Gone 2 Months

It’s hard to believe I said goodbye to my faithful friend two months ago.

Things around the house are now beginning to change from how they were when Phoenix was here. I didn’t want to change things right away, but know that it’s healthy to start moving on. It’s just so hard to put his things away, and to remove some of the modifications we had made for him to get around easier, like extra carpet runners.

The dogs also seem to be getting back to their regular selves. Aspen isn’t moping around as much and Cessna is not as clingy.

I know we’ll all have our moments of wishing Phoenix was here, but it is nice to see that we can all move past our loss. I know this is what he would have wanted. He will always be in our hearts and the memories will never fade away.

I’ll leave you with a link to Avril Lavigne’s new song Wish You Were Here. Phoenix absolutely loved her music, so it’s kind of fitting that she would release this new song which says exactly what I’ve been feeling.

For those of my readers who are deaf or hard of hearing, here’s the lyrics.

I can be tough
I can be strong
But with you, it’s not like that at all

There’s a girl
Who gives a shit
Behind this wall
You’ve just walked through it

And I remember all those crazy things you said
You left them running through my head
You’re always there, you’re everywhere
But right now I wish you were here
All those crazy things we did
Didn’t think about it, just went with it
You’re always there, you’re everywhere
But right now I wish you were here

Damn, damn, damn
What I’d do to have you
here, here, here
I wish you were here.
Damn, damn, damn
What I’d do to have you
Near, near, near
I wish you were here.

I love the way you are
It’s who I am, don’t have to try hard
We always say, say like it is
And the truth is that I really miss

And I remember all those crazy things you said
You left them running through my head
You’re always there, you’re everywhere
But right now I wish you were here
All those crazy things we did
Didn’t think about it, just went with it
You’re always there, you’re everywhere
But right now I wish you were here

Damn, damn, damn
What I’d do to have you
here, here, here
I wish you were here.
Damn, damn, damn
What I’d do to have you
Near, near, near
I wish you were here.

No, I don’t wanna let go
I just wanna let you know
That I never wanna let go

(let go, let go, let go, let go)

No, I don’t wanna let go
I just wanna let you know
That I never wanna let go

(let go, let go, let go, let go)

Damn, damn, damn
What I’d do to have you
here, here, here
I wish you were here.
Damn, damn, damn
What I’d do to have you
Near, near, near
I wish you were here.

Damn, damn, damn
What I’d do to have you
here, here, here
I wish you were here.
Damn, damn, damn
What I’d do to have you
Near, near, near
I wish you were here.

Phoenix, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to have you here…

Time Moves On

1 week ago…

I lost my friend.

7 days ago…

I lost a loyal companion.

168 hours ago…

I lost a teacher.

10080 minutes ago…

I said good bye to my free-spirited boy.

604800 seconds ago…

I had to leave behind the one, who taught me the true value of unconditional love.

Rest in peace my beautiful, old boy…

Phoenix Has Taken Flight

I know most of you probably already know, but Phoenix, left us on Thursday afternoon.

I’ve lost…

My beloved companion.

My loyal friend.

And, the one who taught me the value of unconditional love.

It was a tough decision, but I knew it was what he wanted. Dr B felt he was telling us he was tired and needed to rest. She checked him over thoroughly and found nothing obviously wrong, except that his heart was beating rapidly. Huib says his heart was probably filling up with toxins from not eating and using up his own energy reserves. Dr B told us she could do some tests, to check for cancer or give him pain killers to see if he improved, but she felt he had already made his decision.

Phoenix has always lived his life on his own terms, so it just seems fitting that he would be the one to decide when to leave.

It’s been a rough couple of days, but I know he’s enjoying his new home with friends and family of both the human and canine variety.

I know he’ll always be with me in spirit.

And I know it will take time for the wounds to heal.

It’s just lonely around here without hearing him shuffling around or snoring lightly in the night.

Rest in peace my sweet, old friend.

We’ll all miss you, but know you’re in a better place.

I’m still here

I stood beside your bed last night
I came to have a peek
I could see that you were crying
You found it hard to sleep
I whined to you softly
As you brushed away a tear
“It’s me, I haven’t left you,
I’m well, I’m fine, I’m here.”
I was close to you at breakfast
I watched you pour the tea
You were thinking of the many times
Your hands reached down to me
I was with you at the shops today
Your arms were getting sore
I longed to take your parcels
I wish I could do more
I was with you at my grave today
You tend it with such care
I want to reassure you
That I’m not lying there
I walked with you toward the house
As you fumbled for your key
I gently put my paw on you
I smiled and said “It’s me.”
You looked so very tired
And sank into a chair
I tried so hard to let you know
That I was standing there
It’s possible for me to be
So near you everyday
To say to you with certainty
“I never went away.”
You sat there very quietly
Then you smiled, I think you knew
In the stillness of that evening
I was very close to you.
The day is over…
I smile and watch you yawning
And say “Good night, God bless,
I’ll see you in the morning.”
And when the time is right
For you to cross the brief divide
I’ll rush across to greet you
And we’ll stand side by side
I have so many things to show you
There is so much for you to see
Be patient, live your journey out
And then come home to be with me

Feeling Helpless

It will soon be a month, since Phoenix started refusing food. It’s been a really tough month.

Especially the past few days.

I feel as though I should be doing something.

But, I’m at a loss for what to do.

We’ve tried feeding him anything he will take. This worked at first, but now he’s refusing everything.

We’ve tried forcing him to eat, but this only works to a point. We put homemade beef jerky or hot dogs onto his tongue near the back and wait until he swallows.

Today, we’ve decided to try creating a puree. Huib got some catheter syringes from work so we can squeeze the puree into his cheek and wait for him to swallow. We’ve been doing this with his glucosamine and anti-inflammatory for the past couple of days, and it really seems to be working out, so we’re hoping the pureed food idea will as well.

I know we’re grasping at straws here, but I can’t just sit back and watch him dwindle away because I didn’t try everything possible to save him.

Tomorrow at 1:00pm, we have an appointment with Dr B. I’m not sure what she will tell us, but I don’t foresee it being good. I think we’ll have some blood drawn, and have her look him over, but I’m not sure what else she will do.

Phoenix still gets up to drink water and go outside. But, he spends the rest of the day, sleeping. I try bringing him over to wherever we’re sitting, but often he’ll just get up and go to his favourite spots to sleep.

I really feel as though I’m about to lose my beloved companion.

This picture was taken around Christmas time, a few weeks after his recovery from his sudden onset of Idiopathic vestibular Disease.

I just hope it’s on his terms, and not through a decision I may be forced to make.

Thirteen years

Today, Phoenix and I celebrate our thirteenth year of partnership. Thirteen years ago, Phoenix’s trainer, gave me a 21 month old male yellow lab weighing just 66lbs.

Today, that yellow lab is three months shy of his 15th birthday and still showers me with the unconditional love he first showed me on July 23, 1998. He’s a lot slower now. And, no longer hears my voice. But, he’s still the deviant, independent minded boy, I’ve always loved.

Thank you Phoenix, for 13 wonderful years.

You’ve been my constant companion through the good times and bad.

You’ve made me smile, when all I saw was rain.

And, you’ve stayed true to your unspoken promise of being my forever, loyal friend.

I’d say, let’s make it 14, but you’re starting to show signs of slowing down.

So, Old Man, let’s just enjoy every minute of the days, weeks, months or years we have left and stop wishing for things so far away. I’m really not sure what life will be like without you by my side, but I do know you’ll always be watching over me.

But, please grant me this one last wish, and start eating regularly so, we can celebrate your big 15.

“Time flies like a poisoned arrow”

I’m not sure where I got the quote which makes up the title of this entry, but it presents such a tragic truth.

This coming Saturday, Phoenix and I will celebrate our 13th year of being together. It should be a day of remembering all the wonderful adventures and experiences we’ve had, but for me, it will only bring home the fact that my loyal companion is getting closer to a time when he will need to leave my side forever. I know I’ve been lucky to have spent the many years with him that I have, but it still doesn’t make things easier to accept.

You’re probably all wondering where this tear filled entry is coming from, seeing as I’ve been constantly bragging about how well he is doing. Well, just over a week ago, Phoenix started to refuse his meals. If anyone knows Phoenix and knows the typical lab, then you’ll know this is serious stuff. I have been doing everything to convince him to eat even one meal a day. For the first few days we were able to hand feed him his raw food, but then he stopped taking it all together. We then started offering him kibble and that seemed to work, but today he wouldn’t even eat that, so Huib fried up some of his raw meat in bacon fat and I hand fed it to him. He ate almost all of the one and a half cups of raw meat Huib had formed into a patty.

I have a phone consult booked for tomorrow morning with Dr. b, but I’m really confused with how well he’s doing otherwise. He still wants to be outside with the others. And still seems so interested in what is going on in the home. He will eat absolutely any treat I offer him and he is drinking quite regularly. He hasn’t had one accident inside, and he still thinks it is his job to tell me when to go to bed. He’ll wait at my bedroom door and walk between his bed and the door until I comply. He’s probably going through a natural aging process, but I’m really hoping Dr. B. will be able to suggest something to trigger his appetite.

As I write this entry, Phoenix is just a couple feet away, sound asleep under the coffee table. I‘m really not sure what life will be like without him, I honestly can’t even remember what it was like before he entered. I just hope that if he must leave us, it’s under his own terms and not because I had to make that decision for him.

I’ll keep you all posted on how Phoenix is doing, but as of right now I think only a miracle could make things better.

She would Have Been 52

On Sunday (February 6th) my mom would have turned 52, but in September of 1998 diabetes decided she should forever be 39.

When Mom first passed away, I found it hard to think of Christmas, Mothers Day, her birthday, and the day she left us (September 25, 1998) without getting teary or feeling generally miserable. I would get moody or easily upset without warning weeks beforehand. I found it hard to listen to friends and other students talk about what they’d be doing with their mothers on Mothers Day or what they got them for Christmas. I felt as though the world should know Mom was gone and therefore no one should be talking about their mothers. Well, it’s been almost twelve and a half years and I’m noticing the days now sometimes pass without thought.

I still think about mom when I’m having a bad day or when something exciting happens. I think about her when I visit my sister and see my step-dad. I think about her when I’m not feeling well and wish she could be there just to offer a finger to hold – something I always did as a kid. I wonder what she would have thought about Huib and where we’d be now if she was still alive. Would we be living in Northeastern Ontario? Or would we be living closer to Aurora because that’s where her and Dad live? Would Brandi be the way she is? Would she still have that feeling of entitlement and expectation that I be there to catch her every time she fell? Or would Mom have made her grow up and make something of herself sooner than we were able to do so? All of these thoughts and questions move through my head whenever I think of Mom and what life would be like if diabetes had not decided she would forever be 39.

Even though you’re no longer with us Mom – Happy 52nd Birthday!!

Anniversary

On Friday (February 4th) Huib and I will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe it was 5 years ago that we said our vows in front of family and friends at the Waterloo Inn and spent the evening celebrating. We’re still paying off the wedding, but it was a memorable day for everyone.

Huib and I have decided to mark this anniversary and every tenth one after (15th being our next) by creating a slide show of pictures from our years together. This one will include pictures from our full ten years together, but the ones following will only include pictures from the last slide show up to the current year of the anniversary. If I can figure out how to do it, I will post the slide show here and on Facebook for everyone to view.

Being Huib’s wife has been an indescribable experience. He’s one in a million and I’m blessed to have him all to myself. I know I write about how amazing he is all the time, but you really have to know Huib to understand that I’m not exaggerating. He’s extremely caring, overly loyal and wants nothing more than for me to be happy. Whenever we’re out and he sees something I might like he’ll show me and if I even smile, he’ll say we should buy it or tell me we’ll get it when it goes on sale. When at work he e-mails if I haven’t already to see how I’m doing or calls during his breaks just to hear my voice. When his co-workers ask him to come out for a drink after shift or invite him over for a party, he’ll either tell them he has to get home or ask if he can come later with me. I’m not sure people understand our relationship at times, but from day one Huib and I have always tried to include one another in everything – not because we have to, but because we want to.

I love you Huib with all my heart and could never imagine life without you by my side. We’ve made it this far, let’s try for a lifetime!!

It’s My Turn

I was on Facebook this morning and noticed an interesting topic for discussion on a service dog group of sorts I’m a part of. I guess a woman had made a statement regarding how her service dog had done amazing things for her and now it was her turn to help him. It got me thinking about Phoenix and all he’s had to go through over the past 5 years with his allergies, ongoing ear issues, age related arthritis, deafness and then his recent episode with Idiopathic Vestibular Disease. A friend once asked me how I could spend so much on keeping Phoenix, when it would be easier to just let him go. At the time I didn’t know how to respond, I guess I was in shock at the question, but here’s my answer now.

Well, he’s not suffering, he’s happy and overall healthy and now it’s my turn to be there for him.

Phoenix was with me when my mom passed away. He was there for me during my final year of high school. Then he attended the University of Guelph with me and never once complained about having to wake up early, stay up late and guide me through all sorts of weather. Phoenix was there for me when I couldn’t find work after completing my degree and never once complained when all I wanted to do was relax and watch some television. Then about eight months before he retired I had surgery on my right palm to remove a precancerous spot and he was there to greet me with Huib when I woke up in recovery. Phoenix has never refused to help me when I’ve asked and has always tried to be with me when I’m sad. He was there during the rough times in my life and during times of change. When he retired he took to his new job of protecting the house and greeted me at the door every time I came home. Phoenix is loyal, he’s full of life and I couldn’t even imagine turning my back on him now that he needs me.

I may have to help him up and down the stairs to go outside. I may have to clean up a turd he dropped on his way to the bedroom. I may have to go out of my way to prepare his meals. And I may have to spend a little more time and money to keep him well, but it’s all worth it. Phoenix is 14, but he’s still eager to live life and help when possible.

I couldn’t imagine life without Phoenix and will do anything to help, because he does the same for me.

“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi

A golden angel Passes

Yesterday Aries, a thirteen and a half year old female golden retriever took her last breath on earth to make her final journey across the “rainbow bridge” and join her canine friends. Aries had been losing weight over the past few months and had begun to refuse her food just after Christmas. On Friday night, just before her family rang in the new year, she began to tremble, seemed confused, and couldn’t get up or down without help. Her family worried, but couldn’t get her into the vet until Tuesday when they were told she probably had a tumor in her spleen which caused it to rupture – she was dying of internal bleeding.

I met Aries in 2000 when she was working as a dog guide for Lynette (handler of Endora & now DeeDee). They were living in Oakville at the time and I took Phoenix to visit for the weekend, so we could attend Midnight Madness. The Lions Foundation had asked clients to come with their dogs and I thought it was a good opportunity to meet Lynette, whom I had been chatting with online for over a year – we met on a client chat forum the LFC used to run on their website. Aries was a beautiful 3 year old and I instantly fell in love. Now looking back I think she is part of the reason I still have my love affair with goldens. I remember the visit well because it was quite the eventful first day. I had offered to brush Aries for Lynette and was sitting on the floor combing her when Lynette’s former fiance’s dog came over and began to pee in my lap. I’m not sure what got into him, but during the commotion of getting up and trying to clean up the mess, Phoenix went over and peed on his toy creating another mess. It’s funny to look back now at that moment, but I remember being horrified and wanting to take Phoenix directly home because I was so embarrassed. Aries was fine with the whole situation and just sat there waiting for me to return to combing her. The funniest part about the whole thing though, was that Aries was the one who tended to have accidents inside and that day she didn’t have even one.

Aries was never the greatest guide for Lynette, she had too many fears and stressed out easily, so after only 3 years of working she was retired and went to live with her parents in Cape Breton. I sadly never got to see Aries again, but Lynette made sure to keep me up to date on how she was doing over the years. She developed arthritis when she was about 10 and went deaf around the same time Phoenix did, but overall she was doing well in her older years – even her Inflammatory bowel Disease seemed to disappear in retirement. Even though she was never the dog guide Lynette found in Endora, Aries still remained a big part of Lynette’s life and I know she will be truly missed.

Rest in peace our little golden friend, even though you may not have been cut out to be a working companion, you were still a companion and have left your mark on many who knew you. I hope you find your new home to be even more special than the one you left behind.