Joy Was Everybody’s Dog

Joy was everybody’s to share.

From the time this five-week old furball tugged on my shoe laces, till Joy drew her last breath Sunday night, she was unlike any other dog. The red-head was not my dog, she was our dog. She was your dog, Cape May’s dog.

My joy is gone. Cape May’s Joy Cooke is gone. She was everybody’s dog, at least I think we shared her. Countless numbers of people called her “my girl.” Entering my office, some of you would yell, “where’s my girl,” and she would come running.

What Happened?

The all too common (for this breed) grey area revealed in an X-ray Saturday morning. Following a brief period of low energy and appetite, we had Joy checked out by the good people at Cape May Vet. Out-of-whack blood work and the x-ray caused fear and optimism.  The Golden Retriever had her own plans.

Joy waited patiently for us to return from our usual Sunday night open mic at the Mad Batter. Once home, Joy let us know she was leaving. For us, it was excruciating. For her, it seemed easy and peaceful. She just faded and left.

Our Loss

The hardest part about this, I texted to a friend, is that now I have to tell everyone. It feels like it is our loss. This somewhat red-headed golden left hair and memories everywhere she went. She lived up to the name my wife Suzanne gave her.


We are sorry for our loss.


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  1. June A Arnold
    August 7, 2018 / 8:32 am

    Oh John,
    I am so very sorry, loved your tales of her, never had the opportunity to meet her. Losing a pet is just so very hard, after all they are a part of the family. May God grant you his peace and his love may he give you the courage and strength to endure this very trying time.

    • eva
      August 7, 2018 / 7:54 pm

      So very sorry for the loss of Joy. Always enjoyed seeing her. God bless.

    • The OKeefe Family from Pittsburgh
      August 8, 2018 / 7:33 am

      So sorry for your loss John and Suzanne. She will be extremely missed by anyone who ever stayed at the Victorian and all of her Cape May family. She was truly Cape May’s dog.

  2. Ben Miller
    August 7, 2018 / 8:33 am

    I am am so sorry to hear about Joy’s passing. She was as kind as she was beautiful and every time I saw her, she was so happy and enjoying life.

    Whether it was during trips to the Victorian or seeing you walk with her around town, it was always a pleasure. I used to remark to Andrea that Joy was so lucky to have Suzanne and you as her adopted parents. She got to enjoy Cape May every single day, walking around town, playing on the beach, and getting rubs from all her friends and the occasional visitor, who saw her and couldn’t resist.

    I will miss Joy and keep Suzanne and you in my prayers. It’s a sad day without her in it.

  3. Barbara cramer
    August 7, 2018 / 8:53 am

    John, I can’t believe it. We were just there. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I can’t imagine how you and Suzanne feel. EVERYBODY loved Joy! So so so sorry. Barbara Cramer.

  4. Tina Patti
    August 7, 2018 / 9:02 am

    What a terrible, terrible loss. She was a beautiful girl. Not much to say that can ease your pain, but it sounds like she had a beautiful life and a peaceful end with those that loved her most.

  5. Lois Snyder
    August 7, 2018 / 9:06 am

    John, We are so sorry to hear about Joy. She was part of Cape May’s charm – a canine ambassador. So very hard when such an important part of your life crosses that “rainbow bridge”.

  6. Amy Shaffer Crawley
    August 7, 2018 / 9:14 am

    She truly exemplified her name. Even my mother, who was not an animal lover, gravitated to Joy, and she to her. I will miss hearing her soft bark when you took her our for her 5 a.m. walk. It was so comforting to me. Our stay there will not be the same but I know her spirit will live there for a long time.

    I also still have her picture from the Dog-a-Day calendar on my refrigerator!

  7. Canyon
    August 7, 2018 / 9:34 am

    Oh John, I’m so sorry for the loss of Joy!
    I so enjoyed watching both of your adventurous on Facebook!
    Much love!

  8. Bob Strimel
    August 7, 2018 / 10:25 am

    Words can’t describe the attachment of a ” family ” pet to every day life. Your Joy will never be forgotten, your pain of separation is shared, until the next adventure. I miss our Gertie, Nellie, Sebastian, Skuchie, Sandy, Brutus, Sampson, Episode, and all the cats. Looking forward to seeing them all again!

  9. Edward DeSilva
    August 7, 2018 / 10:37 am

    So, very sorry to hear! I only got to meet her this past Friday. So glad I did.

  10. Melba Christy
    August 7, 2018 / 10:37 am

    As a Golden owner, altho the debate still rages as to who owns who, I send my most sincere condolences. Goldens are indeed remarkable, intuitive, gentle, loving “friends” to anyone they meet. And when they leave us mere mortals behind, a sizable piece of us goes with with.
    I am so very sorry.

  11. Rosemary Desilva
    August 7, 2018 / 10:56 am

    So very sorry. Know so well the loss of a precious pet. My thoughts are with both you and Suzanne.

  12. constance d pandolfo
    August 7, 2018 / 12:06 pm

    Very sad to hear of your great loss John and Suzanne. I remember when she was a puppy and was just what you named her a Joy. Thinking of you both. Joy made me smile many days with just her face on your posts. She will be missed. There is a little less Joy in Cape May today!

  13. Jack Fichter
    August 7, 2018 / 12:20 pm

    So sorry. I met her three or four time but followed her on social media. A wonderful dog.

  14. Lisa (LeeFosh) IG
    August 7, 2018 / 12:44 pm

    John, I’m so sorry for you and Suzanne’s loss. She was such a bright spot in Cape May. For many years as my husband and I did our early morning walks in the morning we would see the two of you and it always warmed our hearts. She was a sweet soul who gave the best hugs. She will always be part of that spirit of happiness and Joy of Cape May.

  15. August 7, 2018 / 1:05 pm

    John and Suzanne, I am so sorry. The many meetings as we walked our dear pups around our block were always a high point. Your photos, stories and sharing of Joy brought all together, probably even a few of those types who don’t normally love dogs — be they “cat people” or just people who prefer cleaner couches. Your love, care, wit, exercise program, photographic memoir and general good-dog-loving citizenship has been honed by Joy and serves as a beacon of light amongst the many beautiful lights of Cape May. I wish you peace, and lots of laughter and new joys over the coming weeks — but there will never be a replacement. Joy was so special.
    Paul and I will

  16. Cindy Holder
    August 7, 2018 / 1:10 pm

    I’m so sorry to read this. Joy was an awesome member of your family and the Victorian. I first met her when she was a puppy and always looked forward to seeing her on our visits, or you taking her for her walks around town. My thoughts are with you and Suzanne at this difficult time

  17. Frank Fanucci
    August 7, 2018 / 1:26 pm

    John and Suzanne, Fran and I are so sorry for your lost..companion, friend and family member..Joy.
    She will be deeply missed but the memories of her daily walks and wagging tail will keep her in your hearts eternal.
    Fran& Frank

  18. Julie Love
    August 7, 2018 / 2:31 pm

    Dear John and Suzanne – Joy was the joy of your hotel. She was such a light and so wonderful. She will always be missed. I am so sorry. Her love of Cape May and the people of Cape May was infectious. Love to you and Suzanne.

    Julie Love

  19. Joy Newland
    August 7, 2018 / 2:45 pm

    I am so very sorry for your loss. She was very special. Roxie played with her a few times. And we have followed her on your posts and social media. Our fur babies leave such holes in our hearts when they leave us.

  20. Ann
    August 7, 2018 / 3:09 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing these pictures – if a dog has a life well-lived, that was Joy!

  21. Leigh Edmunds
    August 7, 2018 / 3:11 pm

    John, you and Suzanne have my deepest condolences. Yes, Joy was a very special dog. I loved it when our border collie Roxie got to play with her over at Carolinn’s. Be comforted knowing that she has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, and you will see her again. Peace.

  22. Mike Murphy
    August 7, 2018 / 3:30 pm

    Ah, John and Suzanne – Ellen and I have the deepest sympathy for you. The hole that is left when a beloved companion departs is unlike anything else we’ve experienced.

    August 7, 2018 / 3:39 pm

    Dear John and Suzanne: I am SO very sorry to hear about the love both of you and your wife your dog Joy. Always love coming to the Victorian Hotel(our favorite hotel in that whole area). Joy and the cats were always so charming to see and of course pet as well. Try to come down next year 2019, it well be very hard not to see Joy in the hotel lobby. Again so very sorry to hear about Joy.

  24. Melissa Butke
    August 7, 2018 / 3:52 pm

    Oh No!!! Such incredibly sad news. Joy reminded us, so much of our Golden, Jewel. We are so sorry for your loss. Losing a family member is excruciating. However, it sounds like her journey crossing the Rainbow Bridge was a peaceful one. Please know that we are thinking of you at this very difficult time. We will miss her in September 🙁

  25. August 7, 2018 / 5:08 pm

    Our hearts are breaking for you, Suzanne, and all Cape May. We now live in Key West but will always remember the times we stayed at your hotel. Joy made it better than home. We have since lost our feline road warriors, Giiligan and Moseley, and their brother Tatou and my mom’s cat Mitzie, but they are forever with us. Losing a trusted animal family member is the hardest experience. But, next time you see a twinkling star, it is Joy sending her message of love. Stay strong, Susan and Ambassador Mo Sacirbey

  26. Jeff
    August 7, 2018 / 5:30 pm

    We are so sorry for your loss, John and Suzanne. Words cannot take away the pain. T. S. Eliot wrote… Not farewell, but fare forward voyagers. And this from the book A Stone For Danny Fisher…. To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die.
    Our prayers for comfort are with you.
    Jeff and Michele

  27. Diane DiMarcello
    August 7, 2018 / 5:32 pm

    As a frequent house guest of Joan Green for many years we would often see Joy walking John around the block. Always brought a smile to our faces to see that beautiful girl. Our heartfelt sympathies on her passing.
    Diane & Tom

  28. Linda
    August 7, 2018 / 5:32 pm

    So very very sorry John.
    Your joy of your Joy with stay with you forever. And with many others. ❤

  29. Kathy Mcleer
    August 7, 2018 / 5:45 pm

    So very very sorry to hear. Having experienced this loss multiple times I can truly empathize. Our pups are family.

  30. Laurie Bender
    August 7, 2018 / 5:46 pm

    I never had the pleasure of meeting Joy, but as a dog lover, my heart goes out to you. It is a day that we all have to face, sooner or later. As a part time local, I know that Joy was a big part of Cape May for many and will always have a special place in many hearts.

  31. holly, joe and joseph sammons
    August 7, 2018 / 6:52 pm

    john & suzanne- so very very sad for you both. we are dog lovers and they are family to us.
    glad we got to see and pet her last week. sweet sweet loveable huggable joy.
    she gave comfort to big joe the morning we got our news.
    you guys take comfort in knowing how many smiles she put on peoples faces.
    you gave her a wonderful life.
    sending many prayers and hugs xo

  32. Hilary Pritchard
    August 7, 2018 / 7:12 pm

    Joy was the Dalai lama of Cape May ; wise, always smiling and full of pure goodness. All her friends at Whales Tale will miss her . Sending big hugs to you and Suzanne.

  33. Hugh Murray
    August 7, 2018 / 7:22 pm

    Without a doubt Joy was THE ambassador for Cape May. And she was always good with our little ones. She will be missed. I’m glad we (Ginny & I) got together with you and Suzanne last night to toast the Joy of Cape May.

  34. Susan Alati
    August 7, 2018 / 7:45 pm

    I loved her the very first time I saw her. We were checking in and she stood up and put her precious paws on the front desk. She was certainly a darling. I believe from all the comments I’ve read that she had a life any dog would envy. She will be missed. She left paw prints on my heart! Condolences to you both.

  35. Carol
    August 7, 2018 / 7:45 pm

    Oh dear!!! I loved my times with Joy which was the perfect name for her. She was truly a Cape May original. Many have fond memories as I know you both do. RIP Joy

  36. August 7, 2018 / 7:58 pm

    So very sorry for the loss of your Joy. We always enjoyed seeing her, when we had visited Cape May. God Bless.

  37. Mary Lou Brubaker
    August 7, 2018 / 11:54 pm

    I am shedding tears. She was such a beautiful and happy dog. Her name really suited her. We met you and Joy last year when we stayed at The Victorian Motel. Sending much sympathy to you and your wife. How blessed you were to have each other.

  38. Wendy Redelico
    August 8, 2018 / 12:29 am

    The absence of a loved one is so painful.
    Especially one who loved us and trusted us
    so completely and without judgement.
    I never had the pleasure of meeting your
    beloved Joy but I know you gave her a wonderful life . I hope your grief will turn to happy memories before too long.
    I have been there too, I know it’s hard.

  39. Carol
    August 8, 2018 / 8:14 am

    Everyone loves their dogs and they love us unconditionally.. but a golden looks deep into your heart. I’m so sorry for your loss..

  40. Monika
    August 8, 2018 / 11:00 am

    What a beautiful yet sad story. I can’t imagine the loss you feel. I am quite certain Joy is making Heaven even more beautiful. I’m sorry you are suffering this tremendous loss. You were blessed to have her.

  41. Tina Canatella
    August 8, 2018 / 2:31 pm

    John and Suzanne, I am so so sorry that your Joy is gone. She will be missed by all. She was a wonderful, happy, beautiful dog. I always looked forward to seeing her on my annual trip to the Victorian. My heartfelt condolences to you both.

  42. Chris Greame
    August 8, 2018 / 2:42 pm

    We are so sorry for your loss John! What a sweet dog — she will be missed. Our thoughts are with you and Suzanne and all of Cape May.
    our condolences
    Chris, Michelle, Seamus and Liam Greame

  43. Kathy Galdencio
    August 8, 2018 / 5:58 pm

    So sorry for your loss, Joy did live up to her name

  44. August 8, 2018 / 6:01 pm

    So sorry for your loss, she sure did live up to her name

  45. Loretta K Tracy
    August 11, 2018 / 8:46 am

    Oh I am so sorry to read this. Joy was such a beautiful, sweet dog. She will be missed by all. Romp in Paradise, sweet Joy <3

  46. Beth, Michelle & Maureen Polera
    August 12, 2018 / 10:39 pm

    We are so, so sorry to hear about Joy. She certainly brought us much joy seeing her when we stayed at the Victorian. I am glad we got to see that beautiful girl in July. What matters most is you gave her a great life and lots of love. Deepest sympathy to the Cooke family & all of Joy’s friends. Rest in peace Joy. We will miss you. xoxo <3

  47. nik coyle
    August 13, 2018 / 6:20 pm

    what a blessing joy has been to your family and your cape may family! she was so beautiful and i loved that you shared her with us through your photos. thinking of you all with peace.

  48. Alene Scoblete
    August 18, 2018 / 9:13 pm

    We are so, so, sorry for your loss. She was a beautiful dog and greeted us at every check-in. Our hearts go out to you and Suzanne.
    Frank & Alene Scoblete

  49. September 19, 2018 / 9:09 am

    Hi, John & Suzanne, this is the first time I have seen this webpage. I literally have tears reading this as Joy was special and she was everyone’s Joy! She lived and breathed the two of you but always was so friendly and welcoming to the people. Joy will return in another way, another breed and I hope she finds her way back to the two of the nicest kindest people I know! Joys will always be remembered. Thank you for sharing her story and her amazing ending of good-bye

  50. Carole Sherr
    November 1, 2018 / 11:35 am

    I know our golden Dune who went to the Rainbow Bridge in 2010 at age 13 has found Joy and shared his tennis balls on the beaches in Heaven. They take a piece of our hearts with them and leave us with beautiful memories until we meet them again and cross the Bridge together. I am so sorry for your and Cape May’s loss, John.

  51. Mike Madigan, Newfoundland
    December 30, 2018 / 11:15 pm

    Dec 30th….and just reading this tonight. Of course I had read your comments elsewhere…perhaps in a letter or facebook? But anyways, yes my thoughts are with you. As you know we bumped into you and Joy quite often…always a pleasure to meet you and pet her. Indeed a very special dog. Hugs to you! ~Mike

  52. Larry
    January 2, 2019 / 6:40 pm

    What a beautiful, special and loving animal, I could not wait to get to Cape May to see Joy. I brought her treats and toys and she was always so excited to see me. Thank you for bringing joy into my my life.