Doug got his own place.

You guys know I love the dogs. You also know that I love decorating.  While some argue that Doug’s 2017 jail cell time was hardest on him, I just want to remind everyone the visual assault I went through daily having to see that monstrous jail cell in the middle of the room. I mean sure, I get it, he was in pain and needed to stay still and I was there 24/7 to tend to his needs.  But some days, that jail cell, mocked me.

It hurt my soul. Real bad.

Of course that time is behind us now (please God, no more surgeries) and in 2018, I want tp add another dog. Me wanting another dog, and me being a planner, means I need to work on having two safe spaces for two different dogs. There are those who would say, put the new dog in the mudroom and just let Doug have run of the house. Uh, no. Those of you who would say that are clearly insane and not allowed to vote. Homeboy is not even close to being behaved enough to have run of the house. Not even run of the first floor.  Most days, I say a prayer for the poor mudroom when I leave.

Two safe spaces. The end.

I need to find a spot for Doug (or the new dog) so that I can free up the mudroom (or keep Doug in the mudroom). Clearly you can see I am not sure which dog will go where since currently, only one of those dogs is here and I’ll need to see size and needs of the, at this point, imaginary second dog.

I do not recall how I became aware of Ginny Bins.  I think Instagram recommended me to her page and well Instagram gets me so I checked it out. She makes, in addition to so many other things, custom dog crates. I loved her work but I was hesitant to reach out because her crates were a bit more traditional and/or rustic and I although I realllllllly wanted one, I couldn’t see any of them working with my decorating style.

Around November, I reached out to her (the most awesome Ginny of Ginny Bins ) and I said: hey awesome Ginny-lady, your crates are amazing!  Just one teeny tiny thing, they are a little rustic for me, I like a more modern decor, do you think you could make one that is equally awesome but more the style of my house?

She said yes!

Ginny was a dream to work with and her and her husband hand delivered the crate over the holiday break. There are honestly, VERY FEW THINGS I would allow to take up visual space in the house (from a decorating statndpoint) and this is abosultely one of them.

Some of you have seen it in some of our recent Instagram stories. It’s amazing!

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I thought I was going to have to train Doug to go into it.  I figured we’d take a few weeks to get him comfortable being in it.  The day it arrived, he walked in and took a nap.

Ok, well that was easy.

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This thing is magical. Doug opts to nap in it. WHEN I’M HOME!  It’s also in a great spot. He no loner feels he has to follow me every step I take because he can pretty much keep track of me from all the views of his new digs.

I have yet to shut the door on it (with him inside).  I will also need to relocate the WiFi extender since he will 100% try to remove it from the plug and likely be electroctued.

On days I go into the office, Doug gets 2, half-hour walks, and those walk would probably increase with another dog, so I am not terribly worried about him being in the crate when I’m gone (once we add another dog). Also, one day, maybe, I’m not sure but I hope, I think, probably, althought not for sure but maybe, just maybe, that, perhaps, he will have run of the house, first floor.

For now, he has a condo, and a mudroom and we’ll see where this second dog idea goes. Go check out Ginny Bins (site and social media)! Tell them Doug sent you!

Bob. Take two.

I don’t even know where to start this update.

Bob, the cat that I named before I knew HER gender, is my (well is she really anyones?) feral cat. You’ll recall she was trapped this past spring and I got her fixed at my vet. I put food out for her every night and on occasion we’d run into each other and she’d hiss at me.

I would see Bob around here and there, but never consistently.  Until a month or two ago, when I’d see her every day and the food bowl would be empty each night.

The other day, I got a good look at her and well…now I think there are two Bobs. The new Bob, which I call Bob #2 looks exactly like Bob #1 except that Bob #1 has two eye patches and Bob #2 only has one. Clearly, the numbering of Bob and her eye patches could use some work.

I have heard that good food can change a cat’s coat and coloring but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it cannot erase an eye patch.

I do not know where my life with Bob #1 ended and my life with Bob #2 began. I also, again, do not know Bob #2’s gender.

I’m more than a little worried about Bob #1.

When we trapped the original Bob, it was suspected that she had more kittens than what we found on my neighbors porch. It was likely (unfortunately) that she got trapped before all her kittens were accounted for. My guess is, this may be one of Bob’s kittens.

I do not have any plans to trap Bob #2. I really hope she is a dude.  And gay. (no babies down this path in case you cannot keep up with my logic).

Regardless.  Bob #2 is eating great food, has a condo in my driveway and Doug hates her/him so they are definitely siblings also.

The universe can stop sending me cats at any time now.

The odd couple.

A couple of friends and readers have lost their dogs recently.  The most asked question in my inbox is along the lines of:

How I got through losing Melvin or how I get through without him. And/or, how did I survive losing Melvin and Jake, back to back.

I don’t cry everyday anymore. Every so often, something will pop into my mind and the joy I feel for that memory will overwhelm me and I’ll have to stop what I’m doing and let some tears flow. I still stay goodnight to Melvin and Jake every night, but long gone are the days when I cry myself to sleep. Everyday, there is a beautiful reminder of them.  Sometimes its Doug doing something one of them would totally of done.  Sometimes its Doug being terrible and I remember how Jake used to leap off the couch onto Melvin’s head.  Sometimes, the blanket at the foot of the bed feels a little heavier over my feet, and I pretend it’s Melvin. Sometimes the reminders are obvious, sometimes I have to look a little harder to find the joy. No one said joy is always easy.

I had a moment on New Years day when I realized I can no longer say that Jake died ‘last year’. Time is both an enemy and a friend.

The answer to how I got through, starts at Melvin.

Melvin was the one thing that was supposed to happen to me in this life. The one thing that would drive who I was to become. It’s not to say my life before him wasn’t spectacular or without meaning.  My life before him was wonderful preparation. For all the joy that was about to explode in my heart.

Melvin made me a better person. He pointed me in the right direction. He taught me to choose joy, to have patience, to make kindness reign supreme. He taught me love. The type of love that requires that we take action, to make life easier for others. To love, even when it requires forgiveness. To choose joy, over all other things.

At some point, Melvin became Melvin and Jake. Jake became Melvin’s plus one. Eventually, there was no,  just Melvin.  At that point, it was impossible to have one without the other.  Especially, when Melvin died.

Melvin’s love lived on in both Jake and I. Jake became my beautiful link to Melvin. We had to learn to reach for joy through our grief. As for Jake dying a year after Melvin, well that was pretty much the universe sucking and being as hurtful as possible and there were some dark moments and I screamed and threw my fists (and a lot of karate kicks) at joy.  Then Doug’s face showed up on Facebook, and he disrupted the sadness. Sometimes joy shows up in disguise and you must have faith it will work out. Even when it’s trying to eat your feet.

I carry Melvin and Jake in my heart. Melvin is still with me, guiding me. Reminding me that joy is what I make of it. Reminding me of how much patience he had with Jake, at the exact moment Doug is driving me nuts. And Jake is the reason that when Doug had back to back surgeries, I didn’t stay in a ‘poor Doug’ state.  I was thankful we had what we needed to make it through. And we did. Jake moves me forward.

I got through losing Melvin, because of Melvin and Jake. I got through losing Jake, because of Melvin and Jake. I love them more today than I did yesterday. I feel closer to both of them (Melvin especially), right now than I ever have. Life put them into my life when it just as easily could have put them somewhere else. We found each other and that is where our story starts.  As for where it ends, well it doesn’t.

Love lives on.

Merry and Happy.

The holidays can be lovely, joy filled, and happy.  They can also be challenging, lonely, and heartbreaking.

I always say that best part about any holiday is who you share your couch with.  Sometimes, the couch is full.  Inevitably, someone is missing.

We understand.

This will be our third Christmas without Melvin, and the second without Jake. There are a few tears when I put their ornaments on the tree, but at this point, I’m mostly just grateful that they are both in my heart and that every beat is a chance for me to seek and spread joy in their memory.  Despite their physical absence, I’m blessed to still have a full couch.

Love lives on. But it is not always an easy journey.

We wish you all much love and much laughter this holiday season. To anyone who is dreading the holidays or too sad to celebrate, we send you love and hugs. We’ll hold a spot for you, just in case.

xoxo, Tracey & Doug

PS: If you are wondering what Doug thinks of Christmas, just check out his expression on our card.  It’s the ho-ho-ho version of  F-you.

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Sally.

My friend (next door neighbor, sister), Virginia and her family, lost their dog recently.

Lost is a very simple word for a very terrible moment.

Sally should still be here.

Before I tell you how Sally left this world, let me first tell you how she became to be a dog I love. There is a rescue group in Northern Virginia called Lost Dog & Cat Rescue. They have a ranch in our area where dogs, who are not in foster, are housed until they find homes.  A few years back, during a polar vortex, they lost power.  Lost Dog put out an urgent plea via social media for people to take animals in for a day or two until the power could be restored.

Virginia, and her giving heart, immediately responded ‘of course’. They were assigned a dog to pick up the next day. When Virginia and her kids went to get the dog, Sally came running out and leapt into their arms. Sally was not the dog they were signed up to get that day, but Sally was the dog they took home. Sally was just meant to be.

The Polar Vortex came and went. The power was restored.  Sally never returned to the ranch.

Sally, was a Dachshund mix. She was probably 6ish when Virginia and her family took her in. She was a man-hating, bitch and bad ass. True story. I loved everything about that saucy dog.

Virginia championed every single thing about Sally. Sally would go nuts over men coming into the house (not in the fun nuts way, more in the let’s kill men nuts way).  Virginia could have put Sally in a room whenever a strange male came over, but instead, she would explain Sally to said male, and ask him to work with them on getting Sally more comfortable.IMG_2507

We should all be so blessed as to have a Virginia to explain our odd behavior and plead for understanding for us.

In return, Sally loved Virginia the most. The most of all the family and the most that a dog can love her person.

A few weeks ago, Sally got out of the house.  It was the accident we all fear, a door was not closed completely and she was tiny enough to wiggle out.

She was hit by a car.

I was at Virginia’s house when this happened. Her two youngest children came running in, screaming that Sally had been hit. The world started moving in slow motion. In the next sixty seconds, Virginia scooped up Sally, she and I got into my car and headed for the vet. The vet is one mile away.

Sally died in Virginia’s arms on the way.

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There are honestly no words to describe what an incredibly horrible moment this was in life. Anyone who has ever lived through anything like this, just hopes it never happens to anyone else.

Sally’s life began and ended in Virginia’s arms. She was loved fiercely. She was a little dog who left a huge void.

The car that hit Sally, didn’t stop. They slammed on their brakes, ran her over and sped off. In front of children. So today, and tomorrow, and all the other days when we find ourselves in neighborhoods where families live and love and dogs and cats live and love…please slow down. #slowdownforSally. And should an accident ever happen, and accidents are going to happen, please stop and do the right thing. Do it because you are a good person.  Do it for Sally.

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Dearest Sally, I hope to one day have half the spunk you had for life. Thank you for accepting Doug, you are the one and only female he ever adored. You will be loved and missed, forever. xoxo

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Doug is the first dog I have ever had where I got to make up his birthday. Even with Melvin and Jake being rescues, I got copies of their vet records and knew their birth dates.

Doug is two!

I don’t know if two will look much different from one, I am going out on a limb and say there should be fewer surgeries!

Doug – you are crazy, I have no idea what to do about you a lot of the time but you fit perfectly into my heart.

I love you. I’m excited to embark on the adventure of getting you safely to three!

Ch, ch, ch, ch, changes.

So many things have changed with Doug this year.

Prior to the surgery, Doug loved the vet. Now he does anything he can to remain in the car when we arrive. His tail is tucked from the moment he walks through the door to the moment he exits that same door. While I get that he had two situations where he arrived at a vet, fell asleep and woke up unable to walk/in pain, I can’t imagine he applies this to every vet. Sure, if he did this only at the surgeon I would understand.  But he does this at our regular vet also. For a dog with ADD, he sure has great memory and focus in this area.

I’d choose to be back in jail over going to the vet. IMG_6244

Prior to the surgery, he didn’t seem to mind the cold all that much, he has jackets and hoodies to keep him warm.  But now I’ve noticed that on colder days, he’s not nearly as mobile. He’s stiff and uncomfortable.  I know he has arthritis (there is no having what he had done and not having arthritis) and I have also heard that all the hardware in his legs could ache in cold temps. He’s not even two yet. Focus on the joy, stay positive. At least he can stand and walk!

Let’s move to Florida. IMG_2074

Earlier this year, Doug was doing great with meeting dogs. Then he got attacked by one (he ended up in doggie ER) and he became, less-good. During surgery restrictions, play time was not allowed. I noticed each time that we were at surgeon or at rehab that he was snarly at other dogs, even lunging a few times. I talked to a few people who said that can happen when a hyper dog goes on lockdown. So, I hoped for the best. Now, I am ready to add a dog (or two!) and Doug is still not doing great meeting them. Long gone are the days where I worried a dog could keep up with Doug (or that my house would collapse), now I just want one who he can co-exist with.

Remember when that dog wolverined my nose? IMG_3706

What I know is that he does not do well with dogs bigger than him. And females are for the most part, are not his favorite either. You know who he does well with? Male puppies/male younger dogs (and some male dogs that are smaller than him). Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? When will I have a dog that shares in my love of big, old dogs? When? No seriously, it is a question.

As it turns out, there are a lot of young dogs in our area in need of a home. There are a likely always puppies/young dogs available and I just never notice them as I go right to older dogs. Ideally, I’d like to add two dogs. I mean I entertain the idea of adding two younger dogs (plus Doug) and I’ll think I can do it and then about 20 min later I’m looking up definitions of insanity and they show a photo of someone with 2-3 young dogs.

Please give me a puppy to eat play with. IMG_7171