In Loving Memory
Celebration of Life
VCSS is gathering to celebrate the lives of our furry friends by memorializing the stories of the wonderful, loving pets who have shaped our lives and our hearts.
We are pleased to announce that the Celebration of Life will return Sunday, September 18th, 2022.
Emmy was a fourth-generation Trillium Golden. We spent decades cultivating a bloodline that produces golden retrievers who are gentle, beautiful, and smart and are so sad that Emmy is the last in that bloodline.
Just after Christmas 2019, we discovered a lump on the back of her tongue. It turned out to be melanoma, but through the compassion, grace, and expertise of Dr. Perry and the staff at VCSS, we got many more months with her than could reasonably be expected, 14 months in total. Although it seems she survived the original diagnosis, we were not able to keep it from metastasizing.
She was an absolutely wonderful companion and loved everything about being a sporting dog. She loved swimming and hiking, lying in the sun and rolling in the grass, chasing balls, and playing with her doggy friends at the park. She and her dam, Keeper, were the original “Adventurers” traveling everywhere with us in our RV. At almost 14, we said goodbye to Keeper, and Minnie became the new “baby” of the family. Although Emmy never had puppies, she took to Minnie right away, and they became inseparable and constant companions.
For all the challenges that Covid has brought to our lives, it allowed us to spend so much quality time with Emmy and she became the center of our lives after her original diagnosis as we were hyper-focused on how to provide the highest quality of life for the longest period of time. We proceeded to check off her bucket list and spent the summer at a friend’s house on the Pend Orielle River in Idaho. If there is doggy heaven, surely it is this place. Emmy and all our dogs over the past 30 years have been going there since they were puppies.
While it is never enough time, we are grateful for the almost ten years with her. There are no words to express just how much she meant to us. RIP sweet girl, until we meet again.
– Rose C.
Fifteen sweet months. Marlene and I adopted Mick, a senior Husky, from a local shelter on 11/27/2019, and we said goodbye on 2/15/2021. Although our time was short, the memories we created are lasting.
I cannot take a morning walk without thinking about Mick. It was his favorite part of the day. He would do his happy-hop, sometimes bark his impatience, and lead me from my nice warm bed to the cold front door. Hang on, Mick, I’d say, I gotta layer up. I’m not a Husky, you know! But outside where I put on my shoes, he’d sit at attention looking out at the dawn’s gray light, patiently savoring the moment.
I pass spots and think how Mick loved to sniff there, or here’s where we inspected the tree the beavers took down, or here’s where he said hello to another dog. And here’s where we saw the kid who said, is that a Husky? I have one (a stuffed toy), he boasted. He giggled as his Dad, and I let him give Mick a treat. Mick liked the variety in his walks, and sometimes he would plant his feet with the side-eyes and say, c’mon Dad, let’s go this way today. And there were the times he would stop and sniff the breeze. What did he smell that we humans could not? Or was he pausing to enjoy the moment?
Besides the walks, there was his mischievous side. One time he took the toilet paper roll holder from the bathroom and carried it down the hall, clanging it loudly against the walls as he went. We went from alarm to laughter. Afterward, he sat looking at us with a goofy expression, wondering, I’m sure, why we were making a brouhaha!
Like many dogs, he loved car rides. The ones to VC&SS were memorable. For half an hour each way, he would snuggle against my shoulder, or request neck rubs from Mom, or look out the side windows or, oddly, the rear window. When we weren’t on the freeway, he liked to put his snout out an open window.
There were quieter times too. He would lay under the table while my son and his girlfriend visited for a meal—outdoors, of course, courtesy of COVID. He was content. Mick liked being around company. And oh, was Miriam Spenser’s girlfriend, or was she Mick’s girlfriend?
There were times he would sit right in front of me and gaze directly into my eyes. Time to exchange some loving. He would melt slowly from a sitting position to a down position, to lying on his side as the massages went from face-and-neck to chest-and-belly.
I replay those memories in my mind’s eye, and I am grateful for the time we had. When we adopted Mick, he had a ruptured ligament (we thought it was hip dysplasia) that required surgery. We found he had arthritis in his spine and rear leg. Upon recovery from surgery, we found he had lymphoma. No sooner had he done his last chemo treatment than his body gave out. It was one thing or another the entire time. So I have another memory, an imagined one: Mick is running freely, without pain, over miles of a snow-covered landscape with the cold wind in his smiling face. Mick is being a Husky.
– Kevin K.
Kyra came home to us in 2009 after I was trying to get some alone time from our other dog, Kitsune, and her dad so I could study for finals. They went to a PetsMart where a mobile adoption was being held, and that’s where Kyra entered our lives. After a phone call and a short drive, I was able to meet the best dog in the world. We walked both dogs around the shop, and within half an hour, I was filling out the adoption paperwork and writing a check!
What we didn’t know about Kyra was she got car sick. So, needless to say, the drive home was eventful! Kyra grew out of that about a year later, which was beneficial because, in 2010, we moved from Kansas City, MO, to Portland, OR.
Kyra had such a big personality and loud bark for such a little girl! Any time Kyra heard a doorbell, she would bark up a storm! (And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it.) Even if we came home after work, Kyra would bark and run to the door awkwardly because she was wiggling her whole body in excitement!
In late May 2020, Kyra was diagnosis with a nasopharyngeal tumor. Kitsune was already a patient of Dr. Perry’s, so it was an easy choice to know who would provide the best care for Kyra. We tried a couple of different oral chemotherapies and injection therapy and even went to Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital to see if she would be a candidate for radiation. Unfortunately, the battle was lost, and on October 2, 2020, we said goodbye to our beautiful girl.
It was the most challenging but most reliving day of our lives. It hurt to say goodbye, but we were giving her a gift to be pain-free. We miss her every day.
12 and half years wasn’t enough time with our Kyra, but how lucky were we to have something that made saying goodbye so hard?
Love you, Kyra Bears.
– Lauran H.
My name is Cru, and I was born in April 2008 in Phoenix, AZ. One night in late May, my parents came home and heard meowing in the parking lot. After a little investigating, they found me in the dumpster trying to get out. Initially, they thought someone had put me in there, but then they saw my cat mom not far from the dumpster trying to figure out how to get me out and assumed I probably fell in a while playing. I was a feral kitten but didn’t hiss or freak out when my dad pulled me out of the dumpster. I was so relieved to be out, fed, and in a comfortable space inside. I kept my distance the first couple of days, but quickly realized I hit the kitty lottery because I was spoiled, cared for, and deeply loved the rest of my life and not just by my parents, but also the rest of my cat family, which grew considerably after I arrived because I was so special my parents wanted to help more kitties like me. I always knew I was special and their favorite even though they tried to hide that fact from the others. All of the other cats loved me too. They didn’t all get along with each other, but I was the glue that held everyone together.
Shortly after I turned 10, my dad felt two small lumps in my rear flank area. I wasn’t sick at all and felt great, so I wasn’t sure why I had to go to the vet, but they insisted. After a needle aspiration came back as inflammation, I had to take meds for a few weeks, but that didn’t seem to help. Surgery was recommended to remove the masses just to “be on the safe side.” On May 15, 2018, I had surgery to remove both masses, and on May 24th, I was officially diagnosed (to everyone’s surprise) with subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma. By that time, I had pretty much recovered from my surgery and again was confused why everyone was so upset. I felt great and didn’t see what all the fuss was about, but I did take advantage of all the extra cuddles, toys, treats, and supervised outdoor time!
On June 11, 2018, I met Dr. Freeman and Dr. Wooldridge and came up with a treatment plan. We also learned more about this type of cancer. It’s somewhat common in dogs but rarely seen in cats, and because of that, there wasn’t a lot of information. The average life expectancy seemed to be between 3-6 months depending on the treatment. I had to have another surgery to be sure all of the cancer was gone and also to do a biopsy of my abdominal wall because something there didn’t look right, and they were concerned it was another type of cancer. Thankfully that wasn’t more cancer – it turned out to be Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Again, I was confused because I didn’t have any symptoms of this disease either and was enjoying life.
A couple of weeks after my second surgery, I started chemo treatments. I went to see Dr. Freeman every three weeks for five treatments. Even though I didn’t like going, I was always a good boy, and chemo really isn’t a big deal. I took a little CBD before I left the house to relax before the treatment, and other than feeling a little tired 3-4 days after getting chemo, I pretty much felt normal and did everything I wanted to do. Dr. Freeman and her kind oncology team made sure to give me enough chemo to fight off cancer, but not too much to actually make me sick.
My parents were desperate to do anything they could to give me the best shot at beating the odds, so I also went to see Dr. Keith at Animal Healing Arts. He’s a different kind of vet. I just explored the office while my parents told him all about me. I think he snuck in an exam, but I didn’t really notice. He sent me home with some smelly herbs to put in my new raw food. I loved the new food but didn’t like the herbs. Thankfully my parents started topping my food with some freeze-dried chicken liver, so I ate it right up. I also only had to have the herbs added when I wasn’t getting chemo.
I finished my first round of chemo in September and spent the next several months happy and healthy. Unfortunately, in late December, my mom felt another lump near my original surgery site. In early January, I had a third surgery, but this one was a breeze. Dr. Wooldridge was very careful and made sure I’d still be able to do all the fun stuff I wanted to do while trying to get all the bad stuff out of me. Dr. Freeman started me on an oral chemo a couple of days a week at home. I didn’t even notice I was on chemo. I had no side effects and was just loving life. I had a series of immunotherapy vaccines after surgery as well. These were new and something my parents found in an attempt to do whatever they could to help me try to beat cancer. I didn’t have any side effects from those either.
At the end of March, I was back in for my normal check-up, and unfortunately, the cancer returned again! This time, surgery wasn’t a good option because, in addition to another mass at my original surgery site, there were also several spots in my abdomen. My parents looked into SRS/SRT radiation. It’s advanced radiation that can be given in 1-3 treatments with little to no side effects. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem like a good option for the spots in my abdomen, so I had to go back on chemo, which was alternated each week with a different drug. I think I was on every chemo treatment possible. Even though I really didn’t like going to the vet so much, I was so happy to be home and maintaining a high quality of life through it all.
In July, cancer spread again, now to my spleen. Because the cancer was in so many locations, surgery still wasn’t a good option, and neither was the SRS/SRT radiation, so I went back on chemo again. After the next few scans, the spots in my abdomen were gone, so surgery became an option again. I had my spleen and the mass that regrew at my original surgical site removed. Although the surgery went well, it took me a little longer to recover than the previous surgeries.
After my last surgery in late September 2019, my parents decided to give me a break from chemo and just let me enjoy life, and I did! I gained weight, was eating better than I was all summer, and just did all the things that I loved to do. In early November, they decided it was time to go back on chemo, though. It was just one pill that I took at home, which was nice, but shortly after, I wasn’t feeling great. We assumed it might be a reaction to chemo, but it wasn’t. I wasn’t scheduled to go back for new scans until mid-December, but we moved them up. The day before Thanksgiving, we got the worst news – cancer had spread to my lungs, liver, and also back to the original surgery site. My parents were devastated and considered trying more treatments, but they knew I had enough and didn’t want me to go through anymore, given the prognosis (even with further treatment) wasn’t good. I know it’s a decision they are still struggling with today.
After that, doctors from At Home Veterinary Services came to my house to monitor me and keep me comfortable. The first several weeks, I was feeling okay, but this horrible disease finally got to me, and on December 21, 2019, I had to say goodbye to my family. While I’m so sad (as I know my family is too), I’m thankful for the extra time I had (19 months from when the tumors were discovered). Even though I went through a lot, it was worth every extra minute I had with my loving family. I hope what I went through gives others hope that the original prognosis isn’t final, and there are things that can be done to extend your time all while still enjoying life.
Cru was a very special being. He was the happiest cat we’ve ever met. He loved life and was so sweet and easygoing. Even after all that he went through, he’d come home and forgive us immediately. He loved going outside for a supervised outdoor time. He was very curious and loved exploring, climbing trees, or just lounging in the yard or his favorite bush. He always wanted to be where we were — he was our little “helper.” He would be at the door the second we got home, he would be in the kitchen when we were cooking, and on our laps the second we sat down. He took “lap cat” to a whole new level. He gave the best headbutts and loved to cuddle. We miss all his little antics, too — like shredding an entire roll of paper towels or promptly pushing anything left on the counter to the ground. He wasn’t bad, just letting us know he wanted our full attention, and we were happy to give it. He was loved by everyone that knew him. He welcomed all the other cats, fosters, and even dog visitors we had. They all loved him so much. He always had his choice of nap buddies or playmates. He was our world, and we all miss him terribly.
Even though Cru’s life was cut much shorter than we ever expected, we will always cherish every minute we had, never forget him, and because of him, we’ll devote our lives to helping as many animals as we can. We wish we could have saved Cru — not a day goes by that we don’t question what more we could have done, but we really hope that his story gives you hope and helps you move forward with the available treatment options knowing they can have a good quality of life even through treatment.
Dr. Freeman and Dr. Wooldridge and their entire team are wonderful, caring people that are focused on the best treatment and maintaining the highest quality of life possible through it all. We also appreciated them being open to alternative treatments and exploring every possible option available. We thank them and all of his caregivers that helped extend our time with him.
– Mindy and Caleb C.
We loved you dearly, Cora. You were such a wonderful companion. You loved going on hikes just as much as you loved lounging on the couch next to us. You were Queen of the blankets and loved to be snuggled in, even tucking your head under the blankets. After your Osteosarcoma diagnosis and subsequent amputation at the age of nearly seven years, I was pleased with how you quickly adapted to life on three legs. After all, amputating a leg is so terrifying, especially a foreleg! Once you were fully healed, though, you were back at ’em and loved walks through our neighborhood and hikes at a nearby trail. Chasing squirrels up trees and getting animated at their chatter up above was one of your favorite things. You would even talk back by barking and whining. I’m sure the squirrels are a big factor in why you loved our hikes so much! The seven months we had with you post-diagnosis were filled with love, and we cherished every moment with you. I’m sorry the treatment wasn’t enough. It seems like cancer can completely disregard all the thought and devotion to fighting it off, and that’s been a tough lesson to learn. We all miss you so much. Aubin and River, too. You had a calming presence that helped balance everyone out. Love you with all our hearts, sweet Cora Bug.
– Marissa B.
Abby was a very special doggie. She was our precious family member for close to 14 years old, pretty good for an English Setter. Some would say, and we agree, that she was almost human in her emotions and affection. She seemed to pick up every nuance in our relationship. – and she was always there to comfort, even my 90-year-old dad. As he would sit on our couch, she promptly took her place closely snuggled next to him. Just petting her was a wonderful feeling of warmth and love. She was an amazing upland Birds Hunting dog -as our photos show. She also loved to ride in the truck with Darwin every day! – and would snuggle next to him on the car seat – we will miss that snuggling! She joins her furry sister Delta (also an English Setter), and Rocky her Dachshund pal. She leaves behind our sweet five-year-old English Setter Thor – who has taken her place next to us on the couch for lots of love and play.
– Darwin and Annie F.
Cami loved life and was the sweetest girl. She loved people and other animals and lived to be 16 years old, despite some issues with cancer. She loved the ocean so much and acted like a puppy when bouncing on the beach. Cami brought out the best of unconditional love from her humans. She always enjoyed riding in the car and was traveling around the USA and Canada with her family for many years, even up to her last day. Her beautiful face and sweet disposition are missed so much every day, but her sweet soul lives on forever in our memories. We will forever love ours, Cami Girl.
– Cathy B.
We brought Samson home at the age of 8 weeks old, and when we asked our young granddaughters to help give him a middle name, the oldest piped up and said, “Lucky”! She was wise enough at age 5 to say, “Any dog that is lucky enough to come to live at your house should have Lucky as his middle name”! Little did we know that we were the ones that would be so lucky to have Samson in our lives.
While Samson proved to be a challenging puppy (everything went in his mouth–and we mean everything), we all worked through that time, and he turned out to be a fine canine citizen and lived to the age of 12. Samson was full of life and lived it to the fullest. He was sweet, funny, handsome, loyal, fierce when he needed to be, sometimes a scaredy-cat, the best car rider ever, and was always happy to see you. He loved going for walks (especially at the Sandy River Delta where he could be off-leash and get in the water), going for car rides with his dad, greeting all the kids trick or treating at Halloween, getting a puppaccino from Starbucks, going for walks with his girlfriend (a black lab named Alagna), playing with all his dog and human friends at DogTown (doggie daycare), long walks on the beach (as well as digging dip holes and peeing on abandoned sandcastles), drinking from his water bottle or the hose, getting the occasional plain hamburger from McDonald’s, and kissing anyone who would let him.
We always admired Sam’s ability to easily and happily make friends (especially human ones) with everyone he met on his walks or travels. He was the epitome of joy almost each and every day of his life. But most importantly, he gave us unconditional love, which we cherished every day. He would run and greet us like he hadn’t seen us in days, even though it may have only been just 5 minutes, and always with a big smile and lots of love.
A year ago this month, Samson became critically ill and was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. His prognosis was grim, and we were devastated. Through excellent treatment at VCSS and just plain love and our willpower to help him, we got to spend seven more months with him–and they were good quality months. We are grateful for the care he received. Finally, as Samson gave us his unconditional love, we also gave him our unconditional love and considered ourselves grateful and Blessed to have shared these 12 years with him as a family member.
– Sandra and Mike F.
Chester was our best boy! He was ten years old in the Spring of 2019 when we had to make the decision that it was time for him to go to heaven. He was able to pass at home, where he was comfortable and surrounded by everyone he loved.
Chester was the first dog that we got after about 15 years without a dog. We had to leave some dogs in California when we moved, and my dad never agreed to get another. We think it hurt too much, loving and then having to say goodbye. My mom finally had enough and decided it was time and got Chester without my dad’s ok. My dad was mad at first, but the moment he held Chester, it was love at first sight. Chester became the son he never had.
Chester brought a joy back into our lives that we hadn’t known was missing. He was faithful, strong, and cared for his family so deeply. He was the center of our family and the best big brother to Barnaby, who joined us two years after Chester.
Chester will be forever missed but is remembered daily whenever we look in the backyard at the maple tree growing where we buried his ashes.
Chester, we miss you, but we know that we will see you again in heaven where you are chasing rabbits and eating all the cheese you can have. Love you, best boy!
– Katie D.
Born to be part of my heart & soul.
So tiny. So sweet. So precious.
There are no words on this earth that can describe the joy & happiness she brought to our home & our lives.
It is with great despair and sadness that we release our precious girl to our Heavenly Father.
Thank you to Doctor Freeman, Doctor Wooldridge, and the entire staff that took incredible professional care of our Lilly while supporting us during her medical diagnosis & treatments.
We are forever grateful to VCSS for everything.
– Alan & Raelynn R.
Phoebe was a wild puppy. But then, I guess most puppies are pretty wild. She delighted in ambushing my older dog, another cairn named Forrest, and unmercifully harassed him. Luckily, though he was bigger and could easily have whacked her, he was a total gentleman and never did. As time went on, they became devoted friends.
She always had a mischievous side. She was also smart. Before we put a rug under the dining table, she would slide a chair on the hardwood a bit away from the table, enabling her to jump on the chair and thence onto the table. If I left the room, she would jump up and gobble whatever was available, such as my morning cereal. Once when I went to consult with a plumber, she ate two entire shish kabobs, including pointy bamboo skewers. Agh! This necessitated a trip to the emergency vet, but luckily eventually, everything, uh, came out all right.
Before her knees began to go bad, she loved playing ball. I have a wonderful stop frame picture from a video of her stretched out in midair, mouth open, about to catch the ball. She particularly liked the chasing part of the game but considered the retrieving and carrying back rather a meh activity.
She loved her walks. I hired a dog walker so that she would get lots of walks and be in the company of other dogs. She was especially fond of Busby, a handsome Westie. We referred to him as her “boyfriend.”
She particularly liked her off-leash forays running on the beach or on the trails near our daughter’s home in Idaho. She was fond of wading in the streams there, constantly running from the trail to the stream and back as we hiked along.
She pursued what she wanted with vigor. If I was busy at the computer, or trying to take a nap, and she was hungry, wanted a chewy, or in the mood for a walk, she would whack me on the arm with her paw as if to say, “Get up! Let’s go out! “ or “Get off that stupid machine and fix my dinner!” Sometimes this was accompanied by impatient vocalizing.
She loved frozen blueberries, and I gave her several every morning when I put them on my cereal. She would come running when she heard the freezer open and the bag rustling. “Morning, blueberries!” I would say. At night before bed, she would get a little treat. “Phoebe, night snack!” I would say. She was woven into our lives, a bright light, which is the meaning of her name.
She would often sit on a rug in the absolute center of the house. She was the heart of our home. Now I feel like that heart has been torn out. We miss her so much.
Phoebe lived 2 3/34 years after her diagnosis and initial surgery with the excellent care she received at VCSS. For all that time, we had the blessing of her presence, and I believe she had a good quality of life. Thank you to Dr. Freeman for making this possible, Dr. Wooldridge (who handled her orthopedic issues), and all the staff, who were wonderful and welcoming every time we came in the door.
– Louisa M.
Olive came to our family because her first Mom could no longer take care of her. I kept hearing about this sweet one-eyed MiniPoo who needed a home. I fell in love immediately! She just completed our family! Not only was she beautiful, but she was also the sweetest soul! Everyone who met her instantly fell in love! When we discovered that she had lung cancer, it broke our hearts! She certainly knew she was loved! We miss her every single day!
– Karen S.
Bloo joined our family almost 12 and a half years ago. He was born on March 22, 2008. Originally named Bert, it became his middle name: Blooregard Bert, Bloo Bert for short. He was the sweetest, silliest puppy and also very lazy. When trying to take him on walks, he used to lay in the grass and refuse to get up. His ears were so long he would trip on them, and when it would be a thunderstorm at night, he would crawl up on my pillow and fall asleep.
He was a once-in-a-lifetime dog. The sweetest, most gentle boy that gave so much love and snuggles. He’s lived in 3 different states. He did everything he could to be pet as much as possible, and if you even looked at him, he would roll on his back expecting belly rubs. He loved lounging and sleeping second-most, preferably under a blanket, in the crook of someone’s legs, or snuggled up in bed with his head on our pillows. He loved pasta, popcorn, and sweet potatoes and bossing around his dog brother, Bruce. He loved to mosey around the park, smelling all the smells he could. He was the boof master, hopping around and boofing when he was excited, and he used to run as fast as he could up and down the halls. And every time our 2-year-old daughter, Indy, napped, he waited for me to come downstairs so we could snuggle on the couch.
He smelled like snuggles and comfort and had the softest, floppiest ears. We’ll miss the velvety patch right under his nose or the rolls of skin that make him look like he was melting into the floor. Or the spot on the middle of his head that we always kissed. We’ll always remember his squishy big bear paws and how he used them to make you pet the spots on his chest that he wanted. We’ll miss the feel of spooning him in bed or the way he laid at our feet. We’ll never forget the silly sneeze he used to do when he wanted something or his puppy dog eyes.
He was the best brother to Bruce and Indy. He and Bruce loved to play and snuggle all the time. Bloo kept Bruce in his place, which is funny as Bruce is a highly energetic and bossy dog. Bloo taught Indy how to be a gentle and loving sister. She was his biggest fan, always wanting to pet him and give him treats. He was always so patient and loving with her. It even became part of her bedtime routine to sit in our bed with him, read him a book, and give him a hug and a kiss. She asks for it every night. We wish our second daughter, due Nov 2020, had the same chance to know him.
We spent his last day feeding him pumpkin donuts and giving him all the pets and kisses possible. Bloo took his final nap on September 29, 2020, at 5:25 PM in a peaceful garden after eating some chicken while we held him tight. It was a warm, sunny evening as the sun began to set. He fell asleep doing two of the things he loved the most: getting rubs and basking in the sun on a comfy bed. He’ll always be a part of our family and us, and we will forever miss him.
– Brooke G.
Ever since I was three years old- I wanted a dog. However, my Mom was terrified of dogs, so I never had one growing up. As an adult, I wanted to make sure I had a house with a yard before I adopted a dog, so it took a while before I was “prepared” for one.
By pure chance, I came across this 12 week old, four-pound Cavachon (Bichon/Cavalier mix). When I picked her up, she snuggled into my chest, sighed deeply, and fell asleep. I was hooked. My Molly came home with me that night, and might life was never the same again- it was infinitely better!
Molly and I were inseparable from the start. She slept on my bed at night- not only on my bed but on my head. Literally, her head on top of my head. We knew each other’s thoughts and comforted each other. I comforted her when she was nervous or scared, and she comforted me when I was sad or upset.
I never married, never had kids- Molly was my baby. My friend Tom said that any guy interested in me would have to understand- they come second to Molly…. Always.
Molly was incredibly smart. While she was only 16 pounds, she could open the refrigerator door, pull out the drawers (use them as stairs) and get anything she wanted off the top shelf. Molly was smarter than I was- every time I thought I had everything figured out, she one-upped me. She might not have been perfect, but she was certainly perfect in my eyes.
We took two walks a day, every day… rain or shine. One before work, and once when I got home. All of my neighbors knew her name. I was just “Molly’s Mom.” We loved our walks and playing in our big backyard. (One Halloween, a bunch of trick or treaters came by and asked if this was Molly’s house. I said yes, and they yelled to their parents that this is where Molly lives.)
One morning, as we headed out on our walk, I noticed Molly wasn’t putting any weight on her left hind leg. She didn’t seem upset or in pain; in fact, she still wanted to go on her walk! Immediately, I picked her up and took her to the vet. Long story short, she had partially torn her CCL, and I was referred to Dr. Wooldridge. Dr. Wooldridge and the staff were oh so kind, but I was not prepared for the surgery they recommended: TPLO. I sobbed hysterically at the thought of Molly going through it. Friends and family were quite vocal- don’t do it. She is 10 years old; how much longer does she have? It’s so expensive, etc.
Well, we did the surgery. It tore at my heart to watch her go through it and the long recovery. However, she healed brilliantly and was back to her old self – running and playing after the 16 week recovery time.
Molly was 11 when I came home from work one day and found her limping. It was her right hind leg this time. Yes, she tore that CCL. I remember being in Dr. Wooldridge’s office- he took one look at us, bowed his head, and said he was so sorry. He performed the TPLO on her right leg, and I was confident all would go well.
The surgery went fine, however about two or three weeks later, I came home from work to find Molly in major distress. She was panting, wouldn’t eat (Molly was REALLY into food). The playpen she was recovering in was filled with poop. She started vomiting. I contacted Dr. Wooldridge, and he sent me to Dove Lewis. (What I didn’t know at the time was that while I was driving there, Dr. Wooldridge had called them to let them know I was on my way and emailed them all of Molly’s medical records.) They were ready for us and took good care of her. It turns out that she developed a UTI, which led to Colitis. She used to lick per paws all the time, and that led to E-Coli. I nearly lost her. She spent a couple of days at Dove Lewis, and I didn’t sleep the whole time. They called and said that if she didn’t eat in four hours, they were either going to have to insert a feeding tube, or her organs were going to shut down. They suggested I come with some chicken and try feeding her. I raced to her side!
Thank God she ate, kept the food down, and I was able to bring her home! It took a long time for her system to get back to normal. I slept downstairs on the floor or couch for 13 weeks to be next to her in case she had to go out. I slept fulling clothed, just in case. We would get up at least three times in the middle of the night until her system adjusted to normal.
She got better, her leg healed, and she was back to being her loving self and racing around the backyard. I was glad I ignored folks saying- “maybe it’s her time to go, you should put her down… or is she really worth all the money you are spending?” No, it was not her time to go- she was a super trooper, and Yes, she was worth every dime!
Two years of blissful happiness went by when I thought I noticed her sneezing more than normal. None of my friends and family saw/heard it, and neither did her vet. I took her to her vet (who is actually great!) every month for five months to get it checked. The thought was that it was allergies…… Molly showed no other signs than the slight sneezing.
One night, I awoke to find Molly not on the bed but on the floor at the foot of the bed. There was blood on the pillowcase, and Molly’s nose was bleeding. She started sneezing blood! Immediately I called Dove Lewis to let them know we were coming and headed on our way. When we got there, they were ready for us and took her back to do a CAT scan. They kept her overnight and called me the next day to tell me the horrible news- she had cancer. I lost it. My 13-year-old baby girl Molly had cancer.
Immediately, I called Dr. Wooldridge- confident the brilliant surgeon would once again fix her, save her life. Unfortunately, she had Myosarcoma in her left nasal passage- non-operable. Radiation was the only possible treatment. I was told she had 3 months if I did nothing, 6-9 months if we made the palliative approach, and 9-12 months if we did full radiation.
Again, friends and family challenged my decision. She is 13; how much longer does she have? It is so expensive, is it worth it? Well, my little super trooper wanted to fight the fight, so we went all in full radiation.
In the midst of her radiation treatments, my Dad, my Hero, passed away unexpectedly. Molly and I were there to comfort and care for each other. I had my car packed as I took her to her last radiation treatment (we completed the full course), and we left from there to head up to Seattle and attended my Dad’s memorial service the next day. Yes, my Molly attended the church service with me. She quietly sat on my lap the whole time… she always loved sitting on my lap and being held.
Molly’s recovery time was long and harder than anticipated, but she did it. It was almost three years before cancer returned and spread. We had no recourse this time….
My Molly passed away at 16- fighting cancer the whole time. She was the sweetest dog, all love, no aggression, but she fought cancer. She fought for us to stay together.
My heart still hurts from losing her three years ago. However, I am truly thankful and blessed for Dr. Wooldridge, everyone at VCSS as well as Dove Lewis. It is an honor that they named the fund after my Molly. May her love, energy, and spirit live on through this fund and everyone that the fund helps.
– Mary S.
Dexter Elton Hoffmann 3/28/11 – 3/18/2020. Dexter came to us in August 2011 after his first home didn’t work out. We like to think that he just belonged with us all along. He was a complex boy, an alpha at heart determined to protect us from everything in the world (including every other dog that would walk by….across the street), but at the same time, the most easygoing dog in the world. He loved summer days rolling around in the grass and playing fetch until our arms were sore. He had an endless tankful of energy. When we would go running, when we were finished, and I was about to pass out, he just gave a look of “oh, are we going to run or what?” He lost his front leg in November 2019, and it knocked his spirits down for a bit, but after a few days, he was determined not to let it ruin him, and he learned to get around just fine on 3 legs. He got to the point where he refused to use the ramp we got him for the stairs to the backyard. It wasn’t fair that he didn’t even get 9 years here, but he lived each and every day to the fullest.
– Matt H.
I adopted Albert five years ago, on June 28th, 2016, just over a year after my childhood cat Fuzzy had passed away from cancer. Albert was 6.5 years old at the time, older than I was looking for, but it was love at first headbutt. He had apparently been thrown in the shelter when he developed a urinary blockage, which the shelter saved him from. According to their records, the exact same thing had somehow happened three years before, but the family who did it somehow managed to adopt him back after (The clerk was just as confused as I was at this). This time, he was mine, and I promised him I would take care of him no matter what happened.
He finished college with me in Seattle and moved back home with me after. All Bert ever wanted was to be nearby, and he would always gravitate to whatever part of the room I was in. He loved to perch on my arm when I was at the computer, and he would flop on the shelf behind my laptop to soak in all the warm air. Wherever I was sitting, he would force his way into my lap, or onto my back, or onto whatever I was doing if he couldn’t get past it to the lap. He was harness trained and loved his walks (and I loved that he would come back inside and fall asleep after). He was also a serial plant chewer, and my poor spider plant was his absolute favorite. I had to banish that plant out of his reach after he ate almost every leaf off the poor thing. The Christmas cacti will bear his teeth marks for years to come, I am sure. He was sweet and affectionate, and I took far too many pictures of him. My friends all loved him, and he was at least one of my groups’ mascot. Everybody loved Bert.
Though he never had urinary trouble again, Albert was diagnosed with Mast Cell Disease in May of 2020. It was originally low grade, but after removal, it came back angrier than ever. We tried everything, but it simply wouldn’t respond. He passed away on August 5th, 2021. Albert was a joy who loved life and the people in him. It made me happy that the people he touched loved him too. The universe dealt him a bad hand, but the five years I had with him, I wouldn’t trade for the world, and we made the most of them. I will remember him with love forever.
Thank you, everyone, who cared for him.
– Sarah T.
I adopted Simon at 5 months old in October 2007. He was my first standard poodle and truly the love of my life. He was my companion, my soulmate, and the best dog I’ve ever known. In 2017, he developed a tumor over his left eye. I brought him to VCSS, and Dr. Seguin was able to perform surgery and, even though we weren’t sure it could happen, was able to remove the tumor and save Simon’s eye. Dr. Seguin and the wonderful staff at VCSS bought me one more year with my boy before I had to say goodbye. I will always be grateful for that year – I still miss my boy terribly, but I know he’s running free and happy and will be there for me one day.
– Peggy K.
Chester was a magical creature. A fuzzy, orange & white, longhaired, sensitive, playful, loving creature. And I think I was his best friend. If you held him upright, he would love to give hugs. He loved everyone, cat lover or not. It made no difference to him. He would join any conversation, especially when it got loud.
Chester found his way into the attic of the Cooper family in March 2006. But he was in rough shape. They kindly brought him in to Tigard Banfield hospital with Dr. Sandy Nelson. He had a bad case of mites in both ears, a neck abscess, fur extremely matted throughout, heavy flea infestation, tapeworms, periodontal disease, and was still an intact male and… FIV+. Wow. They wanted to keep him, but with his FIV+ and needing to keep him indoors, and them having 5 cats that were negative, they kindly paid for his treatments until he got better, then brought to Cat Adoption Team in Sherwood to find his forever home.
His description from CAT in August 2006:
“Norwegian Forest Cat, Domestic Long Hair, Orange & White. Size: Extra Large
Chester adopted his family several months ago by taking up residence in their attic! Well, once they learned they had a visitor, they invited him downstairs for a bath and a bit of breakfast. He was severely matted and had a nasty abscess, so these kind folks took him into the vet to get all cleaned and patched up. There they learned that Chester is FIV+… Although they would have loved to keep him, his chosen family had 5 non-FIV+ cats already and couldn’t risk the possibility of spreading the infection. So they brought Chester to us and asked if we could help find him a home with no other cats or only FIV+ cats.
Chester, like all the other boys (and one girl) in the FIV+ room, is a PRINCE, a darling, a love, a treasure. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this gang because it’s true. They deserve much better than the rough shake life has already given them. So, please, please, please, if you are currently Cat-less, please consider adopting one (or two or three!) of these delightful, sweet, and ever so charming FIV+ cats.”
We came to CAT planning to adopt his future brother “Buzz” whom Elaine had met earlier in the month, we learned he had been moved to a foster home. So we went to see the other FIV+ kitties. When we entered the old FIV room at CAT, lying in a cat tree adjacent to the door, we locked eyes with Chester immediately. He greeted both of us from the door entrance with his perky mew and HUGE whiskers. When Elaine sat down in the only chair, Chester immediately jumped into her lap and started purring. We knew right then we had to take him home ASAP, or someone else might snatch up this sweet boy. We were so lucky we could.
Chester was my buddy. He was my shadow. I work from home, so we had plenty of time to bond, and we connected right away. He loved chasing shadows on the wall. He didn’t need toys, just the shadow of the toy against the wall. Silly boy! He also loved his cat tree that was up against the back window. We had placed bird and squirrel feeders just on the other side for the best in Cat “television.” He would spend hours every day being entertained by that back window. He would love to SCARE the squirrels, thinking he was sneaking up on them on the other side of the window… and BOO! Squirrel bolts into the tree, Chester standing now on his hind legs with front paws high frozen on the window. Yep, you sure showed him Chester.
Most every night after we got into bed (Buzz was first), turned out the light, and everything got quiet… 15 minutes later, as we are about to drift off to sleep, Chester would meowww with his toy mouse in his mouth downstairs and slowly come upstairs to bed. Every night he would slowly, ever so slowly, walk up from my feet and climb until his front paws would stand on my sternum. And he’d wait. And it hurt. And he’d wait some more. “OK Chester, it’s time for bed. It’s time for all the little kitties to go to sleep.” I would open my arm to the side a little bit, and he would mew softly and gently step toward the corner of my armpit and ever so slowly snuggle in, mew and purr, and tuck his head into my side – every night. Sometimes Buzz would get jealous and leave Elaine’s feet to take the other side. I was so lucky to have my boys love me so much (and so unfair to Elaine at times!)
I often traveled for work. The first few nights when I was gone, he’d not go to bed and instead stay downstairs by the garage door, waiting for me to come home. And when I finally came home, he would be excited like a puppy. He’d talk and tell me all that happened while I was away and then take off running and want me to chase him and play.
Every morning at about 10 am, he would meow and want to play, usually with me making shadows on the wall for him to try to leap up and catch, or for me to play “sneak-up” and chase him around the house.
He was a fastidious bather. LOVED to clean himself non-stop. Grunting, slurping, pulling, grooming with that raspy tongue and long orange & white fur. He was always immaculate. I just cannot imagine him in his poor state when he was found as a stray in the March of ’06 to the beauty he presented himself 6 months later and until the end.
Chester’s little issues
He had so many illnesses. And he was a miracle kitty. But to be fair, he also had us as helicopter parents. Knowing him & Buzz both had FIV, we were very cautious about any abnormality, perceived illness, behavior change… so he had his fair share of visits to the vet. Even with regular dental care, he had many teeth removed due to resorptive lesions, but he took it in stride. Early on, we found that he had crystals in his bladder, but change of diet helped that. He had chronic constipation, and his parents had to help gently “birth” many a poopie over the years, but a little prune juice and Miralax helped. Little bumps in the road, but he was always happy and very easy to manage his care for years.
But in late 2015, we noticed that he was not acting himself, not being cute or wanting to play like normal. Behavior changed, and his resting position changed. He was diagnosed with lymphoma, focused in the spleen. We started the full chemo treatment with VCSS in January 2016. With the dedication, love, and patience from VCSS staff and Chester’s humans, the treatment helped Chester’s spleen get back to normal size, his bloodwork looked clean, and most importantly, Chester was responding well, both clinically and in spirit. I held my breath every 3 months during the subsequent ultrasounds, but it didn’t come back.
We would tell him the night before that he was going to visit his girlfriends at VCSS, who also loved him dearly. He never complained on those 45-minute trips, no accidents in the car. I hope he was good to you (VCSS) and a patient boy. With such great luck and being a bit of a teacher’s pet, it seemed like he would live forever. We were lucky. We cherished what turned out to be nearly 4 bonus years with him. THANK YOU for giving us that time.
During this cancer-free time, he developed an odd head tremor only when he was relaxed. Neurological visits and MRI could never clarify the root cause – best guess was the sheathing around the nerves was degenerating or something odd going on with the middle ear. And during another ultrasound, it appeared he also had IBD, which we treated for months and, like another miracle, “disappeared” from a subsequent ultrasound. I used to carry around his 2″ thick file to the various vet clinics we visited in the metro area during those years, which used to bring a few gasps and chuckles. The helicopter parent, making sure our boy got the best care. Thank you to all the vets and techs who cared for him. You’re a special bunch, too. And all in all, Chester’s carefree and loving personality endured during all his bouts of illness. He was a special boy.
At the beginning of 2019, his older brother Buzz was battling several illnesses time and again. In the spring, at the age of 19 ½, we had to say goodbye to Buzz in April. It was crushing for Elaine, me, and Chester. As much as we dote over our Chester, The Buzz-Buzz was equally as special and deserves his own story. Chester and Buzz did not necessarily snuggle with each other, they would often battle for our attention, but we only seemed to realize they were close buddies after he passed. They are often seen in photos together, by the back window watching the birds together, lying on the cool floor aside each other, chasing each other upstairs like a herd of elephants, pretending to battle to the death at staredowns before the winner (usually Buzz) would go to his dish for a bite of victory. We didn’t give enough thought to how the loss affected Chester, too. He didn’t meow at night before bed like he used to… which makes us wonder if he was calling for Buzz, not just us. Sadly about a month later, that next routine ultrasound did find that the lymphoma was back.
His kidneys crashed after chemo treatment. After a weekend stay at Cascade Vet, he was back with energy and life again. We got our Chester back once more. But that may have been the 9th of his 9 lives.
After we decided to focus on palliative care, Chester spent the rest of the fall outdoors on the deck, sleeping in his bed or exploring the backyard. Smelling all the smells, the flowers, the grass, and the dirt, and occasionally cuddling with me outside in a chair. The orange daylilies in the atrium behind VCSS came from our backyard, where he spent those last months. His body was winding down, and one day while sleeping outside in his bed, a nuthatch BONKED himself against the back window. THAT woke him up from his anemic sleep, and he ran toward the downed bird, with me as referee. He was so gentle and curious, sniffing and checking the nuthatch out. He could finally get close to those birds that tormented him all those years through the window! When Chester slowly reached out and touched the nuthatch, IT MOVED, which awoke the excitement in him, and I had to pull him away to save the bird. Chester was finally able to check that off his bucket list.
As the anemia progressed and he had little strength left, we would carry him onto the couch and watch movies together, food and water next to his side. We would carry him to bed every night and tell him it’s time to go to sleep and that we loved him and that he was very special; that we were so, so lucky to have been his friends. But finally, on November 8th, 2019, it was time to say goodbye. If there is anything to recommend to others who need to go through this, ‘At Home’ veterinarians are angels and worth it to you and your loving pet to say goodbye at home, in their safe & loving favorite spot, and with you by their side. We can’t say enough good things about the level of compassion and care they provided to us.
And with both of us holding Chester outside by his birds, we said goodbye as he dozed off a final time.
Chester always made us feel special. He made me feel like I was the most important thing in the world to him. And there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him or miss him, which often results in bouts of tears. We miss him terribly.
I think that was his magical power: he made EVERYONE feel special… because everyone was special to him.
– Chris and Elaine O.
Bailey had so much spirit, kindness, and sweetness. My wife and I adopted her from a veterinary clinic when she was 4 weeks old. Only she and her brother had survived being placed in a dumpster. So it was pure luck that we walked into a vet intent on trying to find a black lab puppy to adopt only minutes after they posted her information on a bulletin board for adoption. Bailey was the exact black lab that we were looking for. Her brown eyes were full of life, and her face had such expressions. She has been with us through all the big moments in our lives, from big moves across the country, getting married, buying a house, and having our son Parker.
We used to call her “bailicane” because, during her first year, she would run into our bedroom in the morning, jump on the bed, spin around, lick our faces, and run back into the kitchen. This was the way of telling us it was time for breakfast. Bailey was kind as she was strong, fast, and full of energy. She liked catching snowballs in her mouth, and she liked to drink water while it was spraying right out of the hose. She maintained her spark and energy as a puppy until the end. Taking her on walks was hard, but only because her spirit was too great to be confined to a leash. She loved this nerf frisbee toy the most to play with. We would take her off to Cannon beach and stay in a hotel room for her birthday. We used to make her costume for Halloween, and she had stockings on Christmas. She was family, and it was hard for my wife and me to think of a time without her. She was just the sweetest. She had no food aggression, and we could trust her fully around our son. She was great with Parker, and he loved her a lot. She did not deserve to die of cancer, but we appreciate the time she gave to us and the world. She was so loved and will always live on in our hearts and minds.
Nivia was born on July 22, 2009. She was raised to be a guide dog for the blind by a family in Idaho. When she was 1 year old, she went back to the facility in Boring, Oregon, to go through the rest of the training. She couldn’t stay focused on her duties, so they put her up for adoption. We already had a yellow lab named Bentley. Since Ron had retired and was home all the time, we decided to adopt another dog. We filled out the application for adopting a career-change guide dog. We adopted Nivia on July 19, 2010. She fell in love with Bentley (aka Mr. B). They were inseparable. They did everything together. We did a lot of fishing and hunting, and they always went with us. We had so much fun.
Bentley passed away in 2012 from complications with his epilepsy.
No other dog could take Bentleys place with Nivia so we never got another dog.
In 2013 Nivia got a tumor on her right back leg down by the foot. Our local vet removed it, thinking it was only a fatty tissue tumor. Boy, was he wrong! It came back with a vengeance. Thank the lord we found the best cancer surgeon ever. Dr. John Wooldridge. We went to his clinic, and he told us she had an aggressive cancerous tumor and needed the leg amputated. She had her back leg amputated on June 18, 2013. She pulled through and was a great patient.
Guide Dogs for the Blind teamed up with Dove Lewis hospital and created a therapy dog program called Portland Area Canine Therapy Teams. PACCT. We were contacted and asked if we would like to be a part of this team. Nivia and I went through training, and on March 29, 2014, we were a Certified Therapy Dog Team. We visited facilities with children who had behavioral problems. We attended many functions promoting the therapy dog teams. We visited on a monthly basis the Parry Center for Children and the Kerr Center. The kids would love to see her, and they would kiss and pet her through the whole visit. She brought the good out in everyone she saw.
Nivia had another bout with cancer, and this time it was on the side of the rib cage. And again, Dr. Woodridge removed it on October 10, 2019. Things looked good after this. She recovered great.
Moving to March of 2020. Nivia started to lose consciousness if she did anything stressful as running or getting excited. We were so worried and took her to our regular vet, who, after ultrasounds and x-rays and blood work, said she had a tumor in her heart valve that would block off her blood supply when it pumped too hard. Nothing could be done. We were devastated and spent the rest of her days taking care of her until the end of May 8, 2020.
We cannot thank the people at Veterinary Cancer and Surgery Specialists enough for all that each and every one of you has done for Nivia and our family. She loved you all and would just go berzerk when we pulled into your parking lot for a visit. You have all become a part of our family
You gave us many more years with our girl than we would have had.
Thank you for the great medical care for Nivia and for being great friends with us.
– Ron & Carol L.
Hi, I’m Phoenix! I loved visiting VCSS! I wish I could have seen them more often, but my parents would only take me sometimes. They always gave a lot of treats and belly rubs. Belly rubs were always my favorite! Sometimes I would try to get the treats down from the counter! I got them once! I only had three legs, so all the humans always underestimated me. I wasn’t born that way. One day my leg started hurting, and this bump grew, and then one day, I woke, and my leg was gone! I would hear my parents talk about this thing called cancer. Something with my legs or bones or something. I guess that’s why sometimes I was tired and sore and would have trouble breathing. But honestly, I never thought about it too much. Life is too great! I could run faster than I could before, and I got so much more attention! And peanut butter! So much peanut butter. Some days I felt tired, but I wouldn’t show it. What’s the point of that? The humans at VCSS would do some weird things to me at their house. I would be tired after, and I wouldn’t see my parents for what felt like weeks! They told me it would make me feel better, and I guess it did. I felt great for a very long time. Longer than I should have. I would hear my parents and other humans talk about how great I was. How brave I was. How I was beating the odds. I don’t really know what any of that meant. I was just being myself! I’m a dog! I know it made my parents sad, and I never wanted that. Two of my favorite things to do were run on the beach and run through the forest. I think they called it hiking. Another time I woke up and was really tired, and someone had cut my hair really short. I don’t know what happened, but I could breathe better! My mom made me wear a shirt like my dad wears so I wouldn’t scratch myself. It felt like forever, but then we went to the beach again! Sometimes I would smell something funny, and it would make me want to run back and forth and in circles. It would make my parents happy and smile, and they would point those silly rectangles at me. Strange things made them happy, but that’s ok. All I ever wanted was to make my parents happy. I also lived with a small weird animal called a cat. He was ok. I would let him cuddle with me, and sometimes I would put his whole head into my mouth just to see if it would fit. It fit. I loved eating stuff that my parents left out on the table. They must’ve figured I would be hungry while they were away. It was so nice; they would let me try things that I don’t normally eat, like hot dog buns, bananas with the skins, and even this dark, yucky powder that I didn’t like. They were worried because I guess dogs can’t eat that. I was fine. I was always fine. I know I had a purpose here to make people happy. When I would walk down the street with my parents ( I guess I hopped), my tongue would bounce up and down and sometimes slap my face. Humans smiled at me a lot and sometimes wanted to meet me. I liked that. I don’t know much about the world, but I know some humans are mean to each other, so I was always happy to make them smile. I hated skateboards, water, and car rides, but I loved humans and especially my parents! I know I wasn’t perfect, but they loved me so much. I was perfect to them. I was really sad when I had to leave. They were getting married or something, and I wish I could have been there, but it was time for me to go. I helped them as much as I could. I know they’ll be fine. I like to think I brought my parents together. Nobody knows, but it was me who let my dad hang around after he met my mom! They cared for me and fought for me, and I hope they know I did the same for them. I’m thankful I received so much care and love from all the humans everywhere! I hope I impacted your life as much you did mine!
– Angela and Sean T.
Suki was just a 5-pound peanut when we adopted her from Animal Control in Phoenix, Arizona. There was a bit of a learning curve for her when it came to being a desert dog – she fell into a swimming pool and ran face-first into a cactus her first week home. (Once was enough for the pool, but she never did quite figure out the cactus thing, as we discovered years later while hiking through the desert. Fortunately, she was a good sport about getting needles removed from her face.)
Suki adored little animals. She played with our pet ferrets and helped us raise multiple litters of foster kittens. Some of those fosters became failures, and Suki mothered those cats for the rest of her life.
As sweet as she was, Suki also had enough sass to keep us laughing. She once hid a huge, raw pig foot under a pillow on our bed. She loved to climb, and when she got tired of dealing with her annoying little brother, she’d get herself up onto the dining room table to escape. (She also always climbed onto vet examination tables, which never failed to get a laugh.)
When Suki was nine, we moved to Oregon. She finally got a yard with grass instead of rocks! (And a fig tree, much to her delight.) We took her on beach trips and on hikes through forests. She ran wild at Thousand Acres park, making friends and only falling into the river once. We were able to introduce her to so many wonderful things, and even though her arthritis and hip dysplasia were getting worse, she was able to explore everywhere and run around happily.
Then, in 2018, Suki was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. We were devastated, scared, and unsure of what to do. She was almost 14 years old and already had so many orthopedic problems – was amputation the right thing to do?
We considered our options, went ahead with the amputation, and then met with Dr. Freeman and the staff at VCSS to begin treatment.
Despite our worries, Suki adjusted to life on three legs. She powered through cancer treatments with her usual sweetness and, of course, a touch of sass. She sailed past one-year post-op, still cheerful and willing to go on (shorter) adventures. Then two years! We celebrated her 16th birthday with a hot dog party in the front yard. Sixteen years of love and laughter with the very best dog we’ve ever known.
In June of this year, we had to say goodbye to our precious girl. She went peacefully, at home in our arms.
We are so grateful to Dr. Freeman and everyone at VCSS for treating Suki like a princess and giving us so much more time with her than we expected. Somehow we were in the right place at the right time for her to have the best care in the world.
Suki was a once-in-a-lifetime dog, and we will miss her, love her, and remember her forever.
– Lisa and Martin W.
Abbey, at the age of 13, was diagnosed with lymphoma, which is what brought us to VCSS. With the aide of treatment and the caring and compassionate staff, we were able to enjoy an extra 8 months with her when we were told in the beginning we would only have 4 weeks. We still miss her every day, and she will be in our hearts forever.
– Kathy E.
Jerry (Garcia or Lewis depending on the day) joined our family in 2008. Jerry & Sophie (our German Shepherd/Lab Mix) attended the same doggie daycare; Jerry came home with her one night after his family was trying to find him a new home & became part of our family from that day on.
Jerry was the bestest BFF we could have ever hoped for Sophie. Through family moves, camping & beach trips, new jobs, Sophie’s amputation a few years ago, Jerry was always up for an adventure!
In March of 2020, while brushing Jerry, we found that his neck lymph nodes were very pronounced when they had not been a few days prior. We immediately got him into our vet and were fortunate enough to secure an appointment with Dr. Freeman a few days after. Fortunately, due to Sophie having had a cancer diagnosis and amputation with Dr. Wooldridge prior, we knew who to contact asap, and we began Jerry’s chemo that same appointment day. The lymphoma was angry and seemed to be undaunted by any of the four different chemo avenues we tried. While fighting cancer, Jerry was given the position of Police K9 Chief for a day for the Tigard Police Department. As a family, we took an amazing last weekend trip to Lincoln City and enjoyed making more bucket list memories until we said our last goodbye on June 26th in our backyard lying in the sun with a belly full of hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and french fries.
We miss him every day.
Jerry never met a human, a cat, or another dog he didn’t want to play with. His joyful spirit, beautiful smile, goofy demeanor, and love of adventure has left a hole in our lives.
We know that our time with our kids is limited, and at thirteen years old, Jerry lived the best life we could have offered him, and there is comfort in knowing that.
We are grateful for everyone at VCCS who, even though they couldn’t hug as usual due to COVID, made us feel like we all mattered and that Jerry was getting the best care possible.
Celebration of Life: Share Your Story
With their owner’s blessing and assistance, VCSS is celebrating the lives and memorializing some of our wonderful, furry friends who have passed away.
We’re just beginning to collect stories. To add yours, fill out the form below.