Service Animal: Dog, Pet, Friend, Companion. Love & Loss

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Service Animal: Dog, Pet, Friend, Companion. Love & Loss
Good Bye Sweet Jaden….

service animal

Service Animal: Dog, Pet, Friend, Companion.
Love & Loss
Good-Bye Sweet Jaden…. 



Hey Juicers, ‘Grandpa Juice’ here. If you’re a frequent reader, you’ve heard of me, but so far, have not heard from me. You also know that Grandma Juice is disabled, and rocks a wheelchair. And, you also know about her service dog, Harris. If this is all news to you, then you have a lot of reading to do to get caught up. Slacker.

Tonight I’m going to tell you about Jaden, Grandma Juice’s first service animal. Jaden has been living with cancer for a few years, and this morning we had her put down. For those of you who consider your pets as family members, you’ll understand how hard this can be. The rest of you will just think our family is all crazy. We’re okay with that.

In January of 1999, we went to Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) and received the gift of Jaden. I could write a whole post about CCI, but I won’t. Suffice it to say they are awesome. After spending two weeks at their training facility (two weeks to train Grandma Juice, Jaden was already trained!) we brought her home. Jaden provided independence for Grandma Juice. She pulled her chair, opened doors (literally and figuratively), turned on and off light switches, picked up things Grandma Juice dropped, and provided companionship. Jaden was so much more than just a ‘pet’. We were even able to combine commands that Jaden already knew and teach her to pull Grandma Juice’s socks off, and open the refrigerator and bring her bottles of water. And Jaden loved it. She lived for it. She always knew she was special. When we would put her pulling harness on, she was all business. She had purpose, a job to do, and she understood its importance. Service Animals live and breathe one thing, to care for their person. Jaden had this in every fiber of her being. Where there was Grandma Juice, there was Jaden. The ever loyal service animal. But she was more than ‘just‘ a service animal. She completed Grandma, and Grandma completed Jaden.

If you have ever owned a dog, service animal or not, and paid any attention at all to it, you know they have personalities. Jaden was always the cool, calm, collected one. She was ‘chill’… Unless you had a squeaky toy, then all bets were off! Squeaky toys (okay, and birds too!) aside, she was sure and steady, like when she would pull the wheelchair. A service animal is bred to be calm. Jaden was calm, confident and careful with Grandma Juice. Amazingly beautiful to watch. And she was always at Grandma Juice’s side. Always. Even when she retired and Harris (new service animal) moved in, Jaden was still there, ready and willing to help her as needed. I can’t think of a more intimate relationship between a human and an animal. They were a team, formed out of necessity, bonded by love.

Three years ago, when we noticed the tumors growing in Jaden, the veterinarian estimated Jaden had six months left at most. A service animal gets the best vet care possible, but Jaden was already 13 years old, and surgery was not an option. “Take her home and enjoy your time with her” was the diagnosis. And so we did. A service animal can not (or shouldn’t be) allowed to eat ‘people’ food. After all, if you feed them table scraps at home, you can’t expect them to leave food alone when you go into a restaurant. And it’s considered very bad manners for a service animal to eat food off the floor at a restaurant. So we did what we should… we spoiled the hell out of  Jaden. We gave her table scraps. Which, she refused at first. After all, she was special. She wore her service animal badge very proudly. But finally, she made up for all the years she wasn’t allowed to eat our scrumptious food! We also spoiled her with squeaky toys (but still didn’t let her chase birds). But the tumors in her side and chest continued to grow. We had to base our course of action on her quality of life. As long as she didn’t appear to be in pain, continued to be ambulatory, kept her love of food, and showed no signs of personality changes, we would give her time. And, time was definatly on her side! Six months turned into three additional years with the awesome Jaden! Service animal or pet, you know this is a miracle!

Two weeks ago, she started to show difficulty walking. By now, the tumor in her upper chest was almost the size of a football. The others, more like softballs. It was interfering with her ability to walk. She still loved food and squeaky toys, was still the loyal, devoted service animal and also the loving friend she always was, but getting up off the floor started to become a chore. Over the last several days, she would lie in one place all day, and we had to coax her to get up and go to the bathroom. And yet, at night on her own, she would struggle to get up and follow Grandma Juice into the bedroom to sleep by her bed, as she always has. It was time.

I contacted Dr Pierce of Waggin’ Wheels (she doesn’t have a web site 702-808-7387). She makes house calls. She came out this morning and explained her process. She gives your loved ones an anesthetic before the lethal injection. This simply puts them to sleep, and ensures the process is painless and non-traumatic. I made a bowl of stew for Jaden, and we let her eat as the anesthetic took effect. She probably would have been just as happy chewing on a squeaky toy. A small token perhaps, but it was a comfort to us that her final waking moments were spent joyously eating people food.

Once the process was complete, Brian Proudfoot from Precious Pets Animal Service came in to collect Jaden. They will cremate her, and return her ashes to us in an urn. We would like to thank Dr. Pierce and Brian for their professionalism and compassion. It helped, and we appreciate it.

Goodbye sweet Jaden. Thank you for your service, companionship, and love. You will be missed.

Grandma Juice says… This was an incredibly difficult post to write. I simply could not. Grandpa over here cried throughout the whole thing. I love him for that. Harris is wandering around, looking for his girl. Service animal instinct or dog intuition, I’m not sure, but he knows. If you’d like more information about the wonderful things Canine Companions do for people in need of service animals, please check them out. They are non-profit and run solely on donations. As they say, HELP is a four-legged word. And needs your support to continue. Donate $1… donate $100… Just donate.


  1. Jaden sounds like an amazing animal. I’m so sorry to hear that she has passed. I cannot even imagine how hard it must be for you right now. Sending you hugs!

  2. I am so so sorry. We lost our family dog of many years last night and have yet to break the news to our 6 year old who adores her. She was so much a part of the family. We will miss her terribly 🙁

    • Grandma Juice says:

      I hope telling the kiddo went as best as it could… we’re telling ours today. He was away all weekend. So not looking forward to this

  3. Oh Ronni, Im so sorry for your loss. I cant even imagine how hard its been, Jaden will be missed.

  4. I am crying with you.

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss. Jaden sounds like an amazing companion and helpmate and I know she will be greatly missed. Grandpa Juice’s beautiful words about her story brought me to tears…know that we are all thinking of you and your family!

  6. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. I have been a dog mom for just a few years now and cannot imagine how painful this must be for you. It sounds like Jaden was an amazing and loyal friend. I’m glad you have so many happy memories to look back on.

  7. Hi….thank you so much for sharing your beautiful Jaden with us. She will forever be with you.
    Sending prayers your way during this difficult time.

  8. I’m in tears reading this. We had to put our kitty down after she was mauled by a coyote and that was one of the hardest things I’ve lived through. Meanwhile, back home the kitty’s brother was looking for her. Heartbreaking. My prayers will be with you as you get through this difficult time.

  9. Sending big Hugs you way!! Cannot imagine the loss you feel. Sending a prayer for y’all.

  10. Sorry to hear about Jaden. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Im so sorry for your loss =[

  12. I’m so so sorry for the loss of Jaden. Sounds like an amazing dog and friend. Many prayers to your family and sending good vibes your way.

  13. Losing a “family member” is never easy. I’m so terribly sorry for your loss.

  14. So sorry for your loss. What a blessing to have such an amazing animal in your lives.

  15. Jaime Nicole says:

    Ronni, I am so very, very sorry for your loss.

  16. Very rarely do I cry over a blog post, but I’m crying now. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  17. I am incredibly sorry for your loss. We lost our beloved Alaskan Malamute, Cleo, 2 years ago and it broke our hearts.

  18. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your companion. We cremated our dog when she passed on but not in our home, I don’t know if I could do that. I know the pain of losing a pet but I imagine it’s all that much harder with a service dog who would be even more like a family member. Thank you for letting us know about what happened.

    • Grandma Juice says:

      They actually do her cremation somewhere else and return her ashes to us. We just had her put to sleep here… It was actually nice knowing she was home, comfy and eating… made it just a wee bit easier than a hard stainless steel cold slab table…
      It’s nice knowing vets will go out of their way to do that.

  19. (((hugs)))

  20. (((hugs))) This brought tears to my eyes! My thoughts are with your family.

  21. I am so sorry for your loss! We have many animals as well, and I’ve had to put a few down. Pets are definitely members of the family. Thinking of you guys…..

  22. My eyes are swelled up with tears just reading this dear story. I am so sorry for your loss. It is amazing how pets become such a part of our family. They become a part of us. I have had to put my German Shepard down about 4 years ago. It till makes me sad when I think about loosing him.

    It is so amazing how their are professionals in the field that can help and handle such a delicate and sensitive situation. Prayers to your family as you are going through such a hard time.


  23. Our “pets” are family, I’m so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful soul to have been in your life, best wishes to you and the strength to enjoy the memories.

  24. I am so very sorry for your loss. While I cannot even imagine how hard of a decision it was for you to make, I do believe it was the right one. Jaden is still with you in spirit, watching over you, and not suffering anymore. She probably also knows Harris will continue to take very good care of you.

  25. Donna Keller says:

    What a beautiful description of Jaden and her life with you! I can’t quit crying. I know how very, very hard this is for both of you. I knew you would know when the time was right and and would do what had to be done. I am so glad she was able to pass so peacefully in her own home. She will live on in the hearts and memories of many of us. May she rest in peace, knowing she fulfilled her life purpose faithfully and beautifully and lovingly.

  26. So sorry for your family’s loss. Hugs to you all!

  27. Jaden sounds like she was just a wonderful family member. I don’t have a pet but I understand how they are more than just a pet. If you have a animal that long they should become more. R.I.P sweet Jaden. Sorry for your loss.

  28. I am so sorry for your loss. I am tears reading this! RIP Jaden!

  29. Ronni, sending you huge ((((((HUGS))))))) from Illinois. I know how much dogs become part of the family – Jaden seems to have been an amazing friend to you (and you to him).

  30. I am sorry for your loss. That post was a beautiful tribute to your family member.

    • Grandma Juice says:

      Thanks Wayne!
      Grandpa over here did a wonderful job on his 1st official post… sadly, it had to be about this but he did write a beautiful tribute 🙂

  31. Oh how sweet your loyal Jaden must have been, tears of sadness and joy that she is not suffering anymore and had such a wonderful family taking care of her. Kudos to you Grandpa for stepping in and writing for Grandma!

  32. I am so sorry for your loss!

  33. Jaden sounds like an amazing member of your family and you have done a wonderful job memorializing him. It brought tears to my eyes. Losing such a special animal must be very hard for you.

  34. I hear your hurt and your loss. Most people love their pets, but a service animal is more than a pet and I don’t think that anyone without the need for one could possibly understand.

  35. I’m crying with you!
    Whirlwind of Surprises

  36. I am so sorry to hear that your sweet Jaden went to the rainbow bridge. I am sure she is running free playing with squeeky toys, and having lots of yummy food at the rainbow bridge with some old and new friends.

    Thank you for sharing her story Grandpa Juice I know it meant a lot to Grandma Juice and really allowed her readers to know that she is going through a tough time right now.

    • Grandma Juice says:

      I know you of all people ‘get it’…
      He did a beautiful job writing about my Jaden!

  37. Gina Dutcher says:

    I had tears in my eyes reading your story. I believe you and Jaden were very blessed to find each other. You gave her such love, which I believe, increased her time with you, and she gave you such pleasure and comfort. It was her time, God called her for a special reason. May she rest in peace, and may you find comfort knowing that Jaden has now crossed over the Rainbow Bridge into Heaven and will always be watching over you. My thoughts are always with you.

  38. jessica keller says:

    Daddy did I great job writing although this must have been so hard. Jaden was never just any pet, she was always a part of the family. Jaden left so many prints on all of our lives. Ill never forget laying in your bed at night watching tv while I was pregnant with ethan, shed have her head on my belly grunting to the baby everytime he’d kick, every night for hours.

    Not a day will go by that our beautiful jaden will be missed. No other animal could live up or take the place of her. She’s been there through so much of myself, the boys, and the kids life.

    Dear jaden, may you touch many more hearts where you are now, and those of us who got the pleasure to be with you through your good days and your not so good days, we love you!

  39. What a heart-breaking story. Reminds me of having to put my beloved dog of 13 years to sleep, also after a fight with tumors. She was a family member and we mourned her like that. My parents never got another dog.

  40. I just ended up at this post after finding your pic on Pinterest of all places. I had to read your story. I am now reduced to tears and wanted to tell you I think Grandpa Juice did a BEAUTIFUL job with this post. What a LOVING tribute to a WONDERFUL canine companion and friend. I can tell Jaden was a very LOVED furry family member and is probably missed immensely still today… I am going to follow your blog, I like what I see, or read.

  41. Ginger Wirt says:

    Grandma Juice I am so happy you had all those wonderful years with Jaden – what a blessing she was for you and what a blessing you were for her. I believe there a soul mate dogs and they come to us at just the right time. I have had the joy of dogs all my life and each has been a different gift. The sadness of you loss will lighten as time goes by and you will always miss Jaden, however, the memories of your years together will grow strong and you will think of all the joy. I have a little old lady dog right now. I too am giving her people food to the extent that I can, have to be careful of her tummy. I know the time we have left together is limited so I cherish it. Bless you and I send a hug.


  1. […] was feeling poopy still about having to put my beautiful Jaden down and quite giddy at the same time about my crazy family finally leaving after their visit. I needed […]

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