The Carmen Bucket List


Photo by Lindsay Coulter


How do you start a blog about your dying dog? Grim topic I know, but I wanted to open up and share about our experience and how we are staying optimistic. As many of you know, my 10 year old dog Carmen has been diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive blood cancer and I wanted to shed light on how we are choosing to live with it.

Did you know that 50% of dogs over the age of 10 are diagnosed with cancer? Depressing statistic when you think about it, but the reality is our dogs don’t live as long as we wish and hope for. We know this when we sign up for dog ownership, but when the time comes for us to say goodbye to our companions it is the worst day of our entire lives. So, you can only imagine the fear and sadness that struck me when we were told Carmen has cancer and we may only have a little bit of time left with her.

Of course I cried. I cried a lot. I held her and comforted her. Actually, she was the one who comforted me. And then, after a few very depressing days, I made a decision. I decided that for Carmen’s sake I would make the most of every day we had left together. We chose to be happy, even if it was just for a short time with her. To embrace each and every moment. To laugh at the silly things, show gratitude and to cuddle…a lot! Sure I still cry. I’m not trying to live in denial and forget that death is coming. I’m just trying to choose happiness over sadness. To, at the very least, practice gratitude for the time I do have with my best friend and create happy memories and not sad ones. Carmen doesn’t act sad, so why should I. Every day she wakes up happy for the day and ready for whatever it may bring. Just another lesson I’ve learned from this special girl. Resilience is strength and optimism rolled in one. Carmen is a trooper, so for her I’ll stay strong.

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Never be complacent

I have a simple goal these days and that is to never be too comfortable in life. If we are complacent we loose sight of the things we want in life and stop growing as individuals. It is important to push ourselves. To achieve more than we ever thought possible. To work hard and grow a little every day. This is something I have learned from my dog. Every morning Carmen wakes up with her tail wagging, happy and ready to embrace any challenge that comes her way. I have embraced this very mentality in my own life thanks to her. I strive to never take a second for granted and I am so grateful to have learned this lesson at a young age.

Liz & Carmen June 1, 2010

Liz & Carmen June 1, 2010

When I was 24 years old I adopted (not rescued) a three legged dog from Mexico and this weekend marks our 4th year anniversary. June 1st of 2010, I met Carmen and my whole life changed for the better. I thought I was on the right track with going back to school for a second degree but realized quickly that I was unhappy and it wasn’t for me. Scared and a little unsure, I decided to follow my heart and made a very difficult but amazing decision. I dropped out of school, something I never thought I would do, moved to a new city and opened a dog daycare. This new challenge was fuelled by a passion for dogs and influenced by my very own Carmen. I had no idea how successful this endeavour would be, but I had a strong sense that deep down I was doing the right thing.

The Dog Haus June 2011

This crazy new experience taught me so much about myself and just how much I had to offer the world. It also reinforced the notion that when you really push yourself to do something great, two things happen, you become stronger and you influence others around you. By me opening a daycare I have motivated others to change their owns lives. Quitting school and doing something for myself made me and those around me, realize that we are in control of own destinies. If I am unhappy, I have the power to make change for the better.

Perfectly timed to help us celebrate our anniversary together, this week Carmen and I are taking a fantastic, once in a life-time opportunity to invest in ourselves by endeavouring to learn new things and strengthening our bond even further. We are fortunate enough to get to work with the best of the best in the dog biz, Cesar Millan. We will be travelling all the way to California to participate in a five day course at the Cesar Millan Dog Psychology Centre in Santa Clarita. This course, taught by Cesar Milan himself, focuses on the fundamentals of building a balanced relationship between dog and owner, addressing problem behaviours and achieving a calm submissive state. Carmen and I have never been so ready to take on this new challenge and begin the next chapter in our life together.

I would love for you all to join us on this adventure! I will be blogging about it here on as I go to keep you all in the loop of what we are learning and how things are going. Be sure to stay tuned!

I know I will learn so much more about dog behaviour on this journey but also more about myself and Carmen, and I can’t wait to share it with you all. I am excited to once again push myself to a new level and accept the new challenge in front of me. This an opportunity that not many get, so I will be sure to take full advantage just like Carmen has taught me. Thanks so much for following me so far and check back for new information from The Dog Psychology Center soon.