In Memoriam: My Vito the Dog

In Memoriam: My Vito the Dog

Dear Friends of Vito,

Today is April the 17th. As some of you already know, a month+week ago on March 10th, my sweet rescued dog Vito passed away. Within 3 weeks, I lost my horse Key West, and my best buddy Vito. My best friends with whom I spent so much time in my life. It was very surreal. When Vito passed, I was in a state of numbness, and could not share my thoughts and love for him with other people, as it was still too raw, too painful.

I never thought that the dog we adopted from a shelter 3 years ago would end up becoming my whole life. We rescued Vito as a senior after he was found by the Police in a squad house in Eindhoven. The woman caring for him at the shelter cried when we took him home. She already got attached to him. He was a special boy.

He loved sitting in chairs He loved sitting in chairs

Vito loved taking pictures Vito loved taking pictures

We rescued Vito, but he certainly rescued me as well. The truth is that at the time of the adoption, I was in a bad place in my life. I had a burnout due to a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I did not leave the house for months, as I was having panic attacks. My now-husband Dirk was thinking of things that would get me to leave the house, as I did not even wanted to go for a walk. I always wanted to have a dog again, but due to my busy work schedule I wasn’t able to until that time. So Dirk said: “Let’s go and get a dog. We have all the time now to give a dog the right attention”. I was very happy, and so we went to get a dog. I needed a dog to get me back into society again. So I could go on walks that could bring me back to health. We knew that in my current state back then, I needed a grownup dog that would be calm and low-energy during a walk. It was a logical choice to check the local shelter and help a shelter dog in need.

Vito and me Vito and me

We visited many times, and walked different dogs. Some dogs were too enthusiastic, or too scared. Vito was walked each time we visited the shelter, and he would walk by each time. He looked like a happy fella. It is like he chose us. We took him home, and the first thing he did was jump on the nicest furniture we have, a chair that become his own chair.. He was home, and he took over the house at the same time.

2013-02-13_1360749061 Vito in his chair for the first time


We knew he was a senior when we adopted him, at almost 10 years old. But our care gave him his second youth. he blossomed, so once everything was arranged, we took him with us to New York City.

Vito in the City Vito in the City

Vito was calm, super sweet and stubborn. He loved it that he was with us 24/7 most of the time. He was always kind to others. He loved kids, he loved people, he loved dogs. He loved all animals. He trusted us completely to always do the right thing for him. Walking him was going on an adventure each day. And he made me laugh and enjoy life again.

Vito had only a few health issues along the way, but overall had an amazing 3 years with us. A year ago he had to have surgery to remove a spleen with a tumor. The tumor turned out to be malignant, but not the kind that spreads easily. We decided to not give chemo as there was no guarantee of success. We give him organic food, and hoped for the best. He lived on for another 9 months before cancer become a problem again. And at that point everything took a turn for the worse. We were in the Netherlands for Christmas and New Year, when he received his scheduled Leptospirosis vaccination at the beginning of 2016. Right after he unfortunately got sick with Parvo, which weakened him a lot. Only then we found he had tumors in his liver and lungs, and that he did not have so much time to live. We tried everything and asked all experts in the Netherlands, but there was not much they could do. We made the best of it, cooked for him, slept on the couch with him, and hoped that we could do anything to get him stable so we could go back to New York City, where other treatments were a possibility.

Vito and a bullterrier puppy playing in NYC Vito Tusker on the left, and bullterrier puppy Darwyn playing in NYC.

Slowly but surely Vito was losing weight. It was a bit strange. One week it would go reasonably well, and he would eat well. We thought that we would get him stable to get him to NYC. But each time he would suddenly become critical, and he would get an episode where he felt he had to vomit, but in the meantime would suck up air and end up with a bloat. he did not know what to do, was in pain, and tried to walk around to relieve the bloat. A few times he could relieve himself by pooping or burping. One time Dirk could push his belly at the right time so he would burp. Twice we had to go to the vet in the middle of the night to relieve himself from the bloat by intubating him. And then afterwards everything went back to (the new) normal. After the last nightly visit to the vet I sent the vet a message everything seemed OK again. We hoped that we could change the situation, and make things better. Vito was our everything.

Vito wanted to live, he wanted to go on, even until the very last moment.

Dirk carried Vito around every day. Dirk and Vito were a good team together

Thinking back, we realize Vito did not have enough space in his belly anymore. His belly felt hard, even though he became skinny. When his intestines would be filled with food, the tumor in his liver or lungs, would press on his stomach. Vito would feel like he had to vomit, but nothing would come out of it as it was already digested. With the pressure he was building in his stomach, he could finally defecate. There was an obstruction somewhere in his belly. The sad thing is that Vito knew this was going on. At one point he knew that whatever he ate, would finally become a problem once it gets digested. If we change his food to something new, he would eat it. Hoping this food would not become a problem. But everything would become a problem. Everything we could try, we tried, until there was no other option left. After one morning when he had one bloat too many, looked exhausted, could not walk, and did not even want to eat his favorite bread, it became apparent that he was suffering and that it was his time to go.

Vito passed peacefully at home in his favorite chair, the nice designer one he jumped into the first time he entered our home. He was surrounded by the ones who loved him. He had enjoyed a lot of delicious pate just before, which now would not become a problem in his belly. He received many cuddles and kissed from us. It was one of the hardest thing I ever had to experience, but I knew that we did everything to give him life in the weeks, months and years before. We guarded him from too much suffering, and let him go in dignity.

Vito and my nephew Navy at his favorite cafe in New York City Vito and my nephew Navy at his favorite cafe in New York City

Right at the moment when I am doing better, Vito had to leave. It is like he has done his duty, people said. And maybe that is true. But I do miss him a lot.

Our Christmas card 2015-2016 Our Christmas card 2015-2016

Vito: From Shelter dog in Eindhoven to lucky dog in New York. He experienced it all, and had such a good time doing so! He made so many friends, and went on so many adventures. He has over 11.1k followers on Instagram, and was featured in many press articles, like a Sunday NY Post article featured with Neville Jacobs. He truly got everything out of life as long as he could.

Vito the Dog in the New York Post Vito the Dog in the New York Post 20150719_110337 Vito the Dog sees himself in the New York Post

We buried Vito and he now has a wonderful place on a hill in between old trees, with a ray of Sun hitting his spot every day. We like it that we know that he is with people now who also loved him very much.

Vito's happy face Vito’s happy face

I knew I was going to not be able to spend a lifetime with Vito, but looking back, I would adopt him again. What he brought to us in just 3 years, some people don’t even get in a lifetime. The most loyal and sweet dog he was. He was even better than expected when we got him from the shelter. I know I will adopt again someday, because there are many other dogs in shelters in need. And those dogs are truly the most loving and thankful for your adoption. They give you their all, and even more. But first, I need to heal and live in our new normal.

Thank you for all the love you all have given Vito the past years. It was overwhelming and sweet. We are going to make sure he will not be forgotten. We will keep his spirit alive and cherish all the wonderful times we had with Vito.

Love, LonnekeVITO the Dog chair

p.s. If you have any Vito stories (or pictures), could you share them with us? We would like that very much 🙂 We will continue with Vito’s instagram, as well as the website and his future children’s book, all in the memory of amazing mister Vito ♡♡♡