Hard To Believe…

1 year ago, I said goodbye to my faithful companion.

12 months ago, I said farewell to my number one sidekick.

52 weeks ago, I said so long to my best friend.

365 days ago, my confidant took flight.

8760 hours ago, my teacher left my side.

525,600 minutes ago, my pal went to join our friends and family who left before him.

31,536,000 seconds ago, my life changed forever.

No matter how many dogs enter my life, Phoenix, you will always be missed and never forgotten.

The lessons you taught me, and the unconditional love you provided, will always leave a smile on my face.

Rest in peace my yellow friend.

Remembering Endora

Once upon a time in the sunny state of California, there lived a little female yellow Labrador retriever named Endora. Like other dogs before her, this little lab was preparing to make a difference in the life of a blind individual. She studied tons. She worked hard. She knew there was someone out there who needed her, and she was determined to make her mark on the world.

In September of 2002 Endora waited patiently in the kennels of Guide Dogs for The blind to be given her assignment. She had been pulling all nighters, trying to get the commands firmly implanted in her memory, she knew her time had come. There had to be someone in this class that needed her expertise.

Meanwhile…

In Nova Scotia, a determined young woman named Lynette, was boarding a plane bound for California. Lynette’s first guide dog, Aries, was not cut out for the job, so after years of trying to make the partnership work, she made the tough decision to retire Aries and give her to her parents. She knew it wasn’t going to b easy getting a new dog, but she also knew Aries was happier as a pet, so off she went.

Like Cessna and I, Endora and Lynette were a match made in heaven. They were matched both in size and determination. They had their struggles, and they had their disagreements, but from the beginning it was hard to believe they had not always been a team. Lynette found it hard, at first, to put all of her trust in this little power house, but almost immediately Endora showed her how wonderful it could be to work with a guide dog. She guided Lynette with confidence, and with care. she took her job seriously, and glared at anyone who dared to try and distract her.

Unlike Aries, Endora took her responsibilities to heart – this was what she was meant to do.

I met Endora shortly after Lynette brought her home and almost immediately nicknamed her the little snobby American Princess. She had no qualms about coming up onto the couch and cuddling with me, but if I had something to say, there was no way she was going to listen. Endora made up for her small stature in attitude. If Endora didn’t want to do it, then she wasn’t going to do it.

When Lynette texted me to say that Endora was not well, I was almost in tears. I couldn’t believe it was time for Endora to leave us. She was only 11 years old and still so full of life. But, I guess someone had other plans for our American Princess.

On March 19, 2012, Endora left this world to make her mark on another. From what the vet could determine, she was full of cancer. She had developed a lump around the bottom of her rib cage that was, at first, just a fatty tumour, but at some point it changed. Endora began licking and chewing at the lump, causing it to become severely infected and without immediate vet care, had gotten too out of hand for her poor body to handle. The vet thinks the infection is what caused her rapid decline, but that she had most likely developed the cancer months earlier. We’ll never really know if she could have been given a little bit longer, if it had not been for the infection, but I guess we should just try and be thankful for the time we had to spend with this amazing little yellow lab.

I will always miss her “bear rug imitation”.

When Endora was upset about something, she’d lie on the ground with her head lying flat between her paws, so it looked like she was a rug instead of a dog.

I will miss our games of tug.

Endora was an amazing tug of war player. She’d not only tug with all her might, but start growling and barking like she was about to eat the hand of whoever was on the other end. During one of our many games of tug, I actually had Aspen barking and growling at Endora because she was worried I was in danger lol! Aspen is such a big suck, but she will try her best to defend her family.

I do not normally develop such a strong bond with my friends’ guide dogs, but for some reason, Endora will always be special to me. Maybe it was her attitude that reminded me of myself. or maybe it was her fierce determination that inspired me. I’ll never know for certain why Endora left such a mark on my heart, but I do know that she will never be forgotten.

Rest in peace my little American Princess friend. Take care of Phoenix for me and remember that you guys will always be in my thoughts.

Emmett

“UNTIL ONE HAS LOVED AN ANIMAL, PART OF THEIR SOUL REMAINS UNAWAKENED”

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat
of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” –Unknown

Two weeks ago I received some very sad news. My friend Kelly’s Special Skills dog, Emmett, had passed away. Emmett was a four year old cream colour, standard poodle. He was raised by friends of mine and then ended up being placed with another friend of mine, Kelly.

Emmett was an amazing boy. He was smart. He was deviant. And he was an absolute sweetheart. He had had some issues with having to have his knees both replaced one year after the other, but he seemed to be healthy in all other ways.

Two weeks ago everything changed. He had gotten a cold which turned into pneumonia. For most dogs, this sort of thing wouldn’t be fatal, but unbeknownst to Kelly, Emmett had Addison’s Disease.

Since Emmett’s death, Kelly has begun to learn all she can about the disease and has joined an online support group. She hopes to educate others on Addison’s Disease and help save at least one dog’s life.

Emmett, you were one special dog. You were loved by many. And will be missed by all. I hope Phoenix and Cooper met you along your journey across the rainbow bridge and that together, you will all care for one another as we cared for you.

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!!