Joy.

I get asked a lot about choosing joy. How I choose it over grief, or anger, or uncertainty.  The answer to that is, it is not always easy, but it has become who I am.

I have human moments. I start crying in the car for no reason (ok, fine, when the boys send me songs) and I have to pull over for other’s safety. I get sad and even mad that Melvin and Jake are not here anymore. Work stresses me out. People annoy me. Sometimes, it seems like the day/week is against me.

Choosing joy is not always a done deal. Eventually though, Melvin pops into my mind and love and joy rush over me and well… I have no option but to do as he taught me.

  • Jake and Melvin are not here anymore. But they were here. And were here is way more incredible than never here. And I feel them and I see them in all the beautiful things.
    • My heartbeat, is joy.
  • Doug does things that frustrate me. He is absolutely not the yin to my yang. He sometimes manages to push all my buttons, at once. But the moment I feel the frustration creeping in, I start laughing. Because Doug is, quite literally, powered by joy. He was delivered to my life when I prayed to still be a joy seeker after Jake died. I said the words please help me to continue on this joy journey and the universe said: here you go. Joy powers this one, whenever you are running low on joy, just look at him.
    • Joy still lives here.
  • Sometimes the wrong memories get served up. A moment of frustration with Jake, me wondering if Melvin’s cancer could have been cured had we found out earlier. A day after Melvin died when I was broken and not the best mom for Jake. Life sometimes tries to come at me from all the wrong directions. I do not entertain any of those moments. I did my best, I refuse to be torn down, not after all we’ve been through. So when those moments try to sneak in, I say nope. I go towards the joy. I go towards the moments that mattered, the moments that we won.
    • Joy owns my past.
  • Work stresses me out. Some days I feel like I’m drowning. But there is never a moment that joy doesn’t remind me that this job, that I happen to LOVE, this job has allowed me to give the boys everything they have ever needed. When cancer struck, I didn’t have to worry about whether I could give them the best care possible.
    • Joy is always just around the corner.

Let’s be honest folks, joy does not win (right away) every time. That would be odd and impossible. Sometimes, the grief is way stronger than the joy. Sometimes, the transition from angry to joy filled takes a few days.  I choose joy when I can and I accept that some days it’s going to be harder than other days.

I just don’t see myself ever giving up on the chase. Joy for me, translates a lot of the time, to thankfulness.  I have yet to arrive at a day where I am not thankful for something.

This joy journey all started with Melvin. From day one, Melvin dragged me, forward. I kicked and screamed and he just kept dragging me. One day he stopped for a break, and I had a moment of reflection and I looked back and realized, he’d gotten me through. Where I might have been happier to linger in a sad or difficult situation, he had shown me how to persevere. He changed me. From that point on, every time I looked at him, I felt joy wash over me and I knew with all that I was, that he and I were meant to continue chasing that emotion. He was the original joy for me. The joy catalyst. The one creature in this life that absolutely, every time, no matter what – moved forward with joy in his heart.

I’m just another way that his love lives on. Even saying those words, is joy to me.

We are coming up on the third anniversary of his death. I get haunted by flashbacks of our life three  years ago. But our life is not defined by our end, in fact I’d argue, the end is separate. The end will always come, but the middle, the middle is all ours. What we make of the middle, is what defines who we are. We don’t get to choose our beginning or our end, but we can own the shit out of the time in-between.

Our middle, is joy.

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Doug is crazy.

We are almost six months post recovery on all of Doug’s surgeries. We have a few daily reminders that he is part metal. I can see and feel the hardware in both legs (I do not enjoy either of these), extremely cold temps make him creaky and sore, and he cannot go up steps very quickly.  In fact, he goes up as slowly as Jake did. True story.

But aside from those things, he cray. Like he is fully back to being BAT SHIT CRAZY.

If Doug had a car, it would have a bumper sticker that said zoomies-R-life and that car would sit in the garage because Doug would rather run to wherever he is going. Doug is constantly in motion. I forgot that he is impossible to keep weight on until we went to the vet and found out he lost six pounds. SINCE DECEMBER!

He runs in the morning, the afternoon and the evening. No time of day is left out. He is an equal opportunity zoomist.

Luckily for me, the thing he does 2nd best after zoomies, is sleep all night. He usually puts himself to bed by 9 and if I don’t wake him, he sleeps until 9 the next morning. It’s a simple life, sleep, zoom, zoom, bark at Bob, sleep.  Zoom. He eats in there somewhere, but clearly his metabolism does not notice.

There is a FB page for folks going through leg surgeries like Doug had. I stay on it because they were so helpful when I was going through Doug’s back to back surgeries so I want to provide support to newbies going through the same. So many of the people who are finishing up surgery one are afraid to let their dogs resume activity. I totally get it, it’s very overwhelming. The only reason I was able to do it, rather easily is, I WAS TERRIFIED OF NOT LETTING DOUG RESUME ZOOMIES. He was an inmate for five months. If he did not get to run when he did, the warden was gonna suffer a brutal coup.

Doug does not recall that he was ever incarcerated. I opened the door for that first bionic zoom session and he never looked back. I am actually glad that we got both legs done back to back because a lot of folks have to live in fear of the other leg tearing. That said, Doug’s legs will never be right. They are barbie legs, put on backwards. He is always going to struggle. But he’s good enough. And good enough is really great.

Bionic legs. Bionic butt. Bionic attitude. Powered by joy.

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My little deviant.

Is Doug a weirdo? Yes. Absolutely. Maybe. Do I love him no matter what? Of course.

  • Doug is most attracted to, himself. He will go outside and pee. Then he will turn around and deeply (more deeply than what is considered normal behavior) breathe in the smell of his own pee. He will then walk a few steps, and go back and smell his pee, again. He has actually come in, then barked to go right back out, only to re-re-smell his pee.
  • There are some things dogs do when they are sexually aroused.  The common one for boys is of course the red rocket. But when they smell or taste something that arouses them, they do this really fast tongue flicking (like rolling r’s). Doug does this when he smells or tastes his own pee. I honestly think he is dating himself. I also think the relationship is going great.
  • He whops off, in front of people. You may have other terms for this, like jerking-off. Whatever you call it, he does it. You might be sitting there, minding your own business, only too look over  to him and he’s whopping off. Middle of the day. Middle of the floor. Zero shame or F’s given. (I have video of this but it is NSFW. Wait, that def makes me sound like a dog porn director but I am just an innocent bystander to all things Doug). I once caught him whopping off via the mudroom camera when I wasn’t home (this one is more suitable for work – I mean I guess, I don’t know).  You may be wondering if Doug cares if I share this. He absolutely does not care. I live with him.  I know.

 

Here is a photo of Doug and a separate photo of his, saucy, valentine. True love.

Letters from Heaven. Letter three.

Hey Doug, it’s me, Jake.  How’s it hanging homey?

Your legs seem to be doing better. Only one dog can own wonkalicious and that is me, brother.  You’re going to have to get your own nickname. I was thinking you could own zoomiezombie!

I have been sending you some high fives from Heaven.  You try to chase birds, in flight!  Dude, you are awesome! You run, while they fly, and then you ram into the fence.  Hahahahahaha – oh brother, I really wish I was there with you, we would destroy those birds.

I also really, really, really appreciate how viciously you bark at Bob #2.  I mean s/he runs when you ram up against the window at her/him.  You and I both know that you would crap yourself if s/he ever saw you without the protection of the window. But good for you brother, you make me proud.

We noticed that you are finally not a spaz in the big bed.  That bed has a really beautiful history of naps with her (she called them migraines but they were naps), we were starting to think you were going to darken our legacy, but you finally calmed the F down.

Things here are great. We miss her, a lot. We send her signals that we are there with her and she catches every single one. She is so smart. Melvin and her talk all the time. He says it is his joy and purpose, on earth and in Heaven, to be her guardian angel.  I love her too, but I keep pretty busy making sure this place stays bumpin! I greet all the new dogs like I own the place!

We added a few to our gang recently, Sally – I know how much you love her brother, she’s here and she’s doing great. She is my spirit animal. She and I will probably get married. She is just impossible not to love.  Massey is here, I used to fence fight him but come to find out, he’s a cool, chill dude. He’s running (he is so fast) and jumping and keeping an eye on his family. Guinness is here now. That dude is so awesome, like I secretly watch him so I can learn his moves. He’s still pretty focused on letting his mom know he’s ok and that he’s with his sisters. I have a feeling he and I will get leather gang vests at some point (Sally will totally get one too). Diamond just arrived. Corbin leapt over like six hundred dogs to meet her! She lived the longest of all of us and she said that despite all her years, all she recalls is the love over the last few years with her mom.

Hey Doug, that time of year is coming up, the dates when she found out that Melvin and I had cancer.  Those dates still haunt her a little.  She tries really hard to forget them, but she can’t, because they are linked to us. So on February 9th and March 3rd – be extra saucy or snuggly. Keep her mind focused on joy. We are counting you.  Don’t let me down bro.

We still have bets on you. You are such a wild card.  I think you will still turn out like me. Weird legs, troublemaker, badass.  But Melvin thinks you will be soulful, like him and Max (boring!).  Either way, we made a really great choice in sending you to her. We can tell you love her like we love her. And it’s ok that she loves you every bit as much as she loves us. Love is supposed to live on. We only want her happy and safe.

Ok brother, I gotta go, my peeps need me to start this day with some Jakey funk!  Keep chasing the birds, I’ll be right next to you, hoping you catch one!

Love,

Your hero mentor brother, Jakey.

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A few of my favorite things.

Christmas brought with it some awesome additions for the mudroom.  I actually took all the photos down in there and rearranged them to include some of the new stuff.  Here are a few of my favorite gifts:

Just in case there is any confusion who the treats are for. IMG_8126

New here are the ‘You, me, & the dog’ and the oh-so-perfect ‘Hello/goodbye’ gifts. IMG_8127

I got the super fun ‘make your own sign’ for my birthday and the other two pieces for Christmas. IMG_8129

This awesome leash hook! IMG_8131

This true statement – luckily Doug loves everyone. IMG_8133

I also got the bottom two in this photo.  Be still my heart.  The photo above them is a gift I got after Melvin died. It’s the outline of his body (nubbin tail and all) filled in with words I would say – both about him and to him.  IMG_8134

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.