Moves and Memories

Good morning friends,

I’m sorry for the DELAY! Ask all my loved ones, I’m notoriously late for everything in life. I think I even disclose this on my bio, ironically written after my first few posts went up 😉

So much has happened in the last two months that I almost am overwhelmed with where to start. We finished our basement renovations, Went on our trip to Italy, My sister got married, We sold our house, I started a new job in a new Province and now am currently house-hunting. I’m feeling a bit like this guy….
sleepy

I can’t talk about them all today (even though we all know I’m long-winded enough to do so), so I’m going to focus on one in particular that I’m still coming to terms with….

We did it.

We left the house that we raised Newton in.

I had a tremendously difficult time with this. It’s just a house, but great life moments made it our home. Memories of Newton topped my “Why I’m thankful we lived here” list I made, during my last weekend in there. Leaving, irrevocably made me confront some painful memories. The house has not changed, but we’ve had to. Each corner, nook and tiny cranny holds for me – special moments suspended in time.

Memories remind us of what we’ve lost.

Memories remind us of what we had.

These two opposing forces led me on a rollercoaster of emotions last week.

It made me deal with something I haven’t been prepared to do – start to let go. I tricked myself into believing it was something I had been doing all along. I hadn’t.

The time a person needs to take, cannot ever be measured in chronological time. Losing a loved one on any level is a deeply personal thing. You start to move on, you’ll start to make new memories. It takes time.

A friend told me she dreamt of Newton waiting for us at our next home. I know where he’ll always be – A monumental part of our past – with us wherever we go.

Yes we left the house that we raised Newton in, but we did not leave the memories. 

Inside my thoughts. Forever imprinted.The moment I saw his face before he ran two blocks through wet pavement costing me a few hundred dollars in breakfast sandwiches and coffee for the construction crew, the hundreds of hugs given and recieved, the reminders of our fur-kids playing tag. Too many to list and count.

Memories remind us of what we’ve lost.

Memories remind us of what we can have again.

Great memories give us hope, inspiration and love. They guide us.

I walked around the house and said my goodbyes on my last day. As I reflect now, I realize (as difficult as it is to admit), what I was really saying:

“Thank you Newton – for all the truly great memories. I wouldn’t have changed a single thing”.

Thanks for reading,

Dailyspro

Advertisements

Changes

Hello friends,

Well big news in our household. Since we lost our wonderful pal Newton, it’s helped put things into perspective.

Such as, I’ve tied myself to a job that has an 8 hour round trip drive from the people I love most in the world. Why is this?

Another life lesson taken from my pal – surround yourself by those you love most in the world.

So I took the bull by the balls horns and applied for an internal position a 30 min drive away from all friends/family. The last month has been quite the process, applying, going through 3 rounds of interviews, plus a presentation. Oh, and don’t forget we’re still renovating from the FLOOD. Whoa

So I’ve decided to put a 45 day to-do list together for my life (I love lists!):

– Finish renovations

(Here’s how it’s looking so far! Bonus if you can see Stewart’s photobomb)

New den in the basement
New den in the basement

– Sell house

– Buy new house

– Move

– Train for new job

– Go on Honeymoon

– Get ready for maid of honor duties in sister’s wedding

Is this worth it? Hell YES! I’m getting pumped for the move, but am getting a little anxious with my “to-do” list.

Just wanted to give you a heads up that I may be a little distant from my blog for a bit. Love ya’ll, but as you can see I have my hands full. Can’t wait to share all the changes once we get settled! Here’s to hoping there will be puppy news to share on the next feed.

Cheers to fresh starts,

Dailyspro

Commemorative thoughts

Hello friends,

First of all, if you are reading this, you’ve probably either lost or are losing a furry friend. Please know I’m very sorry for your loss. It is never easy. Take solace in the fact that you gave them a great life, and don’t be too hard on yourself. My post today is dedicated to discussing a multitude of ways to commemorate your best friend.

Everyone is different. I know as I go through my own grieving process, I’m looking for ways to continue to keep Newton near and dear. We were a one dog family, we went from arranging our entire day around Newton to nothing. I was lost. In the beginning I don’t mind admitting that I was desperately searching for anything that I could hang on to. There are still days that I want to stay in my jammies, listen to some sad tunes and down a bottle glass of vino. I’ve found a better way (for me). Most of you who follow my blog know I started working with the SPCA again after losing my best buddy. Being around dogs who need so much, allow me a new routine that makes me feel necessary again. They give me strength, love, laughter and a purpose when I felt I had little.

These are not ways to ease grief, only time can do that. Instead, when you’re ready, and are looking for a way to commemorate your furry friend – this list may be helpful. Find something that speaks to you, and represents your lost companion and your bond. It can be very therapeutic.

First of all ignore those people who say, “It’s just a dog”. Thoughtless words. In my opinion, they will never understand so do not waste your time with them. They do not belong in your process.

Commemoration  – Let me count the ways

1. Write a Eulogy, it helps to think back and remember all the great times. Trust me, you’ll go back and re-read this.

2. Have a ceremony. We have yet to have ours, but it will be coming. I want to spread Newton’s ashes in his favorite places, and we have to wait until Spring in order to do this. I’ve been told it helps, especially little ones, with closure.

3. If your a writer, write a letter. I wrote and then shared mine here. If you’re an artist, paint. If you’re into music – write a song. Another blogger friend is having a ring designed to represent her pup and their bond. I thought that this was beautiful. Any form of expression is healthy.

4. Plant a tree. Most dogs love being outside. Plant something that is representative of them, that will bloom every year and give you a beautiful reminder. Some people even plant a flower, bush, tree or garden in a spot of significance. If you need a little inspiration, check out a blogger friend’s project – “Gardens for Goldens“. They’ve taken their project to a whole new level!

tree of love

5. Store the memories somewhere, including photos, a favorite toy etc. I decided to make a picture book that has all photos of Newton, in all stages of life. I wanted a place that I could go back and remember all the good times. Further, I’ll be getting close friends and family members to sign it and include a favorite memory. I’ll be bringing this out on those sad, dark days. If a photo book isn’t your cup of tea, Modern dog magazine has some pretty exceptional ideas here. The blog, My wonderful life, has another list of unique ideas here.

6. If you know your pet is terminal or have little time together left, make a list. When we found out we were losing Newton, we made a list of everything we knew he loved. The vet thought we would only have less then a week left with him. If he was up to it, we wanted to try and fit everything he loves into this 6 day period. We were lucky, he was never in pain and he was able to do many of these things. It was a celebration of his life for 6 days.

My entire point, make your days all epic days.

If you all haven’t seen this wonderful video of a man who gives his dog, who has cancer, his last epic meal. It’s touching, and a real tear jerker. Amazing to watch if you’re able.

__________________________________________________________________

Newton’s list

– Visit his best furry friends (if he’s feeling up to it).

– Visit original Grandmom (Breeder), with brother Richard and sister Livy (He loved it here)

– Eat a Christmas Turkey dinner, with gravy

– Eat a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, (He ate 4) I know he’s always wanted this…..

– Make a snowman for him to “kill”

– Cuddle as much as he wants.

– Invite Aunties and Uncles to visit – We invited and almost everyone came during one point or another over this 6 day period. It was a wonderful send off.

– Take one last hike as a family – Newton loved hiking. He was feeling weak so we never ended up finishing this one off. However we had more then enough family hikes throughout his life to remember.

_________________________________________________________________

7. During the time you would normally spend together, keep yourself busy. If you had a specific time that you would walk together, make sure to do something else. These can be the saddest times if you’re alone. Finding something else to do can make this easier.

8. Try something I call “Fur Therapy”. Whether it be visiting another cat or dog, boarding a friends fur-kid or volunteering at your nearest shelter, it can be extremely therapeutic. If you’re an animal lover, animals may be healing for you. I know this has worked amazingly well for me. I’ve also been boarding dogs on weekends for friends and family members and volunteering. It has given me a purpose.

9. Read Jon Katz’s book “Going Home“. He speaks about something called the “Good Life”. A wonderful notion which I think would give most solace. Read more on my review of this here. If you’d like a quick snapshot – here’s a excerpt from Going Home.

10. Read “Rainbow Bridge“. A beautiful piece of writing.

rainbow bridge

11. If you need, reach out to people who understand. There are a multitude of pet grieving groups. People who are in these groups will not judge, only listen.

12. Cry when you need to. There is nothing wrong with it.

13. Write a list of everything you learned from your companion. It’ll make you sad at first, but then extremely thankful they were ever a part of your life.

14. This one may be too early to mention, but I’m going to put it out there. When you’re ready, welcome a new furry friend into your lives. This is best way to celebrate a life. Practice everything your lost companion taught you. This could take a few months, or even a few years. When you’re ready, you’ll know. Grief does not have a time limit.

This is a difficult road to take. I hope you’ll find the above list helpful. If any of you have any other ideas, please comment below. I look forward to hearing about them and sharing them with others who are going through this terrible time.

I’ve gotten so many responses back from so many of you. It shocked me at first. The support many of you have shared, I’ll be forever grateful for. This process is the hardest part of being a pet owner. Know that you are not alone. We are lucky to have them in our lives at all, they always leave far too early. If you haven’t seen the link going around, check out A dog’s purpose: According to a 6 year old here. It’s a beautiful thought.

Grief is a powerful thing, do not lose yourself in it. There will come a time when you remember the great times, and tears do not fall every time. Until then, I hope some of the above helps.

Thanks for reading,

Dailyspro

RIP dear friend

Thank you for all you've done.
My Newt – Thank you for all you’ve done.

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 ?

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

Good morning friends,

 

Some news!

Image

 

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.

Image

– 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)

Image

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

One step forward…

Dear friends,

This blog started as a record of my new adventures, namely Crossfit. I plan on recording many more adventures here, but for now I need this space for another purpose. I understand if this is not what you signed up to hear about, so don’t feel bad about not following what I write anymore. This is a space that I need to use for my grieving process. I can’t tell you how long it will be like this, only that I will use it as I need – without apologies.

It’s been awhile since I last wrote, as you can imagine it’s been a very difficult time for us. To be honest, I didn’t want to write, as it would send my last letter to the archives of my blog… a place I consider the past. A place I wasn’t ready to go.

Just when I think I’m going to be ok, I notice the little things.

That spot he loved at the foot of our bed, a quick glance in the backyard can bring back so many memories of enjoying the snow, gardening adventures and playing soccer. I imagine we’ll be finding his fur in places for years to come, just one of the joys of having a long haired dog.

It snowed today and we couldn’t stop talking about how much he would have loved it.

Newton

We both take solace in the fact that we did the right thing, but going forward from this place seems difficult when we are surrounded by memories of Newton. It helps to write to him, so I will.

Dear Newton,

It was the first night back at the house without you. Your dad will be here for a week before he goes back, I will be here for awhile. Everything reminds us of you, both a constant indication of how deeply entrenched you were in our lives, and a depressing reminder of what we both miss terribly.

We got the call today, that you are ready to be picked up. We’re also going to be selfish and keep part of you with us, wherever we go. We also plan on sharing you with the places we know you loved most. We will be going to St. Mary’s point to give you a remembrance ceremony you deserved, to celebrate all the wonderful memories we had with you there as we scatter your ashes.

Newton, I think of you every day, even when I was at your grandparents place for the last week – healing. It’s an odd feeling to only be responsible for myself and come and go as I please. It’s odder still, since it was a feeling that was not wanted. I want you to know about all the people that miss you. Tears have been shed, messages have been relayed – all for you. You played a great role in many people’s lives and should know you touched so many.

I am being extra careful to pay more attention to your furry brothers. As I promised in my last letter, I give them the love and affection I know you send their way (Yes, even Frankie).

Stewart and Frankie
Stewart and Frankie

Frankie and Stewart do miss you. It was different being at your grandparents home, as there were other distractions. As we arrived at our house last night, they searched for you. Frankie sleeps on your bed every afternoon, I like to think it comforts him.

Stewart understands, but I catch him still looking at your spots every now and again – “Just in case”.

Oh, the girlies miss you. Your cousins ran into the house when they arrived, saw me, and searched for you. They were uneasy without you all week. It wasn’t the same. Penny and Kacey send so much love your way. I gave them lots of hugs, kisses and thought of you as we all raced through the fresh snow in the backyard last week.

Newton with his girlies
Newton with his girlies

There was a kitten at home named Louie at home, you would have loved him despite his timidness (or some people thought hatred) towards dogs. At 5 months old, he would have loved to attack your tail as it swept tables, you would have patiently waited for him to stop.

Your uncle Alex knew I needed a distraction and “Lulu” became it. For the last week, I helped socialize him from a wild child to the calm and chill kitten I knew he could become. He still doesn’t like dogs, I couldn’t have overcame that obstacle without you there. I think Lulu knew I needed him more then he needed me. Although the pain and aching is still so deep, he helped me realize a part I didn’t completely know. I still have room to love others. I thought you would leave me with nothing left to share. I don’t want to move on, please don’t see it that way. I want to move forward and continue your legacy, I need to be around more animals. More importantly, animals that might need a little bit extra TLC.

We aren’t ready to bring another one in permanently, but I have registered to be a dog walker at the SPCA today. I think you’d like that. You loved other dogs, even the damaged ones, even the ones that wanted to rip you to shreds. Through the things you taught me, I plan on sharing with them: To be kind, gentle, loving and patient. This is by no means to replace you. Instead I see it as a way of continuing on with you, to practice all the wonderful things you taught me.

I still think of you every night and cry when I need to. Your life deserves to be celebrated as well as mourned. I’ve been angry, been in stages of disbelief, stages of numbness and now I’m mostly just sad.

I take time to picture you running across fields full of tall grass and meeting our other furry friends that have passed over the rainbow bridge, Meadow, Cheeko, Janey, Magic and Felicity. I love to think of you in our happiest moments.

I hope you can hear my thoughts and are able to continue to visit me in my dreams, as I look forward to those visits. I miss you.

Always yours,

Mom

xoxo