Shadow & Kimba

Dear Mark,

As a regular listener & a big fan of yours, I decided to contribute a few thoughts about our two wonderful dogs, Shadow & Kimba.

Shadow is a black labrador retriever. She is now 16 years, five months old. Kimba is a golden retriever. He will be 8 in February.

Over the past year, we have endured the following:

Kimba has had two major surgeries to remove cancerous tumors. He endured long, painful recoveries, which required taking a long cycle of Prednisone (a steroid). The medicine made him incontinent, and his kidneys now leak protein, which was likely caused by damage incurred from the Prednisone. It’s treatable with medication, but there’s no 100% guarantee that it won’t get worse over time. We are crossing our fingers and praying for the best.

Just two days after Kimba’s second cancer surgery in February, our beloved Shadow suffered a vistibular attack. This is a form of “Vertigo” that occurrs between the ear and the brain. It made her very sick. So sick that she couldn’t eat. Then she aspirated her vomit, which caused a severe pnemonia. It was treated with heavy antibiotics, but it still kept coming back.

In the meantime, she was receiving so many different types of medication that we accidentally gave her a double “post operative” dose of anti-inflammatory for several days before realizing the error.

As a result, she had to be kept on IV’s at our veterinarian’s office for an entire weekend to flush the medicine out of her system.

The overdose affected her kidneys. This caused her water intake to spike dramatically because her kidneys could not process it correctly. As a result, she often could not control her bladder.

I felt awful. I felt as though I had let my best friend down. I was responsible for her welfare. Yet I’d made her even sicker. I felt tremendous guilt, and prayed for a chance to correct my mistake.

While all this was going on, I was basically sleeping with one eye open, because she would get up repeatedly during the night to go to the bathroom. We have a tri-level house, and because of her age & condition, I would have to carry her down two flights of stairs while half-asleep, usually at least twice a night.

Additionally, we had to have her anesthized in order to have a camera inserted into her lungs to look for pollips or other signs of infection when her pnemonia kept returning. Nothing was found, but we’ve decided to keep her on antibiotics for the rest of her life just to make sure the pnemonia doesn’t come back.

She eventually recovered……until mid-September, when she became critically anemic. She could not get up without blacking out and collapsing. We thought we were going to lose her.

But with another adjustment in her medication—-and by the grace of God—-she has made another recovery. My wife and I could not be more grateful.

Out of convenience (and for the sake of more sleep), I am currently sleeping downstairs on an air matress with Shadow’s bed next to me while my wife sleeps upstairs with Kimba. It’s just a lot easier to get up with Shadow & take her out at 3am if I have to. Those sleeping arrangements will remain permanent until Shadow is no longer with us.

In other words, I hope I’m sleeping downstairs on an air matress for as long as possible!

Over 12 months, we have endured incredible emotional stress (not to mention sleep deprivation) that has been absolutely unbarable at times. We have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars in veterinary bills, medications, and surgical procedures. We can’t take a vacation or go anywhere for longer than a few hours due to the constant every-day care, daily multiple doses of medicines, and everything else. We sleep apart, and don’t have much “quality” time together.

And you know what?? It’s all worth it. EVERY BIT of it.

That’s because after she’s had her breakfast, Shadow still looks forward to going out for her 15-20 minute walk. Still looks forward to when I get home late at night so she can have a biscuit or two & stand by me begging for a bite of my snack. She still loves lying down by the sliding door & looking out into the backyard. And still loves just being near us, whether we’re sitting on the couch watching TV, or playing on the computer in the office.

She still looks forward to things. Still loves her food. Still loves her home. Right now, at her age, that is everything to us.


There is nothing on this earth—-and I repeat NOTHING—-like the unconditional love of a dog.

Thanks, Mark, for sharing YOUR love of dogs with US!


Scott from CA