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Goodbye, Cisu

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Cisu is dying. Now she is resting quietly with as much pain medication as she needs.  If she begins to suffer then I will help her go.

Cisu is a dog and I am a human so I cannot tell her the things I want to say.  I can only lay on the floor next to her, hold her head, and tell her she is so very loved. She will remain home with her family until she is ready to leave forever.  We are not ready, but no one asked our opinion.

Once she leaves us, maybe she’ll go to a place where she can understand what I want to say to her, so I’m going to write it down now while I still have her with me as I type. Maybe she can even understand some of it right now.

Cisu, are you listening?

When you were a small puppy, I didn’t think too much of you.  You were independent and not so easy to train; I often said that you had many interests, and I was only one of them.  You weren’t born playing ball and tug, and you sure didn’t look much like the breed standard.   But you were sweet and the whole family loved your affectionate nature.

It took me a long time to realize what an incredible dog you were.  I’m sorry for being slow to understand.  I guess I blamed you for my shortcomings as a trainer.  Really, you always gave me exactly what I trained for, and as as the years went by you went even further; you worked just to make me happy.  So few dogs can do that.  You’re amazing, you know?  I can see in your twitching feet that you’re still dreaming.  Do you dream about our past adventures together?

I regret that I didn’t know you were sick earlier.  If I had known, I would have let you swim every time you asked.  I would have taken you on a new adventure every day.  I would have played ball and tug and trained you as much as you wanted. I would have let you sleep in late every morning, right in the middle of our bed.

I couldn’t believe it when you asked to go swimming; I thought maybe you weren’t so sick after all, and after thinking hard for a few minutes, I decided to let you swim.  Why not; I could stand right there with you and help if you needed me.  I think you enjoyed yourself, at least for a few minutes.  I’m glad you asked.  Let me know if you want to do it again.

I’m not sure when you’ll decide to leave but I see that you’re much weaker today.  I’m not ready but  I don’t think I’ll ever be ready.  Please, just wait until your family can come home and say good bye; they’re driving back right now to be with you.  But after that, you can go when you’re ready.

Are you in pain?  I know you’re a pretty tough girl, but right now it’s better if you let me know because I can take the pain away.  I’ll be right here until the very very end, and you won’t suffer.  I promise you that.

I don’t know what your next life will look like but I know what I’d like it to be.  Let me tell you what I want for you.

You’ll sleep on a big bed with a fluffy comforter, and you’ll have company in that big bed.You’ll sleep in late every morning. I know you’re not much of a morning dog.

Then you’ll get up and eat twice your usual breakfast and no one will ever tell you that you’re getting fat.  Breakfast will be warmed up, and most mornings it will be lamb or pork.  No more fish – ever.  You never thought much of fish.

After breakfast you’ll have a nice nap. Then it’s time for a swim.  You’ll have other dogs to race to the toy, but you’ll always be faster so they can’t take your bumper. The weather will be warm, so after your swim, you can lay out on a lawn chair until you’re dried off.Then it’s time for a mid day snack.  Maybe meatballs with a side of pasta.

Work comes next.  You can do bite work because your arthritis will be gone.  Then off to tracking and no crows will steal the food.  Ever.

Dinner will be whatever your family might be eating.  At the table.  Off a plate.

In the evening you’ll have a long massage, with extra attention for your ears. And at night it’s back to the big bed with your new family, whoever they might be.

From the day you arrive they’ll know that you’re extra special, so you’ll be treated like the amazing dog that you are, right from the start.  I imagine they are so excited that you’re coming!

I wish all these things for you, and I hope that you know you changed the course of my life.  Actually, I think you do know that. But stay here just a little longer.  Because really, I’m just not ready yet.

Cisu, beautiful girl.  Wherever you are, let it be everything that you deserve and a little more.  11/2/2002 – 7/1/2014

About dfenzi

I'm a professional dog trainer who specializes in building relationship in dog handler teams who compete in dog sports. My personal passions are Competitive Obedience and no force (motivational) dog training. I travel throughout the world teaching seminars on topics related to Dog Obedience and Building Drives and Motivation. I own Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, a comprehensive online school for motivational training of performance sport dogs.

50 responses »

  1. Oh Denise I am going through same with my 8 yr old Gsd who has cancer. Please know my heart is with you. They don’t live long enough as is let alone the fucking cancer. Blessings.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Beautifully written. Thanks for the reminder to take a few extra minutes to give our dogs what they like best today.

  3. Rennie Frank

    Oh no! Denise I am SO sorry. My heart is just breaking for you. You and Cisu are in my heart, thoughts, and prayers. Peace and blessings to you and her.

    Rennie and Banyon

  4. Leslie Whitney

    Oh Denise, I am sooooo sorry about your dear Cisu. I am glad you are there with her. My heart is breaking for both of you.Sending thought, prayers and hugs.
    Leslie Whitney

  5. Having just lost my wonderful Isabella two weeks ago, your post really made me cry all over again. It is so hard to lose them! I didn’t think I would lever be ready to let Isabella go but she told me it was time and I knew she was right.
    My heart goes out to you Denise.

  6. So, so sorry! Our thoughts, prayers and hugs are with you!!

  7. Suzy Phillips

    Crying as I read this, Denise. We’re never ready to say goodbye to dogs who have given so much of themselves to make us happy and whole. They teach us so much when we aren’t really paying attention. It’s when we have a chance to look back that we realize how patient they’ve been while they wait for yes to catch up. Sending strength to Cisu, so that she can wait to say goodbye to the family. Meanwhile, she has you by her side. Suzy

  8. Utterly beautiful and heartbreaking. Sending this in spirit to my lovely, under-appreciated Sunny who left us unexpectedly a few years ago a mere few hours after running a “senior” agility course.

  9. I’m so sorry. It is so hard. I have loved watching you and Cisu train. You were an inspiring team together.

  10. amber sunrise

    I am so very sorry – may you be blessed with many more days with Cisu so she can enjoy swimming & eating all her favorite things & being with her human family.

    Regards Sharon Cavanugh

  11. Oh no… I am so very sorry. This is so hard, so hard to know what is helping and what isn’t. So difficult to make that final decision for them. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  12. This recollection of life with Cisu has touched me to the very depths of my soul. How lucky Cisu was to have found you and vice-versa. Cisu, rest comfortably, sweet girl ,with full knowledge that you have made a difference here and your family loves you more than words can say.

  13. Ah Denise! I’m crying with you! Happy trails Cisu! So sorry for your pain Denise.

  14. Sherry Cole and my team mate Zoe'

    I have been to your seminar in Champaign, Il… Cisu definitely knows your love.. You are so special and you made it obvious a real team can go so far side by side… Cisu gave you what you wanted knowing the love I your heart.. As Cusi leaves this wonderful life I just know in heaven it will be known what love trust and most of all being a team to you will shine upon you each day ahead!
    My prayers and hugs to you as you let God continue his care in heaven being just as you said… Hugs Denise and thank you for sharing..

  15. Ohhh….Denise…I’m in tears for you! I am so very sorry for you, your family, and Cisu. It is always so difficult. Sending you much love….

    With love, Suzanne

    Sent from my iPhone



    Denise, I am so very sorry. Your tribute to Cisu is beautiful, sensitive and so loving. Our precious dogs are part of our family and a huge part of our lives.

    I wish I could give you hug and help you to know that people understand and care about what you are going through.

    I can’t read the entire tribute at once as it makes me cry for you and Cisu. I will read it it in parts.

    You, Cisu and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.


    Sent from my iPhone.


  17. I am so very sorry Denise. Yes, lay with your girl and tell her your heart. She will know how you feel, she will know how deeply you love her. She will forgive you all your human errors just as she always has. You will know when she is telling you she is ready to be free of her pain and move on. She will love you and be connected to you forever. Hugs, thoughts and prayers for you all.

  18. pauline hosenfeld

    so sorry, Denise, to hear this. They never stay long enough, do they? these wonderful creatures who so grace our lives. My heart goes out to you and your family.

  19. I had to stop in the middle of your post, because my special girl knew I needed a cuddle, and she asked me to send one for you & Cisu too. I’ll be thinking of you & your family, hoping Cisu can hold on with little pain and discomfort until the rest of her family are home, to give her all the love she wants.

    by Carla Baker

    God promised at the birth of time,
    A special friend to give,
    His time on earth is short, he said,
    So love him while he lives.

    It may be six or seven years
    Or twelve or then sixteen.
    But will you, till I call him back,
    Take care of him for me?

    A wagging tail and cold wet nose
    And silken velvet ears,
    A heart as big as all outdoors,
    To love you through the years.

    His puppy ways will gladden you
    and antics bring a smile,
    as guardian or friend he will,
    be loyal all the while.

    He’ll bring his charms to grace your life
    And though his stay be brief,
    When he’s gone the memories
    Are solace for your grief.

    I cannot promise he will stay
    Since all from earth return,
    But lessons only dogs can teach
    I want you each to learn.

    Follow his lead and gain a life
    Brim full of simple pleasure,
    Whatever love you give to him,
    Returns in triple measure.

    Enjoy each day as it comes,
    Allow your heart to guide,
    Be loyal and steadfast in love
    As the dog-child at your side.

    Now will you give him all your love,
    Nor think the labor vain,
    Nor hate me when I come to call
    To take him back again.

    I fancy each of us would say,
    “Dear Lord, thy will be done,
    For all the joy this dog shall bring,
    The risk of grief we’ll run.

    “We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
    We’ll love him while we may,
    And for the happiness we’ve known,
    Forever grateful stay.

    “But shall the angels call for him
    Much sooner than we’ve planned,
    We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes,
    And try to understand.”

  21. Amy De Gols (Walker)

    Blessings to Cisu and your family. Extraordinary letter for your girl Denise! I know how incredibly painful it can be.

  22. Nicole Keller

    Thinking of you Denise. You expressed exact thoughts I had when I went through this with my 4yo last year. So sorry.

  23. lots of tears. so very sorry

  24. Dear Denise, with tears I wish you happy memories of all the moments shared with Cisu. Sorry your heart will hurt for a while. My prayers and hugs are sent your way.

  25. I don’t know what breed of dog Cisu is, but what a lovely tribute to her …

    Fran and the Schipperke gang U-AgII U-CD Dancingstarz Diesel Balerina (Rina), CDX, BN, RAE6, AJP, AXP, OFP, NADAC Versatility, TT, TDInc., CGC, HOF Midwatch Outlaw Privateer (Jesse), CD, BN, RE, TT, TDInc., CGC SRN’s Midnight Special, CGC, TDInc. In mem. UACHX, UCD Lindstrom’s Midnight Skipper, CDX, AX, OAJ, NACV, NGCV, WW-CDX, WW-RM, TT, TDI, CGC (Schipperke rescue, 12/89 – 5/4/05) In mem. U-CDX UAg2 Holly Woods Foxfire (Cody), CDX, RN, OA, OAP, NAJ, NAP, NAC-V, NGC-V, WWKC-CDX, WWKC-RM, TDInc., CGC (9/93 – 11/30/09)

  26. Jeannine and JoyZee

    Denise, you did it. It’s not a very easy task, but you made me cry. Your love for Cisu pours out of this page; every word seethes with emotion. Only our beloved dogs can do that to us. I feel your pain.

    Godspeed Ciscu


    Love and prayers for Cisu and you and family! Hugs, hugs, hugs!

  28. I am so very sorry, Denise. Prayers for your and dear Cisu 🙂

  29. Denise, I am so sorry for your loss. Cisu was blessed to have you and you were blessed by her. The ones who teach us a lot are very very hard to lose, but we never truly lose them. Their lessons stay with us forever. Hugs

  30. Ruth Ann Miller

    Aw Denise, I am so very sorry. Know that Cisu will tell you when it is time for her to go. I can feel your pain, and have experienced it myself. Because the connection between the two of you is so strong, just know, that a few days after ,she will make herself known to you. Just be open to her. I have had this happen, with more than one of my dogs. Thinking of you.

    • Listen for the pattern of little feet behind you and near you. She will come back and check up on you, and her family and siblings, as Ruth said. She will watch over her family. Her love for you will continue and she will play and wait for the time when you meet up again. May the love and memories hold tight in your heart until that time. Hugs to you and love to Cisu.

  31. I am crying for you and I don’t even know you. But, I have watched you work with Cisu on our training tapes. It is never easy to say goodbye, is it? And, yet, we set ourselves up for it time and again. I don’t know if you have ever read A Dog’s Last Will and Testament but in it it says that dogs really do not have anything to leave to another dog but the space in your heart that she occupied. Grieve as you need but honor a dog’s last wish of learning to love another. (((HUGS))))

  32. So so sorry for your pain. I know it as well. God love you all.

  33. You are not crying alone.

  34. tears from me for you……………I think Cisu knows what you want herto know….

  35. So very, very sorry. The loss is indeed a hole in your heart as it is w/ us Belgain folk. Such poetry in motion and very much in tune to us.
    May your fur baby finally find peace over The Rainbow Bridge

  36. Crying just crying what a beautiful post . She will be so missed by so many as we watched he and you over the years. I’m so sorry….. It’s so hard…. my candle is burning as it is the 8 year anniversary since we lost our Delta (GSD) and one year since I lost my beautiful Arab Saffire so we will let the candler burn for Cisu too…

  37. So very sorry for your loss. You and Cisu have taught so many of us so much.

  38. Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

  39. A perfect tribute for a much loved dog who had to leave too soon.. but then, it is always too soon in reality.

    Your special girl leaves a large piece of her heart behind to help fill the vast hole from the huge piece of yours she’s taken with her. She’s with you for the rest of the time your heart keeps beating.

  40. Kathy & Kaleb

    She lives on you know, in your heart and Milo’s, in the hearts of your children, and in the hearts of all of your many families, Sprites and Ferrets, Students and Friends and in the blood of her offspring, all the way down to the great great grands. Cisu, you were the dog who thrashed me with the tug and made me wonder what I was getting into, you were the dog who showed me how beautiful heeling can be and you were the dog who sat by me at the kitchen table demanding pets, and getting them, as Denise and Molly looked at each other and smiled. I loved you then and have so many times since, seeing pieces of you in my boy and watching videos of you helping teach us the joy of training. Denise, I’m sorry for the pain. I’m glad for the happiness that was Cisu, and hope that lends you some comfort now.

  41. I just read your post and wept for you all. Your words touched me deeply.

  42. Shelley Mair

    God bless you both. My heart goes out to you and I feel your pain, because it does hurt so very much when you lose a piece of your heart. Cisu will be playing without pain with new friends but will always be by your side. I know this only too well having lost my boy Wizz to cancer 4 months ago. Love and wuffs xxx

  43. im so sorry for your loss. your description of your dog, reminded me a lot of my chowbrador. She’s three now and is the perfect dog but when i first got her she wanted only a little bit to do with me, its taken us three years to reach a perfect understanding of each other and because of this, i am going to go home on my lunch and love on her and her big brother (my saint bernard) and its definitely chicken for dinner. much love to you as you let go of your baby. thank you for teaching me to love mine more.

  44. I am very sorry for your pain Denise. And God Bless You for letting her stay as long as she wants. I hope she passes peacefully, knowing you are at peace with her decision.

  45. Beth Schroeder

    Denise, I am so sorry for your loss of your beloved Cisu. She was a wonderful girl and I so enjoyed your posts about her…thank you for sharing her with us through your blog. And please know you and Cisu are in my thoughts and prayers today and in the days to come.

  46. So sorry. So hard to lose a loved one. I imagine though that you are channeling her personality and spirit- she didn’t spend all those years with you without leaving her mark. So she’s part of you and that keeps on living. janet

  47. Like everyone, I am so sorry. But, I also need to thank you. Today, I spent a little more time with Zoie. Threw the Frisbee more and after a break, we did it again. My Schipperke, Brother, that looked at you in Columbus, Ohio, and said oh — s—!! I took him with me when taking Lucy to the Vet. He was able to watch the dogs and people going in and out…we had a good training session.
    When I read your letter, it made me remember how short a time we have these precious guys so Thank you very much.
    Terry VanHook


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