Jun 072014


Phoenix, “How come you stopped writing and don’t share what we have to say with our latest news?”
Me, “Because I’ve been taking care of you, baby. Also, I don’t want to jinx anything.”
Him, “Daddy, I appreciate that and you’ve been perfect but don’t lose yourself either. I think you should share this with folks and you won’t jinx anything.”
Me, “Well then why don’t you write it if you’re Mister One Of The Most Smartest Dog Breeds In The World.”
Phoenix, “Move aside…I will…”

Thank you to our Canadian friend, Mike C, for sending us this song on a recent Saturday afternoon. It was inspirational for this life story…


You are my King, I have been and shall forever nobly be your Lionheart….

What is written here usually is often of a buoyant and happy atmosphere. An escape to whatever memory in movies, showcasing new food delights or personal stories spanning a lifetime are shared with you. Yet, reality hit here three months ago and that is what I wish to share with you.

I am his angel to look over and enhance what I can in this brief stopover. I am not his savior. That is up to him and him alone to accomplish. I have only been a guide.

We all come into this lifetime hopefully blessed and transitioned into beautiful relationships. Those bonds will either be for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I chose to be with a man who would be the sum of the whole to me. That kind, warm person would be my Daddy.

It came with a hiccup though as this man I chose would be overflowing with love yet haunted by his pain of many lifetimes past. It would be my job to love and look after him…essentially to be his Assistant. Always would I be his Love, Light and Soul Mate.

I wanted him to know peace, calm and quiet within his beautiful heart.

To be a champion of the human spirit…that’s the challenge, that’s the voyage, that’s the expedition.

Most of all I wanted him to learn, accept and practice unconditional love.

I picked him on a June day 11 years ago. I stuck my tongue out at him to get his attention and have him grasp me up in his arms. Which he did. Then I peed all over his clothes. That was my matter of fact message to him, “You are mine…we will have fun. I will show you love like you’ve never known. That which hurts you within will no longer hurt.” It was going to be a task yet here is that actual moment right here…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

The promise I had made to him that, through me, his life would be changed forever to that of an inner self-awareness he had never known…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

I touched his heart with my paw to reveal to him that I wished to take him on a very special life journey. One that many never get to experience. He would not know the encounter and blessing of having a human child, therefore I would be that for him. His kid…forever…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

My health soured in early March and I knew what had occurred before anyone else was aware. I did everything in my power to hide it from my Daddy but I no longer was able to. He and my vet, Dr Mark Ditsworth, decided that I would have surgery to remove 5 growths. One of them worried Mark only slightly. I felt Daddy’s dire concern yet we both agreed to get them removed. One would be on my right eyelid, another on my chest, one on my hiney, one of my lower chest. And the last one, to be worrisome, was next to my penis. I know, of all places huh?

The night before my surgery I went to sleep next to Daddy’s bed. He had been crying as my doggie Dad had passed away earlier that evening and I felt his passing. Daddy was worried exponentially for me upon hearing this news with foreboding emotion and my surgery a mere hours away. I felt sad for the loss but knew I needed help…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

What would happen next would be the medical equivalent of a thunderstorm rolling across the Plains. One that would affect and change our lives forever. I would never be the same afterwards but more disconcerting for me is how it would affect Daddy. I never wanted that for him yet hopefully it would become a gift.

That gift? To impart upon him that today is all we have.

It was the third day after surgery that I knew that something was dreadfully wrong. I could barely move but gathered strength to sit in front of him and put my paw on his knee as I often do. I looked him in the eye to say, “I need to go to the Doctor.” He didn’t understand yet and medicated me with more pain pills as laid down at the side of his bed as I always do. The pain increased one hundred fold and then what I was worried about first….happened. I whined and whimpered in a pleading tone in the dark for his help. He rolled over to constantly stroke my fur and assure me but I needed him to turn the light on. 40 minutes later at 1:41 a.m. in the morning he did so.

Oh my poor Daddy as he shrieked in horror at the sight. The long incision next to my penis had swollen up and burst open. There was a huge pool of blood next to the bed. I immediately started to lick up the mess so very apologetically. He shouted at me not to do that. I know he doesn’t remember much as he was so upset with my condition.

He securely picked up my 72 pound body as though it was light as a feather. Yes, I was bleeding out and it had become a life or death emergency.

I would not leave my Daddy.

He sped down the freeway at breakneck speed to the Emergency Hospital. The dash clock read 1:50 a.m. and I looked over at him to see tears pouring down his face. I always insist his right hand be on me when we are driving in my Jeep and this time I could feel him grasping my leg with fear.

We arrived and went into a room and he took my cone off as the pain was searing inside my tummy. Tears trickled down my face and you can see the blood drops all over the floor…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

I was rushed off to the operating room without him at my side. This was a room where lots of unfortunate things happen. I knew it in my heart and felt the overwhelming gloomy energy.

It’s a way station.

Where doggies have passed on either because they were beyond repair or their mommy and daddy could not afford it. The nice Doctor told him it was going to be very expensive not only on this night but for many months to come. And that even then there was absolutely no assurance of a positive outcome. My Daddy said, “Please fix him and save him. I don’t need or want an estimate. Just save him please, Doctor.”

That’s my King and I am his Lionheart.

I was so very weak laying on the cold, silvery metal operating table and that life light was flickering. I could barely see the Dr and nurse as the needle pricked, then pierced my tender skin. A moment later I was grateful to feel relief yet distraught as I fell helplessly, weightless, into a chasm of sleep and dreams of which I did not know if I could recover from. I felt the darkness of forever knocking but I refused to answer the door.

My daddy would drift around the city in my Jeep for next 5 hours waiting for a phone call. In tears, numb and the threat of abandonment screaming at his deepest lifelong fear. The years flashed past me that I had spent with my Soul Mate of a bond I did not want broken…

Going for road trips in my Jeep and being his wingman, protecting him always…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

Having him toss my tennis ball for me…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

Our walks together where I have taught him to stop and look at all of the life energy that surrounds us…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

How I would miss my next door neighbor friend, Elizabeth, whom I’ve grown up with and love so much…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

Being in the kitchen with him where I keep a watchful eye and despite some comical errors he’s become quite the achieved student in self-taught cuisine.. .
Phoenix Golden Retriever

Stealing his slippers which I love to do because it initiates so much fun with us together…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

And my favorite of all time…is stealing his ball cap…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

Our life together was not going to come to a halt with me on this table. I was not going out like this.

The Emergency Doctor called him a few hours later. The 8 inch incision across my abdomen had to be left open like a fresh cavern. At 7 a.m. that morning he took me to Dr Mark’s where I would spend the week during the day having my wound flushed out and then would go home each night. I had to wear this icky bandage. My wound open, we were told it would stay like that possibly for months until the problem had a chance to expel itself…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

At the end of the week Dr Mark called him at home while I was resting at the hospital and told him to come get me immediately. An emergency surgeon, a really special one, wanted to see me immediately. Apparently I had become news and the doctors were baffled. There are better ways to become a celebrity. We would meet Dr Regina who wanted to take my case on in concert with Dr Mark. She said that I would immediately be put on numerous medications and that I had to take 20 pills a day at first and that she was determined to help me feel better…
Phoenix Golden Retriever Medication

It was at this same time that Daddy would be informed of my medical condition of which I already knew. I was worried as to how he would react.

Dr Regina told him that I had cancer.

The prognosis was that my Level 2 Mast Cell Cancer was there to stay but I could have a great quality of life until it would take my body in possibly a year if not sooner.

I looked up to see him gasping for breath in between a flood of tears. I didn’t feel so hot but I lifted my right paw up on his knee like I always do and looked into his distraught, swollen, flooded eyes. I said, “I love you. I’m not going anywhere. Let’s do what the Dr says, ok?” He cried harder.

Upon removal, the cancerous tumor had burst inside of me causing the pain of a 100 bee stings all at once. It had spread like a wildfire throughout my body and would attack anything it could grasp onto.

Two days later I was home and all stitched up again from my 3rd surgery. I remember everything but I was heavily drugged. I have a strong body and life will and said, “Eff you cancer. I’m not done here just yet.”

I am a Lionheart and they would hear my roar soon.

I received another curve thrown my way. The cancer had regrettably won, temporarily, and completed taken over my left rear leg spreading like tentacles. It hurt. Bad.

Me vs Cancer.

Who would have the last word?

Dr Regina and Dr Dusty hoped that my leg wound would heal on its own. All fingers were crossed. If you look at my left rear leg its swollen four times its normal size in the picture. You can also see a huge dark spot on the comforter at my rear legs that was drainage from my 3rd operation. Because I couldn’t move I would unintentionally and uncontrollably potty on myself from time to time also. Daddy would take a warm, wet wash cloth and gently clean me up each time. I couldn’t walk anywhere and Daddy carried me in and out of the house. I liked to lay outside and he let me remain there as I told the cancer to drain out and leave my body. Daddy brought a chair outside and sat there with me for hours upon hours bundled up…from dusk to dawn…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

The cancer continued to battle but it was up against me.

This is what the cancer had done to my tummy and left rear leg. One of the few drainage tubes that were surgically inserted inside of me is visible…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

Then it got worse…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

I had to have all of that skin removed that wrapped around outside to the inside of my left thigh in a 4th surgery. There was immense concern that once all of that was removed whether or not there would be enough skin to sew my leg back together. Then they would have to do another surgery to graft skin off my body to close it. I had to go home in a walking cast that night as all fingers were crossed…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

The next day I would go in for my 5th surgery and Dr Regina and Dr Dusty successfully put stitches and staples in to hold my open wound together. It hurt bad but they gave me good pills that help alleviate that a bit…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

I was now to stay in the hospital for the next 2 weeks. Daddy only came to visit with me once each time for both weeks. He was worried that I would think I was going home. I knew why I was there. Other doggies were there and the night nurse, Nancy, and I looked in on them. I was supposed to be still but as I could move around better she let me do rounds with her checking in on the other patients. I sent all of them my healing energy. She called my Daddy at 11 p.m. each night for a comfort call. I will always love Nancy.

He even requested to come sleep with me each night but that was politely denied.

For the first time ever in almost 11 years Daddy and I would be separated. I was so very restless and upset. Not about being in the hospital to heal, but that I was not home to greet him. He counts on that as I have too every single night for nearly 11 years. A tear rolled down my face. I had let him down as I was not there for him as promised. He would walk in to our house and not see my face so happy to see him. It only magnified my resolution to fight.

I was so very sad yet my energy had to be focused on healing. Daddy would have to go through yet another inner evolution of knowing and achieving his inner strength and growth within.

I slept and rested for weeks on end so very heavily medicated…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

After two months I finally got my cone off and all of my stitches and staples removed. No more surgeries scheduled. I was so very happy…

Phoenix Golden Retriever

After nearly three months of surgeries and rehabbing Daddy let me off of my leash to run for the very first time…I didn’t make it very far the first time and fell down but 10 days later I surprised him on his birthday with this…

These wonderful people were and will always be my extended family where I lived for two weeks. They took care of me at Sierra Veterinary Specialists. That’s Crystal in the gray scrubs holding me…I love her…she took me out for walks to go potty. That’s the magical Dr Regina Schroeder in white standing behind Crystal. Dr Spencer and Dr Pelsue are also magicians and worked alongside Dr Regina but could not be here for the picture. My Daddy and I thank everyone in the office forever…
Phoenix Golden Retriever Sierra Veterinary Specialists

Here are all of the girls and Dr Mark who took care of me at my main doctor’s office at King’s Row Pet Hospital. I spent lots and lots of time there as they flushed my initial abdominal opening for 8 hours a day. Every day. I’ve been with them since I was a puppy and I love all of them so very much. Dr Mark will always be my favorite…
Phoenix Golden Retriever Kings Row Pet Hospital

Daddy chose to have a very expensive prognostic panel test done and my blood work was sent across the country to Michigan State University. The results came back to us here in Reno, Nevada just recently. It would tell Dr Mark and Daddy how many months or a year or so I had left…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

I was excited to go and so thrilled to see Dr Mark and hear the results that I already knew…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

We waited for the door to open…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

I was laying down at Daddy’s side…as I knew what would be shared and tried to ease his anxiety. I had a little surprise for him…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

We kept this secret all to ourselves and hence why I wanted to share now though Daddy was afraid to jinx anything which I don’t believe in. Dr Mark looked at him and I sat up and leaned sternly into Daddy’s right leg so he could feel my positive energy. I wagged my tail.

On my 11th Birthday this past week Mark told my Daddy what was considered an impossibility 3 months ago…my hand made sign made specifically just for me…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

Stunned, he said to Dr Mark, “How can that be possible?”

Dr Mark looked at Daddy and then down at me, “I don’t have a medical answer for you. We should ask Phoenix as only he has that answer.”

That’s right…eff you cancer…I win! I beat you!
Phoenix Golden Retriever

I love the feel of him up against me…and that I calm him and make him smile always…
Phoenix Golden Retriever

This is for you Daddy…

Your boy and your Golden Retriever,

With forever love…

Your Phoenix

p.s. I’m out in the backyard with your ball cap. I’m waiting for you…

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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 50+ 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 and commentary.

  146 Responses to “I’m Phoenix, A Golden Retriever: A Lionheart Against Cancer”

  1. So happy for the both of you!!! What a wonderful story Phoenix, thank you for sharing it and being such a fighter. Anybody that knows your Daddy knows he loves you more than life, you gave him an irreplaceable gift for father’s day, you. 🙂
    Now give back his hat!

    • Thank you, Carolyn! I love him so much and I have still work to do here. His hat? Never! 🙂

  2. Oh Mike and Phoenix! The tears are just streaming down my face. I had just been thinking of you this afternoon as I realised I hadn’t seen any news of your adventures for a while. What an ordeal for you both! I’m so glad things are looking up and may you enjoy many more beautiful times together.

    • Thank you, Caz! We are so glad you liked the post and Phoenix is such a trooper 🙂

  3. What a rollercoaster of a journey! It must have been so hard for you. I’m really pleased to hear he’s cancer free. That’s so fantastic. And what a cute puppy he was!!

    • It was most definitely a roller coaster in free fall, Arianwen. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment our friend! 🙂

  4. Mike and Phoenix, I too am getting my papers all wet as I sit here crying, because of your journey and because of your good health. Wow! Glad you two are back!

    • So very sweet of you, Corinne! We appreciate and thank you so very much our friend! 🙂

  5. Wow! My tears of joy override my tears of the sad and scary moments. The strength you both have is absolutely amazing. Phoenix and Mike many could learn so much from you. Hugs to you both.

    • It was quite a journey, Adrian. I’m so very proud of him…he’s amazing and thank you! 🙂

  6. Fantastic news, buddy! I’ve missed you lately, and I’m so glad you’re back.

    Although many of us haven’t met you in person, Phoenix, remember that we all know and love you very well!

  7. Thank you for sharing this story, Mike! I was teared up at first, but as I reached the end, my heart felt lighter. I’m so happy for the both of you, and what a braveheart Phoenix is! I must also tell you that you have a real gift for story-telling.

    • Wow, what a compliment on the story telling comment Tarana…thank you! I loved your “braveheart” remark…that rocks our friend! 🙂


    I’m so very happy that Phoenix is better and that THE CANCER IS GONE! That’s amazing. I’m so happy. SO happy 🙂 This is an epic tale of beating the odds, and it couldn’t happen to a better dog.

    • Another PERFECT word, Lizzi!!! “Triumph”! I love it! Sending lots of hugs your way our friend 🙂

  9. What a fantastic result. I am so so happy for you both. Two crab cocktails for you for sure. You have both been through the wringer (I am not sure if that is only and Aussie saying or not) and come out the other side alive. Well done. WooHoo.

    • It’s the same saying here in the States, Jan! Thank you! Two crab cocktails? Yes please! We hope all is well with you! 🙂

  10. Dear Mike and Phoenix—
    No words.
    That is all.

    • Xoxo’s back to you, Suzanne! You have supported us every day for 3 months through this. We will NEVER forget that! Love you, Steve and Dino so very much 🙂

  11. Dear Phoenix and Mike; The tears were flowing as I read about your incredible journey, not only for the pain and suffering endured but also for the joyous outcome! You two were meant to be together. May you have many more wonderful years. ♥

    • Thank gawd he picked me, Debbie! What a wise “old” soul he is! We hope all is well with you! Thank you so very much for everything 🙂

  12. I’m in tears. I read so fast worrying that this was a “good-bye” post. Phoenix, you’re one tough cookie. I love this tribute to your lion. You got a good one, and so did he. Stay healthy and well. Your lion needs you.

    • What a dear, sweet comment Mandi…thank you so much! Yes, he sees me as his King and he, my Lionheart! Forever! We send you all of our best always! 🙂

  13. Mike,

    What a roller coaster of emotions you both must have been going through. You had me in tears reading the story. Words are inadequate. So very happy for you and Phoenix, but so sorry for everything you have been through.

    • That was the most difficult story EVER for me to read also, Alan! Phoenix really knocked it out of the park. Thank you so much our friend and we hope all is well with all of you! 🙂

  14. My buddy is such a fighter. Great news, & welcome back!

  15. Phoenix, I am so relieved and happy! You two are so strong, this only made your bond stronger! I just knew you would beat this. Your story and journey is absalutly magical.

    Mike, I cried the whole time! The tears went from heartache to happy! I’m so sorry you two had to go through this. I believe it was to make your time left together even more special and meaningful.

    Ps. I miss you!

    • Thank you so very much Chareese! We sooo appreciate your, Robert’s and your family’s love and friendship and support! We are there for all of you always too. Please remember that 🙂

  16. That was a tough one to read Phoenix! Im so happy you are okay. You have the best Dad and Friend that you could ever have. He needs you. We all need you. Without you, a little spark will leave Mike and never return. So you can’t go anywhere unless its too Jeep to get Dad the new SRT Grand Cherokee. He likes surprises.

    • We need and want all of you in our life too, Chad! Daddy loves you immensely and he would love that Jeep…but I like MINE. So, I win buddy 🙂

  17. You’ve both been to hell and back but you’re back and Phoenix is back. FANTASTIC. I can see why you’ve had a rollercoaster of emotions. I AM SO HAPPY FOR BOTH OF YOU. I have thought of you a lot in the last few months and really can’t get over how many surgeries were required. That ride through the night sounded horrific.
    But to hear that Phoenix is cancer free is just the best news. I hope you have many more happy years together Mike.
    I’m also very happy to see Past My Curfew springing back to life.

    • Leigh, thank you forever for everything. You were one that kept in touch with us always. We will have to write a post that we will not be up to our frequent posts like before but you will definitely hear from us via blogging 🙂 I was truly frightened out of my skull that the night his incision burst and he bled out that he was going to have move on. Phoenix says, “Me too. But, I can’t move on just yet…our work is not done together” 🙂

  18. I’ll try my best to type this through the tears I can’t stop from flowing. You and Phoenix are both incredible. Our family recently welcomed a Golden Retriever puppy, Sonny so the pictures really struck a chord with me. Phoenix is a true champion and survivor! Wishing you many more happy and healthy years together. Keep on runnning Phoenix!

    • Phoenix and I are thrilled beyond belief to hear the news of your new Golden Retriever puppy, Jen! It’s wonderful to hear from you and we will have to drop you an email to keep in touch about the new young soul in your lives! Thank you so much for the wonderful comment our new friend! 🙂

  19. Hi Phoenix and Mike,

    SO glad to hear from you…SO happy that you are cancer free…was waiting for this good news. Your daddy is awesome Phoenix! His love has accomplished your smiles. You are so lucky to have Mike as your daddy.

    I can feel the trauma and the pain you both must have endured through this long ordeal. I can pick up the poignant tone and the emotional resilience of both of you. God is great and so is LOVE! Sending you blessings.

    • He is most definitely resilient, Balroop! This event changed both Phoenix and my life perspective 100 fold. How ironic what good and growth comes from trauma, turmoil and uncertainty huh? We hope all is well with you! 🙂

  20. Phoenix and Mike, I want you to know that your absence from the blogosphere was noticed. You’ve posted so consistently before that I wondered if something was amiss. When I read the title of this post, my heart started aching. Phoenix, you were an adorable little pup, and I really like the tale of how you marked Mike as your very own. I’m was so happy to see your cancer-free sign as I was very worried how this tale would end. I am cheering for you both!

    • It’s so wonderful to hear from you, Michele! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you saying our absence was noticed. Phoenix and I built up this wonderful blogging community and we missed all of you terribly. We kept all of our subscriptions to those blogs. While this has been a huge life changer for the two of us with regards to priority and time we will definitely be checking in with all of you. Thank you so much! 🙂

  21. Wow! I am so glad I didnt read this at work! Ive been kept up to date on most of this as its been happening, But to read this in Phoenix words is something else.
    Also glad my little one wasnt here as I told her Daddy never cries, lol. She knows better but still!

    I’m so happy to hear those that Phoenix is cancer free! Best news ever!!!!! Im sorry for all you have went through buddy but so happy for where you are now. I love you guys and this totally made my year! Phoenix, you are my hero.

    This is now my favorite post! Phoenix looks so good posing with all his doctors and staff. Priceless pictures! Let’s keep on keeping on!

    Life is good!

    • We will always be forever grateful to you for your friendship and love, Tony! You were there, literally, every minute through this entire trauma. We are sorry that we withheld this good news from you. I was the one that was afraid to share, not Phoenix. Hence, he did. We love you forever and more than you will ever know our best friend forever 🙂

  22. So glad I wear waterproof mascara. All happy tears I assure you! Way to go Phoenix!! beating that cancer. I know you are everything to your daddy. Take care and keep that cancer away!

    • You are an absolute sweetheart of a friend to us always, Jenn! We will push on fearlessly yet I will contradict that in that I’m always fearful of abandonment. Phoenix is working on that with me. We appreciate you always! 🙂

  23. Hi Mike and Phoenix

    I was thinking about you yesterday and even was over here. I was going to email you and see how things were. Must have been getting vibes from you all!

    So glad Phoenix is better. Although I have never met you, I feel great connection to you both through the posts you have wrote. Much love and so glad everything is fine.

    I so know the agony of having a sick pet. So glad the outcome was so great.


    • I love when vibration and energy are on the same channel, Mary! It’s AWESOME to hear from you and we hope all is well with you, our dear friend! What you read on our blog is just that…it’s us. It’s real. Thank you always for everything 🙂

  24. Like everyone else reading this story, I was anxious and yet worried during these weeks of not knowing how Phoenix was doing. I loved your video of him going after the tennis ball and taking care of your cap again.

    One thing came to mind from the wonderful success of him being cancer free. I wish Phoenix could go to visit children in hospitals that are battling diseases right now. He would be such an inspiration and encouragement for them to see and snuggle with.

    • Wowee…talk about vibration and energy! You, Phoenix and I are right there, Neva! I’ve thought SOOOO MUCH about just that! Taking him to a children’s hospital. He’s very calm and behaved….ok…he gets very excited around children. But, I totally want to look into this. Thank you, thank you Neva! We hope all is well with you! 🙂

  25. Awesome awesome awesome. There is nothing like a Happy Ending and a kick-bootie ball chasing running wild cancer free Phoenix! I think you should have a Paypal button so we can all donate to the vet bill since we all love Phoenix!! CONSIDER IT. Since it is voluntary you don’t have to ask – just let us help! I will be first.

    • OH my gawd that is the kindest, generous offer ever Nan! Thank you! We are doing ok….I’ve put a few pennies away here and there. That “rainy day” money that I always preach to my younger friends about…came in handy 🙂 We hope all is well with you two and we love you bunches! 🙂

  26. Way to go, Phoenix! You kicked cancer’s butt! You two make quite the pair. 🙂

  27. You are a Lionheart indeed, Phoenix. I can’t believe how strong you are and always there for your Daddy even when you’re hurting. I want to do the Happy Dance right now!! I was so excited to get the notice in my inbox that your Daddy was writing again and when I saw that you actually wrote the post, I was even more delighted. Hugs to you and Daddy Phoenix. Enjoy every minute…but I don’t have to tell you that.

    • Hi Lisa! Thank you so much! We are enjoying our life together so very much. Daddy loves to write but won’t be spending as much time on the computer as he used to. We have some inner work left to do. But, please know we are here and will check in when we can! 🙂

  28. Words fail……or at least MY words fail. Your words most definitely do NOT fail at evoking the most heart-rending journey two companions can endure. But you HAVE endured, both of you, and we are all so glad that the Journey continues….

    • We appreciate that so much and thank you, Mike C! My journey with Daddy is one of ever evolving learning and love and understanding…and most of all acceptance, allowing and unconditional love. He’s come a long way 🙂

  29. I can barely see the keyboard to write – yes, the tears are welling and about to start running down the face. Mike and Phoenix – the best wishes to you both. You have experienced a miracle and one you are both so deserving of. Congrats to those medical teams and their willingness to go the extra mile/step/effort. Some days I know there is a God and that he loves his four-legged ‘humans’ as much as he loves the ‘two-legged ones. . .today is one of those days!

    • You wrote the word “miracle” and for whatever reason Phoenix didn’t use that description. Yet, through my eyes, that is is exactly what this was, Jackie! I agree with you on God or the higher power that anyone chooses and this was example of that higher work. And yes, we are forever grateful to the extra mile many folks went to with helping Phoenix…and me too for that matter 🙂

  30. I’m very happy for you and Phoenix! I knew something was up, but was afraid to ask.

    Rommie isn’t doing as well. Must have been in their gene pool?

    It was hard for me to read, but I’m glad it turned out so well!!!

    • Thank you so very much, Hugh! We are sending our best wishes and prayers to Rommie! Hugs always, our friend 🙂

  31. What a story!! Phoenix, I am so happy that you are so strong and so brave! Thank you so much for sharing your long and heartbreaking journey with us. Such a hard fought victory over that nasty cancer. The photos and words of this post are amazing….so glad to have you both back!

    • Oh Sandy, what a nice comment and yes it was a very difficult and frightening time. I still have a lot left to do here with Daddy and I refused to go now. Our best learning…or actually his…is still yet to come. We appreciate you always more than you know! 🙂

  32. Wonderful news!!!!!!!
    And Phoenix writes so well. He must use the two claw method, because if he used his paw, I’m afraid it would turn out something like ;lkjha;gkjhgasdoihg;h (offical simulated paw typing).


    • Phoenix has truly excelled at the ability to write without opposable thumbs, hasn’t he, Pete? Thank you always for checking in and asking how both of us were doing. It never goes unnoticed by us, our friend 🙂

  33. Glad to finally hear and know the whole story. What a traumatic ordeal for both you and Phoenix. What an even more amazing ending! Your dedication and love for Phoenix played a significant role in his healing.

    • Phoenix and I are most definitely soul mates, Diane 🙂 Everything that could be done for him was….the rest was up to him. And he fought on with an unequivalent will to heal and live! Thank you for always checking in on us over the past 3 months. It was deeply appreciated always!!

  34. Oh Mike, You made me cry {in a good way} Thanking you so very much Phoenix for being brave enough to share your story and for sharing your very painful journey. I was always thinking of you and talking about you to my family….often saying “i wonder how Phoenix is doing today” – you are one special strong brave beautiful dog and I am so glad that your Dad let you share your journey.
    Oh Mike…what can I say? Thanking you for being so very brave and strong – thank you for the wonderful connection from the Woody family to your family with lots of love xxx

    • You and your family are so very special to us, Lisa! Thank you for all of the times you checked in with us via email or Twitter! Those little notes meant the world to us. We send our love and prayers to all of you that life is wonderful down under and everyone is in right and perfect health. Love always from your friends in the States, Mike and Phoenix 🙂

  35. Phoenix is such a fighter! No more cancer! So, so happy for you both, I hope you’re both taking it easy and enjoying life.

    P.S. On a lighter note, I love that Phoenix peed on you when you first met – he knew to mark his territory and it worked!

    • Thank you so much, Shing! That means the world to us and we hope all is right and perfect and happy in your life, our friend! That moment where he peed on me – I so wish it had been videotaped. You are spot on, he definitely marked his territory that afternoon! 🙂 🙂

  36. I am crying tears of joy reading this… I am so happy for you both.. what a miracle… Sending you tons of love…

    • Hi Hilary! Thank you so much for that and we appreciate it more than you know, our friend! Love sent back to all of you from us 🙂

  37. Oh my god, I am so sorry to hear about everything you have been through, this story is so devastating. So glad for the happy ending though, cannot believe the magical lionheart has beaten off cancer, that is amazing!

    • It was a very rough time, especially where it was touch and go, Catherine! Thank you so very much for you well wishes and thoughts and we hope all is well with you too! 🙂

  38. Dearest Phoenix and Mike,

    This seriously left my face streaked with tears. Phoenix, I’m SO happy you are cancer free and doing well, a sick dog is the worst feeling in the world for their parent, it truly is. And Mike, this reminded me of something that was said at my sister’s med school graduation a few weeks ago by one of the professors: “When asked what the best medicine is, I said love. A student asked, ‘But what if love isn’t enough?’ I said, then increase the dosage.” Phoenix got through this thanks to his rockstar vets, but most importantly, all the love from his daddy. Sending so many good vibes your way!

    • Wow, what an amazing comment and thank you so very much, Jess! I absolutely LOVE that advice of “increase the dosage” of love. I do so believe in the power of love with healing and he has always, did so then, and will always have all that I have give 🙂 It’s wonderful to hear from you, our friend and we hope everything is wonderful with the three of you! 🙂

  39. Mike and Phoenix,

    So glad to hear both of you have made it through some very tough months and have some much better days ahead. I thought of you now and again and was hoping you would have more time than I had with Speckles who went so quickly. Just think of all the things you two will be able to do this summer 🙂

    • We appreciate that so very much, Jeri! I know your loss with Speckles had be so very difficult and we are deeply sorry for your pain that you had to experience. We are definitely looking forward to focusing our time on being together and enjoying 🙂

  40. Great news, I’m happy for you both…

    • Thank you, Muza-chan, and I was shocked and Phoenix has become quite the miracle dog. It’s wonderful to hear from you 🙂

  41. Very touching, Mike. So glad to hear Phoenix is doing better! Hugs and best wishes to both of you!

  42. Ah, Phoenix. Ah, Mike. What an odyssey. Perhaps the prayers of those of us around the world who love you helped to strengthen both of your lion-sized hearts.

    Welcome back from the brink.

    • Oh Alison, I believe that with all my heart too! We are so very grateful to all of you that supported us, asked about us, check in on us and sent love and prayers the past 3 months. Thank you so much, our dear friend 🙂

  43. —Dearest Mike & Phoenix,
    I feel as if you’re part of my family.
    I send you love, kisses, licks, hugs, squeezes, rubs, and more love from Minnesota.
    Phoenix, indeed, has the heart of a African Lion & so does his daddy.


    • You have welcomed us into your life and we feel exactly the same way about you, Kim! I soooo wish you could meet Phoenix! Our love and prayers back to you always, our friend 🙂

  44. The best news ever! Phoenix, you are one amazing pup! It’s amazing how much the will to live and love can do. I am so happy for you both right now!

    • Thank you, Michelle! It’s friends like you and so many others that Daddy and I have the bring about my beaming Golden smile always! We appreciate you so much 🙂

  45. Tears of joy and happiness, my amazing friends. I’m absolutely thrilled for you both and impressed by your bravery (both of you). LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS. Seriously so happy for you. What a stressful and horrifying three months. Sending hugs and love and huge WHOOOT! EF CANCER! thoughts.

    • You are so very special to us, Kristi. As you were one that checked in on us constantly. We will both always remember that and be so very grateful to you! We send you all the love and hugs back to you always. Thank you for everything…always 🙂

  46. Wow that’s an amazing story! Poor Phoenix…he went through so much! But good to know that he’s well again. Those baby pics of Phoenix are just adorable. What a cute little puppy 😀

    Thanks for sharing! It must’ve been a hard time! And great to see you blogging again! 😀

    • It was a very tough period but my little Miracle Dog sure has had a lot in store for me in this lifetime, Michelle! We always appreciate your warm thoughts and emails and we missed everyone terribly. All of our best to you always! 🙂

  47. You have no idea how many tears I shed reading this, and then how many times I exclaimed out loud, and then how joyously I laughed during that video!

    • Wow, we are thrilled beyond belief that you came by, Gunmetal! I’m actually outsmiling my own famously smiling Golden Retriever on this one! It was quite the challenging journey and likely far more difficult for me than him is what is so ironic. Just so you know…you made our WEEK!! 🙂

  48. Phoenix you are amazing!!!! Hug your daddy for me!!!Love to you and both!!!

    • Thank you Yolanda and we think you are amazing too! Hugs to you and our love to you and your family always 🙂

  49. Phoenix! Can I just comment on how ADORABLE you were as a puppy? And you still are!
    Kudos to you for finding out so many life lessons about healing and helping and loving. I think you have led a great life, and guess what? You’ve got a lot of livin’ to do! Just a whole lot of livin’.

    • Aw shucks (pawing literally at dirt) my Golden complexion is turning amber, Tamara! I have been truly blessed and was so grateful to come into this life being the old soul I am so that I could pass on all the love possible to everyone around me. Most of all my Soul Mate 🙂 Thank you for everything our friend! 🙂

  50. This is an astounding story, and I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster, reading some great novel of tragedy and victory. I am so happy things have turned out this way as I was not expecting this at all. My mum informed me this morning that Penny is in renal failure. You wouldn’t know it from looking at her, nor is she in any pain, so we are just going to do what we can to keep her going as long as possible and as happily as she can be. All my best Mike & Phoenix.

    • Thank you so very much, Colleen, for your wonderful thoughts and well wishes. We are so deeply sorry to hear about Penny! And it would be so difficult being a half world away from her as you are now. We are sending you so much love and positive prayers for happiness and health for her. And if it does become that time then as much comfort as possible. She is so very blessed to have you for your mom! 🙂

  51. I remember the day you “picked” your daddy Phoenix. That was pretty funny! I don’t blame you for fighting so hard. You have quite the life with your dad! Keep it up Sweet Phoenix.

    • Hey, I saw the one that would be mine and thought about it for 1 second….full bladder…yep, time to make my mark. Thank you forever and always for blessing Daddy and I with having the opportunity to come together! You will always be so very special to us 🙂

  52. Mike & Phoenix, it’s so wonderful to hear from both of you again. I have wondered what has happened to both of you. This was so heartbreaking to read but I’m so glad Phoenix is okay.You are amazing, Phoenix. Big hugs to both of you and wishing you both the very best.

    • Thank you so very much, Mary! You’ve always been so supportive and caring about our virtual friendship and that has never gone unnoticed. We don’t how frequently we will be blogging but we missed everyone terribly. Live priorities changed and there will definitely be more time spent off of the computer going forward. But, we will still be around for sure. We hope all four of you are happy and well, our friend! 🙂

  53. Mike, I still remember when you broke the news about Phoenix in the post ‘When the love of Your life has surgery, One worried Dad’.

    This was my reply
    “Mike, you and Phoenix have been an encouraging, present and positive influence especially to many of us in the travel blog-sphere.
    Rest be assured, Phoenix will be WELL !!!”

    So when I did not see the blog being updated in the last 3 months, I suspected it had something to do with Phoenix, I kept you and Phoenix in my thoughts and prayers expecting nothing short of a triumphant return!

    I’m sure I speak for everybody when I say WE MISSED YOU MIKE, WE MISSED YOU PHOENIX, WELCOME BACK!!!

    • You have no idea how deeply we have appreciated your friendship always and especially your well wishes to us, Rachel! You gave me a big lump in my throat with the last part about missing us, our friend!! The feeling is mutual! 🙂

  54. I read this post a few days ago while I was in the car and I’m just getting around commenting now. I was so teary when I read it Mike and Phoenix. I’ve been thinking so much about you two in the past weeks. I knew Phoenix had to go through surgery but I didn’t know it was so serious. I’m so glad Phoenix is better, he is so courageous. And, you are amazing Mike to take such a good care of him.
    I’m so happy to hear from you two and that you are back to the blogging world. Please Mike give a huge hug from me to Phoenix.

    • Thank you so very, very much Rita!! You are one of so many bloggers that Phoenix and I have made truly wonderful online friendships with and you mean the world to us! Your beautiful thoughts and caring words just made us smile so very much! 🙂

  55. As I was reading this there were tears in my eyes….glad they turned from sadness and empathy for your Daddy to tears of joy. So glad you beat that evil mast cell cancer! Love to hear good news in the fight against cancer!

    • Ah, thank you Donna! I couldn’t leave my Daddy nor was even remotely ready to. My life journey with him still beholds so much love, wonder and learning still yet to come for both of us 🙂

  56. Dear Mike and Phoenix,

    I’m with you in this battle and my prayers go to you both. Keep fighting and never give up!

    • Thank you so very much, Agness! I am so very proud of him and he definitely has the heart and will of a champion! You and Cez have been such dear friends to us 🙂

  57. I did worry when I saw you weren’t writing anymore, Mike, but I had hoped that things were okay. I hate this post. It made me cry. I had one of my cats die beside me because I couldn’t afford to take her to the hospital. It’s soooo expensive here. I am so glad Phoenix is cancer-free. That’s a really huge miracle right there. Wishing you years and years of togetherness still!

    • Oh hun, Phoenix and I are so sorry for the loss of you beloved kitty like that! I know it’s expensive….anywhere. I always tell folks to only take pets that you can afford. We appreciate you and adore your friendship with all of our hearts!! We hope all of your beautiful kitty kids are doing great, Aleah!!! 🙂

  58. You are a lucky man Phoenix! You too Mike. Your love and devotion to one another is remarkable. Phoenix, give your dad a hug for me please and give him back his hat for goodness sakes!

    • Thank you, Patty!! We take good care of each other. As for his hat…I will never deny us the opportunity for a great game of chase! 🙂

  59. Oh wow what great news and a very moving story, thanks for sharing!

    • We appreciate that so much Becky and I do believe he knew all of the answers before I did 🙂

  60. What a heartbreaking story. So glad to see you both back in circuit.

    • We are glad to BE back in the circuit Mette but we won’t be on the computer nearly as much as before. Definitely an eye opener to spend time on what is truly important 🙂

  61. YES – EFF CANCER!!!! *does happy dance*

    This was such a heartwarming, inspiring, beautiful post. I’m so very happy for both of you!

    • Thank you very much, Beth! That means so much to us to hear from you always 🙂

  62. Sniff….sigh…..so happy for you both…what a trial…such strength…both of you! Congratulations! !!

    • Hi Zoe, and how wonderful to hear from you! It means the world to us to hear your special words and to give us such encouragement! We hope all is well with you as well! 🙂

  63. If you’re doing it right, pets are a part of the family. You do whatever you can to save a member of your family. You dun good and he dun good. He’s a trooper and so are you. I like to sass Jojo, but when her day comes, I will cry and I will miss her terribly. She’s having a hard time moving around, but these dogs are tough so we’ll keep at it. 14 years ain’t enough time for us either, buddy. Nice work! Give Mike a hug for me, Phoenix.

    • I really appreciate that Don and Phoenix and I are thrilled as heck that you stopped by to say hey! Yes, he is my kid….the only one I will have in this lifetime. So, he counts A LOT. He’s also my life example of be careful what you wish for. But, I got my dream come true wish 100 fold in every wonderful, happy way! Sending lots of feel goods to Jojo and hoping he doesn’t eat too many more of those inappropriate snacks 🙂

  64. Wow, what an amazing story! I’m so glad it has a happy ending!

    • Thank you so much, Lady in London, we appreciate that! It did have a wonderful ending and he and I have been appreciating every moment we have now as a gift 🙂

  65. What a beautiful story and what a beautiful boy! I finished your post with tears rolling. I am so happy for this beautiful ending!

    • Phoenix and I appreciate it so very much that stopped by and shared along with us, Fancy! We so truly blessed and we hope you are having a great week! 🙂

  66. Such an incredible story! Had me tearing up a little. Wishing the best for you both!

    • Thank you Ally and we so appreciate your support! We are sending the best to you and your’s as well 🙂

  67. Wow, just WOW! I have no words to say how impressive and uplifting this story was, and together you’ve written it so very well! I was cheering at the end! Happy endings like this aren’t so common in life, and this was one of those feel good stories that you know turned out just the way it was meant to be! I couldn’t be happier for the two of you and wish you many more opportunities to make good memories together!

    • It did have a wonderful ending Josie and we now do our best to make sure to celebrate every moment of every day. Thank you so much! 🙂

  68. Mike, I read this the moment you posted it and couldn’t stop crying. Now I read this again and again I cannot stop crying. Oh Phoenix you have been so brave, I’m so happy for you and your Daddy that all turned out well. Wishing you both all the best.

    • Thank you so very much, Freya, and he and I are so very blessed! What a will to live and actually be healthier than ever before. The reality is that it’s now a life check that every moment is precious that we have together more so than ever before. You have been missed so very much, our friend 🙂

  69. Dear Phoenix, I’m thankful that my tears of sadness at the beginning of this post turned into tears of hapiness at the end. I was so deeply touched by your story – of your deep loving relationship with your wonderful Daddy, of the excruciating pain you both endured when you were sick, your courage to fight through and of your miracously recovery You’re blessed to be given another “leash” in life to spend more time with your Dad. And you’re so lucky to have a very loving Dad who would do everything to keep you. I wish both of you many many more years of happy time ahead. Big hugs to you both.

    • Thank you so much, Marisol and Keith! We are so happy you stopped by and yes I had a very rough go of it. But, I have a very special Daddy that I need to keep an eye on and continue to provide life lessons to him. I’m 11 now so he and I are really making every day count. I never want to let him down or make him worry.

  70. Oh my gosh. What an ordeal. I am SO glad Phoenix is doing well now. I’m sorry I haven’t been around to know about it. I’m thrilled about the happy ending. You two are made for one another!!

    • Hi Krystle and welcome back! It’s great to hear from you. Yes, Phoenix and I are made for each other and thank you so much for your happiness for both of us! 🙂

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