From Samson to Sandy – part 2

In my previous post, I told the story of how our Samson died. Losing a pet is horribly painful and it takes a lot of time to heal. I would think of him at random times – driving by a dog park, seeing someone walk a dog by the house, coming home from work and not having him greet at the door. Those moments stung a lot at first but got less and less over time.

As I mentioned before, I wanted another dog and was ready after a few months. I wanted a medium to big dog, preferably a rescue, though the specific breed didn’t matter as much. CJ however needed more time. He felt like we would be replacing Samson, which didn’t feel right.

So, I took cues from him and patiently waited.

After about a year, CJ started to feel more open and ready for another dog. We weren’t actively looking. We knew the Universe would bring us the right dog at the right time. CJ actually sat one night and talked to the Universe, asking for a dog.

A short time later, CJ went in to the dentist for a cleaning and saw a picture on the wall of 3 Labrador dogs. He commented to the receptionist that we used to have a yellow Lab and what a great dog he was. She asked if we were looking for another one and mentioned that one of the hygienists had a rescue dog that she was trying to find a home for.

A female Yellow Lab/Whippet mix named September.

CJ came home and told me. I was all for at least pursuing it but I also knew it needed to come from him. I could not force him in to this. After thinking it over for a few days, he said he wanted to find out more. We learned she was a rescue. She had been found as a puppy abandoned in a barn and was taken in by a young couple. They named her September because that’s when she was found.

The original owner got ahold of us and sent a few pics of Sandy as a puppy.

Turned out she was a rascal with a lot of energy and chewed up their stuff – including the walls of the house. My guess is that they didn’t play with her or give her a constructive outlet for her energy so she took care of it herself by finding stuff to chew on. It’s what puppies do! So they handed her off to someone else. We don’t know the full history but we know she was passed from house to house several times. We also know she was kept chained outside at a couple of them.

At the last place she was kept in a barn. She tried to escape through a window at one point and tore her shoulder up on the glass. The “man” of the house wanted to take her out back and shoot her but instead they dropped her off at the Humane Society anonymously. The Humane Society was going to put her down because of her injury until this hygienist found out about her and offered to take her home. She is the one that nursed her through the injury. However, she was single, living with her mom and had 2 dogs of her own so she couldn’t keep September long term.

That’s where we come in.

We agreed to meet them at a nearby park so we could see what her personality was like and more importantly, how she was around kids. Samson was amazing with the girls but not all dogs will stand for the way kids show their “love” to dogs…

I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her.

She seemed small to me then but only because we were used to a dog Samson’s size. She was sweet and came right up to us. She let all of us pet her, and didn’t seem bothered by the girls at all. She even licked me!

We decided that night to take her and arranged for me to pick her up after work on Friday November 11th, 2016. When I got there, she jumped right in the car and though she seemed a little nervous she didn’t try to leave.

I had a few errands to run so I took her with me to get gas and pick something up from a friend. She was great the whole time. As we would drive she just laid there. I made sure to talk to her and pet her and she really liked that. She would lick my hand or lay her head on it. Dogs have a good sense about people and I think she knew immediately that we were different from the others and this would be a good home.

When we got home she was hesitant to go inside and seemed skittish once we got her in there. She sniffed around some and then I let her outside – and she refused to come back in. I tried to call her and offered her treats but she wouldn’t budge. I tried leaving her alone thinking maybe she’d eventually get chilly and ask to come in. Nope. Finally as a last resort, I grabbed a toy they sent with her and squeaked it. She came running in and that seemed to be the magic bullet needed to open her up.

She does lover her squeaky toys!!

She ran around the house exploring and getting familiar. She let the girls pet her and she made her self comfortable on the furniture.

Sandy has been our angel and I truly believe Samson sent her to us. She is the opposite of him in a lot of ways which is just what we needed so that it didn’t feel like a replacement of Samson but rather a new addition. Where he was a bull in a China shop, she is graceful. Where he was a rascal, she is sweet. Samson was full of energy and always had to be kept busy. Sandy is content just to just be around us, though occasionally she gets a big burst of energy and will tear off around the house! When she does that we yell “Sandy’s on the run! Take cover!!”

Samson was a rescue that was passed around a lot too and he dealt with it by being distant and not getting too close. Sandy however compensated for the years of abuse by being extra loving to us – she loves to snuggle, give kisses, and wants to be constantly near us. As I write this out on the patio, she is right at my feet, close by.

There are some ways in which she is like Samson. She has a strong mouth and can destroy a “regular” toy in under 30 seconds so we have to get her the super strong ones made for tough chewers. She’s also super smart. We trained her to ring bells on the door when she needs to go outside and she is never fooled by our games when we try to trick her during catch. She’s also incredibly fast and athletic.

We do see some adverse affects of the abuse. She doesn’t like a lot of men. She’s never had any issues with CJ or my dad but does with most other men. They make her nervous and she’s been known to bite so we have to put her upstairs when we have guests over. She also doesn’t get along well with other dogs. We found out early on that she hates to be confined in any type of space. She will not go in a kennel nor is she comfortable in a room with the door closed – even if one of us is with her. Clearly that’s from the years of being chained up and locked in the shed.

But other than that, she’s perfect.

That’s the story of our Sandy. She is the most loving and well behaved dog. We’ve never had problems with her chewing our things, having accidents, being aggressive or anything like that. She’s been wonderful and we couldn’t have asked for a better follow-up to Samson.

She is also a good example, showing that despite being bullied, abused and treated as less than, she still has an amazing capacity to love. That’s a lesson we could all learn.

I hope we have many more years with this sweet girl. Samson knew we needed a fur kid that would give our hearts the love and care that they needed and he found us the right dog for the job.

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From Samson to Sandy – Part 1

Even though I’ve mentioned Sandy, and talk a little bit about her on the “Family” page, I’ve never shared her full story. Nor have I shared about how Samson died. I know death isn’t a very pleasant topic but it wouldn’t be right to introduce Sandy without first closing the book on Samson.

As I’ve shared in the various Samson Stories , he was a one of a kind dog. He was handsome, energetic, strong, stubborn, OCD, emotionally unavailable, exceptionally smart (too smart for his own good), so-so in the loyalty department, mischievious, and playful.

[Wow, he sounds like a bad ex-husband.]

Boy did I love him.

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He lived to be 9 years old. Toward the end he had put on some weight and slowed down considerably. We thought the lack of playfulness and energy was attributed to his age and increased stature. That is until Memorial Day Weekend of 2015.

I knew something wasn’t right. He had stopped eating and was isolating himself. If you know anything about dogs, you know that is not a good sign. So after the long holiday weekend, we took him in to the Vet. They did blood work and X-rays and decided to keep him there for observation – or at least until he would start eating again.

They gave him some pain medicine and finally he started eating. However, they also determined that his increased size probably wasn’t due to overeating but instead was likely a tumor of some sort. A big one. There was no way to know if it was cancerous without opening him up. We thought about it and decided surgery was the best route. If the tumor was benign, they would cut it out and he’d be home again in no time. If it was cancerous then we’d likely have to put him down as there are very few times when they can do anything for a dog with cancer.

Next came another hard decision. By this time it was Friday and we had to decide if we wanted him to stay at the Vet’s office over the weekend so they could keep an eye on him or if we wanted to take him home and then back on Monday. However, there was a slight risk that the tumor could rupture if he moved the wrong way and he would internally bleed to death. I wanted him home because I missed him so much but I also didn’t like the idea of putting his life at risk. I would never forgive myself if we brought him home for our own selfish reasons and then something happened and we couldn’t save him. So we opted for him to stay at the clinic.

Saturday morning we took the girls to see Samson and we all spent some time petting and loving on him. He had more pep in his step but still wasn’t quite himself.

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Monday was the day of the surgery and I wanted to see him again before they operated. This time CJ and I went alone. I knew there was a very real possibility that this could be the last time I saw him so I didn’t want to miss out on any opportunity to snuggle one more time.

He was about the same as he had been on Saturday. I wanted him to come sit by me and let me snuggle with him but he wouldn’t do that. He kept getting up and wandering away. I told him how much I loved him. I felt a strong urge to just keep saying it over and over so he would really know.

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At one point, I grabbed a hold of his face and kissed his nose. I looked in to his eyes and he looked right back. Samson was not one to do that. He generally looked away. That’s just how he was. But this time he held my gaze and I felt like he was telling me good-bye and that it was going to be ok. He then gave me a lick, turned and walked toward the door to leave the room. We said one final good-bye and left.

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Now the hard part came – waiting to hear back from the doctor on what they discovered. We were hanging around the house, killing time and but neither of us could concentrate. Finally the call came – the tumor was filling his spleen, spilled out in to his abdomen and was also in his liver. There was no way they could cut it out and it was likely cancerous. So we could have them sew him up and bring him home for a few more days until the cancer took him on its own or we could have them put him down, while he was already on the table and asleep. We chose to put him to sleep. It was not an easy decision but yet it was really the only one.

He died on June 1, 2015.

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In a matter of a week we had gone from one big happy family to losing our fur baby. We cried off and on the entire day. We held each other. We called our families. We told the girls but they didn’t really understand (Isabella was 5 and Cora was 2). At one point in the afternoon, the girls were napping and CJ went out to the store. Alone, I found one of his favorite blankets, took it outside and laid down in his “spot” of the yard and cried. It was a beautiful afternoon and laying on the grass in the sun, I felt him there with me. I talked to him in my mind telling him how much I loved him and missed him. That we’d never forget him.

I was out there for about an hour. By the end I felt a sense of peace and though I still mourned for him for months to come, I was much more at ease.

We later buried his ashes in that same spot in the yard.

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Fast forward days, weeks, months and life goes on. I struggled for a long time over the decision to leave him at the vet’s office over that last weekend. I felt so guilty that his last day’s on Earth were spent in a cage at the doctor’s, all alone. I know there were risks with bringing him home and we made the best decision we could but I really felt like we let him down on that one. I’ve mostly let that go but every once in a while still feel a pang of guilt over it.

We got used to a new life without him and began to talk about getting another dog. I was ready but CJ was not. He and Samson were best buddies and it was especially hard on him being home all day, in the empty dog-less house. I didn’t want to push him to do anything too soon so we just waited for the Universe to present us the right dog at the right time.

Then came a fateful dental appointment in the Fall of 2016.

[...to be continued!]

Frankie Says Relax

I’m sitting here watching my daughters play outside with their friends. Its a cool, rainy day but they don’t care. They bundle themselves up and forge on outside.

CJ is upstairs painting our bedroom. Sandy is sleeping on the couch next to me.

What am I doing? Racking my brain trying to think of something productive to do.

I’ve already gone to the grocery store, done several loads of laundry, unloaded the dishwasher, planned meals for the week, sketched out ideas for the bedroom that CJ is painting and read 2 articles for a class I’m taking.

All before 3:00.

But now what? I really need to pack my bag for work tomorrow. And there are a ton of boxes downstairs to go through. However, both of those options would require me being on a different floor as the play group and I really don’t want to leave them alone, unsupervised.

Part of me says, hey, just sit and relax. Read a book! Watch TV! Play a game on your phone!

Another part of me feels guilty for that. Like I’m not contributing if I’m not actively doing something for the greater good of the house and family.

I’ve struggled with this problem for years. The inability to relax and “do nothing”. Even in situations where it’s my job to relax (i.e. during a massage), I can’t do it. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened at a chiropractic appointment:

Doc: OK now relax your arm.

Me: Yep, I am.

Doc: No you’re not. Your muscle is engaged. Take a deep breath and just relax that muscle.

Me: OK, done.

Doc: *sigh* Um, no. As he let’s go of my arm and I’m still holding it up.

Sometimes I look at this one and envy her.

Sandy, like all dogs, never has trouble taking it easy. She can sleep anywhere, anytime.

In some ways I think a lot of women face this same struggle. We try to be everything to everyone which means we are always moving and going. If we stop for too long, someone or something will suffer.

Men never seem to be plagued by this.

I have to remember though that the more I push myself, the more I wear down. Relaxation is good for me. And what’s good for me is good for everyone in my family.

So now that I’ve spent half an hour writing and editing this post, I think it’s time to publish and then sit and read a book with a hot cup of tea.

Ah.

Hero

Hero. For such a little word it sure has a lot of meaning. When you label someone a hero, it’s kind of a big deal.

And then, as if being a hero wasn’t big enough, we also have the next level up which are super heroes. I am personally a big fan of one super hero in particular.

Yet being a hero doesn’t have to be such a status symbol or echelon event. We can be a hero to someone just by paying for their coffee if they’re low on money. Or sending a card to say “I’m thinking of you” when you know they had a shitty day. How about standing up for them when no one else will.

Or buying them a donut because you know they really want one and would eat it if someone gave it to them but would not buy it themselves.

Ok maybe that last one is just my idea of a hero.

I used to think a hero was someone who literally saved lives. Now I’d be cool with someone who just saved me a seat in a crowded room.

Isabella was asked to do a writing assignment about a hero. She had to include a main idea, 3 details, and a concluding sentence. Of course because she’s my daughter she did extra credit and added 2 extra details.

Here’s what she wrote:

My mom is a hero. Do you want to know why? If not, stop reading.

She is pretty. She gets her hair colored. Dad says she is beautiful. Every time she gets a haircut Cora says, “You look pretty.”

She is fun. She plays lots of games. She will play almost anything. She plays games on TV.

She is daring. She does the Polar Plunge. She does lots of scary stuff. She does belly flops in the water sometimes.

She is strict. Sometimes she yells. One time she took away my toys. She makes us follow so many rules.

She is nice. She bought us angel food cake. She gets us toys. She smiles a lot.

So now I’ve told you all about how my mom is a hero (if you read it).

See. All you need to be a hero is pretty, fun, daring, strict, and nice. Its achievable yet also enough criteria to weed out the posers.

Also, I don’t know where she got the belly flop thing because I never jump in the water….I’m afraid of water. Can a hero be a hero and still be afraid of water? I feel like that in and of itself shouldn’t disqualify me. I just won’t be the kind of hero to save you if you’re drowning.

What is a hero to you? Who is a hero in your life? Have you told them? Maybe you should. I guarantee they’ll feel pretty special.

Now let’s go talk about it over angel food cake. I’ll buy!

Silly Little Sentences

Sisters:

Isabella: Cora, think of something to ask Google.

Cora: Shamrock paper.

Isabella: No, it has to be a question.

Cora: Shamrock paper!

Isabella: A question! But not something like when are mom or dad going to die. Google’s not a doctor….

Cora:

Dad, can I call you mom for short?

Isabella:

Let’s sit at the table and talk about Smores. Maybe that will get mom and dad interested.

Isabella:

Mom, I love little cakes. They taste like heaven. Unless they use poop as an artificial ingredient. Who wants poop with sprinkles?

I love those 2 silly girls!!