Puppy Therapy 2.0

Dear Friends,

I did it, I crossed another hurdle. See, I’ve been avoiding places that remind me exclusively of Newton. You know the places I mean – the places I went only because of him.

As some of you have been following, my grieving process has been a roller coaster of emotions. I hope I’ll stay on this positive high for a while this time.

To give you a bit of back story, we bought Newton from amazing co-breeders. One of them lived close to us in Moncton, the other 2 hrs away in Saint John. The last time I had been to visit her partner in Saint John, it was so she could meet and interview us for our new puppy (almost 3 years ago). I was close by for work, went out on a limb, called her up to let her know I was in the neighborhood. She invited me and  I went.

The only comparison I can make is it was like “pulling off the band aid”. I was so nervous driving there, so different from how I felt the first time driving up the driveway with my fiance. Unsure, with different nerves, and a different perspective.

All that changed when I walked in and was instantly greeted with tailwags and face licks – by four beautiful Bernese.

Obviously I had treats in my hand :)
Obviously I had treats in my hand 🙂

I had met most of these dogs before. What I love about dogs, and particularly Bernese in general, is their sensitivity to human emotions. The dogs did not leave my side. I think they sensed how much I loved and appreciated them all, most likely recognizing that I needed them near. What I had thought was going to be a 15 min visit just to pop in, chat about fall litters and give updates, turned into a 3 + hour visit. We sat there, two crazy dog ladies, discussing our love for the breed, how each one was doing and how we both were doing.

I sat there completely covered in long black Berner hair, with two attempting to sit on my lap. I know had a ridiculous crazy smile plastered all over my face. This was the happiest I’ve been in a while.

Funny facts about these lovebugs – they all have zero sense of how large they actually are. I’m convinced they all think they’re Chihuahua size.

Not so much....
Not so much….

Halfway into our visit, she asked me to wash my hands and took me into the back room, I wasn’t sure what to expect. She said she had something that would instantly make me feel better. She was right.

One of her most lovable Bernese, Ivana, had just had puppies 5 days before. Refer to my post “Puppy Love” if you need a reminder of my love of puppies. BERNER PUPPIES?? Even better.

Ivana and her pups
Ivana and her 3 beautiful  pups

I remembered Ivana from my visit almost 3 years before. This is her second litter, and she makes such a wonderful mother. She did not mind me snuggling with one of her young pups in the least.

me and puppy
Photo cred – W. Bennett

My heart melted. I thought constantly of Newton, but could I be sad while looking down at this little furry peanut? This new 1 lb puppy could not hear, could not see, couldn’t use the washroom by itself or even regulate it’s body temperature yet.

puppy hand

During the next hour I learned how amazing a mother’s natural instinct is. Ivana (mom) taught me how to burp one of her pups after feeding. The breeder showed me how Ivana regulates their body temperature, stimulates them to use the washroom and cares for each and every one of them. She talked about the next steps, what she’s looking for in a family for each one of them, and the vet visits that were coming up way too fast.

puppy face
Guinea pig nose 🙂

I then learned that this little girl I was holding was most likely going to a wonderful family in my hometown of Nova Scotia. How amazing is that!! I might see her again.

As I came home and reflected on this day, I realized I had been scared to go visit them. Now I realize how much joy they brought me. Newton would have loved these visits. I promised in my letter that I would visit his friends often and send his affection their way. I realize that through living up to this promise, it’s helped me take yet another step. I thought seeing other Bernese would sadden me, remind me of what I didn’t have anymore.

I realize now, that was silly of me. Of course these visits don’t make me sad. Newton loved them all. How could I be sad about that?

I needed this visit to help gain perspective. I’m so happy that I “pulled off the band-aid” and did it. What I thought was going to be just a step, turned into a wonderful visit with old friends – both human and canine. It reminded me of the simple things in life, and what my fiance wrote about shortly after we lost Newton,

“What I realized is this. Pets, Animals, Dogs, Newton… are generally simple beings. They eat, sleep, play… and love. You. In world that is totally messed up; the desire to acquire; be promoted; to be successful; our pets make life so very simple. Its easy to love them, to humanize them. In grand scheme of things, they dont care how much money you make or what your title is. They just want to be around you, and you want to be around them.”

– kudos to my fiance

Great words to live by. As I go through my own process of grieving, I’m thankfully reminded by Newton’s memories & other furry friends to stop and enjoy simple pleasures. Quit complicating the issues at hand, enjoy great things, stop dwelling on the bad. I’m thankful I’ve included many dogs in my life so they can remind me of this. In this case, it was taking the time to enjoy snuggling puppies and furry mommas alike. Appreciating a helpless newborn, the simplicity of what life can be like. Eat, Drink, Sleep, Play and Love, what amazing things we can learn from our canine friends. I celebrate that Newton helped form me into the dog crazy that I am, encouraging me to pick up the phone and make the call, which led to this wonderful visit.

Thanks for reading,

Dailyspro

One month has passed….

Dear friends,

It’s been a month without Newton. I had a difficult time this weekend focusing the good times we had- and there were many. As time grew closer and closer to the one month mark, I found myself retreating into sadness. This was not an anniversary to celebrate.

I miss him.

I find myself opening up in baby steps, but unable to make the leap. Maybe I’m rushing this. He’s left such big shoes to fill that I’m not ready to put another dog up the challenge – yet. I’ve discovered that as far as I’ve come, I am still not ready to bring another life into ours. I know I will someday. For now, it’s not fair.

When we are ready, I know I’ll be open to the right rescue or another Bernese from the same reputable breeder that we got Newton from. The reason, friends, that I would go this route again is when Newton fell ill, I relied on my support system. This system housed close friends, family and also Newtons’ breeder.

She’s been there for every single step in his life. In fact, the night before we said goodbye to him, we went to visit her, along with Newton’s brother and sister. It was one of the best decisions we made. Almost like he was waiting to say goodbye to his Berner family, a family he had spent so much time with.

Newton's Berner family
Some of Newton’s Berner family
Newton's brother and sister
Newton’s brother and sister

We cried together as Newton greeted all with happiness upon his arrival, knowing it was going to be his last visit. He didn’t let on how bad he most likely felt, until he was home. We’ve been lucky in the fact that when we went away, and were unable to Newton with us, he went and stayed at his original Grandma’s house with his furry brothers and sisters. We were also lucky that our support system included my sister, her fiance and their two dogs, whom I know he also shared a very special bond with.

Newton with my sister's dogs
Newton with his other sisters

Since we said goodbye, the breeder(s) have taken it on to find out more about the disease, sending his slides to the leading Pathologist in North America to find how more about his particular form of disease: If early detection is possible, how to save Kidney function earlier, any preventative measures, and scientific trials that may be available should it happen ever again. All of Newton’s littermates are having ultrasounds and urine tests as preventative measures. In conclusion, even after going though everything, I still believe in their breeding program. They will only breed dogs with good hip and elbow scores (reducing chances of early hip/elbow dysplasia), eye and blood work clearances. They are trying to better the breed. As I truly love everything about Bernese Mountain dogs, their sweet temperament most of all – If they can be healthier & longer living then all the better. Our Newton was a lemon that slipped through their program, he was our lemon though, and as one of my friends like to say –

“Although Newton was a lemon, he made the sweetest lemonade”.

This is not to say I do not support rescuing a dog from a shelter. If you read my blog, you know these are the only two types of programs I support. The rescue dogs I work with now are helping me heal in little pieces. I definitely do not consider them a “second choice” as they’re truly wonderful in their own right. Further, I feel like I owe it to them to give one (or many more throughout my lifetime) of them a home one day.

It comes down to a connection and I believe – the timing. If and when I’m ready, if the connection is there, they will hopefully become a part of our family. I’m open to either way. Perhaps both, if the time is right.

There is a guilt that sets in when you start to even think about moving forward, I wasn’t quite as prepared as I had hoped. I don’t want to replace Newton, and that’s kind of what opening ourselves up for another dog feels like. My head wants to move forward, never forgetting but continuing forward momentum. My heart is another matter, still deeply entrenched in the grief of losing him. In short friends – I am still not ready as these two pieces do not align.

I will be ready one day, and I can’t wait to experience life with a dog again. Many parts of our life feels empty without one. Newton however, as many of your dogs are, was much more then “a dog”. He was my companion, my confidant and fellow adventurer. There weren’t many places we went, that he did not follow (or lead in some cases). I felt that I understood what he was “saying” or feeling, with just one look at his face. I knew how he would react before it would happen. I trusted him in most any situation and with any person. In short – he was what some people call a heart dog.

“Every now and then, a very special dog comes into your life and changes the way you think about things forever. Sometimes these dogs don’t stay very long. Sometimes they’re not even your dog, but leave footprints on your heart, nevertheless.”

– Unknown

Newton was also our first dog together. Which could be one reason why the bond built so deep. I’m not worried that we won’t love another dog. However, I’m wondering, Is there something different about a first dog that does this to a person? Is this bond possible with every dog you have? Or is it only a small percentage of dogs in a persons’ lifetime that you will have this with?

I like to think, if you’re open to it, the bond will happen building on the first connection. For now, I’m not open – but I’ll get there.

I’ll leave you with something that makes me smile, and think of Newton every time I’ve had many people send me this particular link to this youtube video! I’ll leave you on a happy note. Friends, In case you haven’t seen this one – What’s cuter then this puppy and a lemon ?

Puppy love? Some homework for first time dog owners

Hi friends!

There is something about a puppy. You all know what I mean. Instantaneous and infections smiles erupt and spread like wildfire. You NEEEEED to go over, introduce yourself to a complete stranger, and ask if you can pet their pup (or maybe this is just me?). Puppies can turn civilized individuals into excitable freaks. It’s amazing and irreversible.

It’s going to be a longer post today folks, so get comfy. Let me start by telling you about my day.

I walked my new best bud Des at our local SPCA, then took her off leash to a dog run, where she tired me out by teaching me to fetch. What a smarty-pants!

Des being the great girl she is!
Stop taking the picture already, lets play!!*

I then treated myself to snuggling these little love bugs again… yah, you’ve met them once or twice already from previous posts.

puppiesThe thing is, Zorro* (darker ears) had already been taken out today. Freckles* (lighter of the two) had not! Fantastic for Zorro, but unfair for little Freckles. Let’s face it, I was looking for any excuse to hang out with either of them.

I fully endorse adopting a senior or adult dog. In fact, there are tons of amazing perks! Everyone wants a puppy, but with an adult you’ll be much more likely to have: Less destruction (hopefully), a house trained (or again, hopefully) buddy and you’ll probably get more sleep (especially through the night). Lots of the dogs I work with have basic and some pretty spectacular commands down pat, so their basic training is already there!

As most of you are aware by now, we lost our furry best friend Newton last Dec. I started volunteering to share all the wonderful things he taught me. To be honest, this is my own form of grievance therapy. I’d be lost without them, they are helping me heal. I’m telling you people, if you are having a rough day, find a puppy and snuggle. There is nothing quite like what I call “puppy therapy”. While I love all dogs, for me there’s something about  a young pup that makes me want to squeal like a kid (most likely frightening the little guy) and have strong urges to snuggle.

So I’ll try and capture the 10 reasons why I think puppies are fantastic & further why some people suck need to do some homework first.

Why puppies rock (In case you didn’t know)

1. Puppy smell. Some human friends prefer the “baby smell”. I think there’s nothing better then puppy smell. Freshly baked bread is a close second

2. Puppy fur. Nuf’ said here.

3. The ability in which they always force smiles, even out of the most grumpiest of people. Look around you next time a puppy is present, It’s almost like seeing the “wave” done at a basketball game, except with pure happiness. Try it out Tommy Lee Jones.

tommylee
Maybe Will Ferrel and Kristen Wig should have built a puppy into their routine at the Golden Globes!

4. They love you unconditionally, immediately.

5. They help you to socialize. It’s how I actually met all my neighbors! Also, if your a single guy, there’s no better chick magnet.

6. They greet everything new, head on and with such abundant joy.

7. The loyalty they have, even at such a young age, is amazing.

8. How unbelievably uncoordinated they are.

9. Puppies can actually better your health – Dr. Oz & Oprah said it best here

10. Lastly, I will leave you with this…

Puppy eyes…

puppy cuteness overload...
puppy cuteness overload…

& puppy breath!

I'm not going to fight you on this one Freckles
I’m not going to fight you on this one Freckles*

People, I totally get why you want a puppy. I am one of them. I fall for their little furry faces everytime. The issue I have is I find a lot of people really do NOT do their homework before making the leap between admiring and owning. This is mostly for you first timers out there.

_________________________________________________________________

Homework for first time dog owners

In the last 2 weeks at the SPCA, I’ve seen 5 puppies adopted (yay!), and then 3 returned a week or so later (boo!) due to multiple reasons.

To these people, I want to say many things, many not appropriate for this blog. The PG version is that I think with a little homework first, you really could have gave whichever furry friend you choose, a forever home.

To further assist in my point, peteducation.com suggests that surrendering a dog after a bond is formed can be a cause of separation anxiety,

“Dogs that have undergone a traumatic separation from a previous owner, such as those relinquished to shelters may have an increased risk. Dogs that have missed out on normal social interaction with people or other animals, especially as puppies, may also be at increased risk. A dog that has never had a prior problem may develop separation anxiety when there is a change in the routine such as an owner’s altered work schedule, or after the household has moved to a new home. Some dogs may develop this separation anxiety as they grow older.”

__________________________________________________________________

Answer the big questions first

-Think about what kind of dog you want first: size, age, temperament, breed.

-Think about what you want to do with your dog, will it be a working (therapy, drafting, herding) dog, or will it be a family dog – or both?

-Think about the COSTS associated with a dog, do you have the budget you need?

-Are you willing to make a lifetime commitment, will you want a dog in 10 – 15 or even sometimes 17-18 years?

-Do you have the space for a dog? What kind of space will the dog have? (crate, kennel, dog bed, fenced yard, a safe place for free play)

-Are all members of your family on board?

-Do you have the TIME for a dog? (Another big one to consider – grooming, walks, free play, socialization time, quality time, training time are just a few time commitments to consider). Many people want a socialized, well behaved dog – not many people understand the time it takes to make this happen.

-How are you going to ensure the dog gets the exercise it needs?

-My biggest question for all of you – are you ready to give your pets the good life they deserve?

Once you have most of these questions answered, I still don’t think you’re ready to make the leap to owner. I think you are ready to hang out with an actual dog – dog sit a friends’ dog, visit the SPCA and spend time with the breed/type you think you’re ready for. I’m not talking about an hour, I’m talking a few visits so you can see the responsibility of being a dog owner. Talk with people who have similar types/breeds so you know what to expect.

These visits can also help sort out allergy related issues BEFORE you bring them home.

Choose your adoption preference (a reputable breeder who is trying to better the breed or your local SPCA). Deciding which way to go is your choice. I personally will NEVER purchase from a online breeder (Kijiji) pet sale or a pet store as these are not routes I ever want to support. Sometimes, for a first time dog owner a reputable breeder can help with this “homework” side.

As an SPCA volunteer and former teacher, I strongly urge people to do their homework first! As this..

Bernese

Quickly turns into this….

This is Newton only at 7 months!
This is Newton at only at 7 months!

Who am I to ask this of you? I’m a dog lover, a former dog owner, a dog sitter, a dog walker and a volunteer at our local SPCA. I genuinely like animals more then most people. I abhor animal suffering and disdain the anti-ethical treatment of them. I have a serious respect for all great dog owners. I do not think there’s such a thing as a bad dog, only bad dog owners. I see dogs being returned on a weekly basis due to the fact that their “owners” did not do their homework first.

I have seen first hand what the right home can do for the right dog. My best friend has adopted two adult dogs that their owners were ready to give up, for multiple reasons. With love and patience, she has turned these two pups who had issues into amazing dogs, she and her boyfriend really do give these two the good life. .

The dynamic duo - Allie andJake
The dynamic duo – Allie and Jake

                        -photo credit: J. Russell

If you are ready and go for it, as we will when we are ready – then do it. Make the leap. My end verdict? Puppies are amazingly cute, but too many people lack the education needed to have them. They fall victim to the cuteness epidemic and make spontaneous purchases.

I think going from zero responsibility to a dog, for kids or adults, is a huge step. You may want to consider a goldfish first…

Thanks for reading/listening to my rant,

Dailyspro

*Freckles, Zorro and Des are all available at the monctonspca.ca

Giving your pets the good life

Dear Friends,

I just finished Jon Katz’s book, “Going Home” for about the tenth time.

Going home

Yes, I said tenth – refer to my “about” section to see my love of procrastination. This procrastination however, is a healthy one. I keep meaning to lend it out to friends who have just lost or are losing their canine companions. Maybe this book isn’t for you, but then again, maybe it is. I found it in the “Self-help” section of our Chapters. I don’t know why, but there is something about that particular section, when I walk through it, that makes me feel even more miserable and low then I already was feeling (cue ballcap and secret mustache disguise).

Katz discusses the difficult task of saying goodbye to furry friends. He further goes on to offer his support and opinions on comfort, grief, perspective and moving forward. I find grief (albeit healthy) can be like a sink hole (unhealthy) – only taking you down… and down. It’s hard to get out of. As I go through my own stages of grief, I find myself going back on this book and taking something different every time, slowly getting me out of the sink hole. I’ve met tons of you through this blog, many of you are going through your own grieving processes. I feel for each of you, wish you well, and I hope you can take some comfort in what I’m about to say.

As most of you all are aware, we lost our best friend Newton to Kidney Disease last Dec. I started writing about my process of losing him here.

Just another great day

The most important thing I’ve taken from his book, is this notion of something called “The Good Life”. It has helped me on those really dark days. You know the ones where you look out the back window and hundreds of great memories come flooding back to you – Overwhelming really.

I know I will always have them, and what I’ve come to realize – it’s not a bad thing. Although sad to remember what I lost, these moments make me happy he was ever ours in the first place.

In an interview done by Jon Katz two years ago for Reuters.com, he said “One idea that I advocate is the dealing with guilt directly. Acknowledge the good life, remember the good things you did with your pet — the places you took them, the affection you showed them. Remind those who have lost a pet that they generally gave their pets a good life and that’s a good thing, so don’t forget that.

Katz further suggests that , if we can allow ourselves to grieve, we can also with time celebrate their lives. He asks the big questions – Did we give our pet a good life, were we there for them when they needed us most, did we make the best decisions when we needed to. He made me deal with these questions – head on – and it helped. It’s my personal opinion that in doing so,  I’ve reached a point of reflection where I can now celebrate his life without tears every single time. Due to his faulty kidneys since birth he was only supposed to be with us a short time (still unfair). We were able to give Newton a good kick ass 2.5 years, and I’m proud that my fiance and I were able to.

I loved the idea of acknowledging the good life, not dwelling on the end (SO HARD) – but all the cheeseburgers, bellyrubs and adventures in between. It’s IMPOSSIBLE not be sad about the circumstances and guilt of saying goodbye to your fur-kid, but relish in those memories of all the in-between happy moments!

While I didn’t enjoy (or wasn’t ready) to take on certain perspectives from Jon Katz’s book, I loved this notion. Remembering the “Good Life” that has helped me tremendously. We gave Newton the best two and a half years we could have. Where we went, so did he. As my new blogger friend, MissHappyCreature, commented on my post – being with their humans is where dogs really want to be anyway (What a wonderful comment – thanks for that!). Newton was loved everyday (by many), had many adventures and experienced a wonderful life. I wish it had been longer, but isn’t this notion of the “good life” what we are all looking for?

As many of you have already heard of Newton’s life lessons –  he has taught his humans to live better lives. The dogs I am now working with at our local SPCA also deserve this “good life”. It’s with great gratitude that Newton has taught us his life lessons, and now we’re able to share this with others.

Now, please don’t think I’m getting preachy on you all. I am not an expert. I just know what has worked so far with my process. Many of you have wrote to me and are feeling/experiencing the same thing. You’re lost. Unaware on how to go forward, more so – not wanting to. I believe you should grieve as you need to. We are all different.

With that being said, the oranges at the SPCA were all walked yesterday – how awesome for them!! So guess who I get to help socialize today 🙂

Hopefully these sessions will help them become little social butterflies and get the “Good Life” they deserve.

puppies
ZOMG – puppy cuteness overload

Not to be cliché:

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Dr. Seuss

Great call Dr. Seuss, although I think it’s ok for a cry every now and again, in between the smiles.

Thanks for reading,

AS

Newton kneading his dog bed

So I was going through photos and letters containing thoughts and favorite moments for Newton’s memory book I’m making. I came across this gem and my fiance suggested I share it. It’s a video that makes both of us smile every time we watch it, so we hope you enjoy!

I actually saw a post by The Daily Golden, a blog I read daily, called “Does your Golden Retriever Purr?”. Well between purring Goldens and kneading Berners, we have a few confused pups on our hands 🙂 Amazingly adorable  – make sure to check her site out..

I’ve heard that bottle fed pups do this from time to time. I’ve never seen it before Newton, he also could have been confused as we have two cats in the house that completely ran his show.

Newton only did this with when he laid on his dog bed with his favorite stuffed toy (a porcupine) in his mouth. Whatta man.

Newton – I hope there are lots of dog beds and stuffed toys (especially porcupines) where you are now buddy 🙂

xoxo

Third Annual Pet Blogger Challenge – Q & A

Good morning friends!

A day late, but a huge thanks to Amy Burkhert over at GoPetFriendly.com for hosting this years third Annual Pet Blogger Challenge. Since I am very new to this, I relish the idea of connecting to like minded dog and pet lovers alike!

PBC

I’ve been an animal lover all my life, and my family always had a dog.  My fiance and I rescued two cats (Stewart and Frankie) along our way. and have been patiently waiting until we had the space and means to get our own dog, and then we finally did! We had Newton with us for 2.5 yrs until we lost him from Chronic Kidney failure in Dec. 2012. He was the love of our life for that too short span of time.

I believe if you are an animal lover, and have the means to do it, you should always own animals. Sometimes it does take time until you’re ready again, but we will one day.

I am taking it one day at a time, but the blogging world has opened me up to speak about it and to heal. It has helped me tremendously, and I have all of you to thank!

So without further ado, please find my answers below!

1. When did you begin your blog?

October 2012

2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog?

As a newbie to the blogging world, I started with a mish-mash of things going on in my life. However, during the past few weeks I’ve been more tuned into a different community. A community I’ve always been excited about, but for some reason didn’t revolve my blog completely around it – until lately. Yes, I’m talking about you, fellow pet owners!

3. Is your current purpose the same?

We lost our furry best friend to a terrible disease called Nephropathy on Dec. 19, 2012. Nephropathy is a chronic condition that affects the kidneys’ ability to process protein. It is the specialists’ opinion(s) that Newton was most likely born with this. We said a very sad and sudden farewell to Newton after only finding out a week before that he had this condition.

When he was unresponsive to treatment and confirmed he was without pain, we took him home and cooked him the foodie masterpieces he deserved and had dreamed about. I’ll never forget his face as he ate 4 cheeseburgers in one sitting and for dessert – gravy and mashed sweet potatoes. He was a happy boy, who loved all and left a giant hole in our hearts and many others. I was so lost in the 48 hrs after we said goodbye, that I couldn’t talk about it, so I turned to writing. The support from the pet and dog lover community poured in on my darkest days, and stemmed from one of my first posts – “Dear Friend, I will see you again“.

If not, what’s different?

 I feel compelled to write about things that have helped me (baby steps) with my grief, such as dog walking for the SPCA. If someone finds solace or help from what I write about – that would be great. If not, it still helps me to write about it and connect with my favorite people – dog people!

If so, how do you feel you’ve met your goals?

To be honest, I’m not certain what my writing goals were for 2012.  To answer the best I can – I’m happy that my blog has connected me to the secret society of dog crazies (like myself) out there.

4. How often do you post?

1-2 x a week

5. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you?

I’m more of a “blog when I feel like it” type person, but I want to get better at this.

If you publish on a schedule, why? How strict are you about your publishing deadlines? What do you do for inspiration when it feels like you’ve covered every topic?

If you don’t publish on a schedule, why? How do you think your decision affects your audience? How do you know when a topic is “post-worthy?”

I don’t always publish on a schedule, but I would like to work on this. Right now, it’s as I feel like it for a reason. With time, I think ironing out a nice schedule would be great.

I never know when a topic is “post-worthy”. I know that writing helps heal me at the moment, so I just write 🙂 I often go back and change certain things after… Boo to me for not catching my errors sooner!

6. How much time do you spend writing your blog per week? How much time visiting other blogs? Share your  tips for staying on top of it all.

I would say I spend about 2-3 hrs blogging and so much more visiting others’ blogs. A procrastinator’s dream!

7. How do you measure the success of a post and of your blog in general (comments, shares, traffic)?

For me I genuinely enjoy reading through the comments people leave. This process has helped me develop a sounding board and a GIANT supportive network when I needed it most. If I talked to most people about what I write about on my blog, I’m terrified that I would get the comment most of us dread, “He was just a dog”.

I would most likely feel need to avoid that person, and it wouldn’t end well for anyone 🙂

Mostly this blog has allowed me to remember Newton as he deserves. It has allowed me to reflect on all of the positivity he represented! This is what I consider my greatest success.

Do you look strictly at the numbers, or do you have a way of assessing the quality of those interactions?

8. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one issue you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

I think I have a tendency to ramble, so making it more concise. Also thoroughly finding out what these magical things called Widgets really are & how to use them 🙂

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2013?

I want to get more organized.

I’m not ready to bring another furry friend into our lives yet, but it would be great to think that it’s something 2013 could bring. It would be a wonderful cycle to write about, and something that makes me smile when I think about it.

I also feel the need to share yet another photo – so here’s one of my faves! I had just planted a new garden, left to go to work – leaving my capable fiance at the helm. This is what I came back home to!

I didn’t need those flowers anyway……

Newton –  the reason I now blog 🙂

How can you stay mad at that face??
How can you stay mad at that face??

Third Annual Pet Blogger Challenge

Good morning friends,

 

Some news!

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The wonderful Amy Burkert who writes the official travel blog for Gopetfriendly.com, has launched this years Third Annual Pet Blogger Challenge.

 

I didn’t start out this blog to be exclusively about my pets, but due to the sad circumstances of the last few weeks and the ongoing support I’ve found from the dog lovers community, that is what this has turned into. So, in order to get to know some of my fellow pet bloggers I’m going to take the Third Annual Pet Blogger Challenge. We are supposed to post our answers to the questions in the link below tomorrow – so stay tuned. I’m hopeful that some of you will also take part!

 

Here’s the link  – http://gopetfriendlyblog.com/third-annual-pet-blogger-challenge-jan-10th/

 

Cheers,

 

AJS

The Healing Power of Animals

Hi friends,

I wanted to write today exactly what my title so subtlety suggests – the healing power of animals. As many of you have already read, We lost our very best friend – our 2 year old Bernese Mountain Dog – Newton, to Chronic Kidney Disease on Dec. 19, 2012. It hasn’t yet been a month, and I still am going through the grieving process.

I still cry when I need to, as Newton was the center of my universe, an infectious light in this sometimes very dark world. As my fiance says – Animals keep things simple, in a world where you are measured by status, money and success, Animals are there to remind us to simplify our lives. They love you, just for you. When you lose a love that true, a love that many adult humans are not capable of, it can be hard to go forward.

Please know that I am not suggesting adopting an animal before you are ready.  Some people can get a new furry friend right away as part of their process (which is helpful to them), I am by no means ready to bring another animal into my life as I need the time to grieve Newton. What I’m writing about today is remembering my friend in a positive light, while working through my grief. It’s harder to do this, especially when remembering them at all, brings a sense of loss. It’s all too easy for me to get stuck in this sense of loss, so I needed a way to bring out the light – to remember the super, amazingly marvelous things about him. I do not want to forget, I have this deep longing to remember everything about him. In recognizing this, I needed an outlet – a positive one. Let me explain.

I believe when you love animals, and have the means to be a great animal owner, you should. There are far too many animals out there without proper homes or proper owners. If you are one, treat another animal to the life it deserves. When we are ready to have another dog in our lives, I want to take all the life lessons Newton had taught us, and apply them – Make us even better owners and humans and celebrate a new life and the legacy Newt left. Many people say not to compare dogs, I think it’s crazy hard not to – especially when it was your first animal and all you know. I think it’s ok, as long as it’s not a negative comparison.

I’ve recently decided to start the healing process by volunteering at our local SPCA. I’m not saying this is the way to proceed forward – this is what I found works for me.

There are about 25 dogs, and 8 puppies currently at the SPCA I go to. I’ve been going every day, around the time I would usually walk Newton and choosing to walk or play with a dog, or two, or three. In this way, I know I’m using this process as a positive distraction and a time to remember our Newt. These dogs are temperament tested and are given a color – Green for the easiest dogs to get along with, yellow for a few issues and then the orange – the ones that only experienced handlers should take, the ones that are usually there for months without adoption. These orange dogs have been the best part of my day. I consider them the “misunderstood”. Once you find what makes them special and they develop a sense of trust with you, it’s a magical thing to witness. They come out of their shell, their tail comes up, their ears are alert, they look at you – in the eye. The best part ? They play.

I took out this little guy – Rex. Rex is a Lab/Pit mix who loves the snow. He’s around the age of two, loves people, extremely active – with one fault – he has a high prey drive. Which makes him a high risk for anyone who already has a cat or small dog in the house. Nonetheless nobody is perfect and Rex will make the right owner or family very lucky, as he’s one great dog.

He’s such a goof, loves to head dive into snowbanks chasing flying snowballs. He’s also great at sit, down, paw and stay. We played for 45 mins, and I know I was most likely more tired then he was.

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– Look at that face!!

Due to Rex’s high excitability he’s usually not the first pup to be taken out by volunteers. As you can imagine, the orange dogs usually get taken out the least by volunteers, when they usually require the most work (socializing, handling, manners).  Hanging out with Rex and the rest of the oranges over the past few days has allowed me to openly practice what I termed “Newton’s Life Lessons“. I’m far from the only volunteer to do this, I met a lady –
“Saint” Diane, who has been volunteering for 4 years with her husband every day. She just adopted a poodle mix before Christmas and still comes in to walk more dogs. She’s fantastic!

She said one thing to me – When the day comes and you see adoption papers by the animals you love the most it can be sad to say goodbye – Consider it a job well done. The time, effort and kindness you have shown the dog, have probably helped in some small way to allow that dog to become more adoptable. I can’t wait for this to happen and give Newton a “high-5” in my head.

I believe these animals are helping me, more then I am helping them. The trust and affection I get from that helps heal little pieces, bit by bit. The way I see it, I’m using Newton’s legacy for the greater good instead of dwelling on the loss and negative. Bit by bit, I’m moving forward with him, the only way I know how and the only way I can – with other animals. I am still having some very rough days.

It helps me to know Newton would love my way of doing this. He loved all, the sick, the weak, the angry and the misunderstood – without judgement. Isn’t that one of the magical things about animals?

When it’s time to open our arms, we will. To appreciate and love another for themselves and not to replace. Newton has taught us both to be better parents. I will continue to be thankful that he was ever in our lives. I have given more attention to our other two fur-kids as well. Stewart and Frankie are our two cats. They have relished in it, making me aware that they need it in this difficult time, as much as I do.

I’m sure if you stumbled upon my page, you’re going through this or are a pet lover/owner who understands. If something has happened, and you are losing/have lost your furry love, I’m so very sorry. I’m not saying that this is THE way to help with the grief, but it’s my way. It is helping. If you’re not able to volunteer, perhaps, when you’re ready, volunteering to dog sit for a night, a day or a weekend might be the thing that helps you the most. I know doggy hugs have helped me on my darkest days. Humans are great, but there’s something about the hug a dog gives – Maybe it’s a combination of the soft fur, kind eyes, the sincerity behind the motion – It works for me.

I want to thank Newton for everything, as he exceeded our expectations, surpassed our hopes and dreams when we first brought him home.  I most definitely would not be the person I am today, had he not fallen into our lives. Tripping into our hearts as uncoordinated as can be, leaving his legacy to live on.

XOXO

AJS (Newton’s Mom)

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R.I.P. dear friend. Newton, a friend to all – August 29, 2010 – Dec. 19, 2012.