Precious Memories

This page is dedicated to pets we shared our lives and hearts with,
who have since gone on to wait for us at the Bridge

A Loan From God

God promised at the birth of time,
a special friend to give,
his time on earth is short, He said,
so love him while he lives.

It may be six or seven years,
or twelve or then sixteen,
but will you, till I call him back,
take care of him for me?

A wagging tail and cold wet nose,
and silken velvet ears,
a heart as big as all outdoors,
to love you through the years.

His puppy ways will gladden you,
and antics bring a smile,
as guardian or friend he will,
be loyal all the while.

He'll bring his charms to grace your life,
and though his stay be brief,
when he's gone the memories,
are solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,
since all from earth return,
but lessons only a dog can teach,
I want you each to learn.

Whatever love you give to him,
returns in triple measure,
follow his lead and gain a life,
brim full of simple pleasure.

Enjoy each day as it comes,
allow your heart to guide,
be loyal and steadfast in love,
as the dog there by your side.

Now will you give him all your love,
nor think the labor vain,
nor hate me when I come to call,
to take him back again?

I fancy each of us would say,
"Dear Lord, thy will be done,
for all the joy this dog shall bring,
the risk of grief we'll run."

We'll shelter him with tenderness,
we'll love him while we may,
and for the happiness we've known,
forever grateful stay.

But shall the angels call for him,
mush sooner than we've planned,
we'll brave the bitter grief that comes,
and try to understand."

Author Unknown ~

Misty, forever in the hearts of John and Maureen Birkmann

Misty had the happiest, most contagious sammy smile I've ever seen and she was our first Samoyed. She truly loved everyone... and everyone loved her. Just seeing her would make people smile. 


 We met a breeder at a dog show and when she heard our woeful story of just having lost our 13 year old diabetic Husky, she asked if we would like to meet a sweet Sammie girl. Misty had been returned when she was 15 months old, the family who bought her as a puppy said she was too big to show and too much trouble to keep. It was love at first sight!
What a sheer joy it was to have Misty share our lives. Her smile, that beautiful smile greeted us every morning for 8.5 years. It broke our hearts when she died of Cushings Disease. It is because of her that John and I will always share our hearts and home with a Samoyed.

Beavis and Dog, forever in the heart of Patrick Elliot

Beavis was a 2-month old puppy suffering with parvo at a Chicago pet store when my then-wife first saw him. The store owner said she hoped he would die soon so she wouldn't have to pay to have him put down. Outraged, my wife threw fifty dollars at the owner, said the owner should be reported, and took the puppy .
He was my/our first Samoyed. Beavis taught me patience: I learned not to hurry him along during walks, after all these walks were for him to enjoy. He never ask for much but he gave us his all. In 2001 Beavis suddenly became very ill and I rushed him to the clinic. The following morning I called to find out how Beavis was doing and the response was, "Didn't you get the message? He died last night." There never was a message.  I loved Dog and Beavis more than I ever imagined I could love an animal and all of the notions I had that animals didn't have souls were dispelled forever. 

Dog was a kitten found in an alley by some boys  in Logan Square near where we lived. When no one claimed the kitten, they called us. With just one look at the kitten, who fit in the palm of my hand, we had to take her home. While our red tabby would let me pet her, Dog would cuddle with me every night. Her kitten ways brought smiles and laughter I never thought possible.
In 2002, Dog came down with hepatic lipidosis and thanks to quick intervention, she made a full recovery. However, two years later, an irresponsible vet gave her a rabies vaccine in spite of signs she was having liver problems again. Two days later, she died at the emergency clinic.

Maggie Doodles, forever in our hearts

doodles.jpg (20060 bytes)

8-16-1994 - 5-16-2006

Born August 16, 1994, Doodles was purchased at a pet shop by her former owner. Doodles came into rescue at the age of 13 months and oh, how she loved to catch tennis balls, chase tennis balls and romp around the yard with the other dogs. Tug of war with another canine was her second most favorite game. Talk about a happy, life loving dog! 

Sadly, a month later she was diagnosed with Progressive Retinal Atrophy and it was estimated that she would lose all of her sight within 6 to 9 months, or ... just prior to her second birthday. 

Of all the dogs I've shared my heart and home with Doodles will always be the most memorable. She exuded indescribable confidence and a trust in humans that will never be matched by any other canine. She sounded the meal time alarm with an astounding accuracy that you could set your watch by; routinely she led the pack in a chorus of beautiful howls; enjoyed naps with her head in the water bucket; and delighted in our game of "Hoppity-hop."

Blind she was... challenged she was not!

Her best play-bud was Maddie, a 95 lb. Dobie-Rott mix. Her beau was Doc, he truly adored her. Her guide-human was me whenever we needed to hurry or went some place new. 

Oh how I do miss the little Doodle-bug!

Doodles came from a Missouri puppy mill 

PRA is a hereditary disease meaning one, or both, of her parents is a carrier. PRA is preventable by DNA testing all breeding stock.

  Unfortunately puppy millers don't test for anything!! 


Mickey, forever in the hearts of John and Maureen Birkmann

This saga starts (2001) with stopping at a Pet Store and reading a sad tale of a Samoyed being rescued that had been cruelly sprayed with roofing tar.  Here I was at the store looking for MORE toys for Cassie, my very spoiled 3 year old Samoyed female.  The story stayed on my mind night after night. I tried finding the rescue group that had published the story. I went back to the pet store and, of course, flyer was gone.

I checked the internet many times looking for the article and looking through the available dogs.  I finally called the contact person for rescued Samoyeds available in Illinois – Jean Gilles.  I wanted to ‘place an order’ for another small female.  I asked that the paperwork be faxed to me so I could compete it and fax it back ASAP.  After all, I was in a hurry.  Home check?  But, I’m going out of town for a week.  Oh no, a delay.  Bev Steward simply said, “call me when you’re back.”  Bev came over, along with her Otto who promptly took over Cassie’s chew bones.  I told Bev that I’d really like another small female.  She gently recommended a non-alpha male as she thought they’d get along better with our ‘wannabe alpha’ female. 

The next NISA meeting night, we decided on making a trip to Arlington Heights.  How tough can it be to find a Training Room?  After many tries back and forth down Golf road, John decided to turn in by Animal Feeds and Needs. It couldn’t possibly be back down this dark road?  Oh yes it could.  Wow, there were people there, some with white furry dogs. That was why we came.  After the meeting was over, we talked to Deb Jones who had a foster that sounded like a perfect match. The next day we met Deb and Chance back at the Training Room.  Chance didn’t want to meet us and he scared the daylights out of our ‘wannabe alpha.’  Obviously, this wasn’t the match we were looking for.

But the Birkmanns were determined.  Next, we met Jean at the boarding kennel.  Mickey had been found wandering the streets of Blue Island.  No one knew much about Mickey.  Jean carefully watched the interaction between the two dogs.  After their initial sniffs, they weren’t too impressed with each other. 

Well, the little female I thought I requested had turned into a kind-of goofy looking, leggy male.  Mickey’s coat had been clipped -- his tail was barely covered, much less full and bushy.  The tips of his ears were bare.  Mickey was a tad scared to be in the backseat of our car, but we were on our way.


When we got home, we walked Mickey through the yard and house.  He ate dinner and I thought everything would be wonderful.  I never dreamt that our new boy could easily jump our four-foot fence and would prefer using the leg of our dining room table to the backyard.  What heaven, when a Christmas tree arrived right in the living room.  No need for him to even go out!  Well, I wanted a six-foot privacy fence and a new Christmas tree anyway.

After a month or two things settled down.  He let Cassie rule the house but the backseat of our vehicle was HIS!  He would take up most of the seat and Cassie would have to squeeze in, usually on top of his tail.  His beautiful coat filled out and his tail was now quite full and bushy,.  Amazing what good food and love could do.  He was now momma’s handsome boy.

In March 2002, we learned he could be quite an ambassador for NISA when we took him to the Arlington Pet Show.  Mickey calmly laid in the booth with his shamrock antennae on just watching the people come up the escalator. Not many could resist stopping to visit. We went to nursing homes and again he was calm and glad to visit people.

Unfortunately, as Mickey aged he developed spinal problems.  We tried B12 shots, acupuncture, physical therapy but his difficulties just exacerbated.  He could no longer get up on his own,.  He was often incontinent and daily washing could no longer keep him clean and comfortable.  He appeared sad, was sleeping most of the time and may have been more uncomfortable than he let on.

On Tuesday, November 28, 2006 we gave Mickey our final gift of love. We hope he's now jumping fences, has an endless supply of ice cubes and is running the Iditarod. Good night my handsome boy, waiting for us at the bridge, where we'll meet again.

                 ~Maureen Birkmann