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Celebrating the Life of Virginia Woof

About 30 people and some four-legged friends gathered at the home of Annie Wilson to celebrate the life of her beloved 15-year-old dog Virginia Woof (Gigi) on Monday, March 25. For many, it would be the last time they saw sweet little Gigi, but the atmosphere was more cheery than mournful — which is just what Annie and Gigi wanted.

You may remember Annie and Gigi from our Giving Tuesday campaign in November. Gigi had been diagnosed with cancer, and FAAS was assisting in paying for treatments using our , which helps keep pets and their people together when there isn’t enough money for things like veterinary treatment.

Even the veterinary team that treated Gigi for cancer had hopes that she’d get another six months of life that she wouldn’t have had otherwise. Maybe even a year or more. But a couple of weeks ago, Gigi started coughing. Annie took her to the vet’s and got the devastating news: The cancer had spread and was now in her lungs.

Gigi wouldn’t have long.

Annie knows how to face life’s challenges. She’s had a lifetime of practice. She was born with a rare condition called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a motor neuron disease. She has Type 1, the most severe form. She wasn’t supposed to live past three years old. She’s never walked, she’s had multiple surgeries, and she’s been on a ventilator day and night since her 20s.

But Annie is one of those impossibly positive people whose spirit rubs off on anyone she encounters. She doesn’t dwell on things she can’t do. It’s all about what she can do. And with this spirit, in the throes of gut-wrenching heartbreak, she threw herself into planning a party for Gigi, who has many friends and fans.

“We want to have a celebration of her wonderful life with her while she is still here to feel the love that so many of you have for her!” the invitation read. “Please, anyone who has been touched by Gigi’s journey, helped with her fundraiser, know her, and love her, please stop by and show my girl some love as her time with us comes to an end.”

It was a huge success, and Gigi, who spent much of the time settled on a giant pile of jackets and sweaters Annie had set out for her (she loves jackets), enjoyed the festivities as much as she could. When she got tired of being feted, she ambled to the bedroom for a little rest.

Annie went all out for Gigi, with charcuterie boards and amazing locally made gumbo and other goodies for humans, and a little section of the kitchen devoted exclusively to Gigi’s favorite foods, from pizza to French fries. Gigi wasn’t eating much, but her canine visitors enjoyed the special treats. There was even a heartwarming video about Gigi that played during the gathering.

Gigi got the farewell most people don’t even get. Everyone got to pet her or sit with her — whatever Gigi felt like. Gigi got up to sniff the hind-end of a big Labrador retriever friend who came in for a visit, and he and another dog friend lay down close to Gigi as she reigned on her pile of jackets.

For four hours, Annie was able to focus on something other than losing her best friend. She was able to do this when Gigi was receiving the radiation treatment FAAS’s Skyla Fund paid for, too. “It gave me hope for Gigi, and I’ll be grateful for that forever,” she says.

Annie feels far less alone knowing how much people love Gigi, and how they were and will be there for Gigi and her during one of the hardest times of Annie’s life.

“I’m still trying to figure out how I am going to live without my best friend,” Annie says. “I know that I will love her and cherish every single minute we have left until she tells me she is ready to go.”

If you’d like to donate to the Skyla fund so beloved pets like Gigi can get the help they need, please click  and scroll down to Skyla Fund. You can even make a note if you’d like this to be in honor of Gigi.

With gratitude and hope,

John L. Lipp
CEO/ Director