Slowly losing Chipper — what can you say when your best friend nears the end of his life

I first met him when I picked him up at Reagan National one cold March Sunday in 2002.  The breeder’s husband zipped open his carry-on bag to hand him to me, and in that instant I fell in love with him.  No matter how many pups you may own in your life, there’s always one who sings to your heart.  For me, that always has been and always will be, my Chipper.

My Chipper, “the Chip”

Now, he’s nearing the end of his life.  After 10 years, 10 months, he is rapidly declining.  He was diagnosed with a chemodectoma (heart tumor) in September and has gone blind in his left eye due to glaucoma.  Then I began noticing his behavior was off, staring into space, wandering around the house, not hearing.  I took him to the hospital for a neuro exam, and they delivered the bad news.  I was not imagining his odd behavior; they saw it too.  And the only causes could be brain tumor, meningoencephalitis, or cerebral vascular accident, a.k.a. stroke.

Since Wednesday, when he was diagnosed, he has declined even further, unsteady on his legs, unsure of where he is, and mostly sleeps during the day.  I had initially thought of having an MRI done to find out what exactly was the issue and possible radiation therapy, but my gut instinct tells me I’m too late for that.  After reading about canine brain tumors in a study from the North Carolina State University, I fear the worst. He’s not had seizures, thank God, and I don’t want to wait for one to take hold.  I went through meningoencephalitis with my other Boston Terrier, Poco, four years ago and it’s a horrible disease.  The neurologist and I tried to save her for four months.  I spent over $10,000 trying everything, but she died in my arms at the hospital.

So as I write this, the memories of Chipper, ball-crazy Chipper, come flooding back.  He took his ball-playing very seriously.  He’d bark until you came up to the ball, then he’d back away, crouch down watching you, watching the ball, and at your slightest movement, he’d pounce on the ball, and proudly prance away with the ball in his mouth.  He could run like the wind, even until a few months ago, tearing up the back yard running after my two Shepherds.  Playing tug o’war and refusing to let go of the ball even as they girls would practically swing him in the air.  And now, he can’t see his ball anymore.  When you roll it to him, he can’t seem to tell where it is.  His depth perception is lost.  He can’t discern where the sounds come from.

Chipper was not for the show ring, nor was he a canine hero that saved someone’s life.  His temperament would never let him be a therapy dog, except for me, when he kept me sane when I cared for my mother in her final stages of dementia at 93.  He’s lived up to his name, Chipper.  He’s always been a happy boy.  When he woke up in the morning, that was the signal everyone had to get up.  He’s always been here when I opened the door.  He’s slept atop the quilt covers at night.  He’s been my rock.  He’s been my Chipper.

Every time this past week when I’ve tried preparing myself and imagining the house without him, I dissolve into tears, and pray to God for just a few more days.  I am so grateful to Him that He blessed me and gave Chip into my care.  The best possible for Chip would be for him pass away peacefully in his sleep.   But, I pray that God will give me the strength to make the right decision for Chip and know when that time has come.  I couldn’t bear for my best friend to suffer, and I don’t want to see him in seizures.

Poco went across Rainbow Bridge February 13, 2008, and I know she’s waiting for her best bud.  She’ll look after him there as she looked after him while she was alive.  That gives me comfort, and it gives me peace in knowing what I will have to do in the coming days.


About an-opinioniatedwoman

Midwest, Middle Class and Middle of the Road. A fiscal conservative and social moderate, who supports free speech, gun rights, the military, and God Bless America. Multi-dog owner who has seen and been through it all. Interests from politics to football to cooking/baking to opera. I have a very low tolerance for mediocrity.
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25 Responses to Slowly losing Chipper — what can you say when your best friend nears the end of his life

  1. Tom Kerr says:

    Read “Heaven is For Real” by Todd Burpo (Thomas Nelson publisher). #1 NY Times bestseller. There is not a doubt in my mind that you will see and play with Chipper again.

    • Hi Tom, hope you’re doing well, and appreciate your comments. I’ve heard of the book, and ordered it from Amazon; they sent the children’s version. I don’t how I’m getting through this week. Mommies are not supposed to have favorites. When I lost Poco to this dreaded diseased 4 years ago, despite loving her as i did, I said thank you God, it was not Chipper. Now I’m faced with losing my best bud. I promised myself that I would do what’s best for Chipper, not what’s best for myself. I will keep that promise to him. All the best.

    • Hi Tom,
      Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thxgiving. I lost Chipper last Thursday, Nov. 15. He suffered a seizure late in the afternoon, and that was all I needed to see. He died in my arms at the vet early evening. He’s at peace now with Poco, mom and dad, and will be enjoying his turkey with them. Take care and thx so much for the thoughts.

  2. I’m at a real loss for words here at the moment. I am so sorry to hear your sad news. Celebrate Chipper’s life and know that you will meet and play again.
    I pray that he is able to pass without any suffering. My heart goes out to you. I know how hard it is to let your best friend go.
    Brightest Blessings from Bill and Otis

    • Thank you very much for taking the time to comment on my post (I checked out Otis — way cute; don’t Bostons have the most wonderful personalities.) The MRI yesterday confirmed it’s a cancerous brain tumor, so I’m taking each day at a time. If I do nothing other than meds, then it’s 4-6 weeks. If I opt for radiation, the I buy another 9-12 months. However, little Chipper, I wonder if he’ll be able to really withstand 16 treatments, each requiring anesthesia. I will not stand by and wait for him to seize and continue decline. I talk to God every night and ask for the sign so that I’ll know what to do it, and when to do it. Thank you for your understanding.

      • Keeping you and Chipper in my heart, thoughts and prayers. Those are really hard decisions to have to make. I know it was really difficult for me when I had to make that decision on dog I had before Otis. I know that I could not handle knowing that there was any suffering at all. Radiation itself is really hard to go through and all of the anesthesia that is involved with that too. As difficult as it is I know that you have Chippers best interest at heart. Brightest Blessings to you.

      • I found this article today and I don’t know if it is beyond the point, but I am one that is always up for something. . Good luck and brightest blessings

      • Just a short note, that Chipper passed away in my arms last Thursday, Nov. 15, one month to the day, shy of his 11th birthday. He suffered a seizure late afternoon, and then called the vet for an appt early evening. He continued to seizure, so I knew my decision was the right one. He’ll be enjoying his Thxgiving dinner with his sister, Poco, and my mom and dad in heaven. I truly believe that. I’m grateful for my life with him, and to honor him, I’ll most likely bring another pup into my home to give it the love and care I gave Chip.

      • I am so sorry to hear of your loss. It is one of the hardest things in life to face. You have a great out look on it and knowing that everything played out just the way it was suppose to. You are so right, Chipper is amongst the rest of his family and awaiting the day that you can be re-united. Know that he is back to his regular self now, with no pain and is happy.
        Brightest Blessings to you, I hope to be able to stay in touch.

  3. leshayner says:

    Hi, My Rockie was just diagnosed with a chemodectoma yesterday. We’re heartbroken and fearing the suffering that lies ahead for our family. I’m so sorry for you and Chipper. My thoughts will be with you during your difficult time.

    • Thank you very much for your comments. It’s been a very rough week, and rougher yet to come. Regarding your Rockie and his diagnosis, chemodectomas are mostly benign according to Chipper’s cardiologist. I discussed Chipper’s yesterday with the oncologist, who may do Chipper’s radiation, and she told me that it depends whether the chemodectoma is affecting other major organs, and its size. Chipper’s is located at the base of his heart, and we only knew it was there because the vet picked up arrhytmia. Chemodectoma is not an immediate death sentence, so work with your vet and you may yet have many quality years left with Rockie.

      • leshayner says:

        Thanks so much for your reply. We had our first appointment with the oncologist today. We are going to try an immunotherapy drug called Palladia and see if that helps shrink the tumor at all. This little dog is my heart and I’ll do whatever I can for her as long as she wants it and doesn’t suffer more from any treatments. It seems like you feel the same way about Chipper. You seem like a wonderful mom to him and he’s probably in the best hands possible. Good luck to you and Chipper. I’ll keep you both in my thoughts and hope that you have more time left with him.

      • Hello,
        I hope Rockie is on his way to recovery. My little Chipper passed away in my arms last Thursday early evening. The vet told me I had 4-6 weeks, but he barely passed two after suffering a seizure in late afternoon, and then continuing until he passed. I’m so grateful I had him for 10 yrs, 11 mos. to the day. Give Rockie a hug from me, and treasure each and every day; you won’t regret it. I hope he has many years ahead of him, and Happy Thanksgiving.

      • leshayner says:

        Oh, I’m so sorry. Just devastating news. I was just wondering how he was doing this week. Thank you for thinking of us and sending your message during what must be such a difficult time for you. Rockie is hanging in there and we are savoring every moment with her. She’s so loved just like your Chipper was. I hope you are able to find some comfort in his memory during the holidays and they won’t be too difficult for you.

  4. Teri Scott says:

    Found your blog through posts about your little boy Chipper. Politically, we are totally like-minded, and we also apparently have a love of Bostons in common. I am so sorry you lost your boy. We are losing our boy Dexter to a suspected brain tumor. He has all the clinical signs, and we chose not to put him through an MRI. Because of his advanced age, we have decided to keep him comfortable as long as possible with medications. God give me the strength to let him go when it’s time.

    • Melanie Kowalski says:

      Hello, Teri, and thank you so much for your kind words after all this time when the post was first written. I was just thinking about Chipper this afternoon, given that his half-brother Spunky, is certainly living up to his name.

      After Chipper’s MRI and diagnosis, the neurologist gave him six weeks, but unfortunately he lasted only two, before the seizures set in one afternoon, and I couldn’t let him suffer. I immediately took him to the vet and he passed in my arms. No matter how many pups you may have in your life, there will always be one who sings to your heart. That was my Chipper.

      So I feel for what you are going through with Dexter. Bostons are susceptible to brain tumors. Just remember that the love our pups give us unconditionally, includes their trust in us that we will do what’s best for them, in all circumstances. Dexter will give you a sign when it’s his time. I pray that you will have the strength to be with him until the very end. Trust me in that he will know you are there. And while the tears and anguish will come, knowing later that you there to the end for him, will comfort you in all your memories.

      Please let me know what happens, and if there are any questions I can answer. I have four pups, and I’ve been through just about everything. God Bless, and thank you again for your kind words.

  5. Candy Cooper says:

    I just lost my 4th Boston. She was a mighty dog if I ever saw one. I had to have her put to sleep. She had a seizure last week and Monday of this week she had four. After that it was pretty much over. On Wednesday I had her my Abby put to sleep. So, I know the pain you feel! Bless you and your Chipper!

  6. Christine M. says:

    Hello, I just came across this blog and it has given me some comfort. I lost my baby Gizmo 2 days ago from a suspected brain tumor. He was almost 13 years 8 months old. He is my heart and it was the most devistating thing I had to do was to saying goodbye. He had a grand mal seizure about 2 weeks ago while I was vacationing in Mexico, worse news to get while so far away, thankfully he was with my mom and she rushed him to the hospital. He was in the hospital for a few days, I picked him up after getting back home from my trip only to have to rush him back to the hospital the next night from facial seizures. Again in the hospital for a few days and the vet loaded him up on steroids and anti seizure meds so then no seizures. I was able to take him home last Thursday night and we had a wonderful 3 days together. My baby was the same old Gizmo I remembered, besides a few symptoms of the tumor. Then he fell into a seizure again Monday morning and the hospital couldn’t get him out of them so it was time to say goodbye Monday afternoon. Gizzy is now up in heaven with God and waiting for us to meet again. Boston Terriers are the most loyal lovable dogs I have ever been around and I will never forget my little love that brought so much joy to my life.

    I’m sorry to hear about your Chipper, even if it’s years gone by, you’ll never forget that special little baby.

    God bless and thank you for your post.

  7. My apologies for the delayed reply; too many household emergencies, unfortunately. Please accept my condolences for losing your beloved GIzmo. I have Chipper’s half-brother Spunky, who lives up to his name. He’ll be 10 in February, and his side of the family, I understand, has siblings who are 14 and 15 years old.

    I’m glad you were able to take some comfort in my post; you are not alone. Seizures are the worst because you feel so helpless when you witness them. As I read your post, the memories came flooding back. I know what you were going through, and Gizmo was very, very fortunate to have a mom like you, who loved and cared for him until the end. I do believe pups go to heaven, and we’ll see them again someday.

    Hopefully, after some time, you will open your heart once again to another pup. I did when I lost Chip; giving another pup the love and care was my best way in honoring my best friend. A blessed Thanksgiving to you.

  8. Laura F says:

    Thank you for posting your story. My Buster is going through the same thing. I hope he finds Chipper when his time comes in the big dog park in the sky.

    • Melanie Kowalski says:

      Hello Laura, and my sincere apologies for not responding sooner. I just saw this. It happens that I lost Chipper’s half brother, Spunky, on January 6. He became ill on New Year’s Eve and for the week following I was in and out of the vet and emergency with him. He was mis-diagnosed and by the time the emergency vet was ready to do surgery, it was too late. Peritonitis had set in, and there was no hope. He died in my arms, and for several days after, I was numb and in shock. I miss him still so very much.

      If your Buster has passed, I hope that he has found peace and hopefully has met my Chipper by now. Hopefully, your heart is beginning to heal and someday may expand for another pup. Losing a pup is one of the most difficult moments I’ve gone through, and I’ve now gone through this three times, and each time I feel a part of my life goes with them.

      All the best to you.

  9. Rhonda says:

    I am feeling we are on our last few days with CoCo. Been 8 weeks from diagnosis, first her head kinda caved in, then she lost sight in one eye. Not acting as in any pain but last night had a big tilt to her body and seems less steady on her feet. Afraid she may fall and would rather not wait for a seizure event or worse, she is a wonderful dog and deserves and peaceful end. Hard to actually make the decision.

  10. Melanie Kowalski says:

    Hello Rhonda, and thank you for reading my post and your comment. I lost Chipper’s brother Spunky, in early January, and it doesn’t get any easier. His breeder once told me, “he’s on a mission to kill himself,” and he finally did. I was in shock for about a week after his passing.

    With your CoCo., trust me that you don’t want to experience seizures. My first Boston, Poco, had cluster seizures, the absolute worst kind. With any seizures, and Chip finally succumbed to them as well, you feel so helpless and your only thoughts are to do whatever you can to prevent your bud from going through them again. When I saw Chipper experience one, I immediately rushed him to the vet, and knew the time had come. He died peacefully in my arms.

    Losing a pup is so very hard, but it is this time in their life when they need us most. CoCo knows how much you love her, and it is this love where she trusts in you that you will do what is best for her no matter how much it will hurt you. Don’t be afraid to make this decision. Your heart and head and CoCo will tell you when the time has come. All the best to you and CoCo.

  11. Rhonda says:

    Coco joined Chipper yesterday. Of course so very sad and difficult but most importantly, the right time for her.
    Thanks for your responses.

  12. Please accept my sincerest sympathies. I know what you are going through and feeling. Our pups frequently surprise us in what they know about us. I have to believe that little CoCo knew how much you loved her. Take comfort in that. Some day, when you are ready, perhaps your heart will open for another love who needs you. Best, Melanie

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