I have sad news. Some of you are already aware since I announced it on Facebook last week. Chelsea, my beloved Shih Tzu and canine soul mate passed away last Thursday, March 11th. She was just two days shy of her sixteenth birthday. It happened quickly and unexpectedly. It started the night before I was going in for foot surgery. I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk for a while so I took Chelsea for a stroll by the river. When we returned home I noticed she was struggling to breath and coughing. It got worse and by midnight I was at the emergency vet hospital with her. They put her into an oxygen cage. I stayed quite late and returned a few hours later to see her before I had to go in for surgery. She seemed to be doing better. After my surgery I took her home because she was managing okay without oxygen. That didn’t last long. Last Wednesday night, I watched my poor baby struggling to breath. The following morning she went back into an oxygen cage. Unfortunately, this time it wasn’t helping. I know for all those who have animals the time comes when you have to make a decision, a life or death decision. I lived in fear of making this decision, wondering how would I know when it was time for Chelsea to go.
Last Thursday, seeing her gasping for breath, Chelsea made the decision for me. I couldn’t see her in pain anymore, I couldn’t see herstruggling anymore. All I wanted to do was take her out of her misery. With tons of love, Chelsea left this world. She is the greatest gift that ever came into my life and my longest relationship. I am blessed to have had her and to have been together for so long. Chelsea taught me much about life. She showed me how to love and the importance of helping and healing others.
Fate brought her to me and I always say it was a mutual rescue. She completely changed my life and even my career. When I realized what a gift Chelsea was to me and all the others whom she met, I knew we had to make a movie together. In 2001 a few months before 9/11 and soon after moving back to New York from LA, Chelsea and I began shooting A DOG’S LIFE: A DOGAMENTARY. With a special camera we had built for her we hit the streets of New York. As life has many unexpected turns, on 9/11/01 when we were shooting our film we watched a plane go into the Twin Towers. We live only 30 blocks north of the former Trade Center. We were out on the river path as people were escaping the burning towers. It was at that point that Chelsea and I looked at each other and knew life wasn’t about us but about helping others and we threw off her doggie cam and Chelsea became a certified therapy dog. Chelsea started working with victims of 9/11 to help heal them from their loss. Four months later we started volunteering in a hospital where she took her first person out of coma. We then decided to focus our attention on people near death and volunteered for several years at the hospice center at Cabrini Hospital. This work brought amazing joy to both Chelsea and me. Chelsea was not only there for the patients but also the family members and even the staff. I am lucky to have had am amazing life and journey with Chelsea. I’m thrilled to know that she will live on in many people’s lives and memories. And am comforted that we were able to tell our story in our film. The film aired on HBO in 2005 and the DVD was released in 2006. I still continue to receive fan mail that warms my heart.
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Now comes the time to put Chelsea to rest in a place where anyone can come and visit her. I learned of a gorgeous pet cemetery founded by a veterinarian in 1898 in Hartsdale, NY. It’s just a short train ride up on Metro North from Grand Central Station to Westchester County.
Chelsea will be buried Saturday, March 27th at 2:30 PM. We will have a ceremony and it is open to the public. I welcome your attendance. If you will be coming and if you would like to say something please let me know in advance. I will also be having a memorial for Chelsea in Manhattan and we will screen A DOG’S LIFE: A DOGAMENTARY
If you are interested in updates about A Dog’s Life: A Dogamentary and anything related to Chelsea, please join our Facebook group
I always dreaded this time. Perhaps Chelsea had this planned. Unable to walk now, perhaps she didn’t want to be a burden. Also, she knew I was afraid of the surgery and she certainly got my mind off of it. I went under not giving it one thought, only worried and concerned about her. I have taken enough of your time going on here. Have a beautiful day and thank you again for all your love and support.