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in 2004 we were having a GREAT year - my son was in middle school, active in school and scouts and we had the most amazing rescue dog, Tristan - a Chesapeake Bay Retriever/ Golden Retriever mix we had adopted in 2001. Tristan was a real character - informally trained, but with impeccable manners, goofy as a clown, but oh so gentle and calm with little kids and small animals. Tristan had this funny little cowlick right down the center of his nose, like someone had run a fingernail down his nose between his eyes and made all the fur stand on end. He loved to 'GO', anywhere, anytime, and NOTHING ever fazed him - I took him everywhere with me (including the office on Saturdays and on my work sales calls) and he was always laid back and calm. Tristan was also the unofficial mascot of our Boy Scout troop. He was amazing at dealing with homesick or lonely boys, and the other troop leaders soon learned that having Tristan along meant much less whining from the boys - After Tristan started going hiking with us, it was 'my turn to hold Tristan's leash' instead of ' I'm tired!', or 'can we take Tristan ____?' ( beach, play ball, walk, etc) instead of "I'm bored!' and "this is dumb". Tristan had a HUGE family of boys that adored him. But in the August of 2004, a regular vet check found swollen glands, which were quickly diagnosed as advanced lymphoma. Tristan had only weeks to live if we didn't do something drastic NOW. I was in shock. Tristan was barely 5 yrs old, and we'd barely had him 3 yrs! He was my heart dog and my son's best friend. To top it off, I was working a commission sales job and not doing well financially. I don't remember how I found IMOM. hours of desperate searching on the internet, I'm sure. But YOU and your wonderful volunteers stepped up and gave us hope. With your backing, Tristan went to the oncologist - prancing in with a wagging tail and a proudly shown off toy in his mouth. For the most part, he had no idea he was sick. the nurses and techs all quickly fell in love with him too, he charmed everyone he ever met. We got a remission within weeks, and had a beautiful fall with him, hiking and taking a couple of camping trips which he so loved. I reported to IMOM faithfully, and IMOM volunteers and supporters laughed with me over his antics, cried with me over his setbacks, and were always there with ideas to tempt his appetite and provide me a place to cry and vent. He lost his remission in late December, and by February, knowing he'd fought hard to stay with us, I held him tight as he went peacefully to sleep. IMOM was with me every step. In those last, precious months, we made memories and crammed in as much LIFE as we could. Tristan taught me about courage. That life is a gift and to face each day as a shiny new opportunity. To find joy in the little things, beauty everywhere, and to love without reservation. Tristan's early years were rough and neglected before we adopted him, but his last 3yrs, especially his last 6 months, were filled with love, adventures, peace, LOTS of spoiling and a lifetime of experiences, thanks to IMOM. We adopted another 2 yr old Golden in 2005, Fizzy. When she was diagnosed with Lymph sarcoma this summer, I was able to cover her bills, until it was time to let her go peacefully in September 2013. Since then, with my son grown, taking care of my elderly mom and changing job situations and another financially difficult year, I decided to Foster for As Good As Gold Rescue in Illinois, to honor my dog's memories and 'give back' in that way. IMOM gave me and Tristan a chance, by providing funds and support. I don't have much money, but I have time, patience and lots of love to give. thank you, IMOM