How Napa Passed

How Napa Passed

Napa, German Shepherd Covy-Tucker HillsYesterday, February 19, 2016, my family said goodbye to our 10-year old German Shepherd dog, Napa. Yesterday, Feb 19 was also her birthday.  As many of you know, my mom found tumors on Napa’s stomach the day after Thanksgiving 2015, and she had surgery to remove them on Dec 1, 2015.  After the biopsy came back, it was discovered that Napa had stage 4 lymphoma – originating in her breast tissue.  The vet said that chemo wouldn’t help given the aggressive nature of the cancer.  We did go to a Chinese acupuncturist and herbalist to hopefully give her some relief and prolong her longevity and quality of life.  She took Chinese herbs – later on prednisone and also got vitamin B-12 shots and Vitamin K chewables.

I posted about her passing on Facebook yesterday and some of you have asked what happened with Napa yesterday. I am a firm believer in sharing knowledge and information, in case it helps anyone down the road.

On the 18th of February, I would have never guessed what would transpire the next day.  I am still in shock that it happened as quickly as it did.

As many of you know, Napa is my sister’s heart dog – meaning, she had a very special bond with her. I am 36 and my sister is 25. Amy spent her high school years and after with Napa – living with her, etc.  As I like to say, Napa is Amy’s Rags.  My parents also dearly loved Napa.

Amy was in Europe (a trip planned long ago before the cancer diagnosis, and I do not share our travels on the Internet until after the fact due to our exposure on the Internet) – Amy was due back in Kansas City last night around 9pm and was excited that Napa had lasted and that she would be able to touch her again.

Yesterday morning at 9am my mom phoned me to tell me that Napa had had a seizure. In hindsight, my mom figured out that Napa had had two seizures. When she let her outside at 6am to go to the bathroom, my mom found her on the ground kicking her legs – my mom thought she had fallen and was trying to get up (it was dark and Napa has never had seizures and it was towards the end of the seizure, so there was no reason to think any different). My mom ran inside to get my dad, and Napa was able to walk back in the house.  My mom offered her food and Napa gobbled it down.  At 9am, Napa had another seizure – and my dad had phoned the vet.

I came over a little after 9am (right after my mom had phoned me) and so did my mom’s twin sister, Aunt Jean.

Napa seemed OK to me – not wonderful, but OK – light in her eyes (“light in her eyes” is an essential element to me in making the final decision) and attentive to what was going on around her.

At 10am she had another seizure (she was laying down when it happened – so she didn’t have far to fall) – it lasted 1 minute long and if you’ve ever seen a seizure it is AWFUL. We thought maybe it had to do with water  or something (she had just drank water) – weren’t sure and were still waiting to hear from the vet (who was in surgery). In between the seizures, she seemed OK – but tired. We even went outside again and she walked around, trying to go to the bathroom (she had been having more trouble going #2). We were going to load her into the car to take her to the vet – but then she wanted to go back inside, so we went with her. She drank a bunch of water when we got inside.

At 11:30am she was in between the door frame to go out on my parents’ back patio and started to have another (standing up this time). Thank god my Aunt Jean was right there and grabbed her back legs, so she wouldn’t break them as she fell – that one lasted about 30 seconds, but it took her a lot longer to come to.

After the 11:30am one, we knew it was time. She looked exhausted and my mom knew the cancer had gone to her brain. We could have waited for Napa to gain her strength and get her in the car, but we called my brother Marsh and he was available to come over to carry her and lift her in the car (thank god).

We drove to the vet and arrived around 12:15-12:30 pm. There were many hawks flying above us and one in particular flew directly over us when the vet came to the back of my mom’s car to give Napa the sedative.  My mom, my dad, my Aunt Jean and I were around Napa in the back of my mom’s car – it was a beautiful day in Kansas City – 72 degrees in February, unheard of.

At the end, she was ready and asking for help – and I believe it was peaceful. She passed about 1pm.

My sister wasn’t due into Chicago until 3:30pm and HAD NO IDEA anything had been going on or happening as she had been on a flight over the Atlantic. Waiting for her to call to tell us she had arrived safe and sound in the USA was excruciating for me as all I could think about was her excitement to see Napa again and the dread of delivering the opposite news.  Of course, I wanted to hear that she had arrived safe and sound, but didn’t want to deliver the news and especially over the phone while she was in the middle of Chicago O’Hare.  Yet, I didn’t think it appropriate to have her wait to get home to hear it (as I would not want someone keeping that from me).  When I told her over the phone (my mom was crying too hard and couldn’t), the pain in my sister’s voice and her repetition of the word “No, no, no, no…” is something I will hear over and over again in my head.  But what it represents is the beauty of love and I am grateful my sister had the joy of loving a dog like she does Napa.

I am also grateful that my parents had the joy of loving her as well – as she taught them a lot as well, and they are heart-broken too.

I believe we did the right thing for Napa in the right time frame, and she clearly gave us clear signs that it was time.  Do I wish that Amy could have touched her and held her once more?  You bet.  But my spiritual beliefs are such that I believe Amy wasn’t supposed to see all that transpired yesterday and that her final memories of her dog will be more positive – and believe Napa’s soul chose this for Amy.

I am grateful to Napa for the lessons I learned since Dec 1 and before then.  I was able to see a strength in my mom that was most impressive – especially during the seizures when I was a basket case.  My Aunt Jean’s strength was also incredible and a blessing yesterday.  The love of a family dog shows you how absolutely beautiful the strength of love can be.

Rest in peace, Napa girl.  I will miss you – we all will.

Thank you to you all for all your prayers, love and support during the last 2.5 months – I will never forget it.

For the next week, we will be posting photos in tribute to Napa on our Facebook page.  We would like to share our love of her with you and hope you’ll join us – Floppycats on Facebook.

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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  1. All I can say is that totally sucks,and your right it wasn’t meant for Amy to see,Im sorry that you your parents and Aunt had to be the strong ones but you did a perfect Job for a perfect Dog,that kept a light in his eyes till the very end cause he new how much he was Loved.Keep the faith Im now 52yrs and its getting really hard due to life experiences.Im gonna go give my furr boys a hug and kiss now.Best of health to u Jenny your Family and all your very Loved and cared for animals that are perfect in your family.Goodnight,Lisa Murphy Bo and LilCeasar.

  2. Hi Jenny,

    I’m new to joining the floppycats community but I still felt the pain of Napa’s passing away. Thank You for sharing your story even though I’m sure it was hard. Recently our neighbors (who we are close with) had their dog pass away as well. My mom also lost her dog through a tragic situation. I understand how difficult this can be for you all. Be strong and know that time does heal. I’m glad that Napa was surrounded by people who loved her when it was her time. Deepest sympathy and condolences to all of your family especially Amy.

    RIP Napa.


  3. Before I was able to log on here I sent a comment via Facebook. Thank you for sharing Napa; she’s such a beautiful animal. My sincere condolences to you and all of Napa’s family. I do believe that sharing this experience will help other people. It is heartwarming to know that Napa was dearly loved.

  4. So sorry to hear this terrible news! Deepest condolences to you Jenny, and to the whole family- especially to your sister. It’s always such a heartbreak to lose our fur babies…lots of love to you all.

  5. Patti Johnson says:

    Oh, Jenny, please accept my sincerest condolences to you and your family on the loss of your beautiful Napa girl. I was actually crying as I read your post and when it got to the point where Amy wasn’t going to be able to see her or hold her because she was flying back home, I was just overwhelmed with emotion. Anyone who has truly lurved and lost a beloved furry family member will feel the emotion of your post. Thank you so much for sharing this heartbreaking information with us all.

    Sending you blessings of love, strength, comfort and guidance in this very sad time for you, Amy, your Mom, Dad, Aunt Jean, Marsh and the rest of your family.

    Big hugs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle <3

  6. Lore Wise says:

    Jenny – you’ve written beautiful pieces before but you outdid yourself this time. I knew your blog about Napa’s passing would hit me hard. I lost my Murphy, my beautiful black lab/chow mix, less than a year ago to kidney failure. I too dealt with the aniexty of him growing weaker and the awful decision I knew I’d be forced into making. How do you know? What if it’s too soon? But in the end Murphy had the final say. I knew he was weakening and suddenly one day his legs gave out. He struggled and got back up. Within 2 hours it happened 3 times. The third time he just lay on the rug watching me… and we both knew it was time. He was a big a part of my life as Napa had been to your sister. In the end the final decision was made for me. My heart goes out to you and your family. Thanks for your beautiful words.

    1. Thank you! I am sorry to hear about your Murphy – sounds like how Rags was in his final days of renal failure.

  7. Teresa Reid says:


    Thank you for sharing Napa’s last day with us. You are so generous to always think of others even in your time of sadness. By sharing your experience, many will be guided when making these difficult end of life decisions. Know that Napa is grateful that you listened and respected her request and let her go in such a peaceful and beautiful way.

    Please let Amy and your family know that you all are in my thoughts and prayers to heal the hurt in your hearts. Hope that Amy will be comforted by all the wonderful memories she has of her precious Napa. She is so blessed to have such a kind older sister and loving family to help shoulder her pain and get her through this difficult time. My heart breaks for all of you.

    Sending you love and hugs.

  8. Oh, Jenny, I’m so very sorry.

    What an exquisitely beautiful post to so generously share with the world.

    The pain and beauty in Napa’s final journey you have shared is both devastating and comforting. I hope that you and your family, Amy especially, will soon find comfort in the many memories of fun, laughter and sweet moments that you shared with Napa.

  9. i know you are right jenny. it was meant for amy to not be there. i am bawling my eyes out now, i know how hard it is when a precious spirit leaves the body that we are used to holding and petting and smelling and loving. you and i both know that that precious energy and spirit is always there forever, energy never dies. amy will always have napa with her and so will everyone that loved her. that’s the wonderful thing about energy. it can cover the universe. napa will shine for eternity!

  10. ABarletta says:

    Jenny and family, I am so sad to hear about the passing of precious Napa. I am literally sobbing while I am typing this message. She was such a lucky girl to have the love of your family for so many years. And she was lucky that you were there for her at the end. You would have felt much worse had she passed alone and in pain. Thank you for sharing your journey, as painful as it was, with us. Buddha said life is a suffering. It is times like this that I understand just what that means. May Napa’s sweet soul rest in peace and may the happy memories of her life with you all sustain you through this difficult time.

  11. I really think they do ask for our help and know we are doing the best we can for them. Thank you for sharing Napa’s story- she is so beautiful.

  12. Jenny, I am so sorry for the loss suffered by you and your family with the passing of Napa. My family and myself went thru basically the same thing early this week with the sudden passing on Tuesday, Feb 16, of my daughter’s beloved Shih-poo, Princess who was 9 yrs old. Same cancer, rapidly moving, mammary tumor, but her first exray showed that the cancer had spread to her lungs and heart. It progressed so quickly. We were so shocked because she seemed like she was doing fine. A friend of mine stated that losing a pet makes him not want to get any more because the pain is too much. I told him that the love we give and receive from them makes it all worth it. I’m proud to have known and loved this dog for 9 yrs and though we, including my Ragdolls, will miss her terribly, I’m choosing, much like you are, to celebrate her life and cherish the memories. I will be thinking of you, your family and Napa in the coming days, and take comfort in the fact that I am not alone in my mourning. Hugs to you all …

    1. Thank you! Oh my goodness with Shih-poo! How did she pass? What made it sudden?

      Yes, I have heard others never want to experience the pain of losing a pet again, so they don’t want another pet. But they would never experience the pain without the love that built over the years.

  13. Shelia Love says:

    I didn’t even know sweet Napa girl but I know she was loved so much by her human soulmate,Amy.I hope to convey to all of the Dean family just how sorry I am for your loss of this lovely German furbaby.Im just bawling like a baby here…could be because I,too recently lost my Cocker Spaniel on February 4th and this just brings it all back to me,I actually think it’s because I’m heartbroken for your family’s loss.Please know I will be thinking of you all.

    1. Rose Rowe says:

      Beautifully written, and thank you for sharing. I am happy you were able to get Napa to the vets so she could pass peacefully, surrounded by her loving family. You are in my thoughts during this difficult time.

      My first Ragdoll Leonardo left me last December, it came on so quickly. He started circling, so I knew something was seriously wrong. I brought him to the vet, as I was ready to let him leave this earth on his own terms. What most upsets me, the vet said my boy looked good, all his tests came back negative, and he just needed some teeth pulled, so we scheduled an appointment for an extraction.

      Three days later he was gone. As you said, seizures are terrible to witness, and unfortunately my beautiful boy passed in the car on the way to the vets during a seizure. I will be traumatized forever by this. I was heartbroken, and I still miss him terribly.

      I just want to share this experience to help someone else. Go with your intuition, and seek a second opinion. I don’t know if this would have helped my Leonardo, but I wish I was able to make his passing more peaceful and dignified.

      1. Hi Rose, I am so sorry about your Leonardo – I was scared Napa would have a seizure on the way to the vet and die as well.

        I would encourage you to think of Leonardo’s passing in a more positive way – that you learned a lot about how to handle it the next time. And just have gratitude for that new knowledge rather than beating yourself up in hindsight – beating yourself up doesn’t help Leonardo’s legacy or yourself. Leonardo’s soul wouldn’t want you to beat yourself up.

        1. Rose Rowe says:

          Hi Jenny,

          Thanks for the kind words, and thank you for Floppycats, a wonderful place where we can share our experiences, and learn from each other.


    2. Thank you! I am so sorry for your recent loss as well.

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