I Never Want to Have a Pet Die Too Soon, Like Cher Did

In memory of my sweet little Cher – This is for you. I am sorry I did not know then what I've learned now. I'm forever grieving for you.

The first time I saw Cher it was love at first sight and I knew she was meant to come home with me. I already had two Sheltie dogs and was not looking for another one but this tiny puppy stole my heart instantly. She was my little soft touch Sheltie. She had a gentle soul and the sweetest expression of all the Shelties I've known.

I felt blessed to have three wonderful dogs sharing my life. As the years passed things changed. The dogs and I moved from Texas to Minnesota, I got married and a new baby joined our pack. The dogs adjusted and thrived with their new life.

Tara was 6-years-old when her uterus ruptured and she spent a week in the hospital. No one thought she would survive but she did. While she was in the hospital Cher was spayed to save her the risks Tara had suffered. This was the only health problem any of the dogs had for many years.

Cher started sneezing a little and I noticed a small bump on her nose. I took her in for a check-up thinking it was just a dental problem. The vet said that's what it looked like but they would check it out when she was under for a dental cleaning. Two hours later I got the call that changed my mind set about pet care forever. She had cancer and it was inoperable because of where the tumor was. I was told to take her home and love her for maybe 3 months.

I was devastated because January 21st, three weeks earlier my big Sheltie, Max had suffered a stroke and died 20 days after his 15th birthday. I was still grieving for Max so the thought of losing Cher so soon was more than I could take. I spent the following weeks lavishing attention on her. We took her and our older sheltie Tara camping every weekend. I spend many nights sleeping on the floor beside Cher. Except for the sneezing and her nose starting to bleed a little she still seemed like a healthy happy dog.

Cher started acting like a sick dog on her last camping trip with us early August. For the first time in her life she would not eat. She was always our little chubby girl so when she turned down food I knew her time to join Max was near. This camping trip broke my heart. I would take the two girls for walks and end up having to carry Cher back to camp. I knew her body was shutting down. We came home from camping Sunday night and I knew I only had a few hours left with my sweet little girl.

I spend all day Monday sitting with her, petting her, talking to her, telling her what a good dog she was and how much I loved her. I slept on her bed with her that night.

She woke up at 5am Tuesday wanting to go outside. A few minutes after taking her out she had a seizure. I had never witnessed anything like this my reaction probably did not help her. I carried her back in the house and held her until the seizure passed. She seemed well after 30 minutes but I knew it was time to help her.

It took everything in me to make the call to her doctor. We arrived at the animal hospital at 7 am. I spent another 20 minutes with her telling her she was a good dog, I loved her and she would see Max soon. I did not want to let her go but could not have her suffer. I held her as the doctor cave her the shot. She died instantly and that's when it really sunk in that my girl had been taken from me because of cancer.

She joined Max at the rainbow bridge 20 days before her 13th birthday. She was the baby of my three Sheltie dogs and should have been the last to die. Before the cancer she had never been sick or had any health problems.

Five days later I picked up her ashes. My family and I talked about having a service to celebrate both Max and Cher's life and bury the ashes under the Lilacs where they loved digging holes. We never did this. I could not let the ashes go yet. I've decided to wait until Tara joins her brother and sister and take some of their ashes back to Texas where they lived over half their lives.

During the next few months I became frantic about learning more about cancer in pets. I read dozens of books about natural pet care and soon realized I might have killed my dog. The food she ate probably caused the cancer and I had put over 100 pounds of chemical preservatives in her body over her lifetime. I'll never forgive myself for this. At the time I did not know the difference in pet food. I did not buy the cheapest so I thought I was doing the best I could. I mistakenly took advice from veterinarians and listened to the pet food giants, like Purina. Now I've done my due diligence about pet food but it was too late for Cher.

My old girl Tara did eat the same food as Cher and luckily she is a healthy 17-year-old dog. I do not know why some dogs get cancer and not others. I do know my pets will not be harmed from low quality food every again. I never want to feel guilty or second – guess myself when a pet dies too soon. I know there are lots of other things pets die from but cancer related to the food I give them is not going to happen again.

For the health of your pets I ask you to learn what's in pet food and switch if you have too. It does not make sense to be loyal to the companies that do not have our pet's health and well-being top on their priorities.

Sorry pet food giants, but I will not give my money to any company that uses by-products, chemicals, artificial anything in pet food.

I do not have artificial pets so I will not feed them artificial food.
My pets are not disposable; they are living bees that depend of me for every breath they take.

In memory of my sweet little Cher – This is for you. I am sorry I did not know then what I've learned now. I'm forever grieving for you and hope you and Max are having tons of doggy fun at the rainbow bridge. Tara is getting old now but I hope you do not see her for a while longer.

I love you Cher and Max.