Welcome to Chloe Costa-Strachan's Rainbow Bridge Memorial Residency
Chloe Costa-Strachan's Rainbow Bridge Pet Loss Memorial Residency Image
Memories of Chloe Costa-Strachan
Chloe Costa
May 1, 1991 -- January 25, 2007
In Loving Memory

It was shortly after 9/11 that I decided to get a dog. I was single, living alone and feeling that life was very fragile and short. Early in October 2001 on a sunny Saturday morning, I noticed an ad in the paper for a Pet Adoption Day being held at The Dapper Dog in Nyack, New York. I went with the intention of "just looking." I came home with Chloe. Chloe was a tiny (10 lb.) brown Cockapoo that no one wanted to adopt because she was "too old" (10 1/2 at the time). They put Chloe in my arms & we both left there & never looked back. And so I became a "mommy" ...

As a "mommy", the first thing I did was take Chloe home and give her a bath. The second thing I did was schedule an appointment with Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Cerf was recommended to me by a colleague at Avon who had heard he was an excellent vet. Having recently moved from Philadelphia & not knowing the area, I took my colleague's advice. It was the best advice I ever got.

As a Senior Citizen, Chloe's health was not always good but the care given by RVH was outstanding. We spent many Saturdays at RVH for various ailments, some minor, some more major. The big blow came on July 22, 2004 at 7 PM when, at the age of 13, Chloe was diagnosed with transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) of the bladder. TCC is a serious, deadly cancer with a prognosis of 3 months or less. I was heartbroken & feared the end. Instead, what began was a nearly 3 year journey with Dr. Cerf and Chloe, battling the cancer side-by-side, while I could only stand by in the wings praying...

Dr. Cerf is one of the most unusual vet's you will ever meet. A phenomenal surgeon, he is also an eternally optimistic, well-read, compassionate scientist who refuses to accept the "status quo". No veterinary battle is too daunting for Dr. Cerf...no pet is "too old" to try to help. And so on July 27th of 2004, Dr. Cerf performed one of the first laser surgeries to treat Chloe's bladder cancer. Because of her small size, necessity dictated he purchase & use a custom-made laser, something which had never been done before. These small stumbling blocks did not deter Dr. Cerf. He put Chloe through a rigorous round of tests to ascertain her ability to handle the anesthesia of the painstakingly long diode-laser surgery, which typically takes 5 hours or more to perform because of its intricacies. I can still remember Dr. Cerf's triumphant phone call to me at my office as soon as he left the operating room...to tell me that he had successfully "debulked" the tumor, which was dangerously close to the critical trigone region of the bladder. Not only had Chloe survived, but less than two hours after surgery she was up & running around like a new dog!

After long discussions, worried that her fragile system could not handle it, I opted to forgo traditional chemotherapy because of Chloe's age and health. Dr. Cerf recommended COX-2 inhibiting drugs to help control the tumor. These were administered for a while before adversely affecting Chloe's digestive system at which point we needed to stop the COX-2 treatment. Instead, I supplemented Chloe with omega fatty acids, vitamin E and CoQ10. After having an MRI at another facility on September 20th 2004, Chloe spent an entire week (Sept 21rst to Sept 25th ) in the intensive care unit at Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital when we nearly lost her to a problem with hypoglycemia, a condition sometimes afflicting small dogs. Dr. Cerf saved her again, although at the beginning of that week her survival was doubtful. On November 9th, 2004 Dr. Cerf performed yet another successful surgery to remove Chloe's spleen, which had developed a very large hemangioma (unrelated to the bladder cancer). Thankfully, Chloe went over a year from the first surgery in July 2004 with no other symptoms of cancer. Then in November of 2005, Chloe underwent a second 5 hour plus laser surgery on the bladder, after ultrasound showed the TCC tumor to have grown again. A second triumphant phone call from Dr. Cerf. ensued & my spirits soared hearing that he had, yet again, successfully debulked the tumor. Chloe once again went another year without any complications from the cancer. Chloe was scheduled for a 3rd bladder surgery on January 16, 2007...but my baby never made it. In the end, no matter how hard we may try, we can't fight the mortality associated with old age. Chloe's kidneys, liver, pancreas and other systems just began to shut down...but not before she had seen me through three job changes, a marriage to my wonderful husband Jim and a move from Valley Cottage to New City, New York...

To me, the end came suddenly & it was not from the enemy we had been fighting all along. The days of Jan. 16-25, 2007 were not easy ones. There was a point where we thought Chloe would turn the corner, but it was not to be. Through the agonizing week of treatment to stabilize her, what I most remember is a phone call with Dr. Cerf on Jan. 22nd while I was stuck in traffic on the Palisades Parkway at 8:30 AM, physically on my way to work while mentally & emotionally I was really with Chloe at RVH...His words, "We've been through a lot with Chloe and she has come through many times---even when we worried she might not. She is comfortable & in no pain, so we have the luxury of being able to treat her at this point, to see if she will come out of this. Yes, that may change. If she starts feeling pain, the game is over because we would not want to have her suffer. I don't know if she will come out of this. What I do know is that I want us to be able to say down the road, hopefully much later rather than sooner, that whatever happens...we did everything we possibly could for Chloe, that we have no regrets..."

To Our Vet: Dr. Cerf, I have no regrets. On behalf of myself & my husband Jim, God Bless you & your staff for everything you have done for Chloe. Many special thanks to Kathy Wyder, RVH's Senior Veterinary Technician but really Chloe's "second mommy". It was Kathy who held Chloe & comforted her (and me) & stood by her throughout all her surgeries. It was Kathy who gently set the stage for the last good-bye and helped us to understand we were making the right decision...Thanks to Drs. Echols & Beck, who treated Chloe with care during the early days of the last battle. Thanks to the understanding staff in reception, who answered our numerous phone calls with respect. Thanks to Joan D'Angelo, RVH's Hospital Coordinator, for the endless conversation, coffee and hugs. Last but not least, a special thanks to Dr. Joanne Healey for her quiet professionalism, expertise and compassion. Dr. Healey came to know Chloe at the end of all her battles, but I know in my heart, as Chloe tried to fight alongside Dr. Healey in the last hours, that Chloe recognized Dr. Healey's help and loved her for the wonderful care she gave. Thanks to Dr. Raymond Foust III, who was there with us to say good-bye. Ray, your "Special Girl" Chloe loved you very much for all the times you baby-sat her & for all the love you always gave her...

To my little fur baby Chloe, your Mommy misses you so much...she is heart-broken now that you are gone. The world seems so empty...I can only hope that you are running in the sunshine at the Rainbow Bridge, I hope you got to meet Bart, Sergio, Clarice, Harry, Hermie, Humphrey, BoBo, Claus, Karl, John Lennon & George Harrison, Aggie Bunt & Wee Bobby & Nanny & Dziadzia & Grandma & Grandpa...I hope you are happy now that you can hear & see again. I am glad that the cancer is gone & that you have no more pain...I promise when I come to see you, that I will bring you your favorite chicken cutlets...have fun, run & be happy little one...you are in a better place...Mommy loves you always...

Karen Anne
January 26, 2007

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?

I must be strong
And carry on,
'Cause I know I don't belong
Here in heaven.

Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?

I'll find my way
Through night and day,
'Cause I know I just can't stay
Here in heaven.

Time can bring you down,
Time can bend your knees.
Time can break your heart,
Have you begging please, begging please.

Beyond the door,
There's peace I'm sure,
And I know there'll be no more
Tears in heaven.

More memories of Chloe...

Hello, little one. Mommy is really missing you. So many kind people signed your guestbook...you are still spreading love even though you are on the other side of Heaven...

I was remembering the times when we all went down to Philadelphia at the Fourth of July & we stayed at the posh Warwick Hotel (because they allowed pets!). You didn't mind that Peter Frampton was the guest entertainer & you didn't mind the noise, but you sure did bark when you saw the fireworks going off! The first year we went, you were not wearing your little diapers...but you did have a wee accident outside near Rittenhouse Square with Jim...& you horrified a visitor from the South named Charlene when you accidentally went pee on the sidewalk! (Charlene's boyfriend claimed you were dehydrated but he didn't know what he was talking about..) Besides, you couldn't hold it anymore! And then walking back to our hotel, those folks on the front porch said, "You brought your dog all the way from New York! Cool!"

The second year we went to the Warwick you had your little diaper on & everyone was staring but you didn't care! We weren't going to let a little transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder stop us! Anyway, the hotel staff thought it was so cute! They wanted to know where I bought the diapers...but we both knew that they were Huggie's Overnights Size 4 with holes cut out for your tail! Ha!

Yes, we went everywhere together...Remember when we went to Hershey Park that summer with Jim & Chris? We stopped at a rest stop & had Burger King & you had the best table manners of anyone there!

Remember when you & I took went to the First Annual John Wetton Fan Convention in 2002 in Allentown, PA? People said I was crazy but we went on a road trip together anyway. You weren't born when Asia was around but your "groupie" mommy just had to go hear John sing! And boy didn't we have fun! You were the only doggy there & we got our picture taken with both John Wetton & John Young! I will never forget that! Even when John was autographing his biography for me & you were in my arms & he laughed: "A dog? Who let a bloody dog in here?!" P.S. John, Chloe was a big fan of yours, too & the hotel was pet-friendly!

Remember how you used to sit on the couch with Jim & beg for Cape Cod Potato Chips? Or how you hated to sit on anyone's lap except Chris' when we rode in the car?
How about the times you & I used to go hang with Darien at Judy's house & order food from Il Palazzo? You never gave Judy a hard time for driving away without the food after we had already paid the bill although your mommy couldn't resist poking fun!

How about when you stayed with Ray in Manhattan & he took you to the park & you pretended you were a true Manhattanite! Or the times when it got so snowy in the winter that I bought you boots but you hated them & we ended up only using them once! Or the times when it rained & I put on your raincoat. Or when it was cold & I used to dress you up in two sweaters..Or the time I took you to class when I had to teach...

So many beautiful memories, little girl...

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.
Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me.
Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can't I?
If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?

March 25, 2007
Dear Angel Girl, It has been 2 months since you left us on January 25th at about 6:10 PM. You are missed so much words cannot say. I was told that when I least expected it, I would see a sign from you. I was feeling so particularly bad on Saturday, but I got an unexpected note from a wonderful woman who had read your tribute. Then today on a drive I looked up in the sky & saw, of all things,at 6:10 P.M. a rainbow. There was no logical reason for this rainbow, because it had not been raining. In fact, it was bright sunshine & there was only this one little rainbow & it looked like a little door that was leading to a place beyond the clouds. At the same time, the Beatles were singing "P.S. I Love You." Now, I know that you have sent me a sign & that you are safe at the Rainbow Bridge. Thank you. P.S. I will love you forever, too. Mommy

September 27, 2007
"If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven..." James Thurber
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go...i fear no fate...i want no world...and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant...and whatever a sun will always sing is you...here is the deepest secret nobody knows...here is...the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart...i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart) e. e. cummings

December 19, 2007
"A dog is God's way of proving He doesn't want us to walk alone..."

Dear Angel Girl, I am heart-broken that you will not be with us this year. This is our first Christmas without you. But I know that you are with the other little Angels & I pray that you are happy & running in the sunshine...

"Gone yet not forgotten, although we are apart, God has you in his keeping, I have you in my heart..."

December 25, 2007
Merry Christmas, my beloved Little Angel Girl...you are loved & missed more than words can say...

January 25, 2008
Dear Angel Girl,
Last year at this time I was home sick. You kept me company all day long. Little did I know that in a week, I was to lose you...

On your one-year anniversary at the Rainbow Bridge, I send you my love & hold on strong to all the memories that we made together.

Remember how much you hated cars & used to chase them? This song by Snow Patrol was playing on the last day we spent together before you got very sick. I dedicate this song to you now & send all my love to you. Until we meet again...
I don't quite know
How to say
How I feel

Those three words
Are said too much
They're not enough

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we're told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that's bursting into life

Let's waste time
Chasing cars
Around our heads

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own

All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes, they're all I can see

I don't know where
Confused about how as well
Just know that these things will never change for us at all...

March 19, 2008
Dear Angel Girl: I just wanted to say that you are missed so very much every day. I carry you in my heart always. You are loved & missed. Love, Your Mommy

January 25, 2009
Dear Angel Girl: It is two years ago today that you left me to go to the Bridge. My heart is as broken now as it was then. I do not want to remember the day you left me but it is imprinted on my heart forever. After you had gone, I felt cold & empty inside. I could not believe you had to leave, because for a short while I thought you were getting better. I will remember you in happier days, when we traveled together to the concert (you & me against the world), your little red tee-shirt, our walks around the complex on those clear but cold snowy nights...cooking your favorite chicken cutlets in our little kitchen in 966...those are the times I will remember with a smile. I carry you in my heart always. You are loved more than words can say. I often see you in little Wolfie's eyes & swear that you have come back to me somehow through him. He looks so much like you, his paperwork had your exact birthday on it & he was diagnosed with transitional cell carcinoma nearly 3 years to the day that you were. Look down upon us with smiles & help me to feel you by my side. You will be in my heart forever & there will not be a day that goes by that I will not miss you fiercely. All my love, until I can see you again someday...in the sunshine where there is no pain & suffering, no anxiety or depression, no worries or heartache...Love always & forever, Your Mommy.

January 25, 2010
Dear Angel Girl: Wolfie joined you on December 17, 2009. I know you are both together. Today is three years ago that you left to go to the Bridge. Now you are with Wolfie, who was only here such a short time. I know you will keep him company. He is a funny little guy, as your may have already found out. He does love the ladies so I am sure he is being a very good companion to you. You are the only one who has gotten to see him with his hair back! May God keep you both safe...and may the angels hold you both close in their arms...until I am with you both again. Until then, know that you are loved every day...and carried in my heart always...All my Love, Your Mommy

February 14, 2010
Dear Angel Girl, Happy Valentine's Day from your mommy. I miss you so very much. I hope that you are with Wolfie & that you are keeping each other company, until the day that I see you both again. Know that you are loved & missed...and there is not a day that goes by that you are not thought of. I carry you in my heart always. All my love, Your Mommy

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