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Best Friends

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tommy and Thor on their golf cart.

Most people have a lot of friends, all of which are an important part of our lives. Friends come in many forms including different races, religions, nationalities, gender, and so on. And sometimes they’re even a different species. There is a lot to be said for the old saying about a dog being a man’s (or woman’s) best friend.

My husband, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2009, was never what I considered an animal lover. It wasn’t that he didn’t like animals, rather he just didn’t care about them one way or the other. His parents never allowed animals in their home when he was a child, unlike the home I grew up in where we always had dogs, birds, hamsters, turtles and fish. Our pets were an important part of our lives and were greatly loved and cared for. So it made me both mad and sad when Tommy and I married and he then proclaimed that he would “never live in a dog house.” It was really the only thing we ever argued over, and because our marriage was otherwise happy and strong, I gave up my idea of having a dog deciding it really wasn’t worth the fight.

Then in March 2007 my 20 year old son, who had been living in an apartment, decided he wanted to come back home and go back to school (yes, reality had set in for him). All was fine until he informed us that he had just that week acquired a sickly, three-legged, red Doberman pinscher. He wanted to bring “Thor” home with him. After a lot of “discussing” this with Tommy, he finally agreed that Jeremy could bring the dog home, but he would have to build him a lot out back because the dog was not living in our house. So, Jeremy came home with all of his belongings and a skinny, sick dog. He built him a dog lot and bought him a dog house his first day home. We immediately took the dog to the vet and they treated him for a severe case of hookworms and he got all of his shots and a full check-up.

Thor was one of the friendliest and sweetest dogs I’d ever met and I immediately fell in love with him. He then began to work his magic on Tommy also, something I had previously thought was an impossible task. Yes, I began to see Thor breaking down that tough exterior of Tommy’s and working his way right into his heart. Then one afternoon, within one week of Thor’s arrival, Tommy brought him inside the house making sure to tell us it was only for a few hours because the weather was so bad outside. His new outdoor dog house was quickly replaced by two indoor dog beds. Thor never slept outside again.

After Tommy’s diagnosis of cancer, it became more important than ever for him to get some exercise every day. He began taking Thor on daily walks that they both seemed to really enjoy. On the occasional days when he felt too tired to walk very far, he would ride his golf cart around the property and eventually taught Thor how to sit on the cart and ride with him (this has become one of Thor’s favorite things). The bond between the two of them was growing. They were becoming best buds. When I would go to work in the evenings, Tommy would always have his buddy with him for company. I watched the transformation of my husband from the tough guy “he’s just a dumb dog” attitude to a much gentler person that would often cater to Thor’s desires. WOW, I was in awe. Thor was able to do what I was not.

Then about six weeks ago, I noticed two lumps on Thor, one on each of his back legs, that were quickly increasing in size. I showed them to my daughter-in-law, who is a vet tech, and she immediately loaded me and Thor into her vehicle and took him in for a biopsy. We received the bad news that they were cancerous tumors. Because he was already missing a front leg, amputation was not an option. He was scheduled for surgery and the lumps were removed two weeks ago (his stitches were removed this morning). He has healed well, but one of the lumps was in a bad spot and they were unable to get clean margins on it, so it will surely return. The vet hopes that the removal of the tumors will give Thor a couple more good years.

I now wonder if this is the reason Thor was brought into our lives. Thor was able to win Tommy over, become his best buddy, keep him exercising, and now they are both fighting for their lives against the same disease. Could this really be a coincidence? I don’t think so.

Tommy's pancreatic cancer has now spread to his lungs and his doctor has told him she cannot cure it, only try to slow it down. Just a few nights ago Tommy was laying on the couch watching TV and Thor was in his bed. He began to talk to me about how great our last 17 years together have been and how he wished we could have 17 more together. Thor immediately got up off his bed, walked over and laid down on the hard wood floor in front of Tommy as if he was coming to comfort him. Tommy reached down and began petting him and saying, “ You’re such a good boy, and you’re not just a dog, you’re part of our family. You’re just like every other family member.” I watched in awe, knowing that this was a moment between the two of them and I was just a spectator. They were two best friends facing the same challenges and uncertain futures and I was not a part of that. Even though Thor doesn’t understand his illness as we do, he seems to be very connected to Tommy’s emotions and they have brought much happiness to each other’s lives.

I sat on my front porch the next morning and watched Tommy and Thor walk away from our yard and down the road, a man and his dog, his best friend. I was happy that they had become best friends, but I was also suddenly struck with a harsh reality. I knew that on this morning they would come walking back to me shortly, but sometime in the not so distant future, they will both almost certainly leave me forever. I felt a little wave of panic knowing that I cannot hold onto them forever. Only God knows how long I have left with them, so I will try to make sure we all enjoy whatever time we have left together.

I believe our pets are a gift from God and they bring so much happiness into our lives. What Thor has done for Tommy, and all of our family, is living proof of that. Love your pets and care for them.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I recently lost my dad to a heart attack. What brought me the most comfort was knowing I had told him how much I really loved him at his last birthday. Not that I needed to tell him, because he knew. But when he died I had no regrets because I had told him. Tell Tommy and Thor every day how much you love them and hopefully you'll have no regrets either.

    I almost cried reading this. I am such a dog person I never could have married someone who wasn't. I'm so glad Thor is there to show Tommy the way. =)
    1509 days ago
    How can anyone read this & not cry! Comfort to you all.
    1509 days ago
    Amazing blog. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes, thinking about your husband and Thor. Dogs truly are gifts from GOD and they give us so much. My 14 yo boy, Tango, is one of the best friends I have ever had. He has been there for me through many adventures. My prayers are with you through your journey. Thanks for touching my life!
    1527 days ago
  • SUNSHINE31797
    Wow..this is such an amazing story!!
    1541 days ago
    hold on to them while you have them and live in the moment. thinking about a time in the future when they may not be around may not allow you enjoy the present.
    1559 days ago
    Love to all of you. I lost a young dog to cancer in 2010, just about a year to the day before you posted this. Dogs are family members, and they give us so much. They do not understand the illness, but they know when we are ill and suffering, and their compassion and love is so great.
    1568 days ago
    Oh my gosh I want to just cry...It's like a movie (this blog) So Amazing yet sad- I feel for you especially when you say you get a wave of panic just thinking about the future reality- This blog has really touched me- May you too have peace when your husband and pet are granted it- Matter of fact May you have peace now
    1618 days ago
    What a fantastic story...I had always longed for a dog but my family never liked them when I was growing up. Last year at the age of 45 I got my first puppy, a shih-zhu named Coco..She has brought so much love to my and my two boys lives. I had no idea you could fall in love with an animal so hard. God bless them and your family !!
    1650 days ago
    Thank you for this wonderful blog. Miracles come in many forms.
    God bless you and your family.
    1699 days ago
    This is a very inspiring story here and it has touched
    my heart and probably the hearts of many others as well.

    While reading this story, I began to think that all of
    us have friends of all sorts, nationalities, religions,
    and whatever else may come to mind and be involved.

    As I look at it also, I feel the same way when it comes
    to an animal whether its a cat, dog, fish, or bird they
    need the same care and attention just as well as a hu-
    man being does because animals have their own way of
    sensing things to feel loved and cared for just like all
    of us do.

    So just keep in mind that they need the same care and
    attention just as well as we do.
    1701 days ago
    Just beautiful I pray for your family that God with lengthen both of their lives and give you many happy days together:}
    1705 days ago
    Thank-you for writing this. Your post made me cry but it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read.
    1709 days ago
  • MELLY3183
    thank you for this blog. it touched me. I lost my cat Ms. Josie in 2009 and it was hard. I became very depressed and didn't really push myself to make my commitments (even work was hard). I then was blessed with 2 kitty brothers a few months later and have since loved them unconditionally. They are my best friends and they bring me great joy. Good luck with everything. I am happy that Tommy was finally able to open up to animal love. It is one of the greatest things of all.
    1711 days ago
    What a touching story. Pets sure do enrich our lives, and we are so lucky to have them. People who don't understand how special pets are, are missing out for sure. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1717 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this blog...I'm still crying..I love animals and I'm sure they know more than we give them credit for...I'm so happy they found each other and that they are there for each other..... emoticon
    1718 days ago
    Beautiful story-best wishes to you & your family.
    1719 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your story. Yes, pets are so important.
    1719 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this story. I am struggling today because my beautiful husky passed away Sunday with no fanfare just went quickly. Enjoy your moments with your love ones. You are given a present everyday they are with you.
    1722 days ago
    Wow, what a beautiful and heart wrenching story at the same time. I am a dog lover and it sounds like Thor was brought into your life for your husband. My prayers and thoughts are with you.
    1723 days ago
  • 145HEALTHY
    I just came across your beautifully written story. Thank you for sharing. Know that my thoughts, prayers, and love go out to you and your family.
    1731 days ago
    WOW!! I am in awe! I love dogs, I have two Papillions myself, but grew up with Dobbies. My heart goes out to you. I cannot imagine what that must have felt like to see them disappear on their walk, but I think you have already started to take comfort in the fact that neither one of them is alone. They have each other now and in the afterlife. Big hugs to you for having the courage to share your story and your life with us!! emoticon
    1733 days ago
  • FLGIRL1234
    What a beautiful story. I had tears in my eyes. I will be thinking of you long after this......
    1735 days ago
    Like Tommy, I liked animals, but was never given the chance as a child to develop a love for them. My husband had a dog when we started dating, but he was always most certainly, my husband's friend. We lost him about four years ago to old age, and my husband and son were devestated.

    I'm happy to say that now, after many years of deliberation, and begging from our children, we are completing the adoption of a GoldenDoodle puppy; we pick her up on Saturday. I am looking forward to many good years with our new family member, but am alread dreading the day we must part ways with her. That little panic does not, and will never, compare to what you are facing.

    My heart is breaking for you, but I'm also so inspired by your strength. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    1735 days ago
    I'm so sorry you're having to go through this. It's good that your son came back home. You will need each other as you lose both these loved ones. I will say a prayer for you.
    1738 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your story. emoticon
    1738 days ago
    Thank you for this touching sharing. I have had my mikey for 7 years and he has gotten me going again after a car accident that stopped me from walking. Now he and our husky are back to walking 2.5 miles. But , mikey now has an enlarged heart. the treatment and follow up are expensive but, His is like the child I never had. He follows me every and gets very upset when I have to leave him. He is avery special dog too. Thank you. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1739 days ago
  • QUAIL75
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It brought tears to my eyes. All the best to you and your family.
    1740 days ago
  • KRISTA48439
    Thank you for your story, which reminds us all of what really matters in life. I am so glad your husband has gotten to experience the wonders of loving a pet.
    1743 days ago
    We should all value every day, for ourselves and our loved ones, as we never know just what is round the corner.
    May God bless and keep you all in His great love, and strengthen you day by day to deal with what must be.
    Love and prayers
    1743 days ago
    Like your husband, Tommy, we never had pets in our home when I was a child. Consequently, I am not a dog lover. I don't dislike them. I just don't especially care for them. Nevertheless, I found your story to be very touching and inspirational. I pray that God will grant you, your husband, Thor, and the rest of your family many more good times together!
    1744 days ago
    Such a beautiful testimony, my prayers are with you and your them both every second of everyday.
    1746 days ago
    What a wonderful tribute to a man and his dog!
    1747 days ago
    You are so right about our pets being gifts from God. They give so very much in so many ways! My prayers are with you, for as much time as possible with your two special guys.

    We had a painful 2011, sharing a similar situation with our best friend, and then our 12 year old Alaskan Malamute. It's getting a little easier, though.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. Love is eternal...
    1748 days ago
    Thank you for sharing! I just loved this story! I currently have 2 dogs and they are like my children. We adopted our son and our dogs have really helped him overcome some of his own issues. Dogs have such power to comfort! I thank God every day for the time I have with our loved ones! Take care and God bless you and your family!
    1748 days ago
  • MAGGIE645
    What an inspiring story! God bless you and your family.
    1748 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this story. It is very touching. Thank you and God bless you and your family with your fight.
    1750 days ago
    A wonderful story. Enjoy your time with them, and remember they will always be in your heart.
    1752 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful story. Enjoy your time with Tommy and Thor. They will be in your heart forever. I believe whomever goes first will wait for his buddy to catch up so they can continue their walks together...
    1752 days ago
    Prayers for you and your family as you walk through this part of your Earthly journey. May you have many more happy days with both of them.
    1753 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your story. My thoughts and prayers are with you. emoticon
    1754 days ago
  • KIEFHL10
    This is one of the saddest and most touching story I have read. I have four dogs and they are most definitely family members. They help me get through the tough times and are there to help celebrate the good ones.
    1755 days ago
    God bless you and Tommy and Thor!
    May He grant you all much joy in the time you have together and much peace if and when it comes time to say good-bye. Praying for you and thank you for sharing this wonderful story! emoticon
    1756 days ago
    This made me cry...I hope that a year later your two boys are still coming home to you every night.
    1759 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your story. It is most certainly not a coincidence. I know that you are a believer, so please allow me to comfort you with this - often we pray for a healing. Remember, if a miracle happens, it's a healing, but even if they go home, it's still a healing. There is healing either way, so take comfort! You are in my prayers.
    1759 days ago
    Prayers for strength for you and your son. God brought him and his dog home just when you needed them. I will add you and your family to my prayers.
    emoticon emoticon
    1759 days ago
  • TONIA8866
    Well god bless u and your journey
    I to have a similar story I had always had a cat.. And my last cat had died on me so I vowed never to have another animal... But 8 months ago we (me and my husband) had to move in order to bring my disabled father to live with us, not knowing about the area and because I'm hearing impaired (and would be unable to hear if something happened to my dad like if he fell or something) my husband suggested that we get a dog, but after having my cat die in my arms I was hesitant. Wanting to make my husband happy and listening and agreeing to his reasoning I set out to find a dog after looking in the ASPCA shelters (online) I found a puppy, I called and they told me I could have the dog to pick her up at twelve noon the next day. So I went to the pet store bought all the necessities to have a dog. Then twelve noon came I loaded all my nieces and nephews in the car 7 of them and we set out for the shelter,when we got there they informed me that there had been a mistake and the puppy I chose was already gone. So I was really upset... And at that time was no longer interested in a dog and my nephew says auntie can we just play with some of the dogs to get them out of those cages for a while, I said sure so we were all playing in the big cage with some puppy's when my niece noticed one of the workers walking this puppy she asked the worker if she could play with that puppy the worker said no its a sick dog and he's going to be euthanized . Not knowing what that meant I asked the employee in the cage what that meant she told all of us.and out of nowhere I screamed no it's just a puppy. I want that dog, the lady said go tell them in the front, I said hold it I told my nephew to watch the dog and if they move call me on the cell phone they all agreed I ran to the front could barley breath and I told him the situation and that I wanted the dog the lady standing next to him said you don't want that dog he's sick and he'll probably die in a few days... Why don't u pick another one a healthier one. I said lady the doctors said the same thing to me a year ago and here I stand, I would much rather spend a few days with that puppy and him having the best last days then to not have had him at all. Besides we will leave the date of dying up to god. So can I pay for this dog and take him home.. She says you'll have to come tomorrow at twelve I said no way not again I'll take him today then I got a little louder andsaid maybe you don't understand me I am not leaving without this dog... So she called the police officer that worked inside the shelter (who knew they had sherriff's that worked in those places) anyways after telling him the whole story, he agreed to let me have the dog as long as I signed papers stating that they were not responsible for the dog or for providing me with another dog when this one dies. So I signed. By the way a normal price for a dog is 100.00 but because of his not expecting to make it I paid 80.00 with taxes included needless to say we took the dog to the V.C.A animal hospital got him all kinds of meds and shots and I laid with him and comforted him and prayed for him, and told him I loved him at least 500 times a day.... AND GOD HEARD ... Today HARLEY is the best blessing to happen to our family... And has already saved dad once. Dad fell in the tub and couldn't get up and the dog heard him calling for help. (my dad told me he kept screaming for help) and Harley kept running back and forth to the bathroom door. So I busted the door in and found dad....thank god for our newest family member by the way dads doing better and Harley just celebrated his first birthday December 24thof 2011 and is in great health,we even went back to visit the sherriff's office inside the ASPCA shelter and they were all amazed yet happy. So yes animals are blessings for people and people are blessings for animals and may u find peace and comfort during these times till your all reunited again in heaven..
    1759 days ago
  • MAGGIE101857
    Thank you for sharing these precious memories of your life; animals somehow make their way into our hearts when we most need them (and we think it is the other way around!) I believe we are able to let our guards down with them in ways we cannot with the people we love, and I am so glad that Thor came into your lives when he was most needed! Many blessings and prayers for you and your family in 2012.
    1760 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this, both blessing and curse. I am sending out my prayers for you and your family. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Sometimes I need that reminder.
    1760 days ago
  • SHUNTER225
    This story has brought tears to my eyes. I was not always a dog person myself but I love our boxer Elwray. Thank you for sharing this story and God Bless your family.
    1761 days ago
    Thanks for your touching story. I pray that you three have many more years together.

    1761 days ago
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