Here our story.

Early in April 2003, for about three months before, TJ had been experiencing a marked atrophy and lack of balance in his legs. The symptoms shifted from one side to the other and he had a lack of energy, appetite and motivation while in the house. When we took him out though, he was his usual self, excited, wanting to play…you know…just like any pet that is nurtured and loved and know it; the usual TJ, just a little off balance.

At first (back in late January) the Vet thought it was just a touch of arthritis but had some reservations when the Glucosamine did not help. They referred him to a Neurologist over in Raleigh Hills (Dr Steve Skinner) who said it looked like a problem common in some dogs. The Neuro said he had serious inner ear problem, called it a Vestibular Infection but that it was very curable and they could treat it with an evac of the infected ear and antibiotics. They did the evac and he stayed on antibiotics for two weeks after which he seemed better but still off balance from time to time. Then he got worse and the Neuro increased the anti’s for another two weeks but they made TJ sick. Still, TJ finished that regimen and was still having a problem. The Neuro said that he was sure there was something else wrong now that the usual treatments had failed. We took him back to our local Vet who tried something else using heavy cortisone, DMSO, and steroids to try and bring down any inflammation of the nerve that may have been caused by the ear problem but …no response. They just gave TJ stomach bleeding which the Vet said was usual when dogs were treated with steroids. He said we should go back to the Neurologist.

By this time, My wife Jonni just wanted her baby home as did I but when he had trouble getting up and would not eat, we took him back to the Neurologist. The Neuro said that without a Ct Scan, there was no way of knowing exactly which way to go and that he only saw that TJ was not getting any better. We finally opted for the scan after much internal turmoil and heart searching. TJ wanted very much to come home and cried like he had done when he was a little puppy, we were heartsick but we agreed for one more night there. Doc called that evening and asked us to come in. We made the trip back to the clinic the next morning where the doctor let us see the pictures and very gently informed us that TJ had a malignant and very inoperable brain tumor that because of its location deep in the brain. He said it was pressing on the brain stem and causing pain and disorientation. The Neuro had severe doubts that it could be successfully removed even with all the expert staff to assist. He gave TJ a month or two, maybe a little more. With a hollow hurt in out guts, that morning, we decided to bring TJ home to live his last days with us. Poor TJ’s system had reached a point where his immune system was at an all time low and he contracted a serious infection at the site of the dye injection on his right front leg. After a few hours at home, he suddenly went into shock that evening with a fever of 105.7 and although we got him to the emergency room, he would not recover. They had worked hard to save him and had gotten the fever under control but he was disoriented and his infected leg was in such pain that he had to stay on a morphine IV just to keep the thresh hold barely tolerable. We stayed with him and prayed and consulted the doctors who gave little or no chance for recovery. With almost unbearable pain and guilt, on the morning of the 18th of April, we had to let him sleep.

We took him home and placed him where he had once played Frisbee with us… under the Lilac trees in the back yard. His headstone was laser engraved and simply said “We’ll meet you at the Rainbow Bridge”

His epitaph and tribute, is posted at HTTP://www.Petloss.com, the most wonderful and healing website, dedicated to all those who have lost pets. Please give this wonderful, not for profit website a check and let your listeners know of it. On this website are literally thousands of tributes and stories and many healing links and a huge knowledge base of things to help us thru the traumatic loss of our pets who pass on. It is from this website that we learned of the weekly candle ceremony which has gained national coverage on many news outlets and the story of the Rainbow Bridge which we placed on TJ’s Headstone.

We are still numb and hollowed out with loss even now but without this website, it would have been far worse. Needless to say, the hole in our lives and the pain in our hearts would take a long time to heal and we miss him terribly.

It was two years before we could even think about another dog and when we finally found a new best friend, we adopted him from the pound, took him home and named him JJ, a beautiful black lab who is loved and spoiled just as was TJ.

This is TJ’s epitaph as posted to www.petloss.com a few days after he ran ahead to the Rainbow Bridge.
TJ, 03/01/94-04/18/03
TJ…our baby TJ. The emptiness ripped in our souls with your early passing is unbearable. Of all the companions and friends we could ever be graced with upon this earth, you shared a larger part of our lives (and hearts) than words could ever express. You gave us your warmth, love and much, much more. You nuzzled us with your soft nose when we felt down, you listened with cocked head when we bared our souls and told our secrets, you licked away our tears in times of strife, and protected our lives from any danger, real or perceived. We called you our people with fur, our baby. Some are quick to say ‘he was just a dog”, but we know now, that “just a dog” is a phrase from those who have never experienced the heart warming feelings of having unconditional love and companionship given so freely; those who have never had their very essence ripped from them in the anguish of loss. We long to give just one more scratch, one more hug, one more walk…but TJ our baby, we know you have not really gone but only just run ahead to a better, more brighter place, there to wait for us with a wriggle of your rear, wagging of your tail, and warm kisses to our faces as welcome. Until we meet you at the rainbow bridge, our eternal love is with you and we know yours is with us. Love forever – mamma and daddy. (Mike and Jonni Pikey)
Here is a poem I wrote for him during my healing process: Maybe it will help someone else in their hour of need in healing.


TJ, our TJ, I think that we now know
You knew we were there trying to soften the blow
We’ll not know how you felt when our Lord called your name
But we do know our lives will just not be the same

I never knew love could bring such pain
As we feel now again and again

On your ride to our home, chubby, tiny, and new
The bonding continued, with much joy as you grew
Your shivers were calmed, being drawn to her heart
You were so soft and warm, such a wonderful start

How could it be that you were so cheated
How could it be we were helpless to beat it

Never thought we could love one so hard and so strong
And our grieving enslaves us, the days are so long
Our tears fall so freely, our jaws locked up tight
Lonely nightmares haunt us stretched hours in the night.

Didn’t need be that way, it tortures us – Why?
Take back that day our souls desperately cry

We did not know how deep our love for you reached
Those days in the sun, those times at the beach
Just a few days more, we wanted to share
To wrap ourselves in your fur just to know you were there

You are the best friend two people ever had
It’s because of our love that our pain is so bad

We remember with fondness the things that you gave
Your licks and your playing are things that we crave
And your wriggling tail when children were close
But your friendship and love are what we miss most

We are lost and confused but most of all drained
Of a big part of our lives never more to regain

Our lives will go on through each daily event
We know that from God our days we just rent
With strength and survival to carry us on
And to his kingdom all go when time is all gone

TJ, our TJ your place in our hearts
Is always ensured, never to depart

Mike from Washington