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Friday, 7 December 2012

In memoriam

Please help,

My dog has been diagnosed with a left brain neuro focal lymphoma.

The vet has given him just a month or two to live. I want so badly to make this time special and to create memories and memorials of him but I am too overwhelmed with sadness to know where to begin.

What have others done to commemorate their dogs and what things should I be doing with him?

Allison, by email

Pam Burne-Jones, Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service (PBSS), advises…

First of all, Allison, we’re sorry to hear about your beloved dog. Receiving a terminal prognosis is always a shock and you will naturally be feeling overwhelmed at present. 

Do you have any special places you both like to visit? Perhaps go there, if you are able and take lots of photos and make the visit special – do the things he likes to do. Remember, he doesn’t know what’s ahead. Animals live in the present so what happens ‘now’ is what’s important to him. Someone facing a similar situation bought a heart shaped box and cards and wrote messages on them to her pet and aims to keep other special things in there too when her pet has passed; favourite toys, collar etc. This will be painful for you to do right now but in time you will have much to look back on. Blue Cross has a memorial site on which you can post a favourite photo and poem ( 

It’s important at this time to do what’s right for you, Allison. Everyone is individual in how they react, but we hope these suggestions will help get you started.

The Pet Bereavement Support Service is run by pet charity Blue Cross. Call the support line on 0800 096 6606 (open seven days a week, 8.30am to 8.30pm) or email

Dear Allison,

I am so sorry to hear your news and wish you and your boy the very best at this horrible time.

You clearly care very much for your boy and I'm sure however you choose to spend his last days will be special for you both.

Dogs Today has a tributes page which runs every issue. You would be very welcome to send us a tribute to him which you would be able to keep forever. Readers often like to include a photo and a few words about their dog, and some include a poem, but it is up to you, it is your tribute.

If you would like to send one, please do email or write to us at Dogs Today, The Dog House, 4 Bonseys Lane, Chobham, Surrey GU24 8JJ

Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can help at all.

Very best wishes to you both,

Rachael Millar
Assistant editor, Dogs Today


  1. my wee jeep died of a brain tumor. We didn't know how long she would have after diagnosis and she stayed with us 6 months before we let her go. One thing I think she liked was to keep to her old routine, although there was a temptation to spoil her (and we did cancel her diet!) she wasn't up to long walks or new places. We included her in everything, kept her routine going. Now she is gone (and has been OTRB for over a year) it's hard to imagine she is not still here. I don't think that you should focus on what to do when he is gone. Live in the moment, just as dogs do. When he is gone you will remember all the silly little rituals you had together. All the best to you.

  2. Firstly I am so sorry to hear about your dog.
    I lost my girl almost a year ago to cancer, and I kept a diary of how she was doing, whether she was eating etc, how far she could walk, and how I felt, it kept me sane and helped me to cope with her increasing frailty. Learn to 'read' your dog so that you'll know when he needs cuddles or to be left alone, create a snug bed where he feels secure, feed him lots of small meals instead of a couple of large ones, let him guide you as to when he wants to walk and how far, perhaps letting him just stop and sniff rather than actually walking.
    Take LOTS of photos, you will treasure these later on, and afterwards, make him a memory box into which you can put anything that was special to him, his collar, favourite toys etc. Most of all, and this is by far the hardest thing, try to stay upbeat when you're with him and don't cry in front of him because he won't understand why and he'll get upset that you're upset. My thoughts are with you, God bless you both

  3. Hello, I'm so sorry for your situation.

    Keep taking him for little walks, as far as he wants to go, even if it's just a potter down the road or in the garden. Even just sitting in the fresh air and greenery for a little while helps to lift their mood.

    Make sure he's as comfortable as possible, give him all the pain medication deemed necessary by the vet and watch for the subtle signs of him being uncomfortable, such as restlessness, licking himself a lot and refusal to eat. Keep the vet updated in case his medication needs to be changed. Make sure his bed is very padded and warm, if he's unwell he'll be more sensitive to temperature than before and bony joints can become sore. Lots of cuddles and all the nice food that he wants :)

    Also, when it is time for him to go, don't delay for too long. People often regret letting their pets go on for too long, but rarely do they feel they let them go too early.

    You could try making a scrapbook or collage of the photos you have of him now, so you remember the happy times. Take one day at a time and make the most of it :) good luck xxxxx

  4. I've just lost my Cindy to mast cell cancer. It helped me a lot to feel like I could do something useful, to try and make best of an awful situation. I literally threw myself into creating 'Cindy's Legacy' which has a facebook page and twitter account, and used this to promote the canine cancer research work being undertaken at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket. They have a number of campaigns running from which they are asking owners of both affected and unaffected dogs to submit cheek swabs from which they hope they can develope cures for a variety of cancers, or at least screen dogs for genetic predisposition to them. I believe Cindy's Legacy will be featured in this forthcoming issue of Dog's Today magazine.
    We also arranged in advance to have a 'happy visit' to the Animal Health Trust so that when the time came we could take her there for her body to be donated to their researchers. We could have still had the ashes if we had wanted, but that isn't really for us. The day before we had to let her go, we took her to Dunwich Heath beach where she ran and played and literally had the time of her life.. it was just 3 weeks ago. We miss her so much but it helps to know we've made some good of it.

  5. Oh how tragic for you, something like this is so hard to deal with. My little jack russell died this year, after developing a lymphoma in her intestine which put her off food,and in fact she only had weeks to live after diagnosis. We kept to her normal routine, but allowed her just to potter about or not on a lovely little beach we have nearby for her walks. But we didn't bother trying to give her normal dog food, just offered her a smorgasbord of moreorless whatever she fancied. She loved her squeakies so if ever she showed any inclination we played short games with her, and most of all gave her lots of cuddles. She used to sleep in the kitchen, but we just let her spend the night wherever she wanted - which was usually on the landing outside the bedroom. This was a bit tricky as one of the problems she had with the illness was a weak bladder, but we just cleaned up thoroughly. We knew when she had had enough, and luckily for us, our vet happened to be in our area so came in and she was able to peacefully go to sleep in her own home.

  6. I would say to just spoil him. Keep to his routine but make every day special in some way. Special food, special cuddles, special walks. Write down all the little things about him that pop into your head. Dogs don't ask much but one thing I have learned over the years is to say goodbye sooner than I would like but before life becomes too difficult for my dog. That, in my opinion, is the best that you can do for him.
    Wishing you strength and some more happy memories.

  7. While I agree we all want our dogs to enjoy their time with us - especially their last days; dogs do not perceive time as we do, and it's likely they don't perceive death as we do either, if at all.

    For me, I think keeping my dog's life as stress-free as possible would be a must, so his routine - however loose it is at any given time - would be kept. If he was able, and more importantly still enjoyed it, we would do the walks that he likes; if he were unable, then it would be some of his other favourite activities - snuggling, playing silly games, running through the cute "tricks" he knows, and sleeping - again, I would concentrate on what he wanted and enjoyed, not what I wanted to do with him.

    On second thoughts - I wouldn't change a thing we do - we live like this every day to some extent!

  8. Dear Allison,
    I feel for you as I have lost two dogs now but both very suddenly and really don't know which is worse. I can only tell you how much easier it was for me to know of a good pet crematorium, that is if you wish to keep his ashes, as that can be very comforting and you will be able to deal with it in your own way. Otherwise you will be too grief stricken to make decisions at the time. Both my dogs were long coated & someone suggested I snipped a little curl of fur to keep with the casket. I don't keep them on display but would have felt very guilty if I had let anything else happen to them. I agree, you can do no more than just keep him happy and loved as you obviously always have.
    Wishing you well.

  9. My little jack russell was diagnosed with a lymphoma in her intestine. She was too elderly for an operation and we knew we did not have long with her. We tried to keep to her routine, albeit giving her short little walks in some of her favourite places where she could just potter about as she wishes. She went off her food although this was helped by steroids so we gave up feeding her dog food and just kept up a supply of chicken, sausage, ham, mashed potatoe - anything within reason that she liked. We gave her lots of cuddles and let her sleep at night where she was happiest. We tried to make the most of the time we had with her and make sure she was comfortable and happy. I think we managed this and although we miss her terribly, we are now able to remember some of her antics with laughter. I am putting together a clip frame with lots of photos and things which remind me of her for my office w all.

  10. I am so very sorry. Enjoy every moment with your special boy. Take lots of photos and have lots of cuddles. There will be plenty of time for memories later. He is obviously loved and cherished and that is what matters now. Dogs live life day to day. They don't think about what might happen when they get old - that is a human emotion. It's quality - not quantity that matters to your lad. Quality is what you are giving him. It's hard to stay stong when the thought of losing him is so painful but your care is all he needs now. x The Blue Cross runs The Pet Bereavement Support Service - by phone 0800 0966606 or by email You don't need to feel alone with this.