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The Wake-Up Call Show: The Unspoken Agreement Between Dozer and Me

The Wake-Up Call Show: The Unspoken Agreement Between Dozer and Me

Dear One,

I never knew I was a dog person. I had cats growing up…and I never felt particularly connected to them. Yes I loved them. I cared about them. But I didn’t really get them.

I was actually afraid of dogs. Every summer growing up we went to a small lake town in Gold Rush country that had no leash law. I remember walking home from pee wee golfing at night and there would often be a dog growling or snapping at us as we passed by. They seemed scary, these big creatures with fur and sharp teeth.

Then I met two dogs that changed it all for me: sweetheart Tate and goofy Bizmark. I slowly began to realize that I might just be a dog person after all. I loved the way dogs spoke to me and wanted to play. Dogs are extroverted pack animDozeral, just like me!

So when my husband and I bought our first home in a canyon in Los Angeles and  he was headed off on tour with his band for 3 months, I was ready to officially become a dog owner. We searched the shelters and encountered Dozer, a two year old Boxer/Shepard mix who had the right stuff. He was house trained, he loved to go on runs and he loved kids. BINGO!

My relationship with Dozer was the most uncomplicated relationship I’ve ever had. It went like this; I give food, shelter, a run and some ear scratches. I receive unconditional love, endless enthusiasm, unwavering support, hugs, kisses, delight, loyalty, patience, energy, cuddles, devotion and hours of uninterrupted listening. He was ridiculously selfless and always happy.

It was the beginning of an 8 year love affair. Dozer and I bonded quickly as we whisked Rob off on his tour…Dozer literally followed me from room to room. Eager to please, ready for a hike at a moment’s notice, and always, always filled with love and devotion.

bella and dozerWhen we moved to our current home in the SF Bay Area and gave birth to daughter, Annabella, Dozer adjusted pretty quickly to being the big brother. He loved Annabella so much…putting up with her toddler years of pulling his ears and grabbing fistfuls of his hair. I remember one Christmas when the kids decided to decorate Dozer with wrapping paper and ribbons. He just smiled. He slept in Annabella’s room for the last couple of years, always waiting until she fell asleep before sneaking down stairs to be with Rob and me.

I cherished our runs and hikes in the hills together…just Dozer and me. In fact, you can often see or hear Dozer in my Wake-Up Call Wednesday videos (my fav Dozer feature is my Awaiting Further Instructions New Year video from the beach).

Dozer was my best friend, soulmate, confidant, protector, companion and so much more. He has been the energetic and literal soundtrack of our household since coming on the scene. His eagerness, the sound of his paws on the hardwood floors, the affection and love I received every time I walked through the door is irreplaceable.

So when I began noticing a couple of months ago that something wasn’t right with him, I pretended I didn’t know what I knew.

I made an unspoken agreement with Dozer; I’ll pretend not to know that you’re really sick, if you promise to let me know when it gets to be too much. OK?

Dozer agreed.

So we carried on and I blew off him not being able to keep up with me on a run, or throwing up a couple of times, or limping on one leg. I’d wishfully pretended it was a cold, or a sprain or the flu…desperately trying not to know what I knew.

Until it became clear to me that it was too much. Dozer stopped eating, dropping 8 pounds in a matter of weeks. He couldn’t even make it around the block.

So I decided to take him into the vet, preparing myself to get confirmation of what I already knew.

People told me not to make up stories, to stop preparing for the worst. But I knew the truth. And I was finally ready for confirmation.Dozer 2

We took him to the vet and ran labs last Thursday, did an ultrasound on his abdomen and liver on Friday, got official word of the aggressive terminal liver cancer on Saturday, and put him down at our home with the most compassionate hospice nurse on Sunday.

And now one of the greatest loves of my life is gone.

I know letting him go was the greatest gift I could give him. I’ve watched people I love die from cancer and there was no way I was going to put my sweet, goofy, loyal til the end pooch through that.

He promised me that he’d let me know when it was too much. So he did. So I let him go with love and grace and peace. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But I’m grateful I did it. And I know that Dozer is now free to run, jump, play, and smooch in all his glory. He’s an angel watching over us now.

With tear stained checks,

P.S. Is there anything that you’re pretending not to know, sweetheart? Check in now and see how it’s working for you. Is it important to keep pretending or are you ready to face the truth? I’m here holding your hand either way.

P.P.S. Thanks for reading and witnessing, darling. I’ve been blown away by the love on my Facebook page. THANK YOU.


Please share your remembrances and gratitude about your soulmates with fur below.



By | 2017-05-25T10:21:29+00:00 June 18th, 2013|Coaching|26 Comments

About the Author:

Amy Ahlers, The Wake-Up Call Coach, is on a mission to stop women and mamas from being so darn hard on themselves. She is the bestselling author of Big Fat Lies Women Tell Themselves & Reform Your Inner Mean Girl and she's been a Certified Life Coach for over 16 years. Amy is the co-creator of transformational programs such as Inner Mean Girl Reform School, Find Your Calling & Visionary Ignition Switch. Amy is passionate about helping soulful mamas embrace the messiness and magic of motherhood in her truth telling community, You can often find Amy holding hands with the love of her life and husband, Rob, as they chase after their firecracker daughters, Annabella and Evie Rose. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and rescue mutt, Batman.


  1. Julia June 19, 2013 at 6:47 am

    So sorry for your loss. Dozer is still with you, just not in physical form. Don’t be surprised if you feel a nuzzle or hear the clack of paws hitting the floor. It’s not your imagination.

    • Amy Ahlers June 19, 2013 at 6:54 am

      I SO agree. I still hear him in the house and feel his energy all around me. 🙂

  2. Jennifer Williams June 19, 2013 at 6:51 am

    What a beautiful story – thank you for sharing Dozer with all of us. It is so hard to say goodbye to a special soulmate pet.

    • Amy Ahlers June 19, 2013 at 6:54 am

      Thanks so much sweetheart!!

  3. J. Gamble June 19, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve lost 4 dogs in three years. All of them to cancer. I think of them every day and still feel their presence. Animals are amazing! Big hugs to you and your family.

  4. Vera June 19, 2013 at 7:05 am

    So sorry for the loss of your beloved Dozer. Went through the same pain a few years ago with our beloved main colon kittie Pixie… My face is tears stained too…

    A big hug,


  5. Vera June 19, 2013 at 7:07 am

    Meant maincoon, of course, but iPad corrected it…

  6. Colleen June 19, 2013 at 7:14 am

    Thank you for your beautiful story.What a WONDERFUL life you gave Dozer! The loves of our lives never really leave us….

  7. Jill June 19, 2013 at 7:34 am

    I feel your pain. I put down my first cat, whom if we’re being brutally honest, I wasn’t super emotionally attached to (I thought I was) in 2000. After she peed ALL OVER MY FULL SIZE BED.

    February 13, 2012, my baby, my buddy, my fur child of 14.5 years passed away. I knew he was sick but didn’t want to put him down. I had already made a decision that even if I were a millionaire, I would not put him through a battery of tests to prolong his life with whatever(a friend had asked me). He had lived a good long life. So when he passed away on my bathroom floor, I was crushed and forlorn and heartbroken and every else that you can think of when your baby dies. I told him it was OK to go, that I knew he was hurting and I was OK with him going. Mommy would be OK. And he went. And I cried. OMG I cried.

    He is in a box on my mantle. His ceramic paw print is in my pocketbook. I miss him desperately but he is in a better place, in the fields over the Rainbow Bridge, hanging with Fluffy and my deceased grandparents.

    When Pedroia and Mari get to that point in life, I will have them put down.

    I am so so sorry for your loss, Amy. It hurts like everything. I wish you peace of heart, lots of love and healing. xo

    Thank you for all that you are and do! You are a gift and so appreciated!!

  8. chara June 19, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Amy, what a beautiful piece about a beautiful relationship. I have had a similar experience. These dogs we love always live in our hearts.

  9. Keri June 19, 2013 at 8:04 am

    ooh Amy,
    I am so sorry for your loss. This coming Saturday is the 1 year anniversary of my girl’s transition. Gracie came home at 11 weeks and spent the next 14years and just shy of 2weeks later teaching, guiding, protecting, sharing, loving, and enjoying me and our life together. She is an amazing spirit that I am so blessed that she chose me…. as you were blessed by your Dozer.

    these are a couple of quotes that feel full of the love that we shared……

    “Death is nothing at all…I have only slipped away into the next room. Whatever we were to each, that we are still. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Laugh as we always laughed at the love we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me, let my name be the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effort. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolutely unbroken continuity. Why should “I” be out of your mind because I am out of your sight?? I am but waiting for you, for an interval. very near – just around the corner… All is Well. Nothing is past. Nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before, only better, infinitely happier and forever. We will all be one together.”

    ~Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918)

    “Don’t cry because it’s over, Smile because it happened.”
    -Dr. Seuss

    “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together.. there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. but the most important thing is, even if we’re apart.. i’ll always be with you.”

    ~ Winnie The Pooh

    and this one that just sums it all up for me….

    “The sorrow we feel is only matched by the love we shared.”


    Wishing you peace of mind and heart
    much love……

  10. Nicole June 19, 2013 at 8:52 am

    I’m sitting here in Jiffy Lube holding back tears right now. I get it. I’m sorry. But I’m also really glad that you had Dozer. The pain is the payoff for love.

  11. Antje June 19, 2013 at 10:00 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss, not only for you, but also for your daughter. My dog and I have a similar agreement and like in your family, our daughter knows no life without her four-legged big brother. Thanks for sharing, Amy. Big hug!

  12. Caroline Frenette Master Intuitive Coach June 19, 2013 at 10:30 am

    There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about when I’m going to loose one of my best furry friends (I have 5; 3 Schnoodles and 2 big cats) and it breaks my heart.
    Then they remind me that it’s time to go play 🙂

    Big HUGE hug to you Amy!

  13. Tina June 19, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Hi Amy–thanks for sharing this. I am so terribly sorry for your loss, but so happy that you had this very special dog in your life. I posted on your FB page about your loss, because Dozer looks so much like my beloved Luna, who is also a boxer mix. It was love at first site when I saw her as a puppy in Mexico–so much so that we rescued her in the midst of having to leave our home due to imminent flooding. She had a rubber band around her tail, was a mess of fleas, worms, puppy mange–but still so beautiful to me.

    I have the kind of relationship with her you speak of with your sweet Dozer–and I cannot imagine the day I will have to let her go–but when that time comes, I will make the same decision you did, and not let her suffer just to try and hang on a little longer.

    She is just 3-1/2 years old–but has had a few scary times due to medication reactions and sensitivities–so I just pray she will remain healthy and continue to share her life with me as long as possible.

    Thinking of you and writing this with tears in my eyes–it’s such a beautiful thing to have this kind of relationship with a dog–but so very, very difficult that they do not live as long as we would like. My husband says someone should invent a “35-year dog”–we have four including my Luna–3 rescues and one retired guide dog.

    I know we will have to deal with this too–thanks for the reminder of how much we should treasure each day we have with our beloved furry kids.

    Blessings to you and yours from AZ–and to sweet Dozer–until you meet again.

  14. Kelly June 19, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Dear sweet Amy, I’m so sorry to hear about Dozer. I know how much you loved him, and how much he loved you is so evident in your beautiful post. Thank you for being extra vulnerable in a time of vulnerability and sharing all your precious memories… I don’t think our animal angels ever leave us as long as we remember them, but rather turn into our medicine animals. I think about my best friend/baby/soul kitten Fitz (aka Muffin) every day, and talk with him frequently… he was the fearless extravert that I am not, so I always think of him as my guide on the road of life, and ask myself “What would Fitz do?” 🙂
    Sending you much love, and I know that Dozer is, too,

  15. Janice June 19, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Dear Amy, Your Dozer had the beautiful face of such sweet, sweet countenance…I feel such sadness for the loss of your beloved, Dozer. The same, for your family too.

    I am so happy that you know he is an angel watching over you now!

  16. Lori Noonan June 19, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. It is such a deep one.

    Dozer is *so* blessed to have picked you!

    Some of the most important lessons I learned from a dog:

    Trust your instincts.
    Be on the lookout for warning signals.
    Use all of your senses.
    If you sniff too hard, you’ll end up with a bug up your nose (grin).
    Gather up all available resources to get your needs met.
    Stay close to your pack.
    Savor every opportunity to rest and play.

    Sending you lots of love and light during this sad time.

  17. C Lynn June 19, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    My dog of 16 1/2 years died three months ago. I had had his mother too, and she died 3 years ago. Since she died he had all kinds of heart problems, and I gave him 6 pills every day and 4 every night. And he took it all, kept going as long as he could. His mother died in my arms, I’d told her to make the decision to go on her own and not make me do it for her. So she did. I told the same thing to Mugsy, but he couldn’t go on his own. He’s lost most of his hearing and I was walking behind him one day and he looked so terrible that I knew it was time. I think he’d hidden his condition from me even though I’d been telling him he should go “I wouldn’t want to be in that body anymore sweet boy”. He was worried about me. Anyway, it was the hardest thing I ever did but his passing was gently and kind. And an hour later, I heard this tiny voice rise through the fog of my grief and it said, “thank you.” That’s all I needed to hear. He was truly a kind loving dog and I will miss him until he comes back again as my next dog. His mom too! Thanks for sharing your story, and I’m sorry for your loss.

  18. Lisa June 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    I will miss Dozer (so aptly named) too. Such a sweet, sweet dog.

    I will always remember burying my face in my big kitty’s neck and listening to him breathe. It gave me such comfort. Even though he is gone, sometimes I think I still hear him next to me. Much love, Lisa

  19. Carolyn June 20, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Hi Amy,

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful testament to your beloved Dozer. He most certainly is still with you, with his little paw on your heart as you grieve his loss. He may even come to you in your dreams..

    I remember when my family cat (Calvin) passed last year, he was in so much pain yet he loved us so much, so he wanted to hold on… but like Dozer he could no longer eat or drink. It was heartbreaking. I felt he was also scared to pass. It was so difficult to give him the gift of euthanasia but the kindest thing to do. I had my hands placed gently on him as he passed, and moments later I felt the strangest thing. I had a sensation of ‘weeee!’ -of freedom and lightness, so unexpected when I was so sad. But then I realised that was his soul, it was now free and not only peaceful but happy too. I felt blessed to experience this communication from Calvin and I’m sure he would not mind me sharing it with you!

    Have you heard of the poem the rainbow bridge? I came across it & thought it was lovely… Here is a link, and for any one else who may be grieving the loss of one of their furry and feathered loved ones:

    xxx Carolyn

  20. Veronica June 22, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Amy, Your story is very touching and from the comments it is obvious that again you’ve been able to inspire others through your words and vulnerability. The loss of a pet is devastating to our hearts. Try to keep that broken heart open and time will heal but the best part is Dozer will forever be in your broken open heart. I too would love information on your hospice nurse. I am also a veterinary hospice nurse trying desperately to start a business here on the east coast in Florida and it’s proving challenging to say the least. God be with you all in this difficult time and know that Dozer is safe and loved still!

  21. Jane June 23, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Your story of love touched me. Dozer is forever with you even though he is in a different place. Furry love is a wonderful thing. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.


  22. Whitney June 30, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Everything I could ever need to know about Dozer and his life with you is in that bottom photo of him (Dozer-2.jpg). The happiness and contentment is evident — and it is indeed the kind of photo that people put in calendars and posters so that others can soak in that energy.

    He practically glows in his happiness and contentment. That photo tells me that whatever hand life dealt him before he landed in the shelter was erased by life with you.

    I work in animal rescue. Every one of us who does prays that the animals we are able to gift with second chances will find the kind of life in their new homes that will allow a photo like Dozer’s to be taken of them.

  23. Veronica June 30, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Amy, Hope that this little bit of time is seeing some healing for your family. I’ve kept the post hoping you’d answer the question about your hospice nurse for a couple of us. Time truly does heal all wounds…and I recently started taking in fosters (1 at a time) and that has been amazing medicine for me.
    Right now I have a 12 yr. old female golden with severe arthritis. She is as precious as gold truly!
    With sympathy & empathy for your loss,

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