Shayna made her journey to Heaven on Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 30, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

The last picture ever taken of us, a few hours before her journey to Heaven.


To our friends, and donors to Shayna’s Health Fund:

Shayna made her journey to Heaven on Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

I had no rational choice but to facilitate this journey, which occurred in the office of her cardiologist.  In summary, as noted in our last update, the tumor at the base of her heart had grown significantly, and was causing symptoms that were preventing her from sleeping, and breathing properly, and they were only going to get worse.  The night before I made this decision, Shayna could hardly sleep at all, and was clearly very worried about what was happening to her.

As sad as this is, there is much to be happy about:

  • Shayna lived a long, full, happy life, and knew how much she was loved by me, and many others.
  • Shayna’s last life lesson to me occurred on what I finally was able to convey to her would be the last day of her life on Earth: that we have a choice as to how we face each day.  She chose to be happy on her last day here, and bring smiles to the faces of everyone we encountered, as we engaged in an amazing amount of activities – including four training sessions, a long walk at the University of Virginia (our favorite place), a visit to the Senior Center, a long walk at our favorite mall, etc.
  • Shayna’s spirit and legacy will hopefully go on in perpetuity, as I am about to embark on several projects to help advance the interests of dogs and their parents, in her name.  The first of these projects is Shayna’s List, which will be dedicated to celebrating quality veterinarians and makers of edible dog products, and exposing and holding to market account their opposites.

If you’d like to learn more, please see these posts:

My angel just over my right shoulder, as I drive, March 8, 2014

My angel just over my right shoulder, as I drive, March 8, 2014

The days that led up to Shayna’s journey to Heaven

Here you can see pictures and videos that document Shayna’s medical condition, but mostly, the incredible bravery and positive attitude with which she faced her growing difficulties, and how joyously active she was, until her last day on Earth.  At the end, she had memorized the names of 57 toys, could stack her ring toys by name on a pole, and dunk her balls in a basket, had learned to “count” one and two tennis balls, and we had resumed work on her flash cards.  Less than a week before her journey to Heaven, we did our first visit to a rehabilitation center, where she brought smiles to the faces of several seriously-ill people – and our training demo there was captured on video.

The aftermath: Agony, and beautiful magic

As you might imagine, this was the most tragic loss of my life.  In 2002 I began searching for my first dog; I ended up finding my soulmate. Yet amidst the grief, several truly beautiful things happened – including, if you can believe it, photographs of something that I would like to think was an answer to my prayers, for her to let me know that she made it to Heaven.  I realize it sounds crazy.  Wait til you see the pictures, then decide.

My letter to Shayna

In the past, I suggested to grieving dog parents that when they have a chance to catch their breaths, they write a letter to their dog, to express what s/he meant to them.  I decided that it was time I took my own advice. This was the result.

To our friends who knew Shayna personally, to her amazing medical team, to those who said prayers for her, and to the donors to her health fund… thank you. We would not have made it seventeen months past the day that she was diagnosed with this terrible disease, and given one day to four months to live, without you.

I am absolutely confident that Shayna is joining me in thanking you, from her new home in Heaven… where nothing will hurt her, or cause her to worry, ever again… and where I believe that someday, she and I will be blissfully reunited.

With love,







Filed in: Life with Shayna

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