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For Stanley, Who Co-Inspired Kinship Circle With Tikvah
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Sometimes the people closest to you don't allow you to fully grieve. I am blessed to have an online family who understand this feels like the passing of my child. Like you, I have my grieving rituals. I'll bury Stan in a casket filled with bits of his fur intermingled with my hair, photos, a first leash, scarf, toy, letters to him. Stanley's head will rest upon the small pillow he loved near the end. At the present moment, I wear Stan's smiley-face dog collar as a necklace. Something about the jingle of his tags near my heart brings peace. I even had my license renewed, wearing his collar. So for the next couple years, every time I look at my license photo, Stan's tags are front and center. I know time un-sharpens the pain. Thing is, you must wait for time to happen. So I am grateful for ALL of your words, even though I don't have the space to print every one.
JANICE BLUE - Dear Stanley: You are beautiful and quite the celebrity in AR circles. You are so loved by your Mom, family and many admirers. You must be proud of Brenda too, all she does to help animals, and how she answered the call to "go south" for Katrina and Rita cats and dogs. You should know, sweet Stanley, that her love for you compels Brenda to take on the role of "Wonder Woman." She imagines every animal is as loved as you are and can't bear to think someone is heartbroken, looking for their beloved companion. You have been true soulmates. This must be a period of unbearable sadness for you both. Please know our hearts are with you and Brenda as we wish you a peaceful journey. Much love, Janice Blue, Wild Blue Garden & Animal Sanctuary

KENNETH DENEAL - Last Spring I lost my beloved Gidget, a poodle I obtained from Pet Pals shortly after Louise's passing. For 5-1/2 years Gidget gave cherished and undivided love. Her ashes lie on my dresser and will be entombed with me on my death. I now live with two miniature pinchers, both 10, each having spent the majority of their lives in puppy mills. Although I love both my thoughts, especially at night, return to Gidget.

MAGGIE RUFO - I had a Stanley, only she was a cat named Spook. I still miss her everyday, after 2 1/2 years, but the pain isn't unbearable any more. I'm really sorry. He sounds like he was a lucky dog.

JUDIE MANCUSO - My tears and deepest sympathy are with you this sad evening. I know what a great loss this is for you.

LIZ DUBUIS - Very sorry about Stanley. He was a brave boy.

BRUNI - I've felt the pain. I am so sorry. How glad that you were able to have such a great friend for a long time. I will pray for you so one day you will see Stanley. He will remain with you always.

SUMMER BEASLEY - I'm so very sorry to hear about Stanley. I am thinking of you.

DESPINA M. ANDRELUS - From your words, I know that despite the struggle, Stanley had a wonderful life and loved you dearly. I am of deep belief that he is in Heaven now and will be waiting for you when the time comes. Until then, though, his physical presence will be missed dearly, but I know he is now an angel watching over you.

CAMILLA FOX - Just read your poem and it brought tears. Just last week, I had to say goodbye to my dog, Zaela's best buddy of 8 years. I held her, Skeeter, as she slipped into the next world, and shed an ocean of tears. My thoughts are with you. Camilla xo

JANE GARRISON - I just read your email with tears rolling down my face. There is never a good time to say goodbye to our babies and there is nothing that I could say to take away your hurt. Just know that I am thinking of you and sending you love. I completely understand everything you say about Stan making you laugh. Codi has been my main man for 16 years and always has kept me laughing! I do not look forward to the day when I have to say goodbye to him. These little fury beings have a way of taking over your life and heart and it just hurts so much when they are no longer physically there. Stanley was lucky to have you. When I die I want to come back as him. Love, Jane

PIA SALK - Oh Brenda, you gave him such a gift as his dedicated mother! He died on my father's birthday, both wonderful males who've passed. Maybe they've somehow met and my father can offer comfort. I send you love. I wish I could have met him. He sounds like quite a special guy!

LYNN MIRAGLIA - I am so sorry to hear that Stanley has left us. It is very clear how much he means to you and how much you both loved each other. Losses like this are the worst. I had a boy with kidney failure, he was nine and a half. He did not last very long once diagnosed, I think it was a month. He was my first dog as an adult. He was a Weimeraner. I can tell you that for 18 years I would look at a Weim and hot tears formed in my eyes. Reading your tribute to him made me smile. You have captured his characteristics and made him alive with your words.

KELLY GARBATO - Brenda, I am a longtime subscriber of Kinship Circle. All the good you do on behalf of animals is truly awe-inspiring. I've never felt compelled to email you before, but when I heard about Stanley, I wanted to offer my condolences. I know it isn't much, but my thoughts are with you. It's obvious how much you loved your little man.

JESSICA HIGGINS - Stanley is one of the chosen few, an animal with a human companion who gave him her all. He knows this! Lucky man, and lucky you to share so many years with him. Thinking of you and standing with you in your loss.

LAURA LASSITER - There are no words. Animal angels are with Stanley and my heart cries with your heart. My prayers are with you and with Stanley as he crosses the Rainbow Bridge.

KAREN DAWN - Oh Sweetheart, I am so terribly sorry to think of you going through that this holiday season. But I'm happy that you and Stanley had each other for so long.

JENNIFER DEASON - The tribute to Stanley is beautiful and I'm sure my eyes aren't the only ones to shed tears after reading it. You'll be in my thoughts as you mourn his loss and celebrate his life.

MELINDA ROSIN-SELTZEr - I cried as I read your note and as I type this reply. My heart aches for you and I wish I could bring him back, and Casey. It is so hard to go through, as you know. You and he had a wonderful life together and he knows how much you loved him. He died in peace. Nothing unfortunately we can do to make them live as long as we do. I hope this week you can take it easy and take time for yourself. Wayne and I just clung to each other for that weekend when we lost Casey. We slept with her bed in our bed.

CAROL TAVANI - I wish I could say something to make the hurt better. Stan was the luckiest boy in the world to have had a life so few enjoy. The holidays were rough for me without Benny and Maggie, but I try to go on for the living, my beloved furbabies and all the ones we strive to help. I know Tikvah will help you get through, as he always did, and will welcome Stanley, whom he loved.

BETTINA - So sorry Brenda.

SHARON SECOVICH - It sounds like Stanley did okay for himself once he found you. You are the luckiest person in the world to have had the honor to care for him. I wish could have known him.

PAUL - I met Stanley at AR2005 and was deeply moved by his courage in the face of illness, and by his obvious love for others, both human and canine. He was blessed with a mommy whose love sustained him through all travails. He clearly basked and blossomed in the glow of that love. May he rest in joy and peace, and may his mommy be strong in the knowledge that she made Stanley's stay on Earth the happiest a companion animal can hope to enjoy. I always say there can be no better life for an animal than to be the companion of an AR activist. Stanley unquestionably exemplifies that statement.

JUNE BIRD - SEE YOU LATER STANLEY SCHMANLEY. My thoughts are with you at this time Brenda. Stanley Schmanley is still one helluva dog and spirit never dies. He will be beside you until it is your time to pass over.

MARE - Brenda, That was a beautiful song! I'm crying my eyes out right now! He'll definitely be playing with my Tawdry, Vagan and Scamp, and countless hamsters who have gone before me to get my place ready for when my time arrives. I look at my Twinkie, who is at least 15 years old and suffering from heart disease and wonder when her time will arrive. I know how you loved Stanley. You have to grieve, no way around it, but rest assured he is now your little angel, keeping watch over you and yours.

ADELA - Oh dear Brenda, I'm so sorry that it had to be. Stanley is now in peace, but the most important thing is that while he lived with you, he was the happiest being. He knew it and he loved you more than anyone or anything else in the whole universe! God bless his soul, and you for having given him all that big happiness in his lifetime.

PAIGE ALEXANDER - I know the heartbreak you are going through right now. In June, we lost our Sugar, who was our first-born child. We had him for 10 years. I honestly thought I might die. I would have felt more at peace if he was older like Stanley, and died of natural causes. You'll always know he had a long, wonderful life and that you did EVERYTHING for him. Over time the sadness will fade and you will be left with sweet memories. I am praying for you and for Stanley.

DEBRA BARLOW, HOPEFUL HAVEN EQUINE - I'm so sorry for your loss Brenda, but know he's in a better place, waiting for you.

ELIZABETH FOREL - I am so sorry over your baby Stanley. He sounded like the prince of dogs. They should come with a label "Warning: Will break your heart." We are the lucky ones to have had them in our lives. They are truly angels. I loved your song about Stanley. Your love rings out. Thanks for sharing it with us.

KAY K-O - Our prayers are with you, and my Barn Kitty has specific instructions to be on the lookout for Stanley and help him settle in. He was my resident manager here, and I'm sure he's carrying on in heaven.

CAROL MARCUS - Oh Brenda, my deepest condolences. Please forgive typing errors as tears run down my cheeks. Know that you're both in my thoughts.

JACK JONES - I remember Stanley at the AR convention. After my cat Cotton died I made a coffin and took her to the mountains for burial. I placed 20 lit candles around her grave, just before sunset. I thought of many memories we shared while watching smoke rise then dissipate into the last rays of light. I sat there until only the moon glow held my thoughts. Back at the cabin I heard a soft meow of thank you.

BUDDY'S MOM - I lost my dog Buddy this last spring and I am crying as I write this. I miss him so much. I keep telling myself I have to let him go. Peace Stanley. Go see my Buddy.

EVELIN - For Stanley:
A heart of gold stopped beating.
Two shining eyes at rest.
God broke your heart to prove,
He only takes the best,
God knows he had to leave you
But he did not go alone.
For part of you went with him,
The day he took him home.

VEDA STRAM - I thank you with every single solitary hair on my body, with every beat of my heart, with every eyelash and whisker, with every breath from my little schnoz for giving me the most wonderful, glorious, fulfilling and happy life anyone could ever hope for. Thank you for having me, and of course Tikvah, inspire you to create Kinship Circle that has been singlehandedly responsible for saving billions upon billions of lives. I'm a happy camper now with only happy thoughts, piles of snacks, acres of pillowy beds and Brenda-inspired snuggles. Love ALWAYS, from Stanley Schmanley Shoss

ROSE Z. MOONWATER - So sorry about Stanley's passing, your special man. Thanks for sharing about your relationship with him. So amazing. Please be as gentle with yourself as possible in this time. Part of us goes with them.

LEESA SKLOVER-FILGATE - So sorry Brenda. Bark may have to be put down this week. He has a lung tumor on top of kidney disease but each day I think I will do it, he is ok. I know how you feel, love you. My heart is with you.

DAVID MEYER - What a wonderful guy Stanley must have been, and so lucky he was to have spent time with you--what more could any dog have asked for? He is now fine and it is you who needs to be cared for. I think some immersion is a good thing if you can do that. Take it a day at a time. Pain subsides, love endures. Forever.

LEAH DEVI - First I just have to say I am so incredibly sorry. I think I truly know how much Stanley meant and will continue to mean to you. Stanley was such an amazing spirit, and I pray for you that you are surrounded by truth, love and light as you grieve this loss. Secondly, I would love to make a small donation to Kinship Circle in Stanley's name, in honor of his memory. Please let me know what is the best method of doing so.

JANET ENOCH - He made the decision for you. You can find some comfort in knowing that you gave me the very best life he could have ever had and that he loved you and you loved him with all your heart. He is feeling better now and enjoying seeing Tikvah again. They are back to wrestling like they use too, meeting new friends and patiently waiting to see you again. I am sure Kitty is with them too.

JOYCE FRIEDMAN - Peace and love to you and to Stanley, where he is now. Your song to him is so lovely and beautiful, and it brought many tears to my eyes, sitting here at my office desk. How lucky you were to have such a wonderful companion and how so very lucky he was to have you. I wish you love and peace in the new year.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
(Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!
Mary Frye, 1932

I think the connections we have with our companion animals are sometimes deeper and stronger, in many ways, than those we have with humans. They are so special, so unique. I also know the heartbreak of wanting to hold on until the very last moment and in the end, the difficulty of having to let go. Each animal who has graced our lives with the gift of their presence is so special and unique in his-her own way and that is how they are remembered. I recall reading once that the reason our companion animals cross the Rainbow Bridge is so they can make room for another little one who so desperately needs a home. That has always been a comforting thought to me.

TANYA TUELL - You painted a beautiful picture of a handsome, wonderful dog and friend. I've shed tears and wish I could help you. My nephews and I will honor Stanley through a small, yet totally amateur, drum ceremony, including a Native American prayer, held on the hillside next to my house overlooking an open field and small stream. Stanley will be remembered as a generous spirit for having provided you with love and companionship. Please know Stanley is, and will always be, in my heart.

JEANINE TAYLOR - I have a sense of how close you two were, and can only imagine how difficult this must be. It's comforting to know he'll have Tikvah to greet him at the rainbow bridge after the wonderful, safe, loving life he had with you.

DAN ROBINSON - Like you I recently lost my feline son Teddy who gave me unbelievable joy for the past 12 years. I share your grief and know what an emotional rollercoaster you are on. I hope that with time's passage and a smooth progression through the healing process you will feel better. I am attaching a copy of the file I read during my guest appearance on Go Vegan Texas! concerning "Loss and Grief for Animals." It is a brief summary of general ideas on how to cope. Perhaps it will be helpful.

GAIL SILVER - I know what you mean, people get it or they don't. I am Jewish too and consider myself sitting virtual shiva with you. I too express my pain in words.
In memory of Freddy
Feb 1995 - Nov 2003
Lost, all clues, to days of rain that pounded leafy torrents into layers of veiny tissue paper; soggy browns and yellows cover any sign of you. These houses, dim and far apart as night approaches, must have loomed like blind unyielding giants. Perhaps you meant to look for me, feline instincts against the world, setting out to solve an absence long, unplanned, unfair. But you, so small and ill-equipped. The night here glues the pavement to the sky, a wall of black, and filled with things that lurk, and pounce. All good things indoors or burrowed in the ground; small creatures hear my call for you and issue tiny muffled sounds from wet and rustling woods. Or heavy silence rises off of scraggly shadow-bushes, and I think you are no more. Then running, running, I think of years and all the times, relieved, I smiled when your small face, returned at last through pane-glass doors, with anxious eyes that searched for me to let you in and comfort you as only I could.

CYNTHIA BROWN - I loved re-reading your poem. Reminds ME of how: I used to couldn't wait to get home to see Sammie! I usta cry when I went out of town for work for worrying about him. I would turn my head and expect him to be there, and he wasn't. I would call the babysitters every day, several times, to ensure he was ok. He loved me as much as I loved him, He would RUN to the door or car when I got home to greet me everyday. I would LOOK SO FORWARD to seeing him. "Replacement" cats I've gotten, aren't even close to the same.

JACQUIE MACDONALD - I take comfort in knowing that Stanley is with my lost loved ones, enjoying some peaceful place with love and comfort and of course, dog cookies.

KATHY - Sounds like Stanley was your Midas. I have loved my pets and grieved them when I lost them, but, if I ever were to lose Midas, I would be beyond consolation. Sydney's loss was devastating and the pain is still there after six years, His picture and head feather are under our tree and I have his bell on my bulletin board, and his name is still a part of my email address, and I have his feather on my desk at work. Maybe he is like a spirit guide somewhere and will find your Stanley. But Midas is my dearest friend short of my husband. Other than him, there is no human who is as close to me.

JULIA FISCHER - Bren, so sorry about Stan the Man. My love and sorrow for you, my dear friend.

KATHI MCDERMOTT, BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SOCIETY - What a beautiful tribute to your beloved Stanley Schmanley.

CHERI - I loved it when you said "He was the greatest dog in the world!" Those that truly love their pets think theirs is The Best! Beautiful story and song, sounds like me singing-chatting with my "3 suns." I'm truly sorry of your loss.

PRISCILLA GARGALIS - I so understand how much you love him. I have a dog fur-son, Spencer, who is the light of my life. I'd marry him if possible. He will turn 18 in Feb. and we got him at age 12-1/2. He was dumped by the only family he knew. He is a part of me and not a day goes by that I don't think about losing him. I kiss him 100 time.

KATHY - Little did I know that I would follow you in losing a pet. Yesterday I took Penny, my old feral who has lived with me for 7 years, to the vet. Penny came with a litter and also took on two orphans. She had lived in a factory and was a true feral and she looked after her babies and her adopted babies so well. She was so scared when she came to me that instead of leaving her bed to use the litter tray she peed in it. Penny stayed with me when her kittens were homed and has lived in the house, never wanting to go out, just content to potter about and sit by the fire at night with the other cats and her son Mikey, who I also kept. I noticed over Xmas her breathing was a little fast and took her to the emergency vet who found nothing.

My own vet found a large heart murmer and a mass. She tried to draw off fluid, but it turned out to be lymphoma. She rang me to say nothing could be done and to get my permission to pts while still under anaesthetic. I was so unprepared for this. I have to get her today and will show her to the other cats before I bury her under the hebe bush were other loved ones rest. I always show the other cats if anyone dies. They need to understand she has gone and I believe they know if they see them. I know she had a happy life, but as you know it is so painful. I love them all so much. So, we are grieving together my friend.
The unceremonious moment occurred as I watched HBO's To Love Or Kill: Man Versus Animal. During the Kill part, my world stopped. I clung to my Lhasa Apso, Stanley, and my orange tabby, Tikvah. Then I looked into Stanley's eyes. What I found was a soul, endless and deep. All the pain, courage and stamina of the animal kingdom spoke to me through this little creature's eyes. That night, long forgotten cries crushed my indifference. Billions of nameless deaths walked through my apartment. I was awake. I was alive. And my life would never be the same…

Stanley Schmanley Shoss, 7/2/91 to 12/27/05. At 7:20 pm Stanley took his last breath. I thank everyone for words of hope over the last three years Stan fought kidney disease with valor. He swam in the Black River. He saw the Grand Canyon. He gambled in Vegas. He schmoozed at AR2005 in Los Angeles… He lived and died with stubborn confidence, loved beyond reason. I want you to know Stanley. He was the greatest dog in the world.

Homecoming, 1991. Stanley Schmanley. The Schman. A puppy comes home in a box. Feels five minutes ago. Your tiny legs barely clear the grass. You are the size of a guinea pig with stubs for legs. You puke all over my car seat. A two-pound Ewok with worms in your belly and a grin on your face. It is love at first sight and a relationship that teaches me I can be loved back. Stanley, you led me to who I am. Why Stanley? You look like an opinionated little dude chomping on a cigar. And chomp you did, on Tweetie Bird, chew toys, socks…
StAnley, StAn, StA
Stanley Schmanley, Schmanley. Schman, The Schman
Stanna Banana, Stan Banan, Nanners, Banana Boy
Stanley Manly, My Little Man
StanBear. Bear MaLere, Bear
Standa Panda, Stanbergini (low to the ground)
Stanley Schmanley Shoss
The Pant. Unmistakably familiar. Urgent puffs inspired by anticipation. Plop me a room, blindfolded, with 100 dogs. I'd find you in a second. It was the pant. Your way of filling each breath with a "What's next?" The Sigh of Contentment. A deep, pure exhale. You'd circle, dig and draw designs in any couch or bed top. Once you acquired the perfect position, you inhabited the space with your signature sigh. I'll hear it forever.
The Head At The Top Of The Stairs. Flat as a pancake, at the top of the steps. From the bottom, I'd see a big head with dark saucer eyes. "When will she get here?" Waiting for mommy. I watch you in all your normal places, familiar and constant. Your scramble for couch space. Your wide eyes calculate the jump. Your flat sprawl over the covers, pillows, toys and cups. In every room. Folded into any available spot — just to slide up against me. Offer a wet, smelly face bath. Roll on your side, legs hanging in the air. Everywhere I am, you are there. I know the sound of your tags jingling. Distinctly Stan. There are no more rooms without you.
The 4th-From-The-Top Step. There are 14 steps to our 2nd floor, but one step belonged to Stan. At the 4th-from-the-top step Stan took a breather. I always applauded completion. No matter how many times I saw it. The 4th-from-the-top step is Stanley's. Lhasas are not known for climbing skills. As age, arthritis and failing sight slowed Stan down, we developed a system: The Push-In-The-Tush. Stan used his front legs as I supplied a gentle lift and nudge to his hindquarters. Push. Hop. Rest. We'd Push-In-The-Tush about 3 or 4 steps, break, and then continue. Completion was always a big deal. Stan rewarded me with kisses.
The Look. Stanley, you were never a "pet." You've always been my partner and best friend, from trotting down the aisle at our wedding to welcoming, even protecting, our newborn son. No man ever has or will gaze into my eyes the way you do. Your focus is startling. Fixed. Unfaltering. Cocked head and deep concentration. Hanging on every word. I always suspected you could actually talk, but just remained quiet to not give away this little secret among animals. Still, for 14 and a half years you spoke in a medley of growls, nuanced barks, and firmly connected glances.
The Waddle. Stan Commands the Boulevard. A confident trot, as if he's a dignitary, with entourage, taking in the sights. Little warrior, in charge of the sidewalk.
The Build. Tiny little butt and hips behind a big, gorgeous head with long floppy ears. Short legs with a sway-backed belly inches above the ground. On June 29, 2005 Stan turns 14. I never thought we'd see that birthday. Now, we'll see the Grand Canyon together! Picture this: 1-foot tall Stan, the wind in his hair, as he looks out over the canyon. I still remember him out on a pier at Lake Michigan in Chicago. Legs spread like a Doberman at attention. Except he's a goofy little Lhasa. But don't tell Stan. He's got a Napoleon complex.
The Underbite. Saber-Tooth Lhasa. In later years, missing teeth colored the underbite black-white. Snarl-Tooth Lhasa, my underbite boy. Giving me the look.
The Sock Thief. Stan was an equal opportunity sock stealer: Boyfriends, husband, kids, houseguests. A discarded sock, once in the mouth of Stan? Forget your sock. You'd try to approach from behind to make a pass for the sock. But no matter your angle, a lone snarl tooth and focused growl told you: Your sock is history.
Stan-Style Love. Stanley is an intense and beautiful Lhasa Apso. I'll miss his humor. But mostly, I'll miss his kisses and devotion. I have three surviving fur babies: Cleveland, a Lhasa-poodle, and cats Rebekkah and Isaiah. I love each with all my heart. But there was something about Stan that gripped me in the most maternal way. He is, no doubt, keeper of my heart. I never failed Stanley. We faced each challenge as a team and he had the best of lives here on earth.
Given The Choice, Stan Prefers Cats. Namely, Tikvah. The inseparable playmates rolled around my apartment like orange and white tumbleweed. Tikvah stalked Stanley with the stealth of a puma, until he moved in for The Pounce. Then he jumped so enthusiastically he landed on top of Stanley piggyback style. Stan's response? A sort of stupified, "Where did he go?" For years before my animal clan grew, Tik and Stanley ruled the manner. Every time I returned home, I found them side by side staring at the front door, as if to say: "Well, it's about time you got home!"
The Love-Hate Brothers. Clevey played omega dog to Stan's alpha personality. Though my honey-colored lhasa-poo stands over Stan, the warrior midget is in charge. Stan choreographs Cleveland's affairs — food, my attention, toys, couch space. Clevey grew so neurotic we put him on a homeopathic calmer. On the flip side, they are inseparable. Two black noses at the top of stairs. Two waggy tails walking down the aisle at my wedding. For the 2-1/2 years I administer Stan's subcutaneous fluids, Cleve is by his side. Love, war, reconciliation, solidarity. During Stan's last month, when broken kidneys leave him so weak he can't walk, Cleveland camps out on Stan's pile of comforters, towels and pee pads. Moments after Stanley dies, Clevey lays his head on Stan's doggie bed and won't budge. Later, Cleveland and I sleep with Stan's empty bed between us.
Stanley and Cleveland walk down the aisle at the Farm Sanctuary vegan wedding of Kinship Circle founder Brenda Shoss and Grady Ballard. "If you could get married anywhere in the world, where?" Brenda's then procrastinating fiance had asked. "Anywhere? I want a vegan wedding with my dogs…and farmed animals as guests instead of entrees." Unbelievably, that is exactly the wedding Brenda and Grady had at Farm Sanctuary in Upstate New York. They married under a huppah in The People Barn. Guests spent an afternoon with the animals, followed by vegan buffet. In fact, Brenda and Grady's wedding was the first vegan wedding feature in VegNews Magazine, the start of an ongoing feature!
Silent Night

Silent Night, Holy Night
All is still, gone is light.

Stanley Schmanley
My shadow, my smile.

StanBear, Nanners
So precious, my child.

Sleep in heavenly peace…
Sleep with the angels, my Stan.

Stanley, my man
Little Napoleon

Waddling down the street
King of your own fleet.

Snarl-tooth Lhasa,
My underbite boy.

Stanna Banana,
My reason for joy.

Kiss my Tikvah, dear Stanley…
Play among Angels, my Stan.

How will I exist
Without your sloppy kiss?

Intense little man
Your head between my hands.

Look to me Stanley,
Just one more deep stare.

Growl, bark, see me…
Through sun, trees and air.

Mama's Boy you are forever…

Good night Stanley Schmanley,
My love.

Wagon rides around the neighborhood, take-out fettuccine from the finest Italian restaurants, warm baths and blow-dried fur… Stan lived to the last moment.

On the day of his death, my 5-year-old son was home from school. Elijah and I gave Stanley a long soothing bath and dried his still silky fur. Stan liked the feel of the soft air close to him. He was very relaxed.

Around 6:30 p.m. Stan had his evening meds and food. I held him up by his tail so he could relieve himself on the grass. I then laid him gently on his doggie bed. Near the end, I carried him from room to room on this bed because he couldn’t really move.

He died about 30 minutes after we lit the Hanukkah candles on Tuesday night, December 27, 2005. He was in my bedroom, on his favorite doggie pillow, clean, nourished, loved. At 21 pounds, he hadn’t yet wasted.

He died naturally, in Stan time.

On 12/27/05 at 7:20 p.m., Stanley was no more.
How do you live without your shadow and smile?
You just do, Sweetie, you love them and know that you have done your very best for them.

You honor them with life, love and memories. You look out to the sun and see them in that light. You see them in the grass and the scent of the flowers.

You remember them with love and honor. You feel them touch you when the wind blows gently by.

And you open your heart to another sweet life. Not to replace the one you lost, but you love another to honor the one who is gone. Julia Sharp


These are the children who never grow up. Forever dependent upon us for survival. Devoted, affectionate. They die as they live, pure love.

OCTOBER 27 2003, DIAGNOSIS: KIDNEY DISEASE — Dear Stanley: Today we begin. Life from this point will never be the same. New food. New medicine. Hope? What do I have as precedent? Tikvah, who died brutally and swiftly in my arms? Stanley, you are my last link to Tik. To us. The original three.

NOVEMBER 9, 2003 — Why are you losing more weight? Here I go again. No. NOT STANLEY. NO. NOT STANLEY. NO! I pray you have the guardian angel Tikvah did not.

MAY 21-25, 2004 — Stanley is now in kidney failure. Since his values first fluctuated, I treated preventively via diet and a holistic supplement. But Stan slowly rejected the kidney-disease foods, spit out his meds and stopped eating. When kidney values declined to renal failure levels, just this week, Stanley was hospitalized on IV fluids, phosphorous binder, and anti-nausea medication. I now administer subcutaneous fluids and phosphorous gel at home. Food is a bizarre journey. One day he survives on cookies and breakfast cereal! I try everything from baby food to burgers, but Stanley is a force to reckon with. He does, however, fancy Yves vegetarian ham. I am afraid to believe in miracles. Nothing we tried with Tikvah's cancer worked. In the end, I had five doctors from homeopaths to oncologists. But the miracle today is that Stan is still here. Barking, eating, kissing and bullying Cleveland. I don't know how much time he has, but I intend to be here for him.

JULY 2, 2004 — Stanley Schmanley Shoss celebrates his 13th birthday!

JULY 9-11 2004, STAN FLOATS THE BLACK RIVER — We take Stanley to the beautiful Black River in Southern Missouri — the river I floated over 13 summers as a camper and counselor at Camp Taum Sauk. I schlep the fluid bags, lines, meds, and his many food choices. But he joyfully swims in a crystal clear river for the first time in his life and socializes with many floaters this day! I will NEVER forget the look of wonder in his eyes as we drift down river in the canoe. Or his little legs dog paddling in the water.

JANUARY 31 2005, THE FIRST SEIZURE — Around 8:00 a.m., Stanley experiences a full blown seizure.** His tongue hangs from his mouth. He spasms so hard, his legs peddle air. I rush him to the vet in my pajamas. He involuntarily pees on me. **Over Stanley's two year battle with kidney disease, he had random seizures. Then a couple seizures a month. In his last three months, the seizures clustered. During the final cluster, I shot valium into his rectum. We never knew the root cause, other than an "area of frenzy" in his brain and a lowered seizure threshold due to the kidney disease.

FEBRUARY 17, 2005 — I inhabit a world of creatinine values, blood urine levels, electrolyte imbalances, elevated enzymes, phenobarbital, syringes, lines, needles, bags. Stanley had another seizure at 3:00 a.m. while in deep sleep on our bed. The shaking awoke me. As instructed, I timed the seizure. It lasted under the 5-minute danger zone. During the seizure, I massaged his acupressure relaxation points, a straight line from the tip of his nose to the middle of his upper back, and chanted "Stanley, you're okay." Dr. Lynch had advised this, and it actually reduced the violence of the seizure itself.

JULY 29, 2005 — UTI infections are a hallmark of kidney problems. So when Stan develops a serious infection it prompts fever, which in turn triggers focal seizures that land him in the hospital with 105 temp. They ice him down and give intravenous fluids. This occurs the night before I am supposed to travel to Chicago for a Summit for the Animals meeting. His seizure threshold is so low, it seems almost anything can trigger a seizure — stress, extreme heat, kidney or UT infections, too much sub-cu fluids, etc. Stanley has already lived over a year since his initial crash. And his kidneys have reached near-normal values at points along the way. Dr. Lynch's kidney protocol is why Stan is alive and kicking. He's 14 and still harasses Cleveland, takes the occasional tumble with Isaiah, and waddles his way to the center of everyone's attention.

NOVEMBER 30 2005, INSTRUCTIONS FOR STANLEY'S LAST APPOINTMENT — Stanley is in the last leg of kidney disease. He also has random seizures. Dr. Lynch feels he may only live until Christmas. I kindly ask you to take extra precaution today.

  1. Dr. Lynch has asked that Vlasta wait to groom Stanley until she arrives and checks him out. He may only be able to get a bath.
  2. If Stanley gets a haircut, please save his trimmed fur for me in a bag.
  3. Please keep seizure-alert bells around Stan's neck at all times.
  4. Stanley cannot walk very well. When you take him out to pee, carry him to a grassy area. He may struggle to stand, drag himself by front legs, fall over. But if you gently hold up and steady his hindquarters, he can walk.
  5. Stanley cannot drink water from a bowl very well. Due to kidney disease, his thirst is urgent. Please give him water via syringe.
  6. Between 1:00 and 3:00 pm, please administer:
    • 300 CC FLUIDS
  7. Stanely should not go without food, due to wasting. You may have to hand-feed him. Prop him up over his food bowl. Sorry for all the instructions. This is a small portion of the caregiving I provide Stanley at home, to make his final journey as comfortable as possible. Because I love him so much.

DECEMBER 19, 2005 — Dear Stanley: When I imagine you not here, I am nowhere. You are comfort and love and laughter. Around every corner. At the top of the stairs, flat as a pancake, little black nose. The intensity of your doggie kisses. Cocked head, stepping back, then reaching in for the full frontal. So close Stan. My friend. My child. When the air that fills you is gone, how will I breathe?

DECEMBER 20 2005, ABOUT 2:00 A.M. — Stan struggles on collapsing legs. Goes stiff, head juts and reaches forward, gasping for air. Cry-barks. The sad seizure bark. Falls over. A seizure? A stroke? I carry him into the bathroom. Eyes rolled back in his head. Shaking. Completely gone. A coma? Prepare for his death. But then I read to him. All my Stan Notes. And he awakens, he is still here. Hard to breath. Then, THE MOST AMAZING THING: This little weak puppy, closer to death than life, raises his head to rest it upon my leg. He nuzzles in, chin flat over my leg and looks up to me. For a suspended moment we are one. No shaking. No hard breathing. Just Stan and Mommy. Another moment swiped from death. Still, my grief is indescribable.

Stanley is in the final stages of kidney disease. I take him for rides in a child's wagon, which he seems to enjoy a lot. He can't walk anymore and is dehydrated, despite the 600 cc fluids I administer daily. His broken kidneys just flush everything through, except the toxins. That's kidney disease, a slow poisoning.

Tonight he squirted bloody diarrhea over the tarp and pee pads that line my bedroom floor. Pieces of Stan. I can't put him back together. I can't fix him. God, please help me. I cannot pull the breath out of Stan. I am horrible. And weak. In a haze. Help me. Help Stan. My child. I cannot let go of my child. God, please hear me.

Stanley, I love you with every nerve ending in my body. So strong. A mother's love. Let me let you go. I cannot let my child go. How do you let your child go? HOW THE F--K DO YOU DO THAT? He is Stan. My Stanley. My beautiful baby boy.

DECEMBER 24, 2005 — In a cruel twist of fate, I learn my younger dog Cleveland has diabetes! I usually get a break between diseases. My home looks like a triage center. When I take Clevey to vet for day-long insulin tests, I bring Stanley. Not for treatment. We are in hospice. But I need my vet to tell me if he is physically suffering. To my surprise, he still weighs 21.5 pounds. His normal range had been 21 to 23. My vet feels he is not in pain. But the 15 or so seizures leave him mute and nearly blind. He probably sees shadows. The toxins from final-stage kidney disease cause some dementia. He is not totally vacant, but not totally Stan either. He finds comfort in my touch and voice. I talk to him about everything! Sometimes he looks me straight in the eye for long moments. The other day I wheeled him down to Flynn Park. We sat in the grass listening to kids, dogs, birds. He felt the wind and smelled all the smells. I know he likes to be outside. I feel he is saying goodbye to this world.


ANNA RAJCA - The last couple of years haven't been easy on you as you lost so many of your beloved animals. I don't know what to say except for that I am sorry and I know at least Kitty, Tikvah and Stan had good lives and knew they were loved. Hang in there.

JOHN - Ah, Stan the man. Brenda my heart goes out to you all. Perhaps you could post your poem at

LUCY PEIXOTO - Although he has died a physical death, rest assured dear one, that Stanley is happy and healthy, waiting for you on the other side, with the angels, and that for the rest of your life on earth, you will always have an angel on your shoulder protecting you.

JJP - I went through the AR 2005 slides again today. Handsome boy, that Stanley! AR2005 Slideshow: I've noticed an interesting phenomenon among people like us, Brenda. Although we love all our animal family members maximally, and somehow expand with new members to love them as much, there is nonetheless often one who is the soulmate or touchstone. People find it hard to explain, because it isn't because one was favored or loved more. It's just that one maybe connected at a level different from the others. I recognized my soulmate when I realized that losing him took me as low as I could go, and that nothing else would ever hurt worse. It seems that Stanley is your soulmate, whether measured by the joy he brought you or the despair of losing him. It's so true that the last thing each animal family members does is break our hearts. It's the price we must pay for the privilege of having them in our lives. But what would our lives be without them?

STEVE SVOBODA - Am sorry to hear about Stanley. I'd say he had a very good and long dog life. He was very lucky to have you as his guardian. Former "victim" of Stan's sock thief days. Fully recovered, with a few less socks.

SUSAN COSTELLO - You don't know me, but I'm on your email list. I just read your ode to Stanley. It brought a big lump to my throat. Please know so many of us understand your grief and heartache. Thank you for the work you put in for the animals!

TAMARA EHLERT - Brenda, in light of Stanley's recent death, I thought you'd appreciate this: "Being a veterinarian, I'd been called to examine a 10-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker and were hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family there were no miracles left for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for the four-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience, and realize that Belker would go gently."

"The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's Family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion."

"We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why." Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life--like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" Everyone nodded in agreement. The four-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

LAUREN HOT - Remembering Stanley, I couldn't agree more. He was the happiest smiliest doggie even with his kidney problems. He was very lucky to have as a mommy and I'm sure he agrees. Hugs to you and your family and to Stanley. He will be missed by so many of us who looked forward to seeing him at the AR conferences.

CARYN GINSBERG - So sorry to hear about the loss of Stanley, He was a champ until the end. He was lucky to live his years under your wonderful care. I hope 2006 brings joy.

EILEEN KINGHORN - I feel your heartache so much. It is a very painful time for you and your family. My thoughts are with you, truly. I know exactly what you mean about looking into Stanley's eyes and hence his soul. Animals are beautiful. They teach us so much. They touch the soul like no human being ever can.

JUDY REED - I am so sorry. But, what a great joy I feel floating in this deep sorrow. I am truly sad that such a beloved friend of yours has passed; yet, how joyful I feel that Stanley had such a wonderfully full rich life with such a beautiful loving parent. If only all the ones who aren't so fortunate could have just a taste of what I know Stanley enjoyed in your company. I know Stanley Schmanley knew how much he was loved and treasured and cared for. He knew it until the he took his last breath. He knows it still.

LAURA CORTESE - I'm writing with teary eyes after reading your poem. Just know he will always be with you. Even when you least expect it you'll hear him in the rustle of the trees or see him in the flickering light of a candle. One more angel to watch over you.

TANYA TUELL - I can tell you there have been more-than-I-care-to-remember stretches of time that I dreaded mornings in particular because for just a few moments, as I woke up, I would forget but then remember something terrible had happened. I've suffered my share of loss--humans, dogs, cats--and I've yet to figure out how to do it without the sense of panic I've experienced. We all know that eventually we smile and laugh again but for me getting to that point is just so painful. You're right, the people closest to you often don't get it. If that is your experience and you feel the need, please call me at any time day or night. I'm not necessarily a good cheerleader but it might just be good for you to talk with a fellow bunny-huggin animal lover.

KIM JOHNSON- I read this tribute to Stanley while I was still in New Orleans. I couldn't read the song on that middle-of-the-night when I opened the email because I knew I would start crying, and once I started, I knew it would be a long cry. I couldn't even reply to you to offer my condolences and for that, I apologize. And I apologize for taking this long to catch up on my emails and get back to reading about Stanley. I know how empty this loss feels now. I hope you've been able to find some moments of peace and comfort since his passing. Time does heal, but time moves at Geologic pace after the death of someone so special to us. Take small comfort in knowing that he is no longer suffering, and that he watches over you every moment. He knows how much he was loved, and you know how much he loved you.

TAMMY - I know this has to be incredibly hard for you because he was one of your children. I hope it comforts you to know that in the beautiful place that Stanley has gone he is able to walk around like a sprightly puppy, bouncing up and down in the grass chasing after butterflies, and he doesn't need daily IV fluids, he can just curl up in a ball for a nap when he is tired and bask in the sunshine peacefully.

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