This morning we had to say good-bye to Babe, our almost nine-year-old mastiff.  Saying goodbye was hard, especially since we had just said good-bye to Charley at the end of November.

Babe was suffering from an auto-immune disease that we discovered about a week ago.  She did perk up when we put her on steroids, but last night she had a very rough night.  She kept panting deeply,

Babe profile portrait

Babe about two months ago.

sitting up, and then falling over, hitting her head against the wall–that’s what woke us up.  Over and over she did this, and I was afraid she was having seizures.  Then this morning, she didn’t want to leave the bedroom.  We finally did get her out to the car for a trip to the vet, but instead of climbing in (which she usually loved to do), she simply lay down in the road.

Once we finally got her to the vet, the doctor examined her.  After I explained some additional symptoms, the doctor said we could continue to try treatments, but there was probably something else going on–something like cancer that was affecting her entire system.

Babe is a grand old girl, and I didn’t want to put her through painful and probably unnecessary experimentation, so I told the doctor we had come to the end of the road.  Then I got down on the floor with her and talked to her as the doctor helped her into that final sleep that leads to the “rainbow bridge”–or in my theology, to heaven.  As she rested her big head on her front paws, I told her to look for Charley.  After a long, long moment, her head slipped off her paws and she simply rolled onto her side. She was gone.

Babe came to us as a three-year-old rescue.  I wouldn’t say that she had been abused in her earlier home, but the moment I saw her, I knew that her former owners hadn’t understood what they had in a mastiff.  Babe was wearing a black leather collar with silver studs, the uniform of a junk yard dog, and mastiffs are NOT junk yard dogs. They are gentle giants, dignified guardians, the most stately dogs in the canine kingdom.

I quickly came to understand that Babe had been kept on a chain in her former home–apparently her owner was a mechanic who kept Babe in the garage, and chained her during working hours (and let her “guard” the premises during evening hours.)  You probably know that when threatened, an animal will choose to fight or flee.  Most dogs will flee first, but if they can’t (because they’re on a chain), they have no choice but to stand their guard and at least ACT like they’re going to fight.  So Babe had developed a habit of ferociously barking at any MAN who approached, including our mailman, the UPS man, and all the neighborhood boys and men.

Babe was also incredibly strong. She was 230 pounds of solid muscle, with an appetite that had no “off” switch.  (I should have realized how sick she was when the vet told me she had lost 16 pounds).  She took her job of guarding our home so seriously that she broke the stained glass in my front door, plus broke through two dining room windows.  But we replaced them with stronger glass and tried to keep her away from anything breakable.

As she grew older, Babe mellowed somewhat, but she never lost her urge to bark at anyone who approached the house. She was the alpha queen over Charley, frequently bossing him around.  She was smelly, she had dark drool that stained my walls, and she was loud.

But we loved her. And she proved how much she loved us by doing her job well, even when her muzzle grew white and her step grew a little slower.

When just hubby and I lived here, Babe and Charley slept in their beds in our bedroom, naturally.  But when our daughter and granddaughter moved in, Babe began to sleep in the dining room, right next to the windows at the front of the house. I didn’t understand why until the hubby pointed out that she wasn’t just guarding us anymore–she was guarding the girls upstairs, too.

Babe often annoyed Charley because she had a habit of lying down in every doorway, always facing out (the better place for a guardian).  Charley didn’t like this, because he couldn’t walk past her without eliciting a snarl, so hubby and I were always having to “escort” Charley past Babe.

But two days ago, Babe came into my office, sat next to me for a pat on the head, and then, with a great effort, turned to lie down–facing the door.  Doing her job even then.

Tonight will be the first night in over 18 years that we haven’t been lovingly guarded by an adult mastiff.

This week Babe had virtually no platelets in her blood, and I know she wasn’t feeling well.  But one day the new puppy, Dani, decided that she wanted to play with the big old dog, and Babe tolerated the youngster nipping at her heels, occasionally looking at me as if to say, “Mom? Can you please put her away for a nap?”

Last night she laid next to me for a long while, then she got up and moved to the doorway–that’s where she was when she began panting and having momentary seizures. I woke up, realized what was happening, and felt my heart sink. We love our new puppy, but saying goodbye to the older ones is never easy.  And two times in two months is far too many.

babe and charley together

Babe and Charley in younger days.

I believe (because Scripture says so) that animals have souls, and I believe animals will be in heaven (after all, Jesus comes back to earth on a horse.) 🙂  And so I pray that my beloved dogs–Sadie, Justus, Charley, Babe, just to name a few–will be with me in eternity.

And when people ask why I would let big, smelly, expensive, drooly dogs live in my home, I just smile and hand them a dish towel to wipe away the occasional slobber.  I love mastiffs because they know their job and they do it well without a lot of fuss. And there’s incredible beauty in doing what you were created to do.

I thank God for the gift of dogs and other companion animals. I praise Him for their unconditional love that mirrors His. And I am so grateful that I was allowed to be “mommy” for Charley and Babe.

And now, Dani.  🙂





  1. Ginny L. Yttrup

    I’m so sorry for your loss, but respect your choice-it sounds like you made the right one. What a beautiful and loving post. I too believe Babe and all the other animals we’ve loved will greet us at Heaven’s gate. Though, I often wonder, in the marvelous light of Christ, how long will it take us to notice they’re even there. 🙂

  2. Renee Osborne

    Angie, I’m so sorry for your loss. Reading this post brought back poignant memories of losing both our cat and our dog several years ago. I’ve often pondered whether our pets will meet us in heaven, and recently I started reading Randy Alcorn’s book on heaven, and he believes they will be there as well. Blessings to you in the New Year.

    • Laura Elledge

      Heaven by Randy Alcorn helped me too in the loss of my sweet Rocky. Great Book!

  3. Roxy Henke

    Oh, Angie, I’m SO sorry. I know what it’s like to love a dog!

  4. Esther Seaton-Dummer

    That is a moment in every true pet owners life that we all dread. I felt so much love and so much pain in your writing of your story with both of you beloved dogs. I too have a long line of dogs and cats that have gone on before me, leaving empty places in my heart that only they could fill. But the next one in line to be our “special pet,” filled their own place in my heart. I love so much it really hurts when they go. I can see that with you too. Gone but never forgotten! Loved and wept through the raw but totally transparent story of saying good-bye to the two beautiful giants.

  5. Linda Gordon

    Angie, I am so sorry. I can’t image the pain of losing both of your babies so close to each other. So glad you have Dani to hug.

  6. Joy DeKok

    So sad for your loss. . .and thankful with you that you had the joy of loving and being loved by them. I agree with you about animals and heaven. . .and have this vision of Jesus welcoming me with open arms and right behind him are some people and some animals who got to go there ahead of me. Thank you for sharing your loss and for letting me share a little from my imagination.

  7. jackie dossett

    while i do not know you, i was right there with you as i read your post. having lost my fluffy mastiff Jonah July 3oth, i feel your pain to the core. your girl’s symptoms were very close to Jonah’s.
    the only peace i have in continuing to love yet another dog(mastiff..Isaac) is that they will be waiting for us. i taught a bible study a few years back , on what God’s word said about animals in was very enlightening. and yes, according to scripture, they will be there.
    i am truly sorry for your heavy loss. lean on that will see you through.

  8. Susan Meissner

    That was so beautiful to read, Angie. I know it hurt t write and you surely shed tears just like I did reading it. It made me miss my Labrador, Luke, whom I had to say goodbye to a year ago. Sometimes I dream Luke is still alive and I will wake up feeling like I had just been with him! The best dream ever… I’m with you. I like to think heaven includes good dogs like Babe and Charley and Luke.

  9. Sandy

    How beautiful for our Father to provide Dani to you–on your birthday–to help get you through your season of loss. Even though you didn’t know it, He knew Babe would soon follow Charlie. And maybe He has another perfect mastiff for you waiting in the wings! : )

    • Angie

      Indeed, Sandy. And thank you, everyone, for your kind wishes and your prayers. My eyes have “leaked” all day and the house seems awfully empty, but we’re okay. And we have Dani, and she helps a lot.


  10. Iris Millett

    So sorry you lost 2 family members in such a short time. What the Bible reference for that verse saying that animals have souls so I can highlight it in my Bible?

  11. Kim Gates

    I am so sorry for your loss. Unless you are an animal lover, I don’t think you realize just how special the four legged child you have is to you. I have a precious little yorkie/ brussels griffon mix dog. She weighs all of 6 pounds and will be 5 years old the 22nd of this month. My mom and I share custody of her. LOL My parents babysit her every day for me while I go to work. Sometimes when I go to pick her up she will go to my mom and put her head on her shoulder as if I can’t see her. She wants to stay at her MeMe’s house. Some may call her rotten, but I call her very loved! I am so thankful that she will be with me in heaven one day! I pray that Dani gives you many days of happiness!

  12. Miriam D

    Angie, how I wish I could give you a big hug. (and to your hubby & family)

    As I read this to my husband I began to cry with you and our soon to be nine year old Lab, Joy came up to me and put her head in my lap. Oh how these beautiful and wonderful animals created by our loving Lord bless and impact our lives so much.

    We have had rescue dogs as well as pedigree ones. They have so much love to give. Yes, I believe Sadie, Justus, Charley, and Babe are playing and loving in heaven with all the dogs we have been blessed to be loved by.

    As one who has worked as a vet. asst. years back, I have had to be the go between and stand in for the puppy parents in those moments. I always tried to comfort both the sweet animal and/or the puppy parent. No words just hugs, ears, and tissues. So I offer my hugs and ears to you, Angie, and hope you have tissues nearby. (you have my email through your blog)

    Love to you,
    Miriam D.

  13. Anita Sanders

    Sorry for Babe to go so quickly, but you know she would have stayed if it was possible. Sometimes they just get so tired and their body denies what they would like to do. Take comfort in lil Dani. She is going to be lost without a big friend for a little while and then I’m sure you’ll find another one to add to your home. Maybe once of Chatter’s babies, maybe someone else’s, you’ll know when it’s time. God’s blessings to you. 🙁

  14. Susan Glover

    Angie, I am so sorry for your loss. I had tears in my eyes reading your tribute….all of us animal lovers feel your pain 🙁 Of course you did the right thing, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. I, too, am comforted by the fact that we will see our beloved animals in Heaven….I’ve said goodbye to 3 of mine in the last 5 years 🙁 glad you have Dani to hug!

  15. Kathy Mackel

    No doors to guard in heaven — only open arms. Give Dani a hug for me. She’s got big shoes to fill.

  16. Randy Alcorn

    Ang, that was so beautiful. Nanci and I share your loss and your love for beloved dogs, as well as your conviction about seeing them again. I think often of Romans 8, the whole creation (not just people) suffering and groaning and longing for the redemption that will come with the resurrection of God’s children. All creation, especially animals, fell on the coattails of humanity, their masters, and all creation shall rise on humanity’s coattails. Besides being with Jesus himself, the reunions I look forward to most are with people, but they are followed closely by animals, dogs in particular, dogs God has used in my life to reveal His love. May He encourage you, dear sister, and use Dani in the process.

  17. Caroly Snyder

    I am so sorryl The loss of a pet is devastating. We had to put our beloved Min Pin, Dobby, to sleep Dec. 23, 2011. We wanted so much for her to be with us for Christmas but she was in too much discomfort for heart worms. This past Christmas was hard also for my 5 year old grandson and our lab/akita mix, Jetta, who still misses her little friend. I also believe I will see her and all my other pets when I get to Heaven.

  18. Wanlee

    All my condolences to you and your family. Your article reminded me a good memory. Thanks

  19. Patti Goldbach

    Angie, I do not know how on earth I missed this. We saw your hubby at church on 30th. Asked about Babe and at that time Babe was doing better.

    I’m really so sorry about Babe. Having Dani will keep you busy & occupied but she can’t take away the pain and sorrow of losing Babe and Charley. In reading about Babe’s early life, it at least can be comfort that the remaining years were good ones and she was content “doing what God created her to do.” You & hubby provided that for her. I know it will be an adjustment going from having two big, gentle giants to 1 frisky puppy who is probably fast becoming a big frisky puppy.

    BTW, Bill has his Mac (desktop) and he is loving it. He’s ready to order me one but I’m hesitant.

  20. Sue Brower

    Ah Angie, I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to your trusted friend. We had to make the same decision for our Shephard/Lab, Marbles, a few years ago. She was thirteen, had undergone one major surgery for cancer and we couldn’t put her through another. I still miss her gentleness and beautiful sweet eyes. Now we have two sweet black labs, Pepper and Ollie, who keep me warm on the couch, help me edit books, take me for walks and generally make me feel unconditionally loved. What would we do without these blessed creatures?

  21. Sunni Jeffers

    My heart just sank when I saw your post. I’m so glad you have a new baby to love on, but so sorry you’ve had to say another goodbye. I can just envision all our beloved pets frolicking in the meadows of heaven. In just a few moments, we will be there with them. Hugs to you, Angie.

  22. Ane Mulligan

    I had tears in my eyes reading this, Angie, because of our mastiffs. I was surprised when we got our Oliver puppy, but like you say, owning mastiffs gets in your blood. Shadrach is 6 and I know their life span is shorter than small dogs, but I’m prayign for more years with our sweet Shad.

  23. Mary Kay

    Oh, Angie, so sorry Babe left, and so quickly after Charley. I had such hopes for the steroids. They each leave their own hole in our hearts and lives. I’m glad you all have the company of the Diva and Dani and hope it eases the empty spots. May God bless you with joyful antics from the little ones, and comfort.

  24. BJ Schmitz

    This is a very sweet commentary on the blessing God gives us in our pets!

  25. B.J. Taylor

    Oh, Angie, I’m so very sorry that you lost Babe, and so soon after Charley is a definite blow. My heart goes out to you and to your tears that will fall onto little Dani.
    Much love to the three of you: hubby, you and Dani,
    from Charlie Bear and me

  26. McLane Evans

    I’m the mastiff rescue volunteer who brought Babe to you so many years ago. You and your family provided the her with a life we dream of for all of the dogs we rescue. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the wonderful life you gave Babe.

    • Angie

      Thank you, McLane–how well I remember the day you brought Babe home. 🙂 And I loved your name so much that I used it in a book–I think it was SHE ALWAYS WORE RED.

      Bless you for the wonderful work you are doing.



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