And so it is.

There has been so much talk this week about how horrible 2016 was and how folks want to bring on 2017. I get it.

For me, I have been wanting to linger in 2016 just a little longer. Sure, it had some really terrible moments. But for me, it’s a year that Jake was here. He was here for over half the year and even though we battled cancer and infection for most of those six plus months, he was here, and that makes it the best, worst year. There was Jakey joy.

Grief and the passage of time are brutal. I have been fighting moving out of 2016 because I don’t want Jake to be ‘last year’. I don’t want the six month anniversary of his death to come. I don’t want any of the other milestones to come. On the flip side, when they say ‘it takes time’ to get through grief, it’s so true. I am far better off today than I was on July 18th. Time will continue to heal.

Today into tomorrow is pretty much the same as yesterday into today. I don’t want to miss too much in the here and now. When tomorrow comes, I will carry all the moments of the past year with me, just as I do all the other years.

Thank you 2016, for all the glorious memories I had with my family and friends. Thank you for the beautiful time with Jake. For all the love, the moments I could fully focus on him, knowing his end was near. Thank you for giving me six months with him and not five or four. Thank you for giving us options to make him comfortable. Thank you for seeing me through the darkest days of grief. For my family and friends and this blog community who nudged me forward with love and support. Thank you for bringing me Doug.  He has given me a new purpose, it’s a different purpose for sure but I know he has helped me move forward. I love him, this year gave me that. This year was lovely and brutal and amazing and soul crushing. This year is what I got, and since I can’t change anything about it, I can only celebrate that I was here to feel all that it threw my way. I celebrate that we did our best!

I’m going to enjoy today. Then, I will enjoy tomorrow.

Happy New Year! We hope you find your joy!

The first and last photos of 2016. The perfect bookends for this glorious chapter. 

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I had a dream.

I use the term dream lightly.  It was a nightmare.

I came home and the house was empty and I was calling for Melvin and Jake.  I searched the entire house and panic overtook me.  I started making calls, running around the neighborhood.  Screaming their names. It was one of the worst dream moments I’ve ever had.

People came but they wouldn’t help me look for them. Not in a mean way, they would just stand there and watch me and listen to me.  But they wouldn’t help me look.  I frantically begged them to help me but they just kept saying you won’t find them. I was crying so hard, my heart was pounding.

A man came over to me and said, go through that door, maybe you can find them in there. I tore the hinges off of that door opening it and I ran in desperate to see my boys.

I found myself in a giant maze inside a building that was the size of a city. There were hallways and staircases and ramps but no rooms. I started running and screaming Melvin and Jake’s names. At every dead-end, someone I knew was standing there and they would say, you won’t ever find them again.

I continued to run and scream their names and I hit a dead-end each time. The same words were repeated to me, that they would never be found. The dream went on for what felt like eternity. I was exhausted but I refused to give up. I would have stayed there forever, looking for them.

I woke up screaming and sweating.  Unable to breathe. I sat on the edge of the bed and then walked around to shake it off. I eventually fell back asleep.

The next morning I laid in bed thinking about the dream.  I thought about how horrible it was. How tormented and helpless I felt.

Then all of a sudden, I got it. That nightmare, is me.

That nightmare is all the feelings I carry with me. It’s who I am now that Melvin and Jake are both gone. It’s not the whole of me, but there is a part of me that feels a painful hole from having lost my little family.  My perfect little family. That city sized maze with stairways and ramps and hallways that I was running through blindly, is my grief.

I took a deep breath and reminded myself that above all else, I’m grateful they were mine to love. That we found such a lovely balance is one of life’s greatest gifts of joy. The dream was not the story. The story is love.

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Losing both boys required me to start over in a lot of ways.  I am not the same person I was after I lost Melvin. I am most definitely not the same person since losing Jake. I wouldn’t say I’m better or worse, I’m just a more current version of me. I’m still figuring me, without them, out.  That Doug wasn’t part of the Melvin and Jake era doesn’t make him any less perfect. That he wasn’t in the dream doesn’t mean that he doesn’t fit. It actually is more along the lines of me not fitting. Like life continues and I have to reinsert my new self back into it and that new self is not technically new. I have memories and I often want to go backwards to how it was as much as I want to go forward and see how it will be. I think the dream is a reminder that I still have to work to do. As I continue to build on life moving forward, a new family structure will grow that can’t be and shouldn’t be painted from a memory. It should, however, be influenced by the same love.

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I have started looking for a new dog.  I spend a lot of time thinking about who that dog should be (to me and to Doug). Who that new dog is can’t be fully determined until he or she is here, which is part of the problem about even trying to envision it or wanting to be one way or another. It will be how it will be. I do happen to have faith in my ability to pick awesome dogs. I’m excited to see how the next dynamic duo plays out.

To all of you reinserting yourself back into life. I get it.  It’s a maze sometimes, but new chapters must be written if we want our story to continue.

As 2016 nears its end, it would be easy for me to say this was a terrible year and to want 2017 to arrive already.  The truth is, I’m OK if this year lingers a little longer. This year is the last year I had Jakey here with me. So despite his cancer, his death, the grief and even the blood clots, I want to stay here as long as possible. I’m familiar with this wind down to the end of the year. I felt the same exact way last year about Melvin.

This year is also the year of Doug! And that makes it all kinds of beautiful too. I’m very excited about the adventures Doug and I will have next year and curious as to who might join us on our journey of love and exuberance.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Chanukah! Happy everything! We hope with all of our hearts that you find your joy!

xoxo – T&D

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Migraines and Doug.

When it comes to having a migraine with Doug in the house, I’m sorry to say it, but he’s the worst.  I love him. But I can love him even when he is THE WORST.

Let me explain to you why this is so.

When I have a migraine coming on, you can sense it.  People will tell me they can see it in my eyes and coloring (I turn gray).  Strangers will ask if I’m OK. Melvin and Jake always knew. Helen Keller could have probably sensed it based on the fact that every living creature I encounter KNOWS.  Except Doug.

There comes a point in the migraine when I can no longer remain upright. This is followed shortly by a time when I cannot stop getting sick.  So I get up, get sick, try to lay down. Repeat, repeat, repeat for 36 hours.

Doug views this as an invite to torture me. When I lay down, he jumps up and tries to balance his whole body on my head.  This is not a joke. He will try and put all four paws on my head to stand and balance there. Obviously this impossible so he will then sit on my head. With his butthole touching my hair (why?) and his other parts touching my face (gag) so this a definite NO, THANK YOU. But if I move, he will start all over.

So I stay still. It’s brutal. I can hear my soul crying at this point.

He will then try lay on me.  But not like a normal dog would.  I will be laying on my side in the fetal position and he tries to lay on top of my body ON HIS BACK.  He literally tries to balance on his back on the side of my body, which is also IMPOSSIBLE so he falls off and tries 100 times more.

Migraine day is Doug’s version of Disney.

At this point, I get sick again. When I come back, it starts all over.

I do not want to put him in his crate just because I don’t feel well because that feels all sorts of wrong for him (it would really be great for me personally but moms sacrifice all the time so…).

I will then go to my bed and put up a gate to keep him from me and my bed.

Well you would think from his reaction that I was a delicious steak dinner and he hadn’t eaten in months.  He sits at the gate and cries and barks then runs to the steps and runs back to see if reality has changed. This behavior gets stuck on a viscous loop.

The only thing more painful than all of this is when he comes into the bathroom while I’m getting sick.  In Doug’s mind, the only reason someone gets on the floor is for his enjoyment. The fact that I’m crying and pleading for him to stop only revs up his exuberance more.

I had a migraine this week.  I have bruises all over my body from Doug trying to bond with me during it.

Unconditional love hurts sometimes. What can you do.  (this is not an actual question).

Here is Doug looking adorable so that you all will think I’m the crazy one and embellishing this to work in my favor.

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Looking handsome on a walk with our dog walker (life saver), Denise. img_2847-1img_2841-1

 

Doug and diet.

I gain two pounds if I drive by a restaurant.  I am honestly convinced that my body can consumer calories visually.  Weight has always been an issue for me.

Melvin and Jake shared this trait.  They were never once considered underweight and I had to work really hard (and often be the bad guy) to keep their weight in check.  In fact, Melvin came to me at 110 pounds and I had to get him to 83.  Never did a dog look at their new person with such disdain as when I would give him green beans for snack.

Enter Doug. Doug is constantly in motion.  Even when he’s asleep, I can see his body furiously burning calories.  When he’s awake, well when he’s awake I could feed him constantly and he would never gain a pound. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Doug came to me at 45 pounds.  He was a tad underweight and I could tell he was ‘active’ so he eats a 60 pound dog diet. At his last vet appointment, he’d lost two pounds.

WHAT THE??????

The thing is, the amount of times he poops a day (6) would suggest more meals is not the option.  I have looked into higher calorie food but the other issue with Doug is that his stomach is super sensitive. I have found one food that he can eat and not have the poops. Add this to the million and one ways he is exactly like Melvin.

I supplement him throughout the day with peanut butter Kongs and treats but even then I try to keep sugar to a minimum.  I get fresh ground peanut butter to help reduce sugar (he eats better than I do). I am also trying coconut oil added to his food for some added calories (but that is currently making him have the poops too).

Jake 100% sent Doug to me. (Jake: send her that one!  He’s crazy like Melvin used to be and I can tell he’s a pooper like me).

Have any of you faced this?  A dog that needs to gain but is so active you can’t keep weight on?  Any tricks?

Are you going to feed me woman? I’m burning calories just staring at you. 

 

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Photo credit: Bev Hollis Photography

Here he is burning even more calories.  Yes, it makes me bitter.

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Doug turns one!

Doug is the first dog where I don’t know their actual birthday. The vet and I chose December 1st and that means today he is one! I have never said the words today my dog is one because he is still (by two years) the youngest dog I’ve ever had!

Doug, I don’t know the circumstances of why you were homeless but I know the reason why you were found, to be loved by me forever. In addition to turning one, today also marks three months that you have been here!

Here are some last three-month takeaways (since there are no are turning one takeaways yet!)…

  • We have walked more in the past three months than I have perhaps walked in the past three years.
  • There have been some tears (by me) from you wanting to eat my feet. I actually googled ‘cute steel toe shoes’ at one point.
  • There have been accomplishments, as you have proven to be extremely smart and have done awesome with training.
  • There has been some frustration, because you are a puppy and well I don’t like  my hair chewed.
  • Mostly, there has been a lot of love. I actually know the exact moment that your face relaxed and you knew I was your forever. You are home.

I imagine the past three months for you have looked a bit different…

  • Why is this woman putting me in her car? Must run zoomies ASAP.
  • Who’s Jake and why is she crying again? Zoomies will help.
  • Her feet are delicious, whoa wait, why can’t I eat them? Run zoomies then try to eat feet again.
  • Have I always been here? Never enough zoomies.
  • Stop, zoomie time!

Happy birthday monkey, I love you and all your cray!

The first photo I saw of you:

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And your now forever: img_0329img_0384img_0437

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