Posted by: Shanie Matthews | May 18, 2010

Losing My Best Friend

It is with sadness in my heart that I write this post. My best friend, daily companion for the last 15 years, and canine kiddo, Bergen, has moved on to the light.

While it was obviously heart wrenching for me to lose such a special part of my family, in true Bergen fashion, his transition was both beautiful and graceful. So, in respect to how amazing his spirit of eternal joy is, I wanted to share the amazing transition of his life into the next realm.

Last Monday afternoon everything was perfectly normal with him. Then my husband, Jamie, and I learned that Bergen’s soul and mountain doggie brother, Blue, had passed a few days prior. We told Bergen the news and then walked down to the lake so he could swim and get some crawdads, as well as do a little ceremony to celebrate Blue’s life. Bergen was spry, agile and full of life on our walk; running up steep hills with gusto, a huge smile to his face, and enjoying the cool water of Lake Nahuel Huapi.

Later that night he came out of the bedroom and was not himself. It was clear something was not right. That evening Jamie and I slept with him and comforted him. He was able to fall into a deep slumber and rest comfortably through the night. The next morning our amazing homeopathic vet visited. All tests showed normal readings. She felt it was a digestion issue that would pass, but ordered an EKG to be safe. Throughout the day Bergen seemed to be improving but by nightfall it was apparent that he had started his journey moving towards the light.

By Wednesday morning he could no longer walk. We set up a blanket for him in a sunny spot on our grass area, which he has always loved. The EKG specialist came to our house a little before noon and set up the exam in our dining room. It was very comfortable for Bergen, and we were both so glad that we had a vet and EKG specialist that could come to our home, as vet offices are one of the things that Bergen disliked the most. The tests revealed that he had advanced cancer of his liver. Both our vet and the EKG specialist were flabbergasted that he had shown no signs of sickness and was so strong, despite his liver having no healthy tissue. His lack of symptoms such as throwing up, diarrhea, lack of energy, etc made it difficult for our vet to really believe the results until she saw them for herself.

Knowing that our time to say goodbye had come, we gathered together as a family on the sun warmed blanket and had a special ceremony to let him know it was OK to go. We thanked him for his amazing life lessons and love, and let him know that we would all be fine and that we would see him again. It was a really beautiful time for us all, the weather was perfectly sunny, autumn leaves falling from the trees and the birds chirping.

Tuesday evening we created a comfortable area on our bed for him, lit candles, surrounded him with his special items and covered him with my baby blanket. We then sat on the couch, as we have done for the last 3 years, and watched another sunset. Only this time, as we have never seen before, a single shimmering star, the planet Venus, appeared over Cerro Tres Picos, to the northwest (We find this so amazing, as we looked at the globe later to realize that this is the exact direction of our next move in life).

Its brilliance began before sunset and lasted for around 25 minutes without another star appearing. Shining exceptionally bright in a starless sky, it literally looked like a diamond showing off its splendor as it flew through the night. Eventually it disappeared behind the Andes. A few hours later, our precious Bergen passed on.

We decided to place his beautiful body in the Patagonian forest he loved so much. We made a great spot under Lenga trees, facing northwest, with great views of the lake and mountains. There is even a Notros tree to brighten the area with its fiery red flowers. The spot is very close to a place where we as a family have walked to hundreds of times. We truly believe the forest kept him vibrant and healthy, allowing him to thoroughly enjoy his golden years, and therefore appropriate to be the place where he should be laid to rest.

Here is a clip of Bergen running in the forest just 5 days before his passing.

Our varied team of vets said each, in their own way, that they had never seen or heard of a dog that lived so strong and happy and then transition so quickly (exactly 48 hours). They were also shocked that there were no symptoms or signs ahead of time. We believe this just confirms what a pure soul he is.

I feel so incredibly honored and grateful to have been in Bergen’s presence all these years. In particular, the last 5 years in Argentina will always be cherished as this country helped Bergen to live his golden years to the fullest.

So, Bergen here’s to you…thank you for being the most amazing canine son a girl could ask for. Your unconditional love, spunk for life and ability to find the good in all will continue. I promise to embrace life as you did. I will live with you in my heart forever. I love you.



  1. […] My Dog the Lifeguard The yelp was high pitched and anxious sounding. Then there were three more quick yips. Where was Bergen? […]

  2. […] the Patagonian thermals. Despite the absolute pleasure that I derived from watching my canine son, Bergen, thoroughly enjoy these lush, old growth forests…when Bergen passed on, I — and we as a […]

  3. […] a bit more of a challenge. The grief and sadness that had enveloped my body, mind, and soul after Bergen’s passing through me for a loop. It’s not that I hadn’t anticipated the deep sense of loss that […]

  4. […] it is nearing ten months since my canine son Bergen passed away, his passing still inserts itself into my life every day. Tears. Heartache. Lack of energy. The […]

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