Our Dog Died of Cancer: A Story of Pet Loss

Losing our Best Friend, a senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy

We lost our best friend, Snoopy, due to canine cancer.

He was a 15-year-old Jack Russell Terrier.

Yes, he was a senior dog but he did not act like it until the last month of his life.

Losing our Best Friend, a senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy

The Chihuahua that turned out to be a Jack Russell Terrier!

Snoopy was a Chihuahua for all we knew, when Edgard got him for me as our one year anniversary present. Seriously, when Edgard decided to get me a dog, he went to a pet store and got a Chihuahua. That was when we were teenagers right out of high school, so we were a bit ignorant about pet store puppies. However, that puppy was sick and I thought he had Parvo, so we took him back to the pet store and the owner said he would give us a discount on this other puppy that was also a “Chihuahua.”  I fell in love with Snoopy at first sight and we took him home.

Jack Russell Terrier Puppy

Fast forward a few months and Snoopy, the “Chihuahua,” no longer looked like a Chihuahua! He turned out to be a Jack Russell Terrier, and boy was he active and full of energy!

Jack Russell Terrier - Dog in Halloween Costume

He was such a good dog and loved going on LONG walks because he would stop and sniff at every corner and almost every bush to quickly lift his leg and mark his spot.

Jack Russell Terrier - Christmas Dog

At an early age he started to get seizures, which was very scary because we had no idea why. We took him to the vet and they said he had epilepsy, which apparently is common in Jack Russell Terriers. So he was prescribed medicine for the rest of his life to control his seizures. He would get them every so often, but when he was older it was very rare.

Jack Russell Terrier
(Photos of me and Snoopy the day I left to France)

He was full of character and so smart too, he was like a human! I remember, when I went away to study for a semester abroad in France, he noticed. The day I left, I said my goodbyes to Snoopy and he was so serious and stiff, as if he knew I was leaving. When I came back, he literally avoided me and ignored me for a few days, possibly weeks. I felt horrible! He must have thought I abandoned him during the time he did not see me for months, it must have felt like an eternity for him. He eventually got over it and loved me again.

Jack Russell Terrier Dog
(Photo at Dog Beach in Coronado)

When he was 11 years old, I decided to take him to dog beach in Coronado, which is leash-free. I was nervous because of how energetic he was and I did not socialize him as often as I would have loved to, so I kept him on a leash the entire time to avoid any problems with smaller dogs. Unfortunately, for us, two huge pit bulls were unleashed running around us and they decided to follow us around while we were by the water. To my horror, one of them started sniffing Snoopy and then grabbed him by the neck. The owner tried calling on the dog while the other dog was already with her, thank God. The dog did not let go of Snoopy and started shaking him in the water, I thought he was going to kill him right in front of me. Edgard and two other men jumped in to try to open the dog’s jaw to get him off Snoopy and one of the men ended up bleeding. It took three men to get that one-year-old pit bull off of Snoopy. I quickly went up to the owner and asked for her information because I was going to take Snoopy to the vet immediately and she was going to pay for the bill. It was a holiday weekend so I could only take him to an emergency vet, which was pricey and he had to have emergency surgery. I remember the pit bull’s owner complained that she wanted to wait until the weekday for HER vet to give an estimate, and I said NO WAY is my dog going to wait for days with an open wound on his neck. Thankfully, she showed up and paid.

Jack Russell Terrier with dog bite

Poor Snoopy, he went through a lot that time, he looked like Frankenweenie, with drainage tubes coming out of his neck. Even during the following weeks he was bloated and looked depressed, but he recovered quickly. Within a few weeks, he was jumping up and down like a true Jack Russell Terrier. But did we ever go back to dog beach? NOPE!

Jack Russell Terrier Recovering from Dog Bite

Our dog was family

He was such a special part of our lives in our family, my dad LOVED him so much too because he lived with my family since Edgard gave him to me. When Edgard and I got engaged, we took our engagement photos and video with Snoopy because he was like our child, he had been with us since the very beginning of our relationship. 

Losing our Best Friend, a senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy

When we got married and I moved out with Edgard, we decided to leave Snoopy with my parents because they have a yard and he had so much more room to play.

A senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy

A senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy

We always celebrated his birthday on January 23, around the time we think he was born. So this year, for his 15th birthday (QuinceaƱera) I bought him a new bed, it was the fanciest one ever and he loved it. It was always difficult to get a nice photo of him on his birthday because he would always be jumping or moving around. This year was no different. The best photo of him was when he was eating his treat on his new bed.

A senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy
(Snoopy on his 15th birthday, January 23, 2018)

Our dog was diagnosed with Cancer

Around early April, I noticed that he started to slip a lot while he walked and my dad told me that he had been walking slower. I thought it might have been the start of arthritis in his back legs for jumping so much all these years. But then we noticed he was bloated and he was really having a hard time walking without slipping even when the floor was not slippery.

Losing our Best Friend, a senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy

On April 14, we took him to the vet and got some blood work done. Later that day, the vet called with the results we were dreading: his blood count/levels indicated there was possible cancer in his liver. The vet said that given his old age, it is not worth doing surgery because of the risks, so it was better to let him live out the rest of his life as he is now, just as long as he keeps walking, eating and going to the bathroom.

Losing our Best Friend, a senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy

We decided to get a second opinion with another vet who did an ultrasound, and he showed us that there were a lot of “bubbles” around his stomach area, which indicates there are likely multiple tumors. He also suggested no surgery.

Losing our Best Friend, a senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy

We decided to get a third opinion. This third doctor did not do any tests but just by looking at him and feeling him he knew what was wrong. He offered to get a biopsy but explained the risks and possible complications, but he told us to think about it and in the meantime gave him a shot of vitamins to keep his energy level up. So we thought about it and decided to do it. When we brought Snoopy back the next week, he was less bloated and full of energy, as if he was not sick, so the doctor said he did not want to disrupt his health now that he looks better, a surgery would be too much for him and he might not recover so well from it. So, he also suggested the same thing: let him live out his life as good and as long as possible while he can still walk, eat and go to the bathroom. We would keep bringing him in for the vitamin shots to keep him feeling better with more energy. No one could tell us how long Snoopy had to live. It could be days, weeks, months, even a year. So we did that. We let Snoopy live his life as long as his body allowed him to go on.  

Losing our Best Friend, a senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy

That time came on May 17. It was Edgard’s mom’s birthday and we were at their house that evening when my dad called me, to tell me that Snoopy was acting strange and breathing very heavily, just pacing around the house. So, I said I would be there as soon as possible. He called me back again a few minutes later, this time crying and saying that Snoopy was dying. I felt my heart sink. I started telling Edgard that we needed to leave, I felt so bad at the same time because it was his mom’s birthday. I did not make it to say goodbye to my dear Snoopy. By the time we arrived, Snoopy was already laying down on the floor of the laundry room next to the garage at my parents’ house. My dad was next to him and he held him during his last breaths. That is my only comfort, that Snoopy was not alone when he left this world. He also never stopped walking, eating or going to the bathroom. He seemed to have passed away peacefully and hopefully without pain. He just fell asleep one last time.

Losing our Best Friend, a senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy
(Left: A few weeks before Snoopy passed away. Right: Last photo I took of Snoopy.)

Could Canine Cancer have been prevented?

Now I just wonder, could this have been prevented? I do not know. I have read that cancer in older dogs is common, especially in the stomach area.

Was it the medicine he took all his life for epilepsy? I hope not, but the third doctor we saw did tell us that his epilepsy could be controlled with the proper nutrition and told us to stop giving him the medicine. However, his seizures seemed to have subsided later in life. He also told us that cancer in dogs is difficult to notice until it is advanced, like in Snoopy’s case.

Losing our Best Friend, a senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy
  (Photos of Thanksgiving 2017)

However, he said there are signs to watch out for, like sudden loss of weight. That made me think back to last year around this time (November 2017) Snoopy started to look a little thinner than usual, but we just thought it was because he was a senior dog and that it was normal with age. But that could have been a sign that something was starting to develop. And to my knowledge, that was the only possible sign we could have noticed because he NEVER stopped eating, he ate ANYTHING we gave him, and he always went to the bathroom as usual.

(Photo of Snoopy at the vet in September 2017)

We even took him to the vet every six months for an evaluation due to his epilepsy and in September 2017, the vet told us he was aging beautifully. He never acted like a senior dog, he was always so energetic like a puppy up until April this year, when he started getting bloated and slipping/ walking slower. I am just thankful that (as far as I could tell from seeing him) his pain did not last long. I wish dogs could talk and tell us what is wrong.

Everything happened so fast. Within a month.

But during that last month of his life, we tried to make him feel even more loved and spent more time with him, taking him for long walks when he could.

(This was one of the final walks we took him on)

Snoopy was cremated

The following day after he passed away, my dad and I took Snoopy to the vet where he would be picked up by Guardian Angel to be cremated. One week later, he came back to us in a small urn with a frame for a photo. This company is so nice, they provided a paw print of Snoopy, a “best friend” charm of which one half is inserted inside the urn with his ashes and the other half is for us to keep. They also include a “death certificate,” a candle and a small print-out of the beautiful poem “Rainbow Bridge” with a tiny paper heart that has seeds to be planted. I kept his paw print and his ashes are in a special place at my parents’ house. He will always be with us.

Losing our Best Friend, a senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy

Snoopy, I hope you feel that I did everything I could for you, because you did everything you could for me. 

Rest in peace Snoopy, my best loyal friend. We will miss you forever, but we will see each other again one day.

Losing our Best Friend, a senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy
Snoopy (Jan. 23, 2003- May 17, 2018)

Losing our Best Friend, a senior Jack Russell Terrier - Snoopy

Have you lost a pet? Tell us more about them in the comments to keep their memory alive.


  1. Dear Barbie
    This is the third time I read your blog about Snoopy. All the time make me remember my beautiful canine Angel named Marylin... She was a Coker Spanield born and die in my hometown Mexico City. Although she passed 17 and a half years ago, when she was 12 and a half years old, I am still dream about her. She was my best companion and loyal friend. My only regret was I left her behind when I got married and I came to live here in San Diego. She probably was in a lot of stressed since when I moved she stayed at my mom's house for couple months. However my mother also moved to an small apartment, and Marylin stayed with one of my brothers that was leaving in the same old neigborhood. We thought this changed wont affect her and her child Mr Kennedy a crazyloco white coker Spanield that was then 6 years old. After some months Kennedy was given away to a friends family because my brother could not take care of both dogs. My little beautiful Marylin was then sad and depressed. She always suffered of kind of heart attacks, these attacks began after she had four puppies, 3 femmales and the crazy loco Mr Kennedy, who always was with us. After given birth her puppies Marylin almost die. She was without enough calcium in her body and had hwr first heart attack. However the doctor saved her and literally our love was always her medicine. Her health problems were always in control especially when I was close to her hugging her.
    Marylin was almost a human, she was very smart energetic, and as femmale sentimental, lovely and and very lively. She was so close to me that my mom started calling her with my name, and calling her with mine. Marylin liked to run away for fun also she jumped as circus trained dog. She just loved going out with us, and without us. When we started the car engine she run as crazy and fast she could, then jumped so hight to get into the car by the window. She always succeed even with the car moving. One day I left the two dogs in the front yard aling my car that was the day we could not drive in the ciry. This day rained so hard tge city was flood. I came back very late at night. I was so upset and worry for my poor dogs. When I came back I saw the crazy loco Mr K completely wet with signs of craying in his face. But I did not see my Maryling. I though OMG she ran away! After couple minutes called her several times, she appeared inside my car. I have left the window openned and she jumped to get in and be saved from the ☔ She was completely warm and dried. I laught so hard thinking how was for the other dog trying to do the same circus trick to be saved from the heavy rain. Marylin always wait for me in the door when I came back at nights from the University and work...she always was with me when I was working until night doing homework, or I was sick or depressed. As she could understand everything that happen with me. When I was told she passed of haert attack I was so so sad for months. I was not able to go to Mexico and say my last good bye. However she visit me in my dreams and I keep her in a very special place in my ❤. I know now she met Snoopy and both of them become a very good loyal lovely and energetic friends.

  2. Awww America, thank you so much for sharing the story of your sweet Marylin <3 You made me smile with the beautiful story and memories of her adventures and the love you both had for each other. I am so sorry for your loss. I am sure that no matter how many years go by, our sweet furry friends will always be in our hearts. Dogs are angels and they are just so loyal and give us so much unconditional love. They are irreplaceable. I am sure that Marylin and Snoopy are playing in heaven and they will be waiting for us on the Rainbow Bridge where we will meet them again. Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your beautiful Marylin's story to keep her memory alive.

  3. I'm so sorry! I can related. I rescued a dog for my husband for a gift last Christmas. We only had him for 4 months before he had uncontrollable seizures and we had to put him down. It's such a hard thing to go through. Just know that your dog was loved and you gave him a wonderful life. Xo

  4. I am so sorry about the loss of your beloved Snoopy. Our lab died when she was 13, so I know how tough it is to lose a pet. She also had cancer, which due to her old age and after talking to the vet, we decided against surgery as well. It sounds like Snoopy had a wonderful life with you!

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