• Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 143 other followers

  • “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers” — Isaac Asimov

  • Recent Posts

  • Pages

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 167,620 hits

Heartstring Triggers

Disclaimer: This article isn’t all sad, so don’t skip it because there’s some cute stuff midway through.

I read an article recently, and a line from it stuck with me:

Interestingly, Hawaiian researchers have even found that the pain after the death of a pet is usually much longer lasting than the pain we feel with the loss of a loved one.

https://www.healthyfoodhouse.com/losing-a-pet-hurts-more-than-people-think/

Y’all, I know that many of us can attest to this.

Last night, I dreamed of two of my lost fur babies – Aubie and Molly.

As I spent time petting both of them, I remember thinking, “This has to be a dream, but it’s so realistic.”

The dream seemed to go on for a long time, and I kept telling myself that I must be dreaming even though it very much felt like real life.

I also remember thinking that Pele must not have been ready to make the leap yet.

I know where this idea came from – the book Good Dog, by Dan Gemeinhart.

I had read it last summer, around the one year anniversary of Molly’s passing.

I had sobbed my way through the book, which chronicled the story of Brodie, a beloved dog who had passed away but was stuck in an in-between world.

The book had gone a long way toward healing my still-raw and very broken heart.

Waking up confirmed that yes, I had been dreaming.

Sigh.

Then, as I was tootling around the house, I went to put up something that had fallen in the laundry room, and I saw this . . .

What had fallen was one of the dog’s halters we bought to make walks a little easier. As I reached up to put it away, I saw the second one.

Sigh.

Then, I picked up an empty bag from Walmart. It had been sitting on one of those shelves you see above, and here’s what was inside . . .

I’m thinking that the collection of baggies was from the week the Mr. and I spent in California last summer. I tend to be anal about organizing things for my dog sitters.

I am not going to lie, y’all. This grieving thing isn’t easy, even if it’s for an “animal.”

Of course we all know that I consider my fur babies like my human ones.

I am so thankful for the memories we have of the ones we’ve lost. I can’t tell you how many times the Mr. and I sit outside on our porch and reminisce about them . . . how smart Aubie was, how brazen Molly was, how deceptively intelligent Pele was.

The other night, the Mr. and I recounted the season when Molly climbed up and over our fence. I’ve shared the videos here before, but just in case you missed them, here they are.

Here’s the view from the other side . . .

Oh goodness, but look at this gem I just found on YouTube . . .

And this one, which is one of my favorites . . .

Oh wait, look at this! Excuse my horrible back yard, which was a casualty of a four-dog household.

Look how sweet the babies were to each other.

Here’s when Molly, who loved her ball, had to face a choice . . .

And then there were the post-bath play sessions . . .

The next video was from 2015. It’s hard to believe; it seems like yesterday.

And then the last video of the babies that I uploaded to YouTube.

Sorry for the video dump. This post sort of evolved into a digital walk down memory lane – a good thing when you’re sad because random things triggered your heartstrings.

Thank you for continuing to pray for us as we continue adapting to the hole in our home and our hearts.

And Then There Was One

Once upon a time, there were four fur babies.

They made AuburnChick and her Mr. a little crazy but a lot happy.

Fast forward twelve and a half years, and the four have become one.

This has made AuburnChick and her Mr. very sad people.

The day they lost Pele, they left for a little getaway that had been six months in the planning.

They set aside their grief the best they could and made memories with their loved ones.

Oh, y’all, how I wish this was a story from a book. The reality, however, is very sorrowful and oh too real.

This story is one that is currently being written – slowly and painfully.

The Mr. and I returned from our trip Saturday evening. I started crying as we made the last few turns; the knowledge of what was ahead weighed heavily on my heart.

We knew that coming home would be tough.

Instead of two fur babies greeting us at the door, there was only one.

Granted, he was a cutie and beside himself with joy and relief.

While we had been able to delay our grief, he had been at home with a stranger (a sweet young lady but still new to him) and confused about where his big brother was. Our sitter texted me a picture of him and told me that he’d been keeping an eye on the front door.

Poor guy.

His audible greeting – something rare for him – let us know just how happy he was to see us.

I think we spent that first evening in a daze. The house was too quiet.

We were all in mourning; the weight of it so very, very heavy.

Gambit was unsure of the new dynamics.

Normally, his big brother would be vying for space on the bed. Instead, it was just Gambit. We both felt like a piece of ourselves was missing.

We slept twelve hours, and I’ll just go ahead and say that I felt no guilt about missing church. My body and mind desperately needed the rest. Besides that, I would have been a blubbering mess.

I can’t remember much of what we did on Sunday. I believe we went to Sam’s Club. I ran into a former student I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. I’m sure I seemed aloof, but the truth was that I was extremely emotional and barely able to focus. The priority was getting a few needed items and returning home to Gambit.

I don’t remember anything else about the day.

The week, in fact, ran pretty much the same way.

It might seem silly to people who aren’t animal lovers, but losing a beloved pet is hard on the heart.

Pele’s absence has left a huge void in our lives.

Everything in the house reminds me of him.

One of the first things I did was move one of his dog beds to the den. We had five of them in the house. Yes, for two dogs. I threw away one dog bed because Pele had either gotten sick on it or had a bit of an accident. That still left four.

Then, there was the crate, which was beside the TV. Pele loved his crate. It was his safe place – his spot when he wanted alone time away from Gambit, who was known to sneak snuggle.

I folded it up and put it away, not sure if we will need it in the future. I couldn’t deal with the dog bed. It had so much of Pele’s hair and smelled like him. Smell is such a powerful sense and brings back so many memories.

For two years, we’d had double of everything: water bowls, dog food dishes, and leashes. When I took Gambit to get his nails clipped this week, I teared up as I reached for his leash. I still can’t bring myself to do anything with the extra one. Maybe one day, but not yet.

Gambit was so excited to go for a car ride, and my heart broke a little. Pele loved to ride too. I was used to seeing two puppy faces in the rear view mirror. I only saw one that day.

I wound up taking Gambit to PetSmart for his nails even though the vet’s office was a little closer. I just can’t go there yet; the pain is so raw.

The Mr. and I still find ourselves talking about the “dogs” this and the “dogs” that. I’m not sure how we will move from using plural nouns to a singular one when referring to the one who’s left.

I’ve spent the week cleaning; it’s what I do when I’m in the middle of flux. As I walked from one room to another, I saw this . . .

The Roomba had already run more than once, so finding a tuft of Pele’s tail hair poured salt in the wound. I broke down and told the Mr. that the day my vacuum stops picking up Pele’s hair is the day I’m going to cry bucketloads. I’m afraid of losing all evidence that Pele was a member of our family for so long. I remember feeling this way with Molly too. The Mr. reminded me that we have a lot of pictures to remember him by.

And so I’m plodding through this muck that is life at the moment.

It’s slow going, and if I’m completely honest, I’m not too happy at the moment.

Watching my sweet Gambit struggle is hard. He’s too little for the two beds we have left.

I’m just glad that we have a buffer between losing Pele and school starting back up to get our bearings again.

I’ve been fond of saying that I’m finding joy in the journey, whatever that may be.

Well, I’m not joyful in the moment. To say otherwise would be a lie.

I do know, though, that God’s got me – that He’s ministering to me through family and friends – that He will continue to comfort me when I suddenly feel weepy.

No, I will not allow myself to wallow too long in the sad, but for now, I will embrace it for just a little while until the wound of my broken heart has healed a bit.

Just as Gambit, the last one left, likes to lift his nose in the wind, so I’ll trust that God will lift my spirits in His perfect time.

The Third Musketeer

Once upon a time (February 2007), there was a girl who wanted to get a second dog.

Knowing her father was anti-multiple-fur-babies, she approached Mama about how to convince Daddy that she should get one. Mama, being the tech wizard, suggested a PowerPoint.

Said girl made the PowerPoint, and Daddy’s heart was swayed. The family went to the local animal shelter and picked out the most adorable baby there was.

Leaving the animal shelter – in Rooster’s lap

Being the soccer extraordinaire that she was, Chicky named her puppy Pele. He came home to meet what he would believe was his mama and began his adventurous life.

First trip to PetSmart to get a collar and name tag.

Pele immediately latched on to Aubie. We had wondered how she would do with a baby fur pup since she’d been an only child up to this point.

They bonded immediately. She was patient with him as he followed her everywhere and slept wherever she slept.

It took a little while for Pele’s personality to come out. He had been returned to the animal shelter twice before we’d taken him home, so he was leery. We gave him lots of love, though, to build his trust.

And then the cuteness came out . . . along with his mischievous side.

Boy did he love that gorilla. I repeatedly sewed up holes that Pele lovingly inflicted upon it.

Six months later, the human mama (Your’s Truly) decided to add to the brood, and Molly joined the crew.

Pele wasn’t too sure about Molly the night she arrived. She flew into the house and went straight for him.

There were now the Three Musketeers, and boy were they a tight bunch.

Pele had softened the hearts of his human parents – so much so that dogs were now allowed on the couch and other places formerly forbidden.

Molly’s addition to the family ruined us completely; mischief was constantly afoot.

Much love and laughter was shared over the years. The Three Musketeers morphed into something akin to human progeny.

Aubie was the eldest and in charge of everyone. Pele was the easy-going middle child who preferred to slide through life without too much extra attention. He knew when to stand back when the others (Molly – ahem) were getting in trouble for what were probably his misdeeds.

Molly was the instigator – the one who came up with the insidious plans. Pele was her muscle. Aubie told on both of them.

Time marched on, and just like humans, the Three Musketeers got older.

At the tender age of 12 and a half, and after a suspected case of bone cancer, we bid farewell to Aubie.

Pele was absolutely heartbroken and mourned her loss for a long time. He’d refused to lay on her bed for weeks; her smell so confusing since she wasn’t there physically.

Four years later, Molly breathed her last after a fairly sudden downturn in her health. We never quite knew what befell her. I suspect she suffered a stroke that ebbed the life from her.

By then, Gambit had been a member of the family for five years. He and Pele tender footed around the house for days sensing my distress and utter devastation.

Fur babies are sensitive things, you know.

And life continued.

We had two blissful years. With the loss of two fur babies behind us, we took special care with the ones who remained and spent extra time doting on them.

We spoiled them rotten.

Life hadn’t been easy – especially after Hurricane Michael – but we pushed through, thankful for the distractions that our fur boys provided.

And then last week happened.

One week ago today, to be exact.

Pele’s health had been declining ever since Hurricane Michael last October. He and Gambit had evacuated with me; the long, middle-of-the-night ride to Auburn had done a number to Pele’s body. He was never quite the same, and it broke my heart to watch his strong, sleek body slowly whittle down. During the past three months, he began eating sporadically, even after I started preparing homemade, pet-friendly dishes.

When I took him to the vet in June, she assured me that this was normal for older dogs during summer months, but I knew something was amiss. My boy NEVER missed meals. He LIVED for food. The muscles in his back legs degenerated quickly over the past month, and his eating continued to be hit and miss.

And then the 18th . . . when Pele didn’t want to get up and potty. When I finally got him to go, things didn’t look right, and he returned to his bed.

I knew something was gravely wrong, and I told the Mr., with tears in my eyes, that it was time.

We spent the next hour and a half loving on our sweet boy, waiting for the vet’s office to open. We had a trip planned, and although I had a trusted dog sitter coming to the house, we were afraid that Pele wouldn’t make it until we returned. We didn’t want him to suffer, which was clearly already happening. Also, the thought of us not being here for him in his last moments would have wrecked us.

We took pictures with him. He was so tired that he didn’t really want to look at the camera.

The tears were flowing, let me tell you.

He had been a loyal companion for too long. We wanted to be there for him when it mattered most.

Rooster and his girl, who were visiting, said their goodbyes, and we headed out.

Dear, sweet Pele. He was so brave. He had always been a nervous wreck in the vet’s office, but he walked into the room and laid right down on the blanket they’d set out for him.

The vet examined him and told us that he was going into liver failure; his eyes were yellow – a clear sign of it. We’d also found a hard knot under his chin a couple of months back, and the vet had suspected cancer – the kind that she couldn’t remove. She hypothesized that it might have spread. She noted that his legs had lost even more muscle as well.

She told us we were doing the right thing.

Oh y’all, I don’t think a person who loves a fur baby as much as we loved Pele can ever prepare for this day.

During the next hour or so, we loved on that boy so much. We talked to him as the sedatives worked their way through his body.

We told him what a good boy he was, and that we loved him so much.

There was a moment, at the very end, when I saw a tear fall from his eye. Call it what you want, but it was a tear, and it still breaks my heart when I remember it. I don’t believe that he wanted to leave us, but he was tired. So tired.

And so we kissed on him and hugged him tight, and we cried and cried. I probably shed a thousand tears to his one.

As the Mr. and I knelt over his body, I put my hands on my sweet boy, bowed my head, and prayed for all of us. I thanked the Lord for blessing us with this precious baby, and I asked for comfort as we began the grieving process. I know that God surrounded us with angels during those moments of deep anguish.

Leaving him when it was over was the absolute hardest things I’ve done as a dog mom, and I sobbed the entire way home.

Loving is the easy part; letting go is the hardest.

We had raised him for twelve and a half years.

Think about that for a minute. That’s almost half as long as the Mr. and I have been married; half of Rooster’s life.

As a Christian, I can’t know for sure if God has a place in heaven for our fur babies. I pray that He does.

I picture the OG (original gang) – my Three Musketeers – back together again, happily reunited, in perfect health, and full of sweet joy.

My sweet, gentle giant lived a full life. When I remember him, I will always see his big smile.

To my Pele,

You were the absolute BEST dog there was. You were laid back from the start – the most calm of all of our babies. I will miss so many things about you:

  • Your dinner time reminders that usually began around 3:30.
  • Your grunt as you settled yourself onto your bed.
  • How you loved to roll around on your back in the yard and on your bed after an especially satisfying meal and the funny noises you made while you were rolling.
  • The sound of you rolling onto your back as you butted yourself up against the wall – your nails scraping along the way.
  • Your floppy ears – the softest and, probably, one of my favorite parts of you.
  • Your beautiful, exotic eyes that looked like you were wearing permanent eye liner.
  • Your woof-howl when someone dared to walk past the house – on YOUR sidewalk. Awoooooo, wooof, wooof
  • Your scratch at the door when you wanted to be let out and back in again.
  • Your stare at Daddy while he ate dinner – your wish for a bite too.
  • Your big snout at the edge of my table, looking for something to eat
  • The way you eased off of the dog bed after Gambit tried to sneakily snuggle with you.
  • Your nightly reminders that it was bedtime and the look you gave me asking when was I coming.
  • Your big body that was perfect for snuggling against. You were my real life teddy bear; you never minded when I hugged you close.
  • Your presence, which filled the house and has left a void since you departed.
  • Everything. Just everything.

Pele, we have no regrets. We loved you BIG. I know that you knew you were loved and appreciated, and I trust that you were comforted by that even to the very end.

I am thankful for every single second God allowed us to have with you. We knew, going into this, that our time would be limited, given that you were a large dog. God blessed us beyond compare.

We will NEVER forget you.

Weekend Miscellany

Miscellany – yes, that’s a word.  I looked it up just to be sure.

Let’s talk about random things from the weekend.

Saturday

I got in my walk and did #somuchgood

Here’s the photo without the Charity Miles info . . . because Gambit is so cute.

I received a package in the mail . . .

Megan showed hers off during our meeting last Thursday, and I think two or three of us ordered one on the spot.  I’ll let you know how it works!  I’m hopeful because being able to stand in proximity to some of my more spirited students, as opposed to standing in front of the board, will take my classroom management skills up a few notches!

I spent most of the day reading and finished this book . . .

It was excellent!  I gave it four stars on Goodreads.  The author has another book coming out in January.  I’ll probably pre-order it.

Sunday

I slept in, opting to skip church because of the loud music and my head. The dogs were not amused because they were waiting for breakfast.

After they ate, I went for a walk.  Then, I did some laminating.

For some reason, I was really tired, so I slept for an hour.  Unfortunately, I woke up to find a migraine brewing.

I also had a craving for a cherry slushy, so I loaded up the boys and took them along for the ride.

Aren’t their faces priceless?

Despite taking a pain pill, which I had been able to avoid the past few days, the headache lingered.

I decided to do some baking.  I used the same recipe as last week, but this time, I topped them with chocolate frosting, a suggestion from the recipe writer (she kindly responded to the question I asked on her Instagram post).

Untitled

The frosting is amazing!  It tastes like the kind I’ve always bought at the store.

The Mr. had been at work all day, not his usual schedule but that’s how it goes.  When he got home, he saw that I wasn’t feeling well and kindly ate leftovers.  Bless him.

Meanwhile, I wound up a skein of yarn for a new project.

Weekends sure do fly by, even when you’re not doing a whole lot.

Weekending With Auburnchick

Y’all, this head thing is putting a crimp in my style as far as weekend fun goes.

Because I’m still having headaches, I’m being forced to lay low, which means NO beach, NO pool, and NOTHING that’s too loud.  When you live fifteen minutes from the beach, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

True to form, I’m making the most of my downtime.

Friday, I found myself without a headache; however, the trade off was that I’d gotten NO sleep the night before.

Nada.

None.

Bet that you can’t tell from the selfie, below.  I’m a girl who pulls up her big girl pants and does life anyway.

Thursday night, I’d taken one of my new pain pills – the one with codeine (to help me sleep) – but it also had caffeine in it (to ward off the headache).  Guess which ingredient my body took to like a flea on a dog?

Yep.

I was super relaxed, though, so at least I wasn’t exactly suffering all night.

It was strange, though, because I wasn’t really tired when I got up.  I took the dogs for a ride to get them out since I can’t walk them right now.

At first, they were suspicious, but when I didn’t make the usual turn for Petsmart, they relaxed.

Gambit’s face though 😀

I was down for the count by 2pm, though, and slept a hefty two and a half hours – in bed.  The dogs were more than happy to oblige me.

I felt a little better when I got up, so I got busy in the kitchen, preparing a few things I’d been wanting to try.

First up was 5-Ingredient Vegan Peanut Butter Pudding, a recipe by Minimalist Baker.

I had prepared the pudding the day before and had it chilling in the refrigerator for twenty four hours, as directed.  It was time to put the finishing touches on it.

First of all, I learned that waxed paper is the best way to go as opposed to using saran wrap when trying to prevent a film from forming on the top of puddings and custards.  I’ll remember that for next time.

Untitled

I’d gone back and forth about the topping.  Although chocolate ganache strongly appealed to me, I wanted to try something new, so I pulled out the can of coconut cream I’d put in the refrigerator a few days before and got to work on a whipped topping (the recipe is linked in with the recipe above).

I’d purchased several cans of this at Trader Joe’s over Christmas break because we don’t have this store, and I had read that to successfully make whipped cream, you have to buy cans that don’t have guar gum, which is used as a stabilizer and prevents cream from being whipped up.

Untitled

I’ve tried, in the past, to make this and never gotten it right.  I guess Friday was the day!

It was light and tasty.  Yum!

I added it to my pudding.

Untitled

I showed restraint by putting it in the fridge because y’all, I hadn’t eaten dinner yet!

The next dish I prepared was really a “recipe.”  I’ll admit that I cheated a little.

I wanted to warm up the jackfruit I’d purchased earlier in the week.

I’ve been very intrigued by this newly-popular food item, and although I’ve found it sold in cans online, I haven’t been able to locate it in my local stores.

Prep was fairly easy, except for the pulling-apart thing (akin to pulling apart pork when making barbecue).

Untitled

Although it’s a fruit, the texture is similar to pork.  I think it would be a great food for people who are making the transition to becoming vegetarians.

I added 1/8 of a cup to each slice of pizza I had leftover from the day before.

It was delicious!  I wound up ordering a pack of six cans of jackfruit (from Amazon) so I can make stuff like this from scratch and eliminate some of the unhealthy ingredients that’s in prepackaged food.  Oh yeah, and don’t be judging me, because I know the pizza wasn’t healthy either.  It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me, so cut me some slack.  🙂

Because of my nap, I wasn’t tired that night.  Gambit was not impressed.

I slept in rather late on Saturday and quickly got dressed.  Chicky was on her way for a very brief stop enroute to see her guy.  She needed to drop a few things off.

I got to see her fur baby, Cali, who is always excited to visit us.  She’s never forgotten us after the summer that she and Chicky spent here when Chicky was still in college.

We put her in the backyard because we didn’t want to risk a less-than-friendly reception by our dogs.

Ahem.

We sent Chicky on her way with my rice cooker, a couple of homemade energy bars, and a bowl of peanut butter pudding (just so you know that I’m not a complete pig).

After she left, I made lunch for the Mr. – chicken fingers – his favorite.

Thank goodness for being a blogger who takes a lot of pictures because my memory is giving me tiny fits right now.  I blocked a project I’d finished in the wee hours of the morning.  I’ll have photos of that soon.

I didn’t go to bed too late, if you consider midnight acceptable.  It is still summer, after all.

I skipped church on Sunday because I was worried that the loud music would make my headache worse.  Although the headaches are less intense, they are constantly present, brewing beneath the surface.  I did get up, showered, dressed in street clothes, and adorned with makeup.

Go me.

Good thing too, because the Mr. called and asked if I wanted to go to Newk’s with some of our friends from church.  He picked me up, and we had a lovely time with two other couples.

Then, it was home again for the day where I rested, knit a LOT on a new project, listened to RHAP’s Big Brother updates (don’t be judging), and binged on Bosch, my latest Amazon Prime go-to show.

The Mr. and I watched the latest episode of Sharp Objects.  What a dark show; it’s so depressing!

While we watched, the Mr. tried, unsuccessfully, to ignore Pele as he ate a leftover hamburger patty.

Although I’m spending a lot of time at home these days, it’s been good for me and the dogs.

They love that they’re getting extra treats and lots of time in the yard.

We are getting so much quality time together, which is difficult during the school year.

Did you do anything exciting?  Can I live vicariously through you for a little while?  🙂

Lazy Day

Because I’d been up late Wednesday night, I slept in a bit on Thursday.

My heart was still hurting from the book I’d finished.

I took my time getting out of bed and hung out with the dogs all morning.  It was a beautiful day, and I should have gone to the pool, but mentally, I wasn’t into it.  I needed a bit of solitude.

I took a nap in my chair even though I’d slept late.  I was so tired.

Being sad will do that for you.

When I woke up, it was early afternoon.  The dogs were eager to get some fresh air.

I had been procrastinating my workout but was not about to give in and not do it, so I got dressed.

Untitled

Just as I was about to get started, my phone rang.  A guy I’d called yesterday was on his way to take a look at my house.  We want to fix our gutters and get a door for our screened in porch.

The workout did not want to happen, y’all.

I persevered, though, and got it in after he left.

Day 72 – Done!

Then, I began preparing dinner for the hubby.  This is one of his new favorite dishes.

Untitled

It’s a bit of a pain to put together, which is why I don’t make it that often.

The rest of my evening was chill as I blogged and watched television.

Sometimes, you just need a lazy day.

In my case, it’s been a summer of lazy days, but who’s judging (it better not be you!). 🙂

One Year Later

July 5, 2017 was a day I’d rather forget.

It was the day when I lost my beloved fur baby, Molly.

One year later, the pain is almost as unbearable as it was that tragic day.

One year later, I’m still wiping tears from my face as my thoughts frequently turn to her.

Some people might think it’s dumb to grieve so deeply over a dog, but she was so much more than that to me.

She was a member of my family – my little shadow – the neck that I hugged after a bad day.

There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about her . . . when I don’t miss her, even with all of the quirks that she had.

Every time I lift my wrist to check the time, I see one of my favorite pictures of the two of us, taken in healthier and happier times.

Last night, as I began to hear firecrackers popping in the sky, I cried.  I couldn’t help but remember the way that Molly, so scared of loud noises, slept through them last year, another sign that her life was ebbing away.

One year later, my heart is still shattered over the loss of my best furry friend.

%d bloggers like this: