When Your Beloved Pet is Diagnosed with Cancer…

Friends! It’s been several sad weeks here in the Hoagland household. Our beloved Gracie, our wire-haired fox terrier who was only 7 1/2 years old, got sick on Christmas Day and got worse and worse, week after week, until we discovered she had liver cancer and lymphoma. Only five days after that hard-to-believe diagnosis, we knew “it was time.” Beyond awful.

I know many of you have been thru’ this. One of our dear couple friends dropped off a new-to-us children’s book you need to know about: It’s called Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant.

The book is super sweet and we will enjoy sharing it with our grandchildren later while it helped comfort us immediately.  Additionally wonderful, our six children commissioned a super talented local artist to create a watercolor of our Gracie. What a keepsake.

Special thanks go to Taylor Grimm! Find her on Instagram at: Taylor_Leigh_Grimm

Since we’ve been empty nesters, Gracie has been our little shadow, going everywhere with us, especially my better half. We logged miles and miles a day walking with her, she chased a thousand and one squirrels, and was quite the mole hunter and conqueror.

Claire “calms” Gracie before bedtime…

Gracie perches over Poppy’s shoulder while he reads to Claire Bear.

Gracie’s favorite hangout, by the fire…

The Great Squirrel Hunter…

Thankfully, I remembered an invaluable resource we read years ago in book club: Heaven by Randy Alcorn. It’s a tome, and is seminary-worthy. Even tho’ we read it over the summer to discuss once we resumed in the fall, it was a little more than we bargained for.

We howled when the children’s version came out about the time of our meeting. However, the adult version is truly a resource readers can consult over and over for just about any topic you’d be interested in. (Try 12 sections, 46 chapters!)

Yes, there’s a chapter called, Will Animals, Including Our Pet’s, Live Again? You can bet I went to grab the book and reread this chapter.

Let’s read the first paragraph (Ch 40):

“Christ proclaims from his throne on the New Earth: ‘Behold I am making all things new’ (Revelation 21:5 ESV). It’s not just people who will be renewed but also the earth and ‘all things’ in it. Do ‘all things’ include animals? Yes. Horses, cats, dogs, deer, dolphins, and squirrels—as well as the inanimate creation—will be beneficiaries of Christ’s death and resurrection.”

Two well-known authors are also quoted in this chapter. First, let’s hear from Joni Erickson Tada from her book on Heaven:

And you all will LOVE to read this poem from none other than John Piper:

Randy Alcorn’s chapter on pets also includes answers to:

“How closely are animals tied to our resurrection?”

“Will extinct animals live on the new earth?”

“Will our pets be restored on the new earth?”

“Is it wrong to grieve a pet’s death?”

“What future is God planning for animals?”

“Might some animals talk?”

You can tell these are deep questions, Likewise goes the rest of the book. You’ll get to see and read Scripture after Scripture on animals (in this particular chapter) and see the wonder and the love the Lord gives us through our pets, ultimately created for God’s glory.

Already John and I’ve been asked the big question, “So, will you get another dog?”  To which, for today, I’ll answer “no.” We wish (!!!) to hold off until our future grandchildren arrive (two grandsons super soon, Lord willing!) and we see how much time we’d have to raise a puppy!?!

Meanwhile to those of you who’ve survived losing a pet, we’re with you. Gracie’s our third terrier and it gets much more difficult each time.

So, as Bob Hope would sing, Gracie, “Thanks for the memories…”

‘Til next time!


Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Grief, Life Lessons

11 responses to “When Your Beloved Pet is Diagnosed with Cancer…

  1. Teresa Kinberger

    I am so sorry for your loss. Our four legged children are such a special part of our lives. I love Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven. When I lost my last fur baby I too ran back to that chapter to get help with scripture references to help console me. Hugs my friend!

  2. Bettie Collins

    -The title of Chapter 40 motivated me to persevere the long read to find out if our pets will live again (-: I love Alcorn’s book. I love your tribute to your Gracie!

  3. Shirley Garwood

    Love the pics and drawing. Sweet memories.

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss…
    I lost my only two “children” a day apart. They are still doing lab test. It’s like actually losing part of your true family. They were my TRUE family. I wasn’t blessed with children and my own family. It’s all part of my “story”. Hence my website.

    May God give you ‘His’ peace…”not as the world gives.”


  5. Beautiful thoughts and sweet pictures.

  6. This is one of the best and most heartfelt pieces I’ve read, but not much solace to your broken hearts at losing Gracie. I’m so sorry.

  7. deboracoty

    I very much appreciated this timely post, Elizabeth. I’ve just been through a season of loss which included burying not only my father (on Christmas Day), several longtime friends, but also my beloved Fenway, my faithful companion for almost 16 years. I still hear his excited bark in my mind when I come home and grab his leash to go for a walk before I realize he’s no longer here. I truly do believe heaven’s pearly gate has a doggie door. My heartfelt condolences on the loss of your sweet Gracie.