This is the hardest post I’ve ever written.

In fact, I have wrestled with facing writing it for weeks now. I want so much to honor Behr that I’ve finally pulled myself together to write about her.

To begin with, we lost our precious “Behr Behr” quite suddenly and in a tragic way, right before her 12th birthday.  My heart has been in so much pain that I haven’t even been able to face writing about it. In fact, when it happened, I turned my phone off for three days because I didn’t want to have to talk about it when anyone called. 

There was a crazy series of events that lead up to our loss. It started when Behr stumbled one day while we were house hunting. We were looking for a home in the mountains with lots of room for her to run freely.  We arrived at the house for sale and thought she would be super excited to get out of the car and take off running around, as usual. Instead, she stumbled and then refused to even walk. Confused, we put her back in the car and went home. 

What followed next is a whirlwind of events.  She had x-rays and blood tests. The vets, radiologist, and oncologist all had different ideas of what was wrong, even after more tests and biopsies. It appeared that she got cancer in her leg, but then it spread to a different leg (not at all normal). Neither affected leg was the one the vet thought was suspicious months ago. They even thought it might be Valley Fever because the symptoms are the same. 

Meanwhile, we got a special harness to assist her walking so she wouldn’t risk injury. Our last Dane had cancer in a leg and lived an almost normal life for a year after diagnosis, so we assumed this would be similar. We also aggressively did whatever possible to halt the progression, including getting help from cutting edge research oncologists with an amazing track record of success. Every possible option for healing was used.

When she started to show signs of having pain, the vet suggested a pharmaceutical solution. We had avoided chemicals as much as possible in Behr’s life, which combined with hiking likely contributed to her extra long life for a Dane.  However, we didn’t want her to be in pain, and she made it CLEAR she was happy to be here with us, so we proceeded with the vet’s suggestion.

Unfortunately, however, she died rapidly of an ADVERSE DRUG REACTION. 

Just like that… Behr Behr was gone. I had no time to prepare for this sudden loss. The ONLY thing at all good about it was that I was there with her. I don’t know if she could even hear me as she crashed neurologically, but I was telling her how much I loved her and other things I wanted her to know.  It all happened so suddenly. One minute I had my Behr Behr, the next, I didn’t. Right in front of my eyes. 

I was stunned. This couldn’t happen! Behr had been like a cat with nine lives, always bouncing back from danger, unharmed…but this time she didn’t. 

I collapsed in anguish. The pain seemed absolutely unbearable. I looked at her motionless body lying before me and felt like my heart had just died with her.

The next morning I woke up and realized the last 12 years of my life have been pretty much centered around her during my day. She woke me up ready to play every morning. In fact, the day before she had trouble walking, she woke me up by dropping toys on my face, wanting me to get up and play games with her. 

We played hide and seek after breakfast AND dinner every day. (I hid, she had to find me) She played with her Nina Ottoson puzzles, I threw toys all over the house and she raced to pick them up and put them in her toy box, and many other games. She was still doing this at almost 12! She was competing in Canine Nosework competitions (she was a NACSW Elite 2) , enjoying lots of travel, running errands with me, and of course, hiking. Together we explored the mountains for hours and hours and hours per month.

We camped together, explored forests and waterfalls in different states, had vacations together, and just did life together. She pretty much went wherever I did.  Wherever I went with Behr, people stopped me to comment on how she seemed to float gracefully when she walked. I heard words like, “majestic” “regal” “elegant”, and “beautiful” over and over. NO ONE could believe her age when I told them, including veterinarians. 

As I drove, she kept her head on her special pillow with her nose tucked between my arm and my side. Always.

AND NOW suddenly I felt very alone. No silly dog making me laugh EVERY SINGLE DAY with her joyful, silly antics.


No happy dog celebrating my arrival at the front door with zoomie runs though the house (sometimes after I only went to check the mail!) If she missed me an extra amount, I got what I called a “Blankie Welcome.”  That’s where she did zoomie runs first and then grabbed her blankie in her mouth and pranced around the house “talking” loudly with her mouth stuffed full of blanket. I have no idea what she was saying, of course. 

I miss seeing her jump up and down like a kangaroo while I fixed her dinner, and then diving face first into her bed to wipe her face when she was done. I miss her walking to the top of grassy hills and then rolling down them. Seriously. Go figure!  I miss seeing her run wildly through the hills and meadows and jumping over every single thing she could.

Behr running in OregonBehr running - framedBehr running in field - framed


I even miss her doing zoomie runs in the middle of a nosework competition and then alerting on the hides at the end…and STILL having the fastest times in events sometimes!!

Behr - nosework 1 framed text

Behr with ribbon framed

I miss seeing her magically appear at the kitchen’s edge, lying down waiting for bone broth, purple carrots, and jicama. She knew the smells of her favorite three snacks.  If I didn’t notice she was patiently waiting for a snack while I was cooking, she would bark softly to remind me she was there waiting. 

I miss her coming to get me when she was ready to go “night night.” She would get my attention, walk down the hallway to the bedroom door and then wait, looking over her shoulder at me until I came. Why? She wanted to be tucked in. If for some reason I was busy and didn’t tuck her in, she could grab her blankie and pull it up over her body and stuff the end in her mouth like a pacifier. I must have a million pictures of her doing that because I thought it was so cute.

Her sister, Sage did the same thing

Behr with blankie 1 framed

Behr with blankie 2 framedBehr with blankie 3 framed









I miss seeing her dashing through the water at the beach and asking me to throw her toy or stick over and over.

I miss watching her go to her toy box and thoughtfully taking one toy at a time out until she found “just the right one” she wanted us to play with with her. 

I miss seeing her always on top of something looking at the view…a hill, a mountain, stairs, porches, etc.  She could literally stare for hours, actively studying something in the distance. 


I miss the way she would come put her head on my arm and press harder and harder until I stopped working on the computer and played with her. 

I’ll miss her running outside to escape from the evil vacuum.

I’ll miss how she would run and jump into the bathtub and wait for her bath when she heard the word “bath.” 

I’ll miss her excitement about opening her stocking and presents on Christmas. Ugh. That’s going to be hard. 

I’ve trained lots of animals of all kinds my entire life, but Behr was MILES ahead of all of them in intelligence. She was the HAPPIEST, silliest, most playful animal I have ever owned or even met (and I’ve had a LOT) She was totally full of zeal for everything in her life. Life was just one grand adventure for Behr Behr.

So now life has come to a screeching halt in our house. No more barking, silly antics, and play. No more “blankie welcomes” and celebratory zoomie runs when I get home. The toys sit in her toy box silent and still. All is quiet.  Except for the sound of my mourning.

Everywhere I look, I see reminders of Behr. I can’t even sit on my porch and face seeing the mountains we’ve spent 12 years exploring together. I have no incentive to go for walks, much less hikes anymore. I don’t know if I can face walking alone in silence without Behr doing silly things to make me laugh. I loved the feeling of protection by her presence at my side. I suppose I’ll go eventually, but I’m not ready to face it yet.

I’ll even miss helping her write this blog, but then again, who knows? Behr Behr was always unstoppable. She just might have a way to eventually start writing as “Angel Behr.” 

I love you, Behr. I promise you, that if love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. 

Behr’s mom

P.S.- This photo was taken right before Behr suddenly couldn’t walk. You’d never know anything was wrong. She even did zoomie runs in a field right after the photo!