Heartbreak at the Widder Curry’s Home

by on November 16, 2022 · 30 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Judi Curry

Ten years ago a dog washed up on the beach at Rosarito and was taken to the Baja Dog Sanctuary .  He had the stinger of a sting ray stuck in his head, and he was bedraggled from his swim to shore from the boat that he must have fallen off.

There was no doubt that he was a thoroughbred Golden Retriever, and I heard about him through Trish Penneck, the physical therapist I was using for my Golden Retriever “Buddy,” that was suffering from hip displasia.

Almost immediately after Trish told me about this water-logged dog, I contacted the rescue organization and we planned a meeting so we could meet each other. I took a few of my friends with me to meet this dog in Poway, and it was love at first sight.

I knew that Buddy was not going to make it – Trish kept him alive far beyond what the veterinarian said he would live, and the thought of not having a dog to love was more than I could stand. I had recently lost my husband, and the grief was still sharp.

He jumped into the back seat of the car and a marvelous journey occurred as we drove home.  I had already picked out a name for him – “Shadow” — because Buddy was my husband’s dog, and he shadowed Bob everywhere.  I once said that if I ever had a dog of my own I wanted him to “shadow” me the way Buddy shadowed Bob, and so I got my wish.

When we arrived home Shadow went to meet Buddy and they became friends immediately.  I really think that Shadow helped Buddy live a few extra months.  And then, when it was time for Buddy to leave this world, several of us gathered on the patio, Shadow included, while the vet administered the fatal dose to Buddy.  When Buddy laid down to meet the vet, he had his favorite toy in his mouth, and as he was passing onto the Rainbow Bridge the toy slipped out of his mouth. Shadow got up, went to Buddy, and placed the toy back into his mouth. There wasn’t anyone present that didn’t have tears running down their cheeks, including the experienced veterinarian.

Shadow has always hated the pool.  He would go in when he was a puppy because I was in the pool, but as he aged he stayed as far away from it as possible.  As I thought he was developing a hip problem, I thought about calling Trish to work with him, but I knew it would cause more anguish than aid, so I didn’t do so.  It was just as well, because the x-rays he had yesterday did not show a hip problem.

Why did I take him to have Xrays, you might ask?  Because for the past few weeks he seemed rather lethargic; he even refused to go on his walk, which he loved, with his dog walker a few days ago.  At her insistence, and her husband that works for my vet, we managed to get Shadow an appointment in just a few days. And that horrible day was yesterday.

I was totally unprepared for the diagnosis I received – Shadow has a very large mass on his spleen that in all probability is cancer. This is very typical of Golden Retrievers the vet told me.  Plus, it seems that his red blood count is very low, because he is, in all probability, bleeding from the spleen into his stomach, and although surgery and blood transfusions are possible, the success rate is not very good, and many dogs that have the surgery pass within 2-3 weeks of the surgery.

When I said that I really didn’t want to have him go through the surgery only to suffer and not survive, she suggested that I take him home, feed him anything and everything that he likes, and think about home euthanasia.  She said that she didn’t think that he had many days left.

I can’t believe it.  He has been my heart and soul for so long.  I certainly don’t want him to suffer, but I don’t see him experiencing any pain.  He is such a loving dog; loves all other animals, including the tortoise I rescued; the guinea pigs that used to live here; the other dogs in the neighborhood, etc.  He plays so well with his “cousins”; he always shares his toys, and food, with others around him.  He smiles when he is happy; he talks to us; he listens and obeys – when he wants to – and is one of the most stubborn animals I have ever seen when he wants it his way.

My grandchildren – and great-grandchildren – always include him in their messages to me; they send him letters; when young they used to “ride on his back.” My foreign language students always write and ask me how he is doing.   I just cannot imagine my life without him.  I don’t want to imagine my life without him.  Sure, I can get another dog – there are many up for adoption – but Shadow was my first dog all to my own.  He knows what I want and has always been able to give me the happiness I felt I was missing.  We are as close to being a “couple” as it is possible.

As I look over my chair and see his body moving up and down with his steady breathing, I am hoping that the vet was wrong; that there was a smudge on the x-ray machine and that he is really going to be ok.  I am hoping that we will be together for many years to come, because when he does pass, part of my world will pass too.  A world that I cannot imagine without my Shadow.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Judi November 16, 2022 at 11:05 am

This is so sad!


sealintheSelkirks November 16, 2022 at 11:13 am

Judi, we outlive all but the last one we live with. That one outlives us…but you know that.

My Golden Red dog, the one in the pictures I sent you, reaches her 2nd anniversary living here next month instead of in that awful 4×8′ outdoor chainlink cage she’d been left alone in the previous 4 years because she was such a ‘bad’ dog that would never listen or play ball and ran away when she managed to get out…

The gray hairs around her mouth and eyebrows have increased, she’s got at least one ball in each room of the house, the 4runner, the shop out back, and the big hard-rubber jingle-bell ball hanging on the front porch, and she hasn’t been in a cage or on a leash since. This morning she came back after wandering off when I went to add wood to the shop woodburner. With a bone in her mouth she’d probably buried a year ago.

The throw-away tigerkitty she brought home out of the woods summer ’20 saw that bone tried to get it from her for ten minutes. Around and around in circles they went with the tiny little cat batting at the bone with Cinners dancing in the snow to keep her from getting it.

I am SO glad this girl was brought to my house and the 15 yr old blind Husky rescued dog was here to teach her the property boundaries and welcome her that first six months before she had a heart attack in the 120’F Heat Dome we had. The kitty showed up about four months afterwards starving to death and suffering from dehydration, and she welcomed it and licked it clean and the cat has been following her around ever since. We take a walk to the mailbox down on the s/w corner of the property every day, and the cat usually leads! The dogs are amazingly gentle beings…

My advice? Find another throw-away that needs a home and let Shadow teach it about your house and your ways. Dog teaching dog is always the best…and I know you will continue to cherish the personality that inhabits your Golden Red dog…

I’ll send you two pictures of a lost puppy that was running down the gravel road as I was coming home a month ago, that I carefully passed. Imagine my surprise when I walked back to the truck after opening the gate she’s jumped into the 4runner with Cinners who had absolutely no problem with that! That night I found out the puppy also liked to sleep not only on the bed but under the covers, and she followed Cinners all over the place until I found the owner a few days later… Two happy pictures for you and I’m going to do that now!



Lynn November 16, 2022 at 12:17 pm

Perhaps a second opinion would be good.
Have known that surgery go go well.



Judi November 16, 2022 at 12:55 pm

I did Lynn but the vet told me the tumor was so large that he probably wouldn’t survive the surgery.


Candy Ruthven November 16, 2022 at 12:18 pm

Dearest Judi, I’m so very sorry about sweet precious Shadow. I’m praying for Shadow & you. I’m here for both of you if you need anything anytime. Your article is so sweet & touching. I cried when I read about wonderful Buddy & sweet Shadow. God bless Shadow & you. Love, Candy


Judi November 16, 2022 at 12:56 pm

Thank you so much. It is so appreciated.


Mary November 16, 2022 at 1:24 pm

Sending prayers for you and Shadow. He is a very very special Angel that has won all of our hearts!!! We love you and Shadow so much. Praying??


Judi November 16, 2022 at 2:16 pm

Thank you so much. He is very special


Geoff Page November 16, 2022 at 2:12 pm

As a dog lover myself, my condolences.


Judi November 16, 2022 at 2:17 pm

Thank you Geoff


nostalgic November 16, 2022 at 2:37 pm

It is a heartbreak that is hard to define, but in today’s world, seems like the last thing you need. Your readers love you because you share with us, helping us as we try to manage our own lives.


judi A curry November 16, 2022 at 3:07 pm

Thank you. Writing about Shadow was so difficult. I never thought that he would leave me this way. Throughout the years I have read of so many others losing their pets, and Shadow is not my first to cross over, but I think he anticipated my every move and knew what I wanted to do even before I did. I keep hoping for a miracle – today the pool man was here and he barked like he usually does and went outside to get his treat. He practically collapsed when he came back in the house, but the going outside was part of the normal routine. It hurts. It hurts badly.


GML November 16, 2022 at 8:17 pm

You gave Shadow and amazing life. Now you have to do the most important thing you will ever do for your dog. It is amazingly difficult and heartbreaking but at the same time incredibly compassionate and loving. Wishing you all the best as you deal with this. Enjoy the remaining time and the great memories.


Judi November 16, 2022 at 8:26 pm

Thank you for putting in the proper perspective. It is so difficult


Angie November 17, 2022 at 8:04 am

It is always so hard and so unfair that our furry companions with their big generous hearts have such short lives. We love them so much and want them with us longer.
My condolences! It never, ever gets any easier to let them go. I’ve had dogs and cats, all strays and rescues for nearly 40 years now, (I’m 54) and I still miss each and every one of them. I still choose the love and companionship, knowing the inevitable pain will follow.


Judi November 17, 2022 at 9:00 pm

There are no adequate words to describe the feeling. Thanks for your understanding.


Sandi November 18, 2022 at 1:58 am

I’m so sorry. Our dogs tend to fill the holes in our hearts that we never knew we had. When their time with us is over, the hole is noticeably bigger.


teri M moraga November 18, 2022 at 6:09 pm

An anonymous quote which I found comforting when dealing with the same.

“It came to me that every time I lose a dog, they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart.
If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.” – Anonymous

Thinking of you.


Jeanne November 18, 2022 at 9:29 pm

I love the quote about exchanging pieces of our hearts with that of dogs. My Lola is 11 now and I doubt she will outlive me; that quote is very comforting as I think about my Mieke, Goldie and Oreo who have all gone before. I also like the suggestion of getting another dog now so that Shadow will teach that one the ways of your home.
Take care of yourself as you take care of Shadow and be sure to take lots of pictures together.


Judi November 19, 2022 at 9:38 am

Beautiful Teri. Thank you


Lynne November 19, 2022 at 3:55 am

I am so sad to hear this. Loving a dog is such a gift and losing them is painful. We always know when it is time for them to go and we let them. Enjoy every last minute with shadow until it is time. Thanks for writing your story.


Judi November 19, 2022 at 9:40 am

Thanks Lynne. Wish I didn’t have to write it!


Gilbert Ernest Field November 19, 2022 at 2:15 pm

So very sorry for the diagnosis for Shadow.
My son had a golden (Cassie) and my daughter now has a pup from her. She would chase a ball 24/7/365.
While all dogs are great, goldens are among the finest.
Our thoughts are with you.


Stan Levin November 19, 2022 at 6:08 pm

So sorry, Judi


Lori Saldaña November 20, 2022 at 8:07 pm

Condolences on this news. Sometimes our beloved pets surprise us with their resilience- I hope this is the case for Shadow.


Judi November 21, 2022 at 7:25 am

The miracle did not happen. Shadow went over Rainbow Bridge Saturday at 11:45 am. Thank you for your prayers and good wishes. At this time I am devastated but know I did the right thing.


Gml November 21, 2022 at 7:57 am

Toughest and most important thing you can ever do for your dog. So sorry to hear and remember all the good times. You were a fantastic owner/pet parent.


Judi November 21, 2022 at 11:33 am

Thank you. Shadow was a great dog and dearly loved by all.


Lori Saldaña November 21, 2022 at 8:36 pm

So sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved friend & companion.

Rescuing Shadow created a long life full of love- may that bring some comfort in these difficult days.


Judi November 22, 2022 at 10:11 am

Thank you Lori. Shadow helped me get over my husbands death. He anticipated my needs and helped allay them. I am looking for another dog now that I can help find happiness and security while helping to fill the emptiness I am feeling at this time. Not a replacement- an addition


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