In Celebration Of Lily

“There is one best place to bury a dog. If you bury him in this spot, he will come to you when you call – come to you over the grim, dim frontier of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel, they shall not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he belongs there. People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing. The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.” -Ben Hur Lampman

Lily-Montage

Lily
June 2, 1998 – July 17, 2011

Lily was the first dog that I lived with during my adult life. She was a Cairn Terrier, and I got her as a puppy. She was my friend, family member, and companion. I often called her my “little assistant”; whenever I was working at my desk, she always wanted to sit on a chair next to me. I got Lily when I was a graduate student at Harvard working on my thesis. She learned to climb on the steps of the university’s main library, and could often be seen running around Harvard Yard with the many other dogs who went there to play. After graduating, she and I went to conquer the hills of San Francisco, and during the last few years we have been living in South America.

When rheumatoid arthritis entered my life and I started to spend a lot of time in bed, Lily was always by my side. She always seemed to know exactly how I was feeling, and a couple of years later started having arthritis problems of her own, especially in her hips. On many days people could look at her and figure out how I was doing, or they could look at me and figure out how she was doing. Going on regular walks continued to be more of a challenge for the both of us, but we continued to move forward the best we could.

When Lily had her 13th birthday a little over a month ago, we celebrated with the usual homemade doggie treats. And even though she continued to do well, her health had been on a decline over the past three months. When she woke up yesterday, she did not have the use of her rear legs. We immediately took her to the vet, who informed us that her heart was already failing. At this point, our only real option was to peacefully put her to sleep.

We asked for one more day with her. Yesterday, we went on our usual walk–although she had to be carried the entire way. (I was grateful that I’ve recently had some really good days in regards to my RA, and that I was both able to walk and carry her. That meant the world to me.) We cast her paw prints in a memorial stepping stone, and spent the rest of the day together. She drank lots of water, and ate some steak that was prepared especially for her. For one last time, we went to sleep together…and woke up together.

A little over an hour ago, in the comfort of our living room, we said our final farewells and had the vet put her to sleep. Just a few minutes ago, the funeral home came by  to pick up Lily. We will receive her ashes later today. She will be missed by all of those in her lives, including her two younger “sibling” dogs (Alva – 9 year old Terrier/Chihuahua and Oliver – 3 year old Pug), but she will remain in our memories and in our hearts. She was indeed a “little assistant”, and helped me more than anyone will ever be able to know.

I love you Lily.

92 Comments
92 comments
  1. Wren says:

    Oh, dear Guy. Dear Lily. Losing our dearest, most beloved friends is so hard. My heart breaks for you, with your big love for your little friend and for your bravery in the face of her loss. She will always dwell peacefully in your heart and memory. Hugs, Guy.

  2. Trina says:

    I was touched by your story, and love for Lily. She will cleary live on in your heart. Best, Trina

  3. Janice says:

    “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

  4. Carolyn says:

    I am so sorry to hear that you lost Lily. Pets are so important and very much members of the family. Photos of her are lovely. She will be a big miss xx

  5. Jessica says:

    Ra Guy, I’m so very sorry for your loss of Lily. Pets are indeed are best friends and supporters. They love us no matter how crappy we feel and look. I know what it’s like to have to say goodbye to a furbaby. I had to put down my boykitty in 2006, and it is the most profound loss in my life. I was there when he drew his last breath. Even though I live with that traumatic memory, I didn’t want him to be alone. I knew that even though he was sedated, he knew I was there to comfort him. I brought over his ashes with me when I moved from my Texas home to my new home in Manchester England.

    Lily will always be there even if you can’t see her. You will see her in your mind, remembering things she did. You will find comfort in the funny things she did. She is at Rainbow Bridge with Alva and Oliver, and they are playing together. They are not in pain, and they know that they will see you again.

    Please take good care of yourself during this grieving. I remember not having much of an appetite or energy. Sending you and your Lily hugs and kisses.

  6. Sarah says:

    Sorry for your loss. I know how you feel. Lost our dog same age. Sure they are playing together

  7. Darla says:

    I read Lily’s celebration and I am extremely touched. Our furbabies are our world. I lost my lab mix just over a year ago so I understand your loss. Lily was your little assistant with a big heart! God bless our furbabies.

  8. Doreen says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Our pets become family members and nothing can ever replace them. I love the quote from Ben Hur Lampman. They do remain in our hearts forever.

  9. Linda says:

    I am so sorry – my doggies always manage to live long happy lives but I sure miss them when they are gone.

  10. Jennifer says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, like Lois, I feel for you. I have been there too and will be again assuming I outlive them all!

  11. Jane says:

    *hugs* I know what it’s like to lose a close companion and critter best friend. I share your grief and joy in Lily’s beautiful life!

  12. Briana says:

    “Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.”
    - Eskimo Proverb

  13. Mary-Catherine says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. You and Lily were the luckiest creatures on this Earth, for you found each other, and made each others’ lives so much better for it. Your celebration is lovely, and the quote at the beginning is so beautiful, and so true. As long as she is in your heart, she is never gone. Lilly is now at the Rainbow Bridge, healthy again and happy, and waiting for you.

  14. Lynda says:

    so very sorry for your loss, but so very happy that you had a good RA day and could take her on one last walk. dogs touch our lives deeper than people ever can.

  15. Rose says:

    So very sorry. I have a 16yr old poodle mix and dreading the day. May Lily’s memories stay close to your heart forever and ever.

  16. KarenZee says:

    It is so hard to lose a beloved pet who truly becomes a member of your family. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

  17. Brandy says:

    So sad for you. I still mourn the loss of my best friend and companion over twenty years later. Sending hugs and kisses.

  18. Jose says:

    sorry to hear about your loss. I know first hand how devastating it can be to lose a beloved pet …

  19. Linda says:

    I have a 14 yr old golden retriever – her whole face is white with the years & she takes her arthritis medicine the same as me – she is happy, still chases a ball at times, & needs to be lifted into the car. I know we don’t have a bunch of time left with her but she is just my darling.

  20. RA Guy says:

    Thanks for all of the condolences and good wishes, they have really helped. We just received Lily’s ashes. She is once again back home, resting next to her memorial candle.

  21. Christine says:

    it is so hard to say good by to our pups. Unconditional love, the most magical gift of all.

  22. Deb aka murphthesurf says:

    In your heart she lives forever. In your memories she runs free and with no pain. I am so very very sorry for your loss. Our furry four legged companions are like our children.

  23. Carolyn says:

    so saddend to hear this.As a dog-mom I get it. Cherish your memories & know she awaits you just over the Rainbow Bridge.

  24. Rosie says:

    She had a great life with you, so always remember that. I am sure she will thank you forever for how much you loved her.

  25. Karen says:

    Sorry to hear that,I lost my yorkie 2yrs ago after 15yrs its so hard,they are a real friends.Be happy she had a great life with you….

  26. Steph says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Yesterday was 2 month-versery of my Bazil’s death. Still so hard. So sorry you’re in sand club too.

  27. Dr. Laurie says:

    So sorry to hear about your 4 legged friend. They give us so much affection. Take good care of yourself.

  28. Thrive With RA™ says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Clearly you both were very devoted to each other, which truly made my heart sing to read. I appreciated reading of the intuitive relationship you shared with each other as well. I also appreciated knowing someone with RA had a Cairn and has done well, as I love the breed, but was unsure if they were “too active” a breed for someone with severe RA. I am sure the two of you will be reunited one day and can pick up where you left off with another fun adventure! Sending you thoughts of comfort during this trying time.

  29. RA Guy's Mom says:

    You know how much your Dad & I loved Lily…and we know how much you loved her…she was a very special dog and will be missed by so many. We are so sorry for your loss. Celebrating her life–as you are doing–is so appropriate. RIP, Lily.

  30. Delia says:

    I am in tears. It has been over 5 years since we lost our beloved Doberman to bone cancer. He was my husband’s constant companion during his ugly RA mornings. We miss him so very much. We have Penny now and though she is not our boy, she is still a gift from God. Thank you for sharing this very touching tribute to your girl.

  31. Helen says:

    For those of us who do not have offspring, our pets are our children and we feel the loss deeply. I am sorry about your Lily.

  32. Laurie says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Lily gave you the one thing most people can’t… unconditional love. Know that I am praying for you and your family, and rejoice in the fact that some day you will reunite in a place that is pain free for you both.
    Love, Laurie

  33. Carol says:

    So sad for you. I put our 23 year old cat down about 11 years ago and still cry when I think about it. Our pets become such a big part of our lives. Lily is with you in spirit and in your heart!

  34. Sara says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss! Tears are streaming down my face because I can’t imagine living without my 3 dogs. RIP Lily! She’s now running with all the dogs in doggy heaven having a great time.

  35. nan says:

    What a beautiful and touching tribute to Lily. She was a lucky dog to have you for her buddy her whole life! She will look over you now from her special place…take care. Nan

  36. Tina says:

    Rest in Peace Lily. I lost my beloved cat Tigger in April and I really do know how you feel they take a place forever in your heart! Im So Sorry for your lose!

  37. Bert says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful puppy. Buddy, my Jack Russell, is also very in touch with how I am feeling and will lay right next to me on the days the RA is not being very nice to me! I am so sorry for your loss.

  38. Tina says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss…I read your post last night and just cried. It brought back losing my chihuahuas and the fear that I had when my Coco had an accident and we weren’t sure if she would make it (she did!) Our pets mean so much to us…they love us unconditionally whether we are in pain or having a wonderful day. They don’t expect us to explain that we are having a bad day or that we just want to be held or that we just want to be quiet and contemplate life. They are the easiest best friend to have. Sending you hugs and love as you remember what joy she brought you.

  39. Wende says:

    Just this side of Heaven there is a place called the Rainbow Bridge.

    There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.There is plenty of food and water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or mamed are made whole and strong again, just as we remembered them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

    The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together , but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks in the distance. The bright eyes are intent;the eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to break away from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. YOU have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet you cling together in a joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head,and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross the rainbow bridge together…

  40. Megan says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that your Lily is gone. What a wonderful, heartfelt post. It put me in tears and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  41. Amber says:

    So sorry to hear of your loss! When losing a pet, it is very much like losing a loved one…I cried for days when I lost my dog. Had him from the time he was a puppy (got him when I was in 3rd grade) until my mid-twenties.He wasn’t the easiest dog to live with–the chewing stories my mom could tell! My parents went a day without a dog in the house. It was just too quiet for them, so they took my brother to pick out a puppy. I was so scared that they were trying to replace my best friend and was worried that she wouldn’t love me as much because I wasn’t there all the time. Turns out, her and I have become the bestest of friends and she really truly is man’s best friend! I hope that you are able to grieve for your loss and realize that even though your best friend is gone, they are still with you in spirit!

  42. Elisabeth says:

    What a wonderful dog. I’m so sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing with me (hug)

  43. Christina says:

    I had a cairn growing up. There is nothing like a cairn! Dear Lilly. She looks like she was a lively soul. As befits her breed. I’m sorry for your loss… why can’t our dogs and cats live as long as we do?

  44. Cora says:

    That was a
    touching memorial
    for a loved One.
    Truly saddening,
    I am sorry for
    such a great loss.
    It is painful, yes.
    But this is
    coping with grief,
    from an inescapable
    reality to finality.

    We both have gone
    through similar loss.
    I am certain Lily
    was a real treasure
    just like my Junjun.
    When I am sorrowful
    I look again
    in my heart,
    and I realize that
    in truth I am
    weeping for that
    which has been
    my delight,
    my pure joy,
    my Junjun….

  45. sherry m elkins says:

    Dear Guy,I am so sorry about Lilly, mine was Murphy he was 16.My left hip still feels bare.condolances. sherry

  46. Cheryl Shergold says:

    I read the article and it made me cry, I have a little dog, Maltese and she is my friend and companion and she has brought so much happiness to my life! With RA you do need a little friend. So sorry about your lost.RIP Lily xxx

  47. Denise Cornell says:

    That was beautiful and if you don’t mind I would like to use that when I put a FB album together for my Tank who I lost one week ago today. He was a Doberman Pincher, but more than that he was my best friend, my protector, and ever faithful companion. He was 9 1/2 and was dx’ed with Spondylitis just like his mama. Like your Lilly he knew when I was sick and would not leave my side except to take care of business. I do hope the pain gets easier.

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