Chronicling Victor’s final days

by Mark Mabry

Editor’s Note: In the article below, Mark Mabry describes what it was like to be around Glenn during the final months of Victor’s life. Mark is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, and storyteller with The American Dream Labs. He is currently working on The Man in the Moon and a yet-to-be-announced project. Mark and his family are also close with the Beck’s, allowing Mark to get a unique perspective on the personal moments in Glenn’s life.

“Take a few pictures of Victor, he is starting to get bad… you never know when his time will come,” was Glenn’s main request up at the Ranch last August.

So that week, I looked for my chance. Occasionally Victor would limp to the front law and lay in the sun. But mostly he laid by the door.

Glenn mentioned that he was going to start preparing the family for what was becoming apparent about Victor. He was nearing the end.

Not long after the trip I was perusing Vimeo, when I came across a video called, Last Minutes with ODEN. It was masterful, telling the story of a man and his dog with cancer. The man reminisced as he took ODEN in to be euthanized. The man was obviously not rich and the dog was all he had…

I sent him an email during radio… “Glenn, this might be incredibly insensitive to show you right now, but you may find comfort in it. https://vimeo.com/8191217 – Mark”

Typically there is a barrage of people that need Glenn to see things once he gets off the air. Nathan, Director of Creative Services, who sits next to me had just produced a great new show intro that he was anxious to show him. LJ, waited to give him some 1791 proofs as well.

At 11:01, strait from radio, he came up and walked over to my desk.

“What do you want to show me?”

“It’s a dog video. Maybe it’s not the right time…”

Nathan and LJ stood by, projects in arms.

“No, show me now.”

I pulled it up and handed Glenn my headphones. He sat in my chair. Four minutes in, Glenn was a mess. Tears, kleenexes, audible sobs.

I looked at Nathan, “Sorry man. I probably could have timed this a little better.”

“I’ll wait on that promo…” he whispered back.

Glenn finished, laid down the head phones, and walked to his office.

Fast forward a few month. It’s March now. Victor can barely walk at all. He’s gone deaf in one ear and blind in one eye. Victor is in severe pain.

Glenn began to talk about it on the radio more and more. And as the time approached he had more to say about it. Once he had spoken about the sadness and the difficulty of ending someones life, we turned the conversation toward documenting this deeply personal moment… whether it was actually helpful to listeners and viewers, or if it was exploitation of a sacred moment.

Glenn opened up about his history. For the last 35 years, he has had listeners. A one way conversation with the microphone… knowing that today there are millions of them listening. He wept about the comments on his site and the notes he’s received.

“For years, I lied about my life… thinking I was telling the truth. That was a one-way conversation. But for the last decade or so, I really am telling the truth. And talking about this is on air is natural. I guess it’s how I cope,” he told me at the end of a long talk.

So I kept tagging along with camera in hand. There are only a few times that I’ve felt so timid about photographing as when people are grieving, as Glenn and his family were in the middle of.

Something else interesting has happened. For the most part, there was a truce. For a few days, trolls on the site were nicer (on this topic at least). Losing a friend was sacred turf upon which nobody felt like trampling.

I watched Glenn teach his own family about grieving, friendship, and life. About God, too. And about man’s relationship with God’s creations.

He showed them, that when it comes down to it station in life doesn’t matter in moments of grief. It feels the same for everyone. Rich and poor, believer and non, etc…

How we deal with it is up to us.

Watch last minutes with ODEN below:

Last Minutes with ODEN from Eliot Rausch on Vimeo.

  • mariahnorris

    Since I started with my online business I earn $62 every 15 minutes. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t read – Buzz80.ℂOℳ

  • http://twitter.com/RhodeyGal2012 Lisa

    Glenn…my heart is breaking for you and your family & I have been praying for you and recruiting prayer all last week.  My husband & I lost our shepherd hound mix in October.  He was 12 & a half and a real Daddy’s boy. He too was never more than a few feet away from my husband.  It was hind end weakness that forced us to make that dreaded decision. There is no easy way to make this decision.  It’s so hard to know the “right” time.  But Victor was loved immensly…know that he felt that.  He is young and strong again and will be waiting for you.  Love & prayers to you all.  God bless.

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t stop crying watching this video today. My heart is breaking for your beloved Victor. In an ironic note my best friend lost his dog “Duke” today after fifteen years of loyal friendship. I will be sharing this video with him, and perhaps he may find some comfort in seeing he is not alone in his current situation. He has struggled very hard for sometime to make the tough choices that are required of loving dog owners. I too have been down this road and I cannot express my gratitude and respect for the entire Beck family, and their willingness to share something so deeply personal and difficult. I have said it before but I will say it again- THANK YOU Mr. Beck for doing everything you do!!! You help Shepherd many of us through the darkness and are a constant voice of all that really matters from day to day. God Bless Victor and the whole Beck family. May your hearts be eased of ache, by the soothing loving memories of your best friend “Victor” the dog.  :-)

  • http://twitter.com/JanRoss12 Jan Ross

    Watching this brought back sad memories of when we had to put our beagle, Ralphie, down a few years ago. Right decisions are often hard. Thank you for sharing this with us. Makes me feel like I’m not alone. May God bless you and your family. RIP Victor. Job well done, friend.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Glenn and Family,
    It’s never easy…the heartache will heal with time.That’s a given I know, but the sentiment is sent with compassion.
    Our shepard (female) made it to 13 yrs before we had to ”send her home’ so, I know the emotions.
    Use this as a motivation to persue the resolution of your current state of an agonite.
    Victor has moved on….so shall you and yours.
    Best Wishes, Mr TR

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WKSHM6BNKMZ5GNOOCRUKK2AVX4 Johnny M

    Great memory. Truly a mans best friend.

    Why is Beck driving a Chevy?

  • http://twitter.com/PaMom4Palin PaMom4Palin

    Oh I knew I shouldn’t have watched this…the flood of memories I have with my own little lady are just still so vivid. But you are right Glenn…they are God’s creatures that He gave to us to care for and love….and Victor had just that. Thank you for sharing this with us….like I told you before in other posts ….Time Heals…God Bless!

  • Deb Graham

    I sit in my chair next to my 13 year old Yorkie, Madi… who is my best friend and my chemo buddy. She was there in 2004 when I went through chemo and wouldn’t let anyone near me after treatment…. and now I am facing the same agonizing decision that you had to make… how much longer do I let her suffer through a collapsed trachea before, I too, have to make the same decision to put her to sleep… I know they say that the dog will let you know, and to this day, I don’t feel her telling me that yet…until I do, I will make her comfortable and be there for her as she was for me….. but I know the day in coming soon when I will have to make that decision…. I pray the God of all comfort will comfort your family in the loss of your beloved Victor….

  • TJ Nevel

                                       For Victor

                    You came as a God given gift to the world.
                    Your eyes told of your capacity to love.
                    You fit into the Beck family just like a glove.
                    You were our protector, our guardian, our child.
                    You were  great and magnificent, gentle and mild.
                    As the years passed by the love still grew, but
                    we saw that time was taking it’s toll.
                    Even those who did not know you, saw the love that God
                    placed there in your soul.
                    You knew when and you accepted that time on earth was done,
                    Our hearts are broken but we know that in the fight you have won.
                    You won your reward of your heavenly home and you will be happy 
                    and never alone.
                    We had to release you from your pain and let your soul run free.
                    But to let you go was practically impossible you see.
                    We know you will be there when our times here on earth are through,
                    We will meet you and the reunions will be sweet and true.
                    To you, my dear friend I salute you and say, 
                    Thank you for your truth and beauty and always being you.
                    
                     
                    
                                                                                                                    TJN

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Glenn & Tonia for sharing those final moments with us…we loved Victor through you …peace

  • americanathlete

    We lost a dog a year ago and certainly feel your pain. And now it’s like she’s right there. We still miss her but know that she is happy, wagging her tail as she roams in the world beyond. Our thoughts and prayers for you and your family, Glenn.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, the pain revisited, that goodby and we will see each other again.  And the peace, somewhere, that tiny speck of peace surrounded by the pain knowing you did the right thing, knowing that they knew your love and your caring for them even at the last when with that slowing heartbeat and closing eyes your heart would continue to beat in their chest as they crossed over into God’s and st. Francis’s open arms.

  • Anonymous

    Glenn, I wrote this when I had to put my dog Bowmont to sleep.
    The second dog I have had to put to sleep. I was like you; I cried for both of them. The first was a Shepard/Lab mix called Alex.
    Writing this gave me some relief, God Bless you. I so much feel your sorrow.
    (If you want to use this in any way for your comfort your family or others, you have my permission.)

    I
    LOST A FRIEND TODAY

    A
    close friend of mine passed away today.

    When
    a friend passes we grieve, attend the funeral, console friends and
    relatives, maybe have a gathering afterwords and a meal with those in
    grieving. We gather memories and remember the good times and then
    move on. The loved one never dies through memories.

    Then
    someone says remember, and the memories, though faded, come back and
    are always there again.

    But
    what if we don’t have a lot of camaraderie or gatherings, not much
    in the way of condolences and no gathering of friends? What if you
    don’t have anything he gave you on your birthday or at Christmas to
    remember him by? What if you can’t distribute his belongings or
    review a will and follow his last requests?

    If
    you scold him he just lies down beside you with tail wagging. Nurse
    him back to health and he is still wagging his tail for you. He is
    always there always ready to say, ‘Hi, Hello, I’m happy to see
    you; it is okay, even in his recovering pain. Leave him in the house
    too long and he still greets you at the door like a long lost friend;
    with tail wagging, and then he asks to go outside.

    But
    the day will come; the family pet must go. You know the best for him
    is the worst for you. You can’t rush into the hospital and say your
    final goodbyes. He is only going to wag his tail. You know your pets
    response…“Hi. Hello. Good to see you; it is okay.”

    Pets
    give everything; they give their all. And even though they have
    nothing, they do leave the only thing they can give…their unending
    love.

    I Lost A Friend Today.

    Richard Wiedenheft

     

  • http://www.thinklikeablackbelt.com/ Lori Hoeck

    Sorry for the tough time with Victor. When pets are always around–in every room in the house, in the car, at work, at play–they take a huge, wonderful place in our lives. They fit our lives like a comfortable sweater while they warm our hearts, make us laugh, or make us stare at them in awe at their winsome ways. When they go, the hole they leave is a yawning cavern of pain. All of us who have lost such a beloved pet feel your family’s aching hearts and wish comfort and peace to soon replace the grief.

  • Anonymous

    I have a GSD who doctors have estimated has less than a month.  Maybe I need to let the video sink in longer to understand it.  But I just watched it, and it’s a mystery to me how this is an award winning video.  It shows the sadness, the loneliness,  the pointlessness of death.  I went into it thinking there would be some comfort, some message that mitigates the pain.  The only useful part to me showing the mechanics of the process, so I’m familiar when Bear’s day comes.  Otherwise valueless. 

  • Anonymous

    Glen, Sorry for your family’s loss. This is a wonderful sentiment, I think.
     
    Rainbow Bridge…

    Just this side of heaven lies the Rainbow Bridge.

    When a beloved pet dies, it
    goes to the Rainbow Bridge. It makes friends with other animals and
    frolics over rolling hills and peaceful, lush meadows of green.

    Our pets do not thirst or
    hunger. The old and the sick are made young once more; and the maimed
    and the ill become healed and strong. They are as healthy and playful as
    we remember them in days gone by.

    Though happy and content, they still miss someone very special, someone they had to leave behind.

    Together, the animals chase
    and play, but the day comes when a pet will suddenly stop and look into
    the distance… bright eyes intent, eager body quivering. Suddenly
    recognizing you, your pet bounds quickly across the green fields and
    into your embrace. You celebrate in joyous reunion. You will never again
    separate. Happy tears and kisses are warm and plenty; your hands caress
    the face you missed. You look once more into the loving eyes of your
    pet and know you never really parted. You realize that out of sight,
    your love had been remembered.

    And now, you cross the Rainbow Bridge together…

    M.A. Preston

  • Anonymous

    To the Beck Family
    Sincerest condolences on the loss of your pet:

    My cuddly furry friend whose life did end
    Brought words of sympathy from stranger and friend
    Words of expression so thoughtful and kind,
    Much appreciated during a sorry time.
    So now my sympathies to you I send
    I know how you miss your special friend.
    You look around and you see a big hole
    Your home empty; your heart not whole.
    But day by day may your fading tears
    Bring smiling memories year after year.
    – Gob Bless
     

  • Anonymous

     O2
    You beat me to it.  I was thinking of the Rainbow’s Bridge poem also.

  • Chris Suman

    May God’s road rise to meet you,
    May the wind be always at your back;
    May the winds fall soft on your face.
    And the rains fall soft upon your fields.
    And until we meet again, may God hold you in his hand.
    May God hold you in. his. hand….
    - Irish Blessing…. I may not have it right, but it’s close….
    I pray that I’m right…. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/mbrinson2 Michael Brinson

    Thanks for sharing this very personal and emotional part of your lives Glenn and Tania. It was nail and very touching.

    Mark – great job putting this together. We miss having your family around in Arizona, but we’re so glad you’re being blessed with the experiences you’re having with Glenn and his family there in Texas.

    You guys need to come by and have dinner at grandma and grandpa’s sometime and share some of your experiences with everyone. :-)

  • TJ Nevel

     I wrote this for you and your family.

  • Anonymous

    Glenn and family, thank you for sharing these moments. I am sorry that your whole family had to go through this.  It took me a long time before I could watch this…as I have two dogs of whom I love very much..since I have no children they are like my own kids. WHile I was deployed to Iraq my oldest dog was abused by his caretaker. I feel especially guilty when I think of having to put to sleep one day.   Thank you again for sharing- I learned so much and may God continue to bless you and your family.
    Lynne

  • Anonymous

    I’ve had dogs my entire life and I do have to say there is something quite unique about loosing a shepherd. I’d bought ours for my husband actually but he never really took to him, or perhaps it might be better said that the dog took to me and so wasn’t quite the sidekick he’d remembered his childhood shepherd being. Nonetheless, the breeder had accidentally slammed his tail in the door before we were to pick him up which became a constant battle for us fighting infection in it with continual antibiotics. The vets only suggestion was to either cut it off or continue to deal as we had been. I wish I’d taught my kids that cutting it off was the kinder thing to do, but I didn’t know either that at just 4 years old it would cause melanoma throughout his body. From the time we’d found the first tumor in his upper right thigh it was just a couple of months before he was a skeleton and I was staying up with him around the clock with his meds, getting his special food down him, and trying to figure out when the right time to let him go was. God knows how much I prayed for that dog! Perhaps it was made a bit harder that at the same time we found his tumor, my own test results had showed one as well. One night while cooking dinner and at the sound of scraping a pot into a bowl he came running, just like old times, food! He acted like he was starving, and he was, so I fed him lamb chops all he wanted. He then quite happily returned to his bed where I laid down in mine right beside him for a bit.  It was the first night I’d slept in I can’t remember how many days and when I awoke, he was gone.
    The depression that set in after that was a tough one to deal with and lasted over a year. It was the first time I was absolutely unable to watch as one of our pets was buried. My heart bleeds now, as I share this even with CareBears’ best two pals still laying around in the floor beside me. He was unique, for sure. Perhaps the name of the breed, “shepherd” says it all.

  • Anonymous

    tinyurl.com/cnaff79

  • Anonymous

    Glenn & Family,

    What a trooper.

    Sorry for your loss. A beloved family member gone but never far from your hearts & thoughts.

    There’s another pet out there waiting for you - to love, unconditionally, when you’re ready. Good hunting & good journey.