Posts Tagged ‘canine cancer


houston, we have a puppy

Roscoe Jones, Chief Barketing Officer at Tremendous Life Books.

Roscoe Jones, Chief Barketing Officer at Tremendous Life Books.

On June 14th, I lost my constant canine companion of thirteen years after a ten-month battle with lymphoma. I have been through a great deal of heartache and loss in my life, but this experience literally took me to my knees.

These last four weeks I experienced an outpouring of prayer that bathed, comforted, and protected me in a way only possible by the power of our loving Father. I read each of the notes, cards, posts, and tributes with an overwhelming sense of gratitude, enabling the “loss” to be turned into a tremendous time of thankfulness. All that kept going through my heart and head is that I was given such a special companion to get me through the greatest triumphs and tribulations of my life.

In honor of Mr. Blue, I began looking for a pup in his similar situation to rescue. While I completely respect those that do not want to go through a repeated loss of the love of a dog, I also had the intense awareness that my grief does not diminish the population of homeless animals and that hesitating for even one day can mean life or death.

Mr. Blue was from a large litter, born out in the country in Texas and with a glorious Basset Hound stature and soul mixed with his Australian Shepherd side. I needed another low-rider mutt in my life. The search led me to a rescue in Santa Fe, Texas: Southern Comforts Animal Rescue.

A Springer/Basset mix stray had been caught outside of Houston and had delivered eight pups on March 8th, 2014. There were four remaining males when I got to choose my “pick of the litter”. The one I was drawn to was described as the biggest, the smartest, and the most laid-back. That sounded just like my Blue boy.

Arrangements were made and two weeks later my new fourteen-week-old soul pup made the direct flight from Houston to Dulles. When I laid eyes on him I immediately burst into tears. He peered out of his transport crate and calmly looked at me with the same old wise-soul look of his predecessor. I knew at that moment the next leg of the legacy was about to begin.

I have the blessing of caring for another one of God’s creatures. I also have the blessing of continuing the legacy Mr. Blue started. Just because a physical presence is no longer with us means absolutely nothing to a child of God. I work in the world of books and many of them contain the achievements and sacrifices of those who have gone on before us, including the legacy of my father who started this company fifty years ago.

If we live in view of the eternal, the grief we suffer now is just one small iota of the glories to come. Letting that sidetrack us on our life’s journey is the only true loss in life.


Carpe Dogum

Mr. Blue gives his last speech June 12, 2014.

Mr. Blue gives his last speech June 12, 2014.

Last week was a week filled with unbelievable highs and lows. I had three very important speeches. One was just me, one with our Chief Excitement Officer (CEO) Ruby Red, and one with our Chief Motivational Hound, Mr. Blue. In the middle of the week Mr. Blue had an oncology appointment to get another chemo treatment. Unfortunately the doctor determined that his blood count was too low and postponed the treatment to the following Monday. Mr. Blue never made it to that appointment.

Determined to fill his prior speaking engagement, Mr. Blue mustered up the strength the very next day to go and share with a group of tremendous seniors at the Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries’ Cumberland Crossings Senior Living Community, sharing pawsome hound wisdom such as Stop Playing Dead and Old Dogs Must Learn New Tricks.

As the senior citizen in the group, in his 90s by human years, Mr. Blue was received with great respect and warmth by this group of seasoned humans. They understood exactly where he was coming from. They were excited about continuing to hear, learn, and think new things, just like Mr. Blue! They spent time petting and talking with my soul dog despite the fact that he was not feeling his best and couldn’t dispense his world-famous kisses.

Growing up, my father, the late, great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, told me upon crossing each milestone birthday that the current decade was far better than the previous one. And he didn’t just say it, he lived it. This is one of the main reasons that I embrace growing bolder, not older, and wiser with each passing day. After all, the more seasoning you have, the more you can flavor the earth.

Whenever someone would tell my father they had retired he would tell them “Don’t talk so stupid!” His reasoning was that if we are still on this earth, there’s a purpose we are meant to fulfill that goes way above and beyond a life lived solely for leisure.  I watched him on his hospice death bed, so frail from the ravages of cancer, yet scribbling notes for me to send to people and calling for friends to come and read to him. You see, we are all terminal, and if that doesn’t amp up your urgency to live life to the fullest, your spirit is already dead. We ought to go to our graves like prunes: spent, wrinkled, and shriveled.

So as I came down from the high of three amazing speeches, I ended the week with Mr. Blue taking a very pronounced and rapid turn for the worse. Friday night his legs gave out and by Saturday morning his breathing was labored and his awareness gone. And just like my father had done over five years ago, Mr. Blue finished the race strong, right up to the last minute. I held him in my arms for one last kiss, and he dispensed four of his powerful licks as if to say, “Thank you for finishing this with me!” before slipping away.

My father always told me he wanted to pass to Heaven while he was on the stage speaking. While the setting was different—a hospice bed and a cancer-ravaged shell of a body instead of a stage with a physical presence larger than life—what he was doing was not. He shared and enriched the lives of others right up to his last breath. And I am humbled and thankful, and not in the least bit surprised, that his granddog would triumphantly bound onto the other side just as victorious!

Carpe Diem; Carpe Dogum. Drink deeply from the water bowl of life right up until your last pant!


heavenly hound goes home

In memory of a once in a lifetime companion  Mr. Blue April 1st, 2001 - June 14th, 2014

In memory of a once in a lifetime companion
Mr. Blue April 1st, 2001 – June 14th, 2014

Mr. Blue triumphantly crossed the Rainbow Bridge after a ten month fight with lymphoma. Mr. Blue was born in a field somewhere in Austin, Texas in April 2001. A dog about the world, Mr. Blue also claimed Saint Louis, MO and Boiling Springs, PA as his homes. He was one of 11 puppies and found his soul mom when he was just five weeks old.

A self blue merle, Mr. Blue was an Australian Shepherd Basset mix who exhibited the best of both breeds. He was active and alert, yet soulful and reflective. Mr. Blue had a distinctive swagger and many people commented that they didn’t know if he was cuter coming or going.

Mr. Blue honed his social skills by running the fields of Dogs Boys Dog Ranch in Austin, TX. He never met a stranger, except for that one dog that bit him on the nose his first day of doggie daycare. Always the kind heart, Mr. Blue immediately forgave him and did not let this influence his outlook on life.

Full of hound wisdom and eager to share Mr. Blue went on to paw two literary masterpieces, True Blue Leadership: Top 10 Tricks From the Chief Motivational Hound and From Underdog to Wonderdog: Top Ten Ways to Lead Your Pack. 

Not only a best smelling pawthor, he spoke to thousands of kids in elementary schools encouraging them to always be kind, respectful , thankful and continuous learners. It is estimated that the number of licks he freely dispensed was in the hundreds of thousands, and by some estimates, in the millions.

Mr. Blue also spoke to hundreds of adults in various settings encouraging them to be True Blue Leader he knew they could. He was awarded an honorary dogtorate of canine letters from Central Penn College in September of 2012.

A tireless supporter of rescues and fosters, Mr. Blue worked hard to raise awareness and funds for many tremendous groups in hopes other animals could find their furever homes and have a pawsitive life. Mr. Blue also had a soft spot for cats and other dogs and freely opened up his home to numerous other rescues after being an only child for ten years.

As the Chief Motivational Hound at Tremendous Life Books, Mr. Blue led the way in changing the world one book, and one bark at a time. We are honored and humbled to carry on the legacy he started.

Mr. Blue is survived by his mother, Tracey Jones, dog siblings, Ruby Red and Indigo, and cat siblings, Prince William of Orange, Willow, Rain and Maxwell Maltz.

His gentle, velvet paw, leadership and unconditional love have left a mark on many lives and will be remembered in the years to come. He ran this race with a giving heart and finished strong. May we all be the True Blue Leaders and Wonderdogs he inspired us to be! We love and miss you Mr. Blue and thank God for giving you to us!


You Can’t Keep A Good Dog Down

Good DogThis past week I faced one of the greatest challenges I have ever had to deal with. My soul dog, Mr. Blue, has battled lymphoma for the past nine months and, for the third time, he is out of remission. The doctor said he wasn’t strong enough to begin his fourth drug protocol and sent him home for three days with steroids to get his strength up. It didn’t help. His platelets were too low and he was still in an anemic state. In a private room, the doctor told me that Mr. Blue was too weak and tired to continue treatment and was likely to go downhill fast. He advised me to spend the next few days with him and prepare to make every dog owner’s worst decision. Sobbing, I looked at my sweet boy and agreed. Mr. Blue was tired the disease was obviously taking its toll.

Somehow I made the 90-mile drive back home. I called work and asked them to notify Peaceful Pet Passage for an at-home euthanasia on Wednesday at 3 pm knowing full well that I couldn’t make the arrangements myself without losing it. I cleared my schedule for the next two days. That night was filled with the most painful emotions I’ve ever felt. One moment I would relish the life Blue and I had lived together and the next I would fall into overwhelming despair trying to fathom how I would go on without him. Mr. Blue has been my constant companion for thirteen years, ever since the day I picked him up as an abandoned five-week-old pup. I tried not to cry as I was sure that Mr. Blue could sense my grief.

That night I posted the news on Facebook to the thousands of people and animals touched by Mr. Blue over the years. Many have followed his journey from the start and were pulling for him, just as distraught as I was. The following day began a long and beautifully touching succession of visits, texts, calls, and messages as people offered their support and prayers.

That same day Mr. Blue also began a miraculous turnaround. He ate breakfast. He ate a second breakfast. He ran around the house as people came to see him. He ate lunch. He played with his toys. He was alert and he probably gave me close to a thousand strong kisses. Earlier I had asked God to just keep him comfortable and happy on that final day so I could always cherish the memory. I really thought this was his final rally before we said goodbye.

That night, Mr. Blue came even more alive. At dinner time he ate another plate of food, and then another. He even had treats before he went to bed. I was perplexed. I have never lost a dog before but I have always been told that I will know when it’s time to say goodbye. I couldn’t shake the growing feeling that this was not his time.

Mr. Blue was out of remission and the clock was ticking, but was this his time? I went to bed and prayed for discernment, for some kind of sign. I also made one last decision. I wrote his obituary earlier that day, trying to keep myself sane and occupied as the hours ticked by. I reopened the document and deleted the date: May 21st, 2014.

When I awakened the next morning morning Mr. Blue was already downstairs in the kitchen with the other dogs waiting for his breakfast. This wasn’t just a last-minute rally; Mr. Blue was back! I couldn’t go through with the euthanasia when he was in such high spirits.

I called the oncologist to see if there was any way they could immediately reevaluate Mr. Blue’s condition. I felt certain that if Blue had been this way 48 hours earlier, he would have been able to get his chemo. I just had to know what Blue was telling me. The clinic squeezed him in although they said his condition was grave and they were not optimistic.

Peaceful Pet Passage was fine with the cancelation (they said this happens all the time and were very supportive) and we made the long trek back to the clinic. Mr. Blue was a different dog when he walked through that door. He had his spunk back. His blood work and white blood cell count were good, but his platelets were still low. There were two options: go with the chemo which, in his current state, could kill him; or decline the chemo and make him as comfortable as possible until the end. I went with option one. We were not going to lose the battle to cancer unless we had exhausted every opportunity.

Mr. Blue received his chemo and we began the journey home. I immediately let his legion of adoring fans know the good news and they rejoiced! I felt a tremendous peace knowing that, with this chemo, we had truly done everything we could and the rest is in God’s hands. And while we are definitely not out of the woods, today was another great day for him at work as people came by to see the miracle mutt. He even had a big dinner with an Angus burger for desert. Next Wednesday we’ll know if Mr. Blue is back in remission. Until then, we keep our paws crossed and we stay prayed up.

This roller coaster of a week reinforced three critical life lessons for me:

1)      Trust your heart and trust your gut. If the timing of something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Wait. Take time for quiet reflection and pray for discernment.

2)      It ain’t over til it’s over. As Helen Keller said, “All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” You’ll know when it’s time to say goodbye or to let something or someone go. Until then, keep overcoming. Keep fighting.

3)      The power of prayer and pawsitivity. My life is a testament to the power of prayer and of God’s continuous unfolding of His tremendous plan for me. To see that He included my best four-legged companion in these plans takes our relationship to a whole new level! And why not? He knows even when the sparrow falls.

So remember, if you’re going through some ruff stuff, keep the faith! In the end it’ll be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but this divine canine has taught me to live in the moment and I am furever grateful for each and every moment that we share.


50 Shades of Blue

50-Shades-of-Blue (1)In celebration of a life well lived, I paws to recognize one the greatest influences in my life, Mr. Blue. Mr. Blue is my soul dog, my once-in-a-lifetime dog, the companion who has stayed faithfully by my side through the tumulus last thirteen years.

People often mourn the death of a pet with great intensity, and they feel a bit strange about it, as if an animal is unworthy of such emotion.  I only saw my father cry twice in his life and one of those times was when he had to put his German Shepherd, Jessie, to sleep.

The reason we mourn the deaths of our pets so deeply is real, and is not to be discarded lightly. The love of an animal is unconditional. There are no bad times. When we lose humans, it is a mixture of sadness and, let’s be real, relief. That’s because there are good times and there are bad times. Not so with a soul dog. There are only good times which make it infinitely harder to let go.

The love of a dog is so rich, so real, so all-encompassing that it takes us to a divine level. Now I do not mean to deify or suggest that a dog is a substitute for a human or for faith, but I have come across countless humans who have told me stories of how their dog got them through the death of spouse, a divorce, or some other tragic circumstance.

Mr. Blue is one of those furever companions. He has brought such richness to my life that it is hard to even formulate the words to describe it. Those of you who have met him know what I’m talking about.

In August of last year, when Mr. Blue was twelve years old, he was diagnosed with lymphoma.  I was absolutely devastated.  We immediately embarked upon a sixteen-treatment chemotherapy plan. Mr. Blue went into remission immediately and things looked bright until his sixteenth treatment when he relapsed.

I’ve been through divorce, the death of a parent, and war (twice), and I can say this is the most devastated I’ve been. The oncologist moved him onto his second regimen of drug protocols and within a week Mr. Blue was back in remission.

He is doing remarkably well. He knows what I am doing for him. He has regained weight and is spunky and snarky, almost puppy-like. And as long as he has this quality of life we will continue on this journey. Every night I thank God for another day with Mr. Blue.

This experience has placed me in a state of thankfulness for the here-and-now, something I was sorely lacking in my life. In celebration of a life well lived and in the transformative power of a dog’s love, I invite you to join us in a special time of sharing on April 7th in the Charlie “T” Jones Conference Center where we’ll celebrate Mr. Blue’s life and continuing legacy!

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

Join Me On:

July 2020

%d bloggers like this: