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A little over fourteen years ago I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I never cried over fear of dying. Instead, I cried because I missed my childhood poodle, Jennie. A couple of days after I completed my final chemotherapy session, I set out to buy myself a gift. It took a few weeks to find him, but I eventually came home with Frisco, a ten-week-old, three pound grey poodle. He was a fiery sort. The veterinarian told me at our first appointment that if he were a Rottweiler she would suggest I put him down. Bah-humbug! 

Like Jennie when I was growing up, Frisco was my service dog and I was his service person. We comforted each other, traveled together, fought at times, and cuddled. He was a perfect blend of monster and angel. 

2019 began with Frisco acting unusually aggressive – even for him. I took him to several vets and was mostly told it was behavioral issues. I knew this to be false. I finally found a specialist that listened to me and confirmed what I feared. He had a brain tumor. Steroids relieved the swelling and the massive headaches that were causing him to be extra aggressive. He became a sweet angel again.

This past week, Frisco went to heaven. His behavior was textbook. Yelping for hours, disorientation, losing his balance, walking into walls, and on and on. I tried everything from holistic solutions to pharmaceuticals, but it was time to let my little monster go.

His primary vet came to the house. I sat in my favorite chair and Frisco was on my lap. The doc gave him a shot to relax and Frisco gave me one last bite on my finger. (Feisty until the end!). He snored. I loved on him, and cried. Mom was on the couch, crying and saying her goodbyes. Soon, I felt his final heartbeat. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful companion.

Frisco taught me a lot over the last fourteen years. How it feels to be loved unconditionally. How to enjoy the moment. How to face life with heart, spirit and determinedness. How to be the perfect blend of monster and angel.


Here's a blog post I wrote about my pets in 2016:

I have a ten-pound grey poodle and two cats. They are sweet and affectionate, adorable and playful. From Frisco, I get unconditional love and writing breaks when we go for walks. Bruno is my big grey and white striped baby who loves to cuddle and Dante, my black cat, is a gentle angel. Like most siblings, they fight. It’s why I’m glad they don’t have cell phones, and thumbs. Not only would I have to endure their endless texts, they’d use up all the minutes on our family plan and leave none for me.

Their texts would go something like this:

            Frisco: Mom, tell Bruno and Dante to stop acting like spoiled kittens.

            A separate text arrives from Bruno. Frisco is a stupid mutt.

            Me? I do what most parents would do. I ignore them, but the texts don’t stop.

            Dante: Tell Frisco and Bruno to grow up.

Bruno and Dante as kittens

            Not only would they snitch on each other, during group texts they would bark (and meow) orders at me.

            Dante: We need more treats.

            Bruno: Tuna.

            Frisco: Tuna is for pussies. Beef.

            Dante: Salmon. 

            Bruno: Bring me a new toy. Frisco slobbered on mine.

            Frisco: Did not.

            Dante: Frisco steals my toys.

            Frisco: Do not.


            Again, I’d ignore them, knowing there are plenty of treats and toys at home, but then would come the texts every animal parent and human parent longs for.

            Bruno: When are you coming home, mom?

            Oh no, I think, here comes another round of complaints. But then:

            Dante: We miss you.

            Frisco: Can’t wait to go for our evening walk.

            Bruno: I’ll let you cut my nails.

            With texts like these, I’d eagerly sign up for a family plan.


Joanne Lewis Blog