Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Saying Good-Bye to Stella

Last week, our family said good-bye to our beautiful golden, Stella.  Our family had been away from the farm for two weeks, custom harvesting a few hours from home, when we received a call from Steve's mom, Kathy, who had made a quick trip back to the farm to collect mail and check on everything.  Over the phone, her voice was filled with concern that she could not find Stella, who is known to come running with excitement for some playtime and attention when any of us are outside.

I couldn't shake the sinking feeling I had inside, based on a close-call experience we had endured the previous winter, as Kathy described to me all the places she had looked for our girl, without success in finding her.

Back in November, Stella was hit by a car and suffered the loss of one of her legs.  To our surprise, she came back magnificently, and with great strength of spirit, found the will to not only recover, but to keep up with her new friend, Rose, whom we had purchased to help with Stella's healing process.

Stella had always been "my girl." She was my running buddy, the only other female in our family, the one whom I told my troubles to, when no boy could understand. After the accident we became closer than ever, bonding over the extra moments I spent brushing her coat, whispering pep talks in her ear, speaking to her as if she understood everything I said.  To my amazement, she displayed great determination and began running with me again - not every day, but once in a while, covering 2 or 3 miles with stunning effort.  I was so proud of her.  It's true what they say, dogs aren't purely animal, they really must be somewhere between animal and human.  With a heart like hers, this has to be true!

During our time away from the farm, I missed Stella very much, but knew that she was in good hands while we were gone.  However, my deep down intuition remained disturbed, and I couldn't shake the fear that something was truly wrong with Stella after receiving her status over the phone. The next day Kathy found her, but she was extremely weak and unable to move.  Not knowing what was wrong with her, Kathy took her immediately to the vet, who graciously agreed to see Stella as an emergency patient.

Just under an hour later, a disappointing phone call from the vet confirmed the truth in my worry.  Stella was in serious condition. His first inclination was that Stella had been hit by a vehicle, and was bleeding internally.  But, after examining her, concluded that she was dying from a slow-growing tumor and was in a great deal of pain.  If the tumor had been caught earlier, she may have been a candidate for treatment at one of the large university veterinary clinics, but regrettably, she was past the point of help.

The tears came.  I knew what was to come, and I didn't want to go there.

My mind immediately began to spin with memories of the previous weeks. What signs had she given us that she wasn't well? If she was eating less, I didn't notice, as she and Rose both share the same food and water dishes. Due to the heat, both pups had been less active, frequently seeking shade and rest, especially in the afternoons.  Was she exposed to something toxic on the farm?  Had she been trying to tell me that something was wrong, but I was to busy to listen, to take notice?

Deep, deep guilt and sadness set in. Every part of my being wanted to be there to hold Stella, to look into her eyes and to tell her thank you for being "our girl," to say good-bye and reassure her of our love as she left the world. That's where I wanted to be. Not here, not in this place, not is the shoes that would have to go out and face the hearts of 5 sweet boys, who had known Stella to be their very first, and best-ever dog and friend, and tell them she was gone.

The following days after Stella's passing were quiet for us, as we remembered with sadness, that our precious friend would not come running to meet us when we arrived home.  As we pulled into the driveway this evening from our long stay away, the boys couldn't wait to jump out of the car to find Rose, who was perched quietly inside the off-road Razer, Stella's favorite resting spot.  We knew that she dearly missed her sweet friend, and was ready for a little consolation and comfort as much as we were.

Finally home, we sat down tonight and, through teary eyes, scrolled through countless pictures that I had taken over the past four years of Stella and our family together. As tears ran down rosy cheeks, we all sat closely, in the quiet, missing our dear friend, but thankful for the memories that we had together with her.  What a gift, to have a such a special friend in our family, one to play with, one to watch over us, one to share our ups and downs with, one to accompany on our life's journey.  I can honestly say, without a doubt, that we are all better for having her in our lives. How dearly we will miss her.

To Stella With Love 
2009 ~ 2013
The first time we met....
It was love at first sight!
She instantly became a part of the family, and the football team!
Two babies on board! A family pic taken the fall before Charlie is born.
Stella waiting patiently for the boys to finish their schoolwork and come out to play!
There wasn't one snow-ball fight or sledding adventure that she wasn't a part of!
Stella the Wise - resting on the porch, in the midst of winter flurries, while we put up Christmas lights.
I snapped this pic while the boys were feeding their bucket calves.  She loved to "oversee" the bucket calf operations each day.
Lazy summer evening walks.
My daily lovin' time with Stella after her leg amputation.
Tender moments with Henry.
The kind woman whom we bought Stella from was a great encourager during Stella's amputation and recovery.  She recommended that we adopt another pup for Stella to motivate her to stay active and to keep her from becoming depressed.
When we brought Rose home, she and Stella quickly became friends.  I think Stella thought that she was the mama and Rose was the baby!
This is the last photo that was taken of Stella and Rose together with the family on Mother's Day (minus Steve, stand-in photographer).
Thank you, Stella, for loving us so much.
We will miss you always!!

In his grief over the loss of a dog, a little boy stands for the first time on tiptoe, peering into the rueful morrow of manhood. After this most inconsolable of sorrows there is nothing life can do to him that he will not be able somehow to bear.  ~ James Thurber


  1. This brought tears to my eyes. She was a beautiful dog. I know you all will miss her tremendously.

  2. So sorry for your family's loss. May God bless and comfort you all and your beautiful Stella during this difficult time. Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn: for they shall be comforted."

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss. We too lost a very important member of our family in June. She was beautiful.

  4. So sorry to hear about Stella! She was so beautiful and, I am sure, an incredible addition to your family.

    Our Golden, Star, had a similar health decline. She was perfctly healthy one day and then started show show illness in the evening. By the next morning, she staggered with weakness . . . she had a tumor on her spleen that ruptured and she bagan to bleed internally. There was nothing they could do.

  5. Oh - I'm so sorry for you and your family!!! I know that it will take some time and much grieving to get over your loss and move. Praying for y'all!!

  6. Oh, Susan, I'm so sorry. Such a good, sweet, beautiful dog she was.

  7. I recently found your blog - love reading it. This post moved me so deeply. I'm sorry for your loss - such lovely pictures and beautiful dog. Thank you for writing this.

  8. :'(
    I'm so sorry to hear about your dog "Stella"'s passing. I can tell that Stella was well loved and very much apart of your family.
    Beautiful pictures.

  9. This is heartbreaking. Not only to lose your sweet dog, but then to not even be able to be there. I'm so sorry! We all adore our dog (also my only girl), and I can already tell you we'll all be a mess someday when we have to say goodbye to her. Prayers for your healing.


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