Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rest in Peace Nana Bear

Yesterday we lost one of our dogs, Nana. She was the sweetest little angel and we were so lucky that she graced our lives. She brought us so much spirit, joy, and unconditional love and it was unbearably hard to say goodbye to her.

Nana had been suffering from lymphoma and mammary cancer for over a year. Her pain and discomfort became too much to bear and we finally decided she was ready to move on into her next life.

In between uncontrollably crying yesterday, I sat silent most of the day. I decided the best way for me to move through my grieving process was to share Nana’s story. Her life was full of difficulty up until her last two years. Her life is so important to me and her story needs to be shared. Thanks for reading.

Husband and I had fostered a dog named Jesse James from the Washington County Humane Society a little over two years ago. I stood firm that we were foster parents and would not be adopting him. Much to Husbands dismay, Jesse was adopted by his previous foster family. He was with us for only a month.

When Husbands mom was visiting, we decided to take a trip back to the Washington County Shelter because another dog that I was considering fostering was there. When we arrived the other dog was in the process of being adopted. We were so happy! Being animal lovers we decided to go back and visit with the other shelter dogs. Sitting alone in a cage was a little old beagle named Jasmine. She had a face that only a parent could love. We looked at each other, picked her up out of the cage, marched up to the front desk and said, “She is coming home with us.”

Jasmine didn’t have much of a story. She was a stray beagle that ended up at the shelter in her old age. Judging by her teeth (which were in bad shape) the shelter believed her to be about 10 or 11 years old. Like most beagles in Washington County, she was probably a hunting beagle; unloved, over bred, and used only for a job. This was a little over two years ago.

When we got her home our little old lady fit in perfectly. I was standing firm that we were only fostering her. We even took her to an adoption event in hopes of her finding a forever home. Of course, she had other things in mind. She knew our house was just right.

After fostering Jasmine for about two months, we received a call from a family who was interested in adopting her. Husband took the call and said, “Sorry, she is no longer available.” We adopted her the next day.

Her kind and loving attitude along with her old age gave her the nickname, “Nana Bear.” This was the perfect name for our elderly lady. Her name stuck and we said goodbye to Jasmine and hello to Nana.

Nana made herself right at home. She loved to cuddle and sit on our lap. Like most beagles, she loved to eat. She loved her new brother Buddy, although she made sure to tell him when she didn’t want to play. She followed Husband around everywhere he went and we started calling her his shadow. She liked our other dogs, but she always made it clear that she loved her Daddies the most. Well, that is unless Mom-in-law was visiting.

Nana was an incredible dog. She was the most caring, gentle, and loving dog anyone could ever ask for. She never barked. She never fussed. She even taught herself to go potty in the drain in the basement. You couldn’t ask for a better dog. We loved her so much.

As time grew, Nana started to grow tumors on her little body. First, tumors started to grow on her mammary glands. We could have removed them, but with her old age the Vet advised us that her recovery may be far too hard and painful. At that point we decided that we would continue to love and care for Nana as long as she would let us.

Almost a year later, her disease spread to her lymph nodes. The lymph nodes in her neck and back legs began to grow quickly. Although we kept her on a variety of medicines they grew too quickly.
Over the past few weeks her condition began to deteriorate rapidly.

Having a sick dog is one of the hardest things to endure. Nana could never tell us when she hurt. She never barked or cried. She carried on. She gave us love always. She never let us onto her pain although we knew that she was uncomfortable. As time went on her pain got worse and worse. Over the last few days she had difficulty breathing and began to throw up everything she ate. We spoke with the Vet and had to make one of the hardest decisions ever.

When you love and care for an animal as much as we loved Nana, the decision is unbearable. I would sit next to her rubbing her head and asking for her to just tell me if she was ready, if she was done fighting. She would just look at me with those beautiful brown eyes and give me her love. That is all. That is what she was best at.

When we brought her to the vet’s office yesterday, I kept on telling her that it will be okay. It was as if there was nothing more I could say to her. I would say, “Daddy loves you” and “it will be okay.” This was the first time I have ever lost an animal and I had known it would be hard. I didn’t imagine just how hard it would be. 

When we walked her into the office I started to feel numb. I lost feeling in my feet and hands. We laid her down on the couch and sat with her. We petted her and kept on telling her that it would be alright. The feeling was indescribable. I had played out in my mind what the moment might be like and it was surreal. I couldn’t believe that the day had come. I knew she was in pain. I knew what was best for her. This day when she looked at me you could tell that she was done fighting. She was ready to say goodbye.

What happened after was a blur. All I can remember is when the doctor said, “That’s it,” I burst into uncontrollable crying and hyperventilating. I couldn’t bare it. I still can’t. I could not believe our little angel was gone.

As I sat next to her, I couldn’t believe it. She just looked like she was asleep. I sat with her and the same thing kept replaying in my head, “Because I knew you, my life has been changed for good.” This line is from a song in the musical Wicked that was playing on repeat in my head. Because I knew you Nana.

I've heard it said,
That people come into our lives for a reason,
Bringing something we must learn,
And we are led,
To those who help us most to grow,
If we let them,
And we help them in return,
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true,
But I know I'm who I am today,
Because I knew you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit,
As it passes a sun,
Like a stream that meets a boulder,
Halfway through the wood,
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you,
I have been changed for good.

I think this describes my feelings best. Nana was the so special. She was my angel. She came into our lives for a reason and brought us unbelievable joy. I love her so much. I still cry every time I think of her.

Regardless of what we believe, I know she is in a better place, a happy place. She is sending me love from wherever she is. I miss her. I will always miss her.

Because I knew you Nana Bear, my life has been changed for good.

Thank you and Daddy loves you. 


  1. What a touching story about how you came to be blessed with Nana's presence. I am so sorry to hear about your loss, I remember my last dog passing like it was yesterday.

    and what a fitting use of Wicked lyrics. It's clear she will be remembered fondly.

  2. You were both so blessed to have known each other!

  3. John, I was so moved by Nana's story, I almost couldn't finish reading it through the tears. I know exactly how you feel, having gone through the same thing with my beloved Winston only a year ago.There's a wonderful poem called Rainbow Bridge that helped me with his loss.

  4. I'm so sorry for your loss! It's always so hard to mourn them! You've lost a wonderful family member, thanks for sharing with us this love story, even though you've made me cry a lot!
    I send you all my affection and compassion, hope it will help you, even a little <3


  5. I can't get through the last few paragraphs of your story right now because the tears are starting to flow and I don't want to be bawling at my desk at work, but I want to share one of my favorite memories of Nana. It's just a little thing, but I remember how hilarious it was when I was at your house one evening and Graham told me to look at Nana and her "friend." Nana was standing in front of your sliding glass door, staring at her reflection and wagging her tail like crazy. I think Graham said she did that often.

    Time heals all wounds, and I hope the day will come when your tears will subside and you will only look back on your time with Nana with a feeling of joy. Until then, hang in there.

  6. Thank so much everyone for your love and kindness.

    Nana was such a special lady and I love her so much. I am just happy I got to share her story with all of you.

  7. First, I must blow my nose :.(

    I'm deeply sorry for your loss, sweetie. Thank you for sharing her with us. I pray she's at peace & that you will all find peace in your hearts.

    Sending you lots of love & hugs! OXO

  8. I am so sorry for your loss but happy for you that you had such a beautiful companion, who touched you so deeply, in Nana. It is so hard to lose a pet, particularly a dog as they love so unconditionally. I recently read a book called a Dog's Purpose (by W. Bruce Cameron). It is a beautiful book about finding purpose in life and told from a dog's point of view. You may find that book comforting at what is an impossibly difficult time.

  9. So Sorry John and Graham..Love you guys, thinking of you.

  10. I am very sorry for the loss of your precious beloved Nana.

  11. I read this post and it brought tears to my eyes. We lost our wonderful Annie just over a year ago. She was part beagle, part cattle dog and so so sweet with a little devilish side when it came to our other dogs. She'd lay traps for them by lying near a doorway with a bone near her, pretending to be napping. When one of the other dogs would wander through the doorway she would bitch them out as if they were intentionally going after her bone. Their ears would go back and they'd look at her like "what the hell" I loved everything about her, still do... My heart goes out to you. It's such a tough thing to go through but the love never goes away, I love thinking of Annie.

  12. You've got me crying now...... Losing a pet is one of the hardest things.... Unconditional love from the pet no matter what... While you're sad that she's gone, rejoice in the joy she brought to your life. Peace.

  13. Indeed, losing your pets is no different from losing a loved one. I totally understand the pain and sorrow that you are going through now, as I had lost a dear dog a few years ago.

    And yes, I remembered how it was like at the vet's on that last day, and couldn't bear to say goodbye...

    John, you and Husband are fortunate to have Nana, and I'm sure she had enjoyed every moment living with you guys and the other 3 dogs.

    Thank you for sharing Nana's story with us, we miss her much too!

  14. I'm so sorry for your loss. I've been in a similar situation, I lost my first and only dog last year. It's so heartbreaking to see such close beings growing old and having to deal with pain and disease. They give us so much, it's impossible to forget their love. Nana seemed like such a sweet dog. She was definitely lucky to be welcomed into your home.

  15. John,

    I'm so very sorry for your loss! I'm crying at my desk right now reading this post! Nana was a beautiful creature that will remain forever loved by you and your husband. I wish we lived closer, I'd come and give you a big hug! May Nana rest in peace!

  16. I started crying while reading touching. It sounds like Nana had a wonderful home with a very loving family for her golden years. This post is a wonderful tribute to her; I'm sure she will live on in your hearts forever.

  17. Oh dear. I just saw this. Much love & comfort as you grieve.

  18. I know this post is old but I've stumbled upon your blog searching for pizza dough recipe and this struck my heart. I lost my dog a couple years ago, I have his paw print tattooed on my arm. The print was given to me by the vet accompanied by this poem which I still, to this day, cannot help to cry to read.

    So this is where we part, My Friend,
    and you'll run on, around the bend,
    gone from sight, but not from mind,
    new pleasures there you'll surely find.

    I will go on, I'll find the strength,
    life measures quality, not its length.
    One long embrace before you leave,
    share one last look, before I grieve.

    There are others, that much is true,
    but they be they, and they aren't you.
    And I, fair, impartial, or so I thought,
    will remember well all you've taught.

    Your place I'll hold, you will be missed,
    the fur I stroked, the nose I kissed.
    And as you journey to your final rest,
    take with you this...I loved you best.

    Hope you're doing well.

    Best wishes,


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