I want to thank everyone for their compassion and concern for me and my family as we grieve the loss of our beloved Bismarck.
Bizzy would have turned 6 years old this month. At least that’s when we celebrated his birthday – August 15th. We’re not exactly sure of his exact birthday because my husband Steve got him from a shelter when he was a puppy.
There were no records of his birth… who his mother was, how many littermates he had, what kind of breed he was, or even where he came from.
But none of that mattered to Steve. He just saw Bismarck’s adorable puppy face as he played in the puppy area with the other shelter puppies. And he fell in love.
Steve never had dogs growing up. He wasn’t a dog person at all. But he says the minute he took Bismarck (or “Floyd” as he was called there!) from the shelter, he knew his life would be changed because of him.
I didn’t get to meet Bismarck until he was almost 2 years old. I had my black Lab, Ryder, who was about 1 1/2 at the time, and when Steve and I started dating, Bismarck became my boy, too, and Ryder’s brother.
Becoming a family of 4 – Brady Bunch-style – was fabulous. We lived in a small apartment in Providence while I finished school, and took Bismarck and Ryder everywhere with us.
We could walk to the park to play… walk to the college Main Green to play… walk to the Blackstone Blvd. walking path to play… walk to Thayer St. for ice cream (and to play!)…
Ryder has always been our little aloof girl. She loves being with us, but likes to keep a little distance. She gets excited when we come home, bringing toys to us and making her cute little excitement sounds, but doesn’t like to be smothered with love. She sleeps in bed with us, but at our feet, close enough to be touching us, but not so close that she feels like her space is being invaded. She gives us plenty of affection, but always on her terms.
Bismarck, on the other hand, always wanted to be IN the action. If Steve and I were hugging each other, all of a sudden we’d feel a little head nudge our legs, and it was Bizzy letting us know he wanted to get in on the snuggling. At night, he would position himself right in the middle of me and Steve, bury his snout under his pillow, and snore and dream as he slept.
When we walked through the door, Bizzy went into all-out excitement mode, jumping and hopping around with his tail wagging and his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. He was just a total LOVE.
And when Steve and I got married in December of 2004, is there any question as to who the flower girl and ring bearer were!?
That’s right… our two special furry little children!
We lived so happily as a family of 4 for four years. And then Bizzy was diagnosed with lymphoma of the GI tract on June 1st of this year.
We were told from the start that this type of cancer in dogs is rare, and that the prognosis was not good.
But we didn’t expect to have to say goodbye so soon.
For eight weeks, Bismarck fought the disease so bravely and without complaints. He taught me so many lessons throughout the time we had together, and those lessons in those last eight weeks were especially all about acceptance, courage and the power of love.
Bizzy just was never the same after his last chemo treatment on July 16th. But we knew that that that chemo drug was the strongest, and since he’d been sensitive to the chemo drugs in the past, we figured (hoped) that he was just wiped him out from it.
We brought him back to the Tufts hospital that was treating him last Monday (the 23rd) because he just wasn’t feeling well and we were worried. They kept him there overnight because he was dehydrated, and he really hadn’t eaten a meal since the week before (just a little food here and there was all he wanted).
When I picked him up on Tuesday (they said he had a good night and had eaten for him), I honestly still felt something was wrong. When he came out of his treatments usually, he would run up to me, with bounds of energy. But Tuesday he just kind of came up to me, happy to see me, but not “himself.”
I just could tell he didn’t feel well from then on. He didn’t have a lot of energy. His breathing was more labored. He got excited to walk and play ball and go for rides, but other than that he just wanted to lay around and sleep.
Thursday I just knew we had to bring him in again, but our vet at Tufts wasn’t in. So we brought him to the veterinary hospital about 15 minutes from us. They had diagnosed him in the first place, and had treated him a few times since then.
The emergency room vet kept him for an ultrasound and a few tests. The ultrasound showed that his cancer had spread. It was in his liver, his spleen… it was just ravaging his poor body.
The vet said that there was literally nothing more we could do. We wanted Bizzy to be with us until the end, and go out in the comfort of his own home. So we took him back home and called a house-call vet to come the next day (Friday).
I know Bizzy knew it was time to go. He knew it was too soon, as we did, but he had put on the bravest fight, and it wasn’t fair anymore for him.
My parents came home from vacation and Steve’s parents came over, and we were all here for Bizzy. Steve and I hugged him as he crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Way too soon.
He wasn’t even 6 years old yet. It is just so unfair.
Steve and my dad dug a grave in our side yard for Bizzy, and we put him there, right below our bedroom window, and with a view of the street so that he can watch over the neighborhood.
Steve and I knew we couldn’t sit around the house for the rest of the weekend and have nothing to do but cry, so we joined my parents and the rest of my family on their vacation in the Hamptons (we go every year, but Steve and I had opted out this year originally because of Bizzy being sick). We brought Ryder with us, and she was such a good girl.
Before we left our house on Friday, I was in the shower, crying, asking Bismarck to send me a sign that he was still with me, pain free and watching over us.
Something told me to just look for him everywhere.
Then, as we drove in the car on the way to the Cross Sound Ferry, I was lying my head on Steve when a song came on the radio… and the words immediately made me realize that Bizzy had been talking to me in the shower, telling me to look for him everywhere.
The song was “I’m Already There” by Lone Star, and the lyrics went like this…
I’m already there
Take a look around
I’m the sunshine in your hair
I’m the shadow on the ground
I’m the whisper in the wind
And I’ll be there until the end
Can you feel the love that we share
Oh I’m already there
And I swear, the moment the song got to the part where it says, “I’m the sunshine in your hair,” a huge ray of sunlight shone directly on me.
And I felt Bizzy right there with me.
He has been sending me signs like that since then… and I know he will continue to let me know that he is always with me.
I had 4 glorious years with my Bismarck. And every moment I shared with him was filled with love and happiness.
I just wish our time together didn’t have to end so soon.