September 17th, 2012


by Jacqueline Whitmore

I‘ve been thinking a lot about change lately. Perhaps it’s because fall is right around the corner and I smell cinnamon brooms every time I walk into the grocery store.

Several people I love are going through extreme changes right now. I am also going through some changes. My little dog Oliver, who I affectionately refer to as my “fur child,” has been diagnosed with the advanced stages of congestive heart failure.

I took Oliver to the canine cardiologist last week and was told that he may have six months or less to live. His breathing is shallow and labored and he is coughing more frequently. His chest x-rays indicate that his heart is the size of a 100-pound dog’s heart. Oliver weighs just 28 pounds and is nine years old. He is currently taking four heart medications and a cough suppressant twice a day.

My husband and I are devastated. We want him to live forever yet we know that’s impossible. I’ve always taken Oliver nearly everywhere with me. He’s my best friend and companion. He even sleeps with my husband and me. He’s the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I see when I go to bed each night. I can’t imagine what life will be like without him.

I believe animals come into our lives for a reason. They have a way of nestling themselves into our hearts and helping us cope with difficult situations. Oliver is no exception.

He provided peace and comfort to me during my mother’s illness. He went with me to visit her each day while she was in Hospice and he gave me a reason to get up every morning after she passed away. He never left my side when I made multiple trips to visit a family member in rehab a couple of years ago.

As a therapy dog, he listened patiently and made hundreds of children smile as they read their favorite stories to him.

He reminds me to eat, rest, and play when I feel like working all the time. He is so loyal, loving, and dedicated and wants very little yet gives so much.

Since my husband and I don’t have any children of our own, we’ve always treated Oliver like a human being instead of a dog. I swear he can almost talk. He knows every emotion I am feeling and I know what he wants and needs just by looking into his dark brown almond-shaped eyes.

My dear friend Dawn, who is extremely intuitive with animals, sent me the following e-mail today. “Perhaps, in your alone time together, you can reminisce a bit with Oliver and speak to him of the magical way he’s touched your life. Believe me, he’ll hear you. Listen closely and you may hear him speaking with you as well.” That’s great advice, Dawn.

Change is not always easy, especially when it involves something or someone we love. But for now, I’ll take it one day at a time and cherish every moment I have with Oliver.

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