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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

278 thoughts on “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

    • My heart is breaking, I’m not sure I am even supposed to be in your forum. I didn’t even realize what “tripawds” meant until I read further. Just found your forum while searching about prednisone. When I was young, my allergies where so bad, I could not have a dog, but after many allergy shots I have been lucky enough to be a dog pawrent also. We lost two already 4 years back, 9 days apart 1 to congestive heart at 11 and one to old age at 15. Now here we are at the point again. Reading your story about Jerry is so loving and heart breaking at the same time, and as I sit here looking at my almost 8 year old lab/husky mix I know what I must do. Her breathing has become more difficult, as I tried to wean her off her prednisone, I’m sorry I even tried she seemed ok, but maybe she isn’t. My heart is breaking and we will have to wait a few days, seeing this is a holiday weekend. I think I would have been more accepting if she wasn’t still so young, but I know what we need to do

      • Lilchyz, we are so sorry you found your way to us because of your dog’s illness. Our hearts go out to you and if there is anything we can to do help make your dog’s transition easier please let us know in our Discussion Forums. May her transition be peaceful and her spirit shine brightly for all time. Our hearts go out to you.

  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, 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.



    • 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.

      -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,


  11. 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. 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.

    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. 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, 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, 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.

      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. 🙁

    • 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…

    • 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?

      • ((((((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.

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

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

      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. 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.

      • 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 🙂


      • 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}}}.

      • 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! 🙂


      • 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!

    • 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 🙂


      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.

    • 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}}}}}

      • 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. 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.


  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. 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, 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. 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!

  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.

      • 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….


      • 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