High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Toto (1999-2013)

Dear friends, I am very sad to report that
my dog Toto has died at the age of 14.

Thursday, Toto suffered a heart attack.
Her lungs filled with fluid making it hard
for her to breathe. She couldn't walk.
She couldn't even stand. Early Friday
morning, Mrs. Shady and I made the
agonizing decision every pet owner
dreads. We loaded Toto into the car,
drove her to a veterinary clinic and
had her humanely put to sleep.

Toto had been a loyal friend and companion
since August 1999 when she joined our family
as a tiny puppy. Her first official act as our
new pet was to pee on the rug. There
would be many more piddle puddles to
deal with in the years that followed.

Early on, we tried to train Toto to stay off the
furniture. She refused to obey. Eventually she
staked her claim to a rocker recliner and raised
a fuss if anyone else dared to occupy it.

We enrolled Toto in dog training school but
but she turned out to be the class clown.
She made a nuisance of herself, depriving
all the other dogs of the opportunity
to get an education.

Along with her stubborn resistance to training,
Toto enjoyed playing mean girl, growling and
barking at me like a junkyard dog confronting
a trespasser. To sum it up, Toto wasn't perfect
but she was perfect for me and I wouldn't have
traded her for any other pooch on the planet.
I have never known a dog with as much
spirit, spunk and personality.

Through the years Toto brought immeasurable
happiness and laughter into our lives. Always
the center of attention at family gatherings,
Toto knew she was special. She thrived on
affection. If she had her way, I would have
petted and scratched her every minute of
every day the entire 14 years.

In later life, Toto slowed down, developed arthritis
and a heart condition. She also started to go blind.
Last fall she was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor
on her paw and underwent risky surgery to have it
removed. Toto recovered and went on to enjoy a
few good months during which she recaptured the
energy and enthusiasm of a puppy.

In March, Toto suffered a seizure and nearly died.
She bounced back one more time and had a good
spring, but in recent weeks her health steadily
declined, forcing us to face the inevitable.

It was surreal and very painful to watch Toto
slip away as the doctor administered the
injection that stopped her heart.
We take comfort in knowing her
suffering has come to an end.

There is no greater joy than that which
comes from giving pure, unconditional love
to an innocent, appreciative animal.

Toto, my grouchy, grumpy girl...
my good girl, my great girl...
I will miss you.

I will fondly remember our happy years
together and I will forever love you.

Nighty-night, dear Toto. Rest in peace.

Dear friends, I need to take a week away from
blogging to collect myself and process this loss.
Please understand if I do not visit your blogs
during that time. Thank you very much.


  1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderAugust 3, 2013 at 2:31 AM

    Dear Tom,

    When this little puppy came into your lives she brought joy and unconditional love and asked little of you. In return for her trust and the happiness she brought to you every day, you gave her your steady care and tender affection. She simply could not have had a better life than the one you gave her at your side.

    Although it will be so hard to not have her presence in your home, know that when her time with you was over, you gave her the last loving thing you could give her - gentle rest from the pain and suffering that could not be healed. It's easy for me to imagine her somewhere looking gratefully and adoringly down at you, her little tail wagging furiously, saying with a joyous bark, "Thank you, thank you!"

    The love Toto showed you - and you gave back - will never leave you. It is forever engraved on your heart.

    I hope the following may bring some comfort to you in the days ahead:

    Lord Byron knew what you are feeling:

    "Near this Spot

    are deposited the Remains of one

    who possessed Beauty without Vanity,

    Strength without Insolence,

    Courage without Ferocity,

    and all the Virtues of Man without his Vices.

    This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery

    if inscribed over human Ashes,

    is but a just tribute to the Memory of


    who was born in Newfoundland May 1803,

    and died at Newstead Nov.r 18th, 1808"

    And this:

    Grieve not,
    nor speak of me with tears,
    but laugh and talk of me
    as if I were beside you...
    I loved you so --
    'twas Heaven here with you.

    --Isla Paschal Richardson

    My tears join yours this morning ~

  2. Tom I am so sorry my good friend to read of your loss. Us old guys have such a strong connection to our dogs. Our dogs seem to know that we are at a place in life that we really need there love. I know Harley was there waiting for Toto and they will be best of friends and will wait there together for the day we join them. Again I am so sorry and know that there are no words I can say that will ease your pain. Your friend And A Dell Rat All ways Greg

  3. My thoughts go out to both you and Mrs Shady. I'm very sorry for your loss. Really, it so clear that you both cherished this little pup endlessly and I bet she had a very wonderful, full life filled with much love and affection. She really sounds like she was such a beautiful dog and a very special one at that.

  4. How very sad to hear Shady. I'm sure in her 14 years, she had the best life a dog could have, with many hugs and pats from yourself and your wife. Its always hard to loose someone you love especially when its an animal who depends on you and vice-a-versa. I will be giving my cat an extra long pat tonight. take care.

  5. Tom, I am just heartbroken for you. Toto looks like such a character and a beautiful dog. I have never experienced the loss of a beloved pet, the closest I've come is when Donnacha's family dog was put to sleep a couple of years ago. That brought me to tears so I can only imagine how you are feeling. My love goes out to you and Mrs Shady at this difficult time, I hope that you can both dwell on the good times and funny stories you have shared here to bring you comfort. I'll be here when you're ready to blog again.

    Emma x

  6. oh I am so sorry about your loss....we know exactly how you feel...your family is in my thoughts

  7. Oh Tom, my heart sank as I read this. I'm so very, very sorry for you all. Toto lived an amazing life and has left her mark and legacy on yours. I used to work for a vet when I was in school and had to watch and assist in far too many euthanizations, humane as they were. What helped give me comfort, especially with dogs like your sweet Toto was that number 1, truly, their sufferings were over and they wouldn't have any more pain, and number 2, they lived lives full of love, and were well loved in return. What an amazing life Toto had. Please take the time you need to grieve and heal. We will be here when you come back.

  8. Oh Shady, I am so sorry about the loss of you dear friend, Toto. From our home where our dog, Dodger, is the center of all we do I know the depth of your loss. What a beautiful girl she was, and you have shown your love for her in all you have shared about her here.
    She was fortunate to have you and Mrs. Shady to give her a wonderful life and a dignified end. I know that what she gave back to you is immeasurable. Please know you will be in my thoughts.

  9. Kathryn Anderson, aka Mrs. ShadyAugust 3, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    Thanks to all of you for your kind comments. Toto was brought into our home when our grand daughter was 3 years old. She was barely old enough to be taken away from her mother and nearly died in the first week.

    She grew up with our grandchildren and nieces, who she viewed as her siblings. She was a character with a strong personality--more human than dog-- and entertained everyone with her antics. She brought much laughter and joy to all who knew her and will be missed greatly.

    Thanks again.

  10. Hi Shady, So sorry. Great to have, but very hard to lose.


  11. What a touching story about your beloved Toto. She was a beautiful dog with lots of personality. I really enjoyed seeing all the pictures of her. I feel your sorrow and know you are in deep pain right now. You will miss your dear companion, friend/family member, time will help ease the pain. May her memories help you find peace. My heart felt condolences for you, Tom and Kathy.

  12. I'm so sorry for your loss, I understand exactly how it feels like. She was so sweet and so blessed to have spent her life with caring owners that loved her. It is a hard decision but the right one. I think that when an animal is in pain and their owners try to keep them going is a very selfish act because if they could explain what their going through we'd see that it would be cruel than giving them peace. I hope you feel better soon and keep the best memories of Toto that you have, the moment is sad but stick to the happiness she brought you. All my best wishes for you and Mrs Shady

  13. Dear Tom & Kathryn

    Oh, how I feel for you and your family and all who knew and loved Toto! I feel very privileged to have met your precious, beautiful girl today, even though under such sad circumstances. What a unique little character she was and she certainly managed to have had you so well trained! She seems to have been perfectly imperfect and it is clear her special place will not easily be filled.

    Of course, knowing how deeply in tune you are with animals in general, Tom, and how very much Toto meant to you, being the dog you never had as a child, I can well imagine the overwhelming heaviness in your heart today. As much as I wish it were possible to comfort you at this time, I also know that nothing can soften the rawness of the loss you have to bear and only time will help ease the worst of the emptiness you are feeling right now. It has been such a privilege to finally meet Toto and to have some insight into her temperament and unique canine personality. That you adored her is abundantly clear. Thankfully you and Kathryn have each other to turn to for comfort.

    Fourteen is a very good age and Toto made sure she hung on to her wonderful life until she could no longer do so with ease. Her time had come and she relied on you to help her cross that final hurdle, difficult as it was. Kathleen Mae left the most beautiful message on your blog. I am unable to come even close to those sentiments, but she has touched superbly on what is in my own heart and surely all those who have had the joy of knowing and sharing their life with a precious pet.

    Take care and take your time grieving. Know that our thoughts are right there with you!

    Loving hugs


    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderAugust 3, 2013 at 1:20 PM

      An animal's love brings out the best in us, doesn't it, Desiree? Think of all the lives who have been touched just reading about Toto and seeing her life in pictures! There's nothing "shady" about Toto (except maybe the color of her curly, silky fur...), but we know through this blog what a sweet friend she was to our Tom and his wife.

      There's another connection between Toto and the Shady Dell as well! The Dell had its origins in my grandfather's dream of owning and operating a kennel for purebred dogs in the same place Dell rats would gather for dancing and fun years later. So seeing this beautiful dog alongside stories of the Dell is entirely appropriate! My grandfather was an expert in all things canine; he surely would have given Toto his seal of approval!

      Thanks for your compliment about my comment. I just spoke from my heart, having lost many dear pets in my life. I'm glad my words "rang true" for others who were also feeling Tom and Kathryn's pain at losing their dear Toto.

      Here at SDM&M, we compare memories, laugh, dance and joke, and at other times we show up when the night is dark and storm-tossed for our friends. Because we all have been in tough places in our lives, our hearts reach out in sympathy and tenderness. That's what friendship means. It's good to be a part of this community where sharing is encouraged. Although I am a newcomer to this technology, it seems to me that it is quite simply blogging at its best!

  14. Edgewood Animal ClinicAugust 3, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

    (Author Unknown)

  15. Cindy, Edgewood Animal ClinicAugust 3, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    So sorry to hear we have lost this sweet little girl. I know she gave you many years of comfort and she will be missed.

  16. Maryann, Edgewood Animal ClinicAugust 3, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Toto was a VERY sweet girl. We will all miss her. Know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. With deepest sympathy, Maryann.

  17. Dr. David Lee, Edgewood Animal ClinicAugust 3, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    I am so sorry about Toto, She was such a great lil girl. Remember all the good times you all shared. My thoughts are with you both.

  18. Tom:

    I can't tell you how very sad I feel for you and your loss. She was a brave little girl and hung in there for you as long as she could. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Love, Donna

  19. Kathleen Mae SchneiderAugust 3, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    I won't say this pain will get better. I've heard that too many times from many well-meaning friends and strangers alike. From our experience, we can say it may get different. You will reluctantly close this chapter of your life where Toto was a main character and find ways to incorporate the sadness from her death into the days ahead; not making it go away because it never does. What it will do for you both, I'm sure, is make you even more compassionate and kind people. That's Toto's wonderful legacy!

    You need to soothe your broken heart with free-flowing tears, which quite literally clear the chemical toxins out of your system that were produced from stress and grief. Cry until you can't cry any more!

    We will continue to pray for you. We may have just this keyboard and computer, but our shoulders stand at the ready to lean on.

    Tonight I will plant in my garden the special bulbs I bought today after I read your sad news. I will dig deeply into the rich soil and place them in it, and gently cover them. By doing so, I will give those bulbs the darkness without which they could not grow. Then I will water them faithfully and put a special marker above their place. They have another name, but my label for them will read "Toto's Flower".

    After their rest and gathering strength deep below the ground, and when the sun gives them the signal, they will break the sod with bright green shoots, send up sturdy stems and burst into bloom. Welcoming their brilliant color every year, I will smile and be reminded of the beauty and love this dear little soul brought to your family and the world. She will not be forgotten!

    Please remember in this sad time that the pain of your sorrow is equal to the depth of your love.

  20. My thoughts go out to you and to Mrs Shady, I'm very sorry to hear of your loss x

  21. I'm so sorry, Shady. You and Mrs. Shady will be in my thoughts and prayers. Toto was a beautiful girl and I know how much you loved and cherished her. Take good care of yourself, my friend.

  22. My dear, dear Tom. I was so desperately sorry to hear this news about your much loved Toto - my heart goes out to you and Mrs Shady at this sad time. I know that she will be missed so much. How lovely to see these photos of Toto today. I did smile at how she became the class clown at obedience classes. She obviously had other ideas! I know that the loss of your beautiful Toto will leave a huge gap in your life and my thoughts and prayers will be with you. Sending hugs to you at this sad time x

  23. Loss of a pet poem...


    I lost a treasured friend today
    The little dog who used to lay
    Her gentle head upon my knee
    And shared her silent thoughts with me.

    She’ll come no longer to my call
    Retrieve no more her favourite ball
    A voice far greater than my own
    Has called her to his golden throne.

    Although my eyes are filled with tears
    I thank him for the happy years
    He let her spend down here with me
    And for her love and loyalty.

    When it is time for me to go
    And join her there, this much I know
    I shall not fear the transient dark
    For she will greet me with a bark.

    ~Author Unknown

  24. Dear Tom and Mrs. Shady, Thank you for sharing your sweet, beloved Toto with us at a time that is so hard for you. I loved all her photos. She was lucky to find a wonderful home with your family and you were blessed by all the love and enjoyment from her. I'll keep you in my prayers and I hope you can find peace and comfort in your beautiful memories of Toto.

  25. Dear Shady, I was here earlier today, but was unable to say anything to you. I am so sorry about your darling Toto. She went as far as she could go with the loving care given to her from you and Mrs. Shady. And, we always think we could have done more. Two years ago this month we had to make the same decision for our husky, Whitey. And, it is still hard.

    Even though you know it is her time, the responsibility to make that decision weighs so heavily on your heart, and, I do feel your pain.

    Thank you for sharing your great photos of Toto's wonderful, mischievous life. She was a beautiful girl! Class clown at dog training school, huh? Wonder who she picked that up from!

    My thoughts are with you and Mrs. Shady. Hugs to you both!♥

  26. Oh Tom,
    Sadly I am all to aware of the heartache of losing a beloved pet. You told me when we lost ours that Toto was not in the best of health. Weren't you blessed to have that lovely, awesome, toto totally spirited companion for so long. Saying goodbye to her I know was a real heart breaker, I felt mine aching for you, dear friend. Time is a healer, and memories will keep her in your heart. Much love and sympathy to you and Mrs Shady. I hurt for you both...

  27. aww poor old Toto, I'm sure she had a fantastic life with you guys. hugs.

  28. Ohh, I'm so sorry to hear of your loss! So incredibly hard to lose a member of your family. She was so lucky to have you - I can tell that you and Mrs Shady gave her a fantastic life and loved her deeply! Will be thinking of you and your family during this time!

  29. Tom, thank you so much for the kind comment on my post about George. Just last night I was feeling sad about him so your comment was in perfect timing! I'm so sorry to hear about your loss of Toto. It sounds like she had a ton of personality and was very loved. Deciding to say goodbye to a pet is one of the worst things to experience in life. Time will help fade the awful memory of putting her to sleep and leave the joyful ones.
    George and Toto probably would have been great dog friends. Toto would clown around while George sat there and thought about his next nap or treat.
    Losing a dog is so hard. I really feel for you.

  30. I am very sorry, Tom. I know this is devastating for you. My sister Liz felt for her dogs as a parent for a child and those deaths caused her great pain. I'm so glad to see these photos of Toto. What a beautiful dog she is and an interesting character. I believe we will meet our pets in heaven, and I know you will see her there.

    Due to family visits, I haven't been to any blogs the last few days. I'm sorry I am late in commenting. I pray God will give you comfort and peace as you miss Toto.

  31. I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is never easy. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  32. Tom,
    My deepest sympathy in your and Mrs. Shady's loss. That was a beautiful and loving tribute to a great friend and family member.
    Dell Rat Ron

  33. Mrs. Shady and I would like to thank each and every one of you for your thoughts, prayers and compassionate comments. We will always remember your kindness.

    I hope to resume blogging with a new post this Sunday. I’ll see you then.

    Once again, thank you for taking the time to show that you care.

  34. I am so sorry to hear that Tom, I never had a dog but I can understand how pets become family members and how much they're loved.

    1. Thank you very much, dear Katia! I hope you, your husband and your baby are doing well.

  35. Sorry to hear of your loss, Shady. :( What a fitting tribute to a wonderful companion. Mr. Toto sounded like a wonderful dog. He was so handsome too!


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