Teddy’s Last Day

Yesterday was our dog Teddy’s last day on earth. He was not quite 7 years old. To try to explain in a blog post how he affected all of us in our family and way beyond our family is probably impossible. But since he has been known not only by us but by friends and clients around the globe, I have to try.

Teddy came to us in June 2004. My oldest son, Tim, brought this 8 week old puppy into the house saying, “I’m 18 and old enough to have a dog.” Tim asked for a dog since he was a little boy and my husband had always said no.

Even with Teddy in his arms, Bill, my husband, told Tim he would have to take him back. But that never happened and Teddy won Bill over until he became the family dog. All of us loved him. Dan, our youngest son, had a special bond with him too.

Teddy’s Health problems

Teddy had health issues most of his life. His bad ear infections caused us to switch to Rockwood Pet Hospital. They finally solved the infections with multiple ear flushings and antibiotics.

He fell victim to bloat in July 2008. We agreed to emergency surgery to save his life and give us 2 1/2 more years with him. He had Lyme disease and the beginnings of hip dysplasia common in large breed.

Most recently, his nose had been cracked and needed extra care and antibiotics. But none of us saw this coming.

Teddy’s Last Day Symptoms

For the past couple of weeks, he seemed increasingly lethargic, not wanting to move around, didn’t eat well, and didn’t seem to have energy.

I called my friend, Dawn Bugni, on Thursday night. Her knowledge of dogs and vet medicine far surpasses what I know. Her love for animals made me sure I was getting the right advice.

Teddy’s Last Day – The final diagnosis

By yesterday morning, I knew it was worse than ever. Teddy was barely moving around. When I let him out, he sat on the deck instead of going out to go potty.

I called Rockwood Pet Hospital and made an appointment. Bill came and we got him into the car and took him up to Merrill about 30 minutes away. Teddy walked in without a leash and laid down on one of the rugs. We coaxed him onto the scale but that was as far as we could get him.

We put him on blanket as a slide and pull him into the exam room. For the first time, Dr. Chris McCarthy took blood samples without putting him under anesthesia. She came back and showed us the printout. His white blood and red blood cells were so low. She advised us to take him to Appleton, about 90 minutes from our home, and get blood transfusions.

We drove back home, packed supplies, never even getting Teddy out of the car in the middle. We left Wausau at 12:22pm and arrived at the Fox Valley Animal Referral Clinic shortly after 2:00pm.We prayed for wisdom while he was being examined.

They did ultrasounds and Dr. Kendra Carlson came to talk to us. His stomach was filled with blood and he was actively bleeding. They had more tests to run and then she met with us again. He had cancer of the liver and it had expanded.

Saying Goodbye to Teddy

I asked her what she would do if it was her dog. She said that she would let him go. We called Tim and let her talk to him. Together, we made the difficult decision to euthanize our beloved dog. She brought him to us to let us say good bye and we had Tim say good bye by phone. Bill and I were both crying now and Tim was crying on the phone. My husband has cried three times in the 30 years we have been married.

Bill went to the car knowing he couldn’t watch the end. I stayed and held him to the end.

Changed Lives Forever

We drove home alone in a blizzard without him knowing that our lives had been forever changed by this big German Shepherd.

He was loved by all of us and so many more. My mom called him her GrandDog and carried his picture in his wallet. Bill’s dad loved hearing Teddy stories and welcomed him to family dinners.

Teddy was my work companion, my walking companion, and my friend. I will miss him forever.

Many of you who read this will have gone through losing a dog. Losing a family member is hard. Teddy wasn’t a person but he graced our lives for almost 7 years and every day was a gift. To say he was loved is an understatement.

Teddy\'s Last Day


  1. Kim Woodbridge on January 29, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Oh Julie – I am so very sorry. I know how much you loved Teddy and what a great companion he was. I saw that you had posted that he wasn’t doing well but I had no idea it was so serious. My heart goes out to you …

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 10:22 am

      I couldn’t post any more on Twitter or FB yesterday… it was too hard. I will miss him even more when it gets warm enough to walk. Right now, every part of the house and yard bring memories. His toys, his stuff, his big beanbag nest and his quilt, his food dishes, and his hair everywhere… We’re not making sudden changes now until we finish grieving.

  2. Dawn Bugni on January 29, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Julie –

    Teddy left paw prints on all our hearts. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Hugs to you my friend.

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 10:23 am

      Thanks for the hugs, Dawn and the encouragement to go for help.

  3. Marci Bullen on January 29, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Julie, I am truly sorry. You were very lucky to have him. I remember when you first got him.
    God Bless

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 10:23 am

      Yes, Marci, I am sure you do… He was an incredible blessing.

  4. Barb Poole on January 29, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Teddy was a gem who impacted and blessed your family’s lives. My heart breaks for you. I am so sorry for your loss, Julie!

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 10:24 am

      So grateful for my friends… I didn’t know how to let people know but here.

  5. gee backhouse on January 29, 2011 at 9:53 am

    This is one of the occasions where I write with tears. I am so very sorry to hear about Teddy. He graced your lives … and you most certainly graced his. With a big hug and my love to you, Gee x

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm

      Tears are a common thing today, Gee. He was so much to all of us and I am so glad we had him for the time we did. Thanks for the hug and love!

  6. Joni on January 29, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Dear Julie – Came here via our mutual friend, Dawn B. What a lovely tribute to your little boy. We don’t rescue or save these pets — they rescue us and leave a mark on our hearts forever. Hugs, Joni Liebel

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      Wonderful to get to know you, Joni, even at this hard time for me. Thank you for stopping by. Hearts hurt but the healing will begin with each day… Thank you!

  7. Marianne Knudson on January 29, 2011 at 10:12 am

    I am crying with you. He was SO special.

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      Marianne, I know you loved him too. I still remember when you came by when he was a baby puppy and we had to coax him out from under a bed. He has been a joy and a friend.

  8. Jim Connolly on January 29, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Very sad news my friend. I will miss Teddy at our meetings.

    He was very lucky to spend the short time he had, with people who really cared about him.

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      Jim, I knew I had to tell you early since I know you know how much he meant to me. There is nothing but time that will heal the loss but hearing from so many wonderful friends is helping.

  9. Gayle Tabor on January 29, 2011 at 10:52 am


    I am so sorry for your loss. I cried right along with you as I read your warm account of Teddy’s Life and what a blessing he has been. Wishing you, Bill, Tim and Dan great comfort.

    godspeed on your journey, Teddy

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      Thank you, Gayle. I had been digging through your site at Dawn’s suggestion and was thinking of buying some soap and trying some of the new nose and paw product. Knowing how you built the dog products line of your business lets me understand how you would know how this feels. Blessings!

  10. Dawn Rasmussen on January 29, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Julie, my heart goes out to you. So sorry for your loss, but he had a great family that took exceptional care of him. He was very much loved! Personally, I recently had to go through the same experience with my cat Charlotte just 3 weeks ago, and am still grieving her, especially when I keep seeing shadows around the house and thinking it is her. Hang in there, my friend, and know that Teddy will remain forever in your hearts.

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      Dawn, I appreciate your comment so much. It was hard to let him go and we will feel the loss for a long time. So sorry to hear about Charlotte. I understand that shadows too. I heard a dog bark when I woke up this morning and even though I knew Teddy was gone, for a minute, I thought, maybe it was a very bad dream and I would wake up and there he would be again. Missing him badly all day.

  11. Chris Claydon on January 29, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Hi Julie

    What a blow this is to you and your family.

    As a pet owner, I understand how much they become part of the family. Non-owners often don’t understand that it is losing a member of the family.

    With Teddy’s health issues the love and bond you had is probably even stronger.

    This is a difficult time for you all, and in time you will be able to remember Teddy with a smile on your face and in your heart.

    All the Best

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      Thank you for stopping by Chris. I think in some ways it is harder than some family members. Our family members that we have lost have all been 80 or older and you get yourself ready for that kind of death. Of course people who lose a child or a younger spouse or sibling definitely have a huge loss. But in our family, we expected and understood those who died. Teddy still could have had 4 more years with the normal life expectancy of a German Shepherd and we had only vague symptoms when we took him in. Thank you again for stopping by.

  12. Camille on January 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Julie, I am so sorry for your loss. I am a brand new puppy mom as of Christmas. I got the puppies for my son, who begged to have a puppy that would play fetch with him. He is such a good son and helps me tremendously.

    However, I never in a million years thought I would fall in love with the cutest little puppies. I found them on Craigslist and the owner didn’t want to separate them. After seeing them for 15 minutes, I knew they were the ones.

    You may not know this, but I have watched your posts about Teddy and Dawn’s posts about her critters and Sharon’s posts about her little Angel. I’ve read about how you have loved them and how they love you back. It is so true. They are so sweet and loving. Everything they say about dogs is true.

    I have no idea what I will do when it is their time other than maybe they’ll all play together in animal heaven. =)

    Julie my heart goes out to you. Your post made me and my son cry. You were blessed with Teddy and Teddy was blessed to have your family in his life too. It is tough to lose a loved one. Wish I could give you a hug, but know that you are in my thoughts and prayers and I hope you can find some comfort in the memories you have.


    p.s. Dawn, I’m sorry to hear about Charlotte. I’m not sure how I missed hearing/reading about that.

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      Camille, thank you for stopping by. Your puppies sound like blessings and I wish you blessings for a long time with them. Thank you for caring and for sharing with your son. Dogs and boys really do go together.

  13. Shahrzad Arasteh | Career Consulting Services on January 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Oh, Julie,

    I am so sorry. No words can adequately express the depth of your loss and my sympathy, nor the bond of love that I know you shared (and will continue to do so).

    Please know that there are many of us who join you in your sorrow and tears. Teddy will always have a special place in all our hearts.

    For you, my friend, I wish comfort and healing as you celebrate Teddy’s beautiful life, remember all the ways in which he enriched yours, and cope with this immeasurable loss. Sending you love and strength. ~Shahrzad

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm

      Thank you, Shahrzad, I know you have been drawn to Teddy for a long time and he is a major reason we connected. I am, in many ways, still reeling, still asking why but knowing that we made the right decision and he is now at peace. Just so hard.

  14. Rick Reyer on January 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Julie, having gone through this just a couple of months ago I understand the pain you are going through. Our pets do become family and there loss is real. I am now sitting by a window overlooking a lake in Northern Wisconsin. This same lake was one of our dog’s, Lexie, favorite places in summer and winter. Memories of her at the lake are a comfort, but the loss is still evident. May God grant you the peace only he can give.

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Rick. I am sure the loss of Lexie hurts just like Teddy and I wish you peace too. Teddy was my pal here but as my walking companion for so long, I know that when it hits warm weather, I will miss him the most. Our walk down to the river was our favorite and I would not walk it without at least another person with me. With Teddy by my side, I had nothing to fear.

  15. Kristin Johnson on January 29, 2011 at 1:43 pm


    It is so hard to lose a friend and companion like you have. What a terrible shock! I will keep you and your family in my prayers. He looks like he was a real sweetie. I hope you will be able to find that close love with a dog in your family again someday. They are so special.

    My condolences ~Kristin

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm

      Thank you for stopping by Kristin. This has been a very hard time but I could not have watched him suffer just to keep him. He is in a better place now… We just struggle with the memories but they are good ones.

  16. Yael Brisker on January 29, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Feeling your sorrow from afar….I too experienced the loss of a beloved dog and similarly to you, had to decide to euthanize her. There are no words to console….

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks, Yael… I keep wandering back to the computer as I continue to clean and do laundry, trying to focus on other things… You are in my thoughts too!

  17. Andrew Plath on January 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    I am printing this out for Mom to see.

    It was a surprise to both of us, especially since the times that I have seen Teddy, he always seemed to have that level of energy that German Shepherds seem to share.

    • Julie Walraven on January 29, 2011 at 6:29 pm

      He did, until the last few days and then he became more and more lethargic and on the very last day, he was unable to even walk three feet without panting.

  18. Jen Baty on January 29, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Julie, my heart breaks for you and I’m so sorry for your loss. Nine years ago I lost my 17-year old feline pal, and I know how hard it is to say goodbye. Teddy was so lucky to have you and your family. I really believe that our animal family members are so special because they bring to us that kind of perfect, unconditional love that is God-sent…loyal, nonjudgmental, forgiving and intuitive. I cannot imagine a Heaven without these loving friends. (((hugs)))

    • Julie Walraven on January 30, 2011 at 7:35 am

      Thank you, Jen. As I wake up with a fresh batch of tears shared with Tim and Bill, I know that the healing process will take a long time. But all of us treasure the short time we were able to spend together.

  19. Melissa Cooley on January 29, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Oh, Julie {{{hugs}}} It is through tears that I write this. So sorry for your loss 🙁

    We had to make the same decision for our sweet Toby not quite four months ago. I, too, held him to the end.

    Know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers in this difficult time.

    • Julie Walraven on January 30, 2011 at 7:38 am

      Thank you, Melissa, the road will continue to be hard but yes, I am glad I was with him to the very end. Thanks for your prayers.

  20. Reeta Luthra on January 30, 2011 at 1:10 am

    I know the special bond you had with Teddy and I am so sorry to hear this Julie – truly unexpected. I’ve always enjoyed hearing the snippets and anecdotes you’ve shared.

    I wish you and your family strength and peace and hope that Teddy’s comforting presence lives on through your memories.

    Lots of love and hugs, Reeta

    • Julie Walraven on January 30, 2011 at 7:39 am

      Thank you, Reeta, it was unexpected though I think there were signs for a short time that something was very wrong. But he is at peace now.

  21. Ari Herzog on January 30, 2011 at 1:02 pm


    I know exactly how you feel, having experienced this first-hand nearly five months ago. I purposefully haven’t written publicly about the experience because it was too soon. I am shocked you found the words and the desire to express how you feel to the world.

    I am so sorry.

    • Julie Walraven on January 30, 2011 at 3:30 pm

      For me, writing is always cathartic. When I write it out, some of the pain is gone. That post was written when I was sobbing and I know there will be triggers for a long time. I have so many friends, clients, and colleagues that have met and known Teddy either virtually or in person that this was the easiest and least painful way to tell them. I’m sorry for your loss too, Ari. Teddy was totally a part of my life.

  22. Chandlee Bryan on February 2, 2011 at 7:55 am


    I am so sorry for your loss. I grew up largely without dogs, then had Sasha, who came into our family’s life when I was in college. She died over a dozen years ago but will never be forgotten. Teddy was lucky to have all of you in his life, sounds like he never forgot that either.


    • Julie Walraven on February 2, 2011 at 8:19 am

      Chandlee, thank you. In my memories, Teddy will always be there. He was a gift from God during one of the most difficult times of my life. He listened to me and knew all my secrets… but God does all of that every day too… I will miss Teddy but I am so grateful for everything he helped reconnect with and grow through.

      I never think of you as much older than being in college even though your wisdom always shows through.

  23. HR Margo Rose on February 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    When I read this post, it brought tears to my eyes. It was a trigger. @Carmen senior died while I attended the ERE conference in March 2010. He was 13. He died of congestive heart failure. 8 weeks later, @BozziePup succumbed cancer. I did not know Carmen was so ill because all my energy was going into Bozzie’s accupuncture. Carmen died in his sleep. When I caregiver arrived for his morning walk, Bozzie was curled up beside him, they were spooning. They saved Carmen’s body, so I could say a final goodbye. I thought it would kill me, and it did. I died inside. I kept Bozzie’s accupuncture treatments up weekly. He wasn’t getting better. Without Carmen, he was lost. He could not go on…so I saw my precious 15 year old shih-tzu have seizures. I didn’t want to do it, I did not want to end it. I wanted Bozzie to die in my arms. It was memorial day weekend. I went to the Vet. She said, Bozzie is dying. I asked, “should I take him home?” The Dr. said, he won’t make it 24 hours. His seizures were scaring him. They were happening every hour. So she gave him the final shot, and I inhaled, and he exhaled, and he was dead. Julie, died another death that day. It was the death of my soul. I wasn’t sure I could go on. Bozzie died of Cancer, but he had it a year. In truth, my doggie died of a broken heart.

    I was alone, I had no family. Both of my parents are dead, as is my brother. It was difficult. Thank goodness I had my job. There were other losses, the loss of a love that summer. I said tragedy comes in threes. I carried on, I continued to work, but I was tired.

    I kept my chin up. I stayed strong. It was difficult. So every day, when I read your post. I hear your words. They are in my eyes, resonate in my ears, and I take them deeply into my heart. You see, I love dogs. I’ve had dogs. I have lost them.

    After a career in human resource development, and corporate training, I thought…”I’m going to live the dream…” I opened Margo’s Paw Spa. It’s where “rover went for a complete makeover.” I had a self-serve dog wash, and a boutique, and I sold treats, and toys, and the aroma therapy perfumes I used to hand blend. It was fun, I loved it, and I learned something very important. I enjoy the company of dogs. They are loving, and give unconditionally.

    Humans can not love completely without conditions. Thank goodness for my friends, and my community. When my Mother passed away in 2007 of Alzheimer’s disease, I decided it was time to put down my grooming shears, and go back into HR.

    I missed my Mother, I still do, each and every day. When my brother died later that year, I knew that he died of a broken heart too.

    Today, you wrote about triggers. I realized that we all have them. For each of us it is different, but those buttons are there.

    Three weeks later, I rescued Carmen Jr. from The Circle Tail Rescue in Ohio. Our eyes met, it was love at first sight. He looks like Carmen Sr, and Bozzie all rolled into one. He understand me, I understand him. Truthfully, we rescued each other.

    We go to the dog park. He likes romping with the little guys, the other shih tzus, and the schnauzers, and the pekineses. He is spunky, and happy just like Bozzie. He was not damaged, and abused like poor Carmen Sr. Carmen Jr was found roaming around without a collar. There was no chip, he was abandoned. I could not believe it. But when I saw him, and our eyes me, he looked inside my soul. He could see my broken pieces, and my tears as they rolled down my cheeks. I looked up at the woman who ran the rescue, and I said, I think he picks me, and I pick me. We are a team.

    When I put Bozzie & Carmen Sr’s sweaters, and coats on him, I remember…their tiny spirits, their unconditional love, and their joy.

    I don’t know what I’d do without my pets. They are so special. I know your pain.

    When you went to the Dr today, and had blood drawn, I know the feeling. I remember. Not long ago. That was me.

    I send this post to you with love, and admiration. G-d bless you, Julie. You are kind, and you are gentle.

    And when you go to the rescue to find your next dog, he will recognize you, and you will recognize him, because you’ll see Teddy’s spirit. And it will remind you that through our loss, and pain, there are people, and doggies who love us.

    • Julie Walraven on February 16, 2011 at 3:47 pm

      Thanks, Margo! Our journeys through life are often challenging and I will miss Teddy forever. I thank you for your comment and our conversation the other day. Blessings on your own journey!

    • Melissa Cooley on February 16, 2011 at 3:51 pm


      Thank you for sharing your touching stories about all your loved ones (two- and four-legged). Such a touching tribute to them all 🙂



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