A dog’s language

Hi friends,

I went to the SPCA last night to walk some of my oranges. As I walked through the kennels I noticed a few things, let me tell you first the good news. I immediately saw that two of the dogs I regularly work with had been adopted, with a third pending!

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Way to go Leela! My Leela, who hates all men.
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Way to go Sophie!!

It’s policy that we are not to take the dogs out once the adoption papers have been finalized as they no longer belong to the SPCA. I immediately gave Newton a “high-5” in my head. I locked eyes and gave them each a “great job”. I was so happy for these dogs. Furthermore that someone else had connected with them, saw beyond the orange and yellow sheets explaining their issues (Colors are a way of identifying a dog’s temperament, Green = easiest, yellow = a few issues, Orange = please read all testing & check with manager before handling).

Then I turned the corner and saw Big Ben’s kennel. It was empty. Ben was an interesting case, a 4 year old half husky, half shepherd. One of the prettiest dogs I’ve ever seen. All alert eyes, with a body that was ready to spring into action upon the snap of some fingers. I took my fiance in to meet him once, all he said was “whoa, that’s a pretty dog”. He was a dog who I’ve learned the most from as a volunteer. Ben made me work for everything.

I had a friend that once said,

“The most stubborn and difficult dogs can be the ones you learn the most from”

Ben had never exhibited aggression to humans to my knowledge, however canine, feline or any other furry friend had better watch out. I don’t know why Ben was surrendered, or anything about Ben’s previous life. He was surrendered without a reason given. Ben had a few issues. He responded to uncertainty with “fight” rather then “flight” when presented with other furry friends. Loud noises and surprises frequently made him feel this uncertainty as well.

Walks with Ben made me more alert , I always had to be aware of my surroundings, ensuring his (and others) safety. When handling, grooming or practicing commands/manners, I had to be completely immersed in the process, ensuring I was aware of his level of comfort at all times. I’ve always felt that I was in tune with the body language of a dog, but he brought me to a whole new level.

It’s a sad story that I write about today. Ben did the unforgivable – he bit another volunteer. I think it may have been quite bad. He sadly wrote his own ending and passed over the rainbow bridge yesterday. I know that some of you may be torn about my next comment – I believe that Ben may have been part victim and part aggressor here. I know that might seem strange to say, and not all of you will understand my way of thinking.

Let me elaborate. I know the volunteer he was with, a green volunteer who just wants to be around dogs. I think this wonderful, further that she’s wonderful. Working with the oranges may not be where some volunteers/owners belong. These dogs deserve love yes and attention – but they also need more: consistency, a firm and fair demeanor and most of all an understanding of boundaries. I’m not saying that what he did was ok. I’m saying this may have been avoidable.

Ben, a dog who I’ve worked with for 5 weeks has never even shown a hint of aggression towards me. He greeted all orange volunteers the same, with the wag of a tail, a hand lick and a love for humanity. I also understand he greeted us this way because we had not ever proved him otherwise. I believed that there was a person out there without kids, without other pets that would have understood him and gave him a forever home.

I think the key is understanding a dogs’ body language and respectful handling, Orange dogs can also find their forever homes. It takes time though, and Shelter dogs aren’t always given all the time they need. In an already tense environment, kenneled with other dogs all around (not a great environment for Ben) – Ben needed to be put through the paces, tired prior to handling, easing his tense nerves. Not everyone might understand this, or take the time to read thoroughly through his temperament testing.

Some people wish that their dogs could talk, I believe if we look close enough – we can read them. Listen to what they have to say. A dogs’ body language can tell us all we need to know.

A few links worth looking at go further into this:

Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan explains in this video about compatibility and interpretation. Cesar is waaayyyy above my personal abilities, I think these cases are better left to experts. In the meantime, I’ll be comfy just working on my listening skills.

I found this video quite interesting as well, and more pertinent to Ben’s case. We always want to touch dogs, but not all dogs want to be touched. Check out eileenanddogs.com video on body language and petting here.

Since I was not there, I hate to jump to conclusions. What I do know is this: Ben has never exhibited any signs of aggression with me. I’d like to think that if with a little more understanding and respect for a Ben’s comfort level and needs, this all could have been avoided. Some people may argue that Ben was a ticking time bomb. In this case, I do not agree. I know it’s a controversial topic.

I say this as I have seen the positive, the light. Once he became comfy, he seeked out my hand to rub against his ear, his special spot that he loved being scratched. He made me laugh constantly. Ben had a great sense of humor. The right owner may have come along, they also may not have either. As an SPCA volunteer, you cannot afford to think this way.  I like to think that the right home would have worked on this with him, protecting him and others in the process.

In this world of partnerships between human and canine, we have an upperhand. As we can dictate the fate of such dogs. I think it’s a responsibility that we have and should take seriously when handing special dogs, such as Ben. We need to listen to what they have to say.

Another sad side of this is that dogs who have not been given their forever home before passing over the rainbow bridge aren’t given the same respect, grieving, and remembrance of life.  I believe they deserve this too, and I know I’m not alone. So today, despite Ben doing the unforgivable, I dedicate this post to him. Ben, thank you for teaching me to be more compassionate, more understanding, more patient and more alert and in tune with your language.

Lastly I leave you all with this…

Dear Ben, when you pass the rainbow bridge I wish for you lots of doggy treats, big fields without leashes to run and explore, incredible adventures, no other dogs or cats and many humans of your choosing to give you head scratches ONLY when YOU want. I choose to simplify this process and remember you only for the positive.

Ben, If my Newton does meet you, know he will be your friend. He will continue teaching you that not all dogs are enemies, I hope he will show you that some can become friends.

I ask you, if you would, fellow dog lovers to take a moment to think of my friend Ben.

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The only pics

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Rest in peace my dear friend,

Dailyspro

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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.

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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.”

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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

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.

A Promise

Newton
Newton

I found out yesterday that our wonderful gentle giant of a dog has chronic renal disease (CRF). As it turns out he was dealt some bad kidneys at birth, we found out they are abnormally shaped which has lead to his disease.

I took him in for a routine teeth cleaning yesterday and I ticked the box to get his bloodwork checked. Our vet called us later on that day, I thought to tell us we could pick him up. I was not expecting what she said in the least. See Newton always has been a bit on the lazy side, every since he was a pup. He hasn’t exhibited any of the signs as listed below, except for excessive water intake. So it shook the ground I thought was stable and threw me for a loop.

Chronic renal failure is one of the most common diseases seen in older dogs, right up there with arthritis and cancer.

Unfortunately, by the time most dogs show signs of kidney disease, much of the irreplaceable tissue needed for good renal function is already destroyed.

Many pet owners mistakenly think that as long as their dog is peeing a lot – often more than he did in his younger years, in fact – his kidneys are still working well. In fact, the opposite is true.

A dog with developing kidney disease will feel the need to drink and urinate more in an effort to keep his body free of waste – a job his kidneys once did with a whole lot less effort. This cycle of over drinking and over urinating will work for a while, but eventually, no amount of water will be enough to get the job done.

By the time your pet starts showing other obvious signs of illness, for example lack of appetite, weight loss or low energy level, significant irreversible kidney damage has occurred. (Thanks http://healthypets.mercola.com for this descriptive).

My heart is shattered. I am still in shock. He’s on an IV to try and increase the functionality of his kidneys until Saturday. Best case scenario is that he lives for 3-4 more years with meds and a special diet (yay!). Worst case is that he won’t live another 6 months.

Everything about this is unexpected. As an owner of a pet under 3 years of age, you do not expect to have to think about these kinds of things, this soon. I’m at the angry stage of my acceptance. He does not deserve this, the prodding the procedures. One thing I will never accept is for him to be in pain. So far, he is not.

As most pet owners can understand, He’s my best friend. Where I go, so does he so it’s hard to think about a parting. You know this will happen eventually, but not before your story together has had time to develop.This has been a very difficult time for us, this period of not knowing. Friday is when we’ll have a definitive answer of how long my loving giant has with us and how far his progression is.

To help me cope with this, I turned to writing. I wrote my very best friend a letter and made a promise.

My promise

It’s with the heaviest of hearts I write this.

Today I was told you weren’t perfect.

To me, you still are.

The doctors aren’t sure if you’ll live 6 months or 4 years.

I want you to live forever.

I visited you today in your sterile temporary home.

I missed you and cried when I saw you. I could not hold it together.

I thought of everything you’ve given me over the past 2 years, and as I looked into the kindest big brown eyes I promised you:

You will never suffer or be a prisoner of your own body for my selfish reasons.

You have always treated others with the gentleness and tolerance I can only admire.

Therefore, I pledge to you, my very best friend, that whether you live for 6 months of forever:

You shall be treated with respect.

You shall only be treated with love.

You, my gentle giant deserve only the best. You’ve given me so much. You’ve been the keeper to my secrets, my shoulder, my confident, my jester, my soldier, my love.

My favorite moments are when you sneak up and give me hugs as I’m tying my shoelaces, letting me know you understand I’m leaving, but not forever.

What am I to you?

I can only be more.