“To make Heaven the perfect resting place for loved ones we adore, God made sure those Pearly Gates contained a doggy door.”
The last few days with Tilda were a most interesting adventure all of its own. She was starting to get a bit uncomfortable late at night as her skin was so hot from all the tumors (over 400 estimated now) just under the skin. She would go to the lower level of our house to the tile floors as that felt cooler for her I would guess. But, then about every 2 hours she would go into a panic attack with the heavy breathing. When that happened, she would go upstairs to our bedroom and wake me up so I would take her outside and soak her skin with a wet towel while she lay in the grass. After a few nights of that, I finally went to town and brought home a twin size mattress and put it downstairs on the floor with her bed close by. Of course, she really liked that and when she had the attacks we could just step outside together and make it better.
That system worked very well until Monday night, August 22nd. Tilda was restless all night long. She would come to my bedside and stick her nose right in my face……sometimes even licking my face. Of course I was awake. It was a bit difficult to sleep through those episodes. This happened about every 10 to 12 minutes all night long. On two occasions when I took her outside for a break, when I let her back in she charged for my bed and after I had locked the door, turned around, there she was all snuggled in my covers on my mattress and nearly sound asleep. On the second occasion, I just relented and let her have my bed while I went to my office computer and worked as I couldn’t sleep anyway. Something was going on with her that night, but I never picked up on it too much. I really thought she was just having a bad night. Maybe this is what they meant by “the Dog Days of August”.
On Tuesday night, August 23rd, I shut the door between the upper and lower levels of the house and I slept upstairs as I was exhausted from the night before. Tilda was fine downstairs by herself and I am not sure if she even moved from her initial position. Around 2pm, I went down to give her an outside break and I had a hard time getting her up. She was acting a bit distant and maybe a bit depressed. I thought to myself that the next night I would stay with her again as maybe, just maybe, she was trying to tell me something the night before. But for now, I was exhausted and just wanted to get back to bed for a bit of sleep. Later while laying in bed awake, I happened to think back that Tilda did not really want her dinner on Tuesday evening which is a “first”. Tilda always ate very well and loved her food. I promised myself I would pay attention to that clue in the morning with her breakfast and we’d see how that goes.
A New Day
I woke at 5am on Wednesday morning, August 24th. It was my standard routine these last weeks to wake Tilda at that time to give her some liver rebuilding pills that were supposed to repair damage done by the first CSU Clinical Trials which were stopped because of liver problems. She had to take those 1 hour before she ate breakfast so 5am was the opportune time to get that done. She was not to take those pills with a large breakfast, so I would take a small piece of shaved ham and roll the pill inside it and she would always gladly slide the “ham pill” down her throat. She loved the shaved ham and it always worked as an aid to get something inside her that she needed to have. But, it was not to be on this day……..she turned her head and would have nothing to do with the ham pill. I tried and tried, nothing
doing! I then got some sliced cheese (which always works) and made a “cheese pill” which Tilda would nearly take your arm off for as she loved it so much. Nothing doing! She would just turn her head and ignore with this very sad look on her face. I was puzzled and asked her several times “Aren’t you hungry?” and she would just sit and stare at me as if I was missing something. Rather than get impatient over this, I decided to pour myself a cup of coffee and turn on the news for a bit. I sat in my chair with my morning coffee and Tilda came around the front of me and sat………stared! I then asked her “what do you want, Tilda?” and there was no clue as to what she wanted. Then I asked her if she wanted to go “out” and she shook her body (like a dog does when trying to shed off water) which with Tilda means a definite YES. Now I know that sounds weird, but I learned this about Tilda long ago and it was always correct to interpret an intentional body shake as a YES answer to a question just asked. That is how Tilda communicated. If she didn’t shake, the answer still could be a soft yes, most likely an “I’m not sure” or it could be a definite “NO”, but you never knew for sure. Most times though, no body shake was she didn’t understand the question or she wasn’t interested in the question I asked her. Anyway, she made it clear to me that going “out” would work for her that morning so we went and did that chore. She did go out and take her bathroom break and then came right back to me again.
After we got back in the house, I asked her if she wanted to go for her morning walk……………..not interested! She just stood there again and stared at me. I thought to myself ”maybe try some of her old favorite canned dog food and see if she is enticed by that”. I opened a fresh can of all beef chunks with her favorite gravy and offered it to her. She turned her head again and just sat and stared at me. Oh my, now I am stumped. She
didn’t appear ill, but she was doing her heavy breathing with very short panting breaths but that was her normal method these days. I finally sat at the dining room table to think this through while she continued to stare at me like I was forgetting something. I finally asked her “Do you want to go in the truck?” which meant to go somewhere and do something together. She immediately stood up and lifted her head a slightly perked her ears with interest. Knowing that I was possibly on the right track, I asked her “would you like to go to Tilda’s Park again today?”. She immediately shook her skin violently and then lifted her tail and wagged it like crazy for the first time that day and her ears were perked as high as they could get. I think we just hit a “Bingo”. I told Tilda that I wasn’t sure I could get her in the truck again as on Tuesday at CSU, I barely got her into her back seat area of the truck and then had a hard time getting her out again……….just very weak. So I asked her openly “will you try real hard to get in the truck?” Believe it or not, she shook her skin again. So I covered the open can of dog food and put it in the fridge and began preparing myself and Tilda for our ride to Tilda’s Park up on Highway 34 west of Loveland. I quickly fixed myself some breakfast, offered Tilda some of it, nothing doing. I showered, shaved and got myself together in a hurry while Tilda stood there the whole time with a happy face, wagging her tail. It was so good to see that again after it was missing for a few days.
Off To The Park
Within an hour and a half from the time I first woke Tilda, we were all ready to load in the truck and head for the foothills. At 6:30am I put her carpeted ramp up to the truck door and as she tried to walk up the ramp, I quickly stepped behind her and pushed her the rest of the way into the truck as she couldn’t make it on her own. She immediately laid down and we were on our way.
At 7am in the morning, we arrived at Viestenz-Smith Park (Tilda’s Park) and there was not a soul around……..didn’t even see a bear this time. I set up the ramp again and Tilda came wobbling down the ramp as I held her from side to side so her feet would stay on the ramp. She made it fine and seemed determined to get that done right. I grabbed the camera, put her short leash and collar on and before I could even stand upright, Tilda was off walking and leading the way. She went immediately down to the “race pond” or fish pond to watch the big Rainbow Trout swimming in the water feeding on such a beautiful day. She just stopped by the pond and watched the fish. I took a short video of that event and here is the link to watch it on youtube so you can get a feel for the demeanor of Tilda at that moment:
Or, I have embedded the video below if your computer can view it in this manner:
She then immediately turned to the north and headed for the river……..towards the log steps that go down to the water’s edge. One step was about a foot tall which at least 5 times before this day, she bounded down those steps full speed ahead. This day she couldn’t step off the log and was afraid she was going to fall as the step was too big for her. She looked up at me as if asking me to help her………..so I took her to the edge of the steps where the dropoff wasn’t so great and she made it fine. She went down to the water and just stood there again looking up stream and down stream.
All at once Tilda went back up the log steps and down the sidewalk and across the spillway
to another picnic area near where we saw the bear a few days before. I then remembered that my wife, Donna, wanted me to take a picture of the history board that was ahead about 300 feet so she could read about the old log cabin and the park history as she loved reading about those things. So I asked Tilda if we could walk over that short distance so I could get the picture. I tugged her leash to go forward and she took 2 steps and stopped cold and just stood there looking at me. I then told Tilda “are you sure you can’t come with me as it is only a few steps more and then we can take a picture to show mom?” I tugged the leash again, nothing! She had her head down, tail between her legs, sad face again. I was beginning to think this dog is getting very spoiled…..much like a 2 year old might act, but quickly got my mind off that as she was not feeling well and if she didn’t want to go, we would do it another time. About that moment, she pulled back from me and went over by a nearby picnic table and stood there staring at me. Well, my legs were getting tired so I went over to the table and sat facing outward towards Tilda. I offered her an Auntie Jane cookie from my shirt pocket and she turned her head indicating she wanted nothing of it.
Oh Tilda, Now I Get It!
Tilda was about 3 feet from me just standing there looking at me, still breathing very heavy with short pants and mouth open, ears down and tail slightly wagging. She just stood there and stared right into my eyes. I then asked her “Tilda, what is it you want?”. She immediately moved forward and slide her head right between my knees and rested her jaw in my lap. She then stopped breathing completely, had her mouth closed, tail stopped wagging……….totally motionless. All of this obvious attention-getting demeanor was immediately followed by this “Flush of Energy”, which is the only way I know how to describe it, and as I looked into those eyes Tilda was blasting me with an energetic impression of “Dad, I love you a lot and I hate to leave you, but my work is done here and I am not feeling well. I am ready to move on. Please help me”. Now of course, she didn’t talk those words to me. Those words are a description of what I felt as she locked eyes, heart and soul with me. My first thought after the “Flush” (for a lack of a better word) was “Oh My God! Here I have watched this dog connect constantly with other people when they needed her help and now when she needs help the most, she has connected with me.” After thinking back through all this, I understand now why people sometimes said “What is she doing?” as I witnessed her obviously connecting with them. That burst of energy she gave was unmistakeably powerful and made the hair stand up on my arms and back of my neck. It was an effect of a chilling awakening that felt good. I knew EXACTLY what she wanted and the message was so loud, clear and without a doubt. At that very moment I smiled at Tilda and said “Oh my darling girl, I finally understand, I finally GET IT. Thank you for letting me know and of course I can help you……….let’s get started”. I have not a clue why I did what I did next, but I reached back into my shirt pocket for an Auntie Jane cookie and offered it to Tilda and she grabbed the whole thing and chomped it down.
While still chewing the cookie, Tilda backed out from my knees and took a gasping breath of air and immediately started the heavy breathing/panting thing again, tail was slightly wagging. Before I could even stand up, she had turned around and began marching back to the sidewalk, up the hill at a fast pace at least 30 feet ahead of me, dragging her short leash, with a distinct and intentful purpose. There was no stopping to smell things, no stopping to go potty like she always had previous, marching right up to the top of the hill, across the wood deck by the log shelter, then onward down the winding path to the truck in the parking lot. I was walking as fast as I could to try to catch her although I wasn’t worried as there was still no one else in the park. When I looked up at the truck I saw her waiting for me at the door, ready to get in and go home.
I got out the ramp, helped her get in the truck again where she laid down on her mattress and we headed home. On the way home she looked at me constantly with a wonderful smile on her face again, panting and breathing hard, but happy. I made plans in my mind of what we would do when we got home and told her of those plans while I was driving. She really liked what I was saying and acted as if she totally understood what I was saying. It was almost like she was so thankful that I finally “got it”. When we arrived home again, she actually walked steadily down her ramp coming out of the truck all by herself. I let her in the lower level of the house and she just collapsed on the tile floor with a loud groan. Within a couple minutes she was sound asleep. My office is about 10 feet away and I started making the dreaded phone calls which I know Tilda heard while she was dozing. But that was okay as I wanted her to know I was quickly working to meet her wishes and help her on her way.
The Next Hour
The next hour went by very fast. I would guess it was about 10am by the time we got back home again. I had pre-arranged with a vet firm named “Home to Heaven” to help with the process when Tilda’s time came so all I had to do is call them and set a time. They had a 2:30pm appointment open so I asked them to hold it for me while I called Tilda’s mom, Donna, to see if she could make it home from work before that time. Donna said she would be there so I called Home to Heaven and confirmed. Around 11am, Donna called and said she was heading home and would be there by 11:30 so she could have some quality time with Tilda. Tilda was still napping a few feet from me during all of these phone calls. One time I rose from my chair and checked on Tilda and she heard me walk up, opened her eyes and started wagging her tail. She hadn’t done that for days in that position on the floor. It was like a constant “thank you, dad” feeling all around her and that is what her demeanor was now displaying.
Time To Eat – The Feast Begins
Donna came home from work as planned and we coaxed Tilda upstairs. She was delighted to see Donna as always and seemed very happy that our family unit was back together again. Tilda’s tail was wagging
and she was smiling again. I asked Tilda “would you like something to eat now?” Tilda shook her skin so I got some shaved ham and cheese out of the fridge. She took those from my hand like she hadn’t eaten in a week. Then Donna asked her if she wanted a cheeseburger and the tail was wagging high again. I asked her if she wanted a can of cat food (which I was using to get her to eat sometimes this last week) and her tail wagged even faster. I opened the cat food and she gulped it down. I then went to the fridge and got the open can of beef chunks and gravy that she wouldn’t touch earlier for breakfast. I offered her some in her dish, she ate it all immediately. I gave her the rest of the can and she devoured it. In a couple minutes Donna had her cheeseburger done and she really enjoyed that morsel. I then gave her some milk in her food dish and she lapped it all up and then looked up and smiled at me licking her lips. I then had my lunch and she shared some baked chicken breast with me also. I asked Tilda if she wanted more to eat as we would empty the refrigerator if she wanted us to, but she walked away happily and went down the hallway towards our bedroom door (where she used to sleep with us in the good old days) and there she laid down at the end of the hall facing back towards us. Donna went over to her and hunkered down for some good girl-talk while I went downstairs to answer some emails from some of Tilda’s Friends who were asking about her that day.
Farewell Letters For Tilda
I responded to those emails explaining the plans for Tilda at 2:30pm and how I was so confident this is what she wanted as she was making it very obvious. Almost immediately I had a half dozen responses back from those people with letters of love and farewell to Tilda, written to Tilda directly. I printed them all and went upstairs where Donna and Tilda were still discussing things. I interrupted and told Tilda that some of her friends had written to her and I wanted to read those letters to her. Tilda wagged her tail, had a smile on her face and her jaw was resting firmly on the floor between her front legs as she so often rested in that position. I began to read the first letter and about half way through it, I lost it and couldn’t continue. Let me say this about these letters……….the people that wrote them know who you are and these were the most loving, caring, enthusiastic, enduring, compassionate letters I have ever read. I mean, everyone should be so lucky some day for someone to read letters like this to them when they are ready to move on. I had to stop several times to straighten up, take a deep breath and try to continue again. Tilda knew exactly who wrote them as when I said their names, she would smile and wag her tail but never lifted her head from the floor. She just looked at me with those loving eyes and affirmed she knew who had written the letter. If you can imagine reading get-well cards to a loved one in a hospital bed and picture the smiling eyes and face of the patient while listening to the words being read, that is exactly what this scenario was like and how Tilda was responding only 10 times more emotional because of the situation and the words being read. All of this happened with both Donna and I on the floor at the end of the hallway with Tilda. No doubt about it…..a very special moment. Thanks to you wonderful people that provided the farewell letters for Tilda. She definitely knew who you were and followed every word. The beautiful part of all this is it wasn’t planned. It just happened!
Tilda’s Hour of Reflection
By this time it was nearly 1:30pm and the vet was due to arrive in about one hour. I think most of Tilda’s Friends already know that Tilda really enjoyed her work at the hospitals. All therapy dogs do important work and give of themselves in hopes of making things better around them. One of the first things we learn in therapy dog class is a dog’s instinct is to “calm” things around them. They want calm and seek it out and will work towards that goal if the surroundings are different than calm. Tilda thrived on the touch and smiles of others and if someone needed a quiet moment just to love a good dog, she would lay down on her side and allow that to happen as long as the person wanted. If the person wanted to “horse around” rubbing butt, wrestling each other,
tilda could do that also. If a person simply wanted to give her a treat, which some times was therapeutically calming in many ways, she was usually ready for that too. Her hospital visits were most important in her life and she just couldn’t get enough of it. Whenever I put her vest on for that day, her tail was wagging so hard it actually made it difficult to fasten the vest buckle. Tilda was very proud and joyful about what she had accomplished. That was always obvious to most that knew her well. So I told Donna that during this last hour it would be fitting for us to get out all of Tilda’s work clothes, awards, special photos, news articles, special pendants she has been given and allow her to mingle with it all as it has been nearly a couple months now since she has been able to see them.
I went to the truck to get Tilda’s wardrobe briefcase. As I brought it in the house, Tilda saw it and got up and came into the living room and sat with us. Donna and I both talked to Tilda telling her what we were going to do and she was all excited. I opened the briefcase and removed all 5 vests……..one from each hospital and one from the Therapy Dog, Inc. Registration (which we also used as a Christmas vest as it was bright red). I laid all her vests on the floor in a row along with her plaques, etc. As soon as I had them positioned, Tilda went to smell them all and smiled with her tail wagging. Then, she sat on the floor, sort of in the center of the display, and just stared at the vests and other items. I tried to take several pictures of this
as I had the camera handy. I was sure this would get a response from her and it would be an enjoyable one. Then I asked Tilda if she wanted to try all the vests on and I would take her picture. She seemed to like that idea so we started the process, one vest at a time. All 3 of us had a wonderful time going through that routine and Tilda finally brought out that big sunshine smile which I think you will be able to recognize in the photos. It brought tears to my eyes and Donna’s also. The photos are not great as I couldn’t see very well for all the water running out my eyes, but hopefully they are clear enough you can get a feel for the moment.
Donna moved Tilda’s Afghan from in front of the fireplace to a position in the middle of the floor in front of Tilda’s vest display. She folded it nicely so it would be soft and cushy. I went to change into one of my therapy dog handler uniforms to honor Tilda as I knew she would recognize those clothes. During that time, Donna said Tilda went to the Afghan all by herself and laid down directly on it, perfectly in the center of it, in a position that she could still see her vests while her head was on the floor between her front legs again. As I came out of the dressing room, Donna got my attention as to what Tilda had done. I looked at the clock and it was 2:25pm and the vet was supposed to arrive at 2:30. I told Donna and Tilda it is probably time I go out on the front deck to make sure the
vet lady doesn’t miss our driveway as I know she is on a time schedule. At 2:35pm I asked Donna if she thought we should call (maybe they are lost) or wait a bit longer. Looking at Tilda on the Afghan, it was obvious to me that Tilda was preparing herself for her journey and was ready for liftoff. That moment of silence was broken by the phone ringing and it was the vet saying she was 10 minutes behind and was nearly at our location. She arrived at 2:45pm.
Tilda’s Brave Farewell
I showed the vet upstairs and introduced her to Donna and Tilda. The vet sat on the floor to the rear of Tilda. Tilda just laid there all those minutes with her eyes open looking at her vests, her jaw on the floor between her legs, resting squarely on her favorite Afghan. I wish I would have taken a picture of that sight as it was so beautiful, but emotionally I wasn’t able to think to accomplish that task and am so sorry I missed it as it was a scene that said a thousand words and clearly demonstrated Tilda’s desire to move on. Here is a most important observation……….Tilda did not ever lift her head to look back at the vet coming up the stairs or taking a position on the floor behind her. She just looked straight forward towards her vests with a steady deep breathing rhythm and kept focused. Never did she turn around to see who was there, not even when the vet shaved her rear leg preparing for the injection. She never moved a muscle and just kept focused on Donna and myself and her vests. I never spoke anything to Tilda with commands or such at all. She did this all on her own merit and will. Donna told Tilda while the vet was preparing that there would be a little needle stick but that the vet was just trying to help her get on her way.
Now, some people say that dogs can’t understand English and that might be true, I don’t know for sure, but I do know they certainly interpret what we are saying and it is not only by familiar word association. Tilda understands what you are telling her most times if she is focused and Donna knew that Tilda understood what she was telling her. The proof of that is when the vet stuck Tilda’s leg with the needle, there was not a flinch………..NOTHING! She laid there in the same position with her eyes open, head between her front legs, looking at Donna and I while we said repeatedly “Thank you, Tilda. Thank you, Tilda” while I patted her on her side until she fell asleep at 3:05pm. Those were the same words I always used with Tilda when she was working at the hospitals and did a good job. I patted her on the side during those times also so she knew what I meant when that action occurred. During those times she knew, that I knew what she had done and it was a fitting tribute to a very brave dog in her last moments.
Finally to a Summary
The summary of it all is this; Tilda guided her exit from this world with the same
dedication and intensity that she lived all of her life while with me. Some might say that the story ends here, but I think probably it is only the beginning. Tilda has built a circle of friends that continue on with memories of her in their hearts. I know for a fact some people have had their souls touched by Tilda and that encounter will last a lifetime within them. I also know some of Tilda’s Friends will be visited by Tilda from time to time from her new location where I am sure she will use her new talents to make their lives a bit more interesting. I firmly believe that a good dog comes on this earth with a purpose, or for a purpose, however you want to view it. Whether or not it can fulfill that purpose depends on lots of things I would imagine. I am positive that Tilda fulfilled her purpose and did a wonderful job of finding me and guiding me and others in the right direction so she could accomplish her tasks. I would bet God has given her an A+ with a special note of “well done”.
Tilda’s history as a therapy dog was short, but intense. She started her first Hospital at Longmont United Hospital only about 2.5 years ago. She started the second at Boulder Community Hospital only a 1.5 years ago approximately and Exempla and Avista hospitals less than a year ago. She accomplished a great deal in that short time, but Tilda’s master plan obviously said she passed the test for this trip and it was time for her to get on with the next step. I am comforted by the thought that Tilda and I can spend some time together at some point again. I am looking forward to it. One of Tilda’s Friends named Maribeth summed it up nicely with a quoted paragraph:
“I believe that God uses pets to help humans learn about love. From pets, we learn mercy, compassion, patience, and understanding — and we also learn what it means to receive unconditional love. If pets are a means by which we are taught about love, must we assume that once we have learned the lesson, we must then be forced to lose that love forever? Shall we assume that God, the author of love, has so little compassion for us that He first gives us pets to love, and then tells us, “Yes, well, I know that you really loved that little dog or precious cat I sent your way, but rules are rules”? Would heaven be a wonderful place — would it truly be “paradise” — if our pets weren’t there? For many, the answer is “no” — and obviously, God knows this! I firmly believe that God takes care of all His creation.” Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed.
Wonderful Comments From Tilda’s Friends
I know you can read this because once dogs go over the Rainbow Bridge, they can do anything! Please say hello to Katie and Maggie. You will really enjoy playing with them, and I know they will LOVE you. Maggie is the red-tri Aussie sitting in the shade under her favorite tree, and she will be happy to share it with you. Katie is the one who wants to play all the time. You’ve probably met her already. She is a little social butterfly (so to speak) and might have been waiting for you. So you can see what wonderful companions they will be. We miss them everyday, even though we have Dusty and Tiger to keep us company now.
I will sure miss you, too. You are a very special dog!
Just know that I love you and Tilda. My heart is broken, even though this day was not unexpected. It never makes it any easier, especially with such a special furry friend like Tilda. You tell her that she needs to start training those doggies in heaven who are planning on returning to earth to be as wonderful, smart and intuitive as she was. She will be missed, and I will always remember her smile when she came in here, and how soft her head was.
Soft head is a very special memory for me. You see, when I was a little girl, I was deathly afraid of dogs (I know-hard to believe, but true). Dad decided to get my one brother and me over our fear of dogs by bringing home this cute little black lab puppy. Well, I was terrified of this beast (when you’re 5, even an 8 week old lab puppy is intimidating). I remember that the first time I was brave enough to pat him, it was only on his head, I was too afraid to pat him anywhere else. I remember at being amazed at how soft the top of his head was. So, for the longest time, I felt that was the only safe place to pat him. Tilda brought that memory back to me the first time I pat her head. It was soft like Mike’s. She always did work her magic.
With loving thoughts, and special prayers,
FOR ALL OF YOU WAITING IN HEAVEN:
I thought of you today, but that is nothing new. I thought about you yesterday, and days before that too. I think of you in silence, I often speak your name. All I have are memories and a picture in a frame. Your memory is a keepsake, from which I’ll never part. God has you in his arms. I have you in my heart.
Tilda…you will forever be in our hearts. May you rest in peace, sweet puppy!!
Love from your friends…
Annette & Lonnie
I am so sorry for your loss. Tilda was very very special to you and many many other people. She touched so many hearts and will always be remembered for the wonderful joy she brought to so many.
God bless her and you and your family as you go through this very touching time in your lives. She was always proud of you and loved you so so much. May you find peace in knowing the strong feelings she had for you and the many she knew. She lived a good life.
With my deepest sympathy,
What a special soul we lost today. It was an honor to know you Tilda.
Condolences to you Daryl and your family. Tilda, rest in peace.
Daryl and Donna,
Thank you for your e-mail. My heart goes out to you both. May God give you strength and may the happy memories of Tilda carry you through this sorrowful time.
At 3:30 today (I wrote it down) I had a vision of calmness and a little visual of Tilda peeking thru the split rail fence at Rainbow Bridge. She was smiling and wagging her tail. I have a web-cam there in the ‘windmills of my mind’ to help deal with the loss of previous pets. I know it sounds weird, but it helps me cope and I have used it for years. When I get to thinking about my little lost loves, I “tune in to that web-cam” and I can see their faces. They are happy, and smiling then they run off to play. I hope this story gives you as much comfort as it does me.
Blessings to you both……
I am so sorry to hear about Tilda. She was truly a special dog. She (and you) have touched so many lives, including mine. I really do believe that she is in a better place and not suffering any more. I have a feeling she will still be hanging around you, so look for signs from her. I have really enjoyed her blog. It has been so much fun reading about all the lives you guys have touched and what you two have been up to. It was a pleasure and blessing knowing Tilda!
Dear Daryl and Donna,
I have to admit it seems strange writing directly to you instead of Tilda. Just wanted to let you know how very much you’ve been in my heart and on my mind these past two days. Anyone who has had the great fortune to be gifted with a dog in their lives knows too well the pain at their departure. I needed to tell you Tilda continues to touch hearts. There is no one I speak to about Tilda’s last day who doesn’t tear up at her story. My 33 year old daughter cried and said “Oh Mom! I didn’t even know her and I’m crying!”
I’m glad you have something to keep you busy – as I hope you do too, Donna. It provides a distraction from the deep pain of these first raw days. I know there will come a time when you can think of Tilda (and I speak for all of us) when your heart doesn’t feel like it’s being ripped out of your chest. But, as hard as that is, how much worse it would be if your paths had never crossed.
There are dogs, good dogs, great dogs, and those few “once in a blue moon” dogs like Tilda (and the lab, whose story was reported yesterday in the news, who lay down at his Navy Seal master’s casket during his funeral.)
I know you’ve said how honored you are to be chosen to be Tilda’s escort. But, you also need to know how VERY lucky Tilda was to have you both as her Mom and Dad. No one could have done more or loved her more. I was telling someone Tilda’s story today and they said – “Wow! If I’m ever re-incarnated, I want to be Daryl and Donna’s dog!” You both are examples of all that is good and honorable and compassionate in humankind. It’s an honor to know you both. I count myself one of the blessed and lucky ones to have you in my life.
Be kind to yourselves. Know how very much you are cared about!
The last 9 hours of Tilda’s life went from pure misery and confusion trying to figure out what was wrong about her not eating and constantly trying to get my attention for something that I didn’t understand………..to moments where I was clear of thought, determined to help her get to where she wanted to go. All of it topped off by Tilda making me so darn proud of her on how she progressed right through the final hours knowing for certain she wasn’t going to miss her connecting flight and would lift off on schedule with her family unit all united beside her and ready to help her launch. All I can say is “What a gal”.
As you can tell above, Tilda has developed many quality friends and the above is only a small sampling of the emails received. There were over 300 emails this week from Tilda’s Friends wishing her well on her journey. I am a most fortunate fellow and I say that so often, some must be tired of that phrase by now. Tilda chose me to escort her through her journey here on earth for the last 7 years of her life. It was a wonderful ride and I learned a great deal from Tilda about life and identifying what is important in life. I have been blessed with 3 intuitive animals in my life of which the 3rd one was Tilda. The first was a Holstein cow named Betty who lived to be 14 years old and died on March 10th, 1987…….24 years ago and I still think about her often. The 2ndintuitive animal was a dog
named Meggie Sue who lived to be 11 years old and died on Christmas Day in 1998. Meggie was a Blue Healer/Black Lab and was a real soul mate for me….only in a much different manner than Tilda or Betty was. Meggie had so much loyalty and brightness in her character, she actually saved my life TWICE from nasty Holstein bulls that caught me in some bad situations when I was tired and being stupid. Meggie taught me that trusting and believing in your dog with the same loyalty they give you results in a bond that brings both of you through some very interesting adventures in life. I always like to think that Meggie picked Tilda for me as Tilda fit me 110% and allowed me to bond with her to accomplish whatever was at hand for us.
“Properly Trained, A Man Can Be A Dog’s Best Friend.” – Corey Ford
I promised myself early this year that I would write a book about Meggie Sue as her life was that exciting and adventurous. Meggie’s story is worthy of documentation without question. I still plan to get that done, but now I am committed to put Tilda’s record to a book as she touched the hearts of so many people and did wonderful things for hundreds rather than only me. These blogs have been mostly about Tilda and her therapy dog work. There is another whole story even more exciting about simply living life with Tilda. I am guessing now that this could be the title of Tilda’s book…….”Living Life With Tilda” and hopefully it will be an interesting read. Tilda went with me everywhere as many of you know. We logged over 106,000 miles together in that Ford F150 truck. She loved every minute of it in the back seat laying down as she would get car sick sitting up and never wanted near a window. The best part is that I LOVED IT TOO!
I am hoping there will be another dog in my life in the future, but topping Meggie Sue and Tilda will be difficult and challenging. But, as Meggie taught me, never say never as “it can happen” and I know that without a doubt. It will just take time and perseverance for a Tilda II to find me, but if I put myself out there so she can find me, it will happen. Tilda taught me to trust in that fact and I do. The lesson to learn is that a person does not go searching for a good dog. A good dog will find YOU as part of its journey and your journey together. I just picked up Tilda’s cremains in Loveland at Rainbow Bridge Pet Crematorium and while holding Tilda, I was discussing this very subject with the owner, in fact, he brought it up. If I learned anything with Tilda, it was that she picked me and I am so glad she did.
I will continue to work towards writing the rest of Tilda’s stories and incident experiences with these blogs. Now it can be done as a tribute to the memory of Tilda and as a long lasting bond with the circle of Tilda’s Friends. It is exactly as Tilda would have wanted it to be.
Thanks to everyone for all the cards, letters and emails. They are very meaningful for Donna and I at this time. Tilda’s Friends are the greatest, but then I am not surprised as she picked you too!
Until Next Time………………