Date of Death: 

October 19, 2017

Good Morning,

Around 7 years ago when I volunteered for MAGSR, fate led me to foster and then adopt Anna, a gorgeous shepherd mix who was 5 at the time and quickly became part of our family. Anna had some fear issues in the beginning, but before long we helped her she overcome them and she became happy and very confident and a wonderful part of our family. The years went by (too fast) until this April when Anna had several seizure-like episodes. Investigation into these incidences led to various tests and a CT scan which revealed a relatively rare cancer- thymoma- a slow growing cancer of the thymus, a gland on the heart which affects the lymphatic system.  We decided to have the surgery to remove it as she was otherwise very healthy for a 11-year old and it looked as if the surgeons would be able to remove it all. Once the surgery was complete, they unfortunately discovered that it had spread to other places and they were not able to get all of it. We knew thymomas were generally slow-growing so we decided to put her on steroids to slow the regrowth as I didn’t want to put her through the side effects of chemo or radiation during whatever time she had left. We had no idea how long it would be before it would come back, but I knew it would be devastating- I just had no idea it would be so soon or so devastating.

This Tuesday the 19th of October, 2017, we said goodbye to Anna- she suddenly began having issues over the weekend and we discovered on Monday that her cancer had returned in the form of at least one large tumor in her chest- one that was not there only a couple months ago.  When we awoke Tuesday morning, she refused to eat anything, including her pain pills or treats, and her jaw was so sore that I couldn’t possibly force her to take them.  By then, both sides of her face had begun to swell and she was beginning to have trouble breathing. Although I wish I could have kept her with me forever, I knew I couldn’t be selfish and she was telling me that she had had enough. She was in pain and there was nothing I could do for her except let her go.

She was my constant companion and although I very much love my family and my other furry ones, she and I had a bond that was just different than any other. I feel as if a part of my heart and my soul has been ripped away. She was such a good girl and truly didn’t deserve to be abandoned by her former family and to have cancer take her at the end of her life. I am only so lucky and grateful to have been there for her in between- but what’s more is that she was there for me. Never judging, never disappointed in me, or angry with me. She was there when I was sick or in pain, and when I was sad or stressed- which unfortunately has been a lot lately with my own health issues. She was never pushy, and always knew when to come to me and give comfort. Even in the final moments before she took her last breath, she was nudging me and worried for me as I cried over her.

I can’t really remember what my life was like before she became part of our family, but I know it will never be the same. She was the sweetest, bravest, sassiest, bossiest, fiercest, most loving and stoic creature I’ve ever met and I know that there will never be anything like her in my life again. I can only hope that there is indeed a “Rainbow Bridge” or a Heaven where someday, somehow, I can see her again. Until then I will keep her memories inside my heart, as painful as that may be.

Thank you MAGSR for all you do, and for giving me the opportunity to have such a wonderful girl be such a huge part of my life.


Dawn McAndrew

Former Volunteer and Furever Grateful