I am not sure if I can get through this story in one attempt but I am going to give it a try. My family lost our dog Ranger on December 13th. We believe she was 16 years old but we never knew for sure as my father in law found her in the woods on a hunting trip many years ago. The name Ranger came from my 16 year old son Tate who named her Ranger after the Power Rangers show he use to watch when he was two to three years old. Ranger came to live with us in 2001 when my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and with the weekly hospital visits for chemotherapy my in-laws were no longer able to watch her and giver her the attention she needed.

When Ranger was brought to live with us in Atlanta in 2001 I was not sure I wanted a dog, but as a “right thing to do” I reluctantly agreed to let Ranger come live with us. After a few months of getting use to the new addition to our family I became emotionally attached to Ranger and she became one of the family and I found myself becoming so attached that everyday she was with us was met with unconditional love.

Ranger went from living outdoors, sleeping in a dog house with a light to keep her warm at night to a full fledged in door dog who did not like to go outside if the grass was wet to use the bathroom.

Ranger went through two cancer surgeries in 2003 and 2005 each time bouncing back as our family lived with the fear of when the cancer would reoccur. I was always reassuring my wife that she would be ok even though deep down inside I lived everyday with the fear that it would come back.

In May of 2007 Ranger was diagnosed with Lymphoma. When we took her to the vet we were told that she would only live for 2-4 more weeks if nothing was done for her. With no other option we went to the Georgia Veterinary Hospital were we were introduced to Dr. Hamilton who discussed the only option available in the form of chemotherapy. For the next five months we made the weekly trip to GVS so that Ranger could get the best possible treatment.

Ranger received her last treatment in early November and was clinically in remission. I remember the news as it was yesterday, and thought we had once again escaped the fear of death and would be given many more years of joy and happiness.

Me and Ranger had a daily routine of a morning walk, cereal for breakfast then the rest of the day she would hang out with me in my office when I worked from home. Our whole life centered on where is Ranger, and making sure that when we left to go somewhere that we always told her that we would be back. When we would return she would always come running down the stairs to greet us.

On Wednesday December 5th Ranger was not able to keep her balance or walk very well. I carried her up and down the steps and constantly fretted, and worried what could be wrong with her. On Friday December 7th it became apparent that she was very sick so late that night I took her back to GVS where she was admitted to the hospital. Over the next several days we made the drive to GVS so that we could spend time with her and so my kids would have a chance to see her in case she did not come home again.

On Monday night December 10th during one of my visits to GVS it became apparent to me that Ranger was very sick, and the likelihood that she was going to get better just was not good. I stayed with her for two hours crying and telling her how much I loved her and prayed to God for one more miracle so that we could celebrate one last Christmas with her.

We started Ranger on oral chemotherapy in one last attempt to save her, but over the next two days she did not appear to respond.

On Thursday December 13th Dr. Hamilton called me and told me we had very few options left. As I tried to put off having to make the decision to put her to sleep my wife went down to GVS to pick her up and brought her home one last time.

Ranger came home at 3:00 p.m. on the 13th. We laid her in the family room as we wanted her to know she was home, and not laying in a crate in the hospital. As I wrestled the demons inside me that made me selfish in wanting to keep her alive I knew that the humane thing to do was to put her to sleep.

At 9:00 p.m. pm the 13th I got up the courage to pick her up, put her in the car and make the 15 minute trip to GVS. As we were riding in the car I could not stop crying and telling her how much I loved her and how much she meant to me, Jill and the kids.

When we arrived at GVS I said a prayer, gave Ranger a hug and a kiss and carried her inside.

I had to wait for about 15 minutes for a Dr. to come in to discuss the procedure, and while I was in the room calmness came over me. Ranger I believe was aware of what I was getting ready to do, and through her eyes gazing at me I could feel her telling me that it was alright.

The procedure took only seconds, but the joy and memories that Ranger gave me will last a lifetime.

While Ranger was not around this Christmas, a gift was given to me in the book Rescuing Sprite. As I read the book on Christmas Eve, and Mark recounted his last few hours with Sprite his story of what he went through was the exact same story and memories I had with Ranger on the day I had to lay her to rest.

While I have an empty heart this Christmas I have a heavy heart on what one dog can do for a person, and the joy of life that I was able to give to my best friend.

While Ranger will always be missed she will never be forgotten.

I love you Ranger.

Ben from GA

One Response

  1. Susie Darrow Says:

    Jill,Ben and boys,

    I am so very sorry to hear about Ranger, but I am glad that she passed with dignity and so much love around her. Jill, we spoke briefly on the phone and having lost my rescue dog “Scruffy” a few years back at the age of 15, I know how difficult this time must be for your family. PLEASE keep in mine, how much better her liife was with all of you and how blessed she was to have a wonderful family who not only saved her life once, but twice!!! Ben, your story was beautiful and so heartfelt! How wonderful for you to have shared those last moments together. No one will ever be able to take those away!!!

    I know she will be dearly missed!!!

    God Bless,