BUCK, THE MALAMUTE. In December 2014, Daphne agonized over a decision to put their almost 15-year-old Alaskan Malamute to sleep. “He had lived a full live with us here in Florida. While my husband was not fully onboard with the decision, he finally agreed.” Afterwards, Daphne went through

a tough six months as she continually second-guessed her decision. In June 2015, she dreamed that she

and her husband were walking through a birch forest after a fresh snowfall. “The snow was glittering

and squeaking under our boots. The path was absolutely magical in its brilliance,” said Daphne. Through the trees and up the

path, she spotted Buck, their beloved Malamute, bounding joyfully in the snow towards them. “He was our Buck in his glorious prime. His coat rolled and sparkled in the sun; his tongue lolled out of a giant grin.” In the dream, Daphne

stepped forward to greet him. Buck slid to stop a few feet away and they locked eyes. “His bold, brown eyes told me that he was happy and that he was okay. He was more than okay and he told me I could forgive myself. Then, he whirled around and ran off into the glory of the day.” Daphne says she is a pragmatist who

does not believe in ghosts or fairy tales. “But, I do believe that my dog visited me in my dreams, without one doubt.”

DUVAL, THE BORDER COLLIE. Desanya always believed that Duval, the family’s beloved Border Collie, chose them when he was only an eight-week-old puppy. During family gatherings, Desanya’s husband Mick, her infant nephew Davis and Duval were insepara- ble. They became known, affectionately, as “The Boys.” Growing up together, Duval and

Davis formed a special bond, unlike anything the entire family of dog lovers had ever seen. His favorite thing was going out on the water in Uncle Mick’s boat with Duval. When he was five years-old, Duval

was diagnosed with cancer after Desanya discovered a lump that seemed to just pop up out of nowhere. They fought it with chemo, and Duval seemed to respond well to treatment. Life was good. Then, the unthinkable happened.

Doctors discovered that Davis had an inoperable brain tumor. His father Matt, who was serving a tour of duty in the Army, was immediately called home from Iraq to be with his wife and son. Treatment at Vanderbilt Medical Center would include chemotherapy and radiation.

again and there were no more clinical options. Throughout, Davis’s determina- tion and untiring spirit touched so many lives. “He was always worried about every- one else,” said Desanya. One night, not quite a year after

Duval’s passing, Desanya thought she was awakened by the distinct sound of the dog- gie door. When she looked around the bed- room she saw that everyone, the dogs and her husband, were sound asleep. Schooner, Duval’s brother was asleep on the couple’s bed and Truman, the new puppy was in his crate. Suddenly, she felt the comfort- ing, reassuring presence of Duval and had a premonition about Davis. Later, she received a phone

call letting her know that Davis had passed around three that morning—the same time Duval visited her in the dream. Davis was just ten years old.

Duval and Davis. Forever, Friends. The tumor stopped growing but

would come back with a vengeance a year later. In the meantime, Duval had to have surgery to remove another mass which was benign. Although the surgery was a success, Duval would end up dying from a blood clot. He was 12 years old. Less than a year later, when Davis was

around nine years old, he and his parents were faced with a decision no child should ever have to face. It was a decision only Davis could make. The doctors asked him if he would be interested in trying an experimental treatment. He was told there would be no benefit to him. Davis knew that he benefited from children before him who had endured the rigors of clinical trials. Those experimental treat- ments helped doctors develop the standard treatment that worked so well for Davis for more than a year. As soon as he realized that there was a possibility it could help another child, Davis selflessly agreed to participate in a clinical trial and signed the paper giving his permission to proceed. After three grueling months of exper- imental therapy, the tumor began growing

Desanya took some comfort believing that Duval was waiting for Davis and that the two of them are together, forever. “I will never understand their leaving,” said Desanya. “But, I believe that good things always happen after bad.”

Dreams, continued on following page.g Z

10,000 children across America are diagnosed each year with a brain

tumor. Less than 10 percent of those are diagnosed as inoperable because of the type and location. To keep Davis’ spirit of determination alive, the family created the Davis Ferguson Memorial Fund. Donations help local families who have a child with a terminal illness, as well as to help fund research for pediatric tumors. For more information, to host a

fundraising benefit or to donate, visit The Children’s Cancer Center in

Tampa created the White Hat Fund pro- gram in honor of Davis. It also helps fami- lies that have a child diagnosed with can- cer and are in dire financial hardship as a result. They can apply for financial assis- tance with the program through a social worker at their hospital. Contact Sharin Nelson at or call 813.367.5437, extension 2.

Spring 2018 THE NEW BARKER 53

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