Thursday, August 27, 2009


Abby was a neglected Rottweiler who arrived at Toronto Animal Services with multiple, serious health problems and it didn't look like she had much life left. Emily heard about her, though, and couldn't bare the thought that this dog would never know love and comfort in its life and so, in early December 2008, she brought Abby home.

This was not a regular adoption. This was a compassion hold where someone takes home a critically unwell dog. The intention is always to give the dog care and comfort with the hope of nursing it back to health. There is, however, the understanding that the animal might still get sicker or die but knowing that at least the animal will not spend its last few days alone in a cold, hard cage.

Emily fought hard to keep Abby going, tackling each ailment as priorities demanded. And Abby fought hard too, her spirit always uplifting and increasingly joyful as illnesses were overcome one by one. Abby couldn't be happier with her new life. She was Emily's shadow. She had finally found a home in Emily and was surely going to keep her close.

It seemed like the road ahead was finally getting easier but on August 25, while coming out of surgery for the removal of a tumor, Abby's heart failed.

Abby was a good dog. She was an affectionate dog. She endured. She smiled. She was grateful. She learned to enjoy and to play. She was a sunflower coming to bloom and for Emily and everyone else who ever met her, Abby was a dear heart.

Emily, braver than most I know, Abby is gone but her love always remains.

I am so devastated. I knew it was coming sooner or later but you never really can prepare yourself for it.

I just wish she had more time. More time feeling comfortable. More time to hug her when she would give me her goofy smile and lean right into me. More time to continue investigating dog bones, treats and toys. When she first came home with me, she had no idea what to do with a toy or a roasted bone. It took her a while to develop an interest, but she worked at it and grew to love to work on them an hour at a time, here and there and then had to rest. I still have the most recent bone she started working on this past Sunday.

Although she was very uncomfortable and in pain in the time leading up to the surgery, she smiled so much the night before. It took me by surprise because I knew she was very sore. I took a picture of her smiling that night and will send it to you. Although it has been a very challenging 9 months with her due to her health issues, she was the very best dog I could have had. Anyone who met her was always so taken aback at how gentle she was and would just tilt her head and lean in for a snuggle no matter how little or long she had known the person or how much in pain she was. The clinic staff who have treated her grew very attached to her and really made her last conscious moments comfortable and loving and for that I am very grateful.

However painful this is now, I am so grateful for the privilege to have known and cared for Abby. I hope others can find it in themselves to take in the less healthy and more fragile dogs who need homes as this has been, by far, the most rewarding and fulfilling experience I have ever had with dogs. I will love her and miss her forever and know that there will always be an empty part in my heart from the loss of her not being with me everyday. For now, her beds sits empty but still smells of her - my Big Bear.

I will send you that picture tonight when I get home. I wish I had one of the 2 of us together - but even without one, I won't ever forget her or our morning, evening and bedtime cuddles and the smacking sounds she would make with her mouth the whole time we hugged and cuddled.


Forever may you run.


Biscuit said...

Emily, thanks for loving Abby and saving her from the rotten life she knew before. I hope you take comfort in knowing how much joy you gave her. I'm sure her time with you drove all the bad old stuff right out of her mind, and all she knew was love and warmth and hugs and tasty bones.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that Emily and Abby didn't have more time together.

Old Dogs Do Not Die

We have a secret, you and I,
That no one else shall know,
For who, but I can see you lie,
Each night, in fireglow?
And who but I can reach my hand
Before we go to bed,
And feel the living warmth of you
And touch your silken head?
And only I walk woodland paths,
And see, ahead of me,
Your small form racing with the wind,
So young again, and free.
And only I can see you swim
In every brook I pass.
And, when I call, no one but I
Can see the bending grass.

Author Unknown

Joanne said...

I loved Abby also. It didn't matter that she shed hair all over my kitchen or farted in my face or took up half my living room when she visited...I loved her. She was a kind and gentle and sweet soul. She had a lot to teach people about being kind. Emily, you are a champ and I am so proud of you for what you did for Abby. She loved you to death, that much was evident. I remember when we picked Abby up and you took her home. You were a truly responsible owner and I truly hope that dogs live in the moment so that from the minute Abby entered your house, her old world ceased to exist and she was in a new, wonderful, exciting place. You did good Emily and I am very, very proud to have you as a friend.

Anonymous said...


Three score and ten are given to man,
But ours is a much briefer span.
So, though I give you all my heart,
The time will come when we must part.
But all around you, you will see,
Creatures that speak to you of me;
A tired horse, a hunted thing,
A sparrow with a broken wing ...
Pity - and help (I know you will)
And somehow, I will be with you still;
And I shall know, although I'm gone,
The love I gave you lingers on.
--- (Author unknown) ---

Lynda said...

I'm glad Abby had a chance at a good life. You did good, Emily. Kudos to you girl!


Anonymous said...

Emily, I am sending you a big huge hug, thank you for Being there for Abby. Its people like you that give me hope. My heart goes out to you during this difficult time.


Shannanigans said...

I cried the whole time I was reading that. Emily is an angel for giving Abby the best life she could in the time that was left. At least she was able to understand another side of humanity before her time was over.

Anonymous said...

I can't thank you all enough for your kind words - losing Abby has been so incredibly devastating. U take comfort in knowing I did the best I could and that she was smiling up until her time came.

Thank you so much for the poems, as well - I have never read either of them before and they are going to be printed and kept with her ashes and her final smiling picture for years to come.

Thank you, again, so much,

Social Mange said...

Godspeed, Abby. Wait for us at the Bridge.

Ian said...

My sincere condolences on the loss of Abby.
I`m glad that she experienced love.

Meaghan Edwards said...

RIP, beautiful girl.

Anonymous said...

Hi Emily, it's Claudia, I just wanted you to know that I was the one that posted the Poem "DON'T CRY FOR ME WHEN I'M GONE".....As soon as I read it I knew it was written for you and Abby....xoxoxox

Anonymous said...

Sorry so late Em.
I always knew that you've help animals but I never knew to what extent! It's been quite some time since I've cried... your complete love for all animals is so powerful! I know I could only catch a glimpse of what you've endured ..and for that I thank you. I love you so much!!
With sincere warmth ..your sister, Maria*