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On July 3, 1998, we did a very brave thing for a very brave soul. Our Ollie was found to have lymphosarcoma, a form of cancer, only a couple of weeks before. But, it was found too late for it to respond to treatment. So, we allowed Ollie to be out of his pain forever. While we stroked Ollie and told him how much we loved him, and how good he would soon be feeling, our veterinarian gave him medicine that allowed him to die peacefully.

Ollie, our first Golden child, was a special guy who never could complain. He was the runt of his litter, and always had a tough time healthwise. Oh, his problems weren't life threatening ones, but they were annoying to him. He had lots of allergies to foods and things in the air, which caused him to scratch lots, shake his head, and rub at his ears & his paws. But, Ollie never complained. Honestly, he always had a smile on his face, even to his dying day. We told our veterinarian he made liars out of us, because every time we brought him in, he'd act so happy that it was hard to believe that he was hurting. Ollie always thought of others before he did of himself, and would be so happy that so many people were now thinking of him and his fine deeds. He would also be happy that lots of fine people were thinking of his human parents & how sad they would be at not having his smiling face there.

A Spirit Gone

Mistfield Oliver CGC
August 3, 1987 - July 3, 1998

Ollie is gone now and no longer suffering. His battle with cancer hardly even began less than three weeks before, and we found out yesterday it had consumed his body and was just pitifully hopeless. You know, these Golden saints hide so much of their pain from us to protect us, that by the time we learn of their problem, it's often to late to reverse the tide.

Ollie loved children and was a guy who knew many people, and knew them, by their first names. If I asked him if he wanted to go to my good friend Lynn's house, it could have been hours before we left. Yet, Ollie would pull me down to the exact house on the street where she lived. Lynn asked if she could go say good-bye to Ollie, and she took her two children, aged 10 and 6 to the hospital to see him shortly before we had him put to sleep. They went into the hospital unit and just hugged and kissed him all over.

Lynn told me that he looked so very much hurting, but that when he initially saw her, he lifted up his head to acknowledge her. She indicated that it was heartbreaking to leave him, but that he was so very tired. As she went to leave, she noted that Ollie immediately laid his head back down and closed his eyes.

My husband and myself arrived about ten minutes later at the hospital to see our Ollie for the last time. It surely must have taken all of his strength, as he  lifted his head and broadly smiled at us. Although unable to get up from his down position, Ollie still looked as sweet and beautiful as ever. It was very hard to believe that he was suffering so, but he truly was. His breathing was tremendously labored and his poor little body was quivering. We took a tennis ball in with us; and Ollie actually, at one point, took it in his mouth and gave it a final chew.

We moved Ollie to a private room so there would be less noise from the surrounding dogs in the hospital. Dr. Molesworth came into the room, and I pointed out to him how Ollie still looked so sweet and how he was smiling for us. Throughout his life, I always told the vet that he made a liar out of me. No matter how sick he was, he'd go to the vet with a smile on his face, and a desire to schmooze with every dog and cat owner there waiting for their appointment.

I took my picture book from my purse and showed Dr. Molesworth a picture of Ollie from the first day that we picked him up. My hubby thought I had lost it, and reminded me that Dr. Molesworth surely did remember what Ollie looked like, as he had treated him for close to 11 years. I didn't care a bit, and still wanted to show him. I also wanted to remind him that I had never forgotten the words that he said upon meeting Ollie for the first time the day I took him to be checked out. The runt of the litter at seven pounds, Dr. Molesworth said to him, "How ya doing, old man?"

Dr. Molesworth explained how unselfish we were about letting Ollie be out of pain. He explained how it would occur, and how the shots would be given. In tears, I told Dr. Molesworth that I simply could not understand how he could come to terms with this aspect of his job. Truly, I believed that it was just too horribly painful for words. But, his answer to me was simply beautiful. He said that he had been bestowed a special honor that allowed him to end someone's suffering. And, what a truly blessed ability that was. I told Dr. Molesworth that I wished he could do the same for my father, who continues to suffer greatly in the hospital. I will not be able to visit my dad this weekend, as I fear I'm unable to hide the grief from my face. He knows nothing about what has happened to Ollie, as he's been in critical condition on life support for about 6 weeks now.

I certainly believe that if I didn't have my little Darcy, I'd really be a goner. And, I must admit that it took several years of fighting with my husband before I was able to be blessed with a second Golden darling. He always thought that it would lessen our devotion to Ollie, our only child, canine or otherwise, to bring another Golden into the home. Unfortunately, my fight took far too long, and Ollie did have some difficulty keeping up with his puppy Cousin's exuberance. But, Darcy adored him immensely.

My hubby and I will need to spend lots of quality time together now, but he says I have to stop my incessant crying as his eyes have become tiny slits at this point. We can't go around in sunglasses forever, especially at night! We surely need to give our Darcy lots and lots of attention now, as she seems so lost without her Cousin and companion, Ollie. She's clinging to me or my husband incessantly, and watching our every move. And, it is really impossible to truly know how she is taking all of this in and processing it.

Darcy never did certain things for herself, because big brother Ollie was always there to do for her. It was so cute when we let them out in the morning to do their business. Ollie would always scratch at the door to tell us that he was ready to come in. But, that wasn't so for Darcy. As they always were let out together from the time that we brought her home at eight weeks of age, she always had him to assume the lead. Sometimes, Ollie wanted to luxuriate on the front steps, yet knew that she was ready to come back in to be with myself or my husband. So, he politely would get up from his comfortable position, and scratch on the door for her. Upon, opening the door, one could see Ollie returning to his porch position, and Darcy scurrying in to check out what she had missed in the meantime!

Now, when we let Darcy go outside, she is tentative, and confused, seeming to look for her partner who always pranced out happily with her. When she has finished doing her outside business, she is at odds as to what should be done next, so she quietly stands outside the front door. She would stand there for hours, it seems, if I didn't check on her status by peering through the peep hole, just standing quietly by the door. Of course, now we have to devise a way to change that scenario.

While my hubby has always said no more dogs, as he just can't sustain this pain, I have already told him how empty my life would be without another Golden. I have read many books that talk about the selfishness of having a different species reside in solitude within our world. And, I must admit, that seeing them together, was a joy that simply no words could ever adequately convey. I think he realizes how frighteningly empty our home and lives would be if Darcy were not here to greet us with her undying devotion and love. Certainly, the pain would be unfathomable after having so abruptly losing our cherished Ollie.

Unfortunately, us humans have so much to learn from these saints of virtue. And, these lessons of life have only just begun. It is so sad, for truly far too many of us have failed to see what these special beings already know about life and living.

Not one for going on vacations, buying expensive things or having what my neighbors believe are the 'correct' things to possess, I can't believe how empty my life would be if I hadn't discovered the beauty and joy that these special beings bestow upon us. All the material things in the world could never bring the richness to our lives that these special guys have provided. And, anyone lucky enough to learn the secrets these Goldens possess, have been granted special permission into a place that is genuinely and eternally blessed.

I have always wanted dogs in my life more than anything else, and saved desperately for a home so that could happen. I didn't care if the home were empty, and had nothing like the others in the development. All I needed was a yard, and now all these years later, that's still all I have. We have made (through our own hard labors) the outside grounds of our home beautiful and full, but the inside has yet to be painted or furnished in several rooms. Honestly, while it may matter to others, it has no significance for me.

It's interesting that I didn't get to discover Golden Retrievers until after my dear mother died 1n 1983. She never got to see how much Ollie was able to help me move on after her death. But, maybe Ollie was a gift from Mom. My two year old pup, Darcy, is named after my Mom, Doris. When I shorten Darcy's name and call her Darce, I always say it as though it were the same name. She's a sweetheart, who likes nothing more than cuddling on the sofa or bed with either mom or dad. Constantly pushing herself against us, she demands continual love and attention. I often wonder if my mom is responsible, too, for her lovely spirit.

My mom was a special, special lady who was honestly loved by all. A fun, lively lady, she was not ready to die at 60. I have very little of my mom's possessions, but was given the opportunity to have one piece of her jewelry after she died. I chose a very special necklace that had a charm attached, displaying an enlarged letter "L" with the words LIVE, LOVE & LAUGH adjoined to it. My mom loved that necklace so very much, a gift that I had given her years earlier as a birthday present. It was absolutely the perfect gift for her, because it so embodied her view on life. And, she cherished it among all of her possessions, even though she was not one overly enamored with such pretense. I wear no jewelry at all, except for that necklace, which I have now had around my neck since 1983. That is, of course, why my website is entitled LIVE, LOVE & LAUGH with Golden Retrievers, which is found at It is also why my logo is a reproduction of that very same charm.

I know that Ollie will live forever in my heart, just as my mom's soul will too. Certainly, his pictures adorn the Internet in so many places, and he will always be presented in my page as he is now. I don't believe in cemeteries, as I really don't believe our spirits remain there. I know some may think it heartless, but I do not visit my mom or baby brother's graves (he just died of cancer also). I honestly believe that spirits of our loved ones return to where they were most comfortable, and that's to their homes and to our hearts. And, Ollie will always be residing there, right within my heart.

Interestingly, when I log on to the Internet, the name I enter is iluvolli, so I will never be able to escape his legacy. And, I wouldn't dare change that for a moment.

I am going to send the following obituary notice to my local paper, of course, disguising the fact that Ollie was "just my dog." Of course, I don't think people realize what a privilege it is to "just" be a dog. It certainly is a more noble honor than "just" being a human being.

LESSER, Oliver "Ollie"

On Friday evening, July 3, 1998, Ollie, cherished companion for 11 years to Rochelle and Gary Lesser, lost his just initiated fight against cancer. A beloved friend to all, Ollie will be sorely missed by the many children and adults whose hearts he touched. Services and interment private. In mourning in Owings Mills, Maryland.

I will so sadly miss Ollie's presence in this world. He did so much for the kids living around us, known throughout neighboring neighborhoods and those far from us. No longer will I be able to take him to elementary schools to do demonstrations about how we approach dogs and what we can do with animals. No longer will I be able to utilize him with me as my Golden therapy dog, helping anxious and depressed children gain some sense of mastery over their abilities & communication skills.

Ollie's obedience training made him such a mannerly dog, and he easily earned his Canine Good Citizen degree. Because I am very non-competitive and loathsome of titles, I did little more to obtain various titles for him. But, the things that he could do, and what he had taught himself, were incredible.

While Ollie never got involved with other fields like search & rescue and such, I am sure he could have done anything. The kids used to be thrilled when I did demonstrations, and showed them how Ollie loved to play the game “Search.” What we did was to have Ollie leave the room we were in (usually the gym), but let him briefly smell an article that we were later going to hide. After Ollie left the room, a child hid the article somewhere in the room. We then let Ollie back in and told him to "GO SEARCH!" Invariably, he always found the article amidst the wild cheering of the children as he completed his mission.

I am so incredibly thrilled that Ollie was able to do a nationally advertised ad for a pharmaceutical research company. It was kind of spooky when you consider that my hubby’s a pharmacist and I’m a psychologist, as the ad was for medication usage to combat depression, The picture for the ad showed a young lady walking her dog, and obviously recovering from the throes of depression. As we all know, who could be depressed with a Golden by their side.

Two doors down from my house lives a woman whose brother is a famous local weatherman on Channel 13 in Baltimore, Maryland. His name is Bob Turk, and he used to have five or six Golden Retrievers. When he visited his sister, he would come down to see Ollie, as he so enjoyed his tricks. We had a dog-a-polt which is similar to the apparatus used for Flyball. Bob could watch him work this piece of equipment over and over again. Interestingly, years ago, Oprah Winfrey (who was not the incredibly well known and famous celebrity that she is now) worked at this very station, and, of course, became friendly with Bob. Certainly influenced by him, when she was able to begin her own canine family, it too encompassed just as many Goldens. While she has since branched out into some other breeds, I believe Oprah has eight Goldens of her own at this point. I know she couldn’t resist after meeting Bob’s brood.

I know that all those fortunate to have known Ollie are sending only beautiful and heartfelt thoughts. Please enjoy Ollie's pictorial history below. It shows some of the many special tricks that he could do, some even learned on his own!

Visit my page and send your friends and your friends' kids. There’s so much to know about these Golden gems. The incredible feats that they perform actually are responsible for so very many humans' abilities to continue living and thriving. For, their accomplishments are literally ones that transcend our current capacities.

I truly believe that my crushing pain can alternatively have a positive purpose. If it can work towards promoting new discovery and learning, then look at how much would be gained.

About a year after Ollie earned his Golden wings, we welcomed another special guy into the Land of PureGold. In special tribute to Ollie, our new fellow was named after the famous poet, Lord Alfred Tennyson, for it was he who wrote these important words: "Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."  We have also created a comprehensive page on Canine Cancer so that people facing this situation can access information more easily.