(New Arrivals are listed here; scroll down to the Pet Passages section for memorials/tributes)

Animal Additions

Welcome Merlin!

May 14, 2012

A big, open-arms welcome to Merlin, our good friend Bill Schiesl’s adorable new sheltie puppy. He’s a handsome blue merle with a proclivity for sleeping on top of tables and, as you can see, under the TV. We can’t wait to have him over for a puppy play date with our Westies. I’m already planning how to distract Bill while I steal Merlin!—Sid

Read on to share the joy of adding to one’s pack through rescue!

Rescue Stories 2011

My thanks to Sue Storms, who always does a wonderful job keeping us informed of Westies that have come available for adoption. Here are several great stories of dogs finding their forever homes!—Sid

A number of Westies were adopted this past year by members of our Little White Terriers group. I have asked their new families to write their ‘love story’ to share with us. Who doesn’t love a happy ending?
Give your Westie an extra hug while you read these happy-ending stories.
Miss Paisley (formerly Trouble) by Sue Storms
“Trouble” entered my life in January when I was alerted of a 14-year old Westie in an east-suburban shelter. Her original owner had died and she was given to a family member who kept her for a month before taking her to the shelter because “we just can’t handle her”. Trouble then went into foster care with John and Steph Wisecarver. After a week and 2

adoption announcements to the Little White Terriers group, no interest was shown. Older dogs really pull at my heartstrings and I wanted to bring her home with me but my Homeowners’ Association rules allow only 1 permanent dog. I put my best writing skills to work and contacted each board member asking for a special dispensation for this old gal. Unanimously, they said “yes” and on January 14, 2011, “Miss Paisley Aberdeen” (who was no “Trouble” at all) moved in with Quinn, HobieCat and me.
It was quickly evident this gal had been well loved; she told me the human bed was where she wanted to sleep, the front seat of the car is where she requested she ride, her meals dare not be late, and a human lap (anybody’s lap) is where she preferred to sit. And with her deep, loud barks, she made sure her demands were heard! That deep bark was the only un-lady-like characteristic of this “Grande Dame”. Quinn instantly accepted her, HobieCat adored her and I was totally smitten – we loved having her in our lives!
She quickly became well-known and well-loved in my condo community. Her stroller rides brought lots of smiles as she held her head high and sniffed everything around her as we ventured through our complex. Our Westie friends also liked meeting her and she was happy to allow anybody to hold her if they wished. She also enjoyed going to Doggy Day Care every Wednesday and took it upon herself to keep an eye on all that was going on around her – she even learned how to use the doggy door! A huge honor was bestowed upon her when she reined as Queen of the Wayzata Westie Walkers in the James J Hill Days parade; a position very fitting for this lovely old girl.
I always hoped her former family was looking down upon her, watching her enjoy life, recognizing that it was possible for her to go on and still have fun after they died. Sadly,
her time too, had come to an end. After a short illness, she left us on November 8th. I thanked her for allowing me to spend these last precious months with her; I was honored to be her mom even if it was only for a short time.
I was surprised and comforted to hear my neighbors talk about her, taking a piece of ownership of her. I heard comments like “We were lucky to have her with us” and “We all loved her so much”. She was greatly loved by so many, many people that she met in the last 10 months of her long life. I think all her new friends eased her transition from her loving family.
I hope her story is a reminder to all that older dogs can still enjoy life and bring joy to many people despite their age or the fact that their family has left them. I’m convinced that Paisley is now reunited with her family, making her demands, once again enjoying the love she so rightly deserves. And I’m convinced that she is being “No Trouble at all.”
Vinnie by Julie Gibbons
It was a crowded room. I walked in, mingled a bit, and then I saw him. Our eyes met, well mine did at least, he was resting his head on his foster dad’s shoulders, and it was love at first sight. Well for me anyway. Even though he looked like a cross between a wombat and a kangaroo. But looks aren’t everything. I will make him love me I thought. I asked what his

story was. He was 8 months old and kept in a cage the first six months of his life at a puppy mill. I didn’t need another dog. Husband just retired early. Check. Daughter just graduated college and found a good job. Check. Our other Westie son was about to turn eight and he was a calm and well mannered little guy. Check. But I reached for the phone and called hubby. ‘Can I get another one?’ I asked. ‘Another what?’ he said. He said okay. He knows me very well. We brought him home from Crossroads and named him Vinnie. Vincent when he’s naughty. We now had Tony and Vinnie, the boys from Brooklyn, the only Italian names in the household. Tony hated Vinnie for the first few months. But now they rip through the house after each other. Vinnie thinks every wastebasket is a toy box for him. He chewed my brand new shoes I bought for a wedding. He walks around the bathtub and nudges everything he can into the water. Then he jumps in. His teeth are worn down on one side… I believe it’s from gnawing on his cage out of boredom in the puppy mill. He can’t be in the Westie Walk yet because I don’t have experience walking in Macy’s parade as a balloon handler. But this little guy has won our hearts and is so happy every single day. Our little Vinnie, er… Vincent, is very much a challenge but we absolutely adore him.

Atticus by Mike & Lyn Berglund
Our little Westie passed away about a year ago and my wife and I talked about getting another Westie, but we wanted to adopt or rescue this time. Your email this past February regarding Atticus, a 10 year old male whose elderly owner was put into a nursing home,

made us think that this “big” little guy who is mostly deaf might be the one for us. My son and I left very early one Saturday morning in February to make the 5 hour drive to Bemidji to see if he would be a good pet for us. Upon meeting him at the kennel in Bemidji, he just warmed up to us, was all attitude, and very playful for a dog of any age and we thought we have to take him.
He has been a great addition to our family and blended right in. He is affectionate, attentive, has high energy in spurts, well behaved, and has a “nose” that makes up for his lack of hearing. What a joy he has been.

Caesar by Mary Kay Pewowaruk

This past September, our 16-year old Westie Guthrie, passed away. This was especially hard for me as he had been with me since he was just 7 weeks old. Right about the time of Guthrie’s death, an email came out from the Little White Terriers about several dogs who were rescued by Secondhand Hounds and needed homes. At the time, I could hardly even look at the email and so deleted it. But about a month later, we heard again that Caesar was

still available. The month we had spent without a dog in our home was very lonely and sad. My husband, who works from home, was just lost without the company of a furry friend. I wasn’t sure I was ready but I decided to inquire anyway. After a couple phone calls, I learned Caesar came from a backyard breeder in Ohio. His hair was pretty messy so when we finally met him, he was sporting a rather short haircut. But we all knew right away that Caesar would be a great companion for us and would help to fill that hole that was left in our home and in our hearts. We brought Caesar home on October 17 and he has now adjusted very well. It was a bit of a shock for us to have this 2-year old with so much energy (and the need to chew everything). We learned a few lessons the hard way: Caesar tore the frosted film off one of our French doors, he tore a hole in our car’s leather seat, and he ripped the bedskirt on my daughter’s bed. But we only blamed ourselves for these mishaps and fortunately, they are minor and can be fixed. Caesar is such a sweet, loving dog. He really likes to be held, is always ready to go for a walk or a car ride, likes to sleep with our 10-year old daughter, and is so fun to watch when he plays with his stuffed animals and chew toys. Caesar has captured our hearts and we are so thankful he is a part of our family! Thank you to Secondhand Hounds for bringing Caesar to Minnesota and thank you to Crossroads Animal Shelter, the Wisecarvers, and foster parent Greg Palmer for helping us in the adoption process.
Patty McPatty by Dori & Roger Schlins
Our June 21st, 2011 Adoption of Patty McPatty:
After the loss of 17 year old Weaver, the most magnificent Westie in the universe, we spent seven months grieving and trying to figure out how to choose the right Westie to bring into our home again. We never doubted that we would have another Westie; we just wondered where to find another puppy.

When we transitioned to the idea of adopting an adult rescue Westie, we suddenly had several immediate choices. Ultimately, the Crossroads Shelter in Buffalo was the wonderful source of our next Westie. Bless the Wisecarvers for their work with rescue and matching up potential owners.
This is the thing: Roger and I had owned 5 other dogs but all different breeds – we thought all Westies would be like our first in temperament and attitude, since we had never had two dogs of the same breed. Weaver was wonderful, but we had no idea that even among Westies there is a wide spectrum of personalities. Our Patty McPatty has been a revelation: she is extremely affectionate with humans/hates other dogs, never barks at all unless she sees another dog outside or catches a glimpse of a squirrel, never begs, loves to play with squeaky toys/balls, and passionately hunts mice or other critters in the yard.
Weaver was very even tempered and got along with all dogs; he accepted affection from us but did not lick our faces; he was a very noisy dog, barked at everything, but did not care to chase a ball. We loved his enthusiasm and quiet dignity. Now we have an angel in a dog suit. Patty lets us know every day how grateful she is to have landed in our house. We are working on the anti-social canine behavior, however. I do want to have her participate in walkabouts and the Sept parade.
All in all, the right pairing of rescue Westie and adoptive home is key but so incredibly worth it. Thanks to those who found Patty for us – we will be eternally grateful!
Roger and Dori Schlins
Rosie (formerly Sugar) by Vanessa Rico
I lost one of my Westies unexpectedly in August. Sad as I was, Allie, my other Westie, was

also grieving. Things were just too quiet around our home. In late September, I learned of some Westies available for adoption through Second Hand Hounds. Rosie was one of a group that came here from an Ohio breeder and she was fostered with the Wisecarvers through Crossroads Animal Shelter. I decided it was time for an addition to the household, so I filled out the application and got a call to go out to Crossroads and see her. Apparently there were many applications for the dogs! I was not sure what to expect when I arrived at Crossroads and I didn’t want to get too excited. When I got there, the Wisecarvers brought me to meet the dogs who were very excited by all of the attention. Rosie (her name was Sugar originally) caught my eye right away. I believe I did not pick Rosie – she picked me. She followed me around the kennel and just seemed to know I was the “one”. She wasn’t much to look at to begin with. She was pretty skinny and was shaved. From what I was told, she was used for breeding purposes and she had had at least one litter. She was a friendly little dog, though, not afraid or shy so I don’t believe she was abused in any way. So, she came home with me that day and promptly settled in on my couch next to Allie! She has turned out to be a great dog! She’s quick to learn, happy, has a good disposition and is a good protector of my property from varmints such as squirrels and rabbits. She and Allie are good friends and get along great! This is another furry-tailed, happy ending! Vanessa
Bently by Mary & Gary Johnson
We adopted Bently, a Westie mix, about a month ago from Crossroads Animal Shelter in Buffalo, Mn. We are now wintering in east Texas – my wife and I, Bently, his older brother Scooter, a miniature Schnauzer, and Popcorn, a yellow tabby. The dogs go on daily walks along the Toledo Bend Reservoir with Mary and the local dog pack – a total of 7 or 8 dogs each day. Bently loves walking in the water, even with his short legs, and enjoys carrying the little treasures he finds each day. Has fit into the family really well and is a joy to have.
Glad I receive your emails – especially the one that alerted us to Bently.
Merry Christmas,
Mary and Gary Johnson
We hope you have enjoyed reading these happy-ending stories!
“Adopting a dog will not change the whole world, but it will change the whole world for that one dog.”

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Miss Paisley Aberdeen, age 14, found herself suddenly homeless when her owner passed away. She found a guardian angel in Sue Storms, pack leader of our Little White Terriers group here in Minnesota, when she herself adopted this lovely “mature” dog. I got to meet Miss Paisley at a recent Winter-Weary-Westie party held at Central Bark dog daycare. She is calm, sweet, dignified and silky soft. It was an honor to meet her. Everyone there congratulated Sue on the wonderful addition to her family. Her other rescued Westie, Quinn, became fast friends with Paisley, too, as evidenced by the photo of them napping together shows. Congratulations, Sue, Quinn and Paisley!—Sid


Happy Endings Tales of Pet Adoption, collected by Sue Storms for the Little White Terriers group of Minnesota.

Cleo (formerly Baer) by Andrea Manos

I adopted my Westie from a Craigslist ad that Sue had forwarded to me. I was skeptical, but something inside of me said to go ahead and email to find out more. And…I am SO glad I did.

Baer (now named Cleo) was very well taken care of by her family that lived in Stillwater.  She is a purebred Westie that was bred in Missouri and shipped to Minnesota and her family when she was 8 weeks old. I honestly don’t think they had time for her so they wanted to adopt her to someone who would take care of her the way a Westie should be. Since I owned a Jack Russell Terrier, they thought I was the best candidate (there were many people interested in her apparently).

She is not a show dog, but she is a show-off! She is probably the smartest, sweetest dog I have ever had. She will be 2 years old in March and she is a true Westie! Loves squirrling, loves car rides, walks and everyone she meets! Oh, and she is quite independent, but loves her time with me and my boyfriend (and his Doberman Pinscher puppy!).

She has gone to obedience class and is a quick learner. She goes everywhere with me and she’s been a great addition to my home since my Jack Russell Terrier passed away.

Thanks again, Sue! Merry Christmas and God’s blessings for a Happy and Prosperous New Year!
Andrea Manos

Angus – told by Sue Storms

Kris, a Westie Rescue Missouri (WRM) friend in Iowa, contacted me in November last year about an older Westie-boy in the shelter in Mason City, IA.  WRM was filled up – could we help? Those of you that know me, know how the older ones tug extra hard at my heartstrings, so Westie friend Judy Regan and I drove to Mason City.  Angus had quickly won the hearts of the shelter workers – he was not in a crate or pen; he had his own room! He was SO needy that he was at the feet or in the lap of someone all day long. If he got very far away from somebody, the barking began. He had come from an unpleasant, abandonment situation that we believe caused some of this anxiety (maybe all) so we knew he would need a family that could give him the attention he so badly needed.  John and Steph Wisecarver agreed to foster him so off he went to Maple Lake.  After spending one night with a new family, it was determined they could not care for him. He needed to be lifted up and down steps and his new mom was about to have knee surgery – that would not work! And the incessant barking when he was away from somebody was also not going to work….so back to John and Steph’s he went….and then where did he go? Nowhere!  They decided he had already been through enough and at his age, it wasn’t fair to put him through any more anxiety. So, “Angus Burger”, the needy, barky, demanding, snuggly old man, found his retirement home with the Wisecarvers and their pack.  He’s a happy old man!

A New Twist on Adopting Oliver, that Little Dickens

By Sid Korpi

Sometime last spring, I think it was, I dutifully posted to my “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss” blog and its related Facebook page some pictures and a blurb about a Westie named Fonzie that needed a home. I tried not to look too closely at his adorable little face (for what other kind of face could a Westie possibly have?) because I was not in the market for any more animals in my home. We already had seven rescued pets—three pretty young Westies, two older cats and two finches. I didn’t want a fourth dog. I didn’t need a fourth dog. I knew I’d need my head examined for even for a moment considering adopting a fourth dog. Avoidance was my best defense against temptation.

Maybe a month or more passed, however, and an updated “Fonzie still needs a home” message landed in my email’s in-box. This time, masochist that I apparently am, I read his story a bit closer. It was an all-too-typical story of the owners having had and loved this dog for years—he’s 6 years old—but since they’d decided to have kids, now it was time to get rid of the superfluous pooch. (My ire was raised, a dangerous sign.)

Compound that with the fact that the people who had advertised this dog on craigslist, Fonzie’s current caregivers, weren’t even that aforementioned newly child-laden/dog-rejecting couple. That meant that this dog was being had already been shuffled from home to home and was no doubt feeling insecure, confused, and rejected. The fact that he was being given away free of charge, I later learned, spoke to the second family’s desperation to be rid of him.

Out of morbid curiosity, I called the then-current caregiver, who told me Fonzie had always been an only dog in his household and hated cats—I did a couple mental checkmarks in the this-won’t-work-for-us column.

While I was talking to this woman about Fonzie’s inability to relax, his incessant barking, and his aggressive growling toward her 11-year-old son, who has impulse-control issues himself, I told her I wished her luck but that I would highly recommend this dog be placed in an adults-only household, preferably retirees who could spend a great deal of time with him, and that he remain an only dog.

But this family was anxious to be rid of Fonzie now, as they were just about to leave for a two-week vacation, during which time this dog would be in his crate the whole time between a few scheduled potty breaks. As we finished our conversation, an older man had arrived to check out Fonzie, so I was hopeful my wish for this dog would come true.

Glutton for punishment that I am, I called the next day to check on the outcome, hoping for a happy ending to share on my blog. The woman described how critical the man had been of Fonzie, checking him out as though he were being judged at a dog show, even though a neutered 6-year-old was never going to be in the running for such a competition. Apparently, Fonzie’s head was too big and his tail too short, or something irrelevant like that, and the man rejected him.

I realized this was likely a case of dog flipping, wherein a dubious person nabs free pure-bred dogs only to re-sell them for full price. Disgusted by this man’s callous behavior and feeling sorrier than ever for this dog, I posited that we might drop by the next day just to introduce Fonzie to our three Westies—Blanche, Keely, and Ambrose—and see how he was with other dogs. I figured their interaction would clinch for me forever that this was not meant to be, so I could then walk away with a clear conscience. At best, this was just supposed to be a play date.

Well the family had just left for their vacation, but we were put in contact with a neighbor of theirs who had a house key and was familiar with Fonzie. We advised her to meet us out on the sidewalk with the dog on his leash, and ours would be in the same condition, so we could just take a walk together and not trigger any unnecessary territoriality issues.

Our pack met this pooch with friendly indifference and we walked. Fonzie seemed to be limping somewhat and had some trouble keeping up with our normal brisk pace. The neighbor told us the extent of his walks were super-slow gambols around one block, so he was probably just out of shape. As we regularly took our dogs for three-mile jaunts around the cities’ lakes, again, I was thinking this dog, cute though he was, was not a match for us and our household’s energy level.

As a final test, we entered the family’s fenced-in yard and took all the dogs off their leashes. Instantly, Fonzie was transformed. He ran full bore around and around the yard, playing tag with our pack of pooches. He looked like a puppy. The neighbor’s voice choked a bit as she said, “If that dog were to die today, you could know this was the happiest day of his life.”

Damn her.

We loaded up his kennel, food, toys, etc. and walked our new “kid” to the car.

Because of his white color and unconfident demeanor, so different from the black-leather-jacket-wearing Arthur Fonzarelli (Fonzie) from “Happy Days,” we simply couldn’t call him that name. It just didn’t suit him, and we wanted him to have a clean slate with us. As we drove toward a park for another walk with the dogs, I blurted out, “Let’s call him Oliver, after Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. He was an orphan who eventually got adopted into a terrific home.”

I’d wanted to go to a shady park because it was very hot that day, but my husband insisted we go to Como Park instead. Once there, I saw why. There in front of us, posted at the entrance to the Como Park Pavilion was a large play bill advertising their musical, reading, “Playing tonight, Oliver!”

After our walk, as we drove home, we passed a single political sign in someone’s yard, urging people to elect Trevor OLIVER for some local office! (Oddly enough, I’ve looked but never noticed that person’s sign anywhere else in St. Paul since that day.) We acknowledged that something bigger than us was guiding this whole affair, but at least we were sure we were getting the message and doing the right thing by this dog.

Fast forward to our last several months with Oliver, we have spent over $1,000 on surgery for this supposedly “free” dog when it was discovered he had had a large bladder stone and a big cyst on his back that both needed removal. We had his teeth cleaned while he was under anesthetic, too, giving him a total tune-up.

He has big-time trust issues, meaning he won’t come when you call or reach for him and growls if you pick him up. He also has a tremendous amount of fear, triggered by any new sound, including and especially that made when we open the blinds or a window. We suspect that Oliver’s blinds-triggered response especially is past-trauma-based because of the horrific “screams” that come out of him when he hears that sound. That’s pure terror coming from this poor dog, not dominance barking as we’d once thought.

Oliver has bitten my husband several times as he simply tried to soothe the crazed dog after a blind was inadvertently opened in his presence! The moment afterward, however, Oliver comes out of his hysterical trance and meekly kisses Anthony’s bloodied hand as if to say, “I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to do that! I really couldn’t help it.” (To his credit, my husband has never blamed Oliver for these instances. He knows he should have had a better hold of the dog’s head when easing him into a down-stay position to try and relax him.)

There are signs of great progress, too, fortunately. For the most part, being a member of a pack has helped him learn to be a dog and to play. Oliver’s favorite thing to do is to lightly clamp his teeth around the base of Ambrose’s tail and let the 27-pound giant Westie drag him around the room—simply hilarious to witness. He’s doing great on our walks and even does short runs with my husband while Anthony rides his bike. He’s enjoying a healthful raw-food diet that’s settled his tummy and is keeping his teeth shiny and white. Recently, he discovered our fireplace and is blissed out over being able to lie in its warmth, soothing what we suspect may be a touch of arthritis in his front leg.

He has learned to get along with one of our two cats, Xander, who knows how to work Westies by standing still and giving them nothing to chase and presenting an elevator butt for the dogs to sniff. But 14-year-old Giles has begun hissing and growling occasionally in Oliver’s presence, possibly because the senior kitty isn’t feeling well himself or because he’s neurotic and has a death wish—we haven’t decided which—the sound of which sends this fearful new dog into an apoplectic fit of barking, thus triggering the other dogs to recall, “Oh yeah, that’s right, we’re pack animals, too. Let’s help him terrorize the cat we normally like just fine.”

Yelling, screaming, flailing and even growling hasn’t dissuaded them out of the red zone when they’re attacking in unison. But, I’ve discovered purely by accident that if I make a clipped, high-pitched screech-like sound myself, it almost magically snaps Oliver out of his barking fit. This throat-straining sound of mine has cut short some really deafening bark-fests, I tell you. I’m thinking of making a CD…

So, though still a nervous “Grumbly Gus,” Oliver is showing ever-increasing signs of his love bug side emerging. His issues are severe enough that I recognize the former caregivers, who were dog-owning newbie’s, simply weren’t equipped to handle a Westie with such debilitating issues beyond just being a terrier, which can be challenging enough by itself. (Though we don’t know for sure, we doubt he was actually abused by his former owners. More likely, neuroses these deeply ingrained stem from his having been a puppy mill dog.)

Lucky for Oliver, we’re a Westie-wise home and stubborn enough to persevere through his worst behaviors, though at my own times of high stress I have told Oliver in exasperation—usually while the cat is shivering in fright, yanking out tufts of his fur, and no longer joining the family in any activities we once shared when he felt safe—“You’re here for the long haul, but I see why other people had to give you up, dog.”

We L-O-V-E our most recent adoptee, Oliver, and he has found his forever home with my hubby, Anthony, our menagerie, and me despite anything in this story that might be construed as second thoughts on our part about that. I just thought giving folks a factual, rather than euphemistic account of an actual rescue would benefit some of them in their decision-making.

My advice to everyone, do adopt a shelter animal, please! Just don’t wear rose-colored glasses when you go pet shopping. We lucked out repeatedly over the years with several quickly adjusted rescues—this is the first time we’ve had actual ongoing conflict between any of our four-legged family members—but we had to be prepared for challenges like those presented by our dear little Oliver. He will likely be our greatest teacher yet, and for that we thank him and welcome his sweet kiss on our chins.

Higgins (formerly Mr. MacTavish)

Cari Wolfe

When we lost Tyler, our 13 year-old Westie, in February of 2008, it seemed like a good time to further simplify our lifestyle and live without a Westie for the first time in nearly 30 years. We live in a downtown condo and while the building is pet-friendly and has a park right across the street, it’s not the same as opening the back door and letting the dog out. We enjoyed the “freedom” through the spring and much of the summer; coming and going as we pleased, not needing to get home to feed anyone or take anyone out, not having anyone to greet us when we got home…

That mindset lasted until some time in August when we started to actively seek out a non-puppy Westie to fill the gaps in our too-simplified lifestyle. We “met” Sue through some on-line research in September. She didn’t know of anyone who fit our profile at the time but said “you just never know when someone will turn up.” She advised us to apply with the Westie rescue organizations in Missouri and Nebraska since she could perform the home visit for them and we would be able to qualify even though we live out of their normal adoption areas. Only a couple of days later Sue contacted us and said that a scrawny little 2 year-old named Mr. MacTavish was about to be given up in Missouri and he might be just the boy for us. He would need some TLC, good food, and time, but he seemed like a good match.

The first pictures we saw looked a little like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, but Mac’s little face stole our hearts right away. Mac was turned over to Westie Rescue of Missouri and then Kris in Iowa fostered him for a couple of weeks to care for his skin problems and put some weight on his bones. On a Saturday in October we drove down to Iowa to finally meet Mr. MacTavish. What a lover he was from the first minute we saw him. He curled up and slept on my lap nearly all the way home with one relief stop along the way.

The first couple of weeks he was the biggest pleaser you ever saw. He couldn’t do enough to show us what a wonderful dog he was and what a good decision we had made to bring him home. We tried calling him Mac but it just didn’t seem to fit this tiny little guy, so he became Higgins. He never barked, he figured out the outside routine amazingly fast, he had no problem with being kenneled when we were at work, and was the all around perfect dog. Then he got comfortable, and confident, and crazy. Now he barks at many real and imagined events. He barks when we sneeze. He barks if he isn’t the center of attention.  He demands our attention and likes it best when the three of us are all within easy petting distance. He prefers family walks, hunts down anyone who may be planning to skip this particular outing, and is uncooperative about sitting still while the harness is put on until he’s sure we’re all going out together. He’s a sock savant, removing every sock (and only socks) from a pile of laundry and even makes a grab for the one you’re trying to put on your foot. He’s most content when he is in constant physical contact with his people, using our bodies as his personal lounge furniture.

And he is always right by the door to greet us enthusiastically when we come home. Higgins has been with us for over two years now and there is no comparison to the scrawny, furless, 11-pound, little anything-but-a-Westie looking boy we brought home. He’s all Westie and is a wonderful companion; we couldn’t be happier.

The Rescue of Kenzie and Caleigh

Deb Theisen

Hi! I’m Kenzie.

I am five years old, but I feel like a puppy. I try to forget my early years. My mom, sister and I don’t talk about it, it is just too horrible. But mom says sometimes it’s good to get it all out. So I’ll tell you my story.

There was a time when I lived in a crate. Day and night. I never got to be around good people, I was just around other dogs.  Lots and lots of dogs.  It was bad smelly (not good smelly), and noisy cuz everybody was always barking cuz they were hungry or cold or hurt. Nobody loved me or anybody else.  The people there were not very nice.  They yelled at me all the time and sometimes they hurt me. I wee’d and poo’d right through the grates in my crate. I got to eat but the food wasn’t very good.  I was left outside when it rained and when it stormed and when I hear thunder now, it reminds me of that terrible, terrible time in my life.

It was so humiliating. They made me have babies so they could make money.  Yes, I was a workin’ girl. It was awful. They made me have babies over and over, and I was such a good mother. I tried so hard to keep my babies. Even today when I see baby puppies, I try to take care of them and teach them stuff. Most of my babies were rescued, and went to good homes, thank God. I would be so upset if I thought their lives were anything like mine.

Then the good people of Westie Rescue of Missouri saved me! I was so scared, and so afraid. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me. I went to live with Molly and 4 other good dogs in Iowa City so I could adjust to life outside that horrible crate. They used to call me Caroline. I had a great time there with everybody. Then one day last January, my mom came to get me.  Let Caleigh tell you her part, then I’ll tell you the rest.

Hi!  I’m Caleigh! (fka Sophie)

I’m the party girl in the family. (Did you know a caleigh is a party and dance in Scotland? I’m Scottish, you know.) I don’t remember much of my early childhood.  All I know is that I had a family, and I lost them somehow. I can be quite an escape artist. Sometimes that is not a good thing. Luckily, the good people at Friends of Animals in Junction City, Kansas found me. They tried to find my first family, but they couldn’t. They said I was “stray.”

So I was lucky and went to live with a family: a Cairn named Danny Zuko and two kids. They were really nice, but being the party girl I am, they thought I was just too much.  Danny wasn’t that much fun (I tried to get him to play with me, but he just got mad at me.) And the mom didn’t like it that I ate poo (hey, I was hungry! I had been stray, and I never knew when I was gonna get more food), so THEY GAVE ME BACK to Friends of Animals after one month. I couldn’t believe it. I am so much fun!

Cathy, at RC Kennels, told me they found me a good home with another new Westie.  I was so excited! (You see, I am the excitable type.) So I got all dressed up and got into a truck with some nice people that drove me to Des Moines, Iowa to meet my new mom. I was only nine months old. But I had lived a lifetime already.

I learned a lot from my street friends. They said you got to make the best of every situation. And when you meet your people, make sure to love them up alot. That makes everything ok.  I learned good from them, cuz when I met my mom in the parking lot, I got out of the truck and ran right up to her and jumped up on her and gave her smooch after smooch. (that’s just one of the things I learned from my street friends.) Then we got in the car, and I laid my head in her lap.  I just knew she was gonna be a good mom.

Then we drove to Iowa City to meet my sister. She is SO pretty! And SO petite! I am tall and thin, and she is short and has that perfect Westie look with very soft hair. My hair is kinda thin, and coarse. Mom says she likes it that way—that I have the “scruffy” look, and I have to say I am quite proud that I look a little bit different from everyone else.

Mom says she drove 700 miles that day to get us. We had to stop at a hotel on the way home cuz it was too foggy to drive. I totally remember that it was VERY cold with snow. Neither me nor Kenzie knew how to walk on a leash. Mom tried to get us to wee outside, but we wouldn’t—it was too cold. She couldn’t get us to go thru the door at the hotel. Finally we got thru. Then as soon as we got inside the hotel room, we both wee’d right there on the carpet. It was hysterical!

We slept right there on the bed with mom that night. And every night since then. It is really cozy.

From Kenzie, the elder

We love our furever home and our mom. She takes us to all kinds of fun events. Our best people friend is our walker and sitter, Robin. She loves us as much as our mom. And every day when mom’s at work, she comes to take us out to see the squirrels. And whenever mom goes on vacation or travelling for work, then we get a vacation too, cuz Robin comes and stays with us and we have a big party the whole time.

We got to be in our first Westie parade this year. That was a ball! We really thought we were somethin’ else. All that attention. We deserve it! We have NEVER seen so many Westies. We get to go to Central Bark and see our good people friends Stacie and Micaela every week. And at Central Bark we are part of an awesome pack. We have SO MUCH FUN there.  And now we hang out alot with our cousin Gracy, she is a very cute doxie only four months old. We’re showing her the ropes.

My sister Caleigh is a super-star. She earned her STAR puppy award, her Canine Good Citizen award, and is now doing Agility classes at Dog Works. She has her own fun tunnel at home. And she is not even two years old. She is SO SMART, she learns everything very quickly. But she HATES to be away from me. If mom tries to take me somewhere without Caleigh, she lets out a scream that you wouldn’t believe.

I, Kenzie, now “go outside” to wee (well, most of the time.) I’m not afraid of stairs anymore and navigate them confidently (sometimes TOO confidently!) I do my “happy dance” every mealtime. I LOVE my food.  Am no longer afraid of other people, and I LOVE hanging out with other dogs. I LOVES to play toy. I am such a happy girl. I LOVE my life.

We are two super-happy, healthy, fun-lovin’ Westies. We love each other very much.  We let our mom do anything to us; brush our teeth, give us baths, brush our fur, put on coats, whatever she wants. Cuz we are so happy we found her. And she is so happy she found us.


Anna Jacobson

My family has been a two-Westie family for about 10 years. That changed this May when we lost our almost 16-year-old Lindy.  I found out right before my finals week at Bethel so I felt the affect of loss right away. Our other dog Lucy hung in there though , even though she seemed lonely at times.  Lindy left a hole that needed to be filled, but we waited for a while because we wanted the right dog to join our family. We tried for one dog this fall, but because it didn’t work out we gave up looking for a while.

Then one Monday, Sue sent us an email with a link to a PetFinder site for a little Westie named Fred.  There was something about his picture and his description that moved us to give him a shot. My dad brought Lucy down to Owatonna to see if Fred would fit and he went home with them that same day.  (A sweet side-story that showed us Lucy was ready for a new brother: she rode in the front seat on the day down to Owatonna, but on the way back, she laid right outside of Fred’s kennel in the backseat.) His goofiness and affection have brought joy to our life every day since then and we couldn’t be happier to be a two-Westie family again!

Background on Fred: We adopted the almost 8-year-old from the humane society in Owatonna. He was originally from Arizona, but he is adjusting really well to his first MN winter!


Kyle, Debbie, Andrew, and Erinn McIntyre

Owen was pictured on a Westie email this past September with “Fun” being described as his middle name.  We saw his story of being rescued from the St. Cloud pound and contacted Steph and John Wisecarver, who were his foster family.  We arranged a meeting at the Crossroads Animal Shelter and from the moment we saw him, we knew he would make a great addition to our family.

Owen gets along great with his older Westie brother Oscar (6 years old). Our Vet estimated that Owen was a little over one year old when we adopted him.  He has lots of energy and our family has had a lot of fun watching “our boys” play and romp through the house and yard.  They both love their daily walks and enjoyed the Scottie/Westie Halloween party this fall.  One of their favorite things to do is to sit side-by-side and watch for squirrels out the window (see attached photo).  We will sometimes catch Owen staring right at us, as if he is deep in thought.  We like to think that he is thinking about his fortune in becoming permanent part of our family.  Adopting Owen was the best thing we ever did!  (A special thanks to John and Steph Wisecarver for initially fostering Owen until we found him!)

How “Lucky Laddie” became “Duffy”

Mary Ellen Otis

Laddie entered into foster care March 22, 2008.  He had been a stray in Winona, MN.  I’m sure he is does not have any show dogs in his background… the poor guy has a pretty skimpy coat that tangles easily so 2 minutes after he’s brushed he looks “scruffy”.  He’s got long, skinny legs and very large ears… the first time my groomer saw him her observation was, “My, you’ve got really good reception!”  I applied for a rescue dog after losing my 16 year old male Westie, Cruz.  Cruz’s daughter, Jazz, and I were very lonesome, the house was too quiet, and I knew we needed another little boy to make us laugh again.  It turns out I was the “lucky” one.  After talking with people and being approved, I drove down to Madison, to Jennifer’s house, where Laddie was being fostered.  He and Jazz hit it off right away.  Jennifer was a wonderful foster mom and gave me many good suggestions about rescuing a Westie.  After ‘sleeping on it’ over night, Jazz and I went back the next morning, having decided to take Laddie home with us.

Everything went smoothly on the way home… he was nicely crate trained and traveled quietly.  He came in the house and made himself at home right away.  I wasn’t satisfied with the name ‘Laddie’… Jennifer said she didn’t care for it either.  It just didn’t seem to fit him.  About a week or so later when I went out in the yard to get him I just happened to kneel down, put my arms out, and called “Duffy, let’s go” in a happy voice.  He tore across the yard and threw himself right into my lap as if to say “Well, what took you so long to figure out my name?!”

Duffy has been with us now since May 2008.  He’s been a welcome addition to my home and heart.  He and Jazz play together a lot… he’s keeping her young at eleven years of age.  We have had a few problems along the way.  I had to get used to his vocalizations.  He’s a talker and sometimes the talking sounds like growling and sometimes it is growling.  We had a couple of discussions about who’s chair it was… if I got out of the chair he would jump back up and when I returned he didn’t want to move over… so he would growl and try to tell me it was his chair.  After dumping him out a couple of times he got the message and there hasn’t been a problem since.  He’s never had an accident in the house, he gets along well with other dogs that come to visit and he absolutely loves kids.  He gets a little excited if they run around and yell, but all it takes is one or two reassuring words and he’s fine.  I did as Jennifer suggested and put a chair by a window so he could keep an eye on things outside.  In the summer it’s on the screened in porch and in winter it’s in the dining room.  The mailman has made friends with him by offering treats when he’s being barked at, which I thought was very nice.

Duffy loves to go in the car.  We go to visit my grandkids where there is a bigger yard and he has a lot of fun racing around wildly, playing with the kids, chasing Jazz and any squirrel that appears.  He also likes to go to the dog park nearby & does well with all the excitement of groups of dogs.  He still barks at things on the television… watching Animal Planet became a whole new experience!  Earlier this year his barking annoyed the neighbors quite a bit, but we talked about it, I did a little more training, and they do a little more talking to Duffy through the fence so things have been much better.

We’ve done some obedience training also.  He is so smart and learns quickly.  He loves the mark and treat type of training very much and seems to have a lot of fun… very food oriented.  I tried the conventional training also, but that didn’t go as well.  They wanted me to put a pinch collar on him and that just shut him down.  So we’ve gone back to the other type of training.

He still jumps like he’s on a pogo stick when I’m getting the food ready… the grandkids get a big kick out of that!  He doesn’t “guard” his food, and doesn’t argue about food with Jazz… he really does have good manners.  He’s never tried to run away even when the gate has been left open a couple of times.  He actually will come as long as I don’t yell too loud!  He still whines when he thinks he’s been ignored long enough… especially when I’m on the computer.  One day he was pestering me, then started sniffing around on the floor by the desk, and the next thing I knew he had put his paw on the surge suppressor and turned off the computer!  As I mentioned, he’s very smart!

There were times when I didn’t think I had it in me to adjust to a dog I hadn’t raised from a puppy.  But Duffy has earned his way into my heart.  He is such a loving little dog.  Everyone that comes to visit likes him.  He is so funny and playful… he and Jazz make me laugh every day.  Another benefit from having him… he needs a lot of exercise so I have been walking him every day… last winter I walked every day even when it was 20 below!  We might only make it around the block but we do it, rain or shine.  He appreciates it and it’s certainly keeping me healthy and happy.  I wish I had better words to convey how much enjoyment he brings.

Many thanks to everyone in Wisconsin Westie Rescue for letting me have this darling boy.  I appreciate everything you’ve done and continue to do for these dogs.  Jennifer, thanks for being such a good foster mom, answering all my questions and helping me through a few tough spots.  Duffy has found his ‘forever home’ and filled a big hole in my heart.

We hope you have enjoyed reading these happy-ending stories!


OLIVER (The same one from just above. That story gave the insights of what happened after the “happily ever after” ending here.)

We’d seen, and I’d posted on my Facebook page twice, information about a Westie boy’s need of a home. His name at the time was Fonzie. (I just didn’t see a black leather jacket when I looked at him though, so it never seemed to fit him.) When I talked with the current owner, I found out he was 6 (and I’d thought he was closer to Keely and Ambrose’s ages, between 2 and 3). This disappointed me somewhat only because I want the best shot at having my pets with me for eons.

Apparently, the couple were having trouble finding him a home—and they were at least his third thanks to the home he’d been in most of his life being now off limits because they’d had kids. According to them, he barked incessantly, was aggressive to cats, etc. I asked how he was with other dogs and was told he either ignored them, as on walks, or hid from them under chairs if they were playful around him.

I figured all this meant we shouldn’t even consider taking him in since we have two cats and three other Westies. But while I was talking to this woman, a man had come to check out “Fonzie.” He snidely remarked that he thought the dog’s nose and tail were a little long for his tastes and he wasn’t what he was looking for in a Westie. I told the owner that this guy sounded like he showed dogs because someone just looking for a companion would never be that critical of this cutie pie. But then I thought about it. This man was not going to show a 6-year-old, neutered dog; and he certainly wasn’t going to be breeding him. My only conclusion was that he was a Dog Flipper! (Someone who finds free dogs on craigslist and resells them as purebreds for hundreds of dollars!) Despicable!

Even though my “head” said forget this and reminded me that I have more than enough dogs as it is, something outside myself (I attribute this to my Spirit Guides) kept telling me, “You have to have these dogs meet each other.”

The family who owned him the last six weeks were going to be leaving that Saturday (7/17/10) for a two-week vacation and really wanted this dog gone in their absence. They had a neighbor tend to him the morning they left, had arranged for a house-sitter for the weekend, and were going to have the original owner come and get him for the remainder of the two weeks. Though I applaud them for arranging for his care, that’s a lot of shuffling around for an obviously insecure dog.

We brought our dogs over and asked the neighbor, Susan, to meet us out on the sidewalk with “Fonzie” so they could meet as a pack and take a walk together, thus avoiding any territorial issues. They were friendly but fairly neutral on the walk. This new dog seemed unfamiliar with walking at a brisk pace, and Susan said all he got was a slow walk around the block when he got any exercise at all. (Our dogs get a 2–3-mile brisk walk and/or a run alongside my husband Anthony’s bike nearly every day.)

I still wasn’t completely convinced this was going to be a match made in Heaven, until, that is, Susan let us into their backyard and we took all the dogs off their leashes. “Fonzie,” the supposedly fearful dog, began racing around the yard, chasing and being chased by my three and playing up a storm! They were are calm and instantly accepting of one another. I had no choice but to say, “Oh cripes, we’ve got ourselves another dog! Somebody buy me a straitjacket!”

When we were leaving, we decided to go for another walk with him around a local park or lake. I’d suggested a Central Park in Roseville, MN, because it was shady and the day was quite hot. Anthony, for some reason, insisted we go to Como Lake in St. Paul instead. On the way, we called to our new boy to get in the car, saying, “Come on, whatever-your-name-is-going-to-be. Hop in!”

We have a prepared list of names we’d like to give to our future pets, but none of them seemed to fit him. Changing his name was meant to give him a fresh start, and he didn’t answer to Fonzie anyway.

As we drove, I said, “What about Oliver? In Dickens’ story ‘Oliver Twist,’ he’s an orphan who finally gets adopted into an awesome home and has his life transformed.” It was not a name we’d ever considered before.

He agreed and as we drove up to the Como Park Pavilion we saw a playbill posted on the wall, reading, “Playing tonight: “Oliver!” Then, as we drove home, we passed a campaign sign in someone’s yard that read: “Trevor OLIVER.” We didn’t doubt we’d received the right message and named him accordingly.

Of course, I then began singing all the songs from that musical I knew. Particularly fitting was the song, “Consider Yourself” whose lyrics go: Consider yourself at home; consider yourself part of the furniture. We’ve taken to you so strong, it’s clear we’re going to get along.”

Being in a pack has done wonders for this dog. He seldom barks (Keely is much more likely to do this because there are kids in the neighborhood that like to tease her), and when he does, he hushes up with a stern, “Hey!” ala Cesar Millan’s pack leader instruction.

We’re working on the cat aggression, too. Oliver is fine if I’m there to remind him to “Be nice to the kitties.” On his own, he still charges and barks, but that appears to be the extent of it. He stops in a few seconds on his own (and because we come running). Luckily, Giles and Xander, our cats, have lived with six previous Westies and know the drill. Giles hides in the basement when he needs to, and Xander stays still and gives him nothing to chase.

Oliver has an unusual phobia of blinds being raised and windows being opened, but we’re working to pair that action with him being in a relaxed state and are seeing progress there as well. It’s been theorized that he might have been thrown out a window at some point to cause him to fear their opening and closing so much, but we’ll never know for sure. At least he’s find looking out of them once they’re stationary.

Clearly, his former owners gave him good care, but they really didn’t understand Westies. He barked because he was bored out of his little mind. They seldom had him off a leash even in the house, and that leash was enormous, think Rottweiler size! Plus, the house was emotionally divided. The mom and daughter loved him, but the dad and son did not. How confusing for the dog!

Being in a calm, unified pack has made a world of difference to Oliver. As the neighbor, Susan, said when she saw all the dogs playing that first day, “He could die today and you’d know he’d had the best day of his life!”

From the top photo, clockwise: Oliver, Blanche, Keely and Ambrose.

On the couch, from left: Ambrose, Keel, Oliver and Blanche.

In the hammock, you try and figure out which is which!

Photos by Susan Timmerman.


The following several stories are of 2009 adoptions, including my own Ambrose.

Go rescue!

Scooter & Macy—by Lisa Dotseth, as dictated by Scooter
(Scooter was owner surrendered and Macy was a stray—both adopted through Crossroads Animal Shelter)

Scooter here. It’s been about a year since you heard from me or Macy (unless you were at the spring walk, you probably heard me just fine). Macy is still pretty shy, so she’s going to let me tell you our story…

I first met my new mom and dad when they came to visit me and Macy at John and Steph’s house. They stayed a while to talk to Steph and play with me. I got to show them my favorite toy frog. It squeaks a lot. Anyway, I turned on the charm and must have made a really good impression, because Macy and I were were soon on our way to our new home. Macy didn’t say anything the whole way, but that’s OK, I talked enough for both of us.

When we finally got to our new house, Mom and Dad took Macy’s crate out of the van and put it by the back door. I couldn’t wait to check out the fence around the yard. Before I could warn Mom and Dad about how quick Macy is, she slipped right through the bars of the gate! I don’t know how she did it—I can’t get my head through there! Mom, dad and I tried to catch her, but Macy is very fast. I helped look for her by following her tracks in the snow for a while, but it got too dark. Mom and Dad were really sad. We walked A LOT, calling Macy’s name. We met a really nice policeman who looked for her after dark with his spotlight. We printed out pictures of her and handed them out to our neighbors. I even autographed a few with my snowy pawprints. Mom and dad carried around these great treats. I love treats, but Mom said we should save some for Macy, too, since she was probably hungry.

One day we got a few people from Mom and Dad’s work, my new aunt and cousins, and some awesome Westie people together for a search-and-rescue mission. We split up to hand out more pictures of Macy. I autographed some of those, too. At one farm house, I met a big dog, and the man said he’d seen Macy in his shed. The very next day, he called to say she was there, and we drove in the snow and wind to bring her home. I’m not good with time, but Mom says that Macy was gone for just over a week.

Mom said it was a rough start, but we’ve settled into a routine. Every morning we get brushed. Did I tell you I hate to be brushed? One day I forgot, and when Mom held out the brush and said “who wants to get brushed?” I jumped up on the bed. Macy always does that, but I won’t forget again! We still walk a lot. Macy could learn a thing or two from me about walking on the leash, but she’s getting better. Mom says she’s a typical little sister, barking at me and squeaking my favorite toys until I chase her. I just hope she doesn’t figure out that I know her secret hiding spot for chew treats is under the couch!

Tipper—by Colleen Turgeon and Patrick Pohl

We’ve been members of the “lilwhiteterriers” emails for about a year and a half. I (Colleen) especially enjoy reading them—it’s always the first email I open when I get into my AOL.

One particular day in June I opened one about Tipper—the westie/cairn mix who was 12 and being fostered by the Wisecarvers. The attached pictures were of a rather odd looking dog with very short grey hair (nothing like either of my two westie girls Bailey and Zoe) but my heart melted when I saw that face. Soooooo sweet. I swooned. But since we already had two dogs, I closed the email and thought nothing more of it.

A couple of days later an interview with Tipper (as told by reporter Sue Storms) popped into my email box and well, I was hooked. I couldn’t close it and go on my merry way. I knew that her age would keep many from considering her. My sweet Bailey girl was 14 and the most precious thing in the world to me, so age was not a factor in my mind. I called Patrick and told him to look. I told him that I think we should go get her and give her a good home. I expected him to say something about already having two dogs (and two cats)…but his response was “Yep, let’s do it!”

We picked her up at Crossroads in mid-June and brought Bailey and Zoe along to meet her. It was love at first sight (not as much for the Westies as it was for Patrick and me, LOL). Tipper came into our home as if she’d lived there her whole life. She was instantly comfortable and part of our family. Our neighbors were also very excited to meet her when we started taking her for walks (she’s since become a neighborhood favorite). We weren’t sure what we would get with a rescue (and possibly shady past) but she is a delight—a very good girl and by far the best thing that happened to us this year.

We lost our Bailey girl in October so now it’s Tipper and Zoe—and they are best buds. I can’t help but feel that somehow Bailey had a hand (or a paw) in Tipper coming into our lives. We feel very fortunate to have the love and company of such a great dog. Thank you so much to the Westie rescue group (John, Steph and Sue) for allowing it to happen.

Abby From Kenosha—A Happy Tale of Adoption, by Vanessa Rico

I was lucky to adopt Abby at the beginning of October, 2009. Abby is a more experienced girl who came from Kenosha. I hesitated for a couple of weeks because I wasn’t entirely sure I was ready for another dog, especially an older one. However, I took the plunge, called Sue and waited to hear if she was to come live with Allie (my other Westie) and me.

We were lucky!

Jan from Scottie Rescue picked her up in Wisconsin and took her to St. Paul where we first met. She’s such a sweet girl! She was a bit shy at first and not sure what happened to her. Allie was very excited to have a playmate, although at times she gave me a look as if to say, when is she leaving? Overall, they get along great. Abby’s shyness has disappeared and she seems to have adapted to our home very, very well. She gives me kisses every morning.

Abby’s very smart, was trained well and she’s very young for her age. She loves to go for walks. She and Allie are the terrors of the rabbit and squirrel population of my backyard. So much so that two weeks ago Abby tore a cruciate ligament after running like crazy dog in the backyard and had to have surgery last week for repair. She’s doing great now and looking forward to Christmas with her cousins, Fergus (Springer Spaniel) and Hobbes (Golden Retriever), along with sister Allie. She’s also looking forward to walking in the parade next year.

Happy Tale of Ambrose, the Heaven-Sent Westie—by me (Sid Korpi)

Near the beginning of October, 2009, my husband, Anthony Kaczor, sprang what he thought was a fabulous idea on me: “How about I drive out to South Dakota (from Minneapolis) and pick up this dog I saw on PetFinder.com while you’re at one of your book signings?”

I calmly (yeah, right) listed the many things I felt were wrong about his hair-brained scheme:

“First off,” I told him, “You must NEVER think you get to pick my next four-legged kid without me!

“Second, you’re clearly in full-blown ADHD-based ‘Oooh, something’s shiny!’ mode and just itching to spend money impulsively.” (It’s a family trait…his family, that is.)

“Third, you’re trying to re-create the exact scenario when we got Mortimer, and you know we can’t expect to be that lucky twice.” (Mortimer was our beloved Westie who’d just passed away in June of 2009. More on his story to come.)

“And finally, when we adopted Mortimer, we had no other dogs in the house to consider. Now we have Blanche and Keely (two more rescued Westies). We have to be able to have a home visit with whatever dog we add to the mix; so driving to another state is out of the question. It’s going to have to be a local adoption like the two girls were.”

I, our home’s Alpha Female, alias “She who must be obeyed,” had spoken. End of story, right?

Well, not quite. No sooner had I put the perfectly logical kibosh on the idea than we got a call from the Brookings Regional Humane Society saying their vet, Dr. Rose, could drive this Westie to the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities campus, which is a mere five minutes from our house, to let us get the dogs together for a meet and greet! How much more “local” could things get?

Even I had to admit that maybe my hubby was being purposely led to that PetFinder site. And the more we thought about it, the more convinced we became that our precious Mortimer was dropping heavy-pawed cues right and left so we’d know HE had chosen this new dog for us.

Case in point, both Mortimer and Ambrose (the new dog, formerly called Otter) were West Highland White Terriers. Both had been picked up as strays. Both were in shelters in the Dakotas. And both were ENORMOUS for Westies.

Blanche, 4, is a peanut at 12 pounds; Keely, 2, weighs in at 14 pounds. The high average is 18 pounds for the breed. Mortimer had weighed a muscular 21 pounds. Ambrose weighs 25.4 pounds, and that’s his perfect weight for his really big frame, according to our vet.

Their only difference was their ages. Ambrose is estimated to be just under 2, whereas, Mortimer, whom we’d adopted in 2006, had been advertised as 3 years old online, but when we brought him home and discovered his advanced degenerative arthritis, our vet said, “I don’t think he’s quite 10.” We were heartbroken to have lost out on so many years with this wonderful boy, but we loved him completely for the little more than three years he was with us. (He became the epilogue of my book on pet loss.)

Now, it was as though Mortimer wanted there to be no question whatsoever that he was to be credited for this adoption because as soon as we let Ambrose in our back door, he raced into another room and headed directly for a small basket that held chew toys. He’d just known where they were.

He then went, much to our dismay, to two of Mortimer’s favorite “marking” spots and made his mark. We sternly admonished him to only go potty outside, while inwardly reluctantly accepting that we were going to be stuck with another territorial male terrier and we’d better buy some more odor neutralizer by the gallon.

But then an amazing thing happened…Ambrose never marked again! He had apparently just gone immediately where Mortimer instructed him to go, on two different floors of the house, to really drive home the message, “Hey Mom and Dad, I’m here with this new dog. I brought him to you! It was me, me, ME!” (“It was I, I, I!” would have been more grammatically correct, but Mortimer’s a dog/angel, so I cut him some slack.)

And, as if we needed more evidence that this adoption was meant to be, our two cats, Giles and Xander, simply “recognized” him. They just walked up to him, sniffed him a moment and looked unfazed, as if they were saying, “Oh, it’s you again.” (Normally, when someone new is in the house, especially if that someone is a dog, they hide in the basement.) There were no huge trials as everyone adjusted to one another.

We know that despite his great size, Ambrose is still a puppy. He ate Blanche’s bed and my best dance shoe just because he could, for instance; he devours rawhide chews by the gross; and he races nonstop around the house like a keystone cop on steroids, sliding comically on the wood floors and wrestling with his new sisters. It’s like having a young version of Mortimer, and we couldn’t be more grateful! This dog truly was heaven sent.

Ambrose (the process behind the decision)

We had held a family meeting to discuss the possibility of our adding another Westie to our household. My husband and I sat on the floor with Westies Blanche and Keely and our cats Giles and Xander. We posed the question: “Will it be all right with you if we open up our home to another puppy dog who needs our love?” to each in turn. Touching each pet to make the energetic connection, I held a crystal pendulum dangling from a chain over a small 4×4 card with a circle drawn around its edges with the word “YES” written along it and a vertical line through the center of the circle with the word “NO” inscribed along it.

I held that pendulum in both hands, with my elbows braced on my knees, to ensure I could not inadvertently move it either way myself. One by one, we asked the question, and one by one, we got small, nickel-sized circles indicating yes.

Then I asked if this new dog had been paw-picked for us by Mortimer, our dear Westie boy who’d passed away just four months previously. Within seconds, tears were springing from my eyes because, without even the slightest change in my posture or movement in my hands, the pendulum began swinging fast and fully around the 4-inch circle’s circumference!! If that wasn’t a resounding YES! from the spirit world, I don’t know what is!

I asked if my mom were in on the plan, and the full-force swinging continued unabated. I knew they were right in the room with us, showering us with love! To test things, I asked a question to which I knew the answer was no, something like “Is my cat’s name Seymour?” and the pendulum stopped its swinging and transitioned to the back-and-forth motion along the “NO” line.

We could be sure Mortimer had masterminded this adoption because it was nearly identical to his own just 3-1/2 years earlier. Both he and this dog were found as strays; both were in animal shelters in the Dakotas—Mortimer, North Dakota, the new pooch, South Dakota; and both were among the LARGEST Westies I’ve ever seen in my life. Blanche is a peanut at 12 lbs. and Keely is on the small end of average at 14 lbs. Mortimer was 22 lbs. and this new fella is 25 lbs. and nearly 6 inches longer than Mortimer! Ginormous!

How many more clues did we need to get Mortimer’s message?

Backing up just a bit, he’d really had to work to get his message across because I had been quite resistant to the notion at first. I had told my husband I thought getting a dog from another state wouldn’t be a good idea because we now have the two girl doggies to consider; they must all be shown to be compatible, so having a local dog delivered for a home visit was the only way I was willing to do this. I figured we couldn’t count on repeating history and getting a second time, sight unseen, such a phenomenal dog as Mortimer had been. I thought my husband was forcing things to have history repeat itself, and I wasn’t buying it.

I figured that had put the kibosh on this particular dog’s adoption until the shelter vet, Dr. Rose Davidson, told us she’d be driving to the U of M—Twin Cities campus [less than 10 minutes from our house] from South Dakota this week (Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009) and could bring this Westie with her to meet with us and the girls!

I headed out the next day and bought 2-year-old Ambrose his new name tag and food dish!

Welcome to your forever home, big boy!!!

First meeting

First grooming

Size comparison with Blanche


Pet Passages

Remembering Trudi, an English Springer Spaniel—by Alicia Schwab (cover artist for my book Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss) May 14, 2012









Our dog, Trudi became suddenly terminally ill over two months ago. She was diagnosed with an Idiopathic Immune Mediated Skin Disease that caused deep lesions and Poly-arthritis. No dog deserves to be in as much pain as Trudi was. The last months were very hard, we did our best to help her by carrying her up and down the stairs, and hand feeding her. She bounced back a couple of times but eventually, she decided it was time to go. She was a well-loved, loving member of our family and her loss has left a terrible void. We miss you Trudi, we will always love you.

In better times Trudi was a lean-running machine tearing a permanent rut into the sod during her numerous hairpin turns around the circumference of the yard that she could circut for hours. She held the bunnies and squirrels in check. And so our signal for taking her out became, “Bunnies-n-Squirrels!” She was very smart and had additional vocabulary words that she understood as well as hand signals. She was very keen on reading my facial gestures, so I developed hand signals to reassure her. I had a signal for “I’m happy with you” and “I want to hug you”. When she saw that she sit right down to receive her hug. She needed hugs daily to reaffirm that she was doing a good job. She was an exceptionally nice dog, always considerate – never selfish. She liked everyone and until she got sick, everyday had been a good day.
Trudi, we wish you forever happy trails and happy days in doggie-heaven. Peace be with you.
-Your loving family.

Miss Paisley (formerly Trouble) by Sue Storms

“Trouble” entered my life in January when I was alerted of a 14-year old Westie in an east-suburban shelter. Her original owner had died and she was given to a family member who kept her for a month before taking her to the shelter because “we just can’t handle her”.  Trouble then went into foster care. After a week and 2 adoption announcements to the Little White Terriers group, no interest was shown.  Older dogs really pull at my heartstrings and I wanted to bring her home with me but my Homeowners’ Association rules allow only 1 permanent dog.  I put my best writing skills to work and contacted each board member asking for a special dispensation for this old gal.  Unanimously, they said “yes” and on January 14, 2011, “Miss Paisley Aberdeen” (who was no “Trouble” at all) moved in with Quinn, HobieCat and me.

It was quickly evident this gal had been well loved; she told me the human bed was where she wanted to sleep, the front seat of the car is where she requested she ride, her meals dare not be late, and a human lap (anybody’s lap) is where she preferred to sit.  And with her deep, loud barks, she made sure her demands were heard! That deep bark was the only un-lady-like characteristic of this “Grande Dame”.  Quinn instantly accepted her, HobieCat adored her and I was totally smitten – we loved having her in our lives!

She quickly became well-known and well-loved in my condo community.  Her stroller rides brought lots of smiles as she held her head high and sniffed everything around her as we ventured through our complex. Our Westie friends also liked meeting her and she was happy to allow anybody to hold her if they wished.  She also enjoyed going to Doggy Day Care every Wednesday and took it upon herself to keep an eye on all that was going on around her – she even learned how to use the doggy door!  A huge honor was bestowed upon her when she reined as Queen of the Wayzata Westie Walkers in the James J Hill Days parade; a position very fitting for this lovely old girl.

I always hoped her former family was looking down upon her, watching her enjoy life, and recognizing that it was possible for her to go on and still have fun after they died.  Sadly, her time too, had come to an end.  After a short illness, she left us on November 8th.  I thanked her for allowing me to spend these last precious months with her; I was honored to be her mom even if it was only for a short time.


I was surprised and comforted to hear my neighbors talk about her, taking a piece of ownership of her. “We were lucky to have her with us”. “We all loved her so much”.  She was greatly loved by so many, many people that she met in the last 10 months of her long life.


I hope her story is a reminder to all that older dogs can still enjoy life and bring joy to many people despite their age or the fact that their family has left them.  I’m convinced that Paisley is now reunited with her family, making her demands, once again enjoying the love she so rightly deserves and being “No Trouble at all”.

Miss Paisley

Pretty Paisley


Remembering Flashy by Kenna Arndt, age 10, Sept. 10, 2011

Flashy was a great fish. He has lived with me for five years. Now I will tell you a little bit about him. Flashy was a male Crowntail Betta fish. I got Flashy at Petco. He was a beautiful color red and he was very shiny. Here are some things he liked to do. Flashy loved to sleep by his stone treasure chest. Also, when I opened and closed my mouth Flashy opened and closed his mouth back. It was like we were talking. He loved to eat. Ever time I put fish food in his tank he would just gobble the fish food right up. Sometimes Flashy and I would play Hide and Seek. Flashy would hide somewhere in his tank. When I found him I would tap on the tank once and he would come out of his hiding spot. It was fun.

When your pet dies it leaves a hole through your heart but when the hole heals it leaves a scar. It is a good thing that Flashy isn’t suffering anymore. Thank you for listening to me.

a betta similar to Flashy


Saying Goodbye to Beringer by Marty Tousley Aug. 26, 2011

Dear Ones,

I’d like you all to know that this morning, August 22, 2011 we said our final farewell to our beloved Tibetan terrier, Beringer. He was born August 15, 1996, and came to us eight weeks later as the most precious and adorable puppy we’d ever seen. Over the years he wrapped his furry self around every aspect of our daily lives, and has been for both of us the source of the most exquisite form of love: complete, pure and unconditional. He has always been everything a dog should be: our most loyal and constant companion. He will be sorely missed.

My heart is too broken to say any more at the moment, so this will have to do:


It is especially sad for me to update this pet passages section when the loss is of a member of my family. On July 28, 2011, our beloved 15-year-old cat, Giles, passed on after a protracted illness with the compassionate assistance of in-home euthanasia provider, Dr. Rebecca McComas www.MinnesotaPets.net. I’ve written about his process in great detail on the Home page of this blog. Scroll down through the July 2011 entries to find these. I thank him daily for all the love and life lessons he brought me. I will love and miss my sassy cat forever.—Sid

Giles—my “Lion Sleeps Tonight” forevermore


From Cathy Foy, 5/10/11

With deep sadness to let you all know that we lost our beloved Rusti on Sunday at almost 13 from Kidney failure; we tried everything to save her, however, it was her time to enter the Rainbow Bridge where she can chase footballs, snowballs, eat and roll in whatever she wants.

Her spirit will always live on as she really did leave paw prints in our hearts.  We were blessed and honored to be able to have her love and have her as part of our family; she was our loyal friend, companion and daily inspiration.

Rusti as a puppy

Later she wrote this to me:

Greetings, Sid,

Hope this email finds you doing well!

We met you at the Pet Crossing event in Bloomington and really enjoyed talking with you. We are the family that lost our Golden Retriever Rusti in May. Since then, we have been grieving as you well know. I will be ordering you book as we did not win the bid for it during the silent auction and now know that I really need to read it.

Just within the last month, we have considered getting another Golden Retriever puppy. It has been extremely difficult for me and on Monday night, I was very emotional thinking that will there will never be another Rusti. Yesterday, when I was home, I was going through some boxes and found an Angel with a saying on it the Angels are the keepers of Magic and Dreams which I placed next to one of  Rusti’s tributes.  I also found a book called Animal Angels.  Later, when I went out to my car, there were 2 charms from my key chain that I have had for quite some time laying on the running board on driver side; 1 charm has I Love My Dog and there other is a bone.  I knew she was trying to reach me and give me a sign, but what is trying to say??  In your experience with this, do you think I am wrong or do you think there is a message??

I appreciate your valuable time and would pay you to discuss or provide your thoughts.   I really hope to hear back from you.

Hugs & blessings, :> cj

My response:

Hi Cathy,

You could not find someone who understands better how you felt at losing your pet. At 2 p.m. today, I am having an in-home vet, Dr. Rebecca McComas, help my 15-year-old cat, Giles, pass on. Despite all I know about the spirit surviving past death, I will still be a basket case for some time.

I think you are on your healing journey and your heart has reached a point where it feels strong and secure enough to be open to the signs Rusti is sending you. I believe she’s just confirming that she is doing well in her spirit form and that she’s watching over you. Perhaps she’s even on the lookout for your next pet and will paw-pick him or her just for you. It’s a gentle, loving heads-up that things are in the works. You should send her your thanks and love and just sit back and relax. You have your very own animal angel working on your behalf, so you can trust the time will be right and you will “know” your next pet when the two of you meet.

I will put your tribute and photos on my blog’s memorial page, and I’ll look forward to getting new ones when you adopt your next family member.

Wishing you strength and clarity,


A loving farewell by Margaret Owen Thorpe.

Big Willie

fka Felix

1993 – July 17, 2011


A kind and gentle soul

With a heart as big as his body

Never rioted, always quiet

Except when he sang to the moon.

He loved his Toby, he loved his people,

And he loved his munchies.

He was a Cat’s Cat.

I will miss him.

Big Willie


The following is a beautiful tribute to a wonderful dog, Portia, from her human mom, Marilyn Tokach.

Portia – May 8, 2000 – July 15, 2011


In Memorium


(May 8, 2000 – July 15, 2011)

Somewhere a journey begins at the end of the worldly existence we know,
Somewhere a path stretches over the stars and rivers of memories flow…
Somewhere a silence is heard far away and the brightness of day fills the night,
Where the trials of life are resolved into peace when a soul finds its way to the light.

PortiaI said good-bye to my girl today.  And I will miss her so much.

Portia was not supposed to be my dog.  She was a replacement puppy for her littermate, Faith, who died of kidney failure at 14-weeks. The breeder had planned to keep Portia for himself, but when he was informed of Faith’s passing, he sent Portia to the states to be my companion.  And I’m so blessed that she came.

I’ll never forget the night I picked her up from the airport.  She arrived under the cover of darkness in her little vari-kennel. She was covered in poop and smelled to high heaven.  The trip from Karlsruhe, Germany to Minneapolis was a long one for a 4-month-old puppy, but I was glad to have her once she arrived… and after she had a bath!

Portia taught me many things.  I started to train her using traditional training methods only to learn that while she could take a hard correction it broke her spirit, so began my quest for training through understanding and appreciating dogs as individuals.

We tried our luck in the conformation ring and she took fourth place in her first show – there were only 4 dogs entered.  I didn’t know anything about handling for conformation, and she certainly didn’t have the look that was going to win in any AKC show.  She had a ‘roach back’ – a rounded top-line which I think made her extremely fast when she ran, but didn’t bode well for her in the show ring. And the girl could run!  She was the fastest of all my dogs and to watch her run was one of my great joys.  I thought she looked so beautiful and happy when she ran.

SchutzhundFrom obedience and conformation we moved into the sport of Schutzhund.  Portia was really good at this sport, which is why I think the breeder had picked her for his own. Imported from Germany, she was the offspring of strong Schutzhund lines and she took to the training like a fish to water. I was too busy with life to seriously campaign her for a title, but I do think she would have done well.  bite sleeveConan did Schutzhund too, but he never took his work seriously.  Portia was completely focused on the training field and always gave it her all.  She was smart, too.  And often used rather underhanded methods to achieve her goal… More than once she would launch herself forward and push her front paw into the back of the decoy as he ran away, effectively knocking him off balance as she sunk her teeth into the bite sleeve and brought him down. Forrest & Portia Another time we were working on bark-and-hold, this is where the dog sits and barks at the decoy, but cannot bite the sleeve until the decoy moves.  Portia learned if she bumped the decoy in the crotch with her nose, he would move – fair game to bite the sleeve.  (The decoy learned to always wear protective athletic gear.)

I also learned about breeding with Portia.  After much research, reading and careful contemplation, I ran all the medical tests necessary to ensure a healthy litter of puppies.  I chose a quality stud dog of excellent lineage and drove to Illinois for the mating, not once, but two different heat cycles.  Portia did not become pregnant either breeding.  I’m grateful for all I learned and the great people I met as a result of my quest to start an exceptional quality breeding program.  I’m disappointed that all my efforts to produce good dogs were fruitless. It’s unbelievable to me that there are people in the world that regularly stick two intact pets together (sometimes not even of the same breed) just because it would be “cool to have puppies,” or “so the kids could experience the miracle of birth” and yet are able to successfully whelp a litter.  Still, I would not trade my experience with Portia for the best breeding bitch on the planet.

with ErikPortia certainly did some amazing things in her life that could not be taught… I remember a time we were training for Schutzhund one morning in Le Sueur, Portia got excited in the car and stepped on the automatic door locks, locking herself and the keys in the car.  I left her in the car supervised by my friend, Curt, with instructions to break a window and get her out if it gets too hot. Kirsten drove me back home to get a spare key, we were on our way back to the practice field, just a ½ mile away when we got a call that Portia had managed to unlock the door, and she was out and running around.

Door knobDoor knob damage!

Another time I took Portia with me to visit a friend in Lake City.  I left her in the ‘man cave’ for an hour while I had dinner with my friend. Not being happy that we left her, she attempted to open the door by herself by crushing the stainless steel door knob so she could get enough traction to turn it.  I’m certain if left another half hour, she would have managed to let herself out.  The only damage was to the door knob itself – not so much as a toenail scratch on the door. Indeed, she was a very smart dog.Portia taught me about commitment.  She didn’t not get along with my other female, Phoenix, and they had to be kept separate for her entire life.  Given the chance they would have killed each other.  There are things I might have done differently now that I am a more experienced trainer, but at the time separation seemed the easier option.  I thought about re-homing Portia at one point, but I couldn’t find a home that would appreciate and be able to manage her work ethic and drive. So she stayed with me.  It wasn’t always easy keeping dogs separated, while giving them the time and attention they all deserved. But I made a commitment to be her family and to keep her safe, loved and happy, and I’m fairly certain she had a pretty good life with me.

This past year she was always hungry and thirsty, a side effect of her seizure medication.  There were days when I felt like all she needed me for was food delivery and clean up. She was always grabbing for food and trying to eat anything she could get her mouth on – including her stainless steel food bowl, rugs, shoes, a spoon and a dish towel.  She chewed up more things at the end of her life than she did at the beginning! Ten days ago I was standing in the kitchen and she came up behind me and grabbed my fingers, trying to gently pull them off my hand – the way a dog would try to steal a sandwich off a 5-year-old kid. Only my fingers were not a sandwich and her firm grip was startling. She seemed to have little idea why she couldn’t pull them off… I think she was losing her mind a little.  Earlier in her life she wasn’t at all concerned about food, and her new obsession with it was both disturbing and sad.

up closeFor nearly the last year of her life Portia suffered from seizures most likely caused by a brain tumor.  They were horrific to watch. It was heart-wrenching to stand idly by for the 2+ hours it took her to recover and gather her wits about her.  Each seizure took a little more out of her and she became more vacant and more despondent with every episode. In the end the seizures became more frequent and it took her longer to recover.  I would look in her eyes these last few months, but my Portia was not there. So with four seizures in six days I made the difficult decision to schedule her final vet visit.

During those last five days of her life (after the appointment was made) she came back to me a little.  Her eyes seemed less vacant, she seemed a bit more alert and there were few, if any, ‘accidents’ in the house. She still had trouble pulling herself up and was occasionally unstable on her legs, but she seemed to be a little more of her old self once the appointment to end this life had been made.

Garden StoneThis last week was difficult for me.  When my other animals came to the end of their lives, it seemed I would know when it was time, but I’ve never had to make an appointment so far in advance before. And this whole week she seemed to be doing better and I started to second guess and rationalize… Maybe I should cancel the appointment and wait till she got worse.  If only she would have another seizure, I’d know I was making the right decision.  What kind of thoughts are these? Wait till she got worse? Did I really want our last memory to be of her going out in pain? One more seizure?  Hasn’t she already suffered enough?  Did I really need her to have one more seizure to prove to myself that it was time for her to go?

As stressful as it was, knowing that every day I was a little closer to ending her life, in hindsight it was the best decision and gave me time to grieve with her. We could say good-bye to each other a few hours at a time.

My wise friend, Sheri, shared with me this thought, “After she’s gone you will be much happier that you put her down one week too early rather than one day too late.” Of course! I didn’t want her to suffer. I didn’t want to be the last look I saw in her eye to be one of desperation and pain.  I didn’t want to have to look back and think, “Why did I let her deteriorate so much?”

PortiaAll week I’ve been giving her a little more of her favorite foods – an extra ½ pound of meat each day.  Some tripe, some chicken, some duck, white crab meat. A great big raw meaty knuckle bone.  More treats… a lot more treats! Thursday night I brought home a big bag of McDonald’s French Fries and we shared them. I know food doesn’t equal love. But she’d been craving food for so long, and who knows what kind of sensory experiences or fast food restaurants there are on the other side?

We took more walks.

And Friday, the day of her crossing, I declared the “Day of Portia.” It was dark, gloomy and rainy in the morning – perfect for my mood, but not for my plans for our special day. The weather never did clear up and it seemed all my plans to spend the day together would be washed away!  So Portia brought me one last lesson: Don’t let something stupid like a rainy day hold you back!  I donned my rain gear and off to the park we went! We left the house in a downpour, but we were going to the lake anyway… and wet is wet.  I should not have been surprised that by the time we reached the regional park the sky cleared up and the sun came out!  My lesson – just stick to your plan and take the first step, everything else unfolds from there.

In the lakeSo we while Portia enjoyed the water and the walking, I got the joy of enjoying her enjoyment. It gave me time to both appreciate her and to see just how far she’s declined. She WAS ready to go, but she was also happy to enjoy being out of the normal routine one last time to sniff around, drink lake water and feel life!  We enjoyed each others’ company, and I was able to just BE in the moment with her… no future, no past… just now.

We shared a slice of pizza – she got the bigger half (I don’t really like pepperoni that much anyway 🙂 ).

bridgeThen off to the vet… …and on to her next big adventure.

I’m truly blessed for all the years that we lived together. I learned so much from this beautiful German Shepherd Dog whose name I chose because it means “Offering.” She was offered to me to replace her sister, Faith, who was also a great gift in my life. And with her I have been blessed too many times to count.

“The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”
~Portia, The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare

So many lessons learned. So much love shared.
Godspeed, dear Portia. And thank you.


This letter is from a longtime friend of mine, whom I’d referenced in the introduction to my book. He has always had a deep bond with his hunting dogs, and his recent Lab, Buck, was no exception. I am grateful to Gary for sharing his remarkable story of Buck’s loyalty and assistance when his master was in need. With condolences to the whole Bayrd family, Sid


I re-read parts of your book this week.  We had to put my 11 y.o black lab – Buck – down last Friday.  He had stopped wagging his tail and eating.

He was a great hunter in his day.   Can’t remember if I told you, but in November of 2007  I stepped in a badger hole at our farm in SD and ruptured my L achilles tendon.  I was down and in pain.  Buck stopped hunting, came back and sat next to me.  The other guys could see from a half mile away a dog just sitting in the long grass and came and helped me crawl to the truck.  He was a loyal friend.  He joins Rusty, Rufous, Mac, Tar and Abby (his sister).

Thinking of you,


July 2011

Gary Bayrd and Buck


Noby, by Cindy Saltzman, May 2011
Noby always needed to be cuddled next to me, not laying on top of me, but under the covers….with the slightest bit of her just touching me, letting me know that she was there. She stayed that way until I fell asleep each night and then would travel to my pillow, sometimes ending directly on my head.  That’s who she was, she had an entire house and would choose to be with me.


Rodney, the longtime friend and inspiration for Amy and Tony Waara, owners of the Dog Perk, dog-centric people’s T-shirts/dogs’ bandanas business, has passed. But they offer this tribute and invite you to visit his lovely slideshow on their site. <http://www.thedogperk.com/rodneymemorial>

Rodney Allister Waara – Rest in Peace Little Man

October, 1997 to April, 2011

We lost our little Rod-Man on April 15, 2011 when he was diagnosed with stage 5 canine lymphoma and needed to be put down.  He inspired many of our funniest bandanas including: “Rock Star”, “I’m too sexy for this bandana”, “It WASN’T an accident”, “Professional Mooch”, “I’m not deaf…I’m ignoring you”, “Give me a Treat or I will poop in your shoe”, “Shut your Barkhole”, “Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog”, “A Lover not a Fighter”, “I’m Barking & I can’t Shut Up”, & “Oldie but a Goodie”.

Named after the legendary Rod Stewart our Rodney was “our little rock star”.  He often strutted around the house proudly when we played the song “If you think I’m sexy…”.  He was the oldest and wisest member of our pack.  He enjoyed long walks on the beach and loved to chase rabbits and squirrels at the dog park. He was known for his loud hound dog howl and his manipulative beagle ways.

We miss you RodMan!  


Frank and Sara Beaven are two wonderfully big-hearted, selfless, courageous people I was fortunate enough to meet in 2009 when I spoke at the Honoring the Animals Candlelight Vigil (hosted by Chance’s Spot) in Kentucky. They take in elderly or sick dogs that would normally be seen as unadoptable. They see to it that these dogs live out their final years well cared for and much loved. (Sara teaches pet first aid classes.) Recently, they lost two of their pack members. I hope including their pictures here will help them feel their pets are always remembered. They just adopted a diabetic miniature pinscher to continue their mission of saving animals. Bless your hearts, Beaven family!—Sid

Wolfgang and Roxie by Frank Beaven, Louisville, KY, posted 1-31-2011

Wolfgang took care of everyone. He was truly an alpha dog but he used that to care for his half sister and his adopted sister. He was an incredible little dog with the heart of a much, much bigger dog. He watched out for everyone and was always there to offer a bit of love.

Roxie was dumped at a shelter and then came to us through a rescuer. She had several medical problems but was a tough little girl. Everyone who met her fell in love with her and she had a special attachment to our two grandsons. She brightened everyone’s life and left everyone feeling a bit better. We all miss her greatly but know in time we will see her again.


Gal, by Jody Messner, submitted 1/8/11

What I learned from my dog:

1. Ignore the yelling and loud noises all aroung you, but don’t miss the hugs.
2. Be ready to join in any adventure with the people you love, even if it is just a short one.
3. Good things come to those who wait closest to the stove.
4. Always look at everyone with “big eyes”,  you will get lots of attention.
5. Watch over your family and keep harmful things away with a good loud bark.
6. Hang in there until the job is done, then play all the way back home, the best things are waiting on the other side of the front door.
7. Be patient with children.
8. Play with your friends but let them win once in awhile and share your bones too.
9. Just roll over and let your tongue hang out, someone will want to scratch your belly.
10. Your fur is the best place to let someone cry, then lick their face to clean them up.
11. Smile and jump when someone comes to visit, they’ll want to come again.
12. The best defense when something tries to hurt you is to run away but if a person you love is under attack, don’t think – just act, even it means biting a skunk in the butt.
13. If another dog tries to invade your territory, put their face in the ground until they decide it’s better to respect you. Usually  this takes one shot but some dogs are a little more stubborn.
14. Don’t eat your food alone, it’s better when family is around.
15. Drink lots of water, then you’ll keep getting more.
16. No one else can give you a bath better than you can.
17. Sometimes you can get pretty stinky when you roll in something that is dead. Then people want to avoid you for a while.
18. Eat whatever is offered from the table.
19. Always sleep right in the middle of everything so you don’t miss anything.
20. Always keep your nose to the ground, then you’ll find what you are looking for and when you find it, stop and tell the person you love, they are looking for it too.
21. The best way to exit  this life is in your own home surrounded by family.
22. Live your life so you will be missed.
Taught by Gal Messner, expressed Jody Messner. 

Also from Jody:
Your book was very helpful to me. Please keep up this good work for everyone who is comforted by it and will need the comfort of those stories. I used the suggestions to memorialize my dog and made a computer slideshow and photo album. It serves us well to remember Gal. Gal’s picture is my computer wallpaper and she is looking up at me so whenever I see her there, I start talking to her as I had always done when she was physically here. As my sister Cindy (owner of Cuddles, the cockatoo, below) described, I read the book very slowly because I knew that as I was reaching the end of the book, so too was Gal reaching the end. I tried to cheat and not finish the last few pages, however, it didn’t work that way. Gal did have a wonderful life as a farm dog, watching over her home and family, never tied up, free to do her job, and she was always here to greet us. She was so bonded to us and we to her. She was a complete member of our family with a place and purpose. She was treated importantly and it mattered that her needs were always met like we would meet our own. It mattered that she had a job and was good at it just like we each have a job that to do everyday to contribute to the family. It mattered that she was included in family events. It mattered that she had a comfortable bed to climb into at the end of the day just like the rest of us.  It mattered that she was allowed to die naturally in her own home in her favorite spot in the middle of it all.
Thank you for asking  to post her picture and her lessons on your blog. It would honor her greatly.
Gal was 12 1/2 years old. She was wifh us since she was 4 weeks old. She was in a litter of 11 siblings and when my husband was searching through that litter for a pup, she grabbed onto his shoelace and wouldn’t let go. Even at the end, she didn’t let go until he told her it was alright.


Here’s a picture of my precious Boy Cat and his best friend Tula. Thank you so much for your book. It has helped me deal with the loss of both my angels.—Melanie Kane

As a hobby for the last 30 years I have trapped stray cats and spay/neuter and find loving homes for them. One year, a mother and her kitties wandered into my yard and I was able to place all but the mother and one kitten. They lived in my yard in the woods with a pool and pool shed with cat door for safety and had a wonderful life. The kitten developed cancer and died, and Boy Cat showed up. I heard someone moved and left him behind because he was very tame and the first time I met him, I opened my door and he ran in and jumped on the couch. He grew very attached to the mother cat and would follow her around and imitate her every move. She developed cancer and I had to have her put down too.
How I prayed for another cat to come and love my Boy Cat and Tula showed up as a kitten two years ago. They were inseparable. They sleep together and groomed each other and it was a delight to watch them.

As always, other strays would wander in, and I trapped them and got them fixed and placed them. A long-haired, one-eared female showed up and was always very aggressive towards Tula. Boy Cat was the mediator for the last year until he also developed cancer and I had to put him down 4 months ago.
The aggressive long-haired female fought with little Tula until she (Tula) began to live out in the woods, and I would feed her while keeping the long-haired, one-eared cat, Spaghetti Cat, at bay. It became obvious Spaghetti Cat needed a better place to live, preferably an inside home because with her long hair she needed to be brushed often. I loved Spaghetti Cat, too, and it was a very hard decision.
After 3 weeks, I found what I thought was a loving home, inner city, not my first choice, but the woman had had a brain aneurysm, was divorced, and just sent her last child to college and needed someone to love. I assumed “perfect.” I took her to her new home on Sunday only to find my little Tula hit on the road Monday. I was grief stricken. In all my years of caring for strays, I had never had one taken from me by accident. I did find comfort knowing the long-haired, one-eared cat, “Spaghetti Cat” was being loved, so I thought.
That Thursday, the woman I placed Spaghetti Cat with called to say the cat had turned nasty after 3 days and “got away.” My husband and I spent hours, days looking for her. I put pictures of her online and called the SPCA. It’s now been 4 weeks and no word. I am now suffering the guilt of placing her in a home that was not what I thought along with knowing she is lost and alone. A lost pet is another grief that is extremely hard to work through.
As I said, it is a very upsetting story and not sure if it would benefit any others that may also be suffering. Spaghetti Cat had really come around in the time I cared for her, and I cannot help feeling so guilty for what happened to her. I pray she finds another someone who will love her like I did.


* Abbey

Submitted by Kim Z. August 14, 2010.

Dear Abbey, Abster, Ab, Abber, Miss Abbey, Sweetheart and Kid-doe,

I said my last Good-bye to you one week ago today on July 29th 2010, 4 days before your 14th birthday .  You have no idea how much I miss you.  It’s very quiet here in the house.  No wagging tail, no gentle greetings and talks in the morning, no one to lap up the last little bit of milk out of my breakfast cereal bowl, no sound of your little toenails on our hardwood floors, no soft furry ears to scratch, no one to sit out on the porch with in the morning, no one to exercise with, no one to wait outside the bathroom door at night until I was ready for bed, no one to make sure I was tucked in before she crawled into her bed beside me, no one to tell my inner most thoughts to.  OK, too many tears with all of these thoughts.

Let’s talk about the things that make me smile!  You as a puppy – the cutest puppy I’ve ever seen, the first night in our home, crying for your mom, the first little gift you left for us under the pool table, in the fall when you would bury yourself in the pile of raked leaves and come bounding out of it, ears flapping as you flew out, the day you shredded your bed to pieces, seeing you lying by the living room couch with half a $20.00 bill hanging out of your mouth as though nothing was wrong (you knew you weren’t suppose to have that!), watching you run all the way to the front door with toilet paper in your mouth that was still attached to the roll!, chewing holes in our wall when you were bored, the Abber Butt, pre-washing our dishes, kisses on our faces, waiting not so patiently for treats after dinner, how you would not leave Elliot and Davis alone when you wanted to play (you had SO much energy as a puppy),the day you pounced on Davis’ back and made Grandma think you were a maniac dog, you pulling me on your walks when you were young, barking and jumping at shadows when you were young, diving into 3 feet of snow and coming up with a buried tennis ball, playing fetch down at Dred Scott, taking walks around our neighborhood, you starring at me nose to cheek when I was late in taking you for a walk, how you loved your tummy rubbed as a puppy, how you loved riding in the car, getting treats from the bank and McDonald’s “1 plain cone please”!, counter surfing, lying on the couch with you in our sunroom, how you would lay on my lap as though you were a lap dog and not a 70 pound lab, your chin propped up on the couch pillow, loving to get your back hips rubbed, vacuuming with me, licking Davis’ salty legs first thing in the morning, how the boys would get into your bed with you and sleep with you, your enthusiastic greeting when anyone would walk through the door (your nose would always go to their crotch, front back whatever you could get at, quite embarrassing at times but cute!), how you would very gently but forcefully move someone aside if they were in your spot on the couch, how you would hide in the closet under my hanging clothes when we’d have a thunderstorm, how you’d sneak upstairs under our bed when Dad wasn’t looking and then pull your legs in so he couldn’t see you-so funny!, shredding up all the tissue paper on Christmas Eve, trips to Duluth-running on the beach, swimming out into the cold water of Lake Superior to fetch sticks that we tossed, digging in the sand just to dig and see the sand shooting up behind you, hiking up on the North Shore, how you followed me like a shadow especially when I came home from the hospital, how you would lay lengthwise on the couch with me side by side (you always took the inside!), you were always willing to be there for me when I cried and sobbed at times quietly lying beside me and when you’d sheepishly walk away when I’d get angry (I think you thought I was mad at you but I never was, just mad at the situation), how you could sleep so soundly at night and yet snore loud enough for me to hear you, you on one side of me and Dad on the other (stereo!), your beautiful brown eyes-so much expression!, your wagging tail-it never stopped, not even on the day you died.

I woke up very early this morning at 4 AM.  When I wake up that early, I know God wants me to listen to him, but I started thinking about you right away.  I was thinking about what I learned from you, what you taught me in your long, lovely life.  I think this is why God woke me up so early (no distractions to confuse me).  You taught me about:

True friendship


Unconditional love

Pure unbridled joy for living



How to make guests truly welcomed in our home



How to grow old gracefully

Enjoying the simple things in life: Breathing in fresh air, taking long walks, the sun and breeze on my face, napping in the shade and how much fun it is just hanging out with family

But the most important thing you taught me about was Trust.  I started thinking about how you and I butted heads when you were a puppy.  You were so determined to be the top dog in our family!  You wanted so much to have things your way.  Through the years you learned to trust me, you learned to trust that I would always take care of you, that I would give you everything you needed to live a good, healthy, comfortable life, to give you things that made you happy and full of energy.  You learned to trust that I would love you and forgive you even when you were naughty (eating cash and chewing holes in our walls to name a few).  You trusted me completely.  You didn’t need to be in control anymore.  When that happened you became the most gentle, sweet, caring and loving dog anyone could ever dream of having.  You always looked so at peace with what was happening around you.

You always wanted to please us.  It’s not that I didn’t adore you as a puppy and adolescent, but as you matured I think you became all that you were meant to be.  You were beautiful inside and out.

I think of how I’ve struggled since having my stroke.  I’ve struggled physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  And you were right there along with God, Dad, Elliot and Davis to love me unconditionally.  Looking back on our relationship, I see a lot of myself in you.  At times I have been stubborn, controlling and independent to a fault, not that I didn’t love life, I did.  I figured I could do things on my own, not really needing or wanting to work with others.   I know now that that isn’t how it’s supposed to work.  I saw you wanting to take control and resisting me, the same as I have wanted to take control of my situation and resisting God’s power, presence and guidance.  It just wasn’t working.  I’m scared.  I don’t know if I can do what He wants me to do.  I don’t know if I’ll be good at it or enjoy my life as much as I used to.  It’s all a bit uncomfortable and a bit scary.  The fear of the unknown I guess.  I’ve begun the process of letting go, as you did years ago.  I truly think God has something very special for my life again.  I will follow His lead as you followed mine.

You’ve shown me and taught me how to trust, how to lean in, be comforted, be healed, be taken care of and be guided by my Master.  I think God knew we’d be good partners through life, you learning from me and me learning from you.  God had a very special plan for you, Abbey, and you took His lead.

Abbey, I hope I didn’t let you suffer, selfishly on my part, the last couple of months.  It’s just that you never complained, you struggled at times but never complained.  I learned things from you until the day you died.  You were one of my angels sent by God.  I will always, always, always remember you and love you for what you’ve given me and for just being you.  If heaven is what I think it will be, everything beautiful and wonderful and seeing our loved ones again, I know I will see you there.  You’ll be waiting for me with your tail wagging, your body wiggling, your eyes sparkling and ready for a long awaited embrace.  I love you, Abbey!  I will see you soon.


(Written by Kim Z. to my faithful friend Abbey on August 5th,2010)


• Cuddles the World’s Sweetest Cockatoo
Shared by Cindy Benzaquen, August 11, 2010
(Note: Elaine Garley of Animal Bridges, an animal communicator and Healing Touch practitioner, and I accompanied Cindy and Cuddles to his final vet visit. We will both very much miss this remarkable bird.—Sid)

I have Cuddles buried in an old velvet lined wooden box  that used to hold all my special pieces of silverware. He is in my mother’s garden and my son Brian came and dug the hole this evening before dark and we said the Kaddish and my mom and my son said some words and then I put almost all the dirt with my bare hands on my Cuddles’ casket, and we all said “May you rest in peace and fly free.”

I think I will miss him the most when I walk by the window, because he was always there on his cage door or up on top, watching and waiting for me to come home and saying” HI CUDDLES” when I walked into the house. He would  come to me and want me to pet him for hours on end. he never wanted me to stop giving him all the love I had in my heart to him. He was kind and gentle and loving to everyone he met. And he had a gift and I could share him with people who were very sick in the nursing home and he made them feel better. He made me feel better when I was upset and knew how to calm me. The house has a silence now, one that is deafening. It is strange to walk into the room where he was just hours ago. It is very strange to not see him  or hear him.

Many times I said goodbye to him, only very happy to return later to his kisses and him burying
his head in my shoulder. I do feel guilty, wondering if I could have prevented him going through such agony, while I tried to do everything to help him that I could think of.

He was like my child, one that was completely and utterly dependent on me for all his needs.
He could not survive on his own without me. But his life was in a cage and he never knew the
freedom that other birds of his kind enjoyed. This was the only life he had ever known.

And in the end, he is not suffering anymore, but my heart is in two pieces and feels like it weighs
a million tons.I can’t stop the tears.  I don’t want to go to sleep because I know when I get up in the
morning there will only be an empty room where my buddy once was, there will be silence that will not go away and I am not sure I can bear it. But I must. I was with Momy who came with me to the synagogue to say prayers for Cuddles, and the Rabbi said He understood my sadness, that even though Cuddles was a pet, he was with me for almost  18 years and that is a long time to be with someone you love, even if not human. He asked us to say some words about Cuddles, and Momy piped up about how much he could talk and that he loved me very much and he was said for my loss. I can’t even explain the connection that I had with him and that I felt like he was my soul mate. In my lifetime, I was never connected to a creature like I was to him. Because he could talk, and look deep into my eyes, like he was looking into my soul, he was the most sensitive and loving being I have ever known or probably will know the rest of my life. Now I am missing a part of my heart, My Cuddles.  No other creature will ever be able to replace him, never.

Thank you both, For being with me and Cuddles in our final  moments together. I could not have been that strong for him on my own. I know I would have kept going, trying to keep him alive somehow if I could, or if the vets had said there was even a small chance he would get better. But he was sick since April, and in fact he first got sick last year when he injested the pieces of that kid’s toy that had lead paint on it from China. He started with seizures then and when I took him
in they discovered those metal pieces in his bowel. They said he had been poisoned by the paint and did not know what the long term effects would be. I believe over time it weakened his nervous system, because when I think about it, he started the small jerks shortly after back then, and it did not occur to me to connect the 2 situations till recently. He started the seizures again in April and one more time the xray showed something he injested, something round and not metal but maybe actually got stuck somewhere in his GI tract and was messing things up again in his whole body. It have have been a brain tumor  that developed the vet said, and he said no one had ever done surgery on a brain tumor on a bird before, so his chances of surviving the surgery were slim to none. And the cost of the MRI to determine if he had one was $3000 the U of M. They do not even now have a dept devoted to just taking care of exotic birds like Cuddles but are seriously thinking of opening one up because the demand is so great and maybe they can make a difference
like they did with all the rescued raptors they have rehabilitated and let go back into the wild.

I am not sure how long it will take my heart to heal, I have the images  of Cuddles and his pain and the words everyone said to me today still burning in my head. He was supposed to outlive me. But the Rabbi said, “Who promised you will live to 120? It is written we should all live that long as humans. But things happen and we all get sick and die, Creatures large and small. My mother also
believes in reincarnation and says that G-d takes all creatures, no matter how big or small they were.

But I am very glad that you could communicate with him telepathically Elaine [Garley of Animal Bridges] and that he gave the signal he wanted to cross over.

And Sid, with your wonderful book about Good Grief and Pet  Loss, you are yes, a big mushball. I was not crying because it was beautiful like you viewed [his passing peacefully]. I was crying because I could do nothing more to help him and he was suffering and in pain and the only
way for it to stop was to end his life. Ending his life meant ending our relationship, a bond that was not meant to be severed until I DIED, not him. But, as the Rabbi always says, with anyone who is mourning for a loved one that was lost, “MAY HIS MEMORY ALWAYS BE A BLESSING.”

Maybe one day, when they finally come up with a cure for this terrible Illness he probably had, PDD, which I knew NOTHING about until the day before he went to the emergency vets on the 24th, and I am alone without [my husband] Momy, I might think about a brand new baby cockatoo hatched from an egg.

But for now, There will not be any more animals in my life to get that attached to. The pain is too deep, my heart aches and my tears will not stop. I hope people will learn about PDD and be careful to NOT introduce any birds into your home if you don’t have them checked for the “Bornavirus,”
the “AIDS FOR BIRDS” virus that causes PDD, the most painful and terrible disease there is for more than 50 species of birds, one there is no cure for yet.

I hope you publish this story for others to see and maybe they can prevent their birds from ever having such tragedy in their homes. I am attaching some photos of Cuddles. I even have movies of him. I will never forget him. My precious Cuddles.

A Poem for Cuddles
Where are you Cuddles, my buddy, my friend?Where have you gone now that it is the end? I no longer see you in front of my face, Where you once were is now empty space.

When I first close my eyes, the images flood back,

The pain in your body, the way it attacked

It all seemed too scary on this end of things

To not know what happened and where

You will sing, like a free flying soul that

You were meant to be, it was really so

Selfish, so selfish of me, to hold on so tight,

And not let you go, when all that you wanted

Was some peace for your soul, to feel healthy

And good and free of the sickness, that took

You from us, and left us a thickness, a very strong

Hurt in our hearts now is there, but I am happy

For you, for you are in the air, floating above

And circling around, looking below and moving unbound

I know now my friend, that this was meant to be,

That the circle of life that includes you and me,

Will keep going strong and that although I am sad,

You were the best Cockatoo the world ever had.

I will miss you so much that I can’t even fathom,

It’s hard to write this and harder to imagine,

A life without you my buddy, my soul,

My beautiful Cuddles, reaching his goal

To fly free at last and be lifted up high

I know where you sing, it’s up in the sky.

So goodbye my Cuddles, I sent you away

But you live in my heart, now and every day.  Cindy Benzaquen  8/12/10


• Rusty
Shared by Shelley Strain, August 11, 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

It’s with a very heavy heart that I “Thank you” for your thoughtful and compassionate words before, during and after my final days with Rusty.  My sweet baby went to ‘Kitty Heaven’ Monday afternoon. He drifted peacefully off to sleep while lying on his favorite blankie on his human mommy’s bed, with me petting him, thanking him for all the life lessons he’s taught me, and the boat load of love he gave me, and telling him, through tear-filled eyes, that I loved him and told him that we would both be OK.

Rusty was a sweet, loving boy and I’ll miss him tremendously. He was (secretly) my best friend. He was my ‘baby.’ He was loyal, appreciative and cute as hell. Dang, what is it about that soft, silky fur, those cute ears, and big, expressive eyes looking up at us that captures our hearts and holds it hostage? Something so small in size, yet so huge in impact on a person’s soul.

For anyone faced with the decision I had to face, I can’t stress enough the importance of putting your pet first. Don’t wait too long just because it’s painful to say goodbye. It’s not fair to our beloved fur babies who blessed us with such unbelievable love and loyalty. I had a wonderful vet and an amazing animal chaplain come to my home, along with my mom. While the days leading up to Rusty’s parting were monumentally painful and sad, the experience of saying goodbye to Rusty in the comfort of our home was richer and more loving than I could have asked for. I’m sure if Rusty could talk in his final hours he would have given me a ‘High Paw’ and said, “Thanks mommy; you’re da bomb.”

Lastly, I’ve attached a link to a blog that Sid Korpi, the loving animal chaplain, put on her web site about our experience. I highly recommend both Sid’s book, Good Grief: finding peace after pet loss, as well as her services. I hope this will help others who are faced with this terribly painful but necessary, and hopefully even beautiful, experience of saying good bye to their beloved pets.

Blog: https://goodgriefpetloss.wordpress.com/

In love and gratitude,

Shelley…and Rusty….

Shelley Strain

• Molly Sierra Rose Bogan
Shared by Sue Bogan, July 28, 2010

With a heavy heart, yesterday afternoon Molly crossed over to the rainbow bridge.  She was 11 1/2 years old.  Molly was diagnosed with bladder cancer last November and had gone through treatments for 3 mos. Molly was a true fighter, she fought until life was no longer pleasant.  Her younger brother Callahan will really miss her since she is the one that taught him how to hunt vermin.

Molly had only been in the Westie parade once but loved going and showing off her costume for the day.  She was a true Westie very proud and such a pretty little girlie (which she loved to hear)!

Molly was also a funny girl that like to take field trips with her brother and go hunting in the woods up at the cabin. I am sure she is already hunting in heaven!

Even though our hearts are broken, she is in a better place and we will someday join our little girlie.

Sue, Pat & Callahan

• Scoop
Shared by Susan Loving June 30, 2010

Reading your book … I kept having flashbacks to my dog Scoop’s unexpected
(to me—she was not yet 12, and in my family the dogs always live to be 17)
terminal illness.

But, as with many of the people who sent you their stories, there were a
couple of grace notes. [One of these was] the reaction of Scoop’s best dog
friend, Smokey, a dachshund who would play with Scoop but always refused to
let me get close enough to pet him. When I got back from the vet, I was
sitting on the front stoop, putting off going back into the house. Smokey
came across the street and sat next to me and let me pet him! He stayed with
me till I went into the house.

• Ethel Mae
February 2010 by Stacey Hey of Minneapolis
I’d like to let the Lil White Terriers group know that our dear 3-yr-old Westie, Ethel Mae, who came to us through Westie Rescue of Missouri in August, 2007, entered eternal sleep after an unexpected discovery of stomach cancer last week. Despite her pain, she still greeted visitors at the door, wagged her tail when she heard my voice and showed her family the deepest of love every minute she could. Her beloved Westie sister, Lucy, is a bit lost, but our extra walks and treats are helping to comfort her. Our hearts are broken to lose such a vibrant pup so young and in such a shocking fashion, but we are grateful for the time we had with her, however short. She is proof that angels walk among us.Ethel Mae was listed as “Payton” on the Westie Rescue Site back in 2007. Thank you so much to all the volunteers at Westie Rescue who provided her such fabulous care until she found her furever home and, as a result, rescued me.

•Max Makes His Exit
by John Leininger of Minneapolis
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Max has let me know that after about 21 years he is ready to move forward and leave this phase of his life. I have made arrangements with his Vet to honor his decision. If you have a moment tomorrow between 11:45am and noon, please take a moment and think of him as he moves on.
As hard as it is to agree with him I know it is the right thing to do. His quality of life the last 2 weeks has diminished greatly. He has stopped eating, will not take his normal treats and no longer sleeps on the bed next to me (although he is not alone on that one). He is having trouble moving around and has lost almost 1.5lbs in the last week alone. Sid offered today to go with me, which is a comfort in many ways.
He has many friends to greet him when he moves on and I know he will be very glad to see them. I know he will continue to watch over me and the others that he loved and can only hope that I was able to make the last phase of this life happy and comfortable. I have known him since he was a kitten, and we have always had a special bond.
My heart is split; part is happy that he will find a freedom he has not had for a long time and the rest is hurting because he will not jump off the couch and greet me each night when I walk in the door.
I can pack up the toys, vacuum up the cat hair and sweep up the litter so the house will hold no physical trace of him, but I can never remove or erase the unconditional love and companionship he offered up freely to me, and I will never want to.
He has had a good life, lived longer than most cats I think he even tried to hold on a bit longer just for me – he deserves a great send off and a celebration of his life so I refuse to focus on what is being lost – I plan on focusing on what he gave to me over this last 21 years.
Two and a half years ago it was my honor to give him a home when his was lost and it is my honor to usher him into his next home.

• A Pearl of a Girl Passes
On Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 3:57 PM, Judy Porter wrote of her sheltie Pearl (who followed her other sheltie Oscar to the Other Side; see Oscar’s story further on down this page):
Hi Sid,
Just wanted to let you know that Pearl and Oscar are now playing together in the Elysian Fields.
We had planned to take her in this morning to be put down, but, she had other ideas and decided to pass away peacefully at home in her own bed. Warren [Judy’s husband] said that yesterday she was propped up on her front elbows, not looking in his direction and wagging her tail. (She hadn’t wagged her tail in weeks.)
We figured it was Oscar and she was happy to see him.

The next day, Judy added:

It’s pretty quiet at home with Pearl gone. What a sweet soul she was. After Oscar died, she started a couple of behaviors that were new.
If she was hungry after her first bowl of food, she’d come into the living room and start barking at me. I’d get up thinking she had to go out, open the door and she headed for her bowl. I’d sit down again and we’d go through the same routine until I gave in and gave her a bit more food.
Then at night, she’d start barking, I’d go to the door, no she didn’t want to go out and no more food. In order to get her to stop, I’d lay down on the floor and she would come and lay beside me and not bark for the rest of the night. She was telling me it was time to go to bed. (Of course, I didn’t spend the whole night on the floor, only long enough for her to go to sleep.) Must have been that herding instinct that Shelties have.

On her last night with us, Warren and I “tucked her in” and went to bed around 11:30-12:00. She must have died shortly after because when I checked on her at 3:00 am, she was already in rigor. Poor thing, but, she died peacefully. It was much easier to have her go that way than to have her put down. It brought back so many memories of Oscar. They were our babies. They added so much to our lives.
It has been tough this last week. It’s so quiet. Each morning/evening around 6:45 I think, time to feed Pearl or it’s time to let her out before turning in and I think, “No, not tonight”. But we have great memories. When Oscar passed, it was tough, now that Pearl’s gone it really brings about a sense of finality that I’ve never felt before. These two beautiful lives who brought us great joy and kept each other company are gone forever and that can never be brought back. We’ll adopt other furkids in the future, but, not just yet. The Scottish Heritage festival usually sets up a booth for Minnesota Sheltie Rescue and we’ll see who’s available in May/June.

Remember the Roar of Smokey, by Nance Krause
Tuesday, January 05, 2010 2:35 PM
Hi everyone:
It is with deep sadness that I inform you that our beloved cat, Smokey lost his battle with a fast-growing, nasty cancer. He was diagnosed right after Thanksgiving, and with the help of his vet, succumbed to his illness yesterday, January 4th at about 2 p.m. Perhaps the thing we will remember most about him, is the way he broke in to a loud, thunderous purr, whenever anyone said hello to him. He had quite the motor, and he even gave out a loud, wonderful purr as his last gesture on earth, as the needle was being put in to his arm. He was a good kitty, and is survived by his brother Misha, and of course, Danny and I. Attached are my 2 favorite pictures of him.


• Dec. 23, 2009— Peggy and Chuck Burns, our thoughts and prayers are with your family on this sad day, the first without your precious Gibby. What follows is Peggy and Chuck’s announcement to our Westie Lovers Group.

Dear Friends:

Today is a sad day at our house for we said good bye to our dear Gibby –

You came to us as a tiny puppy, not much bigger than a tennis ball with your crooked tail. You were quite sick as a puppy, but you had the determination to survive, and survive you did! You kept Burney busy and young. And then over the past 8 years, you welcomed Max, Mic, Tom, Dolly and Casper into your home. Yes, this was always YOUR home. You were our little “Wiggle” (the nickname Julie your breeder gave you) and you brought us countless hours of fun and adventure, as you were always seeking what was just outside our yard. At 13 you tried rat poison, and almost died. But again, you had the determination to survive and you completely recovered, even at that age.

Thank you for almost 16 years of pure love, joy, pleasure, fun and Westie mischief! We will forever remember your fascination with squeaky toys, how much joy your toys and tennis balls brought you, and the joy we had watching you play. You were better at fetching and catching a ball than some retrievers. There were never enough toys for you! Life was your game!

We will miss you, but are comforted knowing that you are once again pain-free, playing and happy at the Rainbow Bridge waiting for us with Burney, Max, Mic, Tom and Dolly.

We will always love you, our little Lady MacGibbon of Invarary, “Gibby”

Peggy, Chuck and Casper

• Musings by Christine Dietsche on her beloved Isabelle:

Nov 11 2009

Dizz-bee. My sweetness and light. Who can imagine 17 years ago someone would dare abandon her to a parking lot and yet also what magical planetary alignment happened to bring her to that place that night? … I went to bed early with a tiny black and shiny puppy curled up in my arms. I still treasure waking this way as she is one of the best cuddlers you could ever have the joy of waking up or falling asleep with.

The sweet smell of her and the soft warm feel of her floppy ear. She snores with me. She manages to push me to the edge of a huge bed and I have only room for one leg on and one off. Snuggle in closer. he has been there with me, us, for so much. The loss of two other dogs and three cats. The loss of a friend, a father and a brother. he licking of tears and the sigh as she lays her head on my shoulder letting me know it will be OK again some day.

The simple joy of a chase in the snow, a swim with a stick, fishing off the dock or a ride in the car. The love of cows as long as they’re at a distance, The toleration of a kitty who simply won’t take no for an answer and curls up on her bed next to her, purring loudly. The intriguing smells of spring in the air and autumn on the ground. Always at the ready, what can we do together next?

Nov 12 2009

And now she is gone. Moved on to a place without pain. One less angel here on earth but one more special one to watch over us. Just like her to want to leave without muss or fuss, knowing there is someone on the other side waiting for her. We helped her pass over this morning.

She was still bouncing around, albeit wobbly, on Tuesday, still eating and drinking, but yesterday morning she woke up feeling differently and in the last 24 hours she told us it was her time to move on.

Izzy was a best friend to me for almost 17 years and for Buc, 15, and she is a huge loss to our family. Zola and cats Zaepfle and Kohlrabi also knew what she was telling us and therefore all is calm and quiet and somewhat empty in our house on this gray day.

• Blackie was a beautiful cat who had been a stray rescued by my friend Mavis Vitums (see Mavis’ Ladybug story in my book for more on her). She was then taken in by good friends Scott and Patty Gregory; their daughter, Katie; and their Pekingese ,Zoro, where she lived happily for many years and was much loved by the whole family. Blackie passed away peacefully on 11/12/2009 and is now in the loving arms of Mavis once again on the Other Side. Our love and sympathy are with the family as they come to grips with their loss.


• Below is the message sent by the human parents of Brindie, a beautiful Westie whose spirit lives on after her sad passing. We send prayers for her family’s strength as they come to grips with her physical absence from their lives.

Dear friends,

It is with a tearful heart that I share with you the passing of Brindie this morning in our home. Brindie bravely and energetically lived the last 1 1/2 years with a collapsed trachea. Her condition became increasingly harder for her to breathe the past couple of months and this morning we let her go, living on with her memories and spirit. For the Westie Paraders, Brindie walked in the Parade from ages 10-13. We were honored to be a part of the celebration and she loved it. Brindie in her own life led her own Parade, always being first and always full of love and sunshine for everyone she knew. She was our Princess and we celebrate her life and her passing to the next life.

— Truly Blessed with Brindie,
Carla, Dave, Brett & Grant Staniforth


• Sending love and light to Judy and Warren Porter for their always-difficult passage through their last months with their wonderful sheltie, Oscar, who is facing cancer. May they all find strength in each other and the love they share now and forever. A calm and gentle passage is wished for Oscar when it is his time; and love is also sent to his sibling-in-rescue, Pearl. September 21, 2009

• Weeks later: Oscar (below) has made his way over the Rainbow Bridge. Says this much-loved rescue’s human mom, Judy, “It’s hard to believe he’s gone. Every time I drive into the driveway, I expect to see him looking down at me from the deck. … We were blessed to have him for nine years.

Our prayers are with the Porter family as they cope with this loss.

Oscar closeup

Oscar full

• Wishing a safe, peaceful passage to the Other Side for Bailey, the beloved Westie of Colleen and Patrick Pohl in Minneapolis. My heart goes out to her family in their anguish over that too-fast-approaching date. This is what Bailey’s human mom said:

“Here is the picture of Bailey that I love so much—It’s from when she was sick, but she looks so happy. I cry every time I look at it. I miss her every second.”

• Saying a heartfelt goodbye and sending blessings to the mourning family of Brandee, shown below, who passed today. (August 29, 2009). She was much loved and will be forever missed by her human family, Tammy Hardenburgh and her parents of Mounds View, MN.



Needing more resources/support? Check out Furry Farewell or Chance’s Spot.


Recently, I had the true pleasure of reacquainting myself with a dear friend I had not seen since high school, nearly 30 years ago! Don Rinderknecht and I had been in choir and plays together. Most notably, he was Nathan Detroit to my Adelaide in “Guys and Dolls” in 1980. He remains one of my all-time favorite costars.

As we sat and blabbed the night away, the topic of our shared love of animals came up. He and his wife, Penney, own five acres in Oklahoma, on which they have five horses (three of them minis), a dog and a cat named Mr. Data (from “Star Trek”). This is a household after my own heart!

We started discussing the publication of my book and he said, “I have the topic for your next book already—how other animals grieve when one of them dies.” He shared how his cat was after affected by his fellow feline housemate’s passing.

Of their one remaining cat, Mr. Data, he said, “His mood, dare I say even personality, changed when Mr Spock died. He even took to licking my hair which Spocky did, but Data never did until Spock left us! He also seemed to be a bit more aggressive about things like he tended to bite (not terribly hard) when we were petting him… he still does this stuff today.”

That led to my sharing some stories from the book itself and, in particular, this one about my mother’s passing and Mr. Moto, her precious pug’s, response to losing her.

When my mother was dying of lung cancer in 1998, we somehow all failed to recognize that we needed to help Mr. Moto through the process as well. When she left home to go to hospice, Mr. Moto had no idea where she’d gone and became utterly despondent. I was pet-sitting him one day for my sister, Diane, who would be inheriting him, when I noticed him sitting, slumped down in the middle of my backyard. He wouldn’t come when I called. He couldn’t seem to respond in any way because he was so depressed over being separated from his human mama.

I’ll never forget the other dogs’ response to his anguish: They urinated on him as if he were a tree stump.! We knew we had to do something fast for this poor little boy or he’d lose all will to live.

Fortunately, North Memorial Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota, had the good sense to allow pets into their hospice unit. We brought along Mr. Moto to see his mama one more time, and he was over the moon with happiness and relief!
Please note, he had always licked people in greeting…everyone except my mom. For some reason, he never would give her face a kiss in the eight or so years she’d had him. So, you can imagine the heart-wrenching scene we witnessed as Mr. Moto jumped onto her hospital bed and incessantly, frantically licked her face for at least five full minutes! I was afraid he might wear a hole in her!

It was quite difficult to see her impassive, almost mechanical response to his love-drenching, but I understood she was having to detach from life on this side of the veil in order to cross over soon, so she couldn’t allow herself to respond as she normally would have, i.e., with tears and laughter. She looked tired and numb, merely passively accepting Moto’s kisses and devotion. My heart broke doubly at the sight and the cross purposes of these two beings who had loved each other so very much.

After that visit, though, Mr. Moto was a changed dog. He was happy and light-hearted again because he’d communicated to us dense-as-lead

humans in the only way he knew how that he simply had to be allowed to say goodbye to his dearest mama and send her off with all his love, via wet tracks on her sunken, dehydrated cheeks. His relief was palpable. I still thank those hospital administrators who had the compassion and forethought to allow companion animals to be present for both their terminally ill patients’ and their pets’ comfort and so-very-necessary closure.
Back to the present—who thought I’d be seeing someone I hadn’t seen in more than half my life and connecting over such a profound memory? We were at that moment closer than we’d probably ever been while in high school. I’m grateful to have made that connection again with a true friend. I stifled the urge to lick his face, however.

Recognizing a dog lover, Blanche planted herself at Don's feet.