Aug 272014
 

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By: Suzanne Fluhr

This is my tribute to Phoenix…

I have been dreading the news ever since I virtually met Mike and Phoenix. (Actually, they found me via another blog where I had left a comment.) According to Mike, I helped inspire him to take “Past My Curfew” to the next level and to join the blogosphere in earnest. Not surprisingly, once he knew where to look, he quickly amassed a group of dedicated fans many of whom, as far as I can tell, like me, became friends.

For me, and many others, Mike quickly became “Mike and Phoenix” because their intense inter-species relationship was full of such understanding, caring and fun. When Phoenix was diagnosed with mast cell cancer earlier this year, I worried every day about them. As much as I love our dog, I don’t know if I could have taken the journey Mike took with Phoenix, leaving no stone unturned, sparing no expense and patiently caring for him while he recovered from five massive surgeries. (I just went back and re-read Phoenix’s moving account of that journey.) I never expected to see the good news in early June that testing showed Phoenix to be cancer free.

It occurred to me that there must have been some divine intervention for Phoenix to have made it through that ordeal. Recently, Mike posted a video of him and Phoenix getting ready for the ALS ice water dousing challenge. In the short video, Phoenix sits patiently by Mike’s side until the second before the ice water descends at which point he bounds out of the picture, leaving only Mike to get soaked. Both of them looked fine and I was pleasantly surprised to see the alacrity and grace with which Phoenix had the good canine sense to take off.

This is why I was simply stunned to receive a call from Mike the next day in which he imparted the incredibly sad news that Phoenix had passed away that morning, the cancer having returned with a vengeance. Mike was devastated. How could he be anything but. Mike told me he wasn’t ready to share this news with his on-line community. I know there are many people who knew and loved Phoenix and care about Mike in and around Reno and I’m sure they have rallied around Mike as he copes with his tremendous loss. However, I also know that, like me, Mike and Phoenix’s virtual friends would want to know this sad news and to express our condolences.

Yesterday, a post showed up in my Facebook feed that I needed to see. Along with everyone else, I usually curse the Facebook algorithms that seem to invade our privacy, but I am very glad that this poem by an unknown author found its way to me. I know that Phoenix’s soul will be with Mike always and I hope that the pain of his loss will lessen enough for Mike to be able to find joy and comfort in his memories of his Lionhearted friend. I dedicate this to Phoenix and Mike:

A Loan From God 

God promised at the birth of time,
A special friend to give,
His time on earth is short, he said,
So love him while he lives.

It may be six or seven years,
Or twelve or then sixteen,
But will you, till I call him back,
Take care of him for me?

A wagging tail and cold wet nose,
And silken velvet ears,
A heart as big as all outdoors,
To love you through the years.

His puppy ways will gladden you,
And antics bring a smile,
As guardian or friend he will,
Be loyal all the while.

He’ll bring his charms to grace your life,
And though his stay be brief,
When he’s gone the memories,
Are solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from earth return,
But lessons only a dog can teach,
I want you each to learn.

Whatever love you give to him,
Returns in triple measure,
Follow his lead and gain a life,
Brim full of simple pleasure.

Enjoy each day as it comes,
Allow your heart to guide,
Be loyal and steadfast in love,
As the dog there by your side.

Now will you give him all your love,
Nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call,
To take him back again?

I fancy each of us would say,
“Dear Lord, thy will be done,
For all the joy this dog shall bring,
The risk of grief we’ll run.

“We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
We’ll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known,
Forever grateful stay.

“But shall the angels call for him,
Much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes,
And try to understand.”                                                                                                            

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Mike Vogler

I have been told (many times) that I really need to write a book about my life. The past 40+ years have been an exciting ride, and these days I find myself with a great many passions. However, I feel that this website is a much more personal way with which to share my musings, stories, commentary, and (of course) my greatest love... my Golden Retriever, Phoenix.

  100 Responses to “Phoenix — In Memorium”

  1. This is such sad news and my heart aches for Mike and Phoenix. ♥ Thank you for this wonderful tribute, Suzanne.
    They truly were inseparable and especially so after Phoenix’s miraculous recovery. Mike’s dedication to curing Phoenix was extraordinary and everyone was so happy for them!
    R.I.P. dear Lionheart. ♥
    Mike, please know that you are special to all of us out here in the Blogosphere. I’m so sorry for your loss. ((HUGS))

    • Debbie, Mike asked if I would respond to comments to this post for him which, of course, I am happy to do, especially since being so far away, there’s not much else tangible that I can do. I know you are one of the “dog people” who understands what Mike is going through. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here.

  2. Sad news. I shed tears for the loss of Phoenix and I never met him. Loss of a pet is hard to cope with. They do become more than just a pet they are our children, family and they hold our hearts. I’m sorry about your loss my friend. Phoenix is cancer free now with no pain. Your friendship and bond was special and I thank you for sharing it with so many others. Take care.

    • Jennifer, I never met Phoenix in person (dogon?) either, but thanks to Mike sharing Phoenix with us in his writing, I felt like I knew him. Even (or maybe, especially) in his grief, Mike appreciates the outpouring of love and support he is receiving from near and far.

    • Thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this, Suzanne. And thank you even more so for being there back in March through his first cancer journey. Then back on August 25th answering the phone that afternoon I’m so grateful you answered and have continued to be there daily, religiously loyal to help get me through this. Many hugs and blessings to you always….Love, Mike 🙂

  3. Mike, I’m so sorry.

  4. Mike, my heart is broken into small pieces right now. I’m so sorry to hear the bad news. All I want you to know is that I’m here for you and if you need some support, help or a should to cry on, I’m always here my friend. My condolences, Agness x

  5. My thoughts are with you – I’m sorry for the loss of your beloved Phoenix.

  6. Oh Mike. I am so so so sorry. I have only been reading your blog for a short time but I loved reading up on your and Phoenix’s antics. Sending you lots of virtual hugs.

    • Bintu, thank you for stopping by and for the hugs. Even virtually, they are helpful to Mike at a time like this.

  7. I can only imagine how sad Mike is right now at losing Phoenix. He and I especially connected when I shared my “Dear Speckles” post with him. People who have formed strong bonds with a special dog know the best and most loyal love that can ever be. I’m reminded of when I had to put Speckles to sleep and the only thing I could utter was, “What can’t they live longer?” Now I’m crying all over again 🙁 Even then, the many happy memories eventually out weigh the loss.

  8. We all laughed and cried through the journey Mike and Phoenix took via their blog. The final video of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge showed a sprinting Phoenix with healthy limbs and that’s how I’ll want to remember him. We feel and understand the emptiness this sad news brings and memories return of our own pets and grand-dogs too. The Rainbow Bridge is a special meeting place, dear friend.

  9. I, too, was able to speak briefly with Mike the afternoon that Phoenix left us physically and was (and am) absolutely stunned. I’d just shared their wonderful ice bucket challenge on Facebook after watching it over and over. It’s a testament to the love Phoenix has for Mike that while the cancer was already back, one would never know it from his adorable grin and shenanigans.
    I am so very glad that Mike and Phoenix had so many wonderful memory-making adventures since his recovery. I know that both will cherish them.
    Thank you for writing this, Suzanne, and for sharing it with us.
    My heart goes out to you so much, Mike. Sending you lots and lots and lots of love and peace.

    • Kristi, I’m so glad you were able to speak with Mike. I want him to know that his friends from all over the world are there for him when he needs to talk, cry and/or vent.

  10. Suzanne, you’ve written a beautiful tribute to Mike and Phoenix. The poem brought tears to my eyes. Like you I was stunned when I read Mike’s FB post yesterday and I’ve been thinking of him and his beloved sidekick since then. Please let him know that if there’s anything anyone could do to lessen his sorrow, to please let us know. I think that final video was meant to be. . .the two side-by-side and the image of a healthy sprinting Phoenix. . .that’s how I will remember him.

    • Jackie, I’m also glad that we had a chance to see that video. I hope Mike will soon be able to be back with us, but he needs this time for his intense grief.

  11. I’m so terribly sorry to hear this. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Phoenix in all his antics and glory. Sending love and hugs to Mike today. There are no words of comfort now. I hope he knows we’re all here for him. Thank you Suzanne for your eloquent words and sharing that amazing poem. It certainly seems as though it was written especially for Phoenix.

  12. Omg this is so shocking to read! This also makes me so sad 🙁 So sorry for your loss Mike! I hope you’re doing well and remember that you gave Phoenix the best possible life he could ever have! This is a great tribute and I hope that Phoenix will live on in all our hearts! RIP.

    • Michelle, you’re right, of course. The Mike-Phoenix bond was a mutual admiration society. It was a two way street.

  13. My heart is breaking for Mike. I lost a very special cat named Coco at age 5 to cancer 4 and a half years ago. I don’t think I will ever get over it and still tear up at some point most days. I wrote a lot about her journey on my blog: http://www.michellemariesmenagerie.com/
    We did everything we could. I am so very sorry for your loss!

    • Thanks, Michelle. I think most of the pet people understand how intense our grief can be when we lose our furry—-or even our feathery or scaley — family members. Mike and Phoenix were most definitely a family (pack).

  14. It was heartbreaking and also a surprise to read this. Mike, I am so sorry for your loss and please know you are in our thoughts and prayers. RIP Phoenix. I have enjoyed following Mike & Phoenix for awhile now that I almost felt like Phoenix was my virtual pet too. Thank you for such a beautiful tribute, Suzanne and for sharing that lovely poem.

  15. Oh Mike I’m so sorry. I feel so sad for you and have been in a similar place myself before … although that’s no solace for your grief right now. Phoenix was a magnificent and loyal companion and I loved your posts about him.Suzanne, thank you for such a a moving tribute. I had tears in my eyes xx

    • Thank you, Johanna. I wish our pet family members had life-spans similar to ours. However, most of them don’t (other than giant tortoises and elephants, I guess), so we know we are going to have to let them go, but we make them part of our families anyway. It’s a special kind of love to allow to enter our hearts because we know that, most likely, there will be a painful good-bye.

  16. I’m very very sad…

  17. I am absolutely STUNNED! Mike and Phoenix were inseparable!
    I don’t know what to say, my prayers and thoughts are with you Mike. We will miss you Phoenix 🙁

  18. This is such sad news, Phoenix will for sure be missed. RIP dear Phoenix.
    Mike this must be so hard for you, sending you lots of courage and a big hug.
    thanks for the beautiful in memorium Suzanne

  19. Mike – I’m so sad and shocked by this news. But please be strong and encouraged. Know that you have your friends’ support, and know that Phoenix’s soul will always be with you. He brought such great joy and light to all of us, and his light continues to shine on!

  20. Mike, this is so shocking! I can’t believe it. I received an email from Suzanne and thought it is some kind of spam and I came here to check and as I was reading this tribute, the lump in my throat is refusing to subside. We knew Phoenix had emerged out of that monstrous attack. Just last week I saw his smart, quick move to defeat you out of ice bucket challenge. My God!! how can He be so unfair. How could He snatch Phoenix away so suddenly when we were getting complacent that he has recovered!

    I can understand your state of mind, Mike. I am so dumbstruck. I am at the loss of words to say how deeply grieved I am! My hear felt condolences and words of sympathy would seem so lame, I know that. Please accept this as another challenge that life places before us. Please remember we are there with you in spirit. We are all feeling the loss, the vacuum that Phoenix has left in our lives. May his soul rest in peace. May God grant you the serenity and strength to bear this loss.

    • Balroop, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with Mike. He truly appreciates knowing that Phoenix touched his readers’ lives as well.

  21. My heart aches for Mike and Phoenix. I cannot even begin to imagine. I love my pugs so much—they are my babies—the thought of losing them pains me tremendously. Please give Mike my condolences and a big hug XO.

    • Marcia, I will make sure Mike knows how you feel. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

  22. I am so sorry to hear this news. I’m a new reader of this blog, and got to love this pooch in that short time. It is never easy losing a loved one. Stay strong, and know a lot of people are thinking about you .

  23. What terrible, sad news. I’m sending Mike all my sympathy and compassion.

    • Thanks, Mette. I know everyone’s kind thoughts and outreach are helping Mike through this difficult time.

  24. I don’t really now what to write or say. It seems that there are no words that can express exactly how I feel. What a shock… I saw that Ice bucket video last week and I laughed. I had to re read your paragraph twice Suzanne to be sure that I understood properly what you were saying… What a terrible news… My prayers go with you Mike.

  25. Mike, I am so, so sorry to hear this news. I really don’t know what to say, other than that I’m thinking of you and you have my heartfelt condolences. Please be strong and brave, and be glad that Pheonix had such a wonderful life with you – I can’t imagine there would be a better pet owner in the world. I’m not sure if there’s much I’ll be able to do from the other side of the world, but let me know if I can help you in any way at all. Take care.

  26. Oh no. I am so sad to read this. Mike, your abundant love for Phoenix and his for you was always evident in the stories you told about life together. Phoenix seemed exactly like the type of pup everyone would want. My heart goes out to you and I’m sending you a virtual hug.

  27. Beautifully done Suzanne–what a good friend Mike has in you.
    I wrote this on LinkedIn, but thought to share it here too. Hope it helps a little to ease the pain of loss.

    We have had up to three precious doggy children at a time over our 40+ years of farming, and I totally understand the devastation as each treasure leaves your life. I have held several as they took their final breath, whether by humane but lethal injection, or through natural causes.
    I would not have had it any other way.
    The next time I hold my darlings it will be on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. Do you know it?
    Have a little read and listen, and shed a few tears here, at one of the loveliest versions I have seen or heard –
    http://www.indigo.org/rainbowbridge_ver2.html
    Bet you’re crying like I am, but bet your heart feels happier, just imagining those reunions.

    • Christine, if only our furry friends could live longer, but they touch our lives with the short amount of time we get to share with them. Thank you for your kind thoughts for Mike and Phoenix.

  28. Mike, I can’t even begin to express my sorrow in reading this post. I know that Phoenix was so much more than a pet to you…he was family, and your best friend. I often say that our dogs know us better than any other person in our lives…after all, they are often the only ones that see us every day, watch us at our silliest, listen to our problems, lick our tears when we’re feeling down…and to have that ripped away so suddenly and unexpectedly is the worst kind of heartbreak. Please know that you are in my prayers, and I wish you find peace in at least knowing that you were the BEST dad and friend to Phoenix, and he had so many happy years because of you. xoxo.

    • Jess, thank you so much for your mind and insightful words. You clearly have a good understanding of Mike and Phoenix ‘ s special relationship

  29. Suzanne,
    Thanks for letting us all know about Phoenix and I can only guess the devastation that Mike feels. Your tribute is wonderful and poignant. I hope Mike is reading the comments so that he knows how many people have been rooting for him and for Phoenix.
    Mike – I am so sorry that you didn’t get more time with Phoenix. You are very much in my thoughts.

    • Thank you, Leigh. I believe Mike is reading the comments and appreciates knowing how many people Phoenix touched

  30. Like I told you yesterday Mike, Phoenix had such a sweet personality that you could literally FEEL. It was so awesome to know him and experience it firsthand. We are all here for you. Big hugs!

    • Thank you, Anne. I never met Phoenix (nor Mike, for that matter) “in real life”, but their personalities (doganality?) came through loud and clear in Mike’s writing. I hope Mike will want to write again some day.

  31. I am so sorry for your loss. I don’t know what else to say. 🙁

    • Thank you, Peter. Words are certainly insufficient, but they are all we have. I know MIke appreciates your sentiments.

  32. Thanking you so very much Suzanne for sharing your wonderful poem, and for remembering Phoenix. My heart is so very broken for Mike, Phoenix was such a big part of this blog..of this online world. And a big part of our family – I loved sharing with my boys what Phoenix and Mike were up to.
    Love sent to Mike, may Phoenix be happy and chasing Caps for every more RIP xxx

  33. I am so sorry to hear about Phoenix, Mike. I have tears in my eyes right now, knowing how much you love him. I remember when my Kyla passed away too, I was inconsolable for days. Wish I were there to give you the support you need right now!

    @Suzanne, thanks for letting us know!

    • Thank you, Aleah. There’s no question that our furry pets become members of our family, so we grieve their passing. I know Mike is reading the comments here and appreciates everyone taking the time to share their thoughts and offer their condolences.

  34. So sorry Mike. He looked so well in the video – I had a good chuckle about that. Thinking of you Mike. Thanks Suzanne too.

  35. Sending love, hugs, & prayers to you, dear.
    Phoenix is with Kay. I know this to be true.
    what a great love you had and will again….. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  36. Thinking of you Mike, and wishing you comfort. ((HUGS)) Phoenix lives on in your heart and ours. ♥

  37. Here’s to the best hat-stealing dog ever. And he went out on top, playing one more trick on his “dad” and best friend. Nothing can fill his place but Alpha Hubby and I are lifting you up in prayer for peace to fill you that he truly is in heaven visiting with Kim’s sister, Kay. Animals are there, bringing joy to every one. My heart hurts for you and your loss of the best partner.

    Please don’t leave us. We would miss you so much.

    • Nan, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about Mike and Phoenix. I share your hope that Mike will someday soon be able to share himself with us via his writing. I realize this is something he cannot rush, but he has built up a store of on line goodwill and a community of folks who care about him and what he has to say.

  38. Hey Mike,
    I just wanted to come check up on you.Sending lots of hugs to you and to the memory of Phoenix.

  39. Mike, My heart cries for you. Phoenix will be missed. Suzanne, It is wonderful what you are doing for Mike! Take care all.

    • Corinne, friends are there for friends. What may be surprising is that I’ve never met Mike IRL (in real life) — such is the power of the internet

  40. Rip Phoenix.. Take care mike. Hugs to you..He will be missed very much. Hope to see you back soon as phoenix sure did love his dad and his writing! <3

    • Rashmi, I also kind of probably annoy Mike, asking him when he might be writing again for public consumption. I understand why it’s difficult for him to do so, but I am hopeful that won’t be a permanent condition.

  41. Hi Mike. How are you? Just to let you know we’re here for you!

    • Thank you so very much Aleah I’m still taking baby steps each day the best I can. I so appreciate you and so many others being there for me. Please know that. How are you doing? 🙂

  42. This is sad news. One of my other blogging friends just lost her pup too, and I had actually met him. Tender, kind soul. I feel lucky to have known him.
    Sending some warm hugs.

    • Colleen, I really appreciate this and that you stopped by. I’m very sorry to hear about your friend’s pup too. Warm hugs are gladly accepted and sent back always 🙂

  43. Noooooo. I am so so sorry. This is very sad news. Suzanne, thank you for your lovely tribute. Mike you are in my thoughts.

    • Thank you so very much, Elizabeth, that is such a nice thing to say it’s greatly appreciated. All of my best to you as well 🙂

  44. I haven’t been here for ages. It think a year has passed. I am so sorry for your loss, Mike. I really am. I hope you are fine….

    • Oh my gosh, I about did a backflip out of my chair seeing your wonderful name pop here, Jo. Wow, you disappeared off the radar and it’s so wonderful to hear from you my ol’ friend. I will make may way over to your blog very soon and I hope all is well 🙂

  45. Such sad news, such a beautiful and obviously well loved dog.

    • Thank you Becky he was my dream come true as you came to know. That was on many life levels. I appreciate that you stopped by 🙂

  46. Oh Mike and Suzanne, I’m so sorry I only saw this now. The last post I read was about the ALS challenge, so I’m very saddened to hear of Mike’s loss. RIP Phoenix.

  47. oh no mike…I am so sorry.. I know how hard it is to lose your beloved best friend. tears are streaming down my face as I read this. Take comfort in the fact that you did everything possible for your boy and you gave him months of happiness that he wouldn’t have had if he didn’t have an amazing dad like you. I know my cat, Alex, is with Phoenix now and they are playing together nd running free…

    Huge hugs…

    • Hi Hilary, yes Alex and Phoenix are free and having a wonderful time now. I deeply appreciate your wonderful, kind words my friend 🙂

  48. I’m so sorry to hear about Phoenix Mike. It’s just so sad and I know no words probably can ease your pain. He will be greatly missed 🙁

    • Oh yes, that is an understatement on being missed, Krystle. Thank you for your beautiful comment, my dear 🙂

  49. This is heartbreaking RIP Phoenix 🙁

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