Pet loss can be devastating; there’s no doubt about it. In this personal story of pet bereavement you will learn an alternative path along the grief journey, one which will lead to an everlasting relationship with your beloved companion.
Eight months have passed since Tika, my 14.5 year-old German Shepherd soul dog, crossed the Rainbow Bridge (May 28, 2021). I’m sitting on the couch where she used to lay, surrounded by photos and her box of ashes at my side. Only now do I find myself at a place along my grief journey, where I am able to revisit my deepest emotions and share Part Two of Tika’s story with you.
Moving With vs. Moving On
Shortly after Tika’s departure, a huge roadblock developed; I was unable to write a single sentence. Subconsciously, I felt that by writing Part Two of this story, it would play a big part in me moving on. But I didn’t want to feel like I was moving away from my baby girl. Over time however, I discovered that I’m not moving on or away from Tika, but rather I’m “moving with”…. with grief, with love, with Tika.
Along my grief journey I’ve learned to connect with Tika in such a way that I never feel alone. She continues to fill my heart and mind, day and night. Grief has strengthened our bond and we are now closer than ever.
Tika’s Story and Legacy
Tika’s story is given in two parts. Part 1 documents our experience with providing care and comfort for our 14.5 year old senior German Shepherd dog with Degenerative Myelopathy (paralysis of the spine). It is a heartwarming story of unconditional love, compassion, inspiration and devotion.
After publishing Part 1, I was humbled by the countless messages of support and gratitude that came in, learning how our story touched pets and parents around the world. Helping others and making a difference for pets and parents in need has become an integral part of Tika’s legacy, and so I must continue to share her story. In doing so, Tika’s spirit lives on.
Part 2 shares a touching personal story of pet bereavement, where you’ll learn how to move forward with love and grief, without ever having to say goodbye to your beloved companion. This story covers how we made the big decision, what was involved with the big departure (before, during, and after), and the overall grief journey.
**If you have been touched by Tika’s story in any way, I’d love to hear from you in Tika’s Guestbook (comments) at the end of this post.
Tika Tribute – Highlights of Tika’s Life
This story was a big project for me; it took months to “complete” (is it ever really complete?). Aside from the emotions involved, one of the most challenging aspects of pulling this together was the selection of photos and videos! While I can only put so many in a blog post, I decided to make a “Best of” video tribute of Tika’s life, which summarizes our 14.5 years together in 11 minutes. I do hope you can find the time to watch this, as I’m sure you’ll be touched by Tika’s beautiful spirit. (You will also find a video playlist featuring Tika on my YouTube channel, @coldinyk).
The Big Decision – When is it Time?
Many people have asked how we made the decision to bring Tika to the Rainbow Bridge; how did we know it was time? As a loving pet parent, this was the most difficult decision I’ve faced.
In early May 2021, at almost 14.5 years old, despite the paralysis and incontinence, Tika was alert and responsive. She was eating and drinking normally, her sight and hearing were surprisingly good. You could see Tika’s spirit shine through everything. Tika was virtually no different than she was the day before her departure, or even a few months prior.
However, after 2.5 years of living with this debilitating and progressive disease (Degenerative Myelopathy), we could see it was taking a toll on her. Tika was holding out for us, I’m sure of it. She saw the love in our eyes and the constant devotion we gave to her. She was living life for us, despite her condition; I’m sure of it. That’s how loyal she is!
We knew the stages of Degenerative Myelopathy. It already caused paralysis in Tika’s hind legs and it was only a matter of time that it was expected to progress to her kidneys and front legs. Bowel incontinence was a daily reality for about a year and pressure sores were beginning to develop on her elbows. In March/April 2021, Tika began to stumble a little on her front legs (while we held up her hind legs as we walked behind her); this imbalance sometimes caused us to fall.
With the weakening of her front legs, we knew it was just a matter of time before Tika had an injury. We didn’t want her to experience any pain from injuries or from the progression of the disease (which we knew was imminent). It was time to put Tika’s well being above all else and do what was best for her, not for us.
Setting the Departure Date
One evening in early May, Doug and I had the dreaded discussion which culminated in setting the departure date (in three weeks’ time). As emotional as it was to lift the veil of denial and face this harsh reality, it felt as if a massive weight had been lifted.
Knowing what was going to happen and how much time we had remaining together, this helped a great deal in preparing for the big departure. It gave us the opportunity to have the most fulfilling and precious final days together. We were able to give Tika the greatest gift at this stage in her life – a pain-free and peaceful departure, with both parents at her side, comforting her all the way to the Rainbow Bridge.
The Final Countdown
During this very tender time (including the months before and after), I was on a sabbatical. I had no distractions and no other obligations; Tika was my life during those months and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Doug and I worked out a care schedule, which meant we were able to give Tika nearly 24/7 daily care and attention for several months.
There were three weeks remaining. When we were ready, we shared our decision with only a few people. This was our time and we wanted to give our complete focus and attention to our baby girl.
Preparing for the Departure
Ten days out, Doug gave me a piece of paper with a listing of things we needed to discuss and decide prior to Tika’s departure. Things like: sleeping schedule for her final nights; which of her things we wanted to keep and to giveaway; when to arrange a final video call with Tika’s “grandparents;” when we’d give Tika her final bath; what the schedule will be for the departure morning; which blankets to use during the procedure; etc. I would never have thought about having to make these kinds of decisions and I’m grateful that Doug did.
If you are preparing for a departure, I would highly recommend making a similar list; it will make your overall experience much more manageable.
Creating Final Memories
By having a departure date set, this allowed us to plan out our remaining days together and do everything we wanted to do. These became the most tender, fulfilling and memorable days we’ve ever had!
We went for drives throughout the day and parked at Tika’s favourite spots. We laid in the car together with the back opened up and watched the birds, dogs and people pass by. Of course I photographed and recorded all of these precious moments, and if that wasn’t enough, we even had some professional photographs taken by a dear friend!
At these special places where we parked, I’d have meaningful conversations with Tika. I told her everything I wanted to tell her. I thanked her for being my daughter, for all the life lessons she shared with me, for loving me, inspiring me, and filling my heart. She would look at me with her sparkly soulful eyes and talk back to me. I knew Tika understood every word and emotion I shared with her; she is a wise old soul.
As you may recall from Part 1, we made all kinds of artwork, including paw print impressions and paw prints on paper, wood, and many rocks that would later be displayed throughout the house and garden. You can see the great fun we had in the video below!
Final Doggy Date
I arranged for Tika’s long-time boyfriend Hogan (Dad is Cory Vanthuyne) to come over for a final date. These two love dogs knew each other for most of their lives. Watching Tika’s excitement as Hogan entered the yard just warmed up my heart. They had one of their longest visits ever, just laying on the deck looking at each other, with Tika barking out and Hogan (literally) playing hard to get.
I think they both knew what was coming. There was a definite sadness in the air, but I could also see how happy Tika’s spirit was at that moment.
You often hear that when an old lovebird dies, their partner follows soon after because they can’t bear to be apart. Sadly (or not so for these two), this is what happened. Mr. Hogan joined Tika not even one month after her departure, on June 24, 2021. They are now both happily frolicking around on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, just like when they were young pups!
I put together this touching video compilation of Tika and Hogan’s Love Story. While I don’t have many videos from their younger years, the love they shared is apparent, right up until the very end!
With the departure date set, I was mindful of everything becoming the “last” this and that, recognizing their absolute finality. This awareness allowed me to be present in every moment and absorb all that was happening. There was the last bath, the last walk, the last supper, the last sleep together, the last morning wake-up cuddles, the last brushing, the last car ride, the last throw of the ball, the last ice cream and banana pancakes, the last fill of Tika’s water bowl, the last treat.
Then there was our last selfie out on the deck, the last sound of Tika’s voice as she barked at Doctor Hughes’ arrival, the last feeling of Tika’s big paw and rough toes in my hand. Then came the last tender kiss, the heartbreaking final embrace, and the last visual of my baby girl’s lifeless body being picked up from my arms, carried away and placed into the back of the Doctor’s Jeep, headed to the crematorium, never to return again in the same physical form.
All of these final moments have been branded into the depths of my heart and mind, never to be forgotten.
On Tika’s final night, even though it was Doug’s turn to sleep with her, he selflessly gave that to me. I cuddled with Tika and had another heart-to-heart, thanking her for her love and life. I moved my pillow to the foot end of the bed, so that I could lay alongside her for our final sleep. I didn’t want the night to end, but the emotions were draining me and I knew this had to happen.
The big day arrived, May 28, 2021; we woke up at 5:40am and Doctor Hughes was due to arrive at 10:15am. It was a beautiful peaceful Spring morning – blue sky, sun was shining, birds were chirping. The forecast called for rain, but Heaven delivered a perfect departure day for our baby girl.
The next 4.5 hours were ultra-precious; not a second was wasted. We gave our everything to Tika. We put on a smile (trying our very best not to show our sadness) and showered her with all the love in the world. This touching video captures our final morning together; you can clearly see the love and strong bond we share.
After our morning cuddles, we went out on the front rock where I had my morning coffee and Tika laid at my side. I then made one of her favourites… banana pancakes, which she gently nibbled from my fingers; this was followed by vanilla ice cream and dog treats. We played catch with the ball on the couch and I gave Tika a good brushing. She was soft and clean and well-groomed for her big journey.
I was surprised and happy when Doug mentioned he wanted to take Tika out for one last drive. I thought we already had our final drive the day prior, so this was a bonus! We drove around to all of Tika’s favourite sites and made a special stop to see her boyfriend Hogan; they barked out to each other! Maybe Hogan was telling her that he’d soon be joining her. It was heart-warming and touching for these old love dogs to see each other one more time.
Just minutes before Dr. Hughes’ arrival, Tika and I laid out on the deck where I took numerous selfies of us; our final one (below) was at taken at 10:07am.
Then they arrived… Doctor Hughes and his wife Jeannie explained the procedure to us in detail and let us know what was happening at each step; they are such gracious and compassionate people. I can’t thank them enough for doing what they do and for giving us this precious opportunity to have the departure take place in the comfort of our own home. This meant that our baby girl was calm, comfortable and at peace before, during and after the crossing of the Rainbow Bridge. I couldn’t have asked for a better departure.
I laid alongside Tika’s back, holding her front left paw in my left hand. I kissed and gently stroked her, telling her: “It’s OK. You’re such a good girl Dee-Dee, you’re the best dog in the whole world and Mommy loves you so much. Thank you for everything Teeks, thank you for your love and life. I love you forever and always my baby girl.”
Up until this moment, I was never more aware of time and the transitory nature of life; it was disappearing right in front of my eyes. There was nothing I could do to stop it or slow it down. I could not hang on, no matter how tightly.
Then there was the moment when Doctor Hughes checked for Tika’s heartbeat and he softly said, “She’s gone sweetie.” The thought of Tika’s heart not beating and the finality of her life suddenly hit me. I gasped for air and wailed as I held on tightly to my baby girl’s lifeless body, not wanting to let her go. But it was time for me to surrender and share my baby girl with God and his Angels.
The whole experience was surreal. It was emotionally draining, raw and tender; I felt a heaviness in my heart that stayed with me for weeks. Thanks to being on my sabbatical, this gave me all the time in the world to be with my emotions and navigate grief.
For the days and weeks following Tika’s departure, I intentionally replayed in my mind all of our final moments together. Each morning, I was mindful of the hour and I often relived whatever we were going through at that same time on May 28. I wanted to remember everything.
By reliving those moments, I was able to create memories that photographs could never capture. While this may sound like it was self-inflicted emotional torture, it wasn’t. On the contrary, by facing and embracing grief, this brought Tika even closer to me.
DEPARTURE vs. LOSS
Most people view the death of a loved one as a “loss,” as an end to the relationship; this makes it very difficult to “let go.” But death doesn’t result in a “loss;” rather it leads to the departure of the spirit.
I believe that when we are born (all living beings), our spirit is put on this earth for some purpose. Our spirit is equipped with the temporary use of a body (or costume) that is intended to assist us in navigating life and discovering our purpose. Over time and use, this body will change as it succumbs to age, disease, or damage. While we don’t know the rental period of our body, we do know it will expire at some point. The body is only a temporary costume for the spirit.
Where does the spirit go? I don’t know. But what I DO know, is that it wasn’t Tika’s physical body that I fell in love with; rather it was her personality, uniqueness and spirit.
Unlike the body, the spirit has no expiration date; there is nothing temporary about it. The spirit continues and remains forever. When you have a strong bond with your beloved, as I do with Tika, that bond will keep you forever connected like a permanent super glue. Our relationship continues.
On May 28, 2021, I had to fully surrender and let go of the physical body that I was hanging on to. It was time for Tika’s spirit to depart and graduate to a higher realm.
Of course I am profoundly grieving the loss of the physical aspects of our life together: our cuddles, Tika’s scent, her sounds, the feeling of her body laying beside me, our conversations, the softness of her fur, the sparkle in her communicative eyes. All of these end with the expiry of the body, while the spiritual attributes that developed during our life together, namely the love, connection and bond – these are forever. You don’t “lose” them.
So when someone says to me, “I’m sorry for your loss,” I thank them for their kindness and compassion and I share with them that I didn’t lose Tika. Rather, she remains right at my side and in my heart, connected through love and spirit, forever and always.
When your pet graduates to this higher realm, their spirit is waiting for you to acknowledge their presence and continue to include them in your life. They are right beside you, eager to continue filling your heart. All you need to do is reach out to them.
Grief is often misunderstood, mishandled or neglected in everyday life. There is a desperate need to provide helpful information in this area, particularly for pet bereavement. We don’t openly talk about it or reach out for support. Yet it is almost certain that every single one of us will face grief at some point in our lives, with each experience being as unique as a snowflake.
Grief doesn’t have to be messy, painful or taboo. Instead, it can be beautiful, gentle and insightful. For me, my experience with grief has been a reflection of the great love and bond that Tika and I share. It has been the most enlightening journey I’ve ever experienced.
Tika’s life (and death) have had a profound impact on my life. Her departure was incomparable to that of any human death I’ve experienced thus far. The grief was intense and consuming; it hit me over and over again like a tsunami without any warning. Once I understood that Tika’s spirit is not her body and that I wasn’t losing her, this provided me with great comfort.
Grief – A Special Guest
In the early days of grief’s arrival, the emotions I felt were incredibly raw and tender. As much as it hurt, instead of bottling it up, I acknowledged and welcomed grief into my life like an old friend coming for a visit. I opened the doors of my heart and created space for grief.
I refrained from anything that would numb my emotions because I wanted to be fully present with this special guest. We’ve been spending a lot of time together, grief and I. This relationship has evolved in such a way that I feel as connected to Tika now through my grief as I did when she was alive, possibly even more so. This is because I came to understand that grief is love. Once I came to this realization, I fully welcomed grief into my heart and Tika and I were once again reunited.
Grief Is Love
“Grief is just love with no place to go” (Jamie Anderson). Over the past several months, I found places to channel my pent up love: helping others who are facing similar circumstances with their pet; random acts of kindness in Tika’s memory; and continuing with my fitness journey and overall self-care. (Tika was the impetus for my weight training and overall fitness transformation; she continues to motivate and cheer me on in spirit. She is my inner compass and personal trainer!).
I found it incredibly healing to feed my grief with joy; for instance, I gave garden flowers with a card and photo of Tika to random people, paid it forward in the Tim Horton’s drive thru, gifted Tika’s leftover treats to my dog friends, and bought myself my favourite flowers. These acts of kindness lifted my spirit because they lifted the spirit of others and I know this made Tika happy.
There is No Practice Run
We don’t learn about grief in school, work, or everyday life. There is no practice run. It just arrives, sometimes when you least expect it. You have no idea what this heartache will feel like until you actually face it yourself.
To help prepare yourself for the inevitable (if you can prepare), start by reading books on the subject of grief and pet bereavement. And most importantly, take time for yourself to connect with your emotions and navigate grief.
I am very grateful for a dear friend who gifted me two books that were PIVOTAL to my grief journey: Megan Devine’s “It’s Ok that You’re Not Ok” and Joanne Cacciatore’s “Bearing the Unbearable.” I can’t say enough good things about these two books and highly recommend them to everyone –those who are grieving and those who care enough to support someone who is.
It’s incredibly important that you build yourself a support network, in advance if possible. Reach out to family and friends and let them know how they can support you (even if just to say you need space). If you find that you don’t have the kind of support you need (and trust me, this is very possible!), seek out support groups (online or otherwise); there are plenty of helpful resources out there.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge Doug, Tika’s Dad. While he had his own emotions to process, Doug was always there for me (and Tika). He was my rock and I could never have gone through this without him. In fact, the main reason that Tika lived as long as she did and had the amazing quality of life that she had, was because of our co-parenting, joint commitment and shared love for our baby girl. We were quite the tag team for Tika and each other and were truly blessed to go through this experience together.
Letting Grief In
Welcoming grief into your life is not easy by any means. But I promise you that by acknowledging grief and giving it space to breathe, attending to it as a special guest in your heart/home (rather than an unwanted guest), this will smoothen the path forward and allow for a deeper relationship with your beloved.
If on the other hand you suffocate and starve grief, numb your feelings and keep your mind occupied, you are denying your love for your beloved. Remember, grief is love; they are dual protagonists and you simply cannot have one without the other. Honour grief and you honour your beloved.
Moments of Connection
Eight months have passed since Tika’s departure and I still have my moments. While the emotional intensity has abated, I imagine I will continue to shed tears for my baby girl for a long time to come. And that’s ok. I find my tears to be cleansing and I feel most connected to Tika during these tender moments.
For example, tonight, just as I’m finishing up this story, I was about to prepare some moose meat for dinner. This meat was originally intended for Tika. We ended up not giving it to her as we didn’t want to risk giving her a bad stomach on her final days. Just before I unwrapped the moose meat, I suddenly discovered one of Tika’s hairs stuck to the side of a plastic container that I just put some leftover soup in. There is no other dog in my house and I haven’t been around any dogs for weeks. After working so hard on this story and cooking up her moose meat, Tika was checking in on her Mommy; she was letting me know she’s here. These kind of things happen from time to time and they’re such special moments of connection.
I don’t speak of Tika as being absent from my life, because she is omnipresent. I continue to talk to Tika and acknowledge her throughout the day and night. Aside from my parents, Tika has been the next biggest influence in my life. Her spirit continues to inspire me and push me further in all that I do. She’s my soul dog and she’ll always be with me.
Memories and Mementoes
One of the most difficult things to endure when a loved one departs is the loss of sensory experiences with them. If you’re lucky enough to have photos, videos and recorded sounds, these are such precious items to help preserve your memories. But there is no equivalent for the sense of touch or smell.
What I would give to be able to inhale one more time the scent of my baby girl. Most of her blankets were washed immediately after she departed, but there were a couple put away in my closet. From time to time, I would pull out one of the blankets, bury my face in it and desperately sniff away, trying to find a remnant of Tika’s scent trapped in the blanket’s fibres. But now, months later, time has erased her scent, completely.
While I was unable to preserve Tika’s scent and physical feeling, I’m grateful for the mementoes that I do have and for all the memories involved with creating them!
Tika’s favourite stick is displayed on the fireplace mantle, with her red leash wound around it. Next to her stick is a large jar of little white rocks we collected on a path we frequented. Her red collar hangs from my car mirror, along with a little vial of ashes and fur. Each day I proudly wear my compass pendant, which contains a pinch of Tika’s ashes and is inscribed on the back with: “Tika, Forever and Always Guiding the Way.” Her ashes are contained in a beautiful handmade wooden box that I move around with me daily in the house.
These mementoes are placed throughout my house, yard and car (and even my office), as a way of continuing to include Tika in my everyday life. It brings me great comfort to see her everywhere.
Moving Forward with Love and Grief
In the beginning of this journey, grief was really heavy; it lingered above me like a ready-to-burst rain cloud. I didn’t know how to navigate this bumpy path, I had no roadmap. But in time, grief became more manageable as I began to understand its ways.
After opening my heart to grief and giving it time and space to just be, I experienced a profound expansion of love. It turns out that grief was a strengthening agent in the super glue that bonds Tika and I; we are now closer than ever.
Having experienced such compassionate unconditional love, this has brought me on the most insightful and transformative journey of my life. I take great comfort in knowing that whatever lies ahead for me, I am able to move forward with love and grief in my heart, and Tika as my guiding light.
So What Now?
For the majority of Tika’s 14.5 years, I have been single and mother to only her. I share this with you because perhaps it will shed some light onto what Tika really means to me (if it’s not apparent already!). In the absence of children and/or a significant other, all of my love and devotion has gone to Tika. And she was the source that filled my heart with unconditional love.
With Tika’s departure, the heartache I felt was not due to a heartbreak, but rather my heart was so full of love that it was overflowing; I didn’t know where to channel that abundance of love. One of the most important things in life is to feel that you matter and to have a purpose. I mattered to Tika; she needed me as much as I needed her. Being her Mommy was the one thing in my life where I knew what my role and purpose was. So what now?
Path of Discovery
What is my role and purpose now? Where do I put this abundance of love I have to give?
Many have asked if I will get another dog. Like a first love, no other dog will ever take Tika’s place in my life and heart. Of course I absolutely miss the companionship, love, entertainment, and overall enhancement of life that a dog brings. But for the first time in my adult life, I find myself at a critical juncture, with no major obligations and no one needing me. I have some big questions to ponder. Bringing a dog into my life right now (especially on my own) would completely change the possibilities before me. The day will come, I’m sure of it, but I’m not going to rush into anything.
Tika wants me to discover my new purpose. Until I figure it out, I will walk gently down this path of discovery with an open mind and heart. I may not have a roadmap, but I do have my baby girl Tika, my internal compass, guiding me every step of the way.
Sharing is Caring
If you’ve made it this far, Tika and I wish to thank you for taking the time to learn about our journey and for connecting with any emotions that may have surfaced. Feeling those feelings are necessary for growth and healing. It would mean a great deal to us if you helped share this story far and wide, so that it reaches other parents and pets who may be in need of new perspectives, guidance and compassion.
While this story ends with written words on a webpage, Tika’s story is far from over. Her spirit and legacy lives on through all those whom she has touched. I have aspirations to share Tika’s story in a book format and I will begin exploring this. If anyone out there has any connections in the book-publishing world, I’d be ever so grateful for an introduction. If you’d like to keep posted on my progress, be sure to stay connected!
Tika’s Guest Book
If Tika’s story has touched you in any way, please consider signing Tika’s guest book by leaving a comment at the end. How did you come to know about Tika’s story? Has it helped you or your pet? Feel free to share anything from your own experience that might be helpful to other readers, because we’re all in this together.
“Let our hearts be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf
If you would like to continue seeing more of Tika, you can follow her on social media, on Instagram at @tikatribute; Facebook, by searching the keyword #tikatribute; and YouTube at @coldinyk.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing our journey. I hope that our experience enriches your own.
Very touching! Obviously written from the heart! Thank you for sharing with us!
Thank you very much Jeff for taking the time to read the story. I know you know how much it means to me (and to Miss Tika!).
Thank you for sharing Tika’s story with us. It took a lot of courage to relive what must have been a very difficult time. It seems like Tika was well loved and brought so much into people’s lives. Thank you for giving us the gift of a small glimpse into a wonderful friendship. Much love to you as you continue on your healing journey.
Thank you for visiting! My experience with grief has been so enriching, and I have no doubt in my mind that this is because of the very strong love and bond I share with Tika. The grief journey just evolved as it did, into a beautiful exploratory experience. Facing the pain and the emotions head on was key to getting me to where I am today. Had I bottled things up and ignored my feelings, I probably wouldn’t be in such great health as I am right now (I’ve been on a big personal growth kick and feel GREAT!!!), I’d likely be miserable in some areas of life. But I don’t feel this way, and I’m grateful for the experience i’ve had with Tika’s departure. Writing this story has been a HUGE part of my healing journey. By sharing our story in a way that touches and helps others… this becomes a big part of Tika’s legacy (and part of my new purpose!) Thank you so much for your kind words.
Thanks for sending me the update with Part Two and Pet Bereavement. I cried through this entire post and won’t be able to finish viewing the videos until another date. Thanks so much for sharing this. As I noted on Part ! of Tika’s story, we are going through this with our senior girl, Cheyenne. Our first two vets said she does not have DM, but another vet we took her to, a rehabilitation vet who strong believes that she does. It really doesn’t matter because we will care for her either way. WE will do our best for her just as you both did for Tika. Thanks again for opening your heart to Tika and taking care of her until the end you have to decide on and for sharing a very painful story with others. We greatly appreciate it!
With your permission and blessing, I would like to share your posts on my blog, onefortheanimals.blogspot.com
If you decided not to share, that is fine, too. Thank you again….Take care of yourselves and when you are able to please do not forget that somewhere out there, there is another dog who needs a loving home and family who you can adopt in honor of Tika. I know we’ve done so….
It’s great to hear from you! I don’t remember if I told you before, but Tika wasn’t ever officially diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy. We brought her to the vet and he explained what it likely is, and as it progressed, we started her on medications… And we did our own research and figured out what works for our girl. We didn’t have access to things like water therapy and acupuncture – which many have shared with me that that’s part of the treatment for their dog, so these are things you may want to look into if they are accessible. Thank you for sharing in our journey, and I really appreciate your interest in sharing Tika’s stories on your blog! I will be in touch to find out more information about how that works. And yes, I do really look forward to the day when I have a dog in my life again, but now isn’t the time:) Sending love to Cheyenne! Best wishes to you and your family.
Could not stop crying as i saw the videos and listened to your words as if you where talking to me… All your words pictures videos i see my beautiful baby girl lyndah and I…. Your words can be mine,videos,pictures.love,dedication,,our soul dogs,the most unconditional love we will ever have had….I know and feel all your words your journey your story…It’s a beautiful thing to be able to have this connection with your pup it’s your daughter!!! Your story and journey is beautiful… I would love to tell my story … Still not ready… But as you said I also remember everything it fresh i talk to lyndah every day..And I still feel her spirit with me always.
Sounds like we are cut from the same cloth:) Throughout this journey, I’ve come across a small handful of people like yourself, who have a very similar bond/connection with their fur baby. We are very blessed to have that. Sending love to Lyndah in heaven! Thank you Carmen.
Tika looks like a great dog. It would have been nice to have met him/her. It will definitely be a big void.
Tawna, thank you for sharing with everyone this wonderful and compassionate tribute to Tika. It shows a depth of understanding about the grief process we all go through when we lose our cherished pets. This will help many to more clearly understand the heartache we feel at the departure time and gives an insight at what we can do to celebrate and cherish the memories we have had with them to give us each comfort with our loss. You have obviously spent a great deal of time and thought into creating this wonderful article, one which I am certain will enable others going through this period in their lives to more easily accept that which we cannot have any longer. Great photos and great videos to accompany this beautifully written story. We are so happy to have been a part of Tika’s extended family for almost 15 years. We will miss her friendly, “Welcome back to my home” greeting and wagging tail the next time we visit you, but we will never forget her as we re-read this beautiful story.
Thank you Pops for your very kind words. I’m so glad you and Mom were able to know Tika that way that you did. She has such an incredible spirit! This sure was quite the journey for me to go through by writing this story, but it was a necessary part of my healing. It is part of Tika’s legacy… I did it for her:) And I did it while doing the Iron Mind 30-day challenge in January (which I’m carrying through to the end of Feb)- so this has been a very big burst of personal growth for me over this time and I’m feeling great…. all because of my baby girl. I’ve been blessed to have Tika in my life.
What a beautiful story you tell, of you and your beloved Tika. I remember Tika so well from our team dinner, and Tim Christian playing ball with her. So much laughter. And thank you for sharing your thoughts on grief. It gives me much to reflect on.
Ahhhh, yes! That’s such a nice memory! I should send this story to Tim also, as I’m sure he will remember that time at my house! Thank you Caroline. I’m glad to know the story gave you something to think about. Best wishes and take care!
Your story is so touching. Such a beautiful bond between you. Thanks for sharing!!!!!
Thank you Cynthia for visiting us here:) I appreciate you taking the time to learn about our journey.
As someone who has loved and seen two of his beloved dogs move on to doggy heaven, it is not an easy moment when the time arrives. The heart is torn apart and it takes time for it to heel. Everyone’s healing journey is different and with time the memories that remain are beautiful.
Yes that is the truth! We will all be walking the grief journey in our lives, and it’s different for everyone. I hope that readers will learn how important it is to be mindful and aware of grief and how it is possible to transform the experience into something they can carry/manage – so long as they get the support they need. There are so many great resources out there!
Thank you for sharing your story and Tika with us . The love and unbreakable bond between the two of you will always be there even when your physical bodies are no longer . I cried through the entire story and was hoping you would consider writing a book about it. Maybe that’s your new purpose , to share Tika with the world and help others preparing for their final journeys with their beloved animals and coping with the tremendous loss after . Sending lots of love 💗
Thank you Lucille for emotionally connecting with our story. And yes, I do have aspirations to turn Tika’s story into a book format… I feel very strongly about this and have some ideas that I’ve been working with. I don’t think I could bring another dog into my life until I get the book project well-underway, as there would be a completely different energy and focus when I have another dog, and it wouldn’t be fair to either Tika’s spirit (for me not to finish the book(s)), or to the other dog (for me to be focusing on Tika’s spirit so much). So this is my next big thing to start focusing on and navigating through… and yes, I do feel this is part of my new purpose… especially since it is connected to Tika, it is part of her legacy…. and she’s guiding me down this path (I’ve always always wanted to write books, and even though this wasn’t the first one I wanted to write, it is the most immediate and intimate, and it therefore should be the first:) Thank you once again for sharing this journey with us.
Tawna, like many who have read Tika’s story I’m in tears. As I face the inevitable with my 17 year old soul cat, I appreciate your care in writing this. It will help many prepare, and move with the grief. But more importantly, you’ve honoured your special bond with this story. How lucky you two were to have found each other. ✨♥️
What a great life of memories you and Match have shared (and still more to come!) He has been with you through it all, and there is no one else in life (OR afterlife) like our soul pet! And yes, Doug, Tika and I were blessed to have been brought together as a family. Tika has enriched my life more than anyone or anything. I know you know the feeling. Thank you for taking the time to explore our journey. I wish you and Match much love and precious memories together!
What a beautiful story and an amazing dog. I didn’t listen to having the Kleenex handy. I cried the entire time. The love you and your husband have for Tika is so inspiring. I have two rescues that I took in last year and I love them so much. My daughter is out of the house and has started her own family and my two firms are my babies. Lucy was an extremely aggressive dog when I got her. It took three days before she would let me near her. She had been living on the streets and had been definitely abused. It took some time and lots of love and now she is such a great and loving dog. She follows me everywhere. My other dog was rescued from the streets as a 6 week old puppy and I love her so much as well. I can’t imagine having to put either of them down one day. It will definitely be extremely difficult. Thank you for sharing your journey through this process. It will definitely help me when I eventually have to go through this. I am hoping one day to open a rescue and take in the dogs no one wants because I believe with lots of love and affection every dog can be a great dog. God bless you!
Thank you Lori for learning about our journey and for connecting with and feeling the love. That so wonderful that you took in a dog that had an aggressive personality, and look at how the relationship has evolved! Wow! If only more people were brave enough and loving enough to work with such an animal that needs (and deserves!) extra special care and attention so they can learn to love and trust you.I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this book, but I’d like to recommend it to you…. “The Incidental Gura- Lessons in Healing from a Dog” by Cindy Stone. I picked up this book at a yard sale during my summer road trip, and the story line sounds like it would resonate with you (because of Lucy:)
Your dream of opening up a rescue is a beautiful one! I follow a special person on Instagram (WPSGSS I think)… https://www.wpsgss.org, Woody’s Place Senior German Shepherd Sanctuary… I just love following those dogs and their story. It is a sanctuary for senior GSDs, where they live our their final years. I would love to be part of something like this! And so your dream is one I share too!! Best wishes and thank you so much for reading about our experience.
What a beautiful tribute for a beautiful member of your family…it will be 3 years since I lost Jasper who lived to 20 and was my best friend just like Tika was for you ❤️
Thank you Amina! Wow, 20 years is amazing! That’s a very big part of your life indeed! Jasper has no doubt made a significant impact on your life as well. XOXO
Tawna, this was a very emotional and informative story. So many tears. 😢 So many memories. Such a beautiful tribute to Tika. ❤️ Loss is not something anyone wants to experience. But when it happens to a loved one, like it did for you and Doug, it can be very devastating. Knowing what to do or how to move on does not come naturally. Thank you for taking the time to create Tika’s beautiful story and for choosing such cherished photos and videos to share with everyone. Your personal story will undoubtedly help others who may experience this kind of loss. I know it was extremely emotional and time consuming but I believe this project will help you to move forward. Your unconditional love for Tika was like no other I have seen. I will always remember the fun times I had with Tika (and will miss our conversations). You were there for Tika’s‘s every need for 14.5 years and now Tika‘s spirit will be there for you, close to your heart, guiding you to new and happier future endeavours. I am so proud of you!❤️🐾
Thank you Mom (Tika’s “Grandma”)! I loved how Tika responded to when I say “Grandma”… she always piped up… whenever I’d say certain people’s names… such an incredibly intelligent and loving being and I’m so honoured to be her Mom and to have shared 14.5 years of life with her. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without Tika; she filled and enriched my life more than anyone or anything ever has! And even after her departure, she continues to have a tremendous impact and influence on my life… a very positive one!
Yes, this has been a very emotional journey to write this story and get to the point where I was ready to finally press “publish” – working countless hours on “perfecting” it, adding this and that, tweaking one thing or another, changing pics around, adding Tika and Hogan’s love story!…. I put my everything into this tribute because it represented my love for her…but at the same time, I knew that someone out there (pet or human) needed this story, Part 1 or 2, or both…. and I so I had to finish it and let it out into the universe so that it can reach those who need it. Processing my emotions and creating this story has been a huge part of my grief and healing journey. I feel a great relief after having published this story. And Tika is very happy also! Now we can move forward together on our next project…. which as you know, involves more writing:) And yes, Tika will certainly be there with me every step of the way! ❤️🐾❤️🐾❤️🐾
Thank you Tawna for sharing your touching tribute to Tika. Written from the heart with love. Your words brought tears to my eyes. I feel the love you had for your Tika was the same I had for my Mia. They are our soul dogs and we will be connected forever.
Take care and please continue to share your photos, videos, stories and memories of Tika with us. She was truly such a special girl and you are blessed to have each other. She will always and forever be right there beside you. 🐾
Hugs from Melbourne
Hi Aletheia. It has been a pleasure connecting with you on Instagram and following your beautiful story with your beloved Mia. I’m so happy to be connected with others who have soul dogs, we have been so blessed. Most people don’t have this kind of connection and experience with their fur babies… but we have, and I’m grateful for the entire experience. Tika has changed my life for the better, she has made me a better person! And yes, she is forever and always right there with me, just as your Mia is with you…. Best wishes from frozen Canada!
Tawna, I have always admires your inspiration. Tika was so lucky to have been chosen by you and Doug to be her parents. ❤️
Reading Tika’s story brings back memories of our boy Elmo. We, like you did not have human children. Our children were our pet’s over a 35 year span we had 4 in total and each one of them were different and connections with each were different. We loved them all and Elmo was our last and the bond with him and I was unbreakable. He was always by my side regardless of what I would be doing.
All our boys traveled with us wherever we went. Elmo was in Vegas 2 times and it was his final visit in September of 2015. He turned 18 in August and we had plans to go to Vegas and prior to going had taken him to the vet to ensure we were doing the right thing by traveling. The vet said if he was used to traveling it would be the best thing to be with us.
We knew prior to leaving he may not be coming home with us in body form and as we got closer to Vegas we can see he was getting tired.
In his later years I would talk to Elmo and say “Baby when it is time you need to let momma know” Elmo like Tika was spoken to and understood more than we could imagine. When he stopped being by my side we knew it was time.
My bond with Elmo was so much like your bond with Tika and that bond will continue to live on in our hearts.
Beautiful tribute to Tika ♥️
Thank you Rhonda! That’s awesome that your boys traveled with you so much. I wish it was more easy with a large dog, and I’d bring Tika with me too! That would be so fun!! We both have been so blessed to have this kind of connection with another being, unlike any other connection or love! I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to love and be loved so much! Unconditional pure love! Thank you for sharing this journey with us. Big hugs to you guys!
Such a beautiful story! Beautifully written! It made me think about the love I had for our little Shetland sheep dog Tuxedo! It definitely takes time to heal from loosing a fur baby! Tika was one lucky pup to have you as a mom!
They remain with us forever:) I am super grateful to have Tika as my fur-daughter! She has changed my life in so many enriching ways. We were a great team, the 3 of us!
Thank you Melinda for signing Tika’s guest book:) This healing process sure is a sacred and special journey to go through… exploring life without “children”… it’s strange. It will take me some time to figure out, but whatever it is I’m going to do…. I will keep Tika at the forefront of my mind, and be mindful of my choices and direction, knowing that so long as I remain in tune and connected with her, she will guide me along the path I’m meant to take in life.
This was so moving. I admire how you approach your grief. I love that you don’t call it a loss too.. tika’s spirit can really be felt through your words. What a beautiful life you shared.
Thank you Kathryn. Yes, I never had to say goodbye to Tika, because I had the understanding that her spirit remains present forever and always. The entire experience of Degenerative Myelopathy and Tika’s departure….this has been the most educational, enriching and transformative time in my life. I had to go through all of this in order to get to where I am now and where I am heading. And I am comforted knowing that my baby girl is right here with me, smiling and encouraging me every step of the way, just as I did when she took her first steps with the wheelchair!
Thanks for sharing your experience and despite the loss, how bitter sweet it is to know you had so many great years together. Dogs, and other pets, certainly provide so much more than companionship and teach us countless lessons over our years together. Tika was clearly that counterpoint to you and the love/mutual adoration very apparent.
We adopted a puppy 3-years ago and my heart melted a degree or two. Even before reading Tika’s story, I dread the day I have to say goodbye. Thanks to you and Tika, I’ll have a few more reasons to double down on my time with her.
Thanks again for sharing and best of luck on the rest of the journey.
Hi Chris! Thank you for sharing in our journey together. Yes you sure are right about all the lessons they teach you in life. I suppose it would be similar with human kids… but still different. The unconditional love that comes from a relationship with your pet is incomparable to the love and life with any other being – that’s my opinion anyway! Tika’s life (and afterlife) has enriched my life so much, she continues to be the guiding light, my cheerleader, my reason, and my “why” for so many things in life. It’s pretty amazing the impact she is making in my life… and I’m so blessed to be her Mommy. It’s great to hear from you! Best wishes Chris and enjoy every moment with your fur baby!
We never really truly know how much we love our pets, our babies until we lose them. They just have this pure love for us, no questions asked.
Tika was the centre of my world and I treated her as such. She still holds the centre of my heart and always will – she is my compass! Without having had this opportunity to share 14.5 years of life together, life would have been so empty. That unconditional love is so incredibly powerful and everlasting.
We are so blessed to have had the opportunity to know such love. Life without this experience and love would seem so empty and lacking.
Wow such powerful words and your video’s touched me to the core! No one really understands what it is like to lose a pet until it happens. When one of my pets went over that bridge I’ve always wrote them a letter letting them know what they meant and brought to our lives and that they will always be a part of the family. My heart goes out to you both.
Hi Dianne and Bob! I love that idea of writing a letter to Tika. I know she knows everything I would write, because I’ve told it all to her when she was physically with me, and I continue to talk to her now:) It has never stopped. But I do love this idea! Thank you for taking the time to explore our journey. Sending you guys big hugs from chilly Yellowknife (I’m sure you don’t miss the cold!)
It was a bit hard to read as so many people know and understand what it is like to say “see ya later” to a four legged family member. You love your dog unconditionally, but never really know the depth of love until they are no longer with us. Your story was very well written and informative to those that might feel some comfort in your words and thoughts. Lots of love. ❤️ Thanks for sharing.
Thank you sister! You know the heartache and love I’m feeling. There’s nothing like it. Sharing this story and pics and videos of Tika are my way of keeping her spirit alive…I’ve learned so much from Tika and our life together, and she is still teaching me so much after her departure. xoxoxoxo She’s my guardian Angel, my motivator, my inspiration in life.
Beautiful life story of Tika. We all know the hardship when your loved ones leave. I’ve had many pets over the years who have lived to their fullest. You never expect that one day they will leave you. We just have to keep their spirits alive always ❤️
Hi Kathy! Thank you for sharing in our journey. One of my purposes is definitely to continue keeping Tika’s spirit alive- by sharing her story, helping others, and writing book(s) in the near future! I know Tika has special things in store for me…
Thank you, Tawna, for your compassionate story of Tika. I suppose any other experience we have with our animals would never match the one you have expressed here but a few of my dogs have come close. In my life, the recent one was with Nickolas, our Siberian Husky. His ashes are buried in our back yard with a headstone we had specially made to remind us. He was 15.5 when we gently had him put down because of failing systems. He lived a really great life and he knew we loved him. We have two new dogs now that we shower our love on. They have not replaced the space but have only added on to our lifetime of pet children.
Thank you Steve for learning about our story and sharing in our journey. I love that your husky’s name was “Nickolas”! I know that no other dog will replace Tika, my soul dog, (I can’t imagine that it would be possible to have such a strong connection with another dog- but maybe…), but I do look forward to the day when I can welcome into my heart a new fur baby! Since I want to write about Tika in a book format, I think it is important that I get going with that sooner than later, because I don’t think I could focus so much on this project if I have another dog in my life. The energy would change… and right now, Tika is my energy. She is the focus of my next steps in life… And I want to honour her life, so…. I’ve got to get a move on it! Please give your dogs some extra cuddles for me:)
It took me a while to settle down to savour this beautiful story of great love, unequalled tenacity on all fronts, between Doug, Tawna and Tika. The amazing care and commitment to Tika, in the face of what is a debilitating disease sets the bar high. My GSD Quando passed away from the same disease in 2021.. and Tawna has become a long distance friend who I have grown to admire and respect, for her commitment and her ability to love life and all those around her with such vigour and zest! Bless you Tawna & Doug for bearing the hardest loss. Rest assured that Tika’s memory and spirit will shine a beautiful heavenly light around you both always ❤️❤️
Thank you Sagree. I can’t even imagine how the story would have turned out if Doug and I weren’t in this together. I am so grateful we were such a tag team for Tika! We were a great trio:) As you know, you quickly became one of Tika’s top fans, in life and after. Thank you for being there. I have so enjoyed our connection throughout this journey (that we are both on), we have so much in common. Quando and Tika were cut from the same cloth. Our soul dogs. We are so blessed! I sure hope to come and visit you in South Africa one day soon… I know our babies would LOVE that!!! ❤️
What a BEAUTIFUL journey your three shared! So heartfelt and loving! My eyes filled with tears reading this! Thank you it’s was beautiful of you to share this!
Hi Carla:) As a fellow loving (and doting:) pet parent, I know you know this kind of love. We are truly blessed! Thank you for sharing in our journey.
This is such a beautiful story of your special little girl. I’ve never had to experience a planned departure like this one – my previous GSDs both went suddenly. But I feel we may have to do this for Cassie. She’s now 12 and has some arthritis in her elbows, perhaps from pulling the wheelchair for almost six years. It makes me nervous to think about what it might be like, but reading this has helped me understand what it might feel like and how to make it easier. Thank you for sharing your story and for your regular posts with Tika’s beautiful face.
Thank you Karen. I’m so sorry you didn’t have the chance to have such a planned departure for your previous GSDs. I realize many don’t get this kind of opportunity. Have you looked at getting front wheels for Cassie’s chair to help take off some of the weight? Wow! 6 years in the chair! Ya, it probably is a big contributing factor to the arthritis. (Gabapetin and Deramaxx is what we gave Tika for the inflammation and pain. Along with glucosamine and chondroitin for joints).
Tika had a real hard time with the wheelchair in her final 6 months (and unfortunately those were winter months for the most part, so we didn’t get out for walks very much. I could see her front legs were hitting the ground more heavily as she walked, and it was just getting more difficult for her. I had thought about ordering the front wheels, wondering if that would have been the next step/phase for her… I had no one around me suggesting this and I didn’t ask about it either. I also wish I had got a wagon of some sort, or one of those carriages (like the kind for kids), to bring her out for walks during her final 1-2 months as the snow was melting. It’s so normal for me to say things like that, ” I wish I did this or that”… but I know Doug and I did everything we knew of and read about that would assist Tika in any way.
Thank you for sharing in our journey and following along:) I very much enjoy following Tika’s instagram friends too! Best wishes to you both. Please give Cassie some extra loving for me!
Thanks Tawna! Yes the front wheels may be an option and we certainly have talked about getting a wagon of some sort. As she has never been all that keen on long walks, at this point she’s still ok – she gets out for 20-30 mins each day and we try to avoid hills. It’s just the same old neighbourhood each time but she still enjoys being able to bark at every dog we meet. She’s having some anti-inflammatory now but we know there are options for when it gets worse. I guess it’s a matter of keeping some options up our sleeves for when they’re needed.
I reckon we’ll need to have a planned departure for her in the next couple of years. She’s incredibly healthy apart from the legs so I think it will be a slow decline. My first GSD had sudden organ failure with no warning when she was almost 14. With Phoebe we knew she had a bad heart and she spent the last 8 months on medication for it before her heart just suddenly stopped one evening. She was almost 13. Cassie is in much better shape overall so I think the decline will be slow and steady. So sad to see that. Seeing it in my elderly parents too, which is also tough.
Getting old isn’t much fun. But it’s better than not getting old – all three of the oldies in my family have had wonderful long and happy lives.
Yes you’re right that getting old isn’t much fun! But just like with anything, adjustments can often be made to make things more comfortable. And that’s exactly what you’re doing for Cassie. You’re clearly a very loving mommy, and Cassie (and your previous GSD Angels) love you so much for this. I hope you still have many more memories to create together! Sending you both lots of love!
I finally finished Part 2. As you already know I had trouble with finishing it before because of my grief for my own dog who I lost to congestive heart failure on November 2, 2021, and because I first met Tika on line after I met you almost 10 years ago. I love dogs and have always considered friends’ dogs as part of my pack even if they live far away. In my lifetime I have had 16 dogs and 12 cats. Everyone was special and everyone was so missed when it was their time to part from us. We always adopted rescued dogs. Bogart was with us for 18 of his 18.5 years. The first day we had him at home he suffered a seizure and stopped breathing. My husband gave him mouth to mouth CPR. while I did chest compressions. He survived and never had another seizures. He always chose the dogs we adopted after him. At age 12, he had to have a eye removed because of glaucoma and was also blind in the other eye. No problem for him. First came the “Girls”, a pair of bonded Maltese. Unfortunately, Mini-Me (Marie) developed CHF and lived for only 2 years.. Her sister/mother, Tosca, was with us for 4 years. She and Bogart were good friends and as they aged they spent a lot of quiet time together. We knew that we would have to have a companion for Bogart because Tosca had cancer. My husband came home with a neighbor’s dog, Rocky. He was skin and bones and had been kept chained a heavy chain. He weighed less than 5 lbs. Skin and bones and crazy. At 3 years old he had never been neutered and had never had any vaccinations. He couldn’t sit still for even a second. We called him Rocket Boy and Space Cadet. Oh, but Bogart adored him. We had to put Rocky in a cat carrier to try to calm him down and cover it with a blanket to diminish any stimuli. Bogart would have none of that – he would pull the blanket off the carrier and just sit next to it trying to figure out what this creature was. After a month and all his vaccines Rocky was neutered and he turned into a wonderful little cuddle baby . He seemed so relieved to not have all that pent up wild energy. He and Bogart would run through the house chasing each other. Bogart would hit the wall every once and a while and Rocky would go to him and get him going again. In Oct 2018, Bogart passed over the rainbow bridge but not before he chose his girlfriend, Magee, down the street, to be Rocky’s companion. Magee is still with us. She looked for Rocky for about a week. Magee had known me since she was a puppy, but was very mad at her first mom for just dumping her because she was older. Rocky must have had a talk with her after his passing because her attitude toward me changed back to the old friendship we had. She is now coming to me to put her out and letting me know when she thinks she needs a treat. She came to us with a raging bacterial ear and skin infection that we still battle but we have finally found a food that seems to be improving the skin problem. She has done her best to make me laugh and she still loves her Daddy and wants to be with him most of the time, but she follows me around get the goodies. I miss Rocky. He lost a leg to cancer and was diagnosed with CHF 7 months later and 10 days after the diagnosis he died in the night. I wasn’t home. I had gone with a friend for a couple of days. She was grieving her sister and I had made the commitment months earlier to go with her on a retreat. I talked with Rocky about it. I asked him to wait for me if he could but if he had to go, I gave him directions to where I would be. I told him to come to me and let me know. I was only going to gone 2 nights. At 4 A.M. during the first night, I heard a noise in the room and woke up to a bunch of dogs jumping on the bed, Rocky was first, followed by Bogart, and all our other dogs. I knew he was over the rainbow bridge. He had his leg back and he jumped on the bed = he never did that. He always waited to be put in bed. I reached for him and they all disappeared. When I got home, my husband said he thought Rocky passed sometime between 3-4 A.M. the morning before. He had put his favorite sweater on him and put him in a nice little box. He looked like he was just sleeping. I took him to the vet the next day so they could cremate him. They made a beautiful ornament with his name and paw print. It went up on my Christmas tree and now is on the book shelf next to the drawing I did of him a couple years before we even adopted him. Bogart’s photo is next to him. I am looking for a special little urn for his ashes and for our other dogs ashes that we have put away over the years. I mad a stepping stone of Bogart’s ashes. I have spent hours now crying when I told myself not to cry but when you love your dog and everybody else’s dogs, it’s hard not to cry. It’s a good thing not to hold it in. I’ve had several visits from the pets in the last couple of months. Their spirits are still around and will be until we are reunited. Thank you again, Tawna for sharing Tika’s whole story. Even having gone through this so many times, it is so much harder this time., but your story has helped so much.
This is so beautiful Tawna. I definitely shed some tears reading your journey with Tika. It’s so hard to lose a fur baby and while my journey’s have been a little different than your journey with Tika, the grief has been very much the same. Thank you for writing and sharing this.
Thank you Jody for taking the time to explore our story. There’s nothing about grief that is easy, but with all things in life that are difficult, when we endure them, when we face the challenges and bumps that we encounter in life, and accept them as lesson, we come out on the other side as being more resilient. I wish you a gentle path ahead of you.
Thank you Tawna for sharing your incredible story and Adventure of your and Tika’s life together. Grief and loss are different for everyone, and you have given many some much needed comfort. The last possible thing we can do for our furred family is to take away the pain and suffering. Be at peace!
Thank you Michelle. Turning my grief into support for others is a beautiful way to honour Tika’s spirit and I intend to keep this going! I feel this is part of my “next purpose” and I am very comforted knowing that Tika is the one guiding me down this path. Sending you and your fur baby big hugs!
Thank you Tawna for sharing Tika’s story with us. Even though I don’t have a dog or a cat in my life, I felt a connection with Tika. I never got to see her in person, but your pictures and videos helped me to get to know Tika. You and Tika had such a deep love for each other. And yes, her story did bring tears to my eyes. Her physical body may be gone, but her spirit lives on forever. Nothing will ever take her place, but I hope in time you’ll find another furry four-legged friend to take care of.
Thank you Abbas! I’m so glad you were about to connect with my baby girl, through the pictures, videos and her spirit! She is one special soul:) One day… I’m sure I’ll be sharing life with another (or more than 1!) furry love!!! In time….
Tawna that was so beautiful to read. Thank you for sharing your story even though I know it was hard to write. The videos and pictures were just lovely and so touching. I enjoyed them all! What a great Mama you were to sweet Tika! Our family had two beloved pets, Madison and Myia, and it was so very heart wrenching to put them down so I know your pain. Pets are such a part of the family but we don’t get them as long and we have to choose when they go. It isn’t fair but how much we treasure the time we had with them! ❤️❤️
Thank you so much Pam for taking the time to read through both parts of Tika’s story! Tika had two very loving, devoted and committed parents. While we didn’t live together for most of Tika’s 14.5 years, Doug and I were a great tag team for Tika! She was our #1 priority! “Heartwrenching” sure is the word for what we went through when that time came. I never ever felt that before; it hurt because it was such a deep love – like no other! You and Doug and I have been so blessed to have our fur babies in our lives for as long as we did. There is nothing like the love and bond between human and dog/pet. They leave an impression in our heart forever!
Your writings on Tika and your sharing of her life, living with Degenerative Myelopathy, has great value to all of us, that find ourselves suddenly looking for help and guidance, after having our GSD diagnosed with DG.
Initially we were at a loss as to what to do.
Searching the web, we came across your article on Tika, and the rainbow bridge.
It touched our hearts.
From your experience, we were able to pick a path on how to start to deal with what was to come.
We used your writings and your pictures, to get guidance.
I have no doubt in my mind you are able to inspire people to put effort into looking after their family dog, after it is diagnosed with D G.
We will have to face the grief in the not to far future.
Thank you for giving us the inspiration and guidance, for carrying our boy, for the last 1½ years.
Dave and Debs.
It has been such a pleasure connecting with you Dave and Debbie (and Rocco!), all the way in South Africa! I’ve so enjoyed keeping in touch and getting updates on Rocco. You both are such loving individuals, adopting Rocco as a “senior GSD” and then doing whatever you could to make Rocco’s life more comfortable in his final years, particularly once he developed DM. Such a beautiful story. In case anyone else is reading through these comments, I want to let them know that Dave contacted me after seeing one of Tika’s videos on YouTube (about caring for a dog with Degenerative Myelopathy), as his dog Rocco was in the early stages of DM…. and they wanted to know more about where to get the wheelchair that Tika had. I provided him with those details (note- they are in part 1 of the story in case you’re looking!), and he went ahead and ordered one right away from the US – all the way to South Africa!! Now that’s determination, commitment and unconditional love!
Thank you Dave and Debbie for keeping in touch. I know Rocco is having a challenging time, but I know you guys are giving him your everything and for that he will always always love you.
I lost my Taz February 23, 2020 … he too had DM .. eventually affecting his breathing and passed in my arms. I’ll be honest I read parts of your blog and have to stop as although it’s been 2 years I relate so much that I get too emotional. I promise I will finish reading it all.. it’s a loss that not too many understand.
Thank you Grace for visiting Tika’s story and for sharing a bit of yours. The loves stays with us forever, and those moments of intense emotion will no doubt keeping coming from time to time- as our fur babies have had such a profound impact on our lives. It’s a LOVE that not too many understand or have been blessed to know.
Thank you Tawna for putting into words everything I felt with the loss of my beloved pets. Beautifully written. I’ve only had my dog for 2 years now and since he’s turning 14 in July, don’t know how long we have but I cherish every moment like you did and still do with Tika
Hi Sara. Thank you for your kind words. Bless your soul for (adopting?) a senior dog at 12 years old! That’s so wonderful. May all of your remaining days together be full of love and life and wonderful memories. ❤️
Thank you Tawna for sharing your beautiful story of Tika. I’m crying now. You two have such an incredible bond and you guys gave her such an amazing life!
I appreciate you visiting our story. We had an amazing and enriching, love-filled life together. I can’t imagine what life would have been like without having had those 14.5 years with her! So grateful 🙏❤️
Thank you so much for sharing your adventures with Tika. Your story is a must-read for all animal lovers who have lost a beloved pet (like you and me!).
Through the years, I enjoyed your journey together. Your stories, anecdotes and pictures together made me laugh and dream about far away lands that I hope to visit some day. I also enjoyed your love for each other and admired your devotion, strength and resilience when Tika sadly became ill and you helped and comforted her in every step of the way.
Your story has brought me both joy and tears! And even though Tika is now gone, I am left with a sense of hope knowing that you two will meet someday, at the end of the rainbow, and enjoy each other again!!
I send you a big hug, Tawna. Your journey was filled with love and it was truly admirable!!
Ahhhh! Muchas gracias for your thoughtful words and for having followed our journey over the years! It’s wonderful to hear from you and very touching to know that Tika’s story in a way has kept us connected. ❤️ Thanks to Tika, she has brought me closer to so many people, long lost friends and new friends from oceans and continents away! What a blessing.
It has been such a long long time since Carleton uni days in Ottawa! Such great times. Thank you for stopping by here. Sending you big hugs and I sure hope to see you again! Best wishes to you and your family. Xoxox
Such a beautiful and touching story. From every word you wrote, to the videos, and all the pictures. You and Tika were the best together and always will be. People, Animals, Places, and Things never leave us. It just changes us forever and we will always have the memories to share. There is always an empty place in your heart from the loss of a loved one, but we have to be thankful everyday for the beautiful memories and wonderful times we had together.
Thank you for sharing such specials times and moments with you and Tika.
Much love always to you and Tika is doggy heaven,
You’re absolutely right Diana! They change us forever! Tika has enriched my life and heart so much; I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without her influence. Instead of my heart being empty after her departure, it is overflowing with love. We remain connected forever and always; I talk to her, I include her. She gives me little messages and special moments that I know are from her. I’m comforting knowing her spirit is with me always.
I have tears running down my face as I read this and think about what we will soon be dealing with. Our beautiful 13.5 year old Lily is in final stages of congestive heart failure, so right now, every day is a gift. Just when we think ‘the time has come’, she rallies, meets and greets everyone who comes into our yard or house, and grabs the noisiest squeaky toy she can find! This will be our third pup to cross the rainbow bridge, so she will be in good company. Though we have many, many wonderful memories of our adventures together, I dread saying goodbye; she is the dog that is loved by everyone who has met her….even those who are not dog lovers. ❤️
In a way, we are blessed when we know the departure time is imminent, because this makes us mindful and fully present at each moment, allowing us to create memories that we will cherish forever. Many people don’t get this “opportunity” to prepare when they experience an unexpected departure. I am comforted that I never had to say goodbye to my baby girl; Tika never left; she remains in my life even more so now in spirit, than when she was physically here! She is everywhere I go, forever and always connected by our loving bond. I hope that you’re remaining time together is full of wonderful moments and memories. I hope that Lily has a beautiful departure, with you at her side all the way to the rainbow bridge. Sending you positive thoughts and love.
Thank you. We are making the best of every day!
We knew it was imminent…but I didn’t expect it to be the day after I replied to you. She had a wonderful week of little walks in her favourite places, ice cream on the way home, a last ride in our motorhome (which took us to so many adventures over the years), and sweet goodbyes from special friends and family members. We were there with her to the very end, and made sure she was relaxed for her last walk into the clinic. Her ashes will be shared amongst three of her very favourite places. We miss her SO much, but she had a wonderful life with us, our family, and all the special people she met along the way. Thanks for giving me a place to share.
I am so sorry to learn of Lily’s sudden departure, but very glad to know you had some very precious moments together during that final week. And also very fortunate for Lily’s family and friends to have had the opportunity to shower her with love and give her such happy days. I know Lily was soaking it all in! May you find strength in the days, weeks, and months ahead, and find a way to connect with Lily’s spirit as you move forward together. She will be at your side and in your heart forever and always.
Such a beautiful story – Tika was such a great teacher and it’s so great to hear how she’s still guiding you 🙂
Thank you Yancy. Yes, she sure was/is! Tika definitely continues to motivate and inspire me, to go farther, to persevere, to be compassionate and loving. And I hope to keep sharing her story for a long time to come (and possibly in another format:)….reaching people near and far, young and old. She’s a very special teacher!
Thank you Tawna for sharing your incredible love story. I too have a babygirl Purebred German Shepherd named Kamella. She was born October 14, 2020. My son’s girlfriend bought her for his Christmas present. After a few months, my son got accepted into medical school and he had to move to South Florida and he couldn’t bring her with him. So, Kamella is my babygirl now. I’m so glad she is mine. Tika looks a lot like my Kamella. So her story touches me deeply. I do know that when it is time for Kamella to cross the rainbow bridge, I will do exactly the same as Tika because I don’t want my babygirl to suffer either. I have to admit, Tika’s story brought tears to my eyes. Because I love my babygirl so much. I really believe we will be together again at that rainbow bridge when our time comes too. I’m so sorry for your loss Tawna. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Sending my love to you.
Thank you Bridget for connecting with Tika’s story:) And I’m so happy that you were able to take Kamella in as your own baby girl to love and give her the best life. They sure enrich our lives like no one or nothing else can! I love hearing about other’s connections with their fur babies too, while I didn’t have many friends around me who had such a bond with their pet (our even had pets!), meeting people like yourself, through Tika’s story or social media, this has made me feel much more connected to like-minded loving human parents. I hope you have years of health and happiness together. Thank you for your visit.
Thank you so much for sharing this story, I have cried through the whole thing I will have to go back and read through it again and watch the videos. We are going through this with our 12 year old German Shephard we also have his sister that is starting to have some of the same problem. I am very grateful to have been able to help bring my two fur babies into this world and will be seeing them out also. I have been struggling back and for about when the time is your story has help me so much even though some family and friends have thought it has already been time, I know it is not yet since the light has not been lost in his eyes I know he does not have long but I am so thankful for the time we have had. I loved your ideas about the crafts I am going to start doing this with my boy until the final day.
Debbie, I am so touched that our story has helped you in some way. Most of the “everyday” people in our lives haven’t had the privilege to love an animal like we have or to have built such a bond with an animal, and so it’s impossible for them to know what we’re going through. I’ve had close friends that didn’t even say anything to me, they didn’t acknowledge my grief, they were simply absent. This may have been because they didn’t understand or know how to help… and I wrote about this in Part 2, recommending a very good book that will help both yourself, as well as your loved ones (to help you).
I know you will cherish all remaining time with your fur babies. It is a very very tender experience to go through, but at the same time, as you said, we are grateful to have the opportunity to go through these times of transition with them. It is my belief that the time will come for the soul of every living being to “graduate” to a higher plane. Know that when that time comes, your beloved is not leaving you. This is their time to elevate and your time to surrender. Honor their love and their spirit. You will be carrying them in your heart and your relationship will continue, forever and always…. and one day, you when it’s your time, your souls will reunite. I wish you and your family lots of love, peace and strength.
Tawna and Angel Tika
Thank you for sharing a very special story, one that we are beginning to live with our 11 years old GSD, Dyva. It is of tremendous help and value as we begin our journey to continue giving our girl the love and affection she has always given us and prepare for the dreaded moment. Like you, we are getting her all necessary to make her outstanding time with us the best possible. It is not easy, but we must face reality. Wishing you and yours a joyous, safe and healthy holiday season and a very prosperous new year 2023. Thank you.
It warms my heart when I learn that Tika’s story has helped another pet or their family with managing the challenges they are facing when it comes to disabilities, aging, and grief. Our pets are no less a part of our family, and they deserve all the comfort and attention you can give them,…. especially after they have given us their unconditional love and companionship. Their love and the bond we create leaves an impression in our hearts forever. Our pets are invaluable teachers of life lessons and we’d be missing out on so much if we didn’t have them in our lives. You are in a fortunate position to be able to “prepare” and to be aware of what is to come and how to make the most of your remaining time together (while in physical form). I truly truly believe they remain with us forever and always; Tika has never left my side! And Dyva will be there with you.
(PS- I adopted Miss Hiccup (8 year old German Shepherd/Husky cross) on September 9/22… I wasn’t planning on it, but she stole my heart and Tika sent her my way! I do share pics and videos of her on Instagram (she shares the account with Tika, at @tikatribute and I use #hiccupadventures for her posts), you will find her adoption announcement video on Instagram!; also on Facebook, you can search #hiccupadventures.)
Thank you for reaching out and I wish you and your family all the best for 2023…Sending love, strength and peace to you, and a big loving hug to Dyva! Merry Christmas!
Tawna, Angel Tika and Hiccup
You are no doubt, a very special human being. Thank you for taking the time to share your story and allow us to prepare for what awaits us. You are so right, we are in a fortunate position, thanks to you. May He always continue shining His light and bestow His blessings on you, Hiccup, Angel Tika and loved ones. Stay safe, healthy and mind strong. Regards.
Thank you so much for your beautiful words and blessings. I wish you and your family all the best.