In Loving Memory of


25th April 1998 to 29th May 2008

Jenny and Ed McCune's Dharma

Shared and cherished for the last six months with Vicky and Harry Whitney, and Major, Lacey, and Smooch.


It started with the words "If there's anything I can do to help, please let me know."

I was visiting Jenny McCune a day after her cycling accident, and they were about to take her for more tests on her spinal cord. To make a long story short, a few months later we took Dharma until Ed could find suitable housing where he could have dogs. So it started out as an offer to help someone else . . . little did we know what a gift this was to be to us, to have Dharma a part of our family.

Poor thing had had a very rough few months, and then to end up in yet another strange home, and this time without her brother and sister. She's all alone with these strange people and their strange pack of Berners -- three pushy, active, noisey, BOUNCY gorillas in Berner suits.

Harry, quite frankly, had not been happy about her coming back to us after her Christmas flight to Florida with Ed to visit Jenny (they had hoped Jenny's cousin would allow Dharma to stay -- nope). Horrified, I asked him how he could feel that way -- how could you not want Dharma back? He broke down and choked out the words "I don't want her to die here." We'd lost our Maddie only a year before, and Dharma was so much like her. In the three weeks she'd been here before Christmas, Harry had already started to fall for her, and he didn't think he could bear the pain of loving and then losing another sweet girl. But he swallowed that fear, and greeted her with open arms.

*Maddie's Tribute Page here*

Dharma quietly pined for her real home and people for a couple of months, never moving far from where she last saw her dad go out the door, leaving her behind. She was probably thinking "Good food, nice attention, fun walks and romps with the others, but they'll come for me any time now and we can go home."

Until April, I hadn't realized there had been a change. We had to make an emergency trip to Denver and left the dogs with our house/dog sitter. Upon returning four days later, Dharma turned herself inside out greeting us! SHE MISSED US!!! She barked and danced and greeted us with genuine love in her eyes. "You're home, you're home!!! I missed you! Thank goodness you're HOME!"

Oh my gosh, she loves us -- she considers this HOME now . . . And every day from then on, she greeted our return from work just like the others, with genuine glee and joy. She ventured away from her vigil at the door, came to us for snuggles and pizza crusts, snoozed near our feet with the others. We no longer had to keep her on a long Flexilead on walks, expecting her to take off for "home." Ed was making no progress on finding another home, and we just kind of slid into forgetting Dharma was ever going to leave us.

And then two weeks ago today, she had an "episode" -- she just sort of stiffened and looked odd for a few seconds. But then she was up and asking for a butt scratch, so Harry thought he'd been seeing things. Two days later, I saw the same thing. And the next day, we knew she was in trouble. These were some type of seizures, and they were coming frequently now. Then she declined breakfast on Sunday. Icicles stabbed our hearts -- big trouble.

After a horrid week of rapid decline with nothing working to fix or make her better, whispered messages from Jenny and Ed about love and it was okay to go if she needed to, she decided yesterday morning it was time. She asked Harry at about 4 AM to go outside, and immediately collapsed on the cold cement walkway. Harry couldn't convince her to go on out in the yard to pee, so he went inside to do that for her. He came back to encourage her to try again, knelt down to stroke her head and tell her it was okay, and she managed to raise her head to look at him, thumped her tail one last time, sighed deeply, and left us.

Dharma didn't leave behind any legacies, no titles or awards or puppies, but she left pieces of her beautiful heart in all of ours, to replace the pieces of ours that she took with her. Nobody remembers her registered name, or where her "papers" are, just that she had come from Elke Adair and that Elke still kept in touch with them, cared very much about this puppy she had placed in their care. But she had a great life, was so well loved by so many of us, and gave so much just by her sweet, quiet presence in our lives. What a surprising gift she's been to us! Geeze, you start out to help someone else and you're given the greater gift.

Please keep Jenny and Ed in your thoughts -- this has been so much harder on them than it has been on us. Jenny is hoping to come back home this summer -- she's out of a wheelchair and walking now and is working very hard to rebuild her life. Losing Dharma from a distance, not being able to be there to help her baby through this, has focused on how much she's lost. It really puts life into perspective, how quickly things can change, so take a moment, look into those furry brown-eyed faces, breathe them in, and freeze that moment.

Another diamond in the sky now . . . sweet Dharma.

Vicky Whitney in Bozeman, Montana

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