All Dogs go to Heaven

Please allow me to tell you about my sweet, beautiful collie, Steffi… I adopted Stef when she was 5 years old after being a breeder and show dog in Connecticut. I found out about her from a friend at the Children’s Hospital where I used to work because one of the therapy dogs who frequently visited the pediatric patients was a beautiful collie named “Jump”. Jump’s owner knew of my love for collies (I had one as a child, Timmy) and she knew that Steffi was being retired from breeding after having 3 litters, and she needed a forever home. I could not refuse this beautiful girl. Her picture and “story” below is still proudly displayed on the website today:




(CH.Fleur de Lis Secret Weapon ROM x
CH. Long Acre Riverrun Rampage)

2009 Collie Club of America Winners Bitch

Judge Loralee Runnels-Bergmann critique at the 2009 Collie Club of America:
“Riverrun Dreamin’ Out Loud is another “Great One”
“Beautiful head, lovely stop, eye and expression.”
“What a beautiful girl – she has it all!”
Stephanie finished her Championship with 4 specialty majors
and her exciting win at the National Specialty.
Thank you to Judges Loralee Runnels, Mike Esch, Patti Merrill and Mary Benedict.

Stephanie is enjoying her retirement with Debbie Aston of East Brunswick,  New Jersey.

 My Stef

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself”– Josh Billings
Stef was gentle and sweet; she was graceful and elegant. She couldn’t care less about a tennis ball or stuffed toy…she was far too refined. She enjoyed being the center of attention, being petted and brushed, and she was a big fan of cheese and pizza. She got along easily with every dog and person who ever crossed her path and I was so proud to share the story of how we came to find each other.
Sadly, she seemed to develop severe anxiety and dementia the past two years; after many visits to the vet and extensive testing to rule out a medical issue, she was placed on medications to reduce anxiety; first, we tried Valium, which only made her sleepy, and then, Prozac, which helped a little…until it didn’t. We changed her diet to help manage her incontinence, which was hit or miss. Eventually we just kept her calm, happy, and comfortable, and helped her manage her difficulties with vision and hearing. Many times I had to help her navigate out of a corner because she couldn’t find her way out. I waited for her to let me know when it was “time”. Her “good” days of being perky, playful, eating/drinking, and wanting to be petted and loved, were being measured against her “bad” days, when all she did was pace and sleep, pace and sleep, and not eat or drink.
“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day” – John Grogan
When I brought my new Golden rescue, Gracie, home two weeks ago, she didn’t even know she was there… she slept through it all. I think she just thought she was seeing two Rileys; they do look alike. When I came home from work on Thursday night I found the back door to the yard wide open with the outside light on; my daughter Shea came home for a few days and when I asked why the door was open she told me that she couldn’t get Stef into the house; she had tried for two hours and she wouldn’t move. After some gentle encouragement, I was able to wake her up and get her in the house. Soon after, I heard Shea screaming for me from the living room; Stef had fallen and was having a seizure. I could no longer ignore what was happening. And yet…I was afraid to make that very final decision. I still waited. What if she was going to have more “good” days? I worked Friday night while Shea stayed with her and kept an eye on her. It was now three days since she had eaten anything. My beautiful pup, who could no longer walk without tripping, or stay awake for any extended amount of time, and who could barely see or hear, needed me to love her enough to make the right and hard decision to let her go. Still… I waited one more day… I just had to know for sure. Today, she paced and she was anxious; she was breathing heavy and she broke my heart. Today, I held her and told her I loved her as she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge…. she is with Kika, and Ziggy, and Molly, and Simba…. I hope she is with my Dad too because he loved her. Until we meet again my beautiful girl.
“Grief is the price we pay for love”- Queen Elizabeth II

One thought on “All Dogs go to Heaven

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. It is always so hard to let go. You loved her to the end like she loved you. My heart goes out to you Deb.


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