Lola’s Gift


Lola’s Gift:

Several years ago I was house hunting with friends. One of the homes they looked at had a large slightly whimsical painting of a dog in the entrance way. It was the first thing you saw when you walked through the front door. I liked the house immediately 🙂 I remember thinking to myself, “I should paint dogs – I used to enjoy drawing – maybe I can paint.” But in my typical way, I didn’t follow through.

Then Lola came into my life. Lola was my heart dog. I have loved all the dogs in my life but Lola and I had a special bond. Lola was a companion, a protector, and a clown. She was full of personality – everything she did was intense – even her bum wiggles. Lola’s life here was far too short – a terminal illness took her from us two months before her sixth birthday.  The six months we fought her illness were among the hardest in my life and the heart break I felt when she passed away was excruciating.

When I was in the early part of my grieving process, a wise and spiritual friend of mine said that once some time had passed Lola would give me a gift. I started experimenting with painting several months later with the end goal of painting Lola. After several practice paintings – I painted her and then I just kept painting. I did three memorial dog paintings as gifts for friends and my sister who were all grieving recent losses and was completely caught off guard by how emotional their reactions were. It was like they were re-connecting with the pet they had loved so much. I felt like I had done something very important and very special and it occurred to me that this was Lola’s gift.  


Thank you

It’s too hard to say goodbye so instead we say thank you. 

Thank you for teaching us about patience, perseverance and loyalty. 

Thank you for getting expelled from doggy daycare and showing us that the forest was your place. It became our place too. 

Thank you for going to the front window at 3:30pm to wait patiently for one (or both) of us to get  home from work. Even when it was hard for you to get up, you still did it. 

Thank you for being gentle and patient as we welcomed new furry family members into our home – first Lola, then Luna. And thank you for grieving with us when Lola left too soon. 

Thank you for comforting us whenever we received bad news, when we were afraid and when we lost people we loved. 

Thank you for the strong, confident, self-assured look you always gave us when we fussed over you before leaving on vacation.

Thank you for the pure joy you showed us on  every single one of your 14 birthdays we celebrated together. 

Thank you for being the self-appointed king of the neighbourhood and watching over your subjects from our front deck. We know you are still there looking out for us. 

Thank you for answering to what ever name we called you in the moment – Diego, Mr D, D-man, Diablo, Dirty D, Mr Floppy Lips, D-machine, Prince Hairy, Mr Handsome… 

Thank you for guarding us every time we went into the bathroom and closed the door.  We were never sure what you were protecting us from, but thank you.

Thank you for being strong enough at age 12 to bounce back from major surgery. You gave us two and a half more years to love you. 

Thank you for doing a celebratory dance every single time we fed you. 

Thank you for all your velvet lip kisses and gentle pawing for more affection. 

Thank you for being willing to sit in the “chariot” so we could go for walks with you when you were no longer able to on your own. 

Thank you for the ache that starts somewhere behind our eyes and runs deep into our cores. We wouldn’t hurt this much  if we didn’t love you so deeply … and for that we will always be grateful. 

🌈Run pain free, Diego. Find Lola and play tug. We will always love you. You were the bestest boy, just like we knew you would be. 

Diego Suave, Supreme Ruler of Everything 

April 1, 2007 – November 6, 2021 



Diego is 13 years, 10 months, 3 weeks, and 5 days old today. It’s not a milestone birthday – heck it’s not even a day that marks a new year and that’s ok because every day with him is worth celebrating. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not declining rapidly nor is he getting any better – he is just being, and therefore so are we. 

We never expected to have him this long. He’s a large purebred lab and many like him don’t make it into their teens. Add to that his history or foreign body ingestion (also known as eating weird things that can kill him), his delicate constitution (a fancy way of saying surprise diarrhea), and the massive benign tumour that was removed from his belly almost two years ago and it’s an absolute miracle he is still here. 

If you have (or had) a really old dog you know the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with that. In the last couple years we’ve had multiple moments where we have been brought to tears thinking that he was in his final days, only to see him look years younger the very next day. So, we’ve decided to no longer spend our energy fearing the day we say goodbye, speculating on how long he has, or focusing on the things he can no longer do – instead we try to focus on his resiliency, and zest for life – there is still a lot of that to be found…

  • He sleeps much more than he used to – but he also runs in his sleep like he’s chasing the fastest backyard bear ever. He never catches him but we know he’d kick its ass if he did.  
  • He is stiff and quite arthritic- but he still does his dance of pure joy before each meal as if it was his first one  even though he’s actually had over 10,000.
  • His hearing isn’t very good – but somehow he still knows when the restaurant delivery service has quietly left dinner on our doorstep.
  • He can’t do the stairs anymore – but boy does he smirk when my husband gasps for air as he carries all 80 lbs of him up and down them. 
  • He almost always smells like really bad farts – but they are weirdly comforting because we know we will miss even that one day. 
  • He doesn’t rough house anymore with our younger dog – but he has found a new way to play that involves lying on his bed and chewing on her head. 
  • He’s not as comfortable being alone as once was – but now he’s always nearby and willing to cuddle. 
  • He no longer gets up to greet me in the morning – but I sure love the way he looks up at me when I say  “Good morning! Yay, you’re still here!” 

Someone once said “My old dog does this amazing thing where he just exists and makes my whole life better because of it”.  Very wise words indeed.   


When we welcome a furry family member into our lives we also sign up for having to make tough decisions for them – decisions about preventative health care, medical treatment and also end of life care. 

A week ago we found out our chocolate lab Diego (for some reason us chocolate lab owners always have to specify the chocolate part as if somehow that makes them even sweeter than they already are)… I digress … We found out Diego had a large “splenic mass” – approximately the size of a football. When I heard this I was like “oh…ok…like the size of one of those footballs for babies?” (this is called denial). I was promptly corrected “no, like the size of one of those footballs for grown ups” – this was not good. 

We were not ready for this mostly because Dr. Google told us that his evening hacking cough and slightly distended belly (yeah I said slightly) were due to something else that although not great was not an immediate life threatening condition. Dr. Google lies. 

And so began the agonizing decisions – what is this thing and what are we going to do about it? There were really only two possibilities – a benign tumour or a malignant one. There are a lot of fancy medical words for the different types of tumours of the spleen but I won’t confuse you with that. Basically none of them are good – some blow up while inside and are fatal, some spread to other organs and are fatal, some keep growing and squeeze other organs and that becomes fatal. We had some tests done but nothing conclusive came from them, biopsy wasn’t an option because of the blowing-up part. What we did know was this: if benign the “cure” is surgical removal,  malignant ones are aggressive and at best you can get more quality time if removed – cure is unlikely. And the other thing we knew is that Diego is 12 years old.

Diego on the way to his ultrasound appointment.

We opted for surgery the next morning. The night before and early morning that day was an awkward internal battle of trying to be optimistic while at the same time wondering if this was his last supper, last walk, last belly rub…. We made the heart breaking decision that if when they opened him up and it was “bad” (spreading all over) he should be put to sleep right away. We stayed by his side through sedation and until they were ready to anesthetize him for surgery and then I kissed his head and instead of saying “goodbye” or even “see you later” I managed to squeak out a “you got this buddy” before we turned around and walked away.

Time seemed to go horrendously slow after that but every minute that went by without a call from the vet was a good minute. Two hours later when the call came we were told he had made it through the surgery and that an 8 pound tumour had been successfully removed from his abdomen. That’s the size of a large newborn baby (or a small one with a baby-sized football in its hand). 

Diego is now at home recovering. We know there is a significant chance that tumour was malignant but we also know that he deserves a fighting chance at more quality time no matter how long that is. He’s strong and he’s a fighter and therefore so are we. 

If you are interested, here are a couple things that helped us make our decisions: 

  • A vet that we trusted 
  • Diego was an otherwise healthy 12 year old 
  • Diego had money in HIS bank account for this. This wasn’t the deal maker or breaker but it helped. We all know veterinary care is expensive; however, we personally are not fans of pet insurance – it’s expensive, most policies are full of loop-holes for things like genetic predisposition, pre-existing conditions and the list goes on … So instead we started putting away the equivalent of two pet insurance premiums in a separate account for both our dog’s vet care (confession time: we have occasionally dipped into it – once to help pay for patio furniture but they sit on it more than we do so it was justified.) 
  • Most importantly, Diego has lived his entire life being powerful, strong-willed and proud so he deserved a fighting chance. 

Bad Eats


Our lab Diego (aka Mr D) turns 12 in just a couple days. Twelve is pretty impressive for a large pure bred Chocolate Labrador who has a thing for “foreign body ingestion” – a term we learned from our vet shortly after welcoming this big brown wildebeest into our lives. 

Here are some of the most memorable of Diego’s bad eats:

A plaster statue of himself. 

A couch – but it was his couch, so maybe that makes it less bad…?

Panties, lots of panties – he would poop them out like a line of colourful hankies being pulled from a magician’s sleeve… often in a public place like a dog park or busy hiking trail. You are welcome for that visual. 

A bar stool seat – it wasn’t his barstool so that probably makes it more bad.

Entire bars of soap – which he would later projectile vomit (unchewed and extra slippery) across the room, along with a spray of fluffy bubbles. 

Drywall and a door frame – apparently they were in the way. 

The steering wheel, console and inside door panels of our jeep. 

And finally… STEEL WOOL SOAP PADS! After trying the least invasive approach which involved a couple days of feeding him extra large portions of food covered in Metamucil and combing through his gel covered doo-doos it became apparent they weren’t going to pass easily, go figure! When our vet went in to surgically remove those soapy scratchy blue delights, there were SIX! He is still making payments on that vet bill 😉

Do you have a “special” dog like Mr D? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments. 

Want to read about Diego’s antics? Read my blog entry –  Eleven 






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May has become a bittersweet month for me. I love seeing nature come back to life – flowers bloom, trees get new leaves, the hillsides so lush and green. May also reminds me that life is precious and not to be taken for granted.

Three years ago in May our five year old Olde English Bulldogge, Lola, progressed through the end stage of liver disease – “idiopathic canine hepatitis” is what the vets called it – a fancy way of saying its a terminal liver disease and we don’t know what is causing it. We fought her illness hard but it was a fight we were not meant to win – she passed away at the end of May. Those who don’t understand the bond that can form between people and their dogs may think that after three years I should be “over it”- but the end of May still comes with a sting for me.

Lola is the inspiration behind Scully Dogge Art. I started painting because of her and I continue to paint as a way to honour the incredible bond many of us have with our pets. They enrich our lives and they have so much to teach us about life and love. Here are just a few lessons of the many lessons my Lola taught me:

1. Be in the moment – get out of your head and take in the sights, smells and sounds of nature – there is so much beauty all around us – don’t miss it.
2. Never give up on your dreams – one day that squirrel will fall off the fence and you need to be ready!
3. Don’t let fear stand in your way – even though bears may seem way bigger than you, the right amount of confidence can make them flee up a tree.
4. Celebrate the people you love – run up and down the hallway and spin in circles every time you see them – even if they were only gone for a few minutes.
5. Farts are scary – ok … I may have already known this one 😉
6. Tackle large tasks from the bottom up – the best way to take down a dog that is much larger than you is to bite his ankles until he falls over – then pounce!
7. Be nice – show haters your big goofy smile whenever you get a chance – you will win some of them over.
8. Everyone loves a bum wiggle – it’s true – wiggle your butt and see what happens, I dare you.
9. Take care of your people – make sure they know about every wild animal in the neighbourhood, especially the ones that are out at 3 a.m.
10. There is no such thing as too many kisses.

There is so much we can learn from our dogs – as long as we take the time to be truly present. Love you forever, Lola. 💕




Diego turned eleven today. Diego is our chocolate lab. He was re-homed to us when he was eleven months old because … well… because he was nuts.

I remember the day we went to meet him after seeing his smiling mug in the “pets for sale” section of our local news website. I was so excited! I always wanted a chocolate lab because they are chocolate – I am a simple girl.

We called the number in the ad and arranged a meet and greet. The address wasn’t easy to find – we drove down a mud road deep into the forest in our trusty old beater Jeep. We found the house, knocked on the door and a very tired looking young woman answered it – she had a baby on her hip and two toddlers at her side. “Oh, you are here to see TJ”, she said. “Just a minute. He’s not here, but he will be,” she added. She stepped out on to the porch and screamed at the top of her lungs “TJ!” and we waited … “Tee Jay!” … nothing – it was getting awkward … “Teeee Jaaaay!!!” Off in the distance, a brown blur of craziness emerged from the tree line moving towards us at a speed our brains could barely comprehend – jowls flopping in the wind, drool flying through the air, eyes spinning in circles. “There he is,” she said nonchalantly “he always comes back.”

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Diego’s first birthday

I remember thinking – is he going to be able to stop or will he just run right through us? The answer was both. He managed to skid to a hault in front of my husband and I but not before knocking both toddlers into a puddle and covering us all with mud. “We’ll take him!” we said in what was probably a moment of temporary insanity. And then, we – paid – her. In retrospect, it probably should have been the other way around.

We put him in the Jeep with us and off we went envisioning this to be your typical drive with a dog – you know, the one where you open the window, the dog sticks his head out with a big-ass smile on his face taking in all the scents and sounds of the journey. It wasn’t quite like that – instead he climbed into the front and ran frantically back and forth over top of us barking maniacally at every vehicle, person, bicycle and street sign we passed – taking a break only to chew on the little hair my husband had left at the time.

When we got to our house I was convinced things would get better – after all I was prepared after having googled “how to introduce a new dog to your home”. Google said to keep him on a leash and walk him calmly through the house so he wouldn’t feel overwhelmed – and so that’s what we did except he pulled like a rabid ox until he choked and his eyes bugged out of his head … and then he pulled some more. He settled for a brief moment – just long enough to lift his leg and pee on one of our house plants.

That moment not only marked his territory – it also marked the beginning of our journey with Diego who turns 11 years old today. It hasn’t been easy and it certainly hasn’t been boring but we never, ever gave up on our Mr D. We gave him a new name and a forever home and in return he taught us about patience, commitment and unconditional love.

Happy birthday, Diego. We love you buddy.



The sun is shining again, the trees are budding and our backyard looks like someone blew up a port-a-potty back there. It must be spring. Normally our winters here in the Okanagan Valley of beautiful British Columbia are all about short-stay snow. It falls, hangs around for a bit and then melts. Not this year – we got dumped on almost everyday – it went on forever – it didn’t melt – it just piled up and up and up.

Speaking of dumps, our two dogs have been diligently trained to use a designated area of the backyard as their doggie loo. I know – impressive, hey? Well apparently our fancy pants dogs don’t like pooping in what literally became a snow and shit sandwich – maybe a snow and shit layer cake is a better way to describe what happened this winter – poo, covered with snow, more poo, more snow, more poo… I know you are thanking me for the visual on this.

Anyways, our well trained fanny fudge makers decided enough was enough and started baking their brownies all over the yard – now as the snow melts we are left with what is essentially a fecal minefield.

I’m all for gender equality and I believe that women can do anything men do but I must admit that there are times I really like the concept of pink and blue jobs – this is one of those times. I will take scrubbing dog slobber off my stainless steel appliances over standing in a sea of butt-truffles and scrubbing down the poop-deck any day.

Happy spring!