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In Memoriam: Lang

April 26, 2006
Photo of me, Stacy Bleeks and Lang

I first met Lang about 3.5 years ago – the same time that I met Stacy Bleeks. Lang was Stacy’s guide dog, and more importantly – Stacy’s friend. (Stacy has worked with me on various accessibility projects since I met him and is now a good friend)

Just recently, Lang was quite sick with an inoperable tumour in his intestines that was causing him quite a bit of discomfort from a swollen belly and ultimately leading to difficulty eating. His weight loss was noticeable and he just wasn’t doing well. You could just tell. He wasn’t the Lang we all knew, though he seemed to be in good spirits.

Last week – Thursday April 20, 2006 – Stacy had to make the difficult decision to have Lang put down. And yes, I know that “difficult” doesn’t even describe it. Stacy told me that he felt a wierd sense of relief afterwards. That’s when I knew Lang was more than just Stacy’s guide dog and companion. Lang was part of Stacy’s family.

16 Responses

Comment by Carolyn — Apr 26 2006 @ 7:24 pm

The love of a dog is such a precious thing – the way they adore us no matter our failures, the depth of their gratitude for even the slightest bit of kindness, their eagerness to please us, their infinite desire for our companionship and their desperate need to be reunited with us when we are apart. The attitude of a dog is so inspiring – their profound enjoyment of the simplest pleasures, their unquestioning adaptation to the most difficult challenges, their unfettered happiness at receiving the gift of a new day, their lavish affection for everyone they meet.
I’ve known this love and inspiration from the time I was born, and the decades since have served to teach me more and more about the goofy, beautiful, loving heart of a good dog. If my dog, my girl, fell into a raging river, I’d pause only a second before plunging in after to try to save her. The difference in her devotion is that she wouldn’t even pause a second before coming to save me.
I’m so sorry, Stacy, that you had to go through the grief of witnessing Lang’s pain, and of making the decision to free him from it.

Comment by Jesse — Apr 26 2006 @ 7:52 pm

My parents had to put down their yellow lab last summer for a similar reason. His brother, a black lab, is still kicking but I have no idea how… he is riddled with the ‘lab bumps’ and at least a few have to be a bit more than a fat lump. He is happy at 12 years old though but I know exactly how hard that decision is.

Sorry to hear about your loss Stacy.

Comment by pixeldiva — Apr 26 2006 @ 7:57 pm

The loss of a pet is always devastating, but the relationship between a guide dog and their owner is on another level entirely.

My sympathies and condolences go out to Stacy. It can’t have been easy making the decision.

Comment by Matt Robin — Apr 26 2006 @ 8:13 pm

I’m humbled by this post – Lang is obviously going to be missed very much and it is sad that he’s died. It must’ve been terrifically hard for Stacy to make this difficult decision.
My sincerest regards to Stacy and his family,

Matt

Comment by Tim Huegdon — Apr 27 2006 @ 12:23 am

I’m sorry for your loss Stacy…

Losing any pet is a painful experience but I can only imagine what it must be like losing Lang, who, obviously, has been more than just a companion and friend to you.

I’m sure you’ll remember him always.

Comment by Faruk AteÅŸ — Apr 27 2006 @ 1:28 am

Oh wow.. losing a pet who has been in your life a long time is difficult, I can’t even imagine what it must be like with a guide dog, who’s even that much closer to you and who takes care of you.

My warmest sympathies and condolances, Stacy.

Comment by chris bauman — Apr 27 2006 @ 5:55 am

I have no words to help with the loss. When I lost a family member, my uncle gave me some words that have proven to be true for these last 9 years. “It doesn’t get better, it just gets different.” No loss of life can ever ‘get better’ but we learn to greive, we learn to change our patterns, we learn to live again.

May God bless this time.

Comment by Robert Wellock — Apr 28 2006 @ 6:04 am

That’s unfortunate; I have exercised Guide Dogs before so have an idea how much their owners adore them.

Comment by Ben Buchanan — May 02 2006 @ 12:48 am

Considering I still miss our family dogs, I can’t really imagine losing a companion like a guide dog :(

Comment by feather — May 02 2006 @ 10:39 pm

Thanks to all for your support and kind, heart-felt words for Stacy. I know he’s been reading the comments here and was very appreciative of your thoughts!

Comment by Stacy — May 04 2006 @ 10:45 pm

Thank you Derek for this memorium about our friend Lang. They say Lang is the better looking of us in the photo here!

He has been gone, (I still dont know how to put it) for exactly 2 weeks. I have atempted to post here a couple of times over the past week. I end up listing off some of the many wonderful things we’ve done together. I end up not having enough time to include one experience or another. I realize that I would have to include every day from the moment Lang and I first met back in the summer of 1999 all through the 7 years we were a team and I then realize that each day we were together was as significant as the next.

Something magical happens when you are paired with a guide dog. Something undescribable happens when your guide dog becomes your best friend.

all I can say is I have a ton of wonderful memories of Lang. I am astounded by the great things we have accomplished together and the many great people we have met. We experienced so many things together. People have been asking me over the past week (like the barber, waitress, neighbours etc) “where is your friend?” They don’t ask “where is your dog”. they all know he was more than just a dog.

I would not have been able to do the many things I did over the past 7 years without the Langaroo. You see we called him the Langaroo because his trainer, Anne, was Australian.
I think immediately of the summer of 2004 when we lived in Toronto for 6
months as I had a contract as the program Coordinator for the 2004 CNIB
Gretzky SCORE Teen Camp. Lang and I travelled from our Parkdale flat in Toronto’s
West end each day on the Queen or King Street streetcar and then caught a
subway up to Young and St. Clair to our office. We both loved the early
morning sojourn along the lakeshore into the city. People often commented on
how seeing us together brightened their day. I was always proud to answer about guide dogs and related subjects . I think people often just
felt good as soon as they saw Lang and would often comment on how handsome
he is. he truly had an ability to bring a sense of joy to any situation.

We have been to many outdoor music festivals and countless school classes. In fact, Lang lead me up to receive my Diploma 6 years ago. Of course he wasn’t always :working” and we did play quite a lot weather it was at our favorite Cathcart park or with a tennis ball or a good round of “I’m gonna get ya sucka”. A good balance of work and play is good for us all.

I recall a day we were at Winterlude a few years ago. Winterlude is a winter festival here in Ottawa and Lang and I were skating along the Rideau Canal. A young girl aged 7 or 8 approached us and asked me a curious question. She said “Who takes care of who, you or your dog?” I had to pause for a moment and wonder. I answered her, “We take care of each other.” I am coming to terms with the fact that I cannot care for Lang anymore and miss him more than words will allow me to describe.

Let us all try to enjoy the good times and cherish the ones we have while they are near.

I believe that the steps we take towards the many summits life offers us are more significant than that final step. I am thankful to have had Lang at my side along the way over the past 7 years. He was a great dog and an amazing friend.

Stacy Bleeks

Comment by Stacy — May 04 2006 @ 10:50 pm

Thank you all for your kind words. They are truly appreciated.

Stacy

Comment by Caitlin Unknown — May 25 2006 @ 3:08 pm

I have had a cat for 9 wonderful years, and finally yesterday we had to put him to sleep. His back end was blocked up and so he wasn’t able to poop. Then when they took all of it out of his stomach and after he’d lost about (10 lbs) they found out by x-rays he had a tumor which was stretching his stomach. Then lastly when we had to put him down I could tell he was in a lot of pain so I stayed with him and told him I’d always be here for him, that I loved him, that he’d be fine, and lastly that he’d go up to heaven and be pain free. He knew right away where he was going he lowered his head and left his eyes open after they knocked him out so he wouldn’t feel the pain of dying. When I left the roo I took a look back and his eyes were open and he looked like he was in so much pain, but dead too. About a half hour after saying our last goodbye I had a warm feeling in my heart which I’m sure was Pooka telling me that he was in heaven, fine, happy, and pain free but would never forget me. I keep having someone inside me telling me that I needed to let go but I would always have memories and never forget him. It’s hard to let go but knowing that he’s in no pain, happy, and still must miss me keeps me going. I love the song from Pearl Harbor “Standing here.” Because it reminds me so much of how he’ll be there even when life takes me down different paths.
-your prayers would be greatly appreciated!

Comment by Alan, school teacher — Jun 12 2006 @ 3:27 pm

I can feel how you suffered. I just lost my dog who was 11. I spend all those years with her around and feel empty now.

Comment by Dave Z — Jul 03 2006 @ 3:04 pm

Stacy,

According to someone “Anonymous”:

“The love of a dog is the only true love that money can buy”.

I can offer nothing else — it is a sad day, but something each dog owner must go through. The only way to avoid the pain is to never take joy in the love that a dog can offer us in the first place. The pain hurts, but the love far outweighs the pain.

God Bless You and Lang, too.

Dave Zemens
Rochester, Michigan

Comment by Roshan — Dec 05 2006 @ 6:58 am

Stacy, how many of these well wishers actually knew Lang other than Derek? Yet they all feel your pain, just like me. He seems like he was a handsome fellow. I lost my dog, A href=”http://roshanmenon.blogspot.com/2005_04_27_roshanmenon_archive.html”>Shawny, a golden retriever last year in April. She was 11 and my best friend from the moment I brought her home as a puppy. I still feel the loss, even today and will always be poorer because of it.

We are better humans because of our dogs.