Friday, June 14, 2019

Unintentional Wisdom

On more than one occasion I've written about how our dogs have taught and reminded me about staying present. And lately, with the loss of both Cissy and Joy, I've been reminded of the need to do that. I've also been reminded of their unintentional wisdom. So, I thought I'd share a bit of that wisdom with you today ...

From Rhett:

From Sunny:

More advice from Rhett, who is very wise:

From Todd - Simple wisdom:

From Rhett, Todd, Charlie and Max

I will be back to normal-programming in my next post.  I've just needed a little break. But I do want to thank you all for taking a moment and leaving such kind words of comfort for the loss of Joy this past Sunday. Your sharing her loss as well as Cissy's along with me, means a lot, and continues to remind me of the kindness and compassion of the blogging community.  You all are the best!

Monday, June 10, 2019

After 136 Days - Good-Bye to Joy

After 136 days, and for the second time in 16 days, today we said our goodbyes to Joy. Her strength and her smile along with the bright spark that always brought a smile to my face was gone. It was her time.
~Joy on the day we met~
We first met Joy in January, after she'd gotten so ill from eating a 5 pound filet of salmon. I felt like when she came to us, it was a new beginning. I had such dreams for this very brave, resilient, sweet little Golden Retriever who'd been found as a stray in West Virginia. But those dreams that so many of us had for Joy were not meant to be when the diagnosis came that she had lymphoma.

But Joy didn't know she had cancer.  She enjoyed the moments of being outside in the cool grass and the little bit of snow we had this year. She never worried about time, or complained - She and all dogs remind us to not do that. They truly do teach us what it means to have joy, to be alive - without judgement, just pure gratitude and happiness. This was how Joy lived every day she was with us.  Our days with her were truly a gift.  I knew that then, and even more so now.

So, as the day ends without Joy, and as I write this, I'm reminded of how very sad and hard these moments are for me. And as I look through the pictures I have of Joy, I wish I had more. I wish I could do the last 136 days with her all over again....... I wish....

God speed Jo-Jo...Our candle is lit to help you find your way back to the one who created you. And tonight, before I go to bed, I'll stand on the porch, and look out into the darkness and say a silent prayer of thanks for having the chance to know you and love you. 

The color I have chosen as Joy's is yellow.  Today as I was taking Joy to the vet, I noticed the mullein that is blooming in the fields....
It reminded me of the yellow flowers on her collar. Yellow is also the color for freshness, happiness, positivity, energy, remembrance, and joy.   All of those things that Joy was and will be remembered for.  

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The Last Week of May

A relatively quiet week.
Our friends came to work on the little garden that we have with them.  *Me and the dogs* helped from the other side of the fence.
~The Observers~ 
Bailey began last week by not feeling the best because of that same cough and some vomiting. I'm not sure how Bailey does it, but she manages to push through it and she bounces back and is just fine.
~Alf, Bailey & Rhett~
The week for us ended at the vets office. This time it was with Charlie and Sunny who has a stubborn ear infection that needed to be kicked up to another level because I couldn't get it to go away.  An oral antibiotic and ear-infusion of a medication will hopefully do the trick.
For Charlie, it was for a check-up. On Friday, it was exactly a year ago when I found out that the surgeon didn't get a clean margin when the tumor on his bottom was removed. At that time, the surgeon said it would probably return. But at the vet, an exam showed that the tumor has not yet returned. We are **very silently** celebrating and knock, knock, knocking on wood (!!!)  at this good news of Charlie being cancer free for 1 year!!
Onward to June we go!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Grounded and Focused on Life

To start, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone for your gracious and kind words and sharing the loss of our girl Cissy. Saying thank-you actually doesn't sufficiently show my gratitude for what your friendship and support means to me.  Cissy was a loyal friend and an active part of our household for six years. She will be and is greatly missed.
~Cissy's bowl and collar~
On Friday morning I just wanted the world to stop and not be a part of it. It was hard to get going, and I didn't get the dogs fed until around 10 o'clock.  While their breakfast was late, my breakfast of cold ricotta-pizza and a diet coke showed right where my emotions were. 

Those of you with dogs, know that at your lowest moments, dogs have a way of making you chuckle and keeping you focused and grounded in life and reality. The video below shows how Todd did both of those things this past weekend when his ear was bothering him - And I really needed it.
What would we do without our four-legged-family members?
~Our foster girl Ginger~
Or our friends? Thank-you all again for your friendship!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Good-Bye to Not Just Another Dog

A co-worker said to me yesterday that she didn't understand how Cissy was not just another dog for us because there have been and are so many. Trying to explain to a non-animal lover that she was wrong and that I considered Cissy one of "my girls" and a canine sister was impossible to articulate. But it didn't matter, Cissy knew that. Cissy knew that she held a unique position in or household because the rules didn't really apply to her. She also had to know that she was the only dog that never had an "assigned" place to eat. Her bowl was always brought to wherever she happened to be at mealtimes.

Cissy was fiercely independent and opinionated and I let her decide the pace of her life and do what she wanted.  She was happy with that arrangement.  She had let us know early on that she didn't want to be let out into the fenced yard. Cissy instead preferred to wander around outside the fence. She always walked the same little route, and when she was ready to come back inside, she let us know. 

Cissy also didn't like to be brushed or be fussed over, so I just did what she would tolerate.  It almost seems like neglect, but she always seemed happy and content, which made me feel okay that her nails didn't get trimmed as much as they should have.

Despite that independent nature, the last few weeks, there seemed to be a frailty to Cissy as her pace started to slow and she needed our help on the steps and getting to her feet a little more. In those slower and quiet moments with Cissy, even though I tried to ignore it, the whisper that her time was coming to an end came to my mind and heart more than once. She also began her days earlier and she would come to the bedside and start barking at me and hurry off after I acknowledged her.

Cissy really was really a vocal dog and from wherever she was in the house she'd let me know that she knew I was home or that she was ready for her dinner. Of course I'd always say something back to her and let her know I'd heard her. My favorite had to be the times when Cissy would stand at the office door, or wherever we happened to be, take a look around, bark once or twice, and then totter back to her spot and lay down. 

I'd always thought of Cissy's life as being two totally different volumes because I didn't know anything about her life before she came to us from a Virginia shelter. At the time we thought Cissy was around 12 years old. But looking back at it, I guess she had to be around 8. Whatever her age, Cissy was truly a shell of a dog when we met and initially there was a lot of uncertainty about what was ahead for her.
~Cissy, 3-23-13 -- The day we met~
But despite all of that, Cissy surprised all of us and her big personality blossomed and she regained her health.

During the second volume of her life with us, there are so many of the best memories wrapped up into the 6 years we shared together. The video below made just after she came to us, and so many other things are what I don't want to forget about this beautiful girl who I said goodbye to today.

Like anyone who has lost a four-legged-family member, or really anyone who has a heart, you know how hard this is... not just because of Cissy being a loyal friend, but because she represented a time in our journey through life, who made me smile every day, who I had a strong connection with and who always lifted my spirits. I have truly lost another piece of my heart and I am keeping those memories of Cissy in what's left of it.

God speed to you Cissy ...  Cissy Miss... girly-girl.... My pretty girl .... Big girl....  You will be greatly missed and remembered. Our house seems lonelier and quieter without you. And a candle is lit to help you find your way back to the one who created you. I know there will be quite a welcome for you there, and I so look forward to the day when I'll see you again. 

Finally some of you may remember that I've started giving a color to our dogs that pass to create our own rainbow. I thought I had one for Cissy. But as I wrote this post and thought about it, for whatever reason, it just seemed all wrong. I am sure that in the days to come and as I grieve over her loss, I know one will come.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Girl Who Cried Wolf

What a week! As I mentioned in my last post, when I got back on Sunday, Bailey wasn't feeling well. The three days that followed didn't end with her getting any better. Text messages from my dog-walker made me a nervous wreck and so I left work early on Tuesday and Wednesday to come home to care for her. Bailey's appetite was all but gone. She was coughing, vomiting and was unable to keep any food, water or even medications down. She would protest when I tried to get her to her feet, or to change the bedding she was laying on.

This hasn't been all that unusual for Bailey and normally after a day or two of not feeling well, Bailey usually starts to improve. But no matter what I did or tried, this time she just wasn't. She was miserable and uncomfortable, not to mention tired. I really felt like there was nothing else that could be done. So, I contacted the medical coordinator for the rescue and had the discussion about letting Bailey go. I know it goes without saying that these decisions are not made easily. But I really felt like it was the only and right one because she was a bit unresponsive and her spark seemed so dim. If you could have seen Bailey, I think you would have agreed.
I contacted Mobile Vet and made the appointment for Bailey on Thursday.  When I came home early on Wednesday afternoon from work, Bailey was sleeping soundly. When I said something to her, she opened her eyes and wagged her tail. She surprised me then, and when I helped her up, she went outside by herself and came back in with no help.

That evening Bailey drank and ate without getting sick. I checked on her several times overnight, and she was fast asleep without as much as a cough. By Thursday mid-morning, well after a full breakfast I knew that it was not Bailey's day to leave us. Another conversation with Medical Coordinator, a visit to Mobile Vet to have her looked at, and we all agreed.

Of course I've no way of knowing how long the good days with Bailey will last. But I am so happy that she's feeling better and she's still with us. However, I have to admit, that the emotions of it all, leaving work early, my lengthy conversations with Medical Coordinator, and Mobile Vet making room in his very busy schedule, I really do feel like I was crying wolf. But everyone knows that this was (certainly) no joke, and I'm grateful to Medical Coordinator and Mobile Vet for being there when I don't need or do need them. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

A Week End and Begins

Home on Sunday from the wedding -- Just as planned!  Of course the bride was beautiful, and the groom (my nephew) was handsome.
The wedding venue was lovely and a perfect setting with a true rustic feel.
Despite the on-and-off rain, everything was well planned from start to finish. It was a memorable and enjoyable evening and weekend.

But of course I was glad to get back home.
Today has been a quiet day at home. Bailey (below) is not feeling well. So I'm glad I'm able to be with her today to take care of her. Hopefully she'll be better by tomorrow when I return to work.
~Alf (left) and Bailey~

I hope your week is off to a good start. 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Alone-- But Not Really Alone

While Todd keeps track of what's going on at home ...
I am out of town....alone. Okay, alone means no dogs are with me. And alone means I have my own room at the hotel.
Because I am not really alone. I'm attending the wedding of a nephew, which is of course, a family affair.
It's also means that I have a chance to see all my brothers. They are great fun to spend time with, as are their growing and extended families. But by Sunday, I'll be ready to go home. Even though I do love getting away, even if it's only for a couple of days. Families and alone time can wear a person out.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Joy and Alf Speak

Just a 13-ish second video giving a tiny glimpse of an impatient (but happy) Joy at mealtime last evening. Providing backup is Alf, and Todd can be heard as part of the chorus. If you look quick, making a cameo appearance are Chip and Baloo at the end. 

This is pretty much what I listen to the whole time I'm getting the meals ready for everyone. And just to make that point, below is another video of Joy in the same spot this morning, with her chorus.  Of course it goes without saying, that I'd have it no other way.

Enjoy your Friday!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Getting to Know Baloo

Hello Blogging Friends! Many thanks for those of you who have checked in asking how Baloo has settled in and sending your best of vibes for him.

The answer to your question is YES, Baloo is doing well and has settled in to his new life.  Of course there is always that learning curve as we get to know one another. Baloo still is quite slow on his feet and needs help getting up and down the outside steps so he doesn't stumble and fall.  Ideally, we'd like for Baloo to walk up and down the ramp that we have, so we're trying to teach him to do that instead of the steps. But one thing we have learned is that not all the dogs like the ramp, so we'll see what his preference becomes.
One thing we had no idea of, is how Baloo would do with the cats. At first he ignored them, and now, if they get too close he'll bark and snap at them. So, we're correcting him, and I have decided that the cats also need to learn to be a bit smarter around him too. So I hope that the longer he's here, the more they'll ALL learn to keep their distance from one another. On the flipside to that, he's getting along well with all his new packmates, and for that I'm always grateful.

In other news, there was the reality check late last week with Joy, who you'll recall has lymphoma. It began with her nose bleeding that of course had me quite concerned along with her not being able to get to her feet. A visit to Mobile Vet was made, and he said that it was being caused by what he was pretty sure is a respiratory infection. Easy enough to treat with an antibiotic.  And since we were there, I mentioned to him about my concerns with what looked to me like "muscle wasting" and I thought that it was because of the prednisone. But Mobile Vet said that it isn't what's causing all of it, but it's also the cancer consuming the fat and muscle that's stored within her tissues. He told me that sadly and unfortunately there's not anything that can be done. He suggested a few diet changes to help and said that I should take Joy home, continue to spoil her, and know that her time with us is coming to an end very soon.
I know, respect and understand that Mobile Vet has an obligation to be honest. But I was of course heartbroken with the sad reality check, and felt totally defeated. So much so, that I went to bed early.

But the next morning there was Joy, looking at me, alert, eyes bright and she was wagging her tail and eager to start the new day, just as she has every day since we met. She hasn't given up. And it's not time for me to give up either.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Baloo Arrives at Golden Pines!

Meet Baloo. A new arrival via Lab Rescue that arrived at Golden Pines on Monday. At nearly 14 years old, I have to say, his expression, at least to me, is among the saddest I have seen in a very long time. Bringing him home and all evening, his tail remained tightly tucked under him, and his head stayed down and his back towards us most of the time. It all broke my heart.
Baloo's previous owner was moving, and wouldn't take him with her. Did I mention that from where "she" lived she moved about 20 miles? My apologies. I need, want to, and should be kind, fair and not judge because I don't know her circumstances. What matters is that in the end, despite being dealt a bad hand, Baloo found his way to Lab Rescue, and has a place at Golden Pines, and (of course) quickly found a place in my heart.

And finally, I know, trust me, I know what you may be thinking  ......   The last thing we needed was a new addition.  But almost exactly a month ago, Baloo came up on Lab Rescue's radar and I was asked to take him if he needed a place to go. Ginger, our other foster girl for Lab rescue had several really good families interested in her, making me pretty sure she would no longer be with us when Baloo was expected to come. However, for various reasons, those perspective families didn't work out as we'd hoped and thought they would. But I know the rescue is continuing to work on finding Ginger her perfect match, and so I'm hopeful her forever home will come very soon.
And today my weekend starts, I saw what I **think** may have been a glimpse of a smile from Baloo this morning. He's up and around a bit more than he was, getting along with our crowd so I'm hopeful for a good weekend ahead.