Another Saint in Heaven

By - April 28, 2006 (Updated: November 30, 2014)

For my first post back after almost a month I had hoped to be able to write about all of the great adventures Andrew and I had with my parents during their visit. I will be writing all about that sometime soon, but not today.

Unfortunately today’s post is a very difficult one for me to write. This morning our loving dog Caesar passed away after a week of fighting illness. For those of you who don’t know, Caesar’s background has been a troubled one. He has seen far too much pain for his five short years.

We adopted Caesar when he was barely a year old. He came from a neglectful and abusive situation. We he arrived at our home he was undernourished and afraid of everything. He didn’t even know how to play. But for some reason, he trusted us. Over time, he grew into such a loving and happy dog. Despite his past, he loved meeting people and going with us anywhere.

We had Caesar for a year when he became sick. He stopped eating and became so weak that Andrew had to carry him to the car. After many tests, our vet diagnosed Caesar with Addison’s disease. His body was no longer able to control the levels of salt and potassium without medication. While the medication would keep him alive it would also cause many problems over time. I found out later that Addison’s can be caused by trauma in early life.

For two years, Caesar was like any other happy, healthy dog, other than having to take a handful of pills twice a day. We brought him to Europe and he seemed to thrive even more. He traveled with us and met new people and other dogs and, we hope, was having a happy life.

At the beginning of the month, Caesar was at the kennel for two weeks while Andrew, my parents and I traveled. When we picked him up, he was fine. He was well for the following week and even went for a long walk with Mom, Dad and I just last Friday.

Monday night however, things changed. Caesar didn’t want to eat. By Tuesday morning he was very lethargic and weak. We took him to the vet for blood tests and help. His salt and potassium were out of balance but in addition, his liver and kidneys weren’t functioning properly. Because Caesar had existing problems, he couldn’t be treated as aggressively as a healthy dog. Last night he went back to the vet and we explored more options. This morning when Andrew went to check on him he was still alive but he passed away shortly thereafter. Fortunately Andrew was with him at the end.

We will probably never know the exact cause. The vet had some concern about Caesar having gotten into toxins. While he is confined to our yard, there is always a possibility that one of our neighbours sprayed their yard with poison that ran into our yard. Even something that is safe generally could have affected Caesar’s compromised immune system. Or it could simply be that the Addison’s and/or the medication he was on for it finally caught up to him.

I feel cheated that we only had four short years with Caesar and I feel angry that such a loving dog could have had so much pain. I am relieved that his suffering is over but I will miss him deeply. Goodbye to a very special friend.

If you like this, you might like:

Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
- 2 days ago


  1. Comment by Di

    Di April 28, 2006 at 08:59

    I’d phone but i dont think you want a crying kiwi in your ear at the moment. I’m so sorry.

  2. Comment by Shannon

    Shannon April 28, 2006 at 15:36

    I want to write something, and I don’t know what.. I guess I feel the same as Di, my crying to you won’t make you feel any betetr. I’m here for you if you need anything at all.

  3. Comment by Vivi

    Vivi April 28, 2006 at 17:43

    Having lost two pets myself, I understand your loss. Please accept my sincerest condolences.

  4. Comment by Kim H

    Kim H April 28, 2006 at 19:48

    Really Allison I hardly ‘know’ you, but I do have my own little dog and I can only imagine the heartache you are suffering. I’ll give my Coco a little hug and send a prayer to doggie heaven for your little friend.

  5. Comment by expatraveler

    expatraveler April 28, 2006 at 20:50

    I guess keeping busy will help you much more. I was devistated when my dog went into a seizure on my birthday one year. I knew (After not being around the house anymore) that if this happened 3 times, I was to rush him to the pet hospital. 2 days later, I came home early one morning enough to see his last 5 minutes of life. He knew it was time to go, but just wanted to say goodbye to us too… I still get teery eyed because he was my buddy…
    I hope to hear more about the great time you had, even with you little guy while you were on the trip.

  6. Comment by christina

    christina April 29, 2006 at 20:24

    Oh I’m so sorry, Alison. This is making me sniffly as well. Losing a dear pet can be heartbreaking. I’m sure that in his own doggy way he appreciated the few good years he had with you.

  7. Comment by cheri

    cheri May 5, 2006 at 14:29

    Hi Guys
    There’s nothing to say to make you feel better, but I hope you feel better soon. I’d love to see some pictures of Ceaser again when you feel up to sending them.
    Love u both

  8. Pingback: Expatriating with Pets | CheeseWeb: Travel, Photography and Expat Life in Belgium

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