As many of you who follow my social media accounts may already know, we had to say goodbye to our beautiful boy, Luciano. On December 6, Luciano crossed over to the Rainbow Bridge, leaving our hearts completely broken.
It’s been just over two weeks, and it’s still hard for me to write about it. One of the hardest parts about this experience is knowing that we lost him at such a young age, at only four years old. We worked hard to extend his life and give him a quality of life since his diagnosis. And we feel we did that. I believe that the cancer treatments, homemade diet, supplements, love, prayers, and attention helped Luciano enjoy a few good “healthy” months while in clinical remission, where he was able to run and play and enjoy life.
When Luciano was first diagnosed with intestinal lymphoma in July, we thought we were going to lose him pretty quickly. We were told his cancer was aggressive and difficult to treat. So to have five more quality months with him was an absolute gift. The treatment plan went quite well for most of that time, and we are grateful for the extra time we got with him. But when the decline started in November, it seemed to happen so fast. And the moment we saw that he was suffering (and realized it wasn’t going to get much better), we knew we had to make the inevitable decision we had been dreading.
On a sunny yet chilly December afternoon, we laid down next to our boy, showered him with kisses, and said our final, heartbreaking goodbyes.
Luciano was born in Mexico, rescued by a wonderful rescue group, and brought over the border for adoption. Shortly after, he suffered through a nearly fatal case of parvo (canine parvovirus) but thanks to the rescue group, he was treated and fought through it. He had a rough beginning but was a survivor from the start. When we first met Luciano, it was love at first sight. The joy he has brought to our lives is immeasurable. He was full of energy, fast and agile, and loved to play, play, play. He’d run and swim for hours at the beach, to the point of pure exhaustion. He loved playing with bouncy balls (tennis balls were his favorite), and would “dribble” the ball by repeatedly bouncing it and catching it in his mouth. Luciano loved to “talk” to us. He had his own language, and when he was fired up, he was loud and vocal. Luciano was smart and sassy, and he could outsmart us at every turn. He loved giving kisses, and we loved giving them right back. One of the things I miss most is giving him kisses on that precious face and those cute little lips.
Luciano’s oncologist counseled us for quite some time the day we had to let Luciano go. One of the things she said is that she believes that dogs come into our lives to serve a particular purpose, and once they’ve accomplished their goal, it’s time for them to move on and leave this earthly life. She asked me if I knew what Luciano’s purpose might have been, and other than the incredible joy he brought to our lives, I couldn’t think of anything particularly meaningful in that moment. I admit, I am still thinking about the potential answer to that question.
As I ponder the meaning of all of this, and while our hearts are broken into a million pieces, we won’t let Luciano’s passing be in vain. We’ve learned a lot about canine nutrition and health through this process, and will apply this knowledge with Spencer and any other future fur babies. We may not have a whole lot of control over something as wretched and destructive as cancer, but we can still make efforts to improve the overall heath of our pups. Luciano taught us boundless love, and we will take his boisterous, fun-filled, fighting spirit with us wherever we go.
We also know we will need to find a new brother or sister for Spencer (he is a high-anxiety dog and does better with a companion), and we know there is a special rescue dog out there just waiting for his or her perfect family and a forever home. Perhaps that’s why Luciano left us so young: maybe he’d loved us so hard and with so much vigor — and in turn, had received a fulfilling amount of love and adoration from us — that his job here was complete. Perhaps he had to make room for another pup that is in even more need of love and care.
Regardless of the reason, my heart will always hold a vacant spot that only my sweet, sassy Luciano could fill. It will ache for him eternally, and I will always long to hold him and kiss those little puppy lips just one more time. Luciano, I will love you forever, and I hope you are now running free on the longest beach ever, happy and free of all pain and suffering.
I’d like to extend a heartfelt special thank to all those who helped guide us through this process, including Marilyn Vittone, Ashley Gallagher, Dr. Villalobos and the team at Pawspice, the team at South Shores Pet Clinic, and all of our family and friends who have been there for us. Your expressions of kindness, support, and love are greatly appreciated.
Until we meet again, Luciano, at the Rainbow Bridge…you are in my heart everyday and always.