Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Two Lives; One Soul


This past weekend Atticus, Will, and me sat out in the Adirondack chairs sharing twilight with the bats and fireflies and looked to the southwest just above the trees.  It was warm but comfortable and the bugs let us be.  Will sat upright on my lap and when the first starburst of fireworks exploded it lit up the sky and his face, and the clouds in his eyes were replaced by wonder.   Atticus had the other chair to himself, his sore left paw dangling over the edge.  For a change he and I were looking up at the show and not down from South Doublehead.  From time to time he looked over at me and I wondered if he knew things were different this year.

For fifteen minutes we watched fire in the sky and by the time the grand finale began Will was asleep, his head against my chest.  When the smoke and traffic eventually cleared I plugged my iPhone into a small wooden speaker and a mix of music nicely accompanied Will’s snores, filling the night with sweet serenity. 

Atticus and I sat, we listened, we watched and slowly bashful stars came out and said “Hello”.  So did an owl that swooped just overhead and landed on the small tree closer to the house.  “Hoot. Hoot.”  Atticus and he watched each other.  Then my friend turned to me and looked down at safe and snug sleeping Will.  He sat up, put his front paws on the arm of the chair, and he gazed deep into my eyes.

“Okay, just a minute.  Here, hop down, please” I told Atti, as I transferred Will to the other chair.  I swaddled him in his blanket, he dropped his head back into his dreams, and I picked Atti up and he sat on my lap.

He sat upright for a bit, then craned his head back and we both looked up at the heavenly firmament.  Soon his head dropped down next to mine and he tucked it under my chin.  He wasn’t tired; he just wanted to be close. 

Songs came and went, stars glistened, the owl hooted, Will snored, and Atticus and I sat like he did the first day I picked him up at the airport – a five pound puppy, frightened but safe, his head tucked under my chin. 

I don’t know why, but I started to cry.  They weren’t sad tears for they carried memories, joy, love, and a life built together.  The tears left and night and the stars wore on and we were content to be together.  Always together. 

I know this is how it will be when Will leaves, just as it was when we said goodbye to Newburyport.  It will be Tom and Atticus, Atticus and Tom.  Two lives, one soul. 

I said prayers; some aloud, some silent, but the greatest prayer of all was felt as his heart beat close to mine.  So many mountains.  So many years.  So much life.  We own the greatest gift – a life shared completely.  From the very beginning we belonged to each other, surrendered so that two became one, and our destinies were at once intertwined.   

“Thank you,” I said and kissed him on his head.  I carried him inside with his sore foot and went back for Will. 

That night with Will happily tucked in his bed right next to ours as close as he can get to me on the floor, Atticus did the same thing on the bed.  He pushed his back against my chest, his head under my chin for the second time that night, and I draped my arm over him and he pushed in even tighter.  Seven hours later we all woke up just as we’d fallen asleep. 

When Atticus has something to say he does it with his eyes.  That morning when I got up he watched me closely. Not sad nor worried nor complaining about his paw.  He simply watched and I knew he had something to say. I sat down next to him and ruffled his ears.  “What?  What have you got to say?” 

There were no words, of course, but we looked at each other as we did the night before, as we’ve done thousands of times in a decade and a year.  Our own unspoken language belongs solely to us.  It is a dance between friends, laced with understanding and comfort and trust.  I watched him and I knew what he was saying so I spoke the words out loud. “Something’s coming.  A new adventure?”
  
There was a slight nod of acknowledgment. 

I can remember when those nods first started.  It was during that first winter we tried to do the two rounds of the four thousand footers that we began to “talk” in this way.  Through eighty-one mountains and hundreds of miles and being alone in the cold and the morning and night with everything else a world away, the closest love developed, a wordless intimacy spoken between species.  I told my friends he’d developed a habit, picked up from me, I suppose.  Alone on a day when hiking fifteen or twenty or twenty-five miles in ten degrees across snowy mountains I had no need for words.  Our eyes did the talking for us.  On occasion, when it was time to leave a summit I’d look at him and toss my head as you would to a friend across a crowded party, telling him it’s time to leave. 

Toward the end of that mysterious marathon of a winter I was not the only one doing it.  When we returned to the old life we knew in Newburyport he did it all the more often.  Perhaps he was telling me it was time to go back home to where we belonged in the mountains.

My friends thought I was crazy – “dog crazy” – until one, Paul Abruzzi, saw him do it in Jabberwocky Bookshop. 

“What was that?” Paul asked.  He’d known Atticus for years and had grown used to his mannerisms but this was nothing he'd seen before. 

“What?” I said.

“It looks like he was telling you ‘let’s go’.” 

“He was.”

Once this winter when MRW was with us, I said to him, “Okay, go ahead, get a drink if you want.”  He looked at us as if to excuse himself, because we were all sitting together, and he hopped lightly down, drank, and came back up and squeezed in between us. 

“How did you know he was thirsty?” she asked.

“He told me.”

Such is the enchantment between the closest of friends.  Two lives, one soul. 

So when I tell you something’s coming I know what I’m talking about because Atticus knows. (If you’ve read our book you may remember he did it right after we came off of Mount Washington and were on our way to Mount Monroe during that winter of eighty-one peaks and again sitting on the rocks on Plum Island the first day of spring just before he went blind and he faced the cancer scare with his hyperthyroidism.)

This morning Atti’s limp was worse.  His paw more painful to the touch.  By ten it was bleeding and swollen.  I brought him to Northcountry Animal Hospital.  X-rays were taken, blood was drawn, more x-rays were taken.  When Jennifer and Joy had him in the x-ray room the second time I stepped outside and went to my car because I didn’t want him to see me crying.  I dried my eyes, called Ann Stampfer to hear a friend’s voice, and hung up when the tears overtook my words. 

This Friday morning Atticus and I will be back at the hospital.  The toe has gotten worse.  Much worse.  The bone is dissolving.

Rachael Kleidon will amputate his toe and send the flesh, bone, and tumorous mass off to get biopsied.  We’re very concerned and the fear is bone cancer.  If that’s what it is the best case scenario is six to twelve months.  If not, we hope to be back on the trail in three weeks with one less toe.  Until then my friends and I will pray, we’ll hold our breath, and Atticus and I will hold each other.  Just as we’ve always done.  Just as we always will.

Of course there were many tears earlier today – a flood of them.  Now, however, we’re gearing up and going to war.  We’ve been here before. We’re jumping into the fire – together . . . as always. 

Two lives, one soul.  Always.

145 comments:

Kathy Lanigan said...

Tom I am so sorry. I hope and pray the two of you are back on the trails in 3 weeks.

Shirley Mulholland said...

My heart just broke. Praying for all of you, espically Atti. Thank you for sharing this. He has had more adventures and love than any dog could hope for.

Anonymous said...

No other comments yet. For once, I've nothing to say but I <3 you, Tom Ryan, Atticus and Will. You've touched my heart many times before, and once again, I'm crying. My heart will be with you in your fight - Patti Gardner

Lori Light said...

Prayers for you all.

Kristy said...

I am so sorry you are all experiencing this pain. Sending loving kindness and desire that your suffering is met with love, from self and others.

Anonymous said...

My heart aches for you, Tom, and for Atticus. You have been through so much lately and I will keep you all in my prayers that the biopsy results will yield benign results and that the two of you will be back to the mountains in a few short weeks. Please stay strong.

Mark Swanson said...

I could wish for nothing more than to have Tom Ryan in my corner when in times of trouble. This passage sums up why: "Of course there were many tears earlier today – a flood of them. Now, however, we’re gearing up and going to war. We’ve been here before. We’re jumping into the fire – together . . . as always." Now you two go kick ass!!!!

John Zaffino said...

This makes me very sad. You all have become a part of our lives, ever since I first picked up the book. I had 4 Schnauzers then. I now have 3 and a Maltipoo. I will send out healing thoughts and prayers again, this time for Atti. The last time was for Will. Hang in there, Tom. We all love you.
John Zaffino
Carmel, New York
283

goironmo said...

I am so sorry to hear this. Thinking strong thoughts and sending them your way!!!

pauld said...

Onward, by all means. Godspeed, Tom and Atti!!

goironmo said...

So sorry to hear this. sending strong thoughts and prayers your way!!

Shannon Zapf said...

I am upset and sad, and you have my support and prayers, as always. You know what it best for Atti, Will, and yourself. I would never doubt anything you do. Much love to all three of you. Atticus is a special little man, and I have to believe that he will make it through this journey as he did the others...with dignity and success, and with his best friend, Tom!!!

Anonymous said...

There are no words, but prayers for you both.

K. C. Aydelott said...

I will finish Following Atticus on my commute tomorrow, and I've been following the blog now for a week or so. The book is the most moving record of human-canine love and devotion as any I have read. I missed most of MRW (all best wishes), but loved learning about Will and his love of flowers. This "new adventure" is breaking my heart. My husband and I raised three puppies and have now adopted three rescues: Shih Tzus and the latest a Havanese. My heart belongs to all of you now, and I wish you all my love and support.

Julie Nichols said...

Atti's Army has already been formed and is ready to fight...with thoughts, prayers, and love. My best to you, Tom.

Philafilly said...

Hugs 'n healing thoughts sent to you all. My heart broke as I read your post, but then I focused on what spiritual warriors you all are. Atti is an old soul - he was, no doubt, even as a young pup -- and he will deal with whatever the outcome with grace and strength. You too, Tom, and please know that you are being supported with love and prayers from so many of us. Being a pet parent/guardian is one of the most honorable gifts we are given, and Atti knows he can depend on you for love, strength and comfort. Our community that you all have given life to will try to do the same for you all. Hugs and prayers to you, my friend that I haven't met yet ~ Tina

Patti P. said...

Please know you have many, many people supporting both of you in thought and prayer. As you said, "Let the fight begin!" Thank you for sharing this intimate look into the communication the two of you share.

Janet said...

Sending love and hugs to you and Atticus! We will think positive thoughts and hope and pray for a good outcome.

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

I hope with all my heart that this is merely a skirmish and doesn't evolve into a battle. Thinking of you and Atti. Stay strong and keep the faith.

Elizabeth Burge said...

Sorry to hear about Atticus' toe. Thoughts and prayers for you, Atticus, and Will!

Anonymous said...

May the Good Lord lead you back to the trails! Atticus M. Finch, get well soon! You have much to discover, teach and share to all who love you - especially Tom. Rest easy!

Paula Clare said...

Thank you...for this. For allowing us to share in the love, friendship, and the pain. My heart is so full and be assured: prayers are ascending for you all.

Robin said...

This adventure, like the eyes, thyroid, and the attack is going to turn out just fine....Atticus is not done teaching you. "when the student is ready the teacher will come"
With love and prayers
Robin

Elizabeth Burge said...

Sorry to hear about Atticus' toe. Thoughts and prayers for you, Atticus, and Will.

Brooke Elaine said...

No words....I was weeping as I read this...my thoughts and prayers are with you. Know many stand along side with you as you do battle ....Onward..by all means as you so often say.

Anonymous said...

My prayers to you, Atti and Will. Always followed your posts and I hoped that someday I would meet up with on the trail. I hike weekly up in the whites, Reading your blog leaves me speechless.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing to say except my thoughts and prayers are with you all for a positive outcome. You will gain strength from each other and from the many 'friends' who will be sending prayers and well wishes your way.

Murphy Bourret said...

our prayers are with you all....we are so upset words cannot say how horrible we feel...

Diane said...

So sorry to hear this news..will be sending prayers and positive thoughts to you and Atticus..it's in Gods hands now...hugs to both of you <3

Sharon said...

Oh, Tom, I am so sorry. I am praying for you and Atticus, that this is not bone cancer. Also for you to be able to accept whatever comes. So very sad.

Carter W Rae said...

Tom we are circling the wagons with you ... The love and tender feelings are there but we Atti's Army are there to do battle with you ..... I wish I could do something magical, healing comforting .. but know our pack is there as usual in spirit and prayers for Atti, Will and your pack's welfare... We, Atti's Army love you and make no apologies for it ... ♥♥♥♥ we are here and know it for sure .. Carter, Stacy, Cooper and Indy

Anonymous said...

We are sending you Mega Prayers

Our hearts are breaking but know all will be ok with Atti and Will. Our love to you

Barbara Hinckley said...

Thoughts and prayers for all of you.

Bev A said...

Heart wrenching...yet...perfection in capturing the white light of love that shines through that which cannot be controlled....bless your little family and Atti's army has it's hands collectively joined to protect that light around you, Atti and Will....

Elsa said...

Scary news indeed, but for what it's worth, you have many, many people pulling for Atticus and praying for him, me included. Sending lots of love and positive energy your way.

Cyndy Kirk said...

Oh, Tom, I am heartbroken reading this. I pray for a positive outcome and that Atti will weather this storm as he has all the others he has faced. Hold him close and let him know all the love being sent his way.
Love and prayers to all of you as you face this trial together.

Sherry Obershea said...

Tom, there are simply no words, only prayers for you and Atticus. I have my gear ready and will go to war with you - in spirit and with prayer. Hold Atti tight. And know that we all are holding you both in our collective arms. Onwards, by all means.

Sue said...

Tom I hope and pray that the results of Atticus's biopsy will send you scurrying off joyfully to plan your next hike.

Anonymous said...

My entire family sends prayers to you, Tom, Atti, and Will. May you all be filled with peace, strength of spirit, and courage to face whatever may be ahead. You are not alone. Your Army is here and always will be.

Kat French said...

I know how you feel Tom. Even though you can communicate with Atticus, there is still that question on how he is dealing with this and what he feels like. When my little Punkin was diagnosed with kidney failure and I had to give her 300cc of sub-q fluids once a week I think it hurt me more than it hurt her to stick her with that needle. She would snuggle up against me while this procedure was going on, but then jump down and demand her cookie, her reward for being a good girl. I had a vet tell me one time that animals accept their fate. They don't fight against it like we humans do. I pray that Atticus will get well and climb more mountains with you, but if he doesn't you will have to help him climb one more mountain and I know you will do so, whether by holding him or letting him lead the way. God bless you, Atticus and Will and remember, you have friends who care for you and your pups who depend on you for so much.

ff9c0a5a-e8f5-11e2-bf7b-000bcdcb5194 said...

As my heart hurts for you all i am praying hard for you and you friends thwy know you love them and we have all grown to love you all too keep us posted there is power in prayer

Forgiven said...

Tom I am sorry I am praying for you and Atticus and Will.

Dibbiedab said...

My dear sweet Atti, Tom and Will, I'm sitting here with tears and that exquisite pain, the combination of sadness and hope, that I felt when our beloved black lab, Willow, fought mast cell cancer and lost the battle 2 years ago. In fact, the loss of Willow was so acute that neither my husband nor I could bear to get another companion for fearing of having to go through the loss again. But, in reading your words, Tom, and knowing the wonderous spirit of Atticus, and the unquestioning trust of Will, I realize that I so miss that bond that only man and animal can have. I miss that most of all. Know that my prayers are with you all and know that if it is Atti's time to move on, he will be met at the Rainbow Bridge by all those beautiful spirits who have gone before. If it is not his time, I am sure Atti will continue to communicate his love, trust and devotion to you until his last days on this earth. God bless you all.

Alice said...

Sending you love, Reiki, and vibrant support of the highest healing good. Breathing with you and intending peace, allowing, and trust.

ff9c0a5a-e8f5-11e2-bf7b-000bcdcb5194 said...

As i sit here crying i am praying for you and your friends God will take care of you all and remember here is power in prayer God bless

CGerald said...

Prayer and faith are powerful things. You have lots of prayers being sent your way and many people with faith in all of you....

PATRICE SIMON said...

It seems incomprehensible that someone with such a kind and compassionate heart has heard more sad news. I pray that you be blessed with the strength and courage you may need, and I hope you receive the best news possible regarding Atticus. Please keep us posted as much as you feel comfortable, and know that you are all in our hearts and surrounded by our love.

Linda said...

Love your writings Tom and love you and your Atti and Will so much. My tears and others are flowing with your tender words about Atti's wore foot. Praying for a quick recovery and good news from biopsy. You guys are strong and there for each other.

geniekri said...

I'm praying for you and Atticus. I had my Tippy for 14 years and she and I were as close as it's possible for two souls to be. If I cross the room, she'd be right under my feet. She slept beside me. If I was sick or had had surgery, she stayed with me 24/7. My husband had to carry her outside to do her business then she'd run right back in to stay with me. When her kidneys and liver failed, we did what we had to do so she wouldn't suffer pain and misery. It was the hardest thing I've EVER done. I miss her to this day, cry almost every day. She was literally my best friend and companion in the truest sense of the word. So I know your pain with Atticus. May God bless you and heal him. I will keep you in my prayers.

Pat Langer said...

Dearest Tom, Atticus, and Will,
How deeply your love for each other has touched my heart. We are walking the walk with you dear Tom. Helping to bear the burden in prayer and simply in the golden moments spent with your soul mates. I hope that you can feel the burden lifted just a bit. Thank you for enriching my life by allowing me to walk the walk with you through your words. I find secret, hidden treasures in them.
Your friend,
Pat Langer

Anonymous said...

Tonight I will pray to St. Frances for help....Bless you both

Pat Langer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
katy said...

Love, Angels and all my hugs are surrounding you Atti and Will. No words can help.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tom,
I hope you and Atti get through this. Whatever the outcome, somehow things will be what they will be. You, Atti and Will have come into each other's lives for a reason. But you already know that!
Prayers for you all.
Kathy H

Laurel and Willy said...

My thoughts are with Tom and Atti at this time, I have a little terrier and we have been alone together for 8.5 years and we talk as well. A quiet relationship with a dog really exposes the depth you can reach in communication. Truly meaningful looks, nods, licking his lips when I ask him if he's hungry or thirsty (if he doesn't, he isn't) We are also having health issues right now so the tears started as I read this blog. These dogs are truly family to us, I know mine is, my positive thoughts are with all of you for a positive diagnosis and a speedy recovery. Its hard to keep them quiet and resting, their passion for life and fun is inspiring and worthy of all the love we can give them.

dcdashe said...

my heart is heavy for all of you, but I believe in the power s of love and prayer. Miracles happen every day, and I will remain steadfast in prayer that you, Will and especially Atticus receive yours. Love and blessings.

Anonymous said...

Tom so sorry. Thoughts & prayers are with you & Atticus. Praying you both will be back on the trail in a few weeks. Jan

Jeri Thiede said...

Not many more positive people than you, and Atticus. Being so strong will get both of you through this. Sending love and strong thoughts for a speedy recovery.

Chris said...

No words, only tears. Prayers and love to all of you.

Annie Criscitiello said...

I am entrusting all of you to our beautiful St Francis of Assisi because this dear little friar knows of your bond of two souls like no other - he will wrap Atti in his loving arms and surround you in the peace that passes understanding and all Will Be Well - Amen!

Kathy Q said...

I don't know what to say but know that I will pray for all of you. One time when faced with a similar situation my daughter advised me not to be sad but rather enjoy each day you have together. It is truly a good soul who opens their heart to an animal. Hugs

kaidee said...

Love and prayers for dear Atti...may you both have strength. My heart is aching and I hope you get to climb again!

Joanne O'Connor said...

Yet again you have touched my heart. I lost my soul mate of thirty years seven years ago and have also experienced the incredible bond between man and dog. Know that you are not alone and have so many people behind you and Atticus. Your gift with words is truly inspirational.

Anonymous said...

I hope and pray that this will just be a bump in the journey, our inter species friendships are so powerful. May all of you draw strength from each other to weather this skirmish and know that all of us who love you are sending prayers and support also. Bless you and the Ryan pack.

barbara Grant said...

I am so very sorry. Atticus will fight and you will be on the mountains before you know it. I just lost my Westie and I truly feel your pain and the bond. My schnauzer lived to 16 and she was my "sister" growing up. They have a way of talking to you..I know. Much love and hugs to you and "the boys".

Anonymous said...

Loving thoughts and hugs to all of you Tom, Atticus, & Will.

Sally Myers said...

Healing thoughts and prayers coming your way from yet another of Atti's Army. Hopefully you wil take comfort in knowing that there are many many of us out there rooting for you as you weather this storm.

Ann said...

My heart is heavy with your news. I pray for healing for Atticus. You have brought so much joy with your adventures and love of life with Atticus and Will. Praying for strength and healing.

AnnO said...

Tom, Atticus and Will - our hearts are heavy with this news. We will keep fingers and paws crossed for a positive outcome and, we will keep the faith.

Terry Schaulat said...

Make that three. I am crying for you both, reminded of the day after my dear Honey Pie got her routine injections at the vet, and two days later was diagnosed with Hemolytic Anemia from a bad batch of injections. She was like Atticus...attached at the hip for over 10 years...We communicated just the same as you two...a bond that could never be broken...and the reason I have not given my heart to another dog yet. My healthy companion was gone in two weeks. My heart broke like for no human's passing, and I wailed with grief, my life a shadow of what it was, without her. I get it. I SO get it. I began "Following Atticus" shortly after this ordeal, and I think in a way, Atti and Will were my pups vicariously....I could love them from a distance. Still, I am storming the gates heaven with prayers for my dear Atticus and for you, too, Tom...no matter what, it isn't easy. People thought I was "a crazy dog person" too...and, so, okay, I AM. We ARE. And that is just FINE. Because no one gets it like we do...unless they've had that unspeakable bond. I am sending all the love, prayer, and best wishes I can muster for you both...We are all here for you in any way we can be. Hugs to my favorite trio. Praying and keeping my fingers crossed.

Lori Kracoff said...

With you in spirit. Please take good care.

Valerie Royed said...

Thanks for letting us know, Tom. I'm crying and can hardly see to write this.....please know that positive thoughts and prayers are being sent your way...hoping for the best possible outcome, and peace.....

Beth and Daisy said...

Positive thoughts, prayers, love, and comfort sent to you from my terrier and I. We rescued her four years ago, she rescued me earlier this year when my daughter moved away and then my husband left. We're pulling for you Will, Tom, and Atticus. May you find comfort, support, and dignity as you navigate this journey!

KAT said...

So many things I want to say but I am at a loss for the right words. You are all in my prayers. I just have a feeling that Atticus is going to be OK. Thank you for sharing. We love you all! Special prayers for Atticus and strength for you Tom and the entire Atticus family.

Anonymous said...

I too will pray.

Patty D said...

With tears in my eyes, but hope in my heart, I type. Prayers and love to Atti and those who love him most. Will, Tom and Atti have touched so many lives - that love circles back. I will keep Atti in my thoughts and prayers with all hope that this is merely a bump in the road.

Anonymous said...

Another storm to weather.... I feel sure that all three of you will weather this one with grace and dignity. Please know that you are in our prays. Sweet dreams Ryan family.

Anonymous said...

Positive thoughts for Atti and strength and courage to face the ordeal ahead for you and Atticus.

Anonymous said...

I've been in your shoes, and I know the unspeakable anxiety that' fills your heart, mind and soul. Your every waking (and dreaming) moment is consumed by thoughts of your little dog. I'm hoping and praying for little Atticus, Tom and any person or animal who loves them.

Linda Walker Howard said...

I feel every emotion you expressed here, and I shall be praying for you and our beloved Atticus. I so hoped that was not going to be how your blog would end. But, this is what we always know when we love our furry friends. God bless you and take care of Atticus. My heart really hurts for you both.

Anonymous said...

My heart just sunk as I finished reading this. I will be praying that you and Atti will be back on the trails in just a few weeks, and if not, that the bond that you have shared and the love of your friends close to you will carry you thru this trial.

Anonymous said...

For years the stories of Tom and Atticus have captured and enriched the life I've shared with my own little hiking dog. And now we share your fears for Atticus. They are so real to me as I hug my small friend and imagine us in your situation. I have tears in my eyes.

I hope and pray that we will soon be reading about a little dog with a missing toe happily leading you down a trail to many more joys and beauties in the mountains we share.

John

Anonymous said...

I will pray for you and Atticus. My heart is with both of you. I will hold my Atticus and pray with him. Thank you for sharing. Words cant express the feelings but war on this is the answer. War with prayer and war with hope. *Hugs*

Michelle Manley Caez said...

I am crying too....and praying! Much, so much, love to you all!!!!

Cherie said...

You know you have our support, thoughts and prayers. Your journey is so unique but so empowered. I have no doubt Atti will once again be sustained and carried and held and healed as he as in the past. Please, when you can, keep us posted on progress. We are holding you all.

Anonymous said...

I am praying for a happy ending to this health issue. But no matter the outcome, may you be at peace. Love is a strong force in hard times. Onward and upward.

altar ego said...

There are no words, Tom, but an world full of supporters are holding you and Atti in the full light of love and hope. I pray that our collective tears will wash away the fear so that nothing stands in your way as you enter this fight.

Years ago a scene in a book seared itself into my heart, and it comes to mind now. Set in England during WW II, a priest was ministering to a German prisoner of war who learned that his family was killed when Dresden was bombed. Struggling to comfort the man, the priest said to him, "The cross you bear is yours alone, and I cannot hang on it with you. But I can, and will, stand at the foot of it." Although I don't believe you are on the cross right now, I know you are in pain. Your army surrounds you, Atti, and Will with deep love and abundant prayers.

Cleta said...

Praying for you both These are the hardest times But thank God you have a good vet and the money to do the best for atticus and he knows this as Cooper and I have that same relationship I can read his eyes as tho he was talking to me I feel his heart beat even when he is not touching me He is always on my heels is is what keeps me going everyday he came into my life at the worst time of my life but he never left my side we are as one We will be praying for you guys and praying that is all he has to go though Love you Guys.

Anonymous said...

Sending you and Atti so many prayers and all my love.

JennieP said...

Dear ones, we have been fighting our own battle here in Georgia for the last month to 6 weeks. In our case, my darling Suri will leave tomorrow to go to the Rainbow Bridge. I love her too much to try and keep her here any longer. She told me last night that she was ready to go by looking into my soul with her deep chocolate eyes. So dear friends, the prayers that we have been winging skyward for her will now be winging their way up for you men. May our comforting Father keep His arms tightly around you, keep you all from harm, be with the doctors who will diagnose Atti's foot problem and those who will treat him...may He give you peace of mind in this battle, and love in your hearts always. We do what we can for our four-legged children and pray to God that we are making the right decisions. In my heart, I know that you and Atti and Will have many more mountains to climb. I will say special prayers for you all each and every day.

Please keep us informed, Tom. We love you and the boys...you have made us a part of your family and we claim you as part of ours...now and always. Peace be with you, love Jennie and Suri in GA

Terre said...

Dearest Atti, Tom & of course Will. Terre here. I am at a loss for the right words so I will tell you that Megan taught me that when a crisis arises and caution is thrown to the wind, it will be ok. The bond you have, the unspoken sharing of your souls will carry you through anything. Megan taught me the unspoken word as well. We talked at length many days as she taught me how to live, love and finally how to cope without her. She told an animal communicator I asked to speak with her about her illnesses that she was put here for just me as every pet is special for someone. God places them here for a purpose, I was Megen's purpose and life. She asked me when it became time for us to part to hold her as I did and that God would send another and please don't be so pained that I don't see the need and adopt another. She told me it would be a little boy dog, told me I would know his name when I saw him and that I would know he was for me. She asked me to accept that she can only take me so far and then their will be another to help me where I am at, at that time.

What I mean is, I truly believe with all my heart Atti will come through this as he has before. You two have too much to do yet. He has more teaching and we all have too much learning.

All of us love you so much and you can't count out the power of prayer and a positive attitude. If you need our help until Atti can take over again, we are all here. We love you all so much. You have inspired a nation, a world and I hope we might inspire you now. LOVE AND PRAYERS for all 3 of you.

Melanye Narcarti said...

With tears in my eyes, and a hurting heart, I am sending prayers and strength, hope and love to you and Atticus. I so hope and pray that things go well for sweet Atti. You, Atticus and Will are very much a part of my daily routine. All of you give so much inspiration to all of us. I know you will all get through this. Look at how far you have come with your best friend. Your journey is not over, it's just another corner to turn. I love those sweet doggies so much. God bless each of you. ♥

Jennifer Keeter said...

There are allot of people praying through tears for you both!

Anonymous said...

Tom, So sad to read this. As is often the case, I wish I had the gift of words to provide you with some comfort. I'm here, among many, sending good thoughts to you all.

Diane Evance, Arivaca, AZ said...

You've touched so many of us. Just know that we are all with you spiritually. Your souls are intertwined with all who follow your blog. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

I can picture you, Atticus & Will sitting in the chairs together, but surrounded by thousands of people, worried with tears in their eyes, all hugging the three of you. You all took a little piece of our heart. You are not alone; we are here with you, hoping for the best.

Helenann Mesmer said...

My heart is sending love to you, MRW, Atticus and Will... may you rest easier tonight knowing so many are praying for you four.

Laura D. said...

Tom,Atticus and Will...so sorry for the "new adventure". Praying for a quick resolve and a positive outcome!

Julie Brane said...

Nothing I can write adequately expresses how grateful I am to share in the amazing journey and relationship you and Atti have. May peace envelope you all as you travel through this, with the hope that knowing how much you all mean to so many comforts you.

Hazel & Trusty Canine Teddy said...

These are the journeys one wishes to never have. Atticus will guide you through this Tom, just as you will be there for him. If only we could gift health to our loved ones, be they two-legged or four-legged.

My thoughts and prayers are with Atticus, you and Will.

Deb said...

Tom, Atti and Will.... my heart sunk when I read the last part of this beautiful post and the tears won't stop. But there is something magical about your pack and I hope and pray it transcends any bitter reality. Prayers of hope and healing for all of you.

janimac said...

My dog Maddie, cats, Toby and Ninja and I will be praying for Atticus and you, and Will. I am so sorry
to hear that Atti is hurting,Prayers for peace and healing coming your way, Tom. God bless you all.

Sheri B said...

I wept with a heavy heart as I read your latest post. Positive thoughts and prayers from our schnauzer pack to yours, hoping you will feel the love and comfort from the thousands in Atti's army. Praying that you will be back on the trail in a few weeks because there is certainly more for Atticus and Will to teach us.. Your journey has been truly inspirational. My copy of "Following Atticus" just arrived this afternoon.

To Terry Schaulat - you will be able to give your heart to another dog soon. Loving Honey Pie has made your heart even bigger to give more love. We lost our 2nd schnauzer unexpectedly in December. He and I were joined at the hip. It was devastating. However, 6 weeks later a situation arose, and we adopted two 4 1/2 yr old schnauzer boys instead of getting another puppy. We wanted to make sure they stayed together. It is different, and that is good.

Onward, by all means.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you, Atticus, and Will. Prayers for you all.

Jan Cholwill said...

Loving thoughts and prayers from Hilton in South Africa. We send special love as we look at the wondrous Drakensberg mountains. Trusting all will go well for you and Atti. X

Dina said...

Dear Tom, Atti and Will,

Sending all my prayers your way. I am so moved by your beautiful story and your deep love and devotion to your dog friends. Wishing you all nothing but the best and many more years of hiking with Atticus.

kimbersue said...

Lying here crying for a precious soul I have never met, but brightens my day every day. I have a 10-yr old baby that I was looking at with adoration tonight. She's getting more gray in her muzzle. She has some growths that she scratches. She has a lump on her leg, a lipoma, that I worry about. I know we don't have them in our lives forever, but they are part of our lives forever. Atticus and Will will be a part of me forever, just like my Holly. I hope this is just some anomoly and Atti is relieved of his discomfort. And Tom, I share your tears. Holly is a best friend to my daughter and I. She talks with her eyes as well. It's a language of love for sure. Our prayers for healing and health.

Cassandra said...

No words. Just love and prayers.

Mary said...

Sending love and prayers for healing, strength, and grace, for both of you...may all be well.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you already know that Atti's army are all there with you. Thanks for sharing and I will join my prayers to the many already sent. Take care.

sharedsvcssux said...

Jaymie and I are also sending prayers and hoping you and Atti are back on the trails in 3 weeks. God bless both of you and, of course Will.

Milo and Alfie Marshall said...

So sorry to hear this news. We don't like to think of Atti in pain. I'm hoping that even if it's bone cancer it will be survivable. I was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1995 (Chondrosarcoma) and am still here. Sending love and healing.

Milo and Alfie's mom.

Stephanie Karabaic said...

Sending prayers..of hope..of comfort..of healing...

Claire said...

It's all in GOD's hands, Sending lots of prayers your way.

Bonnie said...

Tears over my morning coffee. Thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

Cindy Rice said...

Tom, Will, and most especially Atti, our prayers and healing thoughts are being sent your way. You boys keep your faith and stick together - as a team you can (and already have!) work miracles. With hugs and puppy kisses from Packmother.

Diana Plopa said...

As always, nearly daily, you are in my heart and my prayers.

Anonymous said...

As I snuggled up to my 'MRM' last night, it occurred to me that maybe - just maybe - Attie was trying to help you with your missing MRW? And missing her himself? Whichever, my heart hurts for your pain. I'll be praying, for sure. Love to all of you, Atticus, Will and you. Sometimes we just have to let go and let God. I know you will handle this with strength and grace as you have all before. All our hearts are breaking. We are with you. <3

Diane Elsner said...

You are not alone. All of our thoughts,prayers and best wishes are with all of you.
Atticus has strength and faith enough for all of us!
God Bless, your RI friends

molabamm said...

Loving thoughts and prayers going your way, you have all touched my heart.

Anonymous said...

I wish Atticus whatever it is the best.
Joan

NYNan said...

I have no words........
just praying, praying, praying

A Prayer by Saint Francis of Assisi, for our Animal Friends

Heavenly Father, our human ties with our friends of other species is wonderful and special gift from You. We now ask You to grant our special animal companions your Fatherly care and healing power to take away any suffering they have. Give us, their human friends, new understanding of our responsibilities to these creatures of Yours. They have trust in us as we have in You; our souls and theirs are on this earth together to give one another friendship, affection, and caring. Take our heartfelt prayers and fill Your ill or suffering animals with healing Light and strength to overcome whatever weakness of body they have. Amen

Sandra Didner said...

My friend's dog had part of her right front paw amputated 2 years ago , and she is such a bundle of energy now. She does everything she did before the surgery, no further signs of cancer have occurred and the joy she brings all of us has never diminished . I am sure the same will be true of Atticus. At any rate, because of your love, he will have the best care in the world. After all Atticus has climbed every mountain; with your love he will continue to climb this one.

Susan Landers said...

Prayers and hugs from Chicago! I am so sorry - our sweet 7 year old Bear was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor under his nose 2 months ago. The decision over treatment was agonizing, and because of its location, it cannot be fully removed. It's so hard when the ones we love are ill. Rest assured that whatever decision you make about the course of treatment is the right decision for you, regardless of what others might say. Thank you for sharing this piece of your life.

Onesnap said...

Tom,

This was a difficult post to read as I started my day. (glad I have my own office to hide in while I read).

Thank you as always for sharing with your fans and for keeping us all updated.

The photos and inspirational messages on your Facebook page continue to brighten each and every day. :)

Anonymous said...

I talked to my Labradoodle, Happy go Lucky, today about Atticus and you. As I did i started to cry and she put her head on my heart. I am sending love to you from her.

Karen Smith said...

Tom,
My heart is breaking now for you...may the angels wrap their arms around you, and may your love act as the cure for what this might be...... another test.... sending you sweet love and prayers and angels......

BJ PUP said...

Thank you to No Dog About It Blog for posting your story Tom. Your description put mr right there with you looking at the sky. It also put me right there with you at the vets.

I"m writing this through my tear. I pray for you and Atticu and Will.

rusty andrews said...

Tom, your sharing process with us is a healing process for all. Even through these challenges, this form of love is such a gift to so many. We are all gathered to assist & help you, Atti & Will. These are huge prayers that carry magnitudes of healing energy. This virtual circle of supporters around the world are pulling for the best for Atti. I believe anything is possible. -Rusty Andrews

Anonymous said...

Tom,

Can't you arrange a visit with that Monk from the bookstore in your book? Maybe you could contact him and ask for blessings/prayers?

Ed C said...

Tom,
Here I am, a big guy with tears in my eyes.
I latched onto your site after becoming aware of "Following Atticus" and have made it a daily routine to read your blog.
I wish only the best for you, Atticus and Will.
Remain strong and know people really do care - it's refreshing that in our fast paced routine of "life" people can take the time to slow down, and while some say the blog is about a man and his dog/s,
it really has become so much more than that- it really is a lesson in love and human understanding.
Bless you Tom and thank you for making me more human thru the understanding of a special bond with a man and his dogs.

Carolanne Washburn said...

I am so deeply sad reading this post.. Sending healing thoughts and prayers your way and hoping for the best possible outcome. XOXO

Kristyl Adams said...

Hi Tom, I read your blog last night and wanted to write immediately, but a boy has been murdered in my community and it's been overwhelming. So here I am, finally.

I had to say, what you wrote gripped me by the throat and I felt how much pain and anguish you have been in, as so many have. You're writing straight from the heart and soul and it's so very deep. Especially regarding Atticus.

After pacing the floor a few times and talking to myself...yes I did ;)...I went out back here in So Cal and saw the most beautiful sunset. I never see them in the back and yet, there it was over the beautiful gigantic pine tree. That tree always reminds me of New England with the mountains in the backdrop. The light scent of the Tuberose I planted wafted across with the warm breeze and I looked up and I prayed like I've never done before for not only Atticus, but you, and Will too. My four little urchins were surrounding me outside, just looking up to see what caught my eye and waiting to lick my tears away.

Atticus is truly your little soulmate and I know that come hell or high water, he'll be back on a mountain again, if you have to carry him the whole way.

Please give him an ear rub for me and I would sneak him in some Ritz bits peanut butter crackers if I could.

I am so glad you are feeling a bit better today and have so much love pouring in from everywhere. You, Atti, and Will will never be alone. Together Forever~ Love from all of us here~

Kerina Strevens said...

It seems this may be the biggest mountain that you all have to climb. I'll pray that you'll all come through this great challenge together and that we'll have many more years of following Atticus. God bless x x x

Anonymous said...



I read this post a few hours ago and wanted to respond but I was crying too hard. I've taken some time to pull myself together and can now respond. Some of my tears were for you and Atticus because I know how much you love each other. Some of my tears were for the pain that Atticus should never have to deal with. I also cried for your whole family (Atticus and Will included obviously) because what causes suffering for one affects all. Most of my tears were not out of sadness though. The majority of my tears flowed from happiness in knowing there is someone else out there that gets how lucky they are to have a special friend. The world has been around for billions of years and you and Atticus are not only here at the same time but also know each other and are friends. It's no accident that you two are together. I feel the same way about my dog Daisy but I don't have an interesting way to share it with the world. Therefore, I'm always grateful that you share your journey with the world. Hopefully, your stories and posts inspire others to look at dogs as individuals and realize just how intelligent and pure at heart they truly are. No matter what the future holds for Atticus I know he is lucky to have you to face it with. I pray for the best possible outcome for Atticus. Thank you for loving Atticus and Will. Their lives are better because of you.

Paula B

Bernadette Beach said...

My little guy Baxter broke his toe, and had to have a cast on it for a month. The cast was supposed to let the bone heal, but he was too active for it to heal. After trying for the month to set that bone, we made the choice to have it amputated. Within a couple days he was right back to his old self again! My only wish, is that we had done it sooner. Praying for good test results, and a fast recovery.

Anonymous said...

Praying for both of you. Carrie

Ellen Snyder said...

Wishing Atti a most speedy recovery and many new outdoor adventures for you, Will, and Atticus. Aging is a natural (sometimes painful) process, but there is still much to enjoy and love along the way. You've shown us that. All the best.

Lisa K said...

Dear Tom: I hope you get a chance to read all these comments from people who admire you so and are thinking of you and Atticus. I read your book when it first came out, and I won't waste time here explaining why it made an impact on me but suffice it to say, it did. My vet told me once that no one has an expiration sticker stamped on the bottom of their feet, so he goes with the assumption that there is always cause for hope. So, I will be hoping and praying good thoughts for you and that wonderful creature of yours.

Carla said...

I am in tears after reading your blog today. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you, all the way.

Rose Kute said...

Praying. Reading your posts and tears are coming down. You put into words what I haven't been able to: two lives, one soul.
That is me and my BamBam. We have been together for 11+yrs. She just turned 12 this past April.
When she was about a 1.5 yrs old ( she was 10 mos when I got her), she laid on my chest and after a min or so I noticed the most incredible thing, our hearts were beating together, at the same time. Seems impossible right? two species, different heart rates??
well it happened and we have been together since. When we are apart I feel like part of my heart has been ripped. She talks to me and I understand her.
You and I are blessed. I am sure not everyone finds their soul dog.
Love to you and Atticus.

Annie Watson said...

Oh Tom. My heart is with you and Atticus.

Marie Gambino said...

Dear Tom!

As soon as we found out about Atticus, our hearts went out to you! We went through the same experience-the crushing news and unbelievable pain of seeing our dog face this huge challenge. It was a blessing for us that we received compassion and hope by the doctors and nurses at the same Veterinary Hospital. As you well know, the staff there are very professional and caring! They administered to Cody's every need and supported us every step of the way.They gave us hope! They gave Cody love and this, above all was so important to us! On the very top of the list is Prayer. There is nothing that can match this combination! The will to live is so strong-Cody had two toes removed. We slept with him on an air mattress for two months so he could feel our love. We did everything we could think of to bring anything positive into his life each day. I prayed the Novena to St.Jude for Atticus and will put his name in our book at church! This is the most powerful thing we can do.
May God surround you with His Great Compassion and fill you with the Strength you need to be there for Atticus.
With much love and admiration for your precious Atticus!

Carrie Gibbs said...

At some point in the land of Facebook I found your page. As I am trying to play catch up with the world on this Sunday night I am reading what you have been dealing with. To say I hope and pray all is right in the world for you and your sweet little shared soul. Seems like a small unhelpful statement. However I have a wet face as I read your words. The fact that you found life by having that sweet four-leg friend with you each step of the way is just so heartwarming. Now I will try and prove I am not a robot and get this posted. (As I grab yet one more Kleenex)

Laury said...

I've been so engrossed with genealogy research lately that I had forgotten to read your blog. To now read this entry, I'm so disheartened. Best wishes and many prayers to the both of you. Also, I completely concur that a dog's eyes can tell you what words never could.