the last dance …

A couple of days ago I had my dogs over at our gym. I had a crate set up for Ocean in case she just wanted to hang out while I worked the Boyz. I’m not sure why I thought that though, she has never said no to work. Ever.

As soon as Ocean saw the games we were playing, she went into the office, grabbed her udder tug, dropped it at my feet as if to say, “I shall not be denied”.


We were weaving, spinning, twirling, and fetching, and she had more grit and determination than the two younger dogs, by a long shot. She was her normal sassy self, keen, full of it, and “if you want a piece of this action ya better keep up” attitude.

But I had this overwhelming feeling that was saying, “enjoy every moment of this as it is to be the last dance”.

And as always, My Ocean and I floated, and played, and danced like we always have, seamlessly and tangibly. My Team mate, my partner, my muse, my love, My beautiful Ocean.

Ocean entered her senior years a couple of years back, and did so very gracefully, while keeping every ounce of tenacious determination to continue working.


And just in the last couple of weeks entered the hospice stage of her life. Some days were vibrant, some days weren’t. Some days she was bouncy like a puppy, some days she slept a great deal. But as is the hospice philosophy, we were here to support her as she was entering the final stage of her amazing life, emotionally and spiritually, in the safety and loving comfort of our home, her home.

As I just wrote those words, and they seemingly sound normal, please note that it was like a punch to the heart when she entered this stage, and I had to will myself to hold it together, each and every day.

With the guidance from my friend, who has been Oceans veterinarian for over a decade, she noticed that Ocean was creating her own terms for her own imminent death. She knew how sensitive Ocean was, but also how equally strong willed, and helped to make her more comfortable, while we supported her needs and comforts. Acupuncture, touch, massage, and some anti nausea pain medication.

Ocean was the perfect conundrum, she was timid, spooky, and cautious with life as we know it, but in work she was confident, unwavering in her choices, and strong willed. She was perfect.


Yesterday afternoon she entered the ‘actively dying stage’. And at 2am this morning she finally was okay with letting go.

We surrounded her in lavender in her purple blanket, lots and lots of lavender as that was her favorite place in our garden. And we set her under the bright moon early this morning.

I am glad her final breath was under her own terms the way she chose. I am glad it was with us. I am glad she did not suffer. And I miss her being here right now more than words can express.

Over thirteen years ago I dreamed of Ocean. And then there she was.






38 Comments Add yours

  1. Joe Fisher says:

    I’m happy that Ocean left on her own terms! I’m sorry for those she left behind, but happy that Ocean left peacefully and loved.

    1. Jan and "Tippet" Byrne says:

      My heart breaks for you and your family.Ocean took a chunk of all our hearts forever. As it should be. It’s ok to cry.

  2. Teresa says:

    Dad listened as I read your note this morning. He said you lost your best friend. I broke into tears. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  3. Bree says:

    She was so very lucky to have you and I’m glad she had a peaceful passing. Thinking of you and your family.

  4. Cheryl Marchi says:

    my heart is breaking for you but I am glad she left the way she wanted to. I am going through this with Pompey right now but she is not ready yet. Sending love your way….<3

  5. maggielandry says:

    Sobbing at work… My heart goes out to you. Brought back memories of Fozzie my wonderful soul mate of a horse.

  6. Rhonda says:

    Ocean had a beautiful life. Sending you so much love and light.

  7. Darci Shane says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. How lucky you were to have Ocean as part of your world and how very lucky Ocean was to have you in hers.

  8. Nancy Rosen says:

    Beautiful, Nancy. I’m so sorry about her loss, but she went softly and with dignity. Lucky all. My deepest sympathy for you & your family,

    Nancy R.


  9. fangshuicanines says:

    Oh no, I’m so sorry! I’ve always followed Ocean from when you started making videos–her stories, your love for her–all were amazing. I’m am heartbroken for you, but so glad she left while she felt love. My love goes out to you and your family… She was my favorite.

  10. mtwaggin says:

    Oh sweetie, tears fill my eyes reading this. We will all miss that sweet girl and I am so very proud of how you gracefully let her set her own terms. Too many do not and this post is a reminder to all of us to be present with our seniors and honor THEIR wishes. The only hugs I can send right now are cyber ones but if I could know I’d drive right down there and give you and the family all big bear hugs! I too am dealing with those late senior moments every single day for a number of my crew and only hope that I am offering the support and love that you have given yours! You are an inspiration in so many ways.

  11. marie tanner says:

    I am so very sorry for you and the rest of the family, Nancy. A piece of you will always be missing. know how close you were to your dear Ocean. love

  12. Lisa Marie Cook says:

    Complete poetry in life and death. I love that you shared a great portion of life learning, loving and laughing together. An undeniable gift. Thank you for sharing this story, I am sure the gut punch is too much to bare at times. I feel your pain, as usual. Love to you, Spore, Piper and Renn, Lisa

  13. S Smiley says:

    Big tears for you and yours. Our precious four legged ones come to teach and leave us before we know all of the answers. Too short, too soon…but always with LOVE.

  14. Kathy says:

    Thank you for sharing~Abundance of love to you and your family.(Hugs)

  15. Nikki Brown says:

    What a beautiful tribute to such a wonderful dog and the friendship/kinship the two of you share. I say share purposefully, as she is still with you, within you, beside you, and will always be. Getting used to “seeing and being ” with her in this new way is difficult, but that kind of relationship is so worth any pain you have right now. You seem to also be surrounded literally, and cyber-ly (if there is such a word) with people who care about you, and will help you and your family with this transition. Be as good to yourself as she would be to you, Nancy!

  16. Ella-Kate Mickelson says:

    So sorry for your loss. How lucky you both were to have found each other and loved each other.

  17. Colleen Fitzgerald says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss Nancy. Because of the wonderful stories you shared about Ocean, I felt I knew her just a little and cried to hear of her passing. I’ve said good-by to two senior aussies over the last three years — the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. You gave Ocean a wonderful and honorable gift by supporting her passing the way you did in spite of the pain you were feeling. Your story is an inspiration to me about how we should approach the dying process of our beloved dogs.

  18. Kathryn Haas says:

    Nancy I am so sorry for your families loss she was a beautiful spirit and a true friend one of the good ones blessings to you Katherine

  19. to soon they leave us. The memory of them never does.

  20. Cindy Cheong says:

    Oh no, so sorry to hear about Ocean. I know how much you love her. I really feel your pain. 😦

  21. Helene says:

    Oh Nancy I’m so very, very sorry for you and your family’s loss of Ocean. I know today will very hard for all of you so I’m sending lots of love and understanding prayers and hugs. Ocean was such a sweet girl with a big heart and love for you and your family. I so enjoyed watching the two of you work together, always a beautiful dance. Know how hard it can be in letting go but Ocean was so luck and loved by you and your family that you gave her the best in life and in passing, letting her choose her way and time. With reverence and a prayer for Ocean, she will never be truly gone, only now lives on forever in your hearts.

  22. C McCullough says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss and at the same time in awe if how well you and your grand dame were tuned in with each other. She got the kind if departure I can only hope to give my dogs when their time has come. Scares me to think about when that will be for Jackson… Just can’t imagine!! Hugs from Billings!

    Sent from my iPhone


  23. I have no words Nancy. What you wrote, so sad, so beautiful.

  24. Lisa Wisdom says:

    My heart break along with you. So very sorry for your family’s loss.

  25. Sandy says:

    Dearest friend, I read about your precious Ocean and I cried.
    Love you,
    Sandy & Sophie

  26. Deb Bouwkamp (Service Canines of Montana) says:

    so sorry for your loss Nancy, I have been there many times. You are in my thots.!

  27. Nancy, What a glorious life you had with an amazing Ocean. She will be dancing around you as your guide with all your endeavors. Blessings.

  28. Linda says:

    Oh Nancy, your beautiful, beautiful Ocean, whom Banjo and I have watched with delight so many times….a happy Fate brought her to you, where she could find her life’s purpose and SHINE…she is shining still in that forever ocean of memory where spirits go….we send this with love to you and your family, Linda , Banjo, and Ken

  29. Margee Ten Eyck says:

    Nancy, Sending a hug and condolences from Mark & I and a bow from the baby elephants. What a beautiful tribute to your amazing dog. Margee Ten Eyck

  30. Jess Carroll says:

    Thinking of you, Nancy, and beautiful Ocean.

  31. my deepest angelic thoughts are with you Nancy. as you do we let our dear kids tell us when they are ready to go and make that time as easy and respectful as possible. I am glad I had a chance to meet Ocean.

  32. Candace says:

    Oh Nancy. My thoughts are with you and all of your family. Such a tender time. The greater the love, the deeper the heartache. So Ocean, so precious.

  33. Pat Nash says:

    Nancy, so sorry for your loss. I have never met you but feel I know and admire you from your Freestyle Video.

  34. Shelley T, says:

    Deepest sympathy, Nancy, for your tremendous loss. Everything good you took from your relationship with her, you have and will continue to magnify and reflect back into the world.

  35. Millie Hea says:

    Nancy, by luck, I decided to check my Spam folder (something I never do) and there was this Post. Don’t know how that happened. Glad I checked it so I can express my sympathy. I know the feeling ….you can get over the initial shock but there’s a corner in your heart that still aches. Love you and thanks for sharing with me, Millie.
    P.S. Re-reading letters from my son John when he was in the Marines (1985-86) and he wrote that he had fun with the Tanners especially Nancy. “she’s so much fun, especially when we went bowling.”

  36. Jan says:

    My sympathies, Nancy! So hard to lose a part of your family! Such a beautiful tribute!

  37. nutsfortreasure says:

    Just seeing your post now. Tears streaming down my face. God how I know this pain. The time for JT and I to have gets shorter with each day that passes. We send you hugs and kisses and hope the memories of Ocean bring you joy and know this you were loved as well. xo from JT and I up here in NH

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