(C.A.R.E. Name: Moshi Moshi)


Ellen and Max
I first saw Max-  Moshi Moshi as he was called then -  on Thanksgiving Day 1996. He was brand new to the shelter and appeared to be emotionally shut down. I was told he wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t play, was impossible to handle, and had clearly been abused. He lay in his litter box looking like a turtle trying to completely disappear into his shell. I fell in love with him! Once I was able to determine that he was scared, not mean, I adopted him in early 1997.

Max was a lot of work, but patience is my strength. He became a wonderful and affectionate companion and I believe he saw me as his rescuer and protector. To the day he died, he was a work in progress. Something that might have scared him one day, might not scare him the next day. That’s why I told visitors “He gets braver every day.”

Max became very sick in his last 18 months. This was a manageable disease that required daily medication, but Max always hated being restrained, pilled, or put in his carrier, I relied on the services of a visiting vet who gave him an injection that kept him going for weeks at a time. We went on like this for over a year, but eventually, the injections failed and Max let me know in no uncertain terms when he had had enough.

On February 4th 2009, my sweet Maxie-boy died peacefully at home, in my arms, swaddled in a bath towel. He struggled a little bit when I first picked him up (some things never change), but the first injection took the fight out of him. I held him and comforted him for a few minutes until he was totally limp and deeply asleep. A second injection stopped his heart. All the while, soft classical music played in the background.

After the vet left, my friend Susan and I wrapped him in a new, fluffy white bath towel and before we pinned it closed, I placed a red rose on top of him. We took him to Bramer Animal Hospital in his carrier. They were expecting us so they took him right away. I told them that the towel was a gift to the animal hospital - a perfect bed for a cat or small dog -  and they brought the carrier back to me.

Max slept so much in his last weeks that I still think he’s asleep somewhere in the apartment. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but it comforts me, and I know he truly is asleep and at rest.




Just a brief note to let you know that our dear Hoagie finally succumbed and passed over the bridge on New Year's Eve.....he had a certain "style" about him that way.   Hoagie is the beagle that we adopted January 1995, and Dr. Roberts estimated his age at 6 years then.  His story is already posted on your website with a photo under "Happy Tails".   And so we had him nearly 13 years, so that tough guy was about 18 or 19 years old when he finally could make it no longer.

It is worth every penny to treat the heartworm dogs, please do not give up on them.   Hoagie was more expensive than you anticipated, needing 3 treatments.   But he lived 13 more years!!

In the end, he started getting sick last September, when he was losing energy and falling down, and the vet determined that he had a lung infection and advanced lung disease, as well as showing finally a bit of an enlarged heart.  The vet said that having lung problems is worse than heart problems in a dog because the heart is more treatable.   Nevertheless, he gave him some antibiotic for the infection, and put him on a pill that was a bronchial dialator that he said he would need to be on for the rest of his life, however long that would be.   He responded well, and perked right back up perky a 19 year old dog as you can imagine him being at that age.  Apparently, he just hadn't been getting any oxygen to his cells.  But on New Year's Eve day he began to get very sick and weak again, acting strangely and throwing up.  His regular vet was closing for the holiday in 20 minutes, so back he went to the same emergency (after hours) place next door to his vet where he was last treated for the spleenic tumor that nearly did him in back in September of 1999.

We allowed them to treat him, they gave him some kind of IV's, but this time he did not respond to the treatment and his heart was not holding up.  We never gave up on that dog, until he decided that he could fight no more and we thought he had suffered enough.   We let them put him down on December 31st, 2007.

Adopted January 1995, asleep, December 31st 2007 -- just a month shy of 13 years with us.

Nothing else to say except that he was a good sweet  dog. 


(C.A.R.E. Name: Buddy)


My husband and I adopted "Buddy," from C.A.R.E back in May, 2005. I had been a volunteer at the shelter for nearly 5 years before moving into the city. C.A.R.E was the only shelter I even considered when looking for our new dog. We could not have chosen a more loyal, loving and relaxed dog. (Or did he chose us!?) When we brought Franklin, as he was now called, home he was nearly 15lbs under weight, with all ribs and spine visible.  It was obvious he had been abused and neglected. How someone could do that to this beautiful creature was beyond us. He was quite healthy until June 2007, during which time he began having grand mal seizures.  He was placed on several different medications in an attempt to control his epilepsy.  Gradually, over time he developed a resistance to these medications and would relapse into cluster seizures. Over the past year, he spent many nights in the ER  hospital, with his people worried to death about him.


His seizures were becoming more difficult to control over the past 4 months, clustering every 3-4 weeks. Thus, new medication adjustments were made. Our sweet boy began to age right before our eyes, with his muzzle growing grayer by the day. But his gentle nature and unconditional love never wavered. During the weekend of September 28th, Franklin went into epileptic status, which is a grand mal seizure that does not stop. He seized for nearly 2 hours, during which time he was treated by 1 ER vet, then transferred to his Neurologist ER hospital. They were finally able to stop the seizures, with sedation. Unfortunately, Franklin developed pneumonia and passed on Wednesday, 10/1/08. The loss we feel is so deep and profoundly sad. Words simply cannot express our love for this wonderful dog. Although, we called him our own for only three short years, the time we had together was priceless.

FranklinSo, here is to our sweet Franklin,  who:  went for long walks by the lake, enjoyed many car rides to visit family and friends, loved lazy winter days on the couch and summer sun on the patio, probably hated his red sweater and boots when it snowed (but was he cute!), and endured many kisses and hugs.
He was the best thing that ever came into our lives. Thank you for giving us the wonderful opportunity to call him ours.



This is the story of the best dog I ever had, her name was Valentine and she came from C.A.R.E.

My daughter and I adopted her in April 2003 just two months after our last dog died at home. Val was my first shelter dog and she was already six years old. We took her home the same day we met her having been there before and looking at another dog that wasn’t right for us.  She was.

I was concerned when I first got her because she didn’t bark. After about a week she barked at the neighbors and I was so happy to hear her!

She became good at letting me know when the mailman came and once she broke a window, but she was okay and the mailman was just a little freaked.

She enjoyed chasing the squirrels in the backyard and rarely chased the birds I fed-only if the squirrels weren’t showing up, out of boredom I suspect.

We went for walks everyday, rain or shine and snow. Over the years we walked in the forest preserves and she even learned to go off leash there and chase the deer on occasion.

She was my constant companion in our car. She went everywhere with me. She made me smile when no one else could.

Last December I found what I thought was a broken nail and after going to the vet it was worse-a tumor on her toe and her toe was removed in January this year. We went through two months of recovery at home while her paw healed. Finally one day she started rolling in the grass again and I knew she was feeling better, more like her old silly self.

Her checkup in April was good. Everything was fine and I was hopeful we might get the one to two years possible after the surgery before anything would reoccur. In May I started to find lumps on her and I knew I would be lucky to have her through the summer.  

We tried the piroxicam the vet recommended but it didn’t do any good. In late June a nasty lump developed on her gumline and I knew it bothered her. It bled when she ate sometimes. In July she had a convulsion and the vet said it would be soon.  She wasn’t eating well so my daughter and I took her the next day after going to two of her favorite forest preserves before the vet. I didn’t want to take her so soon but I didn’t want her to suffer through another seizure my poor sweet girl.

I went to her cremation so I could be with her to the end. She was my canine daughter, best friend, companion, sleeping partner, the best part of my life for four years.

Her ashes rest in a Rottweiller figurine urn along with her collar, leash, some of her fur and toys in my room.

I thank everyone at C.A.R.E. who helped to bring us together with my funny Valentine.

I miss her so.           

Sincerely Fran H.

The photo was taken on a good day in May when the seventeen year cicadas were out. She rolled on them, played with them, messed them up and even ate some in the process.




Adopted from C.A.R.E. - 9/95
Asleep November 17, 2006

She was my roommate, confidant, nemesis, teacher and prayer partner.Who would have guessed back in 1995 that this relationship would have taken on such significance for both of us.It was a chance encounter and love at first sight.  She was nervous and guarded yet hungry for love.The tension between fear and trust characterized our life together but, in the end, Mollie let go of fear and rested peacefully in my arms.

I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to those of you who enriched our lives. Cindy R., Mollie’s first advocate. You rescued her from the dangers of the street and provided for the safe birth of her litter. Terri T., Mollie’s foster-mom. You took her into your home and introduced her to family life. You gave her a warm place to live, food, water and the dignity she deserved. Barbara Carlson, DVM, my coach. You helped me understand Mollie’s self-injurious behavior and encouraged me to relax during her “adolescent years.” You said things would get better and they did. Donna R., faithful caretaker, playmate and surrogate mom. You gave Mollie the love and attention she needed whenever I was gone. You are the only person besides me who could safely groom her. Ann C., mentor. Despite your own tender feelings over the recent loss of a pet, you sat beside me and wiped away my tears. You wept with me. You listened to my Mollie stories and helped me celebrate her life. Granny, Auntie Barb, and Matt, my mom, sister and nephew. You comforted me before and after Mollie’s passing and you honored her by respecting her quirky behaviors and boundaries. Granny, you offered her sage advice when you told her not to be afraid. James Jorgensen, DVM, wise teacher. You bought us time so we could enjoy each other a little longer. You were gentle and compassionate as you led Mollie into her final sleep. I shall not forget the look of sadness on your face. Thank you for leaving tufts of fur on her blanket. I will cherish that special gift.

So often we human beings seek to be what we are not.If we are tall, we want to be short. If our eyes are blue, we wish they were brown. If our hair is curly, we try to make it straight. If we are smart, we want to be smarter; rich, we want to be richer.  We struggle to accept ourselves just as we are. All creation including our furry, feathered, and cold-blooded friends have something to teach us. A tadpole is meant to become a frog. A cat is a cat quite unlike a dog. Even a snake knows when to shed its skin. Each one is what it is, lives into its own destiny and is guided by its natural instincts. One of the lessons Mollie taught me happened the night she caught three mice in our home. Her swift response to an opportune moment reminded me that observing is more than seeing, listening is more than hearing and vigilance is not without its reward. Thank you, Mollie. I miss you!

Linda J.

Sisky (pronounced "Shishky")

(C.A.R.E. Name: Big Guy)


Rather than trying to summarize Sisky's wonderful life in a story, I am attaching the poem that I wrote for him after he passed away on October 23, 2006. Thank you C.A.R.E. and Polly for bringing us together so many years ago. Words cannot explain how much he meant to me...


When we first met so long ago, who knew what we had found;
Now twelve years later on this day, the loss is so profound.

You touched my soul, you warmed my heart, you filled my life with joy;
Fish and birds and milk and stuff and all your Sisky toys.

We talked, we played, we understood how lucky we’d become;
To find each other on that day, was clearly God’s work done.

You came to me when I was alone, became my very best friend;
I hoped it was forever but we knew our time would end.

God sent you to me for awhile, but said he’d need you home;
You stayed as long as possible, and now it’s time to go.

Part of me is missing, it’s a great big giant piece;
The part of me that let go of my precious Baby Sheesh.

My life will never be the same, my heart is filled with love;
I know you’re watching over me, and purring from above.

I love you dearly Baby Sheesh, now and ever still;
I feel your soul around me now and know I always will.

The house it feels so empty, I just don’t know what to do;
I think about you all the time, I love my Baby Boo…

Thank you,


(C.A.R.E. Name: Gulliver)


In July of 2004, my husband & I adopted Ezra (Care name: Gulliver) from Polly. At the time, he was moridly obese, roughly 7 years old and missing all but 4 of his teeth. But the minute she placed him in my arms we knew we were a family.

We knew little about his history other than we were his (at least) third family. How anyone can give up this cat remains a mystery.

He was by far the most friendly, laid back & emotionally healthy animal we have ever encountered. He wanted nothing more than to be friends with whomever or whatever he encountered. He would fearlessly approach our guests and offer his belly for a rub. He was brilliant with other cats & aggressive babies. My husband-who was so allergic to cats that he would tear up whenever he went to my Mother's home-was miraculously not allergic to Ezra. We absolutely struck gold.

With rescuing an adult animal, there is always a risk of getting a sick one. After a number of trips to the vet, we learned that Ezra had an enlarged heart & liver, heart murmer and diabetes. The vet estimated that he was not seven but at least 10 years old. His health quickly declined. It was our intention of keeping him comfortable and happy until it was time for him to go.

On 2/22/06, we had Ezra euthanized. We miss him terribly. Our feeling of loss is amplified by the frustration of only having a year and half with him. But I am convinced that he was loved & spoiled more in his time with us than ever before and that puts us at ease.

We are so grateful that we got to be Ezra's parents.

Thank you,
Ryan & Amy


(C.A.R.E. Name: Charlie)


It was 11 years ago I met Chilli. I was single, looking for some feline companionship, preferably a cute cuddly kitten. I made my way to C.A.R.E. to adopt a little feline critter. I was feeling a little nervous about just picking out a kitten. I felt bad that I would have to choose, like at a candy store. I thought I might pass up some kittens and feel bad that I didn't choose them. I told the counselor what I was looking for. She said , well, we don't have many kittens, but you might like this cat, Charlie. She described him as a lap cat that was found and brought to the shelter. They thought he was about 1 1/2 or 2 years old. Charlie had been taken to the vet already to be checked out. He had some routine ear mites and was FIV positive, she explained. She further explained the whole FIV thing and that other adopters were hesitant to adopt these FIV positive cats. So we walked to the back . She opened a cage; I walked towards the cage, and into my arms jumps a huge orange cat. It was love at first sight for both of us. I asked a little more about FIV and costs that it might entail. I made the decision to adopt and made an agreement with myself, when the end was near, give him extra love and care and not do surgeries, etc. to prolong his life. So off we went, Charlie and me.

I called Charlie "Kitty" for a while, because Charlie just did not match his personality, and I thought it sounded old. Then I just started saying Ch, because his head would tilt and look at me, so I needed a name that started with Ch. So Chilli, it was. I used to watch a cartoon with a Chilli Willi character on it, and this seemed to fit well. Later I found out that it was more like chili the food, because he sure could drop a smelly poop, and he had stinky breath too.

As we got to know each other better, I was amazed at how affectionate and almost over-friendly he was. He liked to play and talk ALL the time. He never missed a day greeting me at the door, and never failed to tell me when he was hungry, which was all the time. He would climb on me like I was a tree and hold on by his paws. So he developed a lot of cat muscles over the years. He liked to climb on anyone and everyone. He liked everyone, and everyone ended up liking him. Even cat haters fell in love with Chilli.

The only thing Chilli loved possibly more than me was his cat brush. We went through five brushes. He would eat the bristles off and he loved to be brushed and rubbed ALL the time. If I were a masseuse for cats, I could be rich right now. He liked to be rubbed in his armpits, on his stomach, on his chin, near his whiskers, on his butt, his ears, his thighs, you name it, and he liked it. We talked every day. He watched me every day as if I were HIS entertainment. He would just sit and stare. So much that a few times I had to step into the bathroom to change my clothes because I felt a little uncomfortable. Ha-ha!

We moved five times. We watched one of the apartments slowly flood with water that was creeping towards us. We slept many hours in the bed. We hung out many times just doing computer work. We made a few visits to Bramer Animal Hospital in Evanston, IL . We ran around the apartment like crazies sometimes. We caught a bird in the house together. We ate a lot. We hung out a lot. We also had the opportunity to make a lot of friends. We had many friends. And if they weren't a cat lover coming into the apartment, they left a cat lover. We left them in awe of what a pet and pet owner can actually be. Ha-ha! I would explain to all the visitors of his FIV status.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus What is that? My friends would ask. Well, it's like HIV in humans, but it is a cat thing. Laughing, well can I get it? No, that's why it starts with the word Feline... HELLO!!! Then I would go on to explain that he is still a normal cat, will live normal cat years, just the ending will probably be a little different. After they would hang around a while, they realized this was not a normal cat. A big tiger head, people would say. Big shoulders and paws. Why does he just sit and stare at me? He keeps brushing against me. Now he's trying to sit on me. Oh, he wants me to pet him again. Where's his brush? Hold on, I can calm him down; he likes to be thrown up in the air. He likes big bear squeezes on the way down. Well let's play with this string for a while; maybe he'll get tired. He would parade all over the guests, tormenting them with affection and love while they were trying to watch a movie or have a chat with me. Eating pizza was difficult because Chilli wanted some too. After 10 - 12 shoves to the side, he STILL wanted attention. He was like the energizer bunny; he kept going and going and going. STOP, was not in Chilli's vocabulary. So if he had a downfall, this was it, but how can you hate a cat showing you some love???

At the end of every night, we both slept with our head on the pillow. He was the alarm clock. I would awake to a cat staring at me, waiting for me to feed him. I later figured out, he was sleeping during the day and waiting for me to get home and play. So when my schedule changed and I was home more during the day, I am sure he got sick of ME waking him up. He has been and seen and felt everything I have experienced the past 11 years. Not just a cat, truly a friend I loved indeed. The past month he has been losing energy and slowly lost that LIFE he was so full of. The cat talk turned to quiet wails today, I knew it was time. He lay on his side with his head on my hand. It has been one of the saddest days I ever had. Today, February 6th, 2006 at 2pm, death became our friend. I am sure Chilli is winning him over too with all his love and affectionate cat kisses.

F un to have around all the time

I nside he was a warrior, fearless, and adventurous

V ery loving and affectionate

+ I am positive he changed my life


(C.A.R.E. Name: Carmen)


Recently my husband and I had to put down our beautiful girl, Connie (CARE Name: Carmen/black German Shepherd). She suffered from a disease commonly found with German Shepherds called Degenerative Myelopathy, which closely matches the human form of multiple sclerosis. Over the course of six months, Connie's back legs became paralyzed. Connie overcame obstacle after obstacle--never giving up her fight.

We tried a number of medications and exercises, which we do believe prolonged her quality of life, but unfortunately, researchers are not quite to the point where they are able to halt the progression of the disease. But Connie, my husband, and I sure did try to be the success story!

When I got Connie from CARE in July of 2003, I knew that I was ready for some changes in my life, and I thought that the responsibility of a dog would help put me on the right track. After just a few of days of sniffing each other out, Connie and I became attached at the hip. A couple of weeks after getting Connie, out of the blue, my now husband came into our lives. Over the next few months we became a little "family."

It is nearly impossible to believe that we had Connie in our lives for only two and a half years. She had such a presence and personality that grabbed everyone's attention. Everyone she met was quick to say that she was the best dog they ever met, and upon her passing, the mourning experienced throughout our extended families was unbelievable.

Caring for Connie in the last few months of her life was very trying both emotionally and physically. But given, the alternative, I would not trade one moment of it. I am so thankful that we were there to give her the quality of life she deserved. It will forever be impossible for me to believe that someone abandoned this absolutely perfect dog. I am so happy Connie passed by all of the other people she met while at CARE.

We were a perfect fit! Thank you for matching us up!

Molly & Kent


(C.A.R.E. Name: Grover)


I moved to Evanston not knowing anyone, and immediately went in search of a cat.  I happened to go into the CARE on a September night.  I am glad that I did, because that night changed my life.  I gave my specifications for a cat and immediately they paired me with Grover.  He had been in a foster home and I was off to meet Grover.  We had an immediate connection.  I fell in love with a four legged creature.  I brought him home, it was a long few days as he got use to my apartment and my daily routine.  Eventually, as most cat owners come to realize, I was living him him and not vice versa.  He was a vibrant, intelligent cat who loved sitting in the bathtub and drinking water from the faucet as well as sitting in the window watching cars drive by.  He was twenty pounds of cuddly, warm, happiness and love.  If I'd had a bad day at work, I knew that once I put the key in the lock, he'd be there to greet me with a meow and a purr.  He was my watch kitty, he'd sit near me while I was doing dishes or sitting on the couch.  He'd make sure I'd know he was there by meowing.  I had some of the best conversations with him, I'd talk and he'd listen and give the best advice, meowing.  He'd cuddle with me on cold winter days and lay on the tile bathroom floor on warm days.  He was a clever kitty.
His illness came suddenly, I began noticing changes in his behavior and rapid weight loss.  He was diagnosed with chronic renal failure early in October.  His weight kept dropping and he wasn't the same vibrant, happy kitty.  He was getting worse, eventually I made the hardest decision I've ever had to make, I had to do what was right for Grover.  On October 27th, I laid Grover to rest.  I held him and told him how lucky I was to have a great cat and how he'll always be with me.  He was my best friend and my confidant.  He knew the most about me and no matter what I did, he loved me.  He was part of my family, my mother always affectionately referred to Grover as her "grandkitty" and would travel to Iowa for holidays.  Everyone loved Grover and he loved everyone.
On his six years on this earth, I had him for two.  I like to think that in his last two years he was loved more than in his first four.  He meant the world to me.  I'm sure that I will ever get over his passing, but I know that he's with me.
I have tried to convey what Grover meant to me, but there are no words to describe the devotion and love I felt for him.
Thank you, CARE for a paring me great cat.  I couldn't have asked for a better pet.


(C.A.R.E. Name: Honda)


I wanted to send everyone a note to let you know that Mully passed away on September 23, 2005. We had only had him for 10 months, but he was the best thing to ever happen to my husband and I. His spirit and intelligence were truly remarkable. Our hearts are aching since his passing but we find comfort in knowing that he passed quickly and without pain.

Mully had been through a series of training programs but still struggled with his anxiety around new people. We took him to the see an animal behaviorist that worked with us on a series of exercises and processes to help him overcome that anxiety. We also had opted to try a medicinal treatment program. On Friday, September 23rd, during their (my husband and Mully) daily commute home from the office, Mulligan’s heart stopped. We rushed him to our vet’s office, but it was too late – he was gone. We decided not to perform an autopsy. His short life had already been filled with so much turmoil that we wanted his body to rest in peace.

We’re now trying to focus on all the fun we had with Mulligan. He was the bright spot at the end of every day. He was multilingual (having learned words in many languages). He loved to swim and chase ducks at our lake house. He snored louder than my husband. He loved it when people would touch his big face and rub his belly. He always made me smile. He’ll always make me smile… I never thought I would grieve for an animal the way I am grieving for Mulligan. He was the best boy in the world and we’ll never ever forget him. His spirit will forever be apart of our lives!

Rest in peace our little bully baby – we’ll see you again someday!


(C.A.R.E. Name: Sarah)


I had finally graduated from Northwestern University in August of 1992 after some nine years of sustaining a grueling schedule of going to school at night and working a demanding full-time job during the day. Being a AA-personality, I soon 'missed' that crazy schedule though, and I decided to volunteer with C.A.R.E. next Spring--against the advice of well-meaning friends who felt I would be bringing home a multitude of strays. I felt `safe,' however, because `I had no more room' as I `already' had 2 dogs and a cat. My perceived `safety' lasted about a month: when I arrived at the shelter on the morning of June 16, I was directed to the holding cages where new arrivals were kept. My first encounter was with an aggressively snarling big black dog whom I decided to pass up. To the right of him was a quiet but huge German Shepherd, and after just getting snarled at, I was a little intimidated by her size as well and decided to see who was in the cage on the left. And there I saw a lightened big puppy who immediately tucked at my heart. I had to just about drag her out of her cage: she was so terrified that she draped her long body and big paws around my feet and refused to get up. Somehow we finally made it outside into the yard and into the warm sunshine and managed to walk around a bit. Another volunteer was walking the big Shepherd I had passed up. When 'my' puppy saw her, she seemed to recognize her and leapt up to her with excitement and tried to nuzzle with her. But the big gentle Shepherd was too tired and worn out from her ordeals and didn't return the acknowledgement. The person walking her told me that the big Shepherd was the puppy's mother and so I got both dogs' sad stories: they had been dropped off earlier that same morning by a good Samaritan who saved the mother and her two puppies from an owner who was about to kill all three because he couldn't find homes for the remaining two puppies. Well, one puppy had already found a home with another volunteer and the other one was about to find one...

I knew there were other dogs waiting impatiently to get out of their cages to go for a walk, too, but I didn't have the heart to put this terrified puppy back into hers. So I spent the next 3 hours just with her agonizing over whether I could handle 3 dogs. I finally decided to give it a try and drove home to get my other 2 dogs for an introduction. Everything went smoothly and home the puppy went! She had been so traumatized that she slept straight thru for the next two days!

And so my life with Sarah began that was to last but 12 years. She was a beautiful dog -- half shepherd/half collie: she was huge but sweet and gentle. She loved children and other dogs and was quite talkative. Her mere appearance commanded respect from everyone we passed, and many people would cross the street to avoid her. If they'd only known how gentle she was!

Sarah became my self-appointed bodyguard: when I was about to go to sleep at night, she would race up the stairs and be the first one on the bed settling proudly on my pillow. When I got into the bed, she would move to the end of the bed facing the door to watch. Even when playing and running with other dogs, she never strayed too far and always kept an eye on me. I had no doubt that should I ever encounter anyone with ill intentions, she would fiercely protect me. I felt safe with her and she felt safe with me.

In 1998, Sarah underwent an emergency back operation after she sustained something like a slipped disc that threatened her with total paralysis. She had tried to jump up on the bed and slid off. She spent five days in the hospital and I went to see her every evening after work. It broke my heart to see her in such pain and distress. When she finally came home, l wondered whether I had been wrong to put her thru this ordeal. However, she convinced me within a mere 24 hours that I had done the right thing: her recovery was nothing short of spectacular)

She knew she was home and safe again and, therefore, concentrated on sleeping & eating and getting well! A luxury we humans don't have since we still have to tend to jobs, families, bills etc. An animal can truly concentrate on sleep which is the great healer! So soon Sarah was back to romping with her sisters in the yard! It took a little longer for her fur to grow back on her back and she looked somewhat like a reverse 'Mohawk' for a while... She even started jumping up on the bed again with no ill effects!

Unfortunately, no major injury remains without consequence and in the last two years of her life, Sarah suffered from a degenerative spinal cord disorder which first rendered her entirely incontinent and then gradually denied her the use of her back legs. She eventually needed help just getting up ... and walking ... and squatting. Her last year was, for those reasons, increasingly difficult for her as well as for us and I agonized terribly over "when it was time." Again, well-meaning people suggested that it `was,` but whenever I looked into her eyes, I knew she was not ready yet and when we added a Dachshund puppy to the family in March of 2004, she enjoyed playing with him - albeit while lying down. It was obvious that she was still enjoying life! She even made it through the winter, but as summer approached, she could barely walk any more and her legs would crumble underneath her many times on the way to the `bathroom.' In early July, I reluctantly made that dreaded appointment with the vet only to (happily) cancel as Sarah got up by herself the night before, walked to the dog area in the yard without faltering and back to the porch and sat down. I had no clue how she managed to do that. Obviously, she wasn't ready yet! Unfortunately, this welcome reprieve only lasted 10 short days and then her front legs ceased to cooperate as well. She tried to sit up, but was unable to do so and winced in pain trying. In tears, I gave her an extra pain pill and then made that final appointment that would relieve her of her failing body the next day. I knew there would be no more miracle reprieves this time.

I sat on the floor with her at the vet's and cradled her head in my arms as the medication slowly put her to sleep forever. Sarah quietly trusted me to her last breath.

I was grateful for that 10-day reprieve that had allowed me to spend a little more time with her, to give her some extra hugs, to thank her for her faithful love and to say good-bye. I had been grieving over her for a long time already...

I am glad that our lives intertwined that day at C.A.R.E. and that I had the privilege of having Sarah in my life . She will remain in my heart be apart of my soul forever and I hope to see her again ... whole day ... in that place where there is no more sorrow, no more pain, and where there are no more tears...



"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."    Anatole France

Maggie was adopted from C.A.R.E. in December of 1994, the runt of a litter of 3.

From the day I brought her to my apartment on Paulina she was a vibrant, curious, vocal and unconditionally loving animal.  How she snuggled under the sheets, to how she gently but firmly let you know that you were a guest in HER bed, to how she was relentless in showing her need, love and care for me was simply heavenly.

Maggie moved with me, and with her feline counterpart, Tennessee (also adopted from CARE), to Los Angeles in 1997.  She survived a four day drive, a few small earthquakes (and one large one), two apartments and a stalled acting career (mine, not hers), before we all moved back to Chicago in 2001.  An apartment in the city and a condo in Oak Park added to Maggie's bulging passport...


In October of 2003 Maggie survived 5 days in critical care - effects from hyperthyroidism and heart disease, which were complications tied to, though not caused by, the heart murmur diagnosed early in her life.  While I stressed and paced and worried about what could be ailing my furry 'child', and wondering if, after only 9 years, this was 'the time,' Maggie herself showed that she wanted to live.  She dealt with a feeding tube for a month after the critical care and I had tears in my eyes the day I saw her finally eat on her own again in November, 2003. (That pencil and eraser-looking gadget around her neck is the feeding tube, subsequently removed a week after this picture was taken)

Once the myriad of twice-daily medications were balanced, Maggie returned to kitten form - running around, torturing Tennessee, making her presence known at every chance.  Thankful that she regained her bounce, there was little reason to suspect that she would do anything but age gracefully...

Her sudden passing on a Tuesday night in February of 2005 came as a shock.
I'm hoping that any suffering she may have experienced was tempered by the shortness of time from her collapse to our putting a humane end to her pain.




In memory of Mookie, Adopted 1990?

I found him at the local shelter the day my shepherd died. I stopped in on the way home from the vet to see what the hours were, when they had open adoptions. Our other dog needed a companion, and it was lonely with only one dog in the house. By chance, they were open and had some time to show me what dogs they had. I was hoping for another shepherd or maybe a husky. Definately a female, a dog that could go camping and into the woods and keep up with an active 4 year old boy.

They brought out Mookie. He was a little black Labrador Retriever mixed with some sort of terrier. What he was not, was everything I was looking for... female, shepherd, or a husky. He had floppy ears, paws too big for his feet, and a wet sloppy tongue that barely stayed in his mouth, and the absolute silliest look on his face. He had a
sillier name too. I knew it was a mistake, it was wrong, he wasn't the "right" dog for me. But he looked up at me, rested his head on my leg, and those eyes said you'll never be sorry if I come home with you.

He was not a hunting dog, unless you count hunting for handouts at the dinner table. He was not really a retriever, but he would find, steal, and eat a loaf of bread if he could sniff it out, even in the fridge. He wasn't even really my dog. He followed my wife around like a, well.... like a lost puppy,since the day I brought him home from the shelter. Of the dogs we've had over the last 20 or so years, this one was "Her Dog". Where she went he was there, usually underfoot. He always got his 10% 'agent's fee' of anything she might be eating. He slept at the foot end of the bed, muzzle resting on whatever body part was convenient for him to reach. At least one of us was

He never hunted, did not like the water, did like cats, loved peanut butter, hated to fetch anything, preferred being indoors to outside, watched television and never once complained when we turned off the Animal Channel to watch a movie. Wasn't allowed on the furniture but made himself quite at home in the recliner or on the sofa when no one was looking.

He was my wife's dog, when ever she was here. When it was only he and I at home, he was my shop dog, resting on his carpet in the corner or getting covered in sawdust or shavings. He watched me build more things than anyone else, and he never once criticised my work or complained about me using the wrong tool for the job. He always knew enough to be looking the other way when I made dumb mistakes too, and didn't go telling about the time I miscut a plank for using a metric scale instead of the english one.

He was the one who always let me know when the steaks were done on the grill, who finished off the leftovers, who made sure that the chicken gizzards and fat trimmings never went to waste, and watched over my cooking to see that I never over-salted the pasta. He called attention to the boiling over pots and burnt eggs when my wife cooked, a better timer than the smoke detectors.

Labrador's stay puppies for a long time. Full of energy and enthusiasm, alert, interested in anything in his surroundings. He was a puppy for the longest time until the first seizure a month ago. Grand mal, total loss of control, brain function, smell, sight, hearing. He turned into an old dog at the turn of a switch. The doc said he wasn't in any pain, gave him a mild tranquilizer to help control and prevent the seizures but it wasn't helping much. He had a second a week ago, worse than the first, and he got older still. His back legs didn't work as well now, and he went off his food and water. He was now officially an "Ol' Dawg", having to be lifted onto the bed at night to sleep.

Monday, I came home from taking my son to school and found him trapped under the bed, in the midst of a third seizure. Scared, alone, and trapped, I got him out and comforted him best as I could. He slowly came out of it over the next few hours. I knew that it was time. He spent the rest of the day pacing the house, dragging his back leg, unable to hear, partly blind from the last episode, pacing a circle of the rooms looking for a place to rest but unable to stop. He would fall over and then sleep where and how he fell for a short time, get up and start pacing again.

When my wife got home from work, we took him out to the car. One stumbling lap around the yard, unsure of foot and balance he marked HIS yard. My son helped lift him into the back of the truck.

He did not go quietly into that good night. His frailty of body and brain belied a spirit buried deep within. His 15 year old body could neither hear nor see, his sense of smell was all but gone. He could barely recognize where he was or who he was with. My wife and I stroked and held him until he took a last breath and with a heavy shudder and sigh was gone.

For the first time in 23 years there is no dog at the foot of the bed, no one to "guard" me in the shop or watch when I cook. No one begging for a moment away from my writing for an ear scratch or a quick run in the yard just to see who's out there. No one to nudge my leg whilst in the shop, reminding me it's time for a break.

No he was not a hunting dog, but he might have been if there was bread to be found. He was not a lot of things that some, even most, dogs are. What he was, was a loyal friend and true companion. What he is, is missed.

Goodbye old friend. We'll see you at the bridge someday.

For Mookie, 1990 - April 11, 2005


(C.A.R.E. name: Angie)


We adopted our Zena (Angie was your name for her), a Black Lab mix from the Evanston pound on July 6th  2004. She was on channel 9, a regular movie star .   A wonderful dog,  Quite friendly, but would defend "Her " backyard like crazy...  Great watchdog, obedient, smart,and so good looking and a good kisser. She  would wait for me to get home from work, to run after her ball at the park, that was her job, to chase that ball and bring it back to me....we attended the Paws  dog wash, to show her off.   On to October, scratching her belly, I noticed some bumps, brought her to the vet, vet said, mammary cancer, Xrays showed a large tumor in her lung. Not good, we kept her happy with regular vet visits, meds etc.  until tumors attacked her paw, metastasized from the main tumor. Thank you for a great dog.
R.I.P. ZENA 12-20-04  You will be missed!!!!!    Mike P.