Here we go again.

Doug is 12 weeks post a complicated luxated patella and TPLO surgery.  Two weeks ago we waved goodbye to our surgeon. As of last week, we probably had about six weeks more to go until he was free to zoom. We had just come off of pen confinement and needing to be leashed in the house.  Our rehab had finally picked up in intensity to really start building his muscle back up. He was sleeping upstairs again.

In other words, we saw the light.

This weekend, Doug tore his other ACL. I’d personally like to live in denial of this.  But Doug can barely walk now and his second surgery is today, so it’s apparently time to take a bite of this reality sandwich.

I sorta wish we had not seen the light or given him more freedom. To have it given, then abruptly taken away, has left him angry. He now sits in the pen and barks at me non stop. Not ideal, for either of us. 

I don’t really have the words to describe how hard it has been to keep Doug’s activity restricted.  I know a lot of people probably say that about their dogs, but the people around us can confirm that Doug is not, most dogs.  He is constantly in motion. When he’s being held back, he goes into destructive mode.  And as much as that drives me nuts, it is way more taxing on him to have to live the life as an inmate. These leg issues keep Doug from being Doug. He should be going in and out of the house into the yard whenever he wants. He should be running zoomies. Instead, he’s been in jail and on tie down and the moment he starts to taste freedom again, the jail bars drop back down.

He holds me responsible for it all, and it definitely impacts our relationship building. 

I am not sure how we will get through round two, but I know we will find a way.  I mean, we have no choice. Hopefully since this one should only be the TPLO surgery and not the luxated patella fix also (please God), it may be a bit easier on him.  Not sure about that but I am holding onto that hope.

If either Melvin or Jake needed this surgery, or even if they both needed it at the same  time, we’d all probably be high-fiving.  Staying still and resting was their goal in life. They probably would have cut their own ACLs if they knew it came with months of inactivity.  This down time for Doug, goes against his DNA.

I have had Doug for almost 11 months. It is estimated he ran stray for about 5 months. I’m hopeful he thinks jail-city is still better than being stray, but I can’t be sure. I’m trying to focus on the positive: we can afford these surgeries, he has good insurance, he’s young so healing is faster. But the truth is, my little family needs a win. 

Last night when I was laying in bed saying no, no, nope, no to this happening, over and over like a crazy person, I had a vision of Doug running stray.  What if he had not been found? What if both of his ACLs blew out and he was dragging his bloody stumps around? What if, God forbid, someone found him and decided he was not worth saving?

He came to me for a reason. One of those reasons is to be mended. We all know he will get that. Another reason could be to test the boundaries of my sanity. This surgery may breach that barrier, but who knows, it might help us get through round two!

Is he going to test my patience?  Yes, absolutely.  Will he pick back up on planning my death? Probably.

Will we make it through? Of course we will.  We are joy warriors.

 

 

The worst.

I had a migraine last week. It was terrible. Doug, was even worse than the migraine.

To recap:

  • Max would lovingly lay over my legs when I had a migraine and was sick.
  • Melvin would climb into the big bed, and want for nothing until I was able to get back up.
  • Jake would lay at Melvin’s butt forever, he had no clue I was even there (although a few times he would come into the bathroom, I’m presuming to be sure the person who could reach the food was still alive).
  • Doug’s pre-game, game-game and end-game is torturing me.

He was a maniac the day of the migraine. On a scale of 1-10 energy wise, he was infinity.  He also reverted back to trying to be my backpack, something he has not done in months (and I had not missed). He also, tried to chew my hair.

But the worst part was, and I was extra stomach sick on this migraine, every time I was crouched over the toilet, he would bark, at the toilet, ferociously. Like foam from his mouth would fly into my ear because he was so close to the toilet and in some weird toilet-attack-mode.

So, I shut the door. But he could still hear me getting sick, so he would just flip out until I opened the door again. When I would get up and walk out, he’d run in and bark at the toilet some more.

During migraines, I often write things down, either things that happen during the migraine that I want to tell my neurologist about, or things I need to remember, as I likely won’t have recollection of them after.

I woke up the next day to find this note:

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Obviously I won’t. But don’t tell him that.

For those of you anticipating the ‘other leg’ update. We see the surgeon tomorrow at 10am.  Until then, I’m in denial.

 

Dear Jake.

I love you. You are one of the greatest gifts of my life.

It has been one year since I held you in my arms. I really don’t want to be marking this day on the calendar. I just want you here. Our time was cut way too short, Jakey.  I’m not sure I will ever makes sense of that. But, thoughts of you rarely make me sad. In fact, just the vision of you, brings on a flood of glorious joy.

You are my sunshine.

You were meant to be mine. There is no doubt. Your first family was to give up on you so that I could see you through your ‘special opportunities’. They were not joy warriors. They would not have been able to make sense of you like Melvin and I did.

You needed to know my love. In the process, I found more love than I ever knew existed.

You are the closest I will have ever come to having a child.  Not just because I changed your diapers and carried you, but because out of all the dogs I have had, you are the only one that relied on me completely. I doubt I will ever nurture anyone as much as I did you.

I was honored to be chosen to show you the way. But guess what little monkey, I think you guided me far more than I guided you.

Those months of intense grief that we shared after Melvin died, are forever, only ours. I would not have made it through if it were not for you. We grieved in exactly the same way and we needed space at the same time. Melvin was the Yin to your Yang but I was happy to fill in when it was just you and me. While I would have preferred you stayed here with me, I know that if given the choice between here and there, you would choose Melvin every time. Trust me. I get it. I love you even more for understanding so perfectly what Melvin love is all about.

Jakey, I love you completely, and beautifully and eternally. It’s a love that is woven through my bones.  It’s a crazy love, that even has me missing your damn meatballs sometimes.

You were not an easy puzzle to solve.  I hardly ever knew what to make of you.  I felt pretty confident, daily, that I had no idea of what you wanted or needed. You were my little cinder block. Impossible to read, unpredictable as F, and the funniest living creature that I will ever have the joy of laughing at/with/near.

I miss you. Some days, it’s still too much to put into perspective.

I’m not mad that life dealt you the hand it did.  I mean, I’d obviously prefer you lived a struggle free life, filled with joy and zoomies and peanut butter (and your odd carpet love making).  But that life may not have lead you to me. Sometimes, the road to true joy and unconditional love is paved by lessons in perseverance. That is our beautiful story, Jakey.

We earned our joy. We earned our love. I would only change that you stayed with me longer. It felt like there was not enough time with you. I will always feel that you deserved way more than eight years on this earth.  And this earth, deserved more you. There was just never enough Jakey to go around!  You brought the noise and the funk, and you were this tiny puzzle piece that when snapped into your forever spot, made our world come alive.

You made everything make sense.

Your eyes. I would give anything to stare into them (one at a time of course) again. But that is what all those photos and videos are for bud.  I can’t be a crazy dog person without admitting I have over 40,000 photos in my library. That library of memories of you and Melvin, is my most cherished possession.

There is something very soul changing about caring for a special needs dog. I remember how scared you were when your legs first gave out but Melvin rushed to you and I watched as you inhaled his love. I reached for you as your legs were swimming and you began to panic. You exhaled and melted into my arms and I knew and you knew and Melvin knew that no matter what was to come, we would always be there for you. Caring for you the last year of your life, with your eye, all the skin infections and the cancer, I learned so much from you. For all the shit that this universe dumped on you that last year, you responded with joy.

You and me, we won.

You and Melvin and me were meant to be. We are, and always will be, that little family who grew love and watched joy bloom.

Also, I know it’s  you who watches over Doug.  I know this with absolute certainty.  You are the perfect big brother for him. You guiding him makes my heart happy. I only wish you were here to torment him in person.  You would be the ultimate boss of him, bud! And, if you are taking request, calm him down any day now!

Jakey, my love for you lives on in so many beautiful ways. You changed me. I scroll my Facebook feed and I see a dog with no eyes or a dog dragging their legs and the old me would have said poor thing but Jake’s mom knows that there is nothing but opportunity in those photos. Because of you, I see the beautiful in the broken, I see opportunity for joy when faced with struggle. When the journey gets hard, I see you, and I’m reminded that all the obstacles, and all the twists and turns that occur, are part of my beautiful life unfolding. I know that you and Melvin and Max will always show me the way.

You know who doesn’t miss you?  All the neighborhood wildlife.  But they are stupid so who cares what they think.

I’m so grateful that I was chosen to love you. You are my beautiful purpose. My wonky, little-monkey. My googly-eyed, chicken nugget.

I love you. Your love lives on, in me. Forever.

xoxo

me.

 

 

Letters from Heaven. For mom.

Hi mom. It’s me, Jake.

Tomorrow marks one year since you and I were together.

I miss you.

I watch you cry. The same way I watched you cry after Melvin left us. I don’t know how to help you, I didn’t know back then either. But you knew. You always knew what to do.

From the first few months I was there and I would sit far away from you and Melvin because I was not used to interacting with anyone, you would say take your time bud, we are here forever. And when I slowly inched toward you, you didn’t smother me. You knew I needed space.  That seems like so long ago.

All I remember now, is the love.

You did that. You were the first person to truly love me. I didn’t make it easy sometimes. I made sweet love to all the rugs. I tormented Melvin. I thought for sure you would give me away like my first family did. But you never even suggested it. You just giggled, or said oh Jakey (and few absolutely nots, but I forgive you for those).

I never knew what unconditional love was until that day my legs stopped working. I was so scared. Remember how big my eyes got? Melvin was scared too but he ran right up to me. I mean he could have run away but instead he used his nose to try and lift me up. That was the moment with him, that I knew I had a soulmate. I know you were scared too and your eyes were leaky but you never left my side. You picked me up and I felt all the love in the universe through your embrace. Even when you said the vets said I had a wonky spine and would one day be paralyzed, you said this is why we found each other. We were meant to be, Jakey. 

And then you made it ok.

You got up with me every night when my bed got wet. You wiped me off so gently, I thought you’d be mad but you just sang to me. Even when the meatball factory started having odd hours, you still said it was ok. I used to think you were really strange, but now I know, you’re what love looks like.

You refused to go on walks without me. You said these are family walks and the whole family must go. Enter in my buggy!  I have never felt so boss as I did in that buggy.  Me and my Melvin man, ruling the hood!

You made me believe I could fly.

You and Melvin are my whole world. You are all I know. When Melvin left us, and it was just you and me, well I don’t know how I would have gotten through that time without you.  I know your eyes were leaky for him but you never missed any of my moments.

Every time I woke up, you were always there. When I couldn’t do something, you made it so I could. When my legs stopped working more, you carried me. I can still feel your arms hold me. I can still hear you say I got you bud as you kissed my head. The only thing more special about you holding me is how gently you would put me down and encourage me to try again.

I love you.

I love Melvin, it’s true. But please don’t ever think I loved him more than you. I wanted to come see him, I just sorta thought I could then come back to you.  Now we both sit and watch over you. Max too. I know you and Melvin have your own language, and me and you never really had that, but I also know you don’t need two dogs with the same super power. I have my own connection with you; I will always be your baby.

You are my only human. Not just the only one who was ever there for me, but the only one I would ever want. You are my beginning and my end and all the love in-between.

I want to thank you for knowing. That day when I got outside and I sat in the mulch, staring at a yard I could no longer run in. Staring at a space where Melvin and I used to be. You watched me. You even took a picture. And after you put the phone down, and you were leaning in the doorway, I looked at you, and you knew. You told me you would never let cancer win. Your eyes were so sad but I saw so much love in your face and I knew you understood. After everything I asked of you, the love you showed me at the end, well…those moments are ours. And they made my life complete.

Thank you for seeing me through what you did. I will never stop returning the favor of watching over you. I will never close both googly eyes until you are here with me (NO RUSH THOUGH!!).

For now, I will be with Melvin (and Max), but just like on earth, we are always your little family. Our love lives on. In you.

Love, your Jakey.

P.S. I love you so much.

 

 

 

One year.

Tuesday will mark the one year anniversary of losing Jake. Of all the days I have had to face after losing both Melvin and Jake, this one is by far the most difficult for me.

I don’t want it to be one year because I don’t want it to even be one minute. Most days, I barely accept that he’s gone. I still lose my breath during moments of missing him. I have theories on why this has been so hard on me, but the reality is that the theories don’t really matter.  Losing Jake has been the hardest thing I’ve gone through. It is what it is.

I know that some of you are thinking, even harder than losing Melvin?

Yes. Much harder.

Some of that is likely due to losing both boys back-to-back with Jake being second.  Some of that is that I had Jake during the year after losing Melvin. Some of that is Doug is not a healer, he’s a spaz who barely senses emotion (I still love him).  Mostly though, and I never thought I would be someone who would say these words but I say them with complete conviction: Melvin imprinted on me. I felt intense grief when he died, but then he reached out and played a role in my healing process.  He is a part of who I am. A part I can feel, call upon, and count on.  I will never be able to explain it, I’m only just grateful that it happened. He and I are one.

It is not the same with Jake. And it wouldn’t be fair of me to ask that the universe make it the same.  Each loss is different. Losing Jake left a wide void. I have not figured out how to mend it yet.

When I hit the one year mark of losing Melvin, I recall it being easier to celebrate all the beautiful moments we’d had, and sure, I was sad that he was not here (and always will be) but I was infinitely stronger to face life without Melvin than I have been to face days without Jake. I went through every photo I ever took of Melvin and made a few videos to share with you all. I was unable to do the same for Jake. I don’t feel guilty about this, I know he doesn’t care. I fully accept my limitations where grieving him is concerned.

I have two posts coming next week to pay tribute to my love for Jake. But I can tell you with all that I am, that I hope Tuesday will be a day that fades in and then fades away. I want the calendar to stop reminding me that he’s gone.

I’m not gone woman. I left my DNA everywhere! 3 5 14

For those of you who are new to the blog, here is the post that explains Jakey’s last days with me.

And here is my one year post after Melvin died.

Graduation (of sorts).

Doug had surgery nine weeks ago.  Nine LONG weeks ago.  We had a setback at week 4 and he has been on limited-limited activity since then.  To be honest, I’m not even sure what that means. But today, 9 weeks in, we had our 8 week check-up (calendar math is not the boss of us) with the surgeon including a 2nd round of x-rays.  The good news is: Doug’s bones are fully healed!  Wooohoooooo!  Does this mean he can resume zoomies? Uh, no. He still needs rehab to build up the muscle mass that he lost (and in some ways never had). But it does mean that we can go into full-rehab-beast-mode!

Doug starting water therapy (finally)!

You guys know the struggles I have had to keep Doug calm. He’s been on the tranquilizer Ace for some time now and either I’m going more insane or it is having an opposite effect on him.  I have been reading up on it and in fact, I think that is what is happening to Doug.  It is actually making him more hyper.  All of the stories I hear of animals on Ace where it is working are along the lines of: the dog was immobile, drooling, very lethargic. The words I would use to describe Doug on Ace are: uncontrollable, crazy, hyper. Now that we are coming off of restricted-restricted activity and will likely just be on singular restricted activity, I can probable stop giving him the Ace.  Or I can stop since IT FAILED US.

Examples of Doug on Ace – as you can see, he is as subdued as a pumpkin.

 

I am sad to report that Doug, like many who find themselves in the prison system at one time or another, has found himself incarcerated once again. He is just not a dog that does well on a tie down, mostly because necks break and he does not seem to care about that risk.  I however love his fat neck so, the jail cell is back out in the center of the room where it can haunt my decorating soul full-time again.

No seriously, his neck is deliciously giant. IMG_5307

Hello old friend. Neither of us missed you. IMG_5267

Where the heck have we been?

Here are some updates to get you all caught up.

Yard Dog:

Doug loves being outside.  I had this glorious vision of summer, I’d leave the doors open and Doug would travel from inside to outside, napping, playing, being a dog.

Since surgery, Doug has needed to be in his jail cell or on a leash, 24/7.  I mean we have setbacks from not even doing anything (but not from doing nothing). But for all of you that fear that the yard dog doesn’t get his fill, oh contraire. He does, it just happens to be on a lame tie down.

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Rehabilitation:

We just hit 2-months post surgery.  We were supposed to have a three-month recovery time. That has now stretched into infinity six months. Doug has been on limited activity (from his already limited activity) and we are now coming off of that (hopefully).  We have our two month X-ray on Tuesday. Fingers crossed that he is back on track and we can resume hard(er) core rehab.

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We are rocking the boot on his good leg!

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We were recently granted permission for him to do steps once a day so now he sleeps super soundly back upstairs (still in jail though)!  Ahhhhh, the little victories are so sweet!

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Vacation:

Most of you probably saw the video I posted on our Facebook page about my little inmate being excited to see his favorite warden return from vacation. I decided that upon return from vacation, I would grant him release from jail (with gradutaiton to tie down). At his parole hearing I asked that he keep all four legs and tail attached to his body and keep paws on the ground. This was him during minute one. He’s not allowed to jump, so yeah, it’s going great. Also, apparently death stares continue beyond the jail cell, so that’s fun.

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Bob:

She’s still kicking it in the hood. Doug clearly does not have the 360 degree eyesight that Jake did.

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Have a great day!!!