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

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My first blogging award!

Hi friends,

Awww shucks - thanks!
Whoa, how did that get there?  Really? Awww shucks !

I’m so behind on my writing, but for good reason. Ahh so much upcoming that I need to write about (cue suspense music). I wanted to take a few moments and thank Mayra Bitsko for nominating my blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award – Thank you for the nomination. If you haven’t checked her blog out yet, she’s a terrific, passionate writer who also is a dog lover/owner – yay!

As most of you know, this is a therapeutic process for me. I’m happy that even sharing some of this difficult process is helpful to another.

I wasn’t quite sure how to go about this, as it was my very first nomination so here goes. I’ve never been good with rules, so like all things best to start at the beginning.

Here are the rules of the award:

1.) Display the award logo on your blog.
2.) Link back to the person who nominated you.
3.) State 7 things about yourself.
4.) Nominate 15 bloggers for this award.
5.) Notify those bloggers of the nomination by linking to one of their specific posts so that they get notified by ping back.

7 Things About Me

1 – I am the proud mama of two rescue cats: Stewart Scoudouc (Orange Tabby) & Frank the Tank (“Frankie” – Russian Blue mix). Frankie was born without the proper functioning of all of his back leg muscles, leaving him unable to jump/move quickly. We rescued him when he was almost 1. As his muscles evolved, he had his first jump/hop EVER onto an armchair when he was 2.5. Although Stewart hated him on site for the first few weeks, you can see that they have formed a bond and understanding.

Stew2 Stew1

2 – I have been with the love of my life for almost 14 years, and we’ve been doing part time long distance for the last 3 years.

3 – I was an elementary teacher for 6 years, before switching to a wonderful marketing position. Teaching is an amazing job, one that I definitely miss from time to time but love my new job!

4 – There are three things that relax me completely in life – animals, cooking and my family.

5 – My socks will never match

6 – I believe if you are an animal lover, and have the time, space and means to do it – you should always own animals. I truly believe ife is better with pets.

7 – I believe in the Karma of the Universe – what you put out is what you’ll get back.

15 Blogs that inspire me on a daily basis, and usually make me smile are….

1. http://ohmelvin.com/ – Wonderful, quirky blog about a girl and her two wonderful rescue companions. Loads of personality, plus she makes me want to have an office just like hers!

2. http://gardensforgoldens.com/ – Simply an amazing and inspiring project!

3. http://markingourterritory.wordpress.com/ – exploring great topics for all dog lovers, including how/where to travel with a dog! Plus, Eko’s pretty darn cute. Inspirational is the bond they have!

4. http://raisingmyrainbow.com/ – A blog about a family raising a fabulous gender creative son.

5. http://gorginggeorge.com/ – Fellow Canadian, foodie and lover of GIANT dogs, she inspires me to cook beautiful, fresh food on those lazy days when I don’t want to. Love all her recipes!

6. http://wordpress.com/#!/read/blog/id/40966220/ – A beautiful Golden Retriever, Miss Harper Lee’s point of view and sense of humor will make you smile.

7. http://thegradyreport.wordpress.com/ – Fellow NB’er writing an inspiring blog about a blind dog and his guide human. Make sure to read the backstory about Grady!

8. Evis Lens – Such a talented photographer!

9. Lesley Carter’s http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/about-me/ – Simply described as inspirational, she lives each day as if it’s her last, with meaning, purpose, adventure and passion.

10. 2me4art – I love art, photography and jewelry. She creates amazing, one of a kind jewelry. I only wish I could start AND FINISH the beautiful projects she creates!

11. PuppyVision – 8 years young, life with Panda the Bernese is always enjoyable to read about.

12. A photographic journal of a wonderful Jack Russell named Sawyer, make sure to check out Adventures with Sawyer!

13. Slowgirlfastdog – A great blog about the hilarity of owning fast dogs while training for a half marathon.

14. The life and times of Zoey – A wonderful blog about life and living with a paraplegic cat and other pets.

15. Peace, Love and Fostering – A photographic and well written view of fostering animals and making a difference!

I know I’ve missed many of you! I do enjoy all of your blogs, videos, posts and pics. Thank you for the ongoing support.

I’ll leave you with something Mayra Bitsko included in her post –

Sometimes you make a positive impact on others without realizing it. ;)

Yes, I’m talking about all of you! So thank you all for all of your wonderful, funny, supportive, happy, sad and always inspiring posts.

Keep writing,

Dailyspro

Paperwork and Personalities

Hello friends,

My fiance and I took another visit to the now two week old Bernese Mountain dog puppies. It was his first time returning since we went to meet and discuss a home for our Newton, 3 years prior. We once again were received with face licks, body wiggles and Berner smiles (From the dogs, not the breeder – haha). After an little while chatting with one of the breeders and snuggling with the 2 week old puppies, we went to a friends’ surprise birthday party.

puppy snuggles are the best kind
puppy snuggles are the best kind!
Week 2 - eyes are open!
Week 2 – eyes are open!

My mind however lingered on the Berners. I know there’s a long wait list for puppies, so when we arrived home we talked. We talked about our readiness, our commitment, our finances, our time, and of course Newton. As you can imagine, I talked the most. What came out of our chat was that we believe we’ll be ready to welcome our arms up after our big three week trip to Europe in July.

While Newton still has my heart, I think I’m able to share what bits are left. Waiting for a bit longer will also give me more time to work on what I need to.

I need some more time just to honor and remember Newton. It may sound strange, but I feel as if I’m giving him a disservice if I stop what I’m doing now. Also, let’s be serious I could not have a new puppy or dog and leave for 3 weeks. Thank you to my Mr. for making me realize this. There is just NO WAY. Even though we’d have fantastic support, I’d constantly be thinking of everything I was missing out on! If it turns out to be a rescue or a puppy, we need to reintroduce consistency. Leaving for 3 – 4 weeks is exactly the opposite!

I also took my Mr. to the SPCA with me yesterday. He met my new buddy Rusty. Rusty is super sweet, but very timid to strangers and anything new. He’s like the 80 year old woman next door that peeks out from behind her curtains, curious about what’s going on but wants his door closed for protection against life. We’ve developed a special relationship – in the dog runs, he runs into my arms full speed and turns last minute and collapses in them. Always giving me face licks in the process.  I really need to work with him on the full speed ahead tactic 🙂 We worked with him meeting my Mr. (new people!), going past with his tail high and wagging, and ears up, rewarding him the entire time. He also went to meet my Mr. once free in the training room all by himself, sniffing his leg and hand, allowing my Mr. to even reward a head pat or two. What a good boy!

"listening"
“listening”
good boy
Being a good boy, greeting new people with tail wags!

Then there’s Des. You’ve met Des before, she puts me through my paces every single freaking time. Walking her is a workout. I can’t even try and manage her until she has run out her energy. We take her to a dog run, play “catch the snowball” and run the excitement out of her. Then we get to work on her resource guarding. Des is like the grouchy old man of my little pack that likes HER things. “Silly youngsters”, I can imagine her saying, “Keep your paws off my stuff!”. She has been letting me slowing get closer to her as she holds her tennis ball. Today she looked at me while holding her tennis ball with her tail wagging, I rewarded her with a butt scratch. She dropped the tennis ball at my feet. PROGRESS!!

old man
This photo does not do Des justice, she’s actually a beautiful dog. I had to spend all my attention on her, rather then taking pics.

So we came home and took one more step forward – We filled out the applications for both the SPCA and the breeder. We want to be ready in case we find the right rescue or the right puppy or dog for our family after our trip. We wanted to get started early as I know some people who have been waiting a year or two for one of their Berner puppies. There are a few reasons for this, first of all, they do not churn out puppies like a puppy mill. Secondly, they only breed dogs that pass their pen/hip score clearances and eye exams. This helps weed out early hip/elbow displaysia and the eye/health issues that Berners are prone to. We’re going to fill out another form for the Bernese Rescue Society of Canada after our trip.

I’ve discovered three things throughout this process so far.

1. I never want to be just a single dog family again. Ideally I’d like to welcome our arms in July/August to a new furry friend, then keep our eyes and ears open shortly after for another.

2. Filling out both forms was both exciting and gut wrenching *sigh*.

3. Our retirement plan will be to Foster dogs 🙂 Long term planning at it’s finest, we’ll see – maybe we’ll be ready before!

There was a guilt that I felt about moving on to another dog that I knew would be there, but still did not feel comfortable. Newton will forever be a part of me, this I know. I’ve said this once, but I believed he was the daily food for my soul. Sounds dramatic, but true nonetheless. I am trying to consider this next step a tribute to him. A testament to him, making us better owners and dog lovers. Newt would want us to be happy, living life to it’s fullest as he did.  Our lives are the happiest and richest when we have a furry friend by our side. Until July, we’ll keep taking it day by day, week by week, month by month.

Aww Newton, the best teacher in the world. Photo cred: Norma Jean Worden Rogers
Aww Newton, the best teacher in the world. 

Thanks for reading,

Dailyspro

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

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

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.

Dear friend, I will see you again

A letter to Newton

A great day
Another one of our great days.

Yesterday I sat with you, holding you as you took your last breath and went over the rainbow bridge. Your tail still wagging as we told you over and over what a great boy you were. Forever thanking you as you’ve done your job better then we ever could have imagined. You exceeded our expectations, you showed us what real and pure love feels like. A love without judgement, a love without anger or any of the petty selfish emotions we humans dwell on. To lose you so soon, is completely unfair.

I can still remember bringing you home a little over 2 years ago. You were so full of life, giant paws and soulful eyes, with the a lack of coordination that never ceased to amaze us.

Your giant heart quickly captured ours.

You have the most gentle and kind nature, especially since you considered yourself a 100 lb lap dog. To know you, is to love you. I see the emotions of people around us now and know that you were loved by many.

I sit here numb, but the tears still pour down my face. My only solace is that we kept our promise to you from my first letter and promise to you.

My beautiful brave dog, you were my best friend. We saw you peak and fall too quickly and all in the same week. Your stoic nature would never allow a whine or a groan to escape, I think you knew it would break me. Your wonderful vet friends all tell me you never suffered a moments pain from this terrible disease. When we made the final walk into the vet, you still greeted all with tailwags and affection.

While I don’t believe you felt pain, you were very uncomfortable the last night we were together. You stood in the same place, and would not move even as I did. I’m so very sorry that you suffered even a moment of discomfort. I realize now with clarity from your Grandmother that you may have been afraid and uncertain. I am so thankful that she told you what to expect to try and ease your uncertainty.

We brought you home 5 days before and tried to give you, your perfect day, everyday. We tried to wine and dine you with concoctions I have watched you dream about for two years. Your dad took you on your favorite walks. We knew we did not have time to give you everything as you deserved, I wish we did.

After we visited with your original family, it seemed like you had seen everyone that you loved most in the world: as your grandparents, your brother and sister, favorite aunts and uncles & furry cousins came to visit, wrote encouraging words and sent all their love. You were now waiting for us, you knew it was time.

Please forgive me dear friend, as we made the decision that we could not stand to see you suffer. This shattered me, you never deserved an uncomfortable moment. We needed to grant you a peaceful exit, surrounded by those you love most. I will be forever grateful to your Grandmother, as she told you what I forgot to, she told you what to expect after. All the friends that were going to meet you, that you wouldn’t be alone. I told you you were loved, that we will see you again, that it would not hurt. She thought of you and told you what I forgot.

Please forgive me as I know you would not want to be the dog you were so shortly about to become. This was the hardest decision we’ve ever made in our lives. Please know that it was not an easy one to make.

All these books, websites and people tell me to write, so I shall. Because, dear Newton, I know you know all these emotions and thoughts, but you deserve to hear them. I’ll tell you my weird and deeply personal secret – I believe you were the daily food for my soul.

The separation and loss I feel cannot be computed into words. Even as I try, the sadness rips into my core. You were what my world revolved around. Your daily schedule was also mine. I’m at a loss on how to move forward. What to do next. You were our first true love together. Your dad and I love each other, but we’ve never loved something together so true.

I am truly thankful that your dad spoiled you as my back was turned, he let you enjoy the foods I was so desperate to keep away from you. He did what I was unwilling to do – he spoiled you with food. We both spoiled you with love. The house is so empty without you. Your favorite places are now vacant, I can’t even look at the backyard.

Anatole France once wrote, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened”. I believe this accurately describes everything we are going through, and why.

Dearest friend, you’ve given us more then enough memories to last a lifetime and in only 2 short years. Yet you’ve done more then most people have done, you’ve changed your dad and I into better people. You’ve taught me life lessons that I think it’s only fair that I share with you.

So here you are.

Life Lessons from my best friend

1. It’s ok to stop and smell the roses every once and awhile, even the smelly ones.

2. Give hugs and smiles – often

3. Always tell the ones you love, you love them

4. The forever optimist you are – Look at the world with eyes wide open

5. Love big

6. Practice patience and be kind to others

7. Appreciate great food

8. Love the outdoors. Every time I walk our favorite trails, I will picture you happy beside us

9. Give everyone you meet a chance, they may surprise you

10. Don’t ever go to bed angry

These are things that I will take with me forever, as you have changed us into better people. It does not help the deep hole of loss that I feel as you left us for your better place. I know that I will need time. I thank you for absolutely everything, I appreciated you and loved you every day of your life. My day will not feel complete until I see you again and get my daily hug from you.  In case I never told you, those hugs were my favorite.

Please know that you will be forever remembered. I will miss you all the days of my life. Thank you so much for everything you have done. You’ve done what many others can only hope to do, you’ve left a legacy.

You loved all you met, big or small, furry or human. I promise to visit all your friends often, and spoil them with affection that I know you will send their way. Your dad and I will visit your favorite places, and remember you as we do so. I invite you to come with us as we do this, and any other time you like. In fact I look forward to it.

This letter doesn’t even begin to describe everything. Forgive me again as I cannot start to move forward until I say a tearful goodbye until the next time we meet. I picture you now like the photos below. Happy in your favorite places and fields full of wonderful adventures, a world full of cheeseburgers and bellyrubs. I selfishly ask you to wait for me, until I can meet you next. For you will be the most wonderful greeter that I can ever imagine. Go and enjoy your peace, as you so deserve it. Run in the fields and play with your furry friends.  Please visit me often in my dreams, as I will always welcome you with arms wide open.

Forever yours,

Mom

I will always picture you here.
I will always picture you here.

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