray and found a mass near her spine. It was removed but she needed chemotherapy and radiation to make sure it didn’t travel. She did live another year but unfortulately it did return not only in her spine but also her brain and other organs. She was a trooper just like you, wanting to go out and do everything she like to do each day until her legs couldn’t let her get up one day. I was there with her and her favorite toy and blanket as well when we had to have the vet give her the medications to send her to heaven. I’ve been told that there is this Rainbow Bridge right before Heaven where all you animals wait for us. I believe that you will be there waiting for you parents as well as my Trula will be waiting for me. I’m so glad you had such wonderful parents who were there for you during your life here on earth, and will be there later on in your after life with you again. God Speed .

    • Pat, you are so sweet for writing to us and sharing Trula’s story, thank you. You were such a great pawrent to her, and what a long, incredible life you shared together. No animal could ask for more. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to say goodbye after so many years though, and our hearts go out to you.

      We are so sorry that Trula is no longer with you physically, but yes, take comfort in knowing that you will be reunited some day. Until then, listen closely and watch for signs, her spirit will always stay close to you and the bond you shared can never be broken. Much love coming you way…

  10. Hello Jerry:
    My name is Anna and my puppy’s name is Fred. I’ve just watched your story on PBS and read your pawrents blog. I held my dear Fred’s urn and held his plaster paw print against my heart as I watched your story on TV. I shed tears for your pawrents, you and my Fred. It’s very hard to stop crying because I miss my Fred so very much and I know your pawrrents miss you just as much.

    My sweet Fred was very sick also. He had Pancreatitis, and despite my efforts to bring Fred back to health, it was not to be. The last vet visit to check his bloods resulted in the news that his liver was failing. My daughter Brittany and I had to make the difficult decision to give Fred the peace he deserved. Fred came to us November 2, 2007 through an ad on Used Regina. A girl was walking out in the rain and this little white dog followed her home. He had a shoe string tied around his neck for a leash she guessed. She tried to find his home through the Humane Society and the local paper, but no one ever came forward. It’s so hard to believe that no one claimed him. He was such a good dog. Since she had 4 dogs and a cat, she couldn’t keep him.

    Brittany & I fell in love immediately and picked him up a week later on November 2, 2007. Our first trip was straight to the vet for a checkup. They guessed he was part Bichon and part Poodle – a Bichpoo. They also had to guess his age, and according to the horrible shape of his teeth, they figured Fred was about 10 years old. We never did know what his real name was since the girl who found him named him Fred. It didn’t matter too much though, because Fred was also deaf. He had to have most of his teeth removed, but recovered so well. We also have 2 cats which Fred loved to chase around a bit. Mo (the male) was fine with it and would just plop over on his side. But Coco (the female) caught his nose a couple times with her claws. Fred learned to keep his distance from Coco.

    It was wonderful watching them grow to like each other and I even have a picture of Mo sleeping with Fred in his dog bed. Fred was slowing down with his walking, and after the diagnosis of Pancreatitis, he stopped eating. He hated the food that the vet said he should eat. I was feeding him with the syringe and had to give him medication which he didn’t like. I hated to put Fred through this but I really thought he would get better. The night before his appointment to check his blood work, I picked up a shot of B12. When I was at the vet, my daughter called and said she had just taken Fred for a walk. I asked how he did and she said pretty good, and he’d done both his jobs. We had cut his walk distance down since he was so lethargic all the time.

    But that evening, I took him for a walk, and we walked all around the old route we used to follow. He seemed to be taking me for a walk. I was going to turn around and go back after about 1 block, but he stood his ground and wanted to keep going and revisit his old favorite areas. So we did. I almost think he knew that this was his last long walk. He was pooped out by the time we got home. I was still feeling very positive and happy that he showed such enthusiasm.

    But the next day came, and I got the devastating news about his liver. I had to tell my daughter when she got home from work and we took Fred back to the vet’s an hour later. He breathed his last breath on July 21, 2010. We both miss Fred so very much. We had Fred in our lives nearly 3 years, but these were the best 3 years I could imagine.

    Life is so hard without Fred here, but I have so many wonderful memories of him. I can still see him run in from the back yard after doing his job. He would run as fast as possible all the way into the front room and back again, hopping around as though he was just a young pup. He always made sure that I put on the alarm at night, and would not settle down in bed until it was on. Fred was such a special friend and we miss him terribly. Life will never be as wonderful as it was with him laying beside me on my chair, or greeting Brittany and I at the door, so excited that we were home.

    Jerry, I know you were loved just as much by your pawrents, and I hope you and Fred are having tons of fun up there. Please give him a nuzzle for me and tell him I love and miss him.

    • Anna, your heartfelt letter brought tears to our eyes, we are so sorry about Fred. I know the pain is so raw right now, and words can ring so hollow when your heart aches like I know it does. But please know that myself, Jim, Spirit Jerry and even our crazy boy Wyatt Ray are thinking of you and sending lots of love and healing wishes your way.

      I always like to say that we don’t pick dogs, they pick us. It sounds like Fred came into your life for a very definite reason, and although his time was not as long as anyone would have liked, the lessons he taught you will say with you for a lifetime. There is no greater gift than the selfless, nonjudgemental love of our heart dogs. You and your daughter and the cats gave him such a great life in return.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share Fred’s story with us, and for watching the show. We too are forever touched knowing that there are such kind people like yourself out there, who can completely relate to our long, beautiful and heartfelt journey with our Jerry. We miss him dearly, but it brings us comfort knowing that he is out there pain-free, romping around and having a pawty with your Fred.

      Many hugs,
      Rene, Jim, Spirit Jerry & Wyatt Ray

    • Dear Anna, Brittany, Mo, and Coco,

      I am so sorry for your loss and the pain you’re feeling. I know how hard it must have been to say goodbye to your sweet Fred and hope you will find some comfort in remembering the love you shared–and continue to share–with him, and in the knowledge that friends, loved-ones, and fellow pet parents (certainly the ones in the Tripawds community!) understand and share your sorrow.

      May you find yourselves wrapped in a blanket of our warm wishes and thoughts comforting you as you grieve your loss, and cherish Fred’s life and your time together.

      Holding you close in thought and sending you my heartfelt sympathy,

      Shahrzad

  11. Kathi Littrell July 6, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    My husband and I lost our two Border Terriers in 2008 within a month of each other. Both died of hemangiomasarcoma. Bo Bo had a tumor in her heart that totally went undetected until it began to bleed. She crossed the Rainbow Bridge four days after her 11th birthday. Tavi developed a lump on her back unexpectedly that became very painful. She was diagnosed with inoperable cancer that had metastasized. She was 12 1/2 years old. I can’t tell you how utterly I empathized with you when you got Dr. Mullins’ diagnosis of the lung tumor. It could have been me on that video, only times two. Losing both of my girls within a month when both had been perfectly happy and, we thought, healthy just months before was beyond words. Cancer can be so horribly insidious. Unfortunately, we had no real time with Bo Bo and Tavi once diagnosed. There really was no “prognosis” for them. Their quality of life plumented before we really had the chance to say goodbye. I stayed with each throughout the euthanasia process; it was my forever promise to them. I had to basically shut down my heart to be able to get through it without causing them fear. That was probably the hardest part, knowing that I wanted to throw myself on them and weep but holding back until it was all over to fall apart. I hope I gave them a peaceful, loving, secure passing. And at least Bo Bo wouldn’t have to wait alone at the Rainbow Bridge- her sister was there soon after. They were always together and now they still are. We too had both cremated and they will remain with us until we cross over. I will forever love them, feel honored to have known them and will find it hard to find even another human that matches their worth. I hope you find some comfort in this shared wonder of being in love with your pet(s) and the unending bond that remains. P.S. We have welcomed a new love into our lives. We named her Joy. There is a bible verse that reads, “Weeping endureth through the night, but joy comes in the morning.” And so it goes….

    Kathi Littrell

    • And so it goes indeed. Thank you for your heartfelt words. We’re sure you gave your pups a peaceful passing, and can totally relate to that heart shutting down business. We’re not sure what gave us the strength to say goodbye to Jerry without tears (until he was gone) but he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It was the least we could do.

  12. Long Live Jerry,
    I lost my beautful boy dog Boxer Alex a couple of years ago and thought
    about him as I watch your video, loved him so much like I loved Sasha
    his sister that left me 2 years before my Alex, I will always miss them
    I still have them in that velvet box in my home office, once in a while
    i look at them and think of all the wonderful times we spent together-
    years later Dante a beautiful,playfull full of life 3 yr old GSD arrived in
    my life and I allowed myself to love again-
    I miss my boxers with all my heart I can only wish I would see them
    again yeah…over the rainbow bridge.
    love to all pet loving owners and their beautiful pets

    • Ricardo, thank you so much for writing, how sweet to take the time to do so. We never get over being separated from our soulmates, do we? We just learn to go on, as they would wish. We miss Jerry every single day as much as I’m sure you miss Alex and Sasha.

      Run Free and Roam to your heart’s content Alex and Sasha. And may you, Ricardo, have many many years together with Dante!

  13. This is the first time I have cried so much for others. I’ve been sobbing for almost an hour. I watched the video “Why We Love Cats and Dogs” and discovered a little about your dog, Jerry. I was so touched that I searched for the entire story and read everything, causing me to cry more. I truly thank you guys for being such brave individuals and raising such a courteous dog.

  14. Bruce & Judy Thomson May 30, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Rene & Jim,

    Thank you so much for sharing Jerry’s story on Nature. Our 10 year old Calvin is not a tripawd and is not sick and Judy and I have had to bid farewel to 2 very sweet dogs in our 20 years together but your story with it’s emphasis on quality of life has inspired us to re-committ ourselves to living more fully every day and incorporating more “Calvin” time into every day. Seeing Your commitment to live your lives for Jerry wil make it easier to walk away from the responsibilities sooner, turn off the TV and get out there with our dear furry boy who loves our excursions more than anything in life. Thank you !!

    • Bruce and Judy, we are touched, and really appreciate your taking the time to watch the show and write. Thank you for sharing your commitment to living life to the fullest with Calvin, it’s an honor to know that Jerry’s legacy lives on through your pack. Follow Calvin’s lead, he knows all the secrets to happiness. Cheers to being more Dog!

  15. What a wonderful story of love. I was truly moved to tears by Jerrys story and I want to say that I think you were the greatest “pawrents” to that wonderful little guy that you possibly could have been.

    Blessings!
    Russ and Cosmo

    • Thank you Russ, we tried hard because Jerry was so special to us. We often feel like that t-shirt that’s we’ve seen around….”I want to be the person my dog thinks I am.” That’s what we strive for. You sound like a great pawrent yourself, thanks so much for writing.

  16. Just saw your story on PBS Nature and like others had to know the whole story. I, too, shed many tears as I recalled our last minutes with our much loved dog, Cheyenne as you shared your time with Jerry. Thank goodness for wonderful vets who understand and really try to make those last few minutes “bearable”. We have been blessed with another great friend, but no dog can really take another’s place in ones heart. Thank You for sharing your story, and Jerry with us.

    • Jill, we agree; most vets have come a long way in how they help us through the process of saying goodbye. Thank you for taking the time to watch, and write about Cheyenne, she was a lucky pup to have you for a Mom. We too have another pack member, Wyatt Ray, who is teaching us all sorts of new lessons about the beauty of dogs. Here’s to our wise canine friends!

  17. Juan Corredor May 27, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Thank you for sharing your awesome experience with the rest of the world. To give you an example…. I am a regular guy from Colombia that happened to watch your show on PBS and then got hooked up with your story so followed it on your blog. Is not amazing to see how the thing we do can touch to many people. I thing that the decision you both made of living that last and great moment with Jerry was the best and I admire your courage. I hope the rest of the world would had that courage or at least me. Courage to love…dare to love…dare to enjoy life and do what our hearts crave….love.

    I hope I would not forget your story..forget Jerry or forget your life example but probably at some point I will but, tonight, right now I ADMIRE YOU and congratulate you . I am SURE Jerry is happy and in a better place. Nature, energy and life will get back to you in an amazing way.

    Way to go Jerry…Way to go Jerry parents and friends.

    My love tonight is with you and with Jerry.

    Good luck and thank you for sharing your love.

    Juan

    • Juan, your sweet letter made our day, thank you so much for watching the show and sharing your very kind thoughts. Coming from “a regular guy” that means so much to us.

      Your compassion and spirit will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the Universe. Thank you for caring about the valuable lessons our animal companions like Jerry can teach us. The world is definitely a better place because of you.

      May you and your pack find joy and happiness, always.

  18. I watched the Nature program with Jerry and I was crying and holding my tripawd. She just look at me and said get a grip I’ll be around for a while lets go play. I was ok. But so sad for you, I know you miss your Jerry and I no no one can take his place. But there are lots of shelter dogs that need a good home.

  19. My mom died on the same day as Jerry, also surrounded by the family she loved. She loved dogs with all her heart, and if she and Jerry are in the same place, he’s getting lots of pats and hugs from her, I promise. Thank you for sharing Jerry’s story. I know losing a part of your family, whether beloved parent or beloved pet, is something you can never be ready for. But your words are comforting.
    I hope you have another wonderful dog in your family now, not to replace Jerry, of course, but just to love.

  20. Dear Jim, Rene, Spirit Jerry (“Angel Jerry”), and Wyatt Ray Dawg,

    I just wanted to get in touch to say hello and let you know how much it means to read your wonderfully sweet comments and replies to the many people whose lives have been touched through Jerry’s journey (and yours), and how moving it is to see the way everyone has been impacted by and resonates with your beautiful love story. When I saw that your Nature program would be on this week, I wasn’t sure I’d be strong enough to watch it again, but am so glad I did. Your love and selfless devotion to each other, and your amazing journey together just continues to fill my heart and spirit with gratitude, love, and so many positive feelings I can’t even begin to tease them all out and name them! You continue to be role models, heroes (the very best kind!), and inspiring examples of how we can all strive to live and be good pawrents. So glad you’re getting to spend time in one of Jerry’s favorite places! You honor him well 🙂 Take wonderful care and thank you for all you do by example, and through the communities of support you’ve created for other pawrents and all who cherish their furry babies! Sending you much love and many hugs!

    Shahrzad

    • Shahrzad, your comment is so beautiful, we are honored and blushing over here.

      Thank you for watching again and writing to us. We are glad you watched it too. Although my own pawrents still cry whenever they see it, today it’s a bit easier to watch because as time passes, their sadness has been lightened by the many happy memories we shared.

      It’s so wonderful to know that there are compassionate, kind and wise people like you in this world. Together everypawdy can make a difference and make the world a better place for animals. Thank you so much.

      xoxo
      Spirit Jerry

  21. This story literally brought me to tears. Jerry had a really great life and family, I am completely moved by your compassion for your dogs.

    I know exactly what it is like to lose a best friend, not just a dog.
    As a kid, I always dreamed of the day i’d get a dog. My parents aren’t really animal lovers and don’t understand the bond I share with them.

    They caved and took me to a local shelter to pick out a dog. At the time, I was 11 years old. I picked out the shyest dog hiding in the back of the cage. But the second I saw her, I knew she was the one. I brought home a year and a half old Rottweiler/German Shepherd mix and she was the love of my life. I spent about 2 years growing close with her, and then that is when things really started going wrong. My dog had severe allergies and my parents didn’t want to pay to have her tested. Of course, I didn’t find this out until years later; after she was long gone ( and my dad was telling a friend and joking about it ).

    She was put on steroids and various other medicines but no matter what we did, her reactions got worse. It was to the point where she lost hair in many places and her skin became rough and elephant-like. After about 2 years of vet appointments and shots and medicine and various other treatments, she started getting even worse. Her skin started seeping and bleeding and she even started having anal sac issues. It was so frustrating to watch my best friend slowly deteriorate into nothing.

    After watching her suffer for 3 years, my parents made an appointment for the vets to see if she was ‘ready’ to be put down. I didn’t want to go, but I remember telling my mom to promise me she’d be coming home. Well, an hour or so later, my parents arrived home, crying. My parents put down my dog without me there and they didn’t even go into the room to see it happen. She left with … no one. She was 6 years old when we put her down. Its been about 4 years now, I spent two whole years in complete depression. Anything just set me off. I went to work and cried everyday. I drove and cried.

    Its been 4 years and I still have this awful guilt eating away at me, I never said goodbye to her and I never told her how much she truly meant to me and how much she enriched MY life. I have tried so hard to heal the wounds by getting another dog and yet the pain still comes back time to time.

    A dog isn’t just a dog. Many people think like that and I don’t think its very true. A dog is a protector, forgiver, a best friend, someone who will always listen and will stick by your side during tough times.

    I didn’t lose a dog. I feel like I lost a child. 🙁

    http://www.kizamaji.com/photography/other/kenzie3.jpg

    • Oh Steph, your pup’s story is so very sad, we’re so sorry. What a beautiful pic. Please know that you had no control over things at the time, none of this was your fault. Your girl knew that and there is no way she would want you to feel guilty. I know it’s hard not to, but you must try to be more like she was; forgiving, selfless and living for the moment.

      Many of us had experiences like that when we were kids. Those of us who had parents that said our dogs “ran away,” eventually found out the truth. And this is the experience that helped many of us to see the light when it comes to the way animals are treated. It’s terribly sad that not too long ago, most people didn’t consider dogs as part of the family, they were just disposable things that, when they cost too much or caused too many problems, were let go of. Well, take heart and know that that mentality is changing as more of us show those old folks that we will not stand to see our animals treated this way, that they are sentient beings like we are with feelings and more gifts and intelligence to give than most humans have in their pinky fingers. Your role is to continue to spread this message so that the people in this world who still treat animals badly will come to realize how incredibly special our dogs, cats, horses, etc. are. Let this be your pup’s legacy, let the world know that animals deserve much, much better, darnit!

      P.S. I just want to add that your dog’s issues were more than likely related to the food she was eating. Some ninety percent of dogs out there with “allergies” are simply reacting to the garbage that’s put in commercial dog food. Even old-school vets don’t understand nutrition because it wasn’t part of their curriculum back then, and don’t make that connection. Do your future dogs a huge favor and never feed them anything that you yourself wouldn’t eat (well, skip the pizza and cheeseburgers, but you know what I mean). Research home prepared and high quality dog food diets so that no dog will ever have to go through what your poor girl did.

      May she run free with all of the beloved, beautiful dogs who have gone before her. Many hugs to you.

  22. I havent been able to stop crying since i have read jerrys blog. His story was that of our little guy, right down to the blankets and time off work. We had to put our little guy Flip down on Jan 11 of this yr. He was 18.5 yrs old. He was a healthy dog up until Nov 2009. I swore to him that I would be there for him till the end. We wrapped him up in his pooh banky and he had a couple of special toys with him. (I didnt want him to be cold or lonely on his journey) I wrote a letter tellling him how much i loved him and thanked him for being in my life, and I got a pic of him and I together, he was cremated with all of that. The hardest part was watching him leave us. It was and is still heart wrenching for me. I loved him sooooo much. I cry everyday for him. I feel so empty inside and unable to live life as i did when he was here with us. Everything was better with flip. I know he is there with jerry and all his other friends at rainbow bridge. Thank you for sharing jerrys story with us. Mommy loves you flippy 🙂

    • Karrie, your story brought tears to our eyes, we are so sorry. What an amazing boy your Flip was. Oh my gosh, you were incredible pawrents to him, what a great life he had, what a beautiful thing to have been able to love eachother for so long.

      All I can offer is that I share your grief, I understand how hard it is to see life any other way. It took us a very long time to really feel that life was going to get better, but you know what, it did eventually. There are still moments when we miss him terribly (oh about every day), but we don’t cry as much as we used to. Mostly because we know Jerry would hate that, but also because as time goes on it’s gotten easier to remember the good times more than the sad.

      We send lots of love your way and many wishes for a heart that can heal. Give yourself time, and know that what you are feeling is completely understandable. Our hearts go out to you, thank you so much for watching and taking the time to write.

      Many hugs coming your way…

    • AprilinColorado May 24, 2010 at 9:40 pm

      Karie,
      Hugs to you for being an incredible mommie to Flip. I know all too well how you feel-the loss of a furbaby is totally heartbreaking and plez find comfort that he will live in your heart and soul forever 🙂 I personally feel their spirits come back to us, at least periodically and I have learned how to tune into that. You are extremely lucky to have been blessed with him for 18.5 years!
      May I ask what breed he was? he was a very lucky guy I hope you find peace very soon.

      • Flipster was a cockapoo. We got ourselves a puppy (toy poodle) since saying goodbye to our flipster. We know he cant and wont replace flip but, yes, he fills the void in our life. He is a mini me of flip, very sweet, and my shadow, lol, and that makes me happy. Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts and prayers with me with the loss of our dog. I would like to share a poem with you.

        The day that you died
        My heart split in two
        One side filled with memories
        The other died with you
        Now I lay awake at night
        While the world is asleep
        To take a walk down memory lane
        A tear upon my cheek
        Remembering you is easy
        I do it every day
        But missing you is heartache
        That never goes away
        I hold you lightly in my heart
        There you shall remain
        Now life goes on without you
        But it will never be the same

      • Karrie, what a beautiful poem, thanks so much. We’ll put that in our Coping with Loss Forum Discussion.

        You’re right; a new dog can’t take our forever dog’s place, but they do fill our lives with the love we need to keep on seeing the beauty in the world. Give your pup a big smooch from all of us OK?

      • AprilinColorado May 26, 2010 at 12:26 pm

        ((((((Karrie)))))))

        thank you for sharing your poem , (I am crying again) so very touching and TRUE!! Exactly how I feel since I lost my beloved Nikki and Coco, as well as a childhood Border Collie/Cocker Spaniel mix when I was 5 (she died of heartworms), back in 1966. When iI was 11, a neighbor had a cocker spaniel and I always went to see her after school. One day, “Amanda’s” owners said they were moving and if I wanted her-I could have her. I was overjoyed!! My parents said no………………..because I got a B- on a test. Never got over it completely and I am heart broken to this day.
        I will print your poem,copy it with fancy lettering and frame it. It will go next to my Rainbow Bridge poem.

    • AprilinColorado May 27, 2010 at 11:47 am

      Karrie
      I checked out the video song you referenced. That made me cry. I am listening to :

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN1fMPVLmbQ&feature=PlayList&p=FFDC001BBECE418A&playnext_from=PL&index=0

      it is “Goodbye my friend” by Linda Rhonstat-THAT one really gets to me. So does “Angel” by Sarah MacLaughlin:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Pu7ymSGnq0&feature=PlayList&p=FFDC001BBECE418A&playnext_from=PL&index=6

      Also, “my Heart Will Go On” from Titanic . Oh and Because You Loved Me”-both from Celine Dion.

      (((((((((((((((Kerrie)))))))))))))))) I am so sorry for your loss……

    • (((((((((((((((((((((Karrie)))))))))))))))))-yep a big hug from me 🙂 I just read (in my hotmail) what Rene and yourself were talking about-me. Listen to Rene, even though I don’t really know her except from a very kind email she sent because I feel her intuition is dead on. Thanks Rene! If I had seen the nature show 3 weeks ago, guess what, I could have MET both Rene and Jim!!!! They were a few miles south of me putting on a tripawd party-uuugggghhhhhh!
      I hope to meet them one day as they have friends here in colorado springs. I don’t quite know what they think of me but I hope I didn’t scare them off because I post blogs on here by sharing my experiences and asking about them. Jim replied to one saying I didn’t provide my YOUTUBE channel name after I mentioned that place is my little corner of the world that I choose to share with peeps. I make alot of videos of my cats, the scenery here and our wild weather. In many, I am pretty silly, others I am very deep (one video is me saying goodbye to lexi, my siamese and thanking her for everything she’s done for me. It was filmed by Steve, my hubbie and it’s very sad. I had been hysterically crying before the camera started rolling-I kept yelling “God, NOOOOO, Lexi canNOT die. PLEZ help me save her……………at 3am , my face was red, swollen, (no makeup-the RAW me that NObody sees). Well, having a youtube channel, I get real sik of people commenting on the few videos of me all glamed up, way back when. I get enormous hatefull comments. I have pulled my youtube account several times now-I let idiots get to me. Then…I wake up, say hey, screw those stupid, jealous idiots……and back up my channel goes.
      There is alot to learn from me and my cats-if ANYONE PAID ATTENTION. Karrie, I had breast cancer 5 years ago….I shouldn’t be here, docs said. Ha! Surprise, here’ssssssssssssssssssss APRIL!
      Cancer took away my well being, scarred me, terrified me but I survived. The thing with me NOW…I have no friends in the whole world, just a few aquaintences. My cats are the only family I have+ hubby. Cats are independent, come around occassionally, say “hi mom”, 10 min later-poof. I do seek them out but it’s frustrating.
      So first off, I’d like to extend my hand in friendship as I have to Rene and Jim. My youtube channel is cocatwoman7 “April the Meezermom”. You can send me messages there if you’d like -public or private. I wish I had some nice person to talk to as well (I have lost numerous pets, 3 recently). I do not have a dog but..I did when I was young (OH-HE DIDN’T DIE OF HEARTWORMS-he died from a massive tumor on one of his hips!-JUST found that out).My family lied to me-nothing new. I pet sit sometimes for a little extra money.
      Also-do a white pages search for April Bouchard and I’m sure my phone number and address will come up. Are YOU in Colorado? Ever been to the springs? I live right off I-25 near the “Sunbird resturant” in a tucked away little valley hidden by rocky bluffs. LOVE it here-no city noises! 🙂
      I realize anyone can read what I type in here. I am a very “open” kinda person, a free spirit (west coast influence-lol). I’ve looked in the chat room to see if you, Rene and Jim are there. He came in briefly today, said what’s up or similar then he had to go. yesturday, I told him plez be safe with so much bad weather around…I said there was a tornado watch-he said “we don’t get them at 8500 ft………….I said, oh yes you can. I almost went into meteorology and I storm chase. I’ve lived in Co since 1991. Tornadoes happen alot behind the front range-they love camp grounds for some reason. I don’t think Jim liked my response (sorry Jim) and I hope he never sees a tornado, but…….
      Karrie-can you go into chat on this site? I’ll go in there and stay-not even Jim will make me sign out-lol, jk. I just wrote a book-sorry. I’d love to meet and chat with you and the phone does not scare me. scares everyone else-phone only rings for me if I have a doc appt. will shut up now…hope to cya soon!

  23. I just watched the PBS Nature show that included Jerry’s story and then had to RUN to my computer to read about what happened, knowing full well what the outcome was going to be… I still can’t seem to stop crying and I don’t know why. Maybe it is the unconditional love that the three of you shared for each other that really spoke to me, maybe it’s my own grief of thinking about pets I have lost, maybe it’s the realization of what a true GIFT Jerry was to you and to all of us who shared your journey with him.

    • Cyrena, what a beautiful comment, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to watch the show and write. We are honored that Jerry’s story has touched your heart so profoundly. Grief has a weird way of reappearing even years after we experience the initial loss. But as long as we replace that sadness with happier times of our beloved family members (canine and human alike!), then we have done right by our fur kids. They want us to live in the now, always. Many many hugs to you.

    • Just as alot of people said watching the PBS Nature show yesterday made me go directly to your site. I have been a work now for 8 hours and read every entry between the phone calls and work. I have cried alot and had to get up several times just to get myself together again. Our family had to take our beloved yellow lab, Bud to the vet for the last time this past December ’09. How true it is that they have a way of “telling” you when they are tired and just want to be free of the pain. I still cry over Bud and did alot reading your entires, but at the same time you gave me the comfort that I was so desperately needing. I never knew, unitl I read your entire story, that we had actually done everything we could. There does come a time when just another “fix” isn’t the right thing to do. Jerry, to touched my heart and got to my soul, please look up Bud and Rocky too (we lost him 12 years ago). They both loved other dogs and could use some companionship. In closing– Bud’s vet told us that the reason why our pets don’t live as long as we do is because it makes us experience so many of you (pets) and make our lives more full and richer. Thanks again for your touching story Jerry!

      • Cindy, we are so sorry about Bud, our hearts go out to you. Having to make that call to help them out of their pain is the hardest, worst thing in the world. But you did right by Bud and Rocky, you were compassionate and wise just as we’re sure they taught you.

        We can beat ourselves up over and over again, replaying different scenarios and asking all the “what if’s.” But the truth of it is, in that moment when we have to make the call to the vet, we know in our hearts that the time is right. It’s that feeling that we have to hold on to, and remember that as pawrents, we know our fur kids best and understand on a deeper level what they are asking us to do.

        Today when we look back on the pictures we took of Jerry from that day, we know that he was definitely telling us he was ready. We actually felt that “look” before we saw it. It was Jerry’s biggest gift to us; teaching us how to live from the heart.

        Many, many hugs coming your way. I believe that Jerry has found Bud and Rocky…he was quite a social dawg too who loved other players like himself. What fun they must be having!

  24. God Bless you both – I watched the show last night with tears in my eyes hugging my 6 month old puppy. I have lost 2 dogs in the past 2 years – 1 to old age (15 1/2) and 1 to a massive heart attack as I held him in my arms (5 years Old). I swore I would never get another one, but there was a void only another one could fill. After looking for 5 months we found our beloved Muddy who had been rescued by a wonderful family in North Carolina. I can fully understand why you traveled with your beloved in his final days. You will never got over his loss, but somehow you learn to live with it although tears will fill your eyes each day.

    • Mary, we are touched that you wrote after watching the show, especially after all you’ve been through. That kind of grief is unimaginable, we’re so very sorry. But we are also glad to know that you found Muddy (great name!). Or did he find you? Hmmm… There are so many great dogs out there just waiting for a family, you are so sweet for opening your hearts to him after experiencing such tragedy. And you’re right…we learn to live with the loss although our hearts still feel heavy. That’s a great way to put it.

      Cheers to you, may you and Muddy have a long happy life together. Thanks again for writing!

  25. Like many others, I was touched by your story on PBS last night. I wish that all dogs (and cats) in the world could be fortunate enough to be loved as much as you loved Jerry. Thank you for sharing him with us.

    • Thank you Lisa, you are so sweet for watching and taking the time to write to us. It’s our wish too, to see all dogs and cats find the love that they so deserve more than anything. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their selfless devotion. Thanks again.

  26. AprilinColorado May 23, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Tonight, I watched Nature on PBS-so true about the differences between cat and dogs. Jerry’s Story touched me deeply and after going through a box of kleenex,I want to thank you for sharing his life with all of us. Jerry had a wonderful life with his fantastic pawrents (hugs to you both) and it is amazing how much you changed your lives so the three of you could LIVE Life TOGETHER! I know how much he loved Colorado-so do I 🙂
    Also, I know you have helped alot of people with a terminally ill pet-details about how pets let you know when it’s “time”,and what is involved. Six years ago,my “soul mate, Nikki” had acute kidney failure and I knew she would let me know when it was time-she did. Hardest thing I ever did but I am so happy my wonderful vet came to our home. She passed away peacefully in my arms. I miss her so much but I do feel her presence with me at times. God Bless you all. 🙂

    • April, thank you for your heartfelt comments and story about Nikki. We are so sorry that you both had to go through that. What a lucky girl she was to have you there for her until her last breath.

      Jerry did make such an impact our lives, and we’ve never been the same since. He taught us to stop living for the future and enjoy what we have, right here and now. It’s a lesson he tried to show us all along but unfortunately it took cancer to wake us up. One of those bittersweet gifts that it brought into our lives.

      Yes, Colorado is indeed beautiful! We are here right now, at “Jerry’s Acres” and snow is falling from the sky. Really!

      Maybe someday we’ll see you at the dog park! Take care and thank you again.

      • AprilinColorado May 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm

        Well hello!
        Where in the big state of Colorado are ya? Snow?? Where is “Jerrys Acres”? I live in western Colorado Springs,literally a mile from I-25 and it is a dog mecca over here in the foothills. I swear I am the only person in the neighborhood who does NOT have a dog though I have wanted the “right one’ forever. I have been ill the last week and meeting and getting to know you through Jerry’s story has touched me deeply (am trying not to cry as I type this).
        I wanna let you both know I had cancer myself 5 years ago and according to the docs, I shouldn’t be here. Ha!! I am a survivor and a FIGHTER by God! My checkup is comming up and I hope I am still cancer free. I cannot tell you how much I wished I had a dog to comfort and help me through the nightmare. I lost Nikki one year before I found “the lump”……..I literally cried every day during that years (missing her) which probably helped to bring on the cancer. But, I had NO choice but to live in the moment..1 day at a time if I had any chance to get through it all.
        I cannot agree with you and Jerry enough-LIVE for the MOMENT. Appreciate what you DO have and smile. I must tell ya-I REALLY want a dog-bad! my cats are great but-they are CATS……………………….Your story woke me up 🙂

        Luv,
        April

      • April, that is too WEIRD! We had a Tripawds Pawty two weeks ago at Bear Creek Dog Park! I can’t believe it! Oh it would have been so nice to have met you there. That park is GREAT!

        We are in Red Feather Lakes, just about an hour West of Fort Collins. We plan on having a Tripawds pawty sometime this summer in Longmont, we hope you can make it up here.

        You are truly a survivor, wow. It has to be your spunk and belief in Dog that has carried you this far, and will continue to do so. Congratulations for kicking that horrible disease to the curb. The producer of the Nature show is also a cancer survivor, which we think made Jerry’s segment so very special. She really had a way with telling his story on camera.

        Feel better soon, you can do it! You know, the right dog will come along. They always find us, contrary to what we think whenever we cruise Petfinder.

        Keep in touch, and hopefully we can meet up this summer {{{Hugs}}}.

      • AprilinColorado May 24, 2010 at 6:21 pm

        No! I just missed you guys by 2 weeks? Bear Creek Park is about 5 miles south of me and I go there (with Hubby Steve) to enjoy the scenery and…interact with the dogs 🙂 I watch and study all of them and they sure teach us humans alot!

        I found out where you are now on my map (and Google too). I have only been as far north as Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park, shortly after moving from Seattle to Co. in 1991. Lake Dillion is my favorite place in the state, any time of year and I love Breckenridge too-ahhhhhhh.

        My Husband and I would be honored to meet you both this summer-plez stay in touch!!! I added my Youtube channel so if you have time, plez check my uploads. There is a video my hubby took last Halloween night of me (April) and Lexi, my 12 year old siamese in a closet. She was extremely ill and I was thanking her for being my daughter/best friend/soulmate and for helping me through the cancer. The Vet gave her maybe 48 hours! Well-I was praying so hard for a miracle for the Holy Spirit to PLEZ heal her-through my touch. Well, (am crying) it happened and she recovered fully! I am a bonafide “catwhisperer’ and healer though I know I have it with dogs too. Two months ago, God directed my hand when petting Lexi to a bump in front of her ear. I froze and the word “pre cancer” came into my head. Yup-vet confirmed it, a ‘mast cell tumor” that I caught early!!!!! Dogs get them too and they are alot more aggressive.
        I swear, ya gotta check your pets over ONCE A WEEK , just like a breast self exam-WEEKLY! My message to the world-learn from me and do as I say-plez!! Try to Catch tumors early!!!!
        I hope, I pray that everyone reads this message and that many lives will be saved. Hope your Colorado eve is a great one! 🙂

        Luv,
        April

      • April, you are indeed a cat/dog whisperer! Wow! So glad you found that tumor. Yes, mast cell grows VERY fast, we’ve had lots of Tripawd members who join because of it.

        What’s your YT channel? I’m not seeing it.

        Our favorite part of CO has to be here, of course, then then Lake City, near Gunnison. That part of CO is so stunning. We wouldn’t want to be there all year though, it’s a long hard winter in those parts.

        We’d love to stay in touch! We have friends in CS and now we have another reason to come down too. Yeay!

    • AprilinColorado May 25, 2010 at 1:57 am

      My youtube channel is : cocatwoman7

      (I am April the Meezermom)-lol

      the video is titled “April ,Cocatwoman comforting Lexi,her siamese soul mate-she was critical but GOD HEALED HER”.

      second video I want you to see is:

      “Tribute to Coco, my Siamese son who died Feb 9, 2009”-my first attempt at making a movie (slideshow). I want to do the same kinda tribute thing for Nikki, my late shelter babe siamese lynx point mix.

      Most of my videos are very upbeat-I even added captions to some of the highest viewed and to a “4th of July party'” video,( in 3 parts)-I have a sarcastic sense of humor sometimes but hope you get a chuckle if ya see them.

      If you guys come down this way, we’d luv to met ya!! Question- have you adopted a dog recently? I thought I read “Rene, Jim, spirit Jerry and Wyatt Ray”. If so-very cool.

      I’d love to give you my phone number and addy-how can I do it Privately? I think I noticed you gave me yours in an email.

      It is LATE! Sweet dreams to you all and hope you enjoy some of my videos! I want to make people smile and offer advice if they want. I wish I could help alot more people-only a few peeps know who I am. I have a good spirit and soul, I have been told 🙂

      Nite!

      April Bouchard

  27. I just watched Jerry’s story on PBS. Thanks for sharing your loving story. I always wondered what people meant when they say your pet would tell you when it is time; you have given me a better idea. My Beauchamp is sick and I pray that I can be as courageous as you. Jerry was wonderful — you are truly blessed. I hope you guys are doing well.

    • AprilinColorado May 24, 2010 at 12:14 am

      David, Beauchamp will be in my thoughts and prayers. I feel I should share how my Nikki “told” me. Within her final 12 hours, whenever she slowly jumped off the bed (I have pet stairs), she let out 3 low moans, each time. With in 2 seconds I was face to face on the carpet with her and her LOOK broke my heart. I tried so hard to comfort her, not scream. Her little heart was giving out after fighting acute kidney failure for 4 months. We kept her body functioning and hydrated with nightly IV fluids-after one week of doing that, we should of let her go. A hard lesson learned.

      • I know that look April, definitely. Please don’t beat yourself up, you did the best you could, it’s a human thing. I’m so sorry. {{{{hugs}}}}}

      • AprilinColorado May 25, 2010 at 2:16 am

        There is more to the story 🙂 of Nikki: after being on the floor, she came back up on the bed..Purring and looking adoringly at me! Yes! She then proceded to walk up to me and get on my tummy and did biscuits (kneading up and down with her paws) as HER purr got louder and she gave me kisses! for about 2-3 hours, she stayed “comforting me” as I comforted her. We had a beautiful chat and goodbye and I swear, she reassured me she just wanted out of her ravaged body…it was time. God-It was so sweet but she was my soul mate. I am so glad I had the vet come over for the “shot of peace”. I was NOT prepared for her heart to stop, in my arms with just the sedative but her heart was that weak and she suddenly jerked in my arms. I held her so close and attempted to close her eyes over and over. We shared a wonderful 11.5 years together. her nicname was my “Bobcat” 🙂

    • David, we are so sorry about Beauchamp, our prayers are going out to you both. It’s so hard to know “when” but there is definitely a look that our pups have. We may have trouble seeing it at first, but quiet your heart and listen, you’ll feel the look before you actually see it, kinda how April described. There are free support group resources you can talk to out there that can help, such as the Colorado State Argus Institute, we highly recommend calling them. And also, you can always feel free to join our discussion forums. They are open to anyone and we have a great community of like-minded animal lovers there who always have great advice.

      Thank you for taking the time to watch Jerry’s story and write to us. Our hearts go out to you and your special fur kid.

  28. Sandy Anderson May 23, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    When I finished the PBS show tonight, I was left wondering, “What about Jerry?” So I googled and found his blog. Even though I knew I’d go through the tissues, I had to read his goodbye. What an amazing story… not only how you gave him so much, but how he gave you so much and changed your lives. Truly inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

    I can relate. My husband and I nursed our sick black lab who was diagnosed with a heart condition at almost 10 years old. He actually lived a great life for over a year after being diagnosed, but his final months were very similar to Jerry’s. It’s been almost a year and I still think about him all the time and wish I could see him again. We still haven’t been able to get another dog yet, but when we do, I hope it’s as special as our Boss was, and your Jerry was.

    • Sandy, you are so sweet for looking up Jerry’s story, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for watching and taking the time to write.

      We’re so sorry about Boss, it must have been a very difficult time. From our own hospice experience, we know that terminal illness is a roller coaster. As someone said recently in our Guestbook, it’s only because we love our animals so much that it hurts so much to say good bye. You gave your pup all you had, and then some.

      Eventually, you will find your future family member. There is a lucky dog out there just waiting to find you, and you’ll share so many new adventures. Hang in there, Boss is still trying to find that pup for you.

      {{{{hugs}}}}

  29. I just watched Jerry’s story on PBS he had a wonderful life on the road, visiting new sites. I work with a woman who has a 3 legged dog and he does everything a 4 legged dog can do. Animals adapt and have a strong will to live til its the end…I am sorry for your loss but what an inspiration Jerry will be to many people having dogs going thru health issues. My furbabies have always been part of my family and a very important part.

    • Janice, thank you for taking the time to write, and for watching the show too. We are touched beyond belief. We’d love to hear about your co-worker’s Tripawd, do send her to our Discussion Forums and ask her to share her own Tripawd’s story!

      Meanwhile, what lucky furbabies you have! Perhaps some day all dogs and cats will find a pawrent as good as you.

  30. Emma Bloebaum May 23, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    I have just finished reading this part of the story after watching Nature this evening on PBS. I wanted to hear the end of Jerry’s story. You gave him a wonderful life, the best life any dog could ask for.

    My husband and I have been caring for abandoned and shelter dogs for almost 15 years and I have been with many of them at the end. Many of them were older when we adopted or saved them and so they did not spend their whole life with us . I still remember my beloved Tammy, a cowdog we adoped in 1998 from a shelter. She looked so sad there, but blossomed and lived joyously for about 4 years until her hips just gave out. I remember knowing when it was time because she looked at me with her huge, liquid dark eyes and I just knew. We went to the vet’s office and she was trembling, but she passed easily. 2 nights later, I dreamed of her and she was running and playing, restored to health. I cried out: Oh Tammy, you are all right. She ran to me and then I woke relieved, but sad too. Though, it has been about 8 years, I still tear up when I think of her. But there are other wonderful dogs we care for and each is different and sometimes exasperating too.

    Thank you for the wonderful story. I just had to share about my stubborn, smart and streetwise Tammy who stole my heart.

    • Emma, bless you for being there for your adopted friends. What a beautiful thing to be there during the last years of a dog’s life. To adopt a dog during that life stage says so many great things about your character, we are honored that you watched the show and wrote to share your story with us, thanks so much.

      We too get teary when we reminisce about Jerry. It’s such a bittersweet experience isn’t it? But as soon as we get down when we are thinking about losing him, we remind ourselves that being sad is not something he would have approved of. Jerry’s nature, like all dogs, was to live life in the moment, and we continue to honor his spirit by doing so.

      Your Tammy sounds like a sweet, forever dog. What a beautiful life you enjoyed together, if only for a short time. I love the dream you had.

      Thanks for being there for her and all of your future kids!

  31. Jerry & Renee:
    I just saw your & Jerry’s story today on PBS’ Nature. After reading your blog detailing Jerry’s last days I thought how wonderful that you made sure your voices were the last thing Jerry heard. When it was time to say good-bye to Winston( a Cairn terrier) I made sure the last thing he heard was me saying that he was the best little dog ever!! How sad that we have these wonderful beings in our lives for too short of a time- you made Jerry’s last days something he can brag about to other pets on the other side of the “rainbow bridge”. I sure he has seen my dogs Winston & Toto (an Australian terrier) there and they’re comparing stories of how their pawparents spoiled them! One thing that’s not for debate- they were greatly loved and they are greatly missed!!

    • Here! Here! Sharon, we’ll toast to that. Our pups will forever remain in our lives as spirit dogs, making sure we walk the talk and live life to the fullest as they taught us to. Yeah, he, Toto and Jerry could certainly tell some “pampered pooch” tales, couldn’t they?!

      Your Winston sure was a lucky boy to have you for a Mom. Thanks so much for sharing and taking the time to write.

  32. i just saw your story on pbs and read the last chapters of it here. i lost buju, my 12 year old labrador about 3 months ago to cancer. he was happy and seemingly healthy until the end. it all came so quickly i feel like i still don’t believe it.

    it’s been especially difficult how alone i feel. my sadness over his loss has been so isolating because i don’t know anyone who can truly understand. reading jerry’s story has provided me a respite from my feelings of isolation, so i thank you for sharing it.

    i plan to read other stories on this site with hope of continuing the process of healing. again, thank you.

    • Cristie, we’re so sorry to hear about Buju. It’s hard to imagine the grief that occurs when terminal illness comes on so quickly.

      we understand completely how you feel. Losing Jerry was harder than anything we’ve experienced and it took us a long time to smile more than cry when we thought of him.

      Please know that there are lots of pawrents like there who can relate. Even here at Triapwds, you can feel free to talk to others in our “Coping with Loss” Discussion Forum. All pawrents are welcome and we have a great community with tons of great advice. Hope to see you there. We also recommend calling the Colorado State Argus Institute, a free grief support hotline.

      Thanks so much for watching and taking the time to write. We hope you find peace and comfort in the months ahead.

  33. I just saw Jerry’s story on “Nature,” on PBS, and hesitated to read about his passing because I knew it would bring back the pain of losing my Roscoe, last December, to thyroid cancer.

    I did have to write you to say, ‘Thanks,’ though — especially for the entries about Jerry’s last days. I don’t know if you realize how invaluable the details about these days can be to people going through the same thing. Had I read this before Roscoe left us, I think it would’ve been easier to let him go.

    And I wanted to thank you, especially, for letting me know that I’m not the only “dog mom” to have had moments of panic, in the last days of my sweet dog. I live every day with regret that I wasn’t able to always remain calm and soothing, for him. He, like Jerry, suffered through a “face plant” on the ground while struggling with some fever-induced confusion, and it freaked me out, and I yelled and cried in front of him (not AT him, but bad enough). It really helps to know that it’s not easy to avoid those moments.

    Jerry was a lovely dog. I think he and Roscoe would’ve liked each other.

    Thanks again,
    Martha

    • Martha, we understand completely. As much as Jerry’s spirit brings comfort to us now, we still cry when we recall our last days together. There is no easy way around that time.

      We want to thank you for watching, writing and sharing Roscoe’s story. In so many ways you too are helping others by posting your experience there. One of the reasons we wrote these posts were because a friend of ours shared the painful regret she had about not letting go of her soul dog soon enough. Her story, told to us during Jerry’s last few months, helped us in so many ways. Although there were many, many months when we questioned our decision to help him transition over, we had to remind ourselves that nothing we could do would make his life the way he wanted it. And yes, that incident when he fell played itself over and over again in our heads. One thing that helped us cope with the guilt was to replace that scene in our hearts and minds, with better ones of him having fun and enjoying life.

      I hope that he and Roscoe are out having a good time and running around somewhere beautiful. I believe there is a reason why people connect with one another and perhaps Roscoe and Jerry planned your watching the show and finding us, all along. Take care and be well, and thanks again.

  34. I’ve been crying bucketloads of tears while reading your story. Thank you both for giving us all the opportunity to meet Jerry in spirit. I’m sure he is watching over you both with love and that you will meet again one day. I have a special boy – Bennie. He’s a 15.5 yr old Lhasa Apso. Bennie has started developing kidney problems and having some trouble walking. I’m just thankful for whatever time we have left together.

    Gentle Hugs, Dianna

    • Thank you for the sweet comment Dianna! Best wishes to you and Bennie, you are very fortunate to have enjoyed such a long happy life together.

  35. Carmen (Catie's Mom) March 18, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I finally managed to finish your good-bye tribute to Jerry. It was a struggle to read through my tears.

    I am humbled by your devotion to Jerry and that you so generously continue to share his spirit.

    Thank you.

    • Thanks Carmen. It still brings tears to our eyes to think about. We miss him tremendously. Thanks to all of the good pawrents like you here at Tripawds, we feel a great sense of comfort knowing how much he has helped people.

  36. I have cried for three hours after reading your story. I love your dog and didn’t even know him. I love you for the way you took care of him. God Bless you both and God Bless Jerry.

    • That is very touching Carol. It still brings bittersweet tears of joy to our eyes thinking that Jerry has touched so many people in so many ways. Thank you!

  37. Kris B. And all who post here:

    My soul is moved to extremes when I read the story of Jerry. Never have I read such a moving story, written with so much love and understanding.

    We are so touched by our pets. There is a bond that transcends even those between family and friends. They are special loves in our lives that represent the purity of loyalty and love.

    My prayers go out to all of you, asking for strength to bear your sorrow, and mercy for your pets that they may not suffer. You are indeed special people.

  38. I was so touched by your story. I have a special boy… Jeep. He’s a Newfoundland Lab mix – nine years old this summer. A big black bundle of love. He was diagnosed in July 2009 with male mammary cancer. My heart broke. We removed the tumor from his tummy (he now pees at a 45 degree angle) and another bone from his foot that had the cancer in it. Now we wait. He is pain free at the moment and so happy but I know I will lose him soon. I also decided not to do any heroic measures. The type of cancer he has is not treatable and is very aggressive so any thing I do is just to prolong his life at the expense of his comfort. I’m ok with doing some things if it will make him feel better but not if it is just to lengthen the days. I have had dogs all my life and I’ve seen them all to the end. It just never gets better but I still will not give up the special relationships I have had with them to avoid that pain. They truly are angels with fur. I admire your devotion and the way that you chose to honor Jerry. Bless you…. and please say a little prayer for Jeep.

    • Thanks for the touching comment, you have our most sincere wishes for lots of quality time with Jeep. Just try not to focus too hard on anything “soon” which may be a long way off. Now is all that matters to Jeep, follow his lead and enjoy your life together!

    • Kris… My heart goes out to you and Jeep… Just love and spoil him until the very end… You are in my thoughts and prayers…

      Angel Jake’s Mom

  39. Thank you both so much for choosing to share Jerry’s story with us. It was very kind of you to let us see a bit of your journey together through Nature. My heart goes out to you and I hope knowing how well you loved this sweet boy and the very sweet memories of your full life together will bring you peace and comfort. What a special gift the three of you have discovered – how to truly love, how to be a family and live for one another. Altering your life to give Jerry (and you) a happy, fulfilling and truly lived life and adventure was a brave and right choice and one that serves as an example and inspiration to others. Thank you and warmest wishes and blessings to you both.

    • And thank you for the touching comment. Jerry’s spirit will always continue to comfort us. And now ten months later we have welcomed a new Tripawds spokespup to the pack!

      • what a beauty! I”M so happy for ya’ll and for your new pal. HOw exciting! I read your story a long time ago (i had two shepherds at one time, but they both crossed the rainbow bridge years ago (about a year apart). I waited also about 10 months, and then rescued a “labradoodle”. She’s my shepherd in disguise (i still love the shepherds so much…i’ll get another one of these days probably). Bengi (My labradoodle) is precious. 6 years old and gets along with my two rescue cats. I HAVE to have animals around me. Felt empty after my dogs passed on….

        Best to you. Thanks for keeping us up on your wonderful inspiring stories….

        Blessings to you….

        Lisa

      • Congratulations! That’s wonderful. If anyone is having a bad day or starting to question all the goodness and humanity in the world, they should just read your blog to feel their heart and spirit expand and bathe in light and love. You guys are awesome! Welcome to your new family member and Tripawds spokespur 🙂

  40. I just watched the show for the second time and then came and read the comments; Jerry and his people have affected so many of us.

    My adored Rug now is almost 12 years old; I found him in a shelter when he was about 8 weeks old- a dear little soft black puppy whose tail wagged when I touched him. He grew quickly to a fluffy 55 pounds. Neighborhood children including toddlers are all safe with him; I’m safe with him. We’ve camped and traveled 20,000 plus miles together but he’s also stayed by me while I was sick in bed for a week at home. Don’t know how he managed but he only got up when I did which wasn’t often. I sat with him while he was in the hospital with an obstruction.

    He smiles with me when I’m happy and stays quietly by me when I’m sad. He loved obedience classes and loves the little adult female dog I took in from the street; loves going anywhere as long as it is with me. We like being together.

    I’m hoping, hoping, that your experiences with Jerry will prepare me for Rug’s life’s ending. He means so much to me; I need all the help and preparation I can get. Thank you for your courage in sharing Jerry’s life with all of us – to face the diagnosis and go on as you did was hard enough but to write the experiences of the last week must have been excruciating.

    • Pat, your beautiful note brought tears to our eyes. You are so kind for watching the show and sharing your story with us, thank you so very much.

      What a life you and Rug have shared! How fortunate that you’ve had 12 years together, we hope there are many more.

      It’s so hard to think about saying goodbye, but remember, that fear is a human thing. It’s never easy watching our friends grow old, but caring for them throughout their senior years is such an honor. Take it one day at a time, never take life for granted and always remember that with each new day, our dogs are always teaching us new lessons even as age takes its toll.

      All of those memories and comforting times you both shared will forever stay in your heart, and Rug will always be proud knowing how much he taught you about life. Hang onto those lessons and never let go.

      Many hugs,
      Rene, Jim, & Spirit Jerry

    • Ditto. Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment Pat.

      I bet if you ask Rug, he’d say the best possible way you can prepare for any inevitable ending, is to just forget about it until then and enjoy every moment together with him, in the now.

  41. I love, love, love all of the stories, comments, pictures, overall site and the show I found on PBS (where I first found Jerry). I am and have been an animal lover starting from the youngest age. I lost my…forever dog in 2006 after spending the majority of my life…up to right after my 18th birthday loving my little man. (From age 6 apx) I cannot count the tears I’ve cried reading through various pages…And Jerry remains an inspiration!!!! When I heard about the travels my heart just melted because I appreciated that you guys together made his experience wonderful throughout even the hardest times. I just loved hearing your sincere love and dedication to your companion!!!! I know right before my dog was diagnosed with having Jaundice….We went for a very long walk and even so he didn’t want to go home…and I just kept going because he just wanted to keep walking… little did I know it would be the last….:'(
    I admire your story, and I just wanted you to know that you have warmed my heart. 🙂

  42. i saw the program and was so impresssed with the courage jerry had shown. i also understand your efforts to allow jerry to experience whatever possible in life and in his fading life.
    i too, had two ‘grils, biscuit(welsh corgi + chow= chorgi and piddy(akita + pit bull= pitika) who trailed along w/me for 12 & 13 yrs respectively until jan of this yr when piddy finally left this plane of existence. i am now ‘single’again and came to realize how my dogs & i had become coupled in spirit.
    i see that in your relationship w/jerry with some kinds of love in this world so strong and perfect that we are blessed to say we had it.

  43. As the owner of a 12 yr old golden retriever that has been showing her age, my thoughts and prayers to you for sharing your love for of your special family member… I watched the show Valentines night while visiting Cape Cod and it brought me to tears. So happy that Jerry made it to the Atlantic and his paws got a taste of our ocean. May you find comfort in your lives and hopefully the ability to love another “gem of the Spca” again

  44. First of all thank you for sharing your story. Scott and I are going through something similar with our dog Stump. We got Stump (a Jack Russel Terrier) 17 years ago when he was 16 weeks old. He is our first dog. We live in Western Massachusetts, near the Connecticut River, we took him to the river shortly after we got him – first thing he did was jump in the river and start swimming for the other side!! Since then, we have not been able to stop him from swimming. Lakes, ponds, the River, the Atlantic Ocean, you name it, he loves to swim in it. We take him everywhere with us – he even goes to work with me every day – yes I’m very lucky to work at a place that allows me to bring in my dog. In October of 2006 he was diagnosed with Hemangiopericytoma – which can be removed, but then will grow back a little more agressively – by the time he was diagnosed, Stump was already 14, and had never been under anesthesia – we were not sure how well he would take it, but decided that the tumor had gotten so large, that we had to do something. We had the tumor removed, everything turned out fine. We had originally tried chemotherapy, but Stump had a bad reaction to the meds – he had 3 grand mal seizures, so we stopped the chemo. Then, in December of ’07, he was diagnosed with Glaucoma and we were told that his eye had to be removed because it was causing him so much pain. So just 3 days before Christmas, his eye was removed. We could tell right away that he felt so much better – it was a good decision all around. Now, here we are 2 years and 5 months after the original tumor was removed with another tumor growing rapidly. Stump still does all the things we used to do, just a might bit slower. Removing this second tumor, from what the vet has told us, might not be an option this time around – they tend to grow more invasive, and he is 17 years old after all. The tumor is located in his chest cavity, and we have noticed that his breathing has become a little more strained in the last 3 weeks. Knowing that the day will come when we have to say goodbye is really really hard. Knowing that he has had a fantastic life and many many adventures with us, and that we have given him the best that we can doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye. Thanks again for sharing your story.

    • Wow, 17 years! You are so fortunate to have had so much time with Stump, and he is very fortunate for having you. Bless you for taking such good care of him. When Jerry’s breathing worsened in his final weeks, Prednisone helped extend his quality of life. Best wishes for much more quality time with you and Stump. Thanks for sharing.

  45. We watched your story on PBS and just finished reading about Jerry going to the Rainbow Bridge.
    We have lost several pets and have stayed with each one while the vet helped them find their way-it does not get any easier…but it is the least we can do after all they have given us through the years. I’m glad you found the strength to be with Jerry. You were all fortunate to have each other and be such a great family.
    We are so sorry about Jerry. While he will never be replaced-that spot in your hearts will always belong to him-maybe one day you can grow another area of love next to Jerry’s spot to share with another lucky dog.

    • Thanks Becky, it is indeed our responsibility to help our companions pass peacefully when their time comes … as incredibly hard as it is. Bless you for taking the time to find out more about Jerry and comment.

      • I had to find out the end about your wonderful dog, Jerry. In the last four years my dad and baby sister died and I’m caring for my mom who is 93, on hospice and failing rapidly. My dog, Teddie, is all the family I have left. I took him for his vaccinations six weeks ago and later that night the lymph nodes in his neck swelled like baseballs. He also started losing rate at an alarming rate. I took him to the local vet and he said he thought he had cancer — and tests revealed he did, lymphoma, which if left untreated meant he would be dead in two to four WEEKS! The vet recommended a cancer specialist. In the specialist’s waiting room I met other worried owners like myself, some with survivors who told tales of hope. The vet said chemo would buy my Teddie from six months to two years. For a 12 year old dog, the odds were good enough for me. He has had zero trouble with the chemo and his blood work has been excellent. I know chemo puts the cancer in remission (lymphoma is incurable) but I just pray he will be with me longer so I will not be all alone before I can handle it. One thing Teddie does now which shows he knows we are a circle of strength for each other is make sure he reaches out a paw and touches me while I touch mom. Nothing fazes his love for either of us and nothing scares him either not even her noisy oxygen machine and air bed, nothing. I don’t know what I’ll do without mom, but I thank God my soulmate, Teddie, will be at my side, at least a little longer to see me through and accompany me on the walks we take each morning to watch the sun rise on another day.

      • Thank you for taking the time to find out more about Jerry’s story, and thank you for sharing yours. You are a strong soul for enduring what you’ve been through, and are blessed for having Teddie by your side to help.

  46. I’m so moved by your story and so sorry for your loss. Jerry seemed like such a great soul and you both were such amazing people to take him on that wonderful cross-country journey together.

    I had to make the painful decision to put my 10 year old siberian husky down in January. It is the most heart wrenching decision one has to make and the only hope we can have is that we will meet them again when it’s our time.

    I wish you both peace in the coming years as you try to go on without Jerry. It will be difficult i’m sure, but Jerry is in the afterlife thinking what an amazing ride he had because of you, and will be waiting for the day when you reunite.

    Erin (Boston, MA)

    • Thank you for the kind comments Erin. Hearing from animal lovers such as yourself who have been touched by Jerry’s story makes missing him just a little bit easier. Thanks.

  47. Recorded show last week. Finally sat down & watched today. What a sweet soul Jerry was & what fabulous pawrents he had. I went right away to your website & read more of your story. My heart hurts for your loss. I lost my Tara Bug to lymphoma 8 years ago (she was 11)& I miss her still today. I also thought of chemo, etc but so little was known about it then that I chose quality instead of quanity.
    One of the worst days of my life was the day I had to say goodbye to her. Absolutely killed my soul. We spent the day before sharing an icecream cone & just snuggling together. I have 4 dogs & two cats now but the bond between Tara & I will alwyas be that really special one I will never forget as I am sure Jerry will be for you.
    God Speed sweet Jerry, God Speed & Thanks to your pawrents for sharing your story with us.

    • Donna, you are so kind, thank you. We’ve always heard that there is a “forever dog” in every dog person’s life, that dog who simply stands out above all others they will ever come to know and love. Tara Bug was yours, and Jerry was ours. While these stellar fur kids can never be replaced, it’s comforting to know that there is hope that one day we’ll be able open our hearts and home to more dogs. Thanks for sharing your story with us. Many hugs. -Rene, Jim & Spirit Dog Jerry

  48. Thank you both for sharing one of the most difficult times you will ever experience. Especially thank you to Jerry for sharing his life with two very extraordinary people. I have shared your deep sadness and your happiness with my beauties too. Our pets are so Special. I am sure, without a doubt, that Jerry will forever be your angel/guardian on the other side. I have one soul in particular that keeps returning in various ways to check on me. I know some people will think I’m loony but I don’t care.
    I’d like to help put a smile on your faces… are you familiar with Nora the piano playing cat? Just go to You tube and tyoe in Nora. Her catrent is a piano teacher who plays duets with Nora. It’s delightful!

  49. On a rainy Sunday afternoon I chanced upon the “Why we love cats and dogs” PBS Nature program. Honestly, I didn’t need anyone to tell me why these two separate (yet equal 🙂 ) species mean soooooo much to us, but decided to sit in anyway.

    The story of Jerry was another thing entirely. I applaud your decision to travel with Jerry. Anyone who thinks you were nuts simply doesn’t get it. I empathized with both your joy and grief, and could not watch the closing portions of the show without tears in my eyes. The blog was a poignant tribute that took me a while to get through with the tears rolling down my face.

    Jerry’s story is actually one that is full of joy. Seeing him live a full life when initially given such short odds is remarkable and moving. Thank you for sharing a story that is vibrant, full of life, lessons, and above all, love.

    Michael

    • It feels so good to hear from so many animal lovers out there who see the incredible joy at the heart of our story, and indeed Jerry’s life. Thanks for tuning in and taking the time to comment.

  50. What a wonderful and moving story you shared. I’m sitting here, 3 dogs sleeping in the other room ( and husband too come to that!!) tears dripping off my face onto the cat purring on my lap. What devoted and generous, loving “pawents” you are. I will be holding my loved ones a little closer tonight and thanking Jerry for reminding us all to live in the Now Now Now.

  51. I just caught the very end of the show on PBS. I am so sorry that you lost your friend, but I am also happy that you had the chance to experience giving love to and getting love from a great dog. I have 2 dogs…one who is about 12 (was a stray so we don’t actually know how old he is) and who has started slowing down over the past year or so. The shorter walks, the increased panting, both unwelcome reminders that our sweet boy will not be with us forever. Through my tears, I read your story and know that it will help us decide when the time comes to show the purest form of love by letting our dear friend Curly go when he tells us it’s time.

    I do have a question…I didn’t see the whole show, so I don’t know how you knew initially that Jerry was sick and needed the amputation. Was it through a routine examination? Or was he displaying some type of signs? Our Curly has recently been having this hacking cough, sometimes just as he’s walking, but most often if he’s laying down and almost rolls over on his back. Our vet told us that this cough is something some dogs do as they get older. Curly is in every other way in good health and still has many, many more days to spend with us, but it’s still hard not to think about the inevitable days waiting for us in the future.

    I believe that dogs are one of God’s greatest gifts. Thank you so much for sharing your dog story. Bless you and I hope that, when it’s time, you’ll experience a dog’s love again.

  52. Compassion, courage, caring and living in the now! How wonderful that you three forged such a loving bond! I am weeping as I type, because I love animals and the joy that we can share together, if we humans can only be open to the abundant gifts
    that companion animals can bring to our lives.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  53. I am so sorry for your loss. I just saw your story on PBS and had to know what happened to Jerry. I am so glad I did. Thank you so much for sharing Jerry’s story with us all. I truly wish there were more people like you both in the world. Most of us will wish to experience the things that Jerry did, and that he was able to is great. You both are a wonderful inspiration to anyone who has pets, as is Jerry.

    Thanks again for sharing one of the most difficult thing pet parents have to go through, Jerry will never be forgotten.

    Nicole

    • Thank you for the comment and condolences Nicole. It feels so good to know that Jerry will never be forgotten – not just by us, but by so many wonderful animal lovers out there such as yourself.

  54. your story of jerry breaks my heart. I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t help but to think of my ” little man ” who i lost three years ago, henry.
    I found henry on the Henry Hudson Parkway 168th street on my way home from class. I was wearing a LL bean jacket good for 30 below zero and i was miserable from the cold. I spotted him on the entrance ramp sitting in the snow. I had to pull my car over pick him up , put him in the car. It was to be the beginning of a great 8 year journey . I too felt robbed of precious time . my henry had a osteosarcoma.
    again I am so sorry for your loss, how truly loved jerry was and is. They are glorious beings aren’t they.

    • Thanks for the comment Liz! They are glorious beings indeed. We were blessed to have Jerry, and honored that his story has touched so many good people out there like you. Thanks for sharing Henry’s story with us.

  55. Your touching story about Jerry really brought back some memories of my beloved German Shepherd, Sadie, who passed at 13 years old from kidney failure. Boy how they will hang on because they take their responsibilities of caring for their families so seriously. This was in 2004 for us.

    We have since adopted two “senior” dogs. One is a black Lab/Border Collie mix that spent 7 months languishing in a shelter at the age of 5. His name is Jake and he is so well behaved and loyal that I cannot imagine someone ever giving him up. We “adopted” a 2nd dog in October of 2008 when a woman noticed a yellow Lab sitting along the desolate dirt road to her house all day long in the rain. The dog remained at dusk so she brought her home. All attempts to find her owners were fruitless. She had no microchip. Nobody claimed her despite numerous ads placed. The woman couldn’t keep her because she had a dog and an exotic cat with a bad temper.

    I took her in – she was said to be around 8-10 years. She has a fatty cyst on her underbelly that the vet says is fine as long as it doesn’t bother her. She did seem arthritic at first, and very depressed. We put her on a senior dog food, supplemented with glucosamine and hydrocondroitin and took her to our human chiropractor. She was very afraid. After her adjustment and being in our “child-rich” family, she learned that she was worthy of love and in came out in her new-found health and renewed spirit.

    Roxy is off glucosamine/hydrocondroitin now. She doesn’t need it at all and runs and jumps like a pup. She absolutely LOVES our kids and is the equivalent of a saint when it comes to our 2 year old who likes to hang out with her on the dog bed and read stories.

    In these two old dogs, I see bits and pieces of my old Sadie. Not like her reincarnated or anything, but just little snippets of memories I shared with her. Little idiosynchrasies that make me smile.

    I hope that one day you will meet a dog whose eyes you can see Jerry’s spirit in. The dog won’t look like Jerry but you’ll see a tiny piece of him there that will tell you you’re looking into the eyes of an old kindred spirit.

    I wish you all the peace in the world and I thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

    Best wishes,

    Stephanie Dodson
    Portland, OR

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment and share the love you have with your pups Stephanie. We see the spirit of Jerry in so many things these days that we’re certain the time for another pup will come … someday. Some place.

  56. I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope that the story on Nature isn’t dredging up bad memories for you both. What a great companion Jerry was. I’m sure your hearts are broken and I hope that you can find comfort in the great memories that you have of Jerry.

    I’ve had to say goodbye to several pets during my life time. I feel honored that I was allowed to love them and be loved by them.

    • Bad memories? None! Jerry would have none of that. And thanks to wonderful comments from caring folks such as yourself, the only thing getting dredged up is lots of love. Thanks for the comment!

  57. Thank you for sharing your story. You gave Jerry such a beautiful life – I aspire to give Tu a life as wonderful as the one you gave to Jerry and for all the same reasons – For all the joy Tu brings into my life, moment by moment, for all I have learned from him.

    It isn’t easy putting into words the gift of a pet … is it?

    • Thanks Dani, and you are so right … there is no way to express the amazing gift each animal shares with his or her forever people. May you and Tu continue to enjoy life to the fullest, every day, no matter what. Peace.

  58. I just wanted to tell you how very much your story touched my wife and I. We lost our beloved cat Thea three years ago. In a home accident she broke her tail, which is part of a cat’s spine. We had one final night with her before we found out what the diagnosis was, and that she would never be able to go to the bathroom on her own again. How we would have loved more time with our girl. I think it is just beautiful that the two of you know how very blessed you were to have had those last months with Jerry. It is wonderful to see other pet parents so in love with their babies. Blessings, Tracey Love

    • Tracey, thank you so much, we are honored to be able to share Jerry’s story with good people like you.

      We are so sorry about Thea. We had no idea that a cat’s tail is so important. Wow. We are so, so sorry. Try to remember though, that it’s not the amount of time that a cat or dog is on this earth, but it’s about the quality of life and lessons that animal teaches us during that timeframe that really matters. I’m sure your kity taught you so much.

      Many hugs to you.

  59. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I watched the Nature program and could not stop thinking about Jerry. I had to go on the website to read more about him and your lives. Jerry was a beautiful creature with an amazing soul. We who love and are loved by these loyal animals are so blessed. While it is incredibly difficult to make the tough medical decisions, you did the right thing by helping Jerry pass on to his next chapter. He was not affraid, he was not sad. We have so much to learn from these guys.

    Although I have always had cat companions, I came to dogs late in life. We got our first dog 7 years ago, and then adopted his little sister 5 tears ago. Our lives have never been the same. My only regret, is that I waited so long to enjoy the grace and beauty of canine companionship.

    I cannot imagine my life without them. Thank you so much for sharing your sad, beautiful, happy and touching story. I fell in love with Jerry. I know he is happy and well in the only heaven worth going to…Doggy Heaven.

    I will hug my two loud and crazy schnauzers a little closer tonight.

    It will be a wonderful legacy to Jerry’s memory when you open your home and hearts to another wonderful furry soul.

    May God bless you and keep Jerry in His eternal loving embrace.

    Leonor

    • Best wishes to you and your pups Leonor. We were indeed blessed to have Jerry in our lives. And though he is now gone, the blessings continue from kind souls like you because of him. Thanks for the love.

  60. I had missed the PBS show when it aired Sunday, so I watched it online at work. Boy, I should have waited until I got home because Jerry’s story was so touching! I sat here trying to fight back tears. It was so hard to watch and not be able to let my emotions go. After the video, I went on to read your interview and his story. I had to switch screens every so often because tears would just flow from my eyes. I kept telling myself to read later when I’m home, but I was really drawn to Jerry’s story and I wanted to know more about him. Thank you for sharing Jerry’s story. I know it took a lot of strength to share such a story. My deepest condolences for your loss.

    I have three dogs myself and I can’t imagine my life without them. They are #1 in my life. There are no limits to what I would do for them. Though my dogs are very young still, I can’t help but think of the day when they will have to leave me.

    • Bless you for taking the time to find out Jerry’s whole story Christine. Glad you didn’t get in trouble at work! 😉 Jerry gave us the strength to enjoy every day to its fullest. Sharing that simple yet profound outlook on life has become our mission since he’s gone. Thank you for letting us know its working. Tell a friend.

  61. What an incredible and touching story. I, too ran to mycomputer to read more about Jerry and his pawrents.

    What wonderful pawrents and what a wonderful fur child. The three of you are so lucky to have had each other. I am so touched by your thoughtfulness of Jerry’s happiness, well being, and dignity.

    I hope to do the same for my two purrballs, E.G and Clover when their time comes, and they are 13-1/2 years old.

    My condolences for your loss and thank you for sharing this your wonderful story.

    Warm regards,
    Joan

  62. Well, like everyone else I just watched the story of Jerry, read the blog and am crying. In 1998 I was taking care of my 38 year old son Daniel who had Multiple Sclerosis and the prognosis was not good. I was very sad and decided that I needed a “buddy” to get me through the days. I went to the library and after researching breeds of dogs decided that a Bichon Frise was perfect for me and got Louis when he was just 11 weeks old from a woman named Faith. Louis brought much joy and a lot of laughter to my son as he got sicker and to myself as I got sadder. Dan died in late 2003 and I am sure that without Louis I would not be here today, aged 75. Louis has stuck by me through all the crying, anger and emotional turmoil. When I cry he hurries over to me, jumps up on the couch and pushes his body into mine. Or he might jump up on my lap and put his head on my heart. We are both getting older but still whenever I arrive home and call out,”Where’s my Sweetie-Pie?”, he runs out, tail wagging, smile on his face and love in his eyes. At least once a day he lies on his back and laughs with complete happiness. Dogs are the soul and spirit of our life and no one ever loves you like your dog. Now Louis and I both are approaching the end of our journey here, each of us helping the other, and I know that Dan is waiting for us. Thanks for sharing your beautiful Jerry with us.

    • Thanks for commenting Catherine, so sorry to hear about your son. Jerry was a therapy dog who enjoyed spreading smiles in the convalescent home – especially for my mother, who also died after battling MS. Best wishes for you and Louis.

      • Thank you very much. Very sorry to hear about your Mom. MS is a very difficult disease. Dan had a service dog, a Black Lab named Alanis who helped him while he was wheelchair bound. When he became too ill to manage her she went to live with a woman who also suffered with MS. Dan got Alanis from the Pet Partnership Project at the Purdy, WA Prison for Women. They get dogs from the Humane Society and prisoners train them for the disabled. Alanis served Dan very well and gave him the courage to brave the world in his wheelchair. When I went to California to scatter Dan’s ashes I boarded Louis at the Prison where he was cared for by the woman who had trained Alanis for Dan. Synchronicity!! Best Wishes to you.

  63. I have never, ever, had a tv show touch me to the point to where I ran to my computer to see how the story ended…..like I didn’t already know.
    I’m usually not even home at this hour to watch tv but my beloved cattle dog mix Ekhi, age 14, is in her final chapter and so we are spending as much quality time as possible. On Feb 4 her lab tests showed acute kidney failure, liver disfunction, anemia, and a whole lot of other bad news. My brain stopped comprehending the details after the first few sentences and $1300. The vet wanted to do a slew of more tests, and thinks she has lymphoma. Instead, I took her home with antibiotics, pain pills, and subcutaneous fluids (like an IV, but you don’t need to find a vein.) I told her she is now officially at the princess level which mostly means no more boring dry dog food. She started eating again, motivated by the chicken, rice, and baby food diet. Yesterday she didn’t want to go anywhere, but today she went for a car ride and walk. She is calling the shots. It is really hard to know what to do next. Tomorrow will be two weeks, longer than the “it’s imminent” I was first told, but how much longer?
    You both are so brave to share your story and I am convinced it will help other human partners understand their options when faced with a terminal diagnosis. Five years ago I lost my greyhound to bone cancer and this web site would have been of tremendous support. Both my dogs, like Jerry, loved a good road trip and have been all over the western states. We’ve probably stayed at many of the same campsites and hiked some of the same trails.
    My deepest sympathy on your loss.
    Sincerely,
    Cindy
    San Diego

    • Thank you Cindy, it makes missing Jerry a bit easier knowing how he has touched so many people, so deeply. Bless you for taking such good care of Ekhi and best wishes.

  64. I thought that this was very sad to read,but it also left me with a hopeful feeling that Jerry is now happy to be having fun on all fours again. I really hope that he is enjoying his time elsewhere until you meet up with him again. I wish I could meet him too…he sounds like a joy to be around.

    • Oh Aaron, yes, be hopeful and happy, it’s what Jerry always wanted for everyone. Whenever we would get sad or something like that, his ears would go back and he would look miserable until we stopped dwelling on it. Life is all about living in the moment, so that’s what we try to do. We wish you could’ve met him too. Thanks so much for the beautiful letter.

  65. I saw your story on PBS and had to go on the website to see when and where Jerry left you behind. I knew I would cry, so I’m sitting here at my work desk hoping no one sees so I don’t have to explain. I have said goodbye to some wonderful furry friends in my 58 years. Thanks for sharing your story. What a gift Jerry was to you and what a gift you shared in your travels over his last days here. I had never heard of people making such a life altering/blessing decision, but understood it immediately. Your journey with him, I believe, will serve you in ways only time will serve to display. I know the pain will move to blessing for you and all you meet in the future days. God continue to bless you in all ways. I know another four (three?) legged, fur-bearing friend is in your future. Love isn’t lost or divided when we lose someone, it is multiplied over and over. Thanks again.

    • Jerry gave us quite a gift of life indeed. The gifts continue to come in the way of comments from kind souls like you, all because of our sweet little fur kid. Thanks for taking the time to come find out more and comment.

  66. Margo aka Shaggy February 17, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Wow, I’m still crying. I have had many, many dogs in my 68 years and my last will probably be my Collie, Mardi, that I adopted after my 46yr. marriage ended in divorce. I always had my ex to help through the bad times when we knew our buddies had come to the end of their days, but now I’ll have to face that alone. I hope my lovely Mardi has many years left with me, but I hope I can face anything that comes our way after reading Jerry’s incredible story. I am fortunate enough to work part time at a vet clinic and have experienced all the emotions that we go through when our faithful pet has something we can’t make go away. I don’t know if you have another dog now, but our entire family of dog lovers has never let any grass grow under our feet when we’ve dealt with the death of our loyal buds, and there is a dog out there waiting for a family that has the love and devotion that you had with Jerry. Dogs bring us love, laughter and that incredible 4, or 3 as the case may be, legged outlook on life and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Just look at what dog is spelled backwards and who’s to know what plan that was for our universe when we domesticated the dog…I still haven’t seen the Marley movie but I read the book and you’ve got a real story here and I would most certainly add that publication to my library if you ever decide to do it.
    This whole story makes me happy to be a dog lover. My ex and I traveled with our dogs in our RV for many, many years. They were never boarded. If they couldn’t go, we didn’t go and pretty much still remains that way except now I have a dear, dear friend who will watch Mardi at her home if I decide to go somewhere for a longer stretch. I wish we would have met you along the way with Jerry. My fondest memory is taking the ashes of our most beloved Brittany, Brewster, to S.Dak where he hunted many long years and scattering them in one of his favorite swales and we even captured a picture and you can see the cloud spreading in the air. My ex and I split the remaining ashes when we separated and I have the lovely velvet bag with me.
    Thank you for your story and always keep those memories of Jerry even if new memories are on the horizon…Most sincerely,
    Margo Mair
    Highland IN
    Shaggy dog

    • Thank you for the heartfelt comments Margo. And for the reassurance about publishing Jerry’s story, its becoming more and more apparent that we need to get going on that! The image you shared of saying your final goodbye to Brewster is beautiful, one day we hope to do the same with Jerry’s remains – once we find that perfect little piece of paradise he was helping us look for.

  67. Your story brought tears to me – thank you for sharing your love for Jerry. My heartfelt condolences on your huge loss.

    I lost my beloved Keelee (12 1/2 year old Golden Retriever/Australian Shepherd mix) to a brain tumor on 5/22/2008. I was with her when her shining eyes were extinguished & we gave her peace. She was the love of my life – my 90 lb gentle giant.

    As someone wrote – “it is, this morning, as much a relief, as a loss…”

    Hugs to both of you…

    • Yes, it is bittersweet to see them released from their broken bodies. But it is our responsibility. We owe it to them. Jerry was our first, and he taught us so much, so it was extra tough. But knowing his story reached so many people who “get it” makes missing him a little easier. Thanks for commenting.

  68. My husband and I both enjoyed wathcing your story on Nature. I had to find out how Jerry’s story ended, even though I knew it would be difficult. I’ve been with many of my beloved pets through the years at the time of their release, and while it is difficult, it is comforting to know they are free of their pain. As the pawrents now of 2 aging dogs, Nickalas, a Great Pyrenees is 11, and Murphy, a poodle-spaniel mix is 13, we know each and every day is a gift to be cherished.
    We thank you for sharing your story and wish you well on your journey. As I’m sure you know, Jerry will be with you always
    Nick and Murphy send tail wags and wet kisses!

    • Each and every day is a gift, indeed. Jerry taught us that and we are honored to share it with so many wonderful caring people such as yourselves. Best wishes to you and your pups!

  69. Having a recent “good-bye” exprience with my 11 1 /2 yr old faithful lab mix, Jodan(June 6th 2008), I know how wrenching it is to let go. However, the very caring staff at my local vet clinic made the sad situation bearable. Jordan truly went to sleep peacefully, and knowing that he was released from further suffering was a comfort for me. This was not the first time I have been present to say good-bye. I have gone through the process an additional 4 times, but it was by far the most empathetic. I have kept their ashes and they will be with me when I am laid to rest. My father was buried with the remains of his faithful Siamese (among other favorite items), without interference from the funeral home, acconmplished through a “don’t ask” policy. In other words, they knew but looked the other way. My fur and feathered babies have always held a cherished place in my home. I never cease to be amazed at all the love and warmth they have given me. I cannot imagine a life without these special babies. I now have the pleasure of owning a lively Australian Shepherd and recently welcomed Carlo, a German Shepherd of massive proportions, and gentle bearing. Their presence continues to enrich me. They have joined a household of cats and exotic birds. My lfe is full. I am truly blessed. May you find comfort in the knowledge that Jerry’s existence enriched yours. Your lives were made so much fuller because of him. Thanks so much for sharing Jerry with us!

    • Yes, Jerry indeed enriched our lives immensely. He completed us and taught us so much … thanks for noticing and taking the time to comment. Best wishes to you and all your loving animals.

  70. I’m so sorry for your loss and grateful Jerry spent his life with you. For all the grief the passing of a beloved animal causes, it is eased somewhat knowing he had a rich, fulfilling life and was so well loved. I hope you cross paths with many more dogs because you’re such great people.

  71. This life story has been very moving for me. My greyhound Thorne, passed away 4 years ago. He survived 26 months after amputation and chemotherapy. Sometimes it is difficult to remember the good times we had during those 26 months. Thorne didn’t react emotionally very well, so there we many hours of bolstering his confidence. Reading Jerry’s story helps me appreciate the good moments. We wrote about our milestones on http://www.recycledracers.org. I am so pleased to find this site as another resource for the many people who write to us looking for information, advise and support.

    Maybe Jerry has been hanging around with our Thorne, Cody and Wendi waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge. They have 4 strong legs, a healthy heart and no tumors.

    Thank you

    • Thanks for commenting and sharing the link to Thorne’s story Margaret. 26 months is a great run! Its an honor to know that Jerry’s site has become what it has. But the thanks are due to all those out there who have been affected by this nasty disease, and are willing to share their experiences.

  72. I just watched the PBS episode about cats and dogs and was compelled to learn more about Jerry and his pawrents. Your story is unbelievably inspiring and even though I cannot stop the tears right now, I just have to tell you all how deeply your lives touched me. I am a young pawrent and fortunately have never had to say goodbye to a pet in such a way. I have a 3 year old dog, Gaia, who is in good health and she is everything to my fiance and myself. I don’t quite know if I have the strength in me to handle such an unfortunate situation in the selfless and amazing way that you did. I am just proud and happy that you gave Jerry such an amazing life void of pity and unnecessary meds. Jerry was one lucky dog to have a family that would travel such lengths, literally and figuratively, for his happiness and health. Thank you for sharing your story. I am forever touched and will never forget Jerry or his pawrents.

  73. My deepest condolences on the loss of your darling boy, Jerry. He was a beauty. Thank you for so generously and openly sharing your story of true love and friendship. You were all very brave in so many ways. What a great tribute.

    While going through a similar process with my boy, I read this: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

    When it was really the end – everything was okay. Just sad. But he is always with me. And Jerry will always be with you – but you know that.

    Peace and love,
    L’s Mom

  74. Reading this made my tears flow……I was with my Samson (the first cat I had as an adult) while he was being released from his body, and it was, without a doubt, the hardest thing I have ever had to do and the worst day of my life (and that was over 20 years ago). I thank you both for telling your story on PBS. There are too many people out there who just cannot grasp what an animal means to a person, how they truly become your family……and many times, even closer than your family. Peace to you and Jerry…….enjoy the happy memories and spread the love to some more 4 legged family!!

    • Samson was indeed one blessed kitty to have you as a pawrent Christine. We know you “get it.” Jerry, the animals, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

  75. I absolutely LOVED the story about Jerry. I love all animals and have three cat children along with my two human kids as well. Two years ago we had a beautiful grey cat named Smokey who becam ill with megacolon. After major surgery and a terrible recovery it became quite clear that Smokey was ready to move on. My 17 year old daughter and I took him to the vet to be euthanized. Although it was sad it was also comforting too and gave us closure and peace. He was free from all his pain and suffering. We too have Smokey’s ashes in a beautiful cedar box that is monogramed. I will keep him always.

    I believe that things happen for a reason. Soon after our mourning for Smokey we welcomed two lovely young kitties into our family. One was rescued from a terrible apartment in a bad neighborhood. She is the sweetest most lovely girl ever and most grateful!! I truly believe that Smokey’s passing allowed Molly (and Rocco her companion) to come into our lives. I hope in time you will welcome another pet into your family as well. good luck and best wishes! You ought to think about turning Jerry’s story into a book…it would be a great read!

    • Besty, you are a wonderful human and a great pawrent for showing your daughter that cats are truly a part of the family. Helping them through the end stages of life is one of the hardest things we must do, but it is indeed an honor to be there for them, isn’t it? It’s the least we can do. They teach us so, so much.

      Glad to hear you were blessed with the two new kitties. Smokey indeed sent them your way to help ease your grief. Thanks for sharing your story here. The world is a better place because of kindhearted souls like you.

  76. I’m sitting here crying reading this and know your pain and loss. I had to put my Susie (German Shepherd also), down in January 2006, and Max (German Shepherd also), in June 2004. Both had bad hips, and it was such a hard decision. My deepest condolences….

    Maybe Max, Susie and Jerry are all playing together now. I still have their ashes on a table in my living room (can’t seem to part with them to disperse them anywhere). I plan on being cremated, so all my pets may be buried with me (that is what i’ve always thought i might want to do).

    Again, my condolences.

    • Gosh, it was January of 2008 that Susie was laid to rest, and it was June 2006 for Max. Too fast for them both! My error. I’m still sad and miss them so much. I finally adopted another dog in November, but there will never be another Max and Susie.

      • Yes, absolutely too fast. Our pups leave us far too soon.

        Good to hear you opened up your heart to another dog. As different as s/he is to Max and Susie, your new dog will have all sorts of wonderful lessons and experiences to bring into your life that you will treasure just as much. These dogs, they all have their own special “assignments” when it comes to helping us get through life, don’t they?

    • Lisa, you are so sweet, thank you. I can’t imagine the kind of loss you’ve experienced, losing two beautiful babies in such a short period of time. We are so sorry. I do truly believe that all of our fur kids are out there in the universe, playing and being whole again, and pain free.

      Jerry also had bad hips. We always assumed that it would be the displaysia that would cause his demise, not cancer.

      I like your idea about keeping Max and Susie’s ashes. That is something I hadn’t even considered. We have Jerry’s ashes with us, and have talked about burying him on “his land,” but the thought makes me a little sad, because if we ever sold it…. Your idea is much more comforting.

      Many hugs to you.

      • One more note. I actually put it in my will about the animals ashes (note, i’m only 46, and single, so i did one of those “free” wills on the internet, but that is better than none I guess.)

        You and your wife are wonderful people and pawrents to respond to everyone like you do also. May you be comforted in the memories in the years ahead. Never forgotten, but always remembered!!!

        Hugs and healing sent to you and your family….

        Lisa

  77. Cheers and empathetic thoughts from another viewer you touched on PBS last night. I paused a moment from my at-home on-line tutoring job to watch our neighbors romp the alley with their big goofy German Shepherd friend Smoky. Thanks for bring to the nation the message that we have this great-chain-of-being thing all wrong. Other beings are just as important as people and their deaths just as painful, just as meaningful.

    • Kelly, thank you for watching and taking the time to write. Smokey is a beautiful sight to envision, I can see him now. It’s our hope that those unfortunate souls who don’t get it, like you do, will watch the show and come to a better understanding of how animals can change our lives and help us grow, if we allow them to. Thank you for helping to bring pawsitive change to the universe, one critter at a time.

  78. Last night’s episode on PBS brought back wonderful memories of our Black Lab, Belle, whom, at 14, we had to have euthanised in October 2006. Your description of the care and understanding provided at the veternarian’s was one we also were fortunate to encounter. Jerry’s and Belle’s last hours were similar in many respects. My heart weeps for you, while, at the same time, thanks you for the wonderful life you gave this truly devoted family member. Our bond with Belle was exceptional and we have yet to find the final resting place for her ashes. Perhaps one day we will. I tend to believe we’re still not ready to let her go completely. Thank you for sharing your heartwarming story.
    Dorothy
    Fredericton, New Brunswick

  79. Admidst tear filled eyes, I just want to send you both a warm hug and extend my most sincere and heartfelt condolences on your loss. Your story was extremely touching to watch. The love you had for Jerry was almost palatable. I would say he won the gold medal in parents when he was adopted by you. Few dogs live such a full and happy life, congratulations on giving him your very best and allowing him to be his very best ! I remember with sadness the loss of my own shepherd mix, Sophie, five years ago, who coincidentally died of lung cancer, too. After she was gone, our wonderful vet let me stay with her for about 10 minutes. All I could do was bury my face in her fur and just howl. I’m sure you did, too.

    Thank you for producing your story for all of us to share. I’m sure it must’ve taken a lot of courage to ‘bare your souls’ at such an emotional time in front of millions of people. On the other hand, I’m sure there are just as many people who have been helped through their own sadness and grief through watching and identifying with your story.

    My prayers and thoughts for you both are for healing and happy memories to replace the hole in your hearts. You know he had the best parents he could’ve ever had and so did he !

    May God bless you both very much.

    Sincerely,
    Fran Miles
    Fredericton NB Canada

  80. Thank you for sharing Jerry’s story. Being owned by a German Shepherd myself, I just wanted to tell you how much I admire and respect the way you handled Jerry’s illness and that you made sure he was never robbed of his dignity. You are the kind of dog parents everyone should aspire to be. Jerry was a beautiful boy and his spirit will be with you always. He is waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge and you will all be together again someday. Bless you and thank you again for sharing Jerry’s story with us.

    • And bless you for such kind words. We were only doing what was best for our furry boy. Thank you for making it a little easier to not have Jerry by our side for his big debut.

  81. I just want to thank you so much, for sharing Jerry’s story. I watched the program last night and then read the interview and visited the tripawds blog, and I have been moved to tears by your story of courage, compassion, and the best part of humanity. Jerry’s story just reminded me of what is most important in life: love.
    much peace,
    Gudren

  82. Ben, Jen, Hammond & Darcy February 16, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. My wife, Jen, and I watched the PBS special last night along with our two terriers, Hammond and Darcy. Darcy, as usual just wanted to cuddle on our laps, while Hammond time and again leapt off the couch to run up to the TV, barking and asking Jerry to “COME PLAY WITH US!”

    When I bought Darcy, our 2 year old JRT, I’ll admit I considered the purchase the same way I might any other product… “well, this should give a lot of enjoyment for a reasonable price”… little did I know that within a few short hours I would feel like I just won the lottery! These two scrappy pups have done so much to change the way I see the world, myself, and the relationships between all living things.

    A month ago, my father-in-law’s two dogs died in a tragic, senseless traffic accident. In dealing with the family grief, I realized something that you mention on the show – when asked what time it is, a dog will reply “NOW NOW NOW!” These pups know what really matters – sharing and enjoying the here and now.

    I’m so glad you made the choices you did with Jerry, that you gave him HAPPY, ENGAGED, FULL months rather than ignoring the inevitable. Many humans don’t have the luxury of really enjoying their lives, and you did the big thing, and gave that to Jerry.

    I’m sure in the end, you feel that really, Jerry gave that gift right back to YOU.

    • Thanks for sharing the image of Hammond wanting to play with Jerry! 🙂 Jerry continues to give us the incredible gift of love, by bringing you and so many others here to share your stories with us. Thank you!

  83. Like Andrea’s post, I watched the show on PBS last night and had to learn more about Jerry and his pawrents. My heart just breaks for you, but as a good friend told me when I had to say goodbye to my 16 year old cat, you can be thankful for what a great life you gave Jerry and all the great things he gave you that will always be with you! I’m sure it is too soon, but do you think you will one day meet another dog? Jerry might send you a friend, when the time is right. This happened to me, despite not looking for it to happen. He/she would be so lucky to have you for pawrents. My condolences to you for his loss. What a beautiful spirit!

    • We are indeed thankful for the life Jerry gave us, even more so now that his story has reached so many. Thanks for the kind words. And yes, another dog will be out there somewhere waiting for us … someday, somewhere.

  84. My husband and I understand. We have 2 Boston Terriers, Zoey & Zeke, who mean the world to us. We are passionate about keeping them happy and healthy. We absolutely adore them and would “take a bullet” for them if we had to. This is just the way it is. Something that cannot be explained in logical terms or rational states of mind. It all comes from the heart and that is a gift from God, as Jerry was a gift to you and Zoey & Zeke are to us. We would do exactly what you did to enjoy your final days with Jerry. God bless!

  85. Maria Puente-Duany February 16, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have a fur baby as well, an eleven-year-old Maltese whom I adopted when he was about a year old. My boy is a member of my family, like Jerry was of yours. I plan ahead for him, and take him into consideration when I’m making decisions on what to do. Reading your story made it easier for me to prepare myself for my boy’s end of life. Thanks again for sharing.

  86. I watched the the program on 2/15/09 and especially loved the story about Jerry, and just needed to find out more about your final adventures with him. My husband and I also lost our beloved four-legged child Tundra to bone cancer on 2/19/08, so it was heartwarming and uplifting to see another couple who loved and valued their dog so much as a member of their family. I know all too well about how you come to the decision to mercifully end their lives when their quality of life is no longer what it was meant to be. Thank you for sharing such a wonderfully touching story with all of us!

    • Hi Lynne. Thanks for taking the time to find out more about our story. Jerry and Tundra are probably romping around the rainbow bridge now, loving the afterlife as much as they did their time with us down here.

  87. What a wonderful story. I’m so sorry for your grief. I found a very helpful website after the loss of my 17 year old cat, Trooper. Petloss.com. It’s a great resource for those who are mourning the loss of a “furrbaby”. Experiencing grief over the loss of a beloved pet is the same experience as for the loss of a human. Sometimes people don’t understand, so the website offers support that may be lacking after the loss of a pet.
    Good wishes in your remaining travels. Let us know if you find a new “furrbaby”.
    DrEllen

  88. I cried while watching Jerry’s story on PBS and my husband was close to tears. It brought back the pain in my heart of losing our boys. I think Jerry’s legacy is touching so many because we’ve had to do what you have done and wondered if we were doing the right thing at the time. Once we read about the look in his eyes and how you knew, then we know we did the right thing at the right time.

    We just lost our 2 Dachshunds last June and July…24 days apart. Sammy was 14 years old. He’d been with us since he was 5 weeks old. His kidney’s were failing and we were giving him fluids twice a day. His eyes told the story one day. We took him into the vet and she said we could leave him and they would give him massive fluids. It might help to keep him alive for another week. We asked, “To what end?”. We’d have done whatever it took if we could have kept him alive, pain free, but there was nothing anyone could do. We put him to sleep that day. We, too stayed with him and talked to him. He went so peacefully. That was the one plus to being with him, seeing the pain leave.

    Joey was 11. We’d had him since he was 5 weeks old also. Joey was the one with all the problems. He was diabetic and had lost his sight a year earlier. He had relied on his brother to lead him around and let him know when to “protect” us and the house. A couple of weeks after Sammy died, Joey got pancreatitis. I took him to the vet and she said they had to keep him. I went to see him the day after they ran all his tests. He yipped and barked when he heard my voice. I picked him up and he laid his head on my shoulder and sighed. I sat with him for several hours. He began to cry in pain and the vet gave him pain medication and I put him back in his pen to sleep. She called me several hours later to tell me Joey had awakened, barked as if he was looking for me, and then stopped breathing. She said while they were trying to get a tube in him, his heart stopped. They couldn’t get it going again. I drove the 40 miles back to the vet’s to see our Joey once more. I sat with him for another couple of hours. We think he was just so lost without his brother and died from a broken heart.

    On my drive home, I “saw” the two of them running and playing like they did when they were younger. I knew they were together and happy. Their ashes are together in one urn on top of our bookcase.

    Your heart is broken and will be for awhile, but it will get a little easier with time. Then something will happen that will bring it all back (as this is doing to me) and you’ll cry again. Every now and then you will miss him terribly and have to go back through the pictures and cry. It’s healing.

    I swore I wouldn’t do it again because the heartache is too much. But we now have another “kid”, Tootsie, another Dachsie, who we rescued from a shelter a few months ago. She’s a good substitute, but also a sad reminder sometimes. But we love her dearly and will do whatever it takes to keep her with us. Your life is better for having loved and cared for Jerry. I feel bad for people who have never been loved by a pet for they don’t know true love and companionship.

    God bless you Jim and Rene.

    • Thank you for taking such good care of your pups, and knowing when to say when. I – Jim here – also saw and felt Jerry running alongside the truck on our way back to Yellowstone after we let him go. To this day, we can still feel him once in a while. Like the coyote we encountered on a hike the other day…

  89. Thank you so much for sharing Jerry’s story with us! I watched the program last night and was so moved by the story that I had to come and find out the rest of the story. I sit here crying for Jerry and you both.
    I just had to do put our sweet boy down on New Year’s Eve because of a inoperable mass in his spinal cord. We found it in the summer and like you had to wait for the signs. When he could no longer use his back legs and became incontintant we knew it was time. I hated doing it but he didn’t like living that way.
    Thank you again for sharing your beautiful story story! Your wonderful Pawrents!

    • You too, were wonderful pawrents and will be again someday I’m sure. Thanks for the kind comments, and for sharing the wonderful care you gave your pup.

  90. I’m a longtime fan of Nature, and “Why We Love Our Cats and Dogs” was one of the finest programs they’ve ever done. Jerry’s story was absolutely wonderful as were his unusually caring owners. The morning after the program I read the beautifully described finale of Jerry’s life and promptly bawled like a baby! Something deep within me obviously touched my very soul. Thanks for videotaping this dog’s journey and including it in the Nature program.

    • Walt, you are very kind. Thanks for watching and coming here to share your thoughts. You have touched us as well.

      Thank you for the compliment, but I really don’t think we are all that unusual. There are so many other pawrents out there who have also gone to extraordinary lengths to give their fur kids the best life they could. The Tripawds website has some great examples. Jerry’s story is symbolic of all of us, and we are so proud that he was able to share this love with the world. Thanks again.

  91. To the parents of Jerry: what a wonderful story and great life you gave Jerry, it looks as though he lived life to the fullest extent in his short life. We never had children so our dogs had a very special place in our family. I held my black lab in my arms as the vet gave her the final injection, as I will do when the time comes for our 12 year old yellow lab. What a rich legacy of historical memories you have to keep his spirit alive.

    • Diane, thank you so much. As two people who also don’t have human kids, we too understand how important it is to be there for our dogs. They ask for so little, and we get so much in return. It’s the least we can do. Thank you for making the world a better place by demonstrating this to other members of the human race.

  92. I watched the show on February 15. It was great! I should have had our youngest son watch this show so he could get an idea of how animals are family and not just a dog or cat. We have 2 cats, almost 7. They are part of our family. This morning they went out on the cat walk with my husband while he got the newspaper. (We live on the 6th floor of a condo.) Tiger and Boots are indoor cats so this is a leap of faith for them to walk out there.
    Sincerely, Karen

  93. I watched the story of your journey with Jerry last night. I’m still in tears. Two years ago I found a small “bump” on our beloved Bonny dog. She didn’t seem ill at all. The next day the “bumps” had multiplied…off to the vet. Six days later I got a 6:30 a.m. call from the vet hospital. The kind vet held the phone to Bonbon’s ear and let me say goodbye. Since that day I’ve never stopped grieving her absence. But reading Jerry’s blog of his passing has given me some comfort. Thank you for sharing his story and your heartbreak. If only every dog was so loved.
    God Bless you both,
    Colleen Keegan

    • Colleen, thank you for writing and telling us about Bonny. Our deepest sympathies go out to you, we are so touched knowing that Jerry was able to lighten your grief just a little. Our dogs are angels in fur, aren’t they?

  94. We are sorry for your loss. When I saw the story on Nature, I had to look up the site and follow the ending. We have 2 “girls” of our own. One we adopted from the shelter, Minnie, a scared and lonely pup, is now the biggest defender of the family! Sadie, a loveable lab, was our second addition the year following the adoption of Minnie. My daughter is 12, Minnie is 11 and Sadie 10. They have grown up together and I don’t know what we’ll do when “the time comes”. Seeing your story made up happy and sad for you. After we talked about Jerry and how the outcome may be for us one day. It helped ease into the conversation for my daughter after watching. Thank you again and I’m sure Jerry is proud of yoy both for your strength and wisdom. Good luck to you!

    • Thank you Beth, you are so kind. You really are a great teacher to your daughter, by demonstrating that dogs are part of the family, and showing her that you’ll be there for them when they’re old and need you two the most, not just when they’re puppies. It’s good to know that there are such great parents out there. Thanks so much.

  95. Welcome to the pawsitive life of loving uncondictionally,It makes your heart runith over!!! Jerry will come back in a form of a new baby you aquire someday.Live love laugh always with hope and caring.Jerry is wHATwe call LUCK DOG,AND LUCKY MPM AND DAD.

    • So well said, Janet, thank you. Obviously you have learned the important lessons that animals have to teach humans.

      Every day we feel the loss of not having Jerry around, but we do our best not to dwell on that heavy feeling, because Jerry taught us better than that. Our hearts are open to the pawsibilities of another fur kid sometime, when we are ready.

      Thanks for writing.

  96. thank you for all you have shared about yourselves and jerry. many years ago, as i held a beloved cat– and wept– while the vet eased his passing, the dr. said to me, “we’re a lot kinder to animals than we are to people.”
    at least in this situation, that’s certainly true.

    • Elisabeth, that is such a true statement. As we knew we were approaching the end of Jerry’s time on earth, we took some comfort in knowing that he wouldn’t suffer the way sometimes humans do when it comes to terminal illness. As hard as it is to say goodbye, it’s the least we can do for our beloved family members. Thanks for writing and sharing your own story here.

  97. What a deeply moving story about Jerry’s life and passing. Thank you so much for sharing this. As always, with such a moving moment, I’m in tears. Kudos to you both for all you did to give him such a wonderful life. I’m so glad you rescued him and made him part of your family.

  98. I once had the most wonderful german shepherd whom I also raised from a puppy. He (we) were so unforunate though, as his life ended way too early just a month before his 3rd birthday. It was an accident, so I was totally unprepared.
    Even though he was young, the last year and a half consisted of 3 surgeries, and medicine every day for an unknown fungus he couldn’t kick. Don’t get me wrong, the majority of his life was filled with wonderful memories of going to dog classes, walks, car trips, and lots and lots of love ! He was the most beautiful, smartest dog I had ever owned ! I just wish I would have had more time with him.Seeing him go was the hardest thing for me too.I didn’t imagine it would end the way it did. I know how you feel, and my “Chase” would have loved to live the life Jerry did. I’m glad he was so lucky to have the both of you as his parents. I cried too reading your story, because I can relate to it. Now both of our wonderful dogs are free of pain, and in dog heaven together. Bless you, and our dogs !!

    • Ann, our hearts go out to you. Three years is just too soon, and we can’t even imagine that kind of grief.

      In that short period of time, sounds like you and Chase were absolutely living life to the fullest. And we’ll be he taught you a lot about embracing each day, despite hardship like a medical condition. What gifts these furry critters give to us!

      Thanks for sharing your story here. Yep, we’re betting that Jerry and Chase are definitely having a great time together.

  99. You two are are an exemplary couple. Only animal lovers such as yourselves and hopefully like me understand the total commitment one makes when they take on a furry child. I have 4 dogs and Bridget is struggling with Cushing’s disease. She is an 11 year old Siberian I adopted at the age of 1 from a shelter. We have had a truly wonderful life together along with her English setter brother and sister and her yellow Lab brother, Toby who she mothered when he was a pup. She is a wise old girl and it is hard to see her condition deteriorate as Cushings ultimately, despite treatment leads to death. I love her like you loved Jerry and wondered how I too could face the next phase of life without her but your story gave me hope and courage to continue until she tells me that we have reached the end of this life and she is ready for the next. Thank you for this brave and wonderful story of hope courage and boundless love for your canine soulmate and kid. Someone finally understands me. God bless you both.
    Judi Rogers

    • Wow. We are so touched by how you took the time to share your story about Bridget and your other fur kids. What a beautiful relationship you have with them all, how fortunate that you have those four special dogs in your life.

      While it was very difficult to know that Jerry was approaching the end of his time on earth, we did our best to behave the way he taught us to; don’t dwell on the “what ifs”, live in the moment, and keep our hearts light by embracing the magic that we shared together. It was really hard to save our tears until after he passed, but it’s what he wanted.

      You are absolutely a true friend to animals, and the kind of person that everyone should strive to be like. Thanks so much for writing. Many hugs to you and the pack, especially Bridget.

  100. Sherri A Canadian February 16, 2009 at 12:42 am

    This story broke my heart but also made me happy to see others who love their pets so completely. Thanks for your heart and soul.

    • Sherri, thank you for writing and watching the show. We are so glad to know that there are people like you in the world who, through your love of pets, demonstrate to others how important pets are to our emotional and physical well being. Jerry is proud of you.

  101. Thank you for an inspiring story. You had Jerry’s best interests at heart, and many will learn from your experience.

    • Stephen, thanks so much for watching and coming here. Helping release Jerry from his pain was the hardest thing we ever had to do. Your comforting words help to ease the pain. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

  102. I saw the show on nature and I had to find out the rest of the story. I can relate to the overwellming sadness you went through when you had to put Jerry down. We had a dog( Bo) for 16 years and she was our child, It was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. She didn’t have any illness she was just old and tired. We kept her alive as long as we could, probably longer that we should, because we just couldn’t say goodbye. We even got a puppy ( Jake ) to perk her up. It helped for awhile, but about 6 months later we saw her drag herself over to him and they talked to each other for about 5 minutes, just barking back and forth. Two days later she just looked at us with vacant eyes and we just knew it was time. I was a great help to have Jake to take care of. He changed alot after she was gone. It was almost like she told him it was his job to take care of us now since she wouldn’t be there. He became very loving and protective. That was 12 years ago and now we are nearing the possibility of losing him. He’s got spinal problems, making it hard to use his hind legs. We’ve been taking him for accupunture and that seems to help alittle. He also has chronic kidney failure. We have him on a special diet and we have to give him fluid under the skin every other day. He’s still happy, though I don’t know how long it will last. So we need to prepare ourselves for the inevitable. People think we’re crazy for spending so much money on him but I couldn’t imagine not.

    • Some people don’t get it. As you are well aware, it isn’t about the money. It’s about the bond we share. Bless you for taking such good care of your pups, and thanks for sharing!

  103. I don’t know what to say; I’m crying so hard in empathy with you. Everything you went through with Jerry was so similar to what I did with my dearest Pokey (my beloved cat) back in 1999 that in a very odd way it is comforting to me to know that others have felt the same way I did and I was alone having to make the final decision so that has weighed on me all these years. Always, did I decide at the right time? But, as you, my Pokey “told” me by peeing on the carpet in the doorway btwn the bdrm and another room and staying right there in the wet spot. A dear Homeopathic Vet’s technician had told me that this would be a sign, just the night before over the phone. And the next morning, almost as if Pokey had heard what she had told me, there he was letting me know. I’m so glad that you had so much good time with Jerry. You did what you absolutely should have done and you will never regret that. After all is done, we have only that to remember — that we gave our dear loved ones the best kind of life, that they knew they were loved sooo much, and that they were happy with us! I know you miss Jerry so much and I will never stop missing Pokey. He is with me every morning when I wake and at last before I sleep. Jerry will always be with you — by the way, you never have to say “good bye” . . . you just don’t . . . I never have and someday we’ll be together again, all of us . . . we just can’t be together for now . . . Thank you for your sweet sharing of your precious time with Jerry and all the most difficult parts of your story. My heart is with you. Fran in Reno, NV now, originally from Buffalo, NY

  104. I just want to say Thank you from the whole of my heart for sharing your life story with Jerry. I enjoy watching Nature and always learn something from the show. Tonight I learned from two loving parents. I went on to read Jerry’d full story and am glad the three of you were able to make so many memories together. I want to sincerely thank you for including your comments about how you agreed to make all of your difficult care decisions and admire you for slowing down to smell the roses with Jerry. I can’t imagine my life without my furry four legged baby girl in it. Thank you for sharing and God Bless.

  105. I am just a sobby mess right now after reading part 1 and part 2. I saw your story on PBS tonight and can totally relate to it. I lost my two little buddies Winston and Julius within a few months of each other. My husband and I adopted them when they were 12 and were blessed to have 5 great years with them. As they grew older they both got kidney disease. Everyone told me W & J would let me know when they were ready to go but they didn’t. At least I didn’t recognize it. I now know they were ready to say “goodbye” but I wasn’t and was in denial. For three months, I woke up several times a night to help Winston pee and drink. He could barely stand at times. He had good days and bad. Finally, my husband helped me recognize that he wanted to go. We had a vet come to our house to perform the euthanasia. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. Since Winston I have had to make two more quality of life decisions for loved ones. One for Julius, his brother and one for my mother who I took off of life support this past November. I will always be grateful to little Winston for showing me who to handle death and grief. You absolutely did right thing for Jerry. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

  106. What a heart-warming story you have shared with us. I recently had a similar experience with my 13 year-old Whippet and my vet actually came to my home to euthanize him. It was so calm and peaceful and my other 2 Whippets were right there with him as well. There will never be another Jerry but you two will be able to share your incredible love with another deserving dog.
    Thank you again…..

  107. We lost our Charlie a year before my husband lost his fight with cancer. When the time came, and Charlie was in constant pain, we took him to the vet’s office where they came out and did what was necessary without moving him or causing him any more pain. We stayed with him. It was all done lovingly and with grace and dignity. The next day, a local florist delivered to us, a single yellow rose in Charlie’s memory from everyone in the vet’s office. What grace.

    – Jane

    • Love. Grace. Dignity. These are good things we too shared with Jerry when his time came. Thank you for commenting.

      • Petie Cook-Chisum February 16, 2009 at 2:58 pm

        Thank God for pawrents like Rene and Jim who know our dog companions are not “property”; but part of the family. What a beautiful story. What special people to give up worldly things and spend your precious time with Jerry who was such a very special member of your family. He was truly blessed to have you as his pawrents… BUT I know that you know the two of you are the ones who were truly blessed. What valuable lessons they have for us. Petiecc, dogmom .
        Please consider German Shepherd Rescue when looking for your Ben.

      • Petie, you are so kind, thank you so much. It’s an honor to represent all of the cat and dog lovers out there who feel the same, by sharing Jerry’s story with the world. Yes, we are truly blessed for having such an incredible teacher. And I agree; GSD rescue is the way to go! Thanks for mentioning that. Take care.

  108. thank you for sharing your story. I, too, had my “forever dog” John Paul who gave me the most wonderful years of my life. i know, someday, i will see him again and hold him close to my heart, just as you will,—– forever.

  109. I share your joy…he was such a great companion. I share your pain in letting him go. The lump in my throat too great to read all of part 2. Jerry looks so much like our girl we had to help transition across the Rainbow Bridge three years ago.

    Thanks for letting us into your life and into Jerry’s life. What a delight and how enriching to have shared life with him.

  110. Tonight, February 15, 2009, my husband Ted and I watched Why We Love Cats and Dogs. What a terrific program. I loved the story of your dog, Jerry. I am so glad that he was in your lives for 10 years. Pets indeed are wonderful! We adopted 2 small kittens(brother and sister) from the local Humane Society almost 7 years ago. Boots and Tiger are our “children” now since our sons are grown and have families of their own. Boots weighs 8 1/2 lbs and Tiger weighs 20 1/2 lbs. They are friends and companions for each other. Ted and I have been retired for 10 years. Boots lay on my lap tonight as we watched the program.
    Thanks. Sincerely, Karen

  111. I loved the story of Jerry and his pawrents. I lost my cat to cancer last June (2008) and am still tramatized by it all. I am crying as I’m writing this. I have Belle’s ashes still as I have not decided where if at all to scatter them. I know it is best for our furry kids when they are sick, but it doesn’t make it any easier to put them to sleep. It is just peaceful for us to know they are no longer in pain.

    • Thanks for watching and taking the time to come here and find out more about Jerry. Your comments are touching. I’m sure Belle was blessed to have you.

  112. I just saw your story on PBS’s Nature. You are both such incredible people. I had to come and find out what happened with Jerry. Your story has touched me deeply as I have loved and cared for dogs since a child. I presently live with three!!! I hope you find peace and will remember the funny things that Jerry did and are able to laugh, even through tears…..

    • It means so much to us that you took the time to find out more about our story. Knowing that Jerry has touched so many, makes the peace we have found so much more … well, peaceful! 😉 Thank you.

  113. I watched Jerry on PBS tonight and now reading this blog makes me weep. I raised German Shepherds and have lost so many sweet babies over the last 40 years. They break your heart in such a sweet way. They are all buried in my side yard and I am loathe to ever move…but I know they are happy. You are wonderful people and Jerry was lucky to have you as you were to have him. Be well and happy…Jerry is.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment Kay. Jerry was our first, so losing him was especially tough. But it is already obvious that life can’t go on forever without another furry kid.

      • Are you both thinking of getting another dog? After I lost my two, I didn’t think I could ever love another pet like Winston and Julius. The house was quiet for exactly six weeks when I came across a little puppy that someone had rejected and couldn’t get rid of fast enough. Now little Danny is destroying my house but I love him. Winston and Julius taught me courage. Danny is teaching me patience and how to clean up shredded toilet paper.

      • Every day without Jerry, it becomes more and more clear that the time will come for another furry kid. Just not quite yet. Jerry was our first.

  114. Pam, Dudley, Wild Kitty & Scooter February 15, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Well my dog Dudley and two cats Scooter and Wild Kitty just finished watching the PBS special that featured Jerry. What a sweet and heart wrenching story. The two of you made Jerry’s life so much better right up to the end. I am so sure he is now a very happy pup in heaven. Jerry, if you can read this and see my pup, Sheba Shepherd up there in heaven, sit down with her and have a chat. Sheba can tell you some great stories abou how she was our best pup.
    Hugs to you Rene and Jim!
    Pam and furry friends

  115. Jerry, I too was a tripaw. I died 3 weeks after surgery. When I woke up after surgery I couldn’t eat. Mom and dad tried everything to save me, but I guess it was my time. I died at home in my loving moms arms. I’ll see you at the bridge. Love Monte Carlo

  116. Tough, tough to read this – brought back a lot of memories. I lost my husband’s Dutch to cancer less than six months after my husband died. I honestly think that Dutch just grieved himself to death in order to follow ‘his person’.

    It’s so hard, but seeing them in pain and not being able to help is awful, too. And being there at the end is the last loving thing you can do for them.

  117. Samuel Jacob's Mom December 1, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    I’m so sorry, I didn’t know. I was just thinking about Jerry today, and decided to see how he was doing.

    Your story brought back all of the experiences I have had. My Grizzly had the same reaction to the Albuterol. And the passing of Sammy was so similar, with the exception of Sammy’s extreme agony.

    I’m so glad you were able to be with him when he went and that you were able to let him go with dignity.

    You gave him such a wonderful life. You were as blessed with him as he was with you.

    May your heart never forget the happy days.

  118. Oh you all are so very, very kind, thank you for your kind and beautiful thoughts. Our love goes out to all of you. We don’t know what we’d do without your support.

  119. Dear Rene and Jim,

    I just read your post (part 2) about saying good bye to Jerry and setting his soul free. Like so many others who read your post, I was sobbing by the time I finished reading it.

    How perfect that you were able to have one more day traveling together; Jerry hanging his head out of the truck window and being at Yellowstone again. I think it was very special that everything worked out so that you could share this time together one more time.

    I think that clear signs were given by Jerry to show you what to do. Your decision was both “right and humane” as my own local vet put it when I decided to put my dog, Luna, to sleep on Sept. 16th, 2008. Those words meant so much to me, and I think that feeling that way is so important for any “pawrent” to feel when having to make this gut wrenching decision. You planned out everything and it just fell into place. That was no coincidence either. You let Jerry maintain his dignity and pride, and I do very much believe that dogs feel both of those emotions.

    The vet, Dr. Cashman, sounded like a Godsend, as well as her staff. It sounded like a team of loving, caring people, who helped make this very painful experience, a bit less painful. Because you had the strength to remain “calm and centered”, which had to be incredibly difficult to do, you gave Jerry the calm and loving environment that he needed to make the transition in a peaceful and loving atmosphere in your beloved Big Sky Country.

    Your account of the final moments of Jerry’s life made me feel as if I were sitting right there with you, watching Jerry lying on his Barney blanket surrounded by his favorite stuffed toys. Surrounded by all of that love, it is reassuring to know that Jerry had no fear and no pain, and was released from his earthly shell. I know that Jerry felt safe and secure with you with him, too. You kept your promise to him as I kept my promise to Luna not to leave her side, as hard as it was to do. One of the toughest things to do is to feign the strength when inside you’re crying and sobbing and not wanting to do this at all, but knowing, that for the sake of your beloved pet, you absolutely have to, you must.

    It was very special that Jim would help carry Jerry inside and do the other things that needed to be done. He took care of him just as long as he possibly could, you both did, and you both did everything possible to make his life absolutely wonderful. This vet is to be commended, too, for allowing you to participate in Jerry’s passing in the manner that you did.

    It is appropriate that Jerry will keep traveling with you until you find that special place to call your forever home. And, Jim is right, he is running right there beside your truck as you drive along. This was Jerry’s destiny, this is why he had to go through all he did, why you both had to go through all that you did with him. It was your destiny to bring more awareness and education to those who reached out to you for help with their own pets who were tripawds. God bless you all for what you have done, and will do in the future, in memory of a great dog named Jerry.

    Fondly,

    Sandra Thomas & David Snyder & “Angel Luna”

  120. I could just sob reading this, having just done the same for Abbey a day before your Jerry…Even this morning, though, I allowed myself to revisit that day’s experiences and I came up with the same answer: “It was time, she needed and wanted to leave, and I am so grateful to God the process went so peacefully.” I still feel her energy with me and even as we prepare to bring a puppy home mid December, Abbey will always be a part of us. We were blessed to share life with her. May your travels be adventurous and wonderful and may our spirit dogs always go with us. Much love, di

  121. I understand this far too well. Thank you for sharing all of Jerry’s stories up until the very end.

    Love,
    Finny & Rudy’s Mama

  122. thank you so much for sharing your brave story. i can hardly see because i am crying so much. we grieve along with you both, jerry will be in our hearts forever.
    much love,
    michelle, stephen and sami

  123. Everyone’s comments reflect our feelings TOTALLY. We feel so fortunate to have found your website, and to be included in your most intimate moments spent, with a most LOVING and special pack. We have learned SO much from the strength of Jerry and his Pawrents, and only hope to have the courage, when the time is right, to say goodby to Rocco (hopefully as graciously as all of you have). It is soothing to know that Rocco will finally meet Jerry in the end, as I really do believe they are very special soul brothers. We ALL have a bond now that will last for eternity, until all of us, pawrents, tripaws, and canine cancer victims can enjoy the huge reunion planned for all of us, that Jerry is already preparing.

  124. To Jerry’s pawrents,

    As the pawrents of a tripawd fur-kid we have felt it all along with you. We’re sure amidst your grief you’re comforted by all the wonderful times you had with Jerry, as we’ve had with our baby. We will never forget Jerry’s lust for life that gave us the strength to amputate our kid, and we will be forever grateful for helping us make the best decision for her. So, in this time of mourning for Jerry (and crying so hard I can hardly type) – thank you Jerry from all the three legged fur-kids whose moms and dads you helped make the best decision for each of them. Your courage and strength and crazy sense of humour have helped us all though the good and the not so good. You have made the lives and futures of tripawds better and more promising. For that, enough thanks cannot be expressed.

    We love you Jerry, our thoughts our with you and your mom and dad.

    Charly, Doug & Kali (the super amazing three legged doberman)

  125. This was such a beautiful send-off for a very wonderful dog. Thank you, Jim & Rene, for sharing this with us. I’m so glad you were able to find a wonderful vet and great staff to assist you in this process to release Jerry from, as you put it, “his broken body”. I am crying so hard right now I can’t type anymore. I’m so very sorry.

    Love, Vicki, Blazer & Kitty Kimber

  126. Just to add a bit for every one of us who will eventually be making these decisions, I found it extremely helpful and comforting to have a conversation with my vet long, long before I knew I would have to make decisions. She actually came to my house and we sat in the yard watching the dogs play and talked about how to evaluate quality of life, the euthanasia process, the death process without euthanasia (what to expect, how to tell if a animal is painful vs. going through a normal process), cremation, how they tell one animal’s remains from another, etc, etc etc. (I have a very scientific mind, so knowing the exact process is very comforting to me.)

    With LilBit’s passing, which was very sudden and surrounded with chaos and very little time to make decisions, I found it helpful to already know the answers to my questions. This allowed me to be brave and make the difficult call without prolonging his suffering at all. On the other hand, we had a beloved kitty that we made the decision to allow to pass in his own time without our assistance (or the vet tormenting him) and that was OK too and very special in its own way.

    Just something for others to chew on. It is very hard, but Jerry and his people developed this site with open hearts and have always been very honest about Jerry and his health. End of life decisions are part of that. Each dog, each person, each situation is different.

    – TC, Cali’s mom

  127. Oh Jerry… I wish I could of been there to say goodbye to you also. Thank you for showing us how to live as a tripawd. Even in your final hours you were a beautiful dog and yes you do have a soul… Rene & Jim sending some hugs today in honor of Jerry Dawg. Thank you for sharing his final hour and keeping his dignity intact.
    Kim&Buster

  128. I can’t even write right now…my tears just don’t want to stop. I knew you would post something on his one month anniversary…thank you for sharing this extremely personal, private, difficult, courageous and loving experience with us. Jerry lives on and he always will, I know you know that.
    Love you,
    Heather

  129. lalla, moderator November 3, 2008 at 4:35 am

    Hey Jerry,

    Your pawrents and I are so comforted knowing that you and Lalla are taking care of each other now. We look up at your stars and feel you run in the wind.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Why We Love Cats and Dogs ~ Interview: René Agredano Tells Jerry's Full Story | Nature | PBS - October 6, 2014

    […] Read Part 1 Read Part 2 […]

  2. Thank you to PBS for Why We Love Cats and Dogs Nature Episode | live. work. dream. - March 9, 2009

    […] We have spent the last day answering the many heartfelt comments people are leaving on our posts about Jerry’s last days. […]

  3. Thank You PBS Nature for Why We love Cats and Dogs | tripawds.com - February 16, 2009

    […] And the feedback has simply been overwhelming. Just check out some of the heartfelt comments people are leaving on our posts about Jerry’s last days. […]

  4. Rainbow Bridge Pet Loss Poem | tripawds.com - January 17, 2009

    […] Bridge” thing. To be honest, they didn’t care much for the concept. Then, they helped me get there. And I must say, this place […]

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