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Cancer sucks, it sucks really bad! It stole my boy from me, it forced me to make some of the hardest, heart wrenching decisions I’ve ever had to make and for that I hate it. But I have recently found something positive to take away from the god awful disease. My story here isn’t a nice one, it doesn’t have a happy ending so don’t read on if you don’t want to, but life has a funny way of teaching you lessons. This weekend I learnt to be thankful and grateful for how my story ended with Zuki. That’s the first time I’ve been able to say that.

I live on a small island, only 9miles by 5miles but we have some wonderful coastal scenery and have fantastic opportunities to take our dogs on great adventures around the island. We also have a very tight community and our doggy scene is active and sociable, we regularly have group walks, dog shows and get togethers etc. We use an active social media group where we can all share stories, ask advise and organise meets.

So to my story, Friday morning over breakfast I was scrolling thorough Facebook as we do these days and came across a post about a lost springer spaniel. Now posts about lost dogs aren’t unusual and people are pro active and try to help in anyway they can, but this one particularly caught my eye due to the timing, location and duration. The dog had gone missing on Thursday morning (24hrs previous to the time of the post, which was quite a long time to be missing), last seen on our north coast which is mainly cliff paths with some quite daunting edges, with sheer drops down into the sea. Thursday had also been particularly foggy, pea soup to those familiar with the term. I scrolled through the various comments on the thread and realised quite quickly this was a serious situation.

I am fortunate that I don’t work on Fridays, so I decided that I would take my son and Phoenix with me to the area Bailey (the springer spaniel) had gone missing to see if we could help locate him. Phoenix is fab and can spot a dog at 200m. Zeus was unfortunately left out of this outing as he can be a bit of a handful and obviously if I was lucky enough to find bailey I needed to be able to get him back to safety and I would only be able to handle two dogs (and Kaydn in the carrier on my back). Off we set with the fog still hanging low but a beautiful blue sky above us, full of anticipation of reuniting this pooch with his family. Well I really wasn’t prepared for the scene I would find.

The area where Bailey disappeared is actually near our race course on an area of heath land and cliff top paths. There is a central car park that I pulled into, there were already a few cars there including a police car. The Facebook post was quite loose on details, so I had had the intention just to walk with nix and let her have a good play while keeping my eyes and ears open and spreading the word to any other walkers I may pass. Though when I arrived I had to change my plan. There were no other walkers that I could see in either direction, I noted it was particularly quiet out there, not really what I was expecting. The main sight at Les Landes is the castle ruins which is located directly in front of the car park, I could hear voices coming from through the arch so decided that would be a good place to introduce myself as a keen searcher and to get any up to date details of sightings etc.



This is the castle ruins, look through the arch at the terrain. The below pic is a view from the sea looking back, the light patch of ground at the end of the two visible pathway’s is the car park I referred to.

Well I was faced with a line of about 8-10 people standing right at the edge of the open grass area, all looking out to sea. 2 of these people flying drones, I couldn’t see them but I could hear the hum of their propellers. On a large rock just behind this group sat a couple, the woman clearly distressed. I deduced these must be Bailey’s owners. I went over to say hi, and offer my assistance. Cindy (Bailey’s mum) was very grateful I had come up and continued to tell me the story of how Bailey had gone missing.

Bailey had been out with his usual dog walker on Thursday morning, Bailey is a trained, working, gun dog so obviously highly strung but highly intelligent. Suddenly Bailey disappeared and didn’t return when called, I assume the dog walker searched for him but I also believe she had a number (possibly 6, although that’s hear say) other dogs with her. The fire brigade and coast guard had been called up on Thursday as it was feared bailey had either gone over the edge, maybe disoriented by the fog or fallen into a bunker (there are old sites from the German occupation) or a rabbit hole – both these scenario’s have happened in the past. Well by the time I arrived on Friday Cindy was in pieces, bless her they had been searching for over 24hrs with not one sighting and had made the decision to search for 2 more hours (till dark) before assuming Bailey was dead, having fallen over the edge and into the sea. The drones were currently attempting to search all the coves and ledges on the cliff in the desperate hope he’d managed to catch himself and was now just stuck. The problem was these guys where just good Samaritans trying to help, they were recreational drones and the camera’s on them weren’t designed for this kind of search mission. But they had to try didn’t they, everyone was desperate for answers, good or bad. I quickly realised that my nice afternoon exploring with Phoenix wasn’t going to be the pleasant one I envisaged, in fact just listening to Cindy tell me her story through her tears and lumpy throat also brought me to tears, I felt helpless. I mean what do you do, do you tell them to stay positive and Bailey is chasing bunnies having a whale of a time or do you accept what they are telling you and pass on your condolences for the lose of their beloved family pet?! Well I didn’t need to worry as I lost it, I was in floods of tears myself trying to console these poor people and had to excuse myself so I could get it together. Gosh it really was an awful scene, and other than the hum of the drones it was the deathly quiet. That will stick with me. I hate to admit it but it just didn’t ‘feel’ like Bailey was charging around here somewhere. I did walk about a quarter mile either side of the arch in the hope I might hear him or spot a waggy tail in the heather but it was done half heartedly I’ll admit. However, I still had Phoenix and Kaydn with me, so we had to make the most of the afternoon. I stayed in the area for moral support until the evening when the drone guys had to call it a day and everyone was reluctantly accepting it was too dangerous once it was dark to search, so started to head home.

Come Saturday after another update on the Facebook feed that Bailey was still missing the dog community really rallied. A large search party headed up to the castle ruins. We had 3 search/tracker dogs to scent for Bailey, we had kayakers and fishermen out in the sea to look back and search the headland, climbers who could traverse the cliff and we had a huge number of walkers to help cover the ground where we were really hoping Bailey was just stuck in a hole. Unfortunately, as I said this story doesn’t have a happy ending. Although the commitment from everyone involved was exceptional we didn’t find Bailey, the tracker dogs confirmed everyone’s fears by signalling towards the edge whilst scenting. There is still no news and now the family are just praying his body washes up so they can say their good byes and have some closure. It truly is a heart breaking story to be part of, but one that has made me grateful.

I started this post by saying a little positivity and your all probably thinking what the heck is there to be positive about! And for Bailey and his poor family there isn’t much I’m sad to say. The weekend has however shown me how wonderful it was to have those last few moments with Zuki. To hold him close and know there was only love in his eyes and not fear. Cancer is a horrendous disease that ripped our family to pieces, however there is a lot to be said for warning and preparation. I didn’t have long enough, I wanted more time, I was angry and felt I was robbed, but I did say good bye. I cant imagine how Cindy must feel, I’m sure they left their home the other morning expecting a normal day, planning a family walk in the evening perhaps. But now Bailey’s bed is empty, their children confused about where their friend is. My heart goes out to them while I look at the final pictures I took of Zuki, the pictures I knew I would be able to treasure.

So those of you who are just starting this journey, I know your planning the end. Running through your head how you want it to be, who you want to be there. We all did it once we accepted that our furries were terminal. Take peace from that time, the hurt will be intense the tears flowing, but in time you will look back and take solice from it. Its a strangely magical moment being there, holding their head and paws as they drift into the unknown. As you release them. Now I know your thinking I’m wrong, that its the most horrendous act you’ve ever had to request but time does heal and time does give you perspective. Enjoy every day to its fullest with your doggies, because none of us know how tomorrow looks or what is in store for us. Sometimes its a stark reality that reminds you of this. I wish Zuki was here, under my feet as I wrote this. But he’s not. He did however leave this place peacefully, in my arms and surrounded by all the love I could give him. Thank you cancer, if it is the only one positive thing, its something I’m thankful for – Time and warning.

Rest in peace Bailey, I’m so sorry we couldn’t help you.





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Our growing pack

February 14, 2017

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Well if you have been following my story you will know that back in September/October last year I was introduced to a spirited (naughty!!) 3.5 yr old White German Shepherd called Zeus, he needed a permanent home to call his own. At the time we still had Zuki with us and although we knew his time was limited, we always hoped we’d have him for years to come and realised we were best as a 2 dog household (we just didn’t have the sq footage for 3 large dogs and a toddler amongst other reasons), but in our heads we accepted that having Zuki for years was probably wishful thinking and sadly yes we lost Zuki way too soon but out of that sadness our family has found more happiness.

I am delighted to announce that just under a month ago Zeus joined our pack, just over 2 months after loosing Zuki. You may have read in my previous post that we had done some play dates with Zeus, Phoenix and Zuki before Zuki passed and they all got on fantastically. In reality they shouldn’t have, Zuki a full male notoriously overly dominant with other dogs, Zeus an un-socialised, reactive dog with a tendency to bark and lunge with anxiety at other dogs and then stick a female in the middle of it all – well any text book would tell you you were asking for bother. Not my pack, I still don’t know why or how but all three gelled perfectly. They played and shared toys, they welcomed each other into their houses without a curled lip or snarl, flip, they even all ate next to each other. And witnessing those moments told me in my heart that Zeus belonged with us, that we could give him a good home with his very own guardian angel.


He couldn’t be settling in any better. He is 100% a cuddle bear and I have never known a dog to sleep so deeply. He is a complex, strange little soul though. When he’s relaxed its literally like he doesn’t have a care in world, but yet he is also very reactive and the simplest of things can send him hyper with anxiety in a nano second and that’s when the barking starts (I really don’t like the barking – we are working on that). In Zeus’ past he doesn’t seem to have had much structure or boundaries and he definitely doesn’t seem to have had a confident leader and I suspect that’s where the majority of Zeus’ antisocial behaviour comes from. 3.5weeks ago when we got him he would bark at the telly, bark at cars or people passing the house (god forbid they actually came TO the house), he barked passing dogs on walks, he barked passing people on walks, he barked at buses, motorbikes and cyclists, he barked consistently in the car – you getting the idea? Well now, and I’m so proud to say he’s doing so so well. We maybe have a bark or 2 a day. I can pass dogs now and both Zeus and Phoenix will sit quietly at heal and allow them to walk by without incident. I will work up to allowing them to say hello to others dogs when appropriate but they just get so excitable at the moment that I need to make sure I’m in control of the situation before we progress to that. Buses, motorbikes and cyclists barely get even an ear flinch from Zeus now. He will still bark when people come to the door or we have guests but where as before he would be on edge for a good 30mins or more with new people, he is now introduced, he says a hello and has a good sniff and then comes to me saying ‘please can I have a sweety?’. We are still working on recall when out, hes doing well and is probably 90% reliable but we have had very little distractions so the next step is to put him to the test with other people or dogs in the area. I hate him having to wear a muzzle when off the lead, but I have to be responsible and the reality is its still very early days. I’ve promised Zeus we will work together and one day, in the not too distant future, he will run free without that darn muzzle.



At home though as I’ve said he is just the biggest cuddle bear and he would do anything to get into bed! I mean my bed not his! In our house the majority of the time the dogs sleep together downstairs at night and we have a gate at the bottom of the stairs to prevent creeping paws but on occasions the gate has been left open by mistake and Zeus is like a whip of wind! He’s up those stairs and snuggled in my pillows before you can blink. The first time he did this I was out searching the front garden and the street panicked he’d escaped somehow, only to find him 10minutes or so later snoozing soundly (he had managed to shut the gate again behind him??!!) Now I wouldn’t mind so much if a quick ‘off’ would resolve the situation, now I know Zeus understands ‘off’, its used regularly for the sofa etc and he’s normally very obedient, but once he’s on the bed that’s it, you better be prepared to fight for it back. He will moan and groan and throwing his legs in the air if you try to get hold of his collar, he is a limp floppy dead weight if you try to pick him up, though he’s quick to jump out of the way if you try to roll him off using the duvet! It is the most hilarious game of cat and mouse, with me or my husband desperately trying to remain assertive between the tears of laughter at Zeus’ behaviour. That picture above is after one such session where he tried to hide under the bed to avoid being removed from the bedroom.

He is also a wonderful companion to my nearly 2yr old son – they play chase and catch and cuddle together to watch TV. Zeus will actively go find Kaydn and present him with a ball or climb inside Kaydns pop up tent to play cars with him (I am desperate to get a picture of that as Zeus is far too big and ends up with his butt sticking out the door or head out of the roof!! )

So all in all Zeus is currently a handful that does need some strong guidance but I can see that under all that unnecessary behaviour he is a sweet and lovable pooch.


One month you’ve been gone

December 12, 2016

Yesterday marked 1 whole month without Zuki physically by my side, there are good days and tough days, days when every little thing reminds you that they are not there. I have taken comfort in surrounding myself by all the beautiful pictures I have of him because then the memories that are stirred up are of the wonderful times we had and not of those final days. His bed is still in its place (at Christmas it gets put next to the Christmas tree and Phoenix likes to take pride of place on it now) and his food bowl still in its spot in the utility room – some people probably think this is a bit silly and I’m sure a day will come when I feel right moving them, but for now they stay, I want him to know he still has a place in our home and our pack.

We brought him home just 4 days after his passing and he has taken pride of place.

I also got a photo book made up (1 for us and 1 for my parents) that has all my favourite pictures in there, that tells his story and makes me smile. Here’s a couple of screen shots of my favourite pages

We have a large canvas of Zuki at the top of our stairs just outside my sons bedroom. He’s only 21 months old but every morning and every evening as I carry him to or from bed, he looks up at that picture and blows Zuki a kiss. It absolutely melts my heart, they had a wonderful bond. When Kaydn is old enough I will show him this book and tell him the story around every one of these pictures, every image is a memory to share. We’ll laugh and we’ll cry and we’ll be inspired. Zuki will live on way beyond his physical years.

Zuki – I miss you my boy, I hope you are looking down on us,  happy and content with the loving and united family you helped create. You influenced me in ways you probably will never understand, you helped to shape me into the woman and mother I am today and I hope I make you proud. Big kisses my soppy bear xxxxxxx




Just over a week since I let my boy go. The hurt is still strong and the longing still intense but the story must go on…. Phoenix still needs all the love and support and attention we can give her to help her adjust to the new dynamics and my little boy who’s just a toddler – well there is still all the fun and games that comes along with that! As a family we miss Zuki terribly, there were a lot of tears, usually at silly things. For example this morning at 7.30am when the bin men arrived to collect the rubbish, the house was quiet, sadly quiet, as it was always Zuki’s job to tell those bin men to get lost (and wake the whole house and the baby while doing so :)) and I think I’ll always miss those things. Who’s going to dash to the front door shouting at nobody when a doorbell rings on the telly?? I had Zuki 10 years and never lived in a house with a doorbell, so where the heck did he learn to associate that sound with someone being at the front door?? Never did suss it out, he was just too smart for his own good!

However, I think a new addition is on the horizon for us, a lost soul who needs somewhere to call home, and his name is Zeus. As some of you who have followed my blog will know we moved to a small island called Jersey, off the coast of France about 2 years ago. As you can imagine White German shepherds aren’t that popular here and Zuki soon caught a lot of peoples attention and the dog community rallied to follow his story through the good times and the bad and everyone shed a tear at his passing, the out pouring of sympathy and loss made my heart burst, I was so proud of Zuki. But back to the story, so when a 3 year old white shepherd needed a new home through no fault of his own word soon travelled to us. This boy was 3 years old and had been through 3 homes and the 3 long stints in the animal shelter. Absolutely nothing poor Zeus had done, the first family unexpectedly fell pregnant with their 5th child and couldn’t cope and took him to the shelter, he was then rehomed with a guy who used him as a status dog and taught him so pretty unsociable behaviour and then ended up in prison meaning Zeus was back in the shelter, and finally his latest family took him on but really don’t have the time or experience to handle him correctly and although are doing everything in their power to give him a good life and love him, he cant stay long term, so they turned to us. We obviously knew the situation we were in with Zuki being terminal and always knew another dog would be on the cards at some point, but to be introduced to a dog before Zuki went was never in the plan. But Zeus captured us. Zuki (hope your keeping up with the similar names!!) was always a people dog and had a tendency to be overly dominant with dogs he didn’t take a fancy too, as a full male a lot of this behaviour was just instinctual and we always managed it understanding where Zuki’s boundaries where and it never stopped us taking him out and about and socialising him if we were conscious and sensible, but to bring another large, younger, 4 legged male into Zuki’s home I always thought would be an unreal expectation so initially we had agreed to take Zeus on walks with Phoenix to give them both some stimulation and interaction as Zuki couldn’t do the long fast walks anymore. Well on day 1 Zeus met Zuki, in a neutral open space and to my surprise both accepted each other without even a curled lip! Zuki happily watched while Phoenix and Zeus chased each other around, I think he was lying there shaking his head old man style saying ‘silly pups!’ Well after 2 times of meeting with no issues whatsoever we got brave and brought Zeus home and the 3 relaxed together quite happily

thumbnail_20161013_201159 Zuki on the left, Zeus on the right and Phoenix at the back.


Over the course of about 2 months or so we had many play dates and sleep overs and Zuki seemed to approve of Zeus – and to me that’s the fundamental reason why after only a week or so I can even contemplate Zeus becoming a full time member of our pack. Zuki met him, Zuki liked him and Zuki allowed him in his home – he got the paws up 🙂

So yesterday was the first time since loosing Zuki that we had Zeus for the day, we wont be taking him on full time until the new year as we have a holiday coming up and want to continue to mourn Zuki and allow things to settle a bit but also we want to get to know Zeus more and Zeus to become more comfortable with us to make his move as unstressful as possible. We are really fortunate to be in a position where we know the dogs background (good and bad but especially that he is an absolute dream with kids) and can do a gradual transition. Having a young child and quite a timid other dog we couldn’t just rehome any dog.

Well yesterday was a fun day for all – the dogs had an absolute blast. We had arranged a group dog walk at the beach with a load of the girls from the yard where I keep my horse. 10 dogs in all, different sizes, different temperaments and backgrounds. Due to Zeus being exposed to some bad behaviour when he was a status dog the animal shelter had advised that he shouldn’t be around other dogs as he isn’t well socialised. Now I’m no expert and try not to defy advise I am given by people who are qualified but an animal shelter is an alien environment and we had witnessed Zeus with Phoenix and Zuki and he had given us no reason to doubt his temperament, he loves other dogs and playing and being free so we thought he deserved to come along on the group walk. We did muzzle him just to be on the safe side but he really didn’t need it, he was such a good boy and played nicely with everyone 🙂



I have to say it felt nice to have 2 dogs in the house again, lounging around and just bringing even more love into our home. Zuki still has pride of place with his pictures and his ashes and will always be a fundamental part of our family. But Zeus is just the next chapter in our journey.

img-20161120-wa0010 thumbnail_20161120_190212

I’m a bit of a fraud here now as I no longer have a tripawd but the love and support I have had from this community is priceless and I will stay connected in Zuki’s memory

img-20161112-wa0002                   30/09/06 – 11/11/16


Yesterday we said our final I love you’s and good bye’s to my sweet gorgeous boy. He fought so hard to stay with us but in the end his body just let him down. All the vet advise and treatment wasn’t helping and whatever it was that was destroying wugs from the inside was just too strong for us to beat. We were all cuddled in with him to send him on his way. I just hope he knew how special he was. I know every dog is unique and wonderful but for me Zuki was always just on another level, so in tune and intuitive. I’m going to miss him so much but I had to do the right thing for him and put him out of his pain and worry.

We’re not 100% sure what paralysed him. A ruptured disk is probably the main culprit but only an MRI could diffinitivley tell us and we just don’t have that machine in the channel islands. My vet did xray him yesterday evening though and did confirm signs of metastasis in his lungs. So regardless of if we had had an option to operate on his spine, within a matter of weeks his lungs would have given up to the cancer. I know I made the right decision yesterday, it’s just so incredibly quiet around the house now and I’m lost with what we do now to try and fill the huge hole in our family and in our hearts…..

Keep thinking just be more dog….. but it’s hard today to hold back the tears, so many memories both good and bad (he had a tough year). So many more things I wanted to do with my boy, little things he won’t be here any more for.

Again we have to find our new normal as I know life will just never be the same again.

With all my heart and soul Zuki, just know how special you were.

Always & Forever xxxxxxxxx