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All Dogs Go to Heaven

Gracie was a sweet, mild-mannered, timid young lady whose gentleness was tempered by her big  furry body, floppy ears, and loud hound dog bark. She enjoyed raising two human boys and a tiny choweenie as her own.  He found her mommy spot, the space between her giant paws as she lay curled up on the couch and chose that as his place of comfort from that moment on. He fit there nicely, and she would always breathe a deep sigh as he nestled next to her, as all mothers do.  She enjoyed nature with her family, preferring to be called camp dog over anything else.  She liked naps on the couch, big sticks, all the foods, and celebrating birthdays and Christmas. She was ours for 11 wonderful years and she has now journeyed over the rainbow bridge.


For anyone suffering the loss of a beloved pet, balancing their quality of life with your own selfish desire to keep them here as long as possible is a tough road to journey.  For us, we went from going on a family hike and nightly walks to her not being able to move in 30 days’ time.  We knew she had issues and delayed an expensive test when she seemed to perk up.  In hindsight, had we treated her cancer in those last 2 months with meds that would have caused her to feel bad we would have missed the daily joy we gave to and received from her.   We did our best to provide all the comforts to make her last days as good as possible.  We carried her out into the sun so she could enjoy the smells and sounds of her backyard.  And we whispered sweet nothings in her ear that we hope were already etched onto her heart. 

We relied on our good friend, a veterinarian who has helped us three times now to peacefully send our babies to doggie heaven. Surely, God welcomes animals into his kingdom too.  And now we rely on each other just to know what the other is going through and to bring up all the wonderful memories we have with our pets.  It was the everyday tail wagging enthusiasm she greeted us when we came home, the way she protected us, our kids, our home, the way her eyes said thank you and I love you so much better than any human voice ever could.  As life goes on and we are forced to face the everyday without our sweet girl, we know our story was made so much better by a dog named Gracie. 

We wanted to thank everyone at Laurel Road Veterinary Clinic Veterinarians in Nokomis, FL | Laurel Road Veterinary Clinic ( Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists | Houston Emergency Vet (  for helping us with the tough choices we had to make for Gracie.  A special thanks to Dr. Ilene for being that special friend who was so kind to us and Gracie in her last moments and throughout her life.  If you or a loved one is going through the end stages of your dog’s life or has already suffered a loss, The Humane Society of The United States Facebook has many resources available to pet owners.  From their website :


Although grief is a personal experience, you do not need to face your loss alone. Here are a few suggestions to help you cope:

  • Acknowledge your grief and give yourself permission to express it. Allow yourself to cry. If you live alone, the silence in your home might feel deafening, but acknowledging it will allow you to prepare for the emotions you might feel. Suppressing your feelings of sadness can prolong your grief.
  • Try not to replay your last moments with your pet. It can be common to ruminate on your pet’s final days or moments, especially if they were traumatic. Instead, focus on the life you shared with your pet and some of your favorite memories with them. Remember, your pet’s pain has passed. You are the one in pain now, and you must lovingly care for yourself.
  • Reach out to others who can lend a sympathetic ear. Do a little research online, and you’ll find hundreds of resources and support groups that may be helpful to you. Some of these include:
  • Memorialize your pet through a bereavement ritual. You might:
    • Spread your pet’s ashes somewhere special or reserve a place in your home for your pet’s ashes and photos of your pet.
    • Plant a native tree or flowering shrub in memory of your pet.
    • Create a memory box with your pet’s collar or favorite toys.
    • Purchase a product that incorporates your pet’s ashes into a memorial necklace, bracelet, ring or suncatcher. (Search “pet cremation jewelry.”)
    • Commission a painting, statue, memorial stone, or plush animal representation of your pet. (Search “pet memorial” on for a wide range of options at all price points.)
    • Practice your own culturally significant expression of grief, like creating an ofrenda.
    • Write about your feelings or write a letter to your pet about all the things you’d like to say to them or how you’d have liked to spend your last day with them.
    • Write an obituary for your pet.
    • Share photos and memories of your pet via social media.

Photos from Jodi Schwarzenbach

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