Thursday, December 31, 2009

Celebrating Those Who Touch Our Lives

GDB alumna Lois Seigal with Guide Dog Savitaby GDB Alumna Lois Seigal

I loved my Guide Dog Savita beyond measure. She had a sweet, gentle nature and was kind of a tease at times, too. So, you can imagine how I felt when she was diagnosed with cancer in April.

Our veterinarian, Dr. Jeff Meyer, his wife Lynn, and the rest of the loving staff at the Granville Small Animal Clinic went above and beyond the call of duty in her care. After performing surgery to remove her cancer-ridden spleen, Dr. Meyer and his wife took her into their home for several nights so she could recover under observation.

Consulting with GDB’s veterinarian, Dr. Dietrich, Dr. Meyer and I came to the decision to begin chemotherapy. Each time Savita went in for a treatment, my amazing friends would drive us the 80 miles to and from the clinic. Savita would spend a night or two there under the staff’s supervision before returning home. She easily won everyone's affection by being so brave, cooperative and loving with those who cared for her.

And even though I know I must have been phoning the clinic almost daily for advice and assurance that I was caring properly for Savita, at the end of each call I was ALWAYS was reminded to "Please call us any time you need us." I have never met such exceptional expertise matched with kindness, understanding and patience.

Each time we spoke, Dr. Dietrich reminded me to make every day the best day of Savita's life, and so we did. There were many friends to play with, including two local teens who gave her extra-special attention during their summer break. There were outings to enjoy, treats and the very kindest most loving care possible to imagine. She had nine wonderful months before additional complications set in.

When her back legs began to fail, a friend made a special relieving box for her on our deck, so she wouldn’t have to maneuver the five steps up to the house from the yard. But when her kidneys failed, we knew it was time to make the difficult decision to free her spirit from her ailing body.

Her last day was special: she enjoyed some sniffs in the snow, her favorite treats, hours of loving, cozy warm beds, and visits from friends. Her favorite friend, I think, was the mailman; he was so saddened by the prospect of losing Savita that when he left after an hour of stroking her, it was with tears rolling down his cheeks. It was a sad day for us humans, indeed.

With heavy hearts, Dr. Jeff and Lynn drove the 80 miles from the clinic after their day of work on Thursday, December 10th and arrived here at our home around 8:30 so Savita could be put respectfully and lovingly to sleep in her own home and in her own bed, surrounded by friends. I wish I knew of a tribute appropriate for my wonderful veterinarian and his wife. They continue to call to check in on me, recognizing the loneliness I feel in not having the warmth of my best friend to hug, but they know she is with me in spirit.

Savita was loved; she was a little princess with a very, very big heart! She leaves behind so much in the way of memories to cherish forever for me and all those who loved her. The cards, phone calls, flowers, gifts, donations and endless kindnesses in her memory are the evidence of her mark in life. I feel so blessed to have been her care-giver, friend, companion and handler. What a privilege for almost nine years! She would have been 11 in March.

She touched all of our lives, and you have touched mine. Thank you each and every one for caring for this precious dog and extending her life beyond what we thought might be possible.


  1. sorry about the one above, my computer and i are not friends. my thoughts go out to this family who lost this dog. I have tears running down my face just from reading about her.

  2. This is a very touching story. Thank you for sharing, you had me in tears.

    You are in our thoughts and prayers,
    Maddie and Betsy(puppy in training)

  3. Lois, what a beautiful tribute to your wonderful guide and the incredible support behind you. Sending my love and condolences at the loss of your guide. What a beautiful life she lived.

  4. Lois, that was a very moving tribute to Savita and all those who loved & cared for her. I was fortunate to have known Savita, and she was a very loving partner & guide. She was treated like the queen that she was. I am saddened by her passing, but I have great memories of Savita& my guide Charlie playing together.

  5. Savita

    With sadness I think of a creature small
    Who served Lo well and beyond the call.
    It’s true, Savita was a dog, and yet
    She was far far more than a much loved pet.

    Savita was a hero, year after year,
    Serving her Lois without question or fear.
    She was Lois’s eyes, her guide, her friend
    On whom Lo’s eyesight made her depend.

    That’s not unique; other dogs do that stuff
    But for Savita, guiding Lo was never enough.
    Lo and Savita were, and did seem
    An interdependent and loving team.

    Lo relied on her companion and friend,
    For years, and as it happened to the very end
    Of Savita’s life, which came as it should,
    At home, in comfort, and feeling good.

    Lo adored her dog as a parent might,
    Rewarding her for replacing her sight.
    The dog responded with temperament sweet,
    With devoted affection, profound and discreet.

    From the very start there was a question whose
    Will would prevail, whose path they’d chose.
    As often as not, the battle for power
    Would go to the one with the canine glower.

    Savita -- the Sun: ever burning ever bright
    Savita’s memory will continue to light
    And touch the hearts of the many who
    Knew her and loved her, and still do.

  6. I am VERY touched by this story. My guide Posada is the absolute love of my life and I can't imagine what it will be like to not have her by my side one day. My heart goes out to Lois.

  7. This teams heart goes out to you and all who helped in Savita's time of need. I like the poem that was posted, and it makes me think about one located on the GDB website called Passing By (I think). I highly recommend it to all. It was written by one of the founders of our beloved school, hmm another Lois... I have been trying to get myself to be able to read it during tours of the campus, but I am not sure that I can! Even while reading it to myself I get choked up... It can be found in the history section where that Lois' story is.

    -Seth & Bamboo.

  8. Lois:
    I read your story and tears was just streaming down my face.
    I am an avid dog lover and a fellow GDB alumni. My wife and I have 4 dogs total (including my guide dog, Bryson).
    I sense and feel your pains. I dread the day that I have to make those types of decisions. Reading your post though and seeing the love shared with Savita by friends, family and your Vet seems to help alleviate some of your pains and I'm grateful to see that.
    Now that Savita has crossed the Rainbow Bridge, some day, we will all hopefully cross that bridge and be rejoined with our four legged companion, friend.