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  • Lola Webber

For Django

Updated: Mar 6

“Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favourite”

I wasn’t going to write this blog, and deleted several versions before finally writing this one to share. I felt compelled to do so for anyone who may have lost their best friend, their soul mate, their everything. I hope that just by knowing you are not alone in such feelings of loss can be a source of comfort in some way, as I know Django always sought to provide comfort when he sensed sadness. I also wanted to use this opportunity to thank everyone who has shown so much kindness since Django passed away – your words of sympathy and support, and the time you have taken to share your stories of loss and healing, have meant so much to me…


Django will forever be my greatest love story. It was love at first sight and as soon as I met him, I knew life would never be the same again! He was rescued from a dog meat farm just outside Seoul in South Korea in 2013, where he had been living the most pitiful existence – the same life that millions of dogs endure on dog meat farms still toady in South Korea. His value in Korea was measured on scales…



But as soon as he came to live with me and my family, we knew he was the most precious soul we could ever imagine or have dreamt up! He was weak after being born and surviving months in a cage, and he struggled to keep up with our other dogs charging along the beach, even though he was only a puppy. But, he quickly gained his strength and he was unstoppable! He thought everything about life was great! And his joy for anything and everything was totally contagious! His big tosa grin was like magic and I always told him I loved him “too much” and that one day my heart would explode! Yet every day I some how loved him even more!



Over the years we had together, I was travelling quite a lot for work. Endless visits to dog meat markets, farms and slaughterhouses in South Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia. And I would come home and weep for all the suffering I had left behind. Django was always waiting for me when I came back and coming back to him was coming home. He would lie with me and let me sob into his beautiful soft fur, never pulling away or judging. He was my most amazing therapist and source of courage…



And after letting myself feel down for a day – feeling totally overwhelmed by sadness and frustration – I would look at him and say out loud, “OK, Django... Let’s get back to work...” And he would smile at me and we would do just that! He was never more than a touch away…


“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage” – Lao Tzu


Django lived a life of absolute adoration with me and my family. We never took him for granted even for a second, and we always knew how lucky we were to have this most beautiful boy in our lives, home, family and hearts.



In April 2018, out of nowhere, he developed a lump on his front wrist. I thought he must have twisted it or been stung by something on one of our walks. I took a photo and sent it to my vet friend who told me to get it checked out as soon as possible. Her tone made me nervous and I started googling…


The words “cancer”, “amputation” and “life expectancy” flashed up on my screen and my heart sank and I could feel a huge knot in my stomach. It was 11 pm and we put him in the car and went to a 24 hour veterinary clinic. They took x-rays and did tests, and then, very bluntly, the vet told us Django had an aggressive form of bone cancer – osteosarcoma – and there was nothing that could be done and we should take him home to die.


The world caved in around me and I felt totally crushed. Living in Bali, it is not always easy to get good or specialised vet care. But there was no way we were going to let cancer win! I was going to fight for him with everything I had… fighting for his life was the same as fighting for my own…


“One day you will ask me which is more important? My life or yours? I will say mine and you will walk away not knowing you are my life” – Kahalil Gibran


Fortunately, I have an amazing network of friends and colleagues, and together we found a vet clinic who could do Django’s amputation surgery and another who would find a way of getting the chemo drugs he needed to Bali.


Meanwhile, without me even knowing about it, a dear friend had set up a fundraising page to help cover the costs of his amputation and chemotherapy, and I was blown away to see that people from all around the world – most of whom neither I nor Django had ever met – had donated to help save our Django.


I was so overwhelmed by people’s kindness; and knowing people all around the world were rooting for him and sending the most beautiful messages of support was such a great source of comfort and strength.



And Django did it! He learned to live life on three legs, he took chemo in his stride, and his follow up x-rays and tests all looked good! I decided the statistics of survival rates of “up to 12 months even with amputation and chemotherapy” didn’t apply to Django, because they hadn’t considered the power of love! And we had enough of that for him to live forever!


Amazing friends sent us tailor-made wheels from the US and we even had a visitor from the UK to try to make him an artificial leg so that Django could keep doing what he did best – living and loving life!


And we had an amazing 13 months after the chemo…



But then, bit by bit he started to show signs of pain… and what had started as random yelps of discomfort, developed into long periods of inconsolable discomfort  and awful vocalisations that would tear through me…


We did tests and x-rays, tried every medication and pain management plan we could to try to keep him comfortable and happy. But eventually the drugs stopped working and my boy was suffering.


His life become one of pain, no matter how hard I tried, with only brief intermittent moments of reprieve. I knew I was losing him. And, after months of trying anything and everything, I knew it was time to let him go.


I couldn’t keep him even though I wanted to more than anything, because keeping him meant him suffering.  I arranged for the vet to come at 10 am on the 22nd August. I didn’t sleep at all on the night of the 21st and Django lay next to me, restless but better than other nights. He had as much ice cream and cheese as he wanted and I told him over and over again how loved he was.


The following morning, I asked him if maybe he could stay with me for just one more day; and he looked at me and begged me to let him go. He was so, so tired and needed peace. His muzzle had been turning grey and his eyes were so tired... He had had enough and couldn’t go on no matter how hard he had been trying. I now understand why people say, “rest in peace”… He died in my arms surrounded by love. At peace.


And I and my family took on his pain and the only comfort was that he didn’t have to. It was the most excruciatingly agonising experience of my life losing Django. I felt – and still feel – like I lost so much of who I am and totally lost without him. He is such an indelible part of me, all that I do, all that I fight for, all that I am. I don’t know who I am without him… but I am trying to find my way…


I could go on about how unbearable the loss was and still is to me and my family, but that isn’t the purpose of this blog and Django never dwelled on his pain or the bad hand he had been dealt. Rather, this blog is written with the aim of celebrating Django, the depth of love humans and animals can share, and the kindness of people who you have never met but feel like family…





What was so touching after Django’s passing, was the outpouring of support and words of comfort from so many people around the world. So many people took the time to reach out to me to share their stories of loss and how they had found ways of soothing the pain. I also heard beautiful stories on how their next rescue dogs had saved them from their pits of despair when they thought they would never survive the heartbreak of losing a friend. And kind people told me how Django’s story and updates had been such sources of inspiration and joy.



And all the while, Django had no idea just how special he was or what he created and inspired just by being him, no matter how many times I told him…

I now look for Django every day – little signs from him so I know he is still with me. On most days, I can find him…


One recent moment took my breath away…


In September, I was walking down a random street In Seoul and a busker was playing his guitar. As I got closer, he started singing the song, “Love of my life” by Queen.  A friend of mine and Django’s had told me this song always made him think of me and Django, and it kind of became mine and Django’s song… So, when that song filled the streets in Seoul, a month after Django’s passing, not so far from where his life began in a barren cage on a dog meat farm, I couldn’t help but believe it was a sign from my boy, wherever he is... Django always had a great sense of humour!


So, in Django’s honour, I will never give up on the promise I made him – because a promise is a promise – that I will never give up until all dogs are cherished and valued just for being them… and that never again will dogs suffer on farms or in markets and slaughterhouses.


As hard as it feels at times, I trust that eventually the ground will settle a little and that in time, I will just feel gratitude for having had him in my life, without all the sadness and grief I feel now.


Time was never on our side and I just wish the universe could have let him stay a little longer because the world certainly was a better and more fun place with him in it. I would love nothing more to relive every second I spent with Django all over again…


A kind friend sent me these beautiful words of comfort that I will end this blog with…

“I know that for the likes of us there is no ease for the heart to be had from words or reason and that in the very assurance of sorrow’s fading there is more sorrow. So, I offer you only my deeply affectionate and compassionate thoughts and wish for you only that the strange thing may never fail you, whatever it is, that gives us the strength to live on and on with our wounds” - Playwright Samuel Beckett to his friend after his father’s passing.


#changeforanimals #django #rescue #welfare #dog #dogs

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