Stacey Costello

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a goodbye…

July 6, 2010

porch2 This was a post I hoped to never have to write. Of course I knew the day would eventually come. Last Tuesday June 29th my sweet Nico crossed over the bridge. He passed away while cradled in my arms. the end came fast, a blessing for both of us.

I have spoken about Nico a few times in my posts but never mentioned the awful diagnosis we received last June. After many tests it was revealed that he had degenerative myelopathy. In short, it is a slow, progressive spinal cord disorder of unknown cause. He became completely paralyzed in February so we knew we were on borrowed time. His spirits were high and he dealt with his harness and our help like a real champ! I can say without hesitation that we lived every day of the 4 years he was with us to the absolute fullest.

I say that we rescued him but in truth it was he who rescued me. He was our family dog but he was my boy. The stories I could tell are endless and this isn’t the forum for that I know. I will say that he and I took an amazing journey resulting in each of us becoming happy, confident, and content beings. Only 4 short years together but the love, companionship and devotion will be in my heart forever. He made me a better person and taught me that sometimes when all seems dark and hopeless someone or something wonderful is right around the corner. I will be eternally grateful that I had the honor of calling him ours.

For all you that share your lives with animals…..Give them an extra hug today. They deserve it!

Here is a link to our YouTube memorial my husband made for me.

Happy trails to you my sweet Nico~ DSCN1813


  1. Nicole says:

    What a sweet tribute. You were both very lucky to have had each other!

    July 6th, 2010 at 5:27 pm

  2. Joye Neff says:

    Dear Stacey and Brian,

    I am so sorry to hear of Nico’s passing to The Rainbow Bridge, but know that he knew the depth of the love you had for him. You rescued him from a bad life and he thrived in your care. He was a tribute to “Bernerdom” and will live in your hearts and souls forever. Joye Neff, Pittsburgh, PA

    July 7th, 2010 at 3:36 am

  3. Kelly Barr says:

    I adopted my first puppy mill Berner (Hope – 6yrs old) in December, and already, I understand the bond you came to share with Nico. I know I too, one day, will need to say “goodbye.” My thoughts are with you and my tears flow… kb

    July 7th, 2010 at 5:09 am

  4. Nancy Torstenson says:


    Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this very difficult time.

    Thank you so much for taking Nico into your lives and giving him the loving home that all of God’s wonderful creatures deserve. You gave him a reason to want to wake up in the morning.

    Bob and Nancy
    South Haven, Michigan

    July 7th, 2010 at 5:20 am

  5. Ellie says:

    Dear Stacy,
    as a mom of two rescued berners myself I want to send my condolences on the loss of your beautiful Nico. May he rest in peace and may the wonderful memories of him give you lasting joy.
    Thank you for giving him four good years and helping him forget his suffering at the puppy-mill.

    From Wisconsin with love, Ellie with Sam and the Girls

    July 7th, 2010 at 5:42 am

  6. Diane Welch says:

    Stacey and Family ~ I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for giving Nico a loving home! Cherish all the sweet memories of your Sweet Boy… Rest in Peace Nico. You will be missed…
    Diane & Cello

    July 7th, 2010 at 6:00 am

  7. Marietta Ehrich says:

    I’m so very sorry to hear about Nico. Thank you for giving him a wonderful life outside of the puppymill. We have followed his story through Bruce, and have shared our lives with several rescued puppymill dogs.

    July 7th, 2010 at 6:13 am

  8. Lisa Hawes says:

    Stacey, I know exactly what you’re talking about when you speak of Nico. My 2 rescue Berners (Bosley & Bernie) are/were the very beat of my heart. We lost Bernie last July 25th to a neurologic disease that the Drs. believed he was most likely born with. We opted out of doing the full neuro eval because it wouldn’t have changed Bernie’s outcome and would have put him through undue stress. He was a giant of a Berner (31″ tall and 130 lean lbs) with a heart the size of TX – the sweetest and neediest boy who taught us all about living life to the fullest and enjoying the journey. It tore my heart out to let him go, but we knew we had to as it was the kindest thing to do for him. I know (because of what you went through w/ Sammy/Nico) that you understand just what we went through with him as he lost his backend, then began to lose his front end as well…and the laryngeal paralysis, which, with the heat in TX made things sooooooooo hard for him.

    Anyway, I just wanted to invite you to join our BARCINC yahoo list if you’d like. Bruce Whiteside is a member and we love him to death. BARC ( is a rescue org. dedicated to rescuing BMDs from abusive and neglectful situations and rehoming them with families who’ll love and adore them for however much time they have to give us. We are recognized by the BMDCA and often assist regional clubs, if they need it, w/ their resuces. Bruce regularly helps BARC and vise-versa. Anyway, we’d love it if you’d join our group as we know you’d have lots to offer and would find tons of love and support as you walk through this horrible loss. Please just drop me an email if you’d like to join or want more info on it. I am a moderator of the list, and I also do a quarterly newsletter (which you’ll find on the BARC website mentioned above) for BARC families and friends. You’d be welcomed to read/print any/all of them to read. I think you’d like them.

    Anyway, I hope you’ll contact me as I truly believe we’re of like spirit in our adoration of our beloved rescued Berners…and I hope that maybe the support of our group, many of whom have walked the road you’re walking now, will help you feel supported through your loss.

    Berner hugs from TX,
    Lisa Hawes w/ BARC’s Bosley & Lionheart’s Lil’ Man Tonka
    holding our beloved BARC’s Bernie ever close in heart…

    July 7th, 2010 at 6:32 am

  9. Peggy Wenzel says:

    Stacey & Family ~ your Nico hit the dog lotto when he joined your family ~ if only all could be so lucky ~ he brought you joy and you brought him love ~ what a great cirle of life!
    Bruce & Linda where the angels that brought you together. Hold your memories close to your heart and Nico will always be with you.

    Peggy & Dan

    July 7th, 2010 at 7:53 am

  10. Joy Cowles says:

    Thank you for being the kind of person who was able to open a heart to a dog so that you could both learn, life and love life together. It is a true blessing to have the opportunity. I hope that you recieve the blessing of a heart dog once again when you are ready.

    July 7th, 2010 at 8:37 am

  11. Nancy Bullard says:

    Stacey and Family – what a lovely eulogy to Nico. They say that rescue dogs somehow realize they have been saved and have a special relationship with their nes owners and give of themselves totally. Sounds as though it was a two sided coin of giving.

    July 7th, 2010 at 8:43 am

  12. Suzanne Deering says:

    I’m so glad the two of you had each other, if only for a short time.

    We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own
    live within a fragile circle easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.
    —Irving Townsend

    July 7th, 2010 at 9:13 am

  13. Kathy Sibley says:

    I remember hearing of Nico when he was in need of a home. I remember how happy I was when I was told that he would be going to California to live with a good family with a mom, dad and a boy. What dog could ask for more? My heart aches for you and your loved ones over your loss. Take comfort in knowing that he will be with you always in your heart.
    Kathy with 3 rescued BMD’s: Bella, Bently and Boomer

    July 7th, 2010 at 9:24 am

  14. Elaine Pelletier says:

    We were all were happy when Nico was adopted by you. We all share your grief now. You gave him a wonderful life. I am sure he did the same for you. Berners are very special. Thank you Stacey. Elaine

    July 7th, 2010 at 10:08 am

  15. Christine Delapp says:


    What a blessing you were for Nico and that he was for you. May his love keep you strong during this difficult time.
    How lucky he was to be rescued!
    May Nico be in peace and healthy at the Rainbow Bridge

    Chicago IL

    July 7th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

  16. April Rifenburgg says:

    Dear Stacy, Brian, and Patrick,
    I am so sorry to hear that Nico has passed on. I know he was a very special boy, and you certainly did wonders in bringing him back to health. What a beautiful boy he turned out to be both inside and out. My heart breaks for you.
    With much sympathy and tears,
    April Rifenburg

    July 7th, 2010 at 9:03 pm

  17. jill povey says:

    Having lost my beloved Custer this week, I can fell your loss keenly. Hugs from our other BMD’s ,Libby and Bridger

    July 7th, 2010 at 11:39 pm

  18. Jeri Holloway says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, but you gave Nico the best four years of life. In time you will remember Nico and not feel the pain of loss as badly as it is now. You will be able to remember all the wonderful times as well as those later weeks as he began his road to the Bridge.

    When I lost my first rescue Berner, Gypsy, in Nov. 2003, days before her 3rd birthday, after treating her for a month trying to stabilize her kidney failure, she was my beloved velcro girl from Russia via BARC, I was so shattered.

    But when you own a Berner, it does something to your heart. There is so much love for that one Berner, your heart gets bigger, and before you know it, God places another Berner in your path. For me it was Grace, from Hungary, who spent around six months with the auctioneer in Missouri before he sold her at auction to BARC. She was just over 1 1/2 when I got her around Christmas 2003, she was terrified of everything and shook and trembled so much it is a wonder she did not fall over. She is almost 8 1/2 now and so much better, still has some quirks but is such a loving soul.

    She was joined by Berner Agatha, from the local dog pound, in early 2006 and Berner Eli in early 2008. I had Gypsy such a short time, but would do it all over again even if I knew the time would be that short. She was that special. As are all of the other Berners that have shared my life.

    There is just something so precious about these Berners…I know you will cherish all of your memories of Nico.

    July 8th, 2010 at 3:37 am

  19. Jennifer Zaayer says:

    Dear Stacy,
    I remember when you first adopted Nico, and have followed his story with your wonderful family. As someone who places rescue Berners, I can say that you are exactly the kind of people who truly understand the meaning of rescue. Thank you for being such a wonderful home for Nico, and giving him some happy years.
    Jennifer Zaayer
    Cardiff by the Sea CA

    July 8th, 2010 at 12:21 pm

  20. Christine Delapp says:

    I am so sorry for your loss of Nico. May he be at peace at the Rainbow Bridge.
    How lucky you both were to have each other in your lives.
    Rescue berner’s are something beyond special. Thank you for giving Nico such a wonderful life.
    Chicago IL

    July 12th, 2010 at 5:57 am

  21. Stacy Stewart says:

    Hi Stacey ~ I just found your blog (it’s lovely!) and I’m so sorry to read about the passing of your beloved doggie. He looked so beautiful and friendly.

    That time will be approaching me soon as well. My “best friend” is 16.5 years old and I’ve had him since he was six weeks old. He is still getting around okay, but he is finally starting to act old. *sigh* I’m sure that Nico had a fabulous life with your family. Treasure that memory always! (*_*) ~Stacy~

    July 28th, 2010 at 8:50 pm

  22. scarlett reed says:

    I’ve been remiss, my friend. What a beautiful post about your sweet boy.

    August 13th, 2010 at 4:50 pm

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