Without You…

I had to wait to write this post, I had to give myself time to find the right words through the tears. I wanted to make sure I had time to honour her and what she brought to our lives. I thought if I gave myself time that the words would come easily and without the tears….but I have come to realise that no amount of time will stop them, they may come less frequently, but they will still come……because ultimately her absence is a loss, her life though seemingly insignificant in the large scale of things still made ripples….even if it was only across our hearts.

Colour Saturated Life | Without You

In late February we said goodbye to our girl…..our Jassie….she was our Golden Labrador Retriever, our daughter’s best friend and our first baby. We bought Jassie during the time we were struggling to conceive, not because of that, but it just happened to be around that time. I didn’t know then what she would bring to our lives, we were just getting a dog…..because that is what you do after you get married and buy a house….you buy a dog. Little did I know we were buying the heart of our family.

Colour Saturated Life | Without You

She was an adorable puppy, like ridiculously cute! I know I am bias but seriously there is nothing cuter than Labrador puppies! She was cute & trouble……a lethal combination in both dogs and children….you just look at that adorable face and no matter what they have done you want to cuddle them.

Colour Saturated Life | Without You

When she was nine months old tragedy struck and we almost lost her then. We were living in town then and my hubby had knocked out part of the fence by accident so we had to send Jass to the farm (where we live now) until the fence was fixed. We got a call one day that Jassie had been run over by a car. One of the farm workers was driving down the driveway when she came running at the car to great him; she lost her footing on the wet ground and slide under the wheels of the car. The wheels had torn open one of her back legs to the bone and she was in shock from blood loss. We were told that if she survived the night she would live. She had major surgery on her leg and they managed to save it but she lost a toe. The wound ran the full length of her lower leg and needed application of creams and bandages daily…..this went on for 12 months….until she was finally healed. Her leg wasn’t really ever the same again; sometimes she would only walk on three legs. I still wonder if it would have been easier for her if we had told them to cut off the leg. We always got questions from people about the wound, as she had a shocking scar. Not that you would have known otherwise as she always wore a smile, you could see it in those big brown eyes. She didn’t care as long as she was by your side; there, she had everything she needed.

When our daughter came along I thought it would be hard to have Jassie and a little child tottering around, I worried that Jass would act negatively towards having a child disrupt her life. I had no idea how wrong I would be. Jassie was amazing with Rena, she had so much patience and would guard over her and let her hold onto her for balance, they were best friends instantly…..and Rena still calls her that now. I think when you are an only child your pets become your siblings and fill that place in your heart. I am so happy that Rena had her; if I could say one last thing to Jass right now it would be…..Thank you for loving Rena, thank you for giving to her what I couldn’t. Every kid needs a best friend and I couldn’t think of a better friend to entrust my daughters heart too. We all should be so lucky to be loved like that.

Colour Saturated Life | Without You

Colour Saturated Life | Without You

In the past couple of years we saw her slow down, she would sleep more and lay around….there was less running and more plodding, you could see the old age in her eyes. It was then we started to prepare our daughter for the day we knew would come, we talked about how old she was and that dogs don’t live as long as people. We talked about what we loved about her and what our favourite things to do with her were and we tried to do them as much as possible. We talked about saying goodbye and savouring the moments we had left. We prepared her heart for farewell.

Then last year we brought another being into our family, a puppy, a little Chihuahua our daughter called Coco. We weren’t trying to replace Jass; that never would have been possible. We had always talked about getting a second dog; we definitely had the room for more! We wanted Jass to have a friend in her last days and we wanted Jass to teach Coco all she knew about living on the farm, we don’t have fences here, Jass learnt to stay within the bounds of the farm, she was very smart. She did just that and Coco gave her something else unexpected in return….she gave her a bounce in her step again, as though being around a puppy made her feel young again. Coco adored Jass and just whispering her name now will get a reaction from Coco each and every time. I am not blind to the strangeness of the Labrador/Chihuahua combination….it doesn’t make sense to us either, but somehow it worked. I like to think Jass gave Coco a little of her heart in that year they had together……I am glad we could give Jass such a wonderful friend.

Colour Saturated Life | Without You

In February this year we started noticing something different in Jassie, she started losing a little weight and she didn’t finish her meals every night. If you know anything about Labs, you would know they have eyes bigger than their stomachs and will eat anything and everything in sight. When the weight loss became noticeable I knew I had to take her to the vet, but I confess I put it off….I knew what was coming and I wasn’t ready to face it. The night she didn’t eat her dinner I decided the next day I would take her in. The vet said he didn’t have to examine her, he knew she had a massive (potentially cancerous) tumour in her stomach and that, worst of all, she was in extraordinary pain. I broke down then and there, my heart shattered when I realised all my worst fears were true. He made a time to come to the farm that day and I went and got my daughter from school so she could spend one last day with her girl. We just sat with her that day, ideally I would have loved to taken her for that one last walk on the beach and sat with her in the sand as the sun set…..letting the silence envelop us, as no words would be enough. But, I was aware of her pain and I feared that walk would be more for me than her. So we just sat on the grass and I looked into those big brown eyes and I rubbed her beautiful soft ears and I stayed strong next to my girl as we whispered our goodbyes.

Colour Saturated Life | Without You

Even in her last moments she was full of love for us, through her pain that beautiful spirit still shined, I could see it there in her eyes, I knew for certain then, what I had known all along, that her love was faultless and pure and that we were blessed to have been loved by her……blessed to have been loved like that.

I wanted more for her….more cuddles and belly rubs, more treats, more bones, more licks, more walks on the beach and swims in the dam, more playing “keep away” (because she never grasped the concept of fetch…..apparently me running after her screaming “give me the ball Jass!” was way more fun) but mostly what I wanted was more time……because the time we had will never seem enough.

Colour Saturated Life | Without You

I managed to capture the last moments of her life with these images (except the ones with Rena, they were taken a year before), you wouldn’t know looking at her how sick she really was, she still managed to smile through her pain, it says more about who she was than I ever could……she will be remembered and loved……deeply.

Gilly xo


  • Anne Maskell - November 3, 2016 - 11:59 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I cried through this post, remembering my sweet girl who passed on July 21 of this year. My Abby was a yellow lab/shepherd cross. She came to us when she was about a year old. She was a rescue dog who was beaten and neglected by people just outside our city. I heard of her through a friend, who told me that the people who had her bragged they were going to use her for target practice. I was appalled, and my friend somehow convinced the owner, (who she didn’t know personally) to let me have her. The next day they brought her to me. In the trunk of their car. I can’t understand how they could do such a thing. Abby and I bonded instantly, and for the next eight years rarely left my side. She was my rock, my dearest companion. My husband passed away two years ago and it was her that stayed by my side, snuggling next to me while I cried. I truly don’t know how I would have made it through those days without her. At nine years old she was still a puppy, with boundless energy and happiness. She loved everyone, but me especially. She would look at me with such love and devotion that my heart would melt. In January of this year she developed a large mammary tumor, which was removed successfully by my daughter (she is a Vet). Abby recovered quickly, becoming her old self in no time at all. I did notice in the following months little changes in her, but nothing really concerning. In July, I went on holiday to visit my grandmother. She knew I was going away, she had even laid in my suitcase as if begging me to take her along. When I left she was as happy and playful as ever. I left on July 2, and was scheduled to return July 25. On July 20, one of my sons called with the terrible news. Abby had collapsed, and was paralyzed from her mid-body down through her tail. My daughter lives in another city, and no vet hospitals were open that late in the evening. My son stayed with her through the night, hoping that there was something to be done to help her. The next day I received a call from my son at the Vet’s office. Abby was in great pain, there was nothing they could do. I was 2000 miles away, and I had to make the horrifying decision to let her go. I was and am devastated. I wanted to be with her in her last moments, to tell her how much I loved her, and to thank her for her love and devotion. I can’t help wondering if she missed me and wanted me there. I feel that I let her down when she needed me the most. I’ll never forgive myself for that.
    Well. I had only intended to send you my condolences, please forgive me for telling my whole story. This is the first time since her death that I have really been able to talk about it,
    and I thank you for that. As I said, I am so very sorry for your loss, and am sending hugs and prayers to you and your family.ReplyCancel

  • Shonee - August 12, 2015 - 1:57 pm

    Oh Gilly I am so sorry! What a beautifully written post! Dogs are part of the family and they really do keep your heart! We got our dog Mazie when we found out that we would need intense infertility treatment. I still say that she is my first child too!! I am glad that you still have coco, even though it still hurts. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  • Alyssa - August 11, 2015 - 12:03 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. She seems like a beautiful soul, one that made your family just that much richer. Never let anyone think you are strange for mourning this loss–she was a family member and should be grieved. We too have 2 doggies, one chihuahua and a big German Shepherd. They are improbable friends (and partners in crime!). It is a different dynamic but a special one all the same. I had my doggies before I had my son, and they are still my “first babies.” Among my parents and siblings, we have a total of 10 doggies, each loved and respected as family members. I know we will all mourn when the time comes for them to leave us. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words!ReplyCancel

    • Gilly - August 11, 2015 - 9:06 am

      So good to find someone who has the small dog/big dog combo! Love that they are partners on crime! I hope you have years ahead with your two and thank you for your kind words, it means a lot to me. xoReplyCancel

  • Nicole @ The Builder's Wife - August 7, 2015 - 1:45 pm

    This is my first time on your blog, and I have arrived at this beautifully written post, that really sums up exactly the feelings I have for my own fur kids. I am so sorry for your loss, I do hope that you are able to find comfort in how happy she was right till the end. xxxReplyCancel

    • Gilly - August 9, 2015 - 11:20 pm

      Thank you so much for stopping by Nicole!ReplyCancel

  • Ruthie - August 2, 2015 - 1:33 pm

    Isn’t amazing how one little dog can capture our hearts forever? I too feel your pain and have been sobbing my eyes out with you. We have a beautiful Blue Staffy and I fear the day that I have to say goodbye. She was the light that helped me overcome depression and continues to make us laugh every day. I couldn’t imagine our house without her in it. May your memories never fade and you heart heal from the loss of your beautiful Jassie. xReplyCancel

    • Gilly - August 3, 2015 - 12:57 pm

      You have no idea how much you love them till you think about their loss. I think only people who have loved a dog understand. Treasure the time you have left and never take it for granted, that is all you can do. xoReplyCancel

  • Yvonne - August 1, 2015 - 6:24 am

    I, too, write this with tears in my eyes… so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing the story of your wonderful Jassie.ReplyCancel

    • Gilly - August 3, 2015 - 1:01 pm

      Thank you Yvonne, I think it helps her to live on a little of people knew how much she was loved, rather than her just disappearing from our life.ReplyCancel

  • Jamie | anderson + grant - August 1, 2015 - 2:11 am

    What an incredibly well written post, Gilly. I’m sure that it was hard for you to put all of your feelings into words. I’ve never had a pet, but I know from friends and family how big of a loss it can be to lose a pet who has become a major part of the family. You were lucky to have each other.ReplyCancel

    • Gilly - August 3, 2015 - 12:58 pm

      Thanks Jamie, that is so sweet of you to say. I never thought I would love a pet that much, it kinda creeps up on you and then they are gone, it’s hard but at least I know she was loved a lot, nobody needs more than that.ReplyCancel

  • Diana Engstrom - August 1, 2015 - 1:51 am

    I cried with you reading this! We had to put one of our pitbull’s down last March and it still can bring me to tears. She was always so gentle with us and our pet rabbits. They bring so much joy to our lives. Thinking of you.ReplyCancel

    • Gilly - August 3, 2015 - 12:59 pm

      That is so sad Diana. Dogs are the most amazing creatures.ReplyCancel

  • Jo - August 1, 2015 - 1:24 am

    Oh I write this with tears in my eyes. I put my black lab down this past January so I know that heartache. Your beautiful dog looks so much like the one I have left. There is just absolutely nothing better than the love of a dog, and my deepest sympathy is sent with love to you and your family. I’m so very sorry for your loss.ReplyCancel

    • Gilly - August 3, 2015 - 1:03 pm

      They are such beautiful dogs are they Jo? What a blessing that you have loved and been loved in return.ReplyCancel

  • Sage @ Plaster&Disaster - August 1, 2015 - 1:08 am

    I’m so sorry for your family’s loss, Gilly! A pet truly is a family member. My childhood dog died five years ago, and I sometimes I still cry thinking about him — you’re right that it will stay with you, but the memories become fonder and less painful over time. What a sweet and touching tribute to what she meant in your lives.ReplyCancel

    • Gilly - August 3, 2015 - 1:09 pm

      Thanks Sage, this is the first pet I have really lost and I think it all took me by surprise how much we loved her, you can only prepare yourself so much.ReplyCancel

  • Renée - August 1, 2015 - 12:38 am

    Bel hommage, je ressens ta peine, mon Fox terrier à 15 ans, il devient soud, il voit mal, mais il court encoreet nousfaisons une promenade tous les jours.

    La consolation c’est de savoir qu’lle à reçu beaucoup d’amour toute sa vie.


    • Gilly - August 3, 2015 - 1:07 pm

      It does make me feel better that she was loved so well and I know she knew how much we loved her. Thanks ReneeReplyCancel

  • Dawn darkes - July 31, 2015 - 1:38 pm

    Sorry for your loss. Dog s are family members and so awesome. Wouldn’t know what to do without them.ReplyCancel

  • Catherine - July 31, 2015 - 12:54 pm

    She had a family who loved her and will always be in your heart. They are only here for a short time to teach us about love. Till you meet again at Rainbow Bridge xxReplyCancel

  • Nancy - July 31, 2015 - 10:35 am

    So sorry for your loss. Jessie was a dog full of love. You gave her a beautiful farewell. She will always be your dog. Goldens live forever in our hearts.ReplyCancel

  • darrielle Tennenbaum - July 31, 2015 - 10:22 am

    the tears are streaming down and I feel for you all! We had a Lab. named Dakota and like your Jassie, he was all that a bag of chips too. When he died it was so hard and my daughter was only 4 and an only child so it made it difficult. I am so thankful we got the time we did with him, just as you are too with Jassie. Sending good thoughts your way!ReplyCancel

    • Gilly - August 3, 2015 - 12:52 pm

      Thanks Darrielle you are too sweet! It is so hard to say goodbye to our pets but at least we know they were loved.ReplyCancel

  • Linda - July 31, 2015 - 9:55 am

    Oh Gilly.

    I cried thru reading this post. It was SO well-written and SO heartfelt. You obviously loved Jassie and she loved you right back, with her whole heart and soul. Your family had the pleasure and wonder and honor of a Lab’s love, which I think is like none other. I had a black Lab for 13 too short years. She was amazing. Peaceful, sweet, low-key–I could go on and on. She died 15 years ago and I still cry over it if a story like this should come my way. There will always be a story or a moment that will remind you of her. Usually you will smile at the memory. And it’s ok to cry, too.

    I wish you the best, I really do.


    • Gilly - August 3, 2015 - 12:51 pm

      I agree that a Labs love is like no other, they have such beautiful souls. Thanks Linda, sorry for your loss too.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Green - July 31, 2015 - 9:27 am


    I’m so sorry for the loss of your sweet Jassie. I can relate to the pain and the tears because my family has lost 2 sweet Golden Retrievers. Their deaths came very rapidly and sudden due to cancer. Dogs are amazing creatures. As you said they love unconditionally and right up to their last breath their loyalty and love for their human family is more important than their pain.
    I hope for you and your family that the tears will lessen over time and only the wonderful memories will remain!


    • Gilly - August 3, 2015 - 12:49 pm

      Thanks for you beautiful words Lisa.ReplyCancel

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