Edit in profile section

The Best Friends Walk

Monica Jamaluddin

In Memory of Charles

Update 3.17.24

It's been a little over a week since Charles' Birthday and things have been hectic on my end so I apologize for the delay in sending this update. Charles' Best Friends Walk was one for the books! On March 7, 2024 at 6:30am I started my walk with Charles' ashes tucked safely in my backpack. My starting point was the house in North Park where Charles lived from when he was a puppy until he moved to Japan at 7 years old (he was a very cosmopolitan doggo).

At the same time, halfway around the world in Japan, it was 10:30pm and Charles' other human, Oleg, and his best bud, Avi, also started walking from his other home where Charles enjoyed his final years.

For the next 11-hours, his 3 best friends walked around the neighborhoods, dog parks, sniffing spots, and scenic points, that he loved best.

In total, I walked by four dog parks, three pet stores, and countless areas that he had clearly marked as his territory! It was a beautiful day of remembering all the things we all loved most about Charles, and to honor his beautiful, gentle, sometimes-judgy, but always loving soul.

I thought about:
- his adorable high-pitched whine whenever we got close enough to the dog park that he recognized where we were
- the way he would always insist on sitting right on top of a big bush to poop to make it as hard as possible for us to fish it out afterwards
- how he would get a million burrs and stickies in his paws on every walk and be totally unapologetic about it
- the way he would come and lay down next to me, making sure to dig his elbows painfully right into my ribs before settling down
-how he would lean his bony little head into my chest so I could give him big hugs and belly rubs

I could keep going but I'll stop there. You get the idea: he was the best doggo in the whole world and he is so missed!

Both walks on either end of the world went great. Mine ended at Sunset Cliffs where we had the cutest sunset party for Charles and all the other good boys and girls we've loved and lost. Oleg and Avi ended with sunrise at the first beach Charles visited in Okinawa, and where Avi and Charles loved to chase each other and dip their paws into the water on hot days.

In the middle of our busy lives, taking the time to pause, turn off all devices, and spend the day / night walking around the cities that are filled with Charles' spirit is the best way I could think to honor a best friend who taught me more than anyone about what a gift it is to simply offer our full presence to those we love.

Thank you so much for sharing your stories, donating to support this hemangiosarcoma research initiative, and sending your love and good wishes! It means the world to me, to his Oleg, to Avi, and most certainly to Charles and the Morris Animal Foundation.

Lots of love,


Update 3.6.24:
The Best Friends Walk is just around the corner! At the end of the day, we will be meeting at Sunset Cliffs, at the following map location:

We'll meet at 5:30pm and take some time to celebrate and remember Charles and all of the other goodest boys and girls.

Everyone is welcome to join!

Lots of love,


Late last year, I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends, the absolute goodest boy, Charles. He was the sweetest, snuggliest, lean-iest, most-loving, shockingly smart, totally zen dog. Not to mention the fanciest dog I have ever met. He was always ready for snuggles, would never refuse a head nuzzle, and eventually grew to love my big squeez-y hugs and nose boops, but he specialized in laying down right on top of me and threatening with his growls to get up and walk away in a huff should I make the slightest of movements. __________________________________________________________________
Charles was a dog of many talents, interests, and quirks. His favorite thing of all, though, was going on walks with me and Avi (his younger, redder, and more mischievous brother). We called it the “Best Friends Walk” and even had a song that we made up about it and would sing whenever we went out. ____________________________________________________________________________
Charles turned 10 in March of last year, and though I was always hyper-aware that the day would come, it still completely blindsided me when it finally arrived. Over the previous months, he had started to slow down but I thought it was simply a part of his getting older. The first time he saw the vet, they said he had anemia and provided medicine to help. On his second visit a couple of weeks later when the medicine wasn't working, they found a tumor on his spleen and he had to go into emergency surgery. Only 1.5 weeks later, I was sitting on the cold floor of the vet’s office, cradling Charles in my lap as he drifted off to his final nap. __________________________________________________________________________
Everything happened so fast and I think that’s a big part of what is so devastating about hemangiosarcoma. There are virtually no symptoms until the cancer has progressed too far to do much of anything. At that point, all we can do is make our amazing furry little friends as comfortable as possible and stay attuned to them so they can tell you when it's time to let go. ____________________________________________________________________________
If you have known me over the last 6 years, you would know how much Avi and Charles mean to me. Saying goodbye to Charles is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and adjusting to this new reality is one I am grappling with daily. The waves of grief seem to hit whenever I’m least expecting it, knocking the wind right out of me.
In the short period after receiving Charles’ diagnosis, I frantically searched for new research, treatment options, experimental approaches, supplements, diet plans – anything that might prolong his life and help him feel better. The sense of utter helplessness was gut-wrenching. ___________________________________________________________________
While it was heartbreaking to know that it was too late to do anything for my sweet Charlie Bear, I did find some amazing organizations doing important research into this particularly aggressive and insidious form of cancer. I was heartened to learn that insights gained from research into this disease in dogs also benefits humans who are affected by a similarly brutal cancer, angiosaroma. ________________________________________________________________
The Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) is one such organization that announced a major initiative for hemangiosarcoma research at the beginning of 2023. MAF is a nonprofit organization that funds science to advance the health of animals around the world. Since its founding in 1948, the Foundation has invested over $155 million in more than 2,700 studies that have led to significant breakthroughs in diagnostics, treatments and preventions to benefit animals worldwide. They also have a 4-star rating on Charity Navigator, which is scored based on Accountability & Finance, Leadership & Adaptability, and Culture & Community. _________________________________________________________________
Over the last few months, I have been struggling to process the idea that I'll never hold Charles or feel his warm, bony little body leaning up against me ever again. I've been wanting to do something - to remember him and also to help me process this in some way.
So, this year on March 7th, 2024, to celebrate Charles on his 11th birthday, I’ll be doing an 11-hr walk along the coast of San Diego (the city where Charles spent more than half of his life). The plan is to start in Carlsbad at 6:30 am and end at Sunset Cliffs at 5:30 pm (exact start and end points TBD), where I’ll have a small memorial ceremony. ______________________________________________________________________
While I’m doing this walk to honor Charles’ life, it’s also an honoring of all of our cherished best friends that we have had to say goodbye to. If you’re reading this, you are invited to meet me at Sunset Cliffs at the end of my walk to honor Charles and all the precious little souls who have entered our lives and left permanent muddy paw prints in our hearts. And bringing your pups along and/or anything that reminds you of your best friends will be highly encouraged. __________________________________________________________________
Please consider donating, joining me on the walk, and/or sharing with your network. Any of those things would feel so supportive. Thank you! __________________________________________________________________________
If you'd like to learn more about Hemangiosarcoma and the Morris Foundation's research efforts, check out these articles:


raised of $5,000 goal


Recent Donations