23 Jul Our Hardest Goodbye
“He was our happiest hello and our hardest goodbye…but will be forever in our hearts. Sadly, the cancer returned much quicker than expected for our wonderful Smart Pup Yogi Bear. He deteriorated quickly, especially over the last 24 hours, and it was only fair to let him go”
Our Hardest Goodbye, is the hardest blog to write, and for you to read. I have left most of the words, beautiful, heartfelt and emotional words to Kieran’s Mum Sandra. They will make you cry, because sad doesn’t seem a big enough word to express the emotions here. Please read on, even when your tears well up, because this is a story told with purpose and this is a family that needs your help.
Sandra starts by describing live before Yogi Bear
Before our adventuress with Yogi Bear began, we struggled with not only the daily happenings of life, but with trying to find help for Kieran. We were losing sight of what Kieran’s future would look like. He was too complex, too difficult and too challenging for most. In our desperate search, we were often turned away and left to work things out for ourselves. At a time where everyone was saying no in being able to support Kieran, Smart Pups said yes.
And the impact of Yogi’s arrival…
When Yogi Bear and Kieran met, it was like a match made in heaven. Our lives were going to be forever changed, and they were. There were no more melt downs in over stimulating places. No more running off through shopping centres, towards busy roads, and fully clothed into oceans, rivers and fishponds. The most significant of all though, were the dirty looks and stares when out in public with Kieran, simply stopped. Of all things experienced in our roller coaster ride of a journey with a complex and challenging special needs child, those judgements were the hardest and the cruellest.
As a result, we began to enjoy family outings to public places, hospital and specialist visits became easier as Yogi Bear gave Kieran security and comfort when needed. But Yogi Bear’s amazing work and Smart Pups continued support didn’t stop there. When Kieran was diagnosed with Epilepsy, Smart Pups helped us to train Yogi Bear to alert us to Kieran’s seizures. Yogi Bear took this new role very seriously. As most of the seizures happened in the early hours of the morning, Yogi Bear would come to our room and make sure that one of us would follow him to check on Kieran. If Kieran’s seizure happened while he was awake, Yogi Bear would ‘speak’ to alert us, and then comfort Kieran while he recovered
Something was wrong…
So, one morning, when Yogi Bear didn’t alert us to a seizure, we knew something was wrong. We weren’t expecting what was to come. In November 2019, the Parson Family received the worst news Our brave Mr Yogi Bear has a Histiocytic Sarcoma – a rare form of cancer in dogs. Most likely caused by a genetic mutation at conception (not hereditary, just a freak of nature). Tumour growth is rapid, at best, he will be with us for another 12 months. He isn’t even 3 years old. He hasn’t even been with us for 2 years.
Hopes and hurdles
Chemotherapy began. It was a bumpy start, but after further tests and adjustments to his chemo, Yogi Bear responded well. He continued some of his work during this time but was no longer sleeping in Kieran’s room. His role of seizure alert would have been too much responsibility. When we found out that the tumour had shrunk, we were hopeful.
Sandra had serious words with him. “You will make it to your 3rd birthday”, and he did. “You will make it to my birthday”, and he did. “When I go to QLD nothing is going to happen to you”, and nothing did. “You will be here for Christmas”, and he was. And today we hit another milestone- “you will be here for Kieran’s 14th birthday”, and he is. The best gift of all for Keiran!! Yogi Bear is going strong, is so loved, and boy does he knows it! February 2020
Then one night, Yogi Bear led me to Kieran’s bedroom. I thought he might have been telling me that it was time to get back to work. He watched Kieran for a moment, turned and looked at me, then walked out the room. I told him well done for checking on Kieran and that yes, he’s alright. I told him well done for trying and it’s okay if you’re not yet ready. In hindsight, I think he was telling me that he can’t do this anymore and was wanting to know if Kieran was going to be alright without him.
Shortly after this, I then started to sense Yogi Bear detaching from Kieran, there were some signs again that things weren’t right, and sure enough, we had confirmation that the tumour had returned.
Our Hardest Goodbye
Our beautiful Smart Pup Yogi Bear peacefully passed away on March 26th, 2020, after a 6-month cancer battle.
We had never shielded Kieran from the realities of what was going on, and we knew that he understood everything. But what we witnessed in Kieran during Yogi Bear’s final hour of life was beyond even our own comprehension. Kieran knew that it was his turn to be there for Yogi Bear. While we sat in a park to say goodbye, Kieran sat ever so still with Yogi Bear’s head in his lap. He gently patted, smiled and looked at Yogi Bear in a way which said that everything was going to be okay. Kieran showed strength, empathy and resilience we never thought imaginable. And when the time came to let Yogi Bear go, Kieran was calm, understanding and brave.
Even in his final moments with us, Yogi Bear was still able to bring out the best in Kieran. During his short life, he also brought out the kindness in others which in turn, brought Kieran happiness. He helped keep Kieran calm and safe and watched over and comforted Kieran during his seizures. Our Smart Pup Yogi Bear turned Kieran’s hope for a better future into a reality. He was no ordinary dog…
He was extraordinary.
Life without Yogi Bear
The loss of a dog is heart breaking, but the loss of a service dog just cuts that bit deeper, especially for a special needs child. Yogi Bear was goofy, cheeky and funny, but he took his role as autism assist and seizure alert for our son very seriously. He also helped us in more ways than we could ever imagine or have expected.
Since Yogi Bears passing Kieran’s seizures have increased and become more severe. He is also having trouble sleeping and he says he’s scared. We are all missing Yogi so much. 😢
It is clear Kieran desperately needs a new Smart Pup to fill the shoes or paws of his beloved Yogi Bear. Whilst Smart Pups normally require a family to fund raise for their own assistance dog, in these situations we try to assist and support as much as we can.
How YOU can help
So, this is the point I ask you to help Smart Pups, help Kieran and the Parson’s family. Please take all the emotion that I imagine this blog has created for you and convert it into hope by donating here. As Sandra said Smart Pups are not just ordinary dogs, they are extraordinary, but their training takes time and money.
Your donation is fully tax refundable and your generosity will once again help Kieran find a brighter future.