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A courageous dog – Sersha added to Faces of Courage

February 13th, 2010 · 5 Comments

July 7, 2000 — January 28, 2010


UPDATE 02-13-2010—

Sersha was a beautiful Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever – or Toller for short! He had the heart of a lion and the soul of an angel. Sersha was always intent and focused when working or playing, but underneath it all he was a true comedian. He made me laugh and always found the fun in every situation, whether it was a walk around the block, a drive across many states, or playing in the vineyard with his canine friends. Even then, he would check on me, before running with abandon. He never met a person that did not fall in love with him within five minutes and happily anticipate his next visit.

Sersha was noted to have what was thought to be a bladder tumor in June 2009, with a 6 cm. sublumbar metastases already present. In July, it was definitively diagnosed as prostate cancer, which carried a grim prognosis of 30 to 60 days beyond diagnosis. Surgery was not a good option and chemotherapy was not generally effective. He entered a clinical trial at the University of Missouri Veterinary Teaching Hospital, where he received exemplary care and in September radioactive gold nanoparticles were placed directly into the tumors. He did amazingly well, but by November I elected to stop chemotherapy altogether due to tumor progression. Despite all of the pain associated with cancer, he continued to eat well, beg for treats and play hard – his favorite game being fetch of course. (His motto was to "e;Live to fetch, fetch to live" and my arm would weary far sooner than he ever did, even to the end.) It was not until a week before his death, that he began to show obvious signs of pain and discomfort, and yet his disposition never changed, he was always sweet, loving and funny. The tumors had progressed even further than we had imagined. My sister and I, along with his loving vets, were with him at the end. His courage and strength through the pain were truly amazing. Nine and half years was not long enough for him to grace the world!

Always in my heart,
— Maureen

Tags: Prostate Cancer

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Michele Jacobsmeyer // Mar 1, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Gosh, what a sweet way to honor Sersha. As his human “aunt”, I miss him very much. You and he were inseparable. I know how much you loved him and HE certainly loved you……right to the end!

    Here’s to a good and sweet dog!!!!!!!

  • 2 Kathy Bovino // Mar 1, 2010 at 10:29 am

    I was fortunate enough to know Sersha and Maureen captured his spirit in her writing and photo. He truly was a dog that will live in many hearts forever. Sersha taught everyone lucky enough to know him that joy truly is everywhere and the simple things in life make life worth living.

  • 3 Cynthia-Ralph's Mom // Mar 12, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Dear Maureen,
    I feel your pain, and am so sorry for the loss of your Sersha I can tell you had a special bond with him. The many wonderful memories you shared with him will live on in your heart and can never be taken away. I too lost my dog and best friend, Ralph…a beautiful yellow labrador retriever , to cancer and he too was 9.
    It’s devastating…the void is horrible. If you treat your pet like a member of the family, it’s the most incredible experience in the world. They are truly the sweetest creatures on this earth.
    I found this wonderful website late one night, while I was having a near breakdown googling everything related to canine nasal cancer…in hopes to get some answers and comfort after I lost my Ralph. We are not alone…there are too many animals whose lives are cut short by this monster of a disease.

    I thought I would share a little story that my sister in law sent me soon after I lost my Ralph. It helped me a lot and I thought I would share it with you. I shared it with another person on this website, who lost her dog as well.

    Here’s the story….

    It’s written by a veterinarian who is writing about a six year old and his family who had put their dog down. It’s called : A DOG’S PURPOSE? and here is the story…..

    A Dog’s Purpose ? (from a 6-year-old).

    Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

    I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

    As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

    The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker ’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

    The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

    Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.”

    Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

    He said,”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”
    The Six-year-old continued,”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

    Live simply.
    Love generously.
    Care deeply.
    Speak kindly.

    Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

    When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
    Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
    Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
    Take naps.
    Stretch before rising.
    Run, romp, and play daily.
    Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
    Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
    On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
    On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
    When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
    Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
    Be loyal.
    Never pretend to be something you’re not.
    If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it..
    When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


    Strength to you,
    Cynthia-Ralph’s Mom

  • 4 Maureen // Mar 16, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Dear Cynthia:
    Thank you so much for your kind words and the beautiful story. I will share it with everyone who loved Sersha (there were many!) I can tell that Ralph was very special and special to you. I don’t know how long it has been for you, but know that the strength of the bond never lessens. It is amazing how grief for your beloved dog can galvinize you in a way that other emotions never do – help you to reach out to someone else, post your story on-line (would not have done that previously) and help you to learn to live in a new way – what better way to honor everything they taught us!

    All of the best to you – and thank you for reaching out and sharing your story!

  • 5 jeff // Jan 28, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Dear Cynthia: Your story about Sersha is heartwarming. Maybe Sersha was reincarnated as our pal Rufus, who is about 4 years old. Exactly same fur, markings, face, etc. Remarkable. Best to you. Jeff

    PS: I tried to post picture, but site wouldn’t let me do it. Sorry.

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