Pet Insurance and a Melvin and Jake’s Project Joy giveaway.

Neither Melvin or Jake were insurable. When I got them, pet insurance was different.  If a dog had a pre-existing condition, the dog was denied.  Now, the pre-existing condition isn’t covered but the dog still can be.  Let’s be honest, Melvin and Jake were walking pre-existing conditions.

During Jake’s last year of life. With the eye ulcers, the emergency eye surgery, the follow-up eye issues, the MSRP infection, the diaper rash, the cancer, the radiation and all of his medications, ointments and specialists (6) over that 12-month span, I paid out $25,000. This is not a complaint, it’s just a fact.

When I got Doug, I had already investigated pet insurance plans and had decided on Healthy Paws. I pay $30 a month. The annual deductible is $500.  Our plan reimburses 90% of accidental issues and illness.  Routine care and pre-existing conditions are not covered.

I just got our $5,000 check reimbursement for Doug’s surgery.  I cried. Whenever possible, I take a positive approach to life, even when things are dark and heavy, I try to see the light. It’s been a couple of dark years with Melvin and Jake both having cancer and dying.  That reimbursement check meant way more to me than money.

I deserved that break.

I have a great job.  I have a great family support system. I happily paid Melvin and Jake’s bills and I will happily pay Doug’s. But it felt really good to get something back from a health conundrum.

That said, we pay joy forward. So in honor of yesterday being ten months since Jakey died, we’d like to buy an Eddie’s Wheels Wheelchair for a dog in need.  Please share submissions of dogs who could use a cart (their name and story) in the comments below, on this Facebook post or email to ohmelvinyojake@gmail.com.  I’ll put together a little committee of folks who will help me pick the lucky dog.

Melvin and Jake love, lives on. Always.

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Kryptonite.

I had a home visit a few months ago with a rescue group I wanted to be approved for.  I had many conversations with the adoption coordinator about Doug and how crazy very exuberant he is.  I explained to her how he never really calms down, even when he is still, he’s gearing up for movement.  I told her these things during the conversation about how when I add the next dog, I don’t want two Dougs.  She assured me she had seen it all, she’d been doing Pit Bull rescue for 20+ years. She came and met us. Her exact quote after the visit was: I never in my life have met a dog as energetic as Doug. He is awesome, but he is by far the most hyper dog I’ve ever met. 

Told you so!

Despite only being 12 days out of surgery and having at least 10 weeks of rest to go, he thinks he is fully healed and he now tries to do a modified zoomie in his crate, along the edge of the bed.  It’s like tightrope zoomies, IN A DAMN CRATE. When he is in the x-pen, he wild ponies up on his hind legs.  To say this is against every thing the doctor said he SHOULD NOT DO, is a grand understatement.  I mean HOW do you keep a dog down, literally down, on all fours.  Should I put bricks on his back?

After he runs the zoomies in the 4×4 space (and after I plead with him to stop (no, NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT!) he resorts to ramming the crate or pen door.  Like a bull.  Like a bull with a broken leg who is supposed to be resting.  Every time I go in to spend time with him, it’s like an ultimate warrior cage match.

He has been doing all of this, since day 4  post surgery. I mean even superman could be held down by Kryptonite.

I am not a dramatic person. If I say Doug is crazy, he’s crazy.  I’m very matter-of-fact. Trying to keep Doug calm has made me drink cry.  It’s brought actual tears to my eyes.  I legit hid from him at one point because I just couldn’t fight the fight anymore and I needed a break.  My hiding, only rev’d him up more.  Hide and seek, fun!

I feel like the vet surgical community failed us when they sent us on our way post surgery with a see you in two weeks, keep him calm and off that leg.  Pretty sure they threw in a wink and smile for hurtful measure. I had tried to explain that Doug was VERY energetic.  That there was no way to keep him calm.  And I’m sure they hear that A LOT from owners who don’t really know what true, nuclear energy looks like.  I watched as our surgeon’s eyes glossed over when I explained to him that while I was VERY committed to Doug’s recovery, Doug would in no way, shape or form be at all committed to it.

He said to me…Doug will realize his limitations. And then he tried to send me home without tranquilizers. Uh no, nice try.

Sadly, the tranquilizer we were given was no match for Doug. I get it, Excedrin Migraine is as about as powerful as a tic-tac when it comes to my migraines. Some medication just doesn’t stand up to the challenge before it.  Doug’s current tranquilizer is one of those things.

I am willing to do the hard work. I kept Jake in a cone for six weeks after his eye surgery. Six weeks in a heavy cone for a dog with a compromised spine could almost be considered abuse (which is why I ordered that ridiculously expensive head mask – remember that???), but saving his eye was important for his well-being. In the end, it was the right decision. Well, it was the right decision before knowing he had terminal cancer.  Had I known about the cancer I would have had the eye removed and let him live as struggle-free as possible. Ahhhhh, hindsight, you’re a bastard.

Speaking of hindsight…Jake had it. IMG_5422

Keeping Doug calm is up there with juggling sand. Impossible.

I’m OK with Doug continuing to hate me as I try to get him through this timeframe intact and with 4 healthy legs at the end.  This phase in our lives will be all but a blip. We are going to try a new tranquilizer. And if that doesn’t work, we will try something else. If nothing else, all our trying will pass the time. Right?

He is still planning my death. Thankfully, the cone and donut SHOULD come off tomorrow when his sutures come out. IMG_4149

 

 

Two years.

Melvin died two years ago this week. I’m not sure how that is even possible since I was so sure I wouldn’t make it through losing him, let alone exist without him.

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Melvin changed me, profoundly. He changed the structure of my existence, he guided me to my purpose.

I have said this before. Melvin was a part of me in life and now in death. He is the goodness in me, the joy, the laughter and the reason love lives on. Losing him broke me, but then, he healed me. I carry him in my heart. I feel closer to him now than I ever have. I am grateful for that every day .

As we approach the anniversary of losing him, it makes me miss Jake even more.

You read that right.

When I lost Melvin and went through the grief and then found out Jake was dying, I sorta just thought, here we go again.  In a, grief will repeat itself sort of way.

Grief is not a protocol. It’s a living, breathing, organic, emotional, extension of us. I persevered Melvin grief, I remember what it felt like to start to emerge from it. With Jake grief, I usually don’t feel like dealing with it much at all. I want to overcome it and I don’t ignore its impact but it’s more of a one day it will be over sort of way. Truth be told, I’m a bit apathetic about this grief journey.

I think some of that has to do with who I spent each journey with. Jake and I lost Melvin together. Jake sat a lot so we sat a lot together and we worked through our sad moments as a team. Doug didn’t lose Jake, so he goes on his merry way and I go along with him and sometimes I try to bypass grief on my very, very, oh so very long walks with Doug. Grief doesn’t work that way; there is no going around it. Grief will chase you and tackle you and say hey, I’m the boss of you, get back here.

Grief is an asshole.

Jake died nine months ago this week.

Jake is most certainly a part of me too. Jake taught me to see the beautiful in the broken, he taught me that struggle is not the end, in many ways, it’s just the beginning. But spiritually, Jake is not necessarily the parts of me that I derive strength from. He’s more like my weakness. In a beautiful way, not in a way that I would change.

Jake is my baby.

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I have come to accept that my hands will always reach for him. The need to nurture him, lives on as much as the love does. It is a constant, and perhaps, eternal ache.  It just is what it is. I think some thoughts of Jake will always trigger that lump in my throat. I’m not sure why. It’s ok though, each and every time, my soulful connection to Melvin helps ease the Jake sadness.

They are still a team, even in death.

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Don’t fret, memories of Jake bring me joy.  I laugh out loud watching videos of him, even videos of him towards the end. For every struggle, we found a solution. In Melvin and Jake’s life, we won, way before cancer showed up. I think at the end of my life, that is what I will be most proud of.

As we come up on the two year anniversary of losing Melvin, I’m grateful for the unbreakable connection I have with him. And, I’m so happy that if I can’t have Jake here, that Melvin holds him close for me.

This post, is a post I go back to regularly.  I wrote it a week after Melvin died and it is, everything to me. It’s a reminder of how strong my connection to Melvin has always been. And this post was written one year ago. A testament to love living on.

I miss my boys, but the honor of loving them is worth every ounce of grief.

We won.

 

 

Letters from Heaven. Dear Doug.

Hey Doug, over here, it’s me, Jake. What do you mean, who? No you didn’t just ask that. I’m your little-big brother. The one who left their scent up all over in that house.  Yeah, you got it, that’s me bro. I left those scents for the next dog, since I mean you’ve met her, we all knew there would be more dogs. She’s gotta put that love somewhere, ya know.

Anyway…I’m keeping an eye on you. In a are-you-worthy sorta way but also in a what-the-heck-is-he-thinking-gotta-guide-this-dude way too. I’m pretty much the only one that can keep an eye on you since you move so fast, it requires eyes that can go in two different directions.

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Some observations, if I may (oh I may cause I’m the new damn boss of you)…

  • Why are you such a spaz? I mean Melvin and Max and I laugh sometimes cause you cray bro, but then other times we are like MOM, WATCH OUT, DOUG IS GONNA LAND ON YOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUU. And then, you land on her. She bruises easily, treat her gently. Trust me, there will come a time when she has to carry you and she will do it with so much love that you will melt into her. I miss those moments with her. So this is my way of saying, if I can’t be there, you need to be really good to her.
  • I saw that dog attack you Sunday. First off, let me say, that girl had some killer moves! I was really impressed with how she flew through the air towards you. I mean in a lot of ways, that dog is me! But then you didn’t like it as much Melvin used to love when I chewed his face and then the brothers up here reminded me that we are on your side (ugh, sides are so boring) so then I felt bad that you were bleeding,  I’m supposed to tell you, don’t be like me. Don’t go changing and start to dislike other dogs (I’m reading from a script cause I don’t actually believe all this but…), you are more like Melvin and Max. You’re nice (hey who wrote this? I’m nice. Ok, ok, I’m not the nicest of the four of us. Fine).  Just stay you. She will want other dogs and well…just let her have her way. Ok?
  • About your sleeping style, what the BLEEP are you thinking? Why are you sleeping above her head like that? I mean in the middle of the night you stretch and your feet land on her face.  You are not a hat. You are a dog. Sleep normal. Melvin says you gotta move down and snuggle in.  Trust us dude, we know what we are talking about. MOVE DOWN (and hold off on meatball production when you are in the bed, when possible).
  • Dog bed destruction. Stop. Just stop. She bought me 19 beds and there are like 2 left and we get it, you don’t do sentimental but she wants those beds to be passed down.  Let her pass down the damn beds.  She does not ask for much.  I mean it, I will come back and haunt you… OK. OK. I’m being told to calm down. Sorry (not sorry) about my tone.
  • Last piece of advice (for now), chase all the squirrels, chipmunks, bunnies, frogs and birds that you can bro! Life is short, hunt!

I’m sorry we can’t be there with you.  Trust us, there is no where on earth we would rather be than there, with her (and you). But we see potential in you bro. I for one love the noises you make and your snoring game is strong! I also really appreciate the ‘accidents’ you have had in the house, she has so many pee products, am I right bro?! We took bets on whose Kongs would fit best in your mouth, I thought it would be mine but Melvin won that bet.  You are a lot like Melvin, I bet you smell delicious. Melvin guides you the most, but I like to chime in too. You are a lot like me in some ways, in the ways that probably drive her a little bonkers.  I get you bro. I’ve been where you are, new, spunky, making sweet love to the rug running zoomies like a wild banshee. We don’t want you to change, we just want to make sure you get some guidance. She’s like the best thing that ever happened to us and well, we watch over her day and night and so we are here for you too. We’ll do our best to help you make good decisions. Don’t you love it when she says that to ‘make good decisions’. She is so funny.

I miss her so much.

Lastly… when her eyes leak and she says my name, MOVE OVER CHUMP cause I’m right next to her trying to make her feel me there and you usually sit right on top of me.  Yeah that’s right, I’m that cramp in your leg! Watch it!

Love, Googly eyes always watchin you. I’m like Santa.

PS. This is a new thing we will do from time to time.  Letters from Heaven. xoxo

My socialite.

We have been meeting lots of dogs. Lots and lots of dogs. In the past with Melvin, I was always nervous meeting other dogs. He was basically not interested in dogs but sometimes he flat out did not like them and would suddenly just lunge at them. He defined leash aggression. I loved him and all of his moments. With Jake, well he hated all dogs except for Melvin. Like hated with the intensity of a thousand hot suns. I have never seen a paralyzed dog so able-bodied and ready to rumble as Jake was. Good God I miss that dog.

Call me Rambo. IMG_5653

With Doug, I sometimes forget that I can leave worry at the door.  I mean, you guys probably know me well enough to know I’m cautious. A planner. I’m not just gonna throw Doug into any situation that I have not given some thought to.  But in general, Doug has never met a stranger.

We have met several dogs on walks that their owners have claimed were well-behaved. They were in fact not well-behaved. Doug handles it every time. If a dog starts going crazy, Doug usually just lays downs and ignores them.

We have met dogs that want to hump Doug. Male dogs. Female dogs. It’s all good. Doug takes it (he literally takes it) and after they have a go at him, he rolls onto his belly to be sure they know he is fine with being violated.  My dog is so weird. I sorta like it.

I like being a pony. Ride me!img_2347

Doug is super social. I’m an introvert so this confuses me a bit. But I loved Melvin for all the things he was and wasn’t and I loved Jake for all that he could do and all that he couldn’t and well…I am really enjoying this social dog thing. In addition to meeting dogs, I take Doug to a lot of places with me. He’s great in the car, he’s somewhat well-behaved in dog friendly stores (he’s still mouthy so I have to be careful in those situations), and he seems to really enjoy our adventures.

While we continue to look for the right next dog (my work situation is changing a little and I have a vacation coming up soon so we are on hold for a little bit), I’m starting to think about taking Doug to a local doggy daycare.  Just typing that is outside of my comfort zone because I’m not a fan of situations in which I am not in total control. (admitting you have a problem is the first step in letting people know that you don’t care if they know you have this problem). Doug needs to be with other dogs. I can see it in his behavior when he hasn’t been around dogs in a few days versus when he has. So we are going to tippy toe and try out one that I have vetted so much that I could own the damn place. I have 25 point googled everything about this place and the employees, like full on stalking at this point.

I filled out all the paperwork and was sure to answer in ways that would let the facility know that I am likely the type to send in a CIA operative in to confirm the well-being of my dog. I want them to know, I’m watching them, always.

Doug’s mom is crazy.

Oh Melvin, Yo Jake.

This Monday is the one year anniversary of finding out Jake had cancer. I remember sitting in my car after getting the call and my eyes and chest burning from sadness and fear. I couldn’t breathe. I remember feeling so overwhelmed because I was still mourning Melvin. Jake couldn’t have cancer, they must be wrong.  I raced home to be with Jake, since more than ever, every second counted.

Why are your eyes so leaky?IMG_6475

In two weeks, it’s the two-year anniversary of finding out Melvin was dying. Calendars suck.

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I don’t plan to remember these dates forever. But back to back loss makes me feel like I’ve been sad for a long time. I also know how far I’ve come despite losing them both so close together.

My love for Melvin continues to grow. He is me. He is my heart, my guiding light, the goodness I try to put out into the world.  As for losing Jake, he and I still have some first to go through on our way to the year anniversary of his death this July. I still feel that burning in my chest sometimes when I think of Jake. Sadness and joy still struggle for the win when I think of him.

But then there is this, in my world, Melvin and Jake are the sun, they are the joy, and the laughter and everything that is beautiful in this life. I have learned that great loss does not slow down the trajectory of great love.

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Melvin was, and in some ways, will always be the muse for this blog. He is the reason it exists.Funny though, I have a hard time even recalling the posts I did about Melvin as an only dog. When I look back, it’s as if it was always Melvin and Jake. I guess that’s all part of  a love that was meant to be. Now that they are both gone, they are eternally one. Melvin & Jake. Jake & Melvin. My favorite odd couple. The source of so much of my joy.

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After Melvin died, I mentioned that I might change the name of the blog. There were many comments asking me not to, that it felt wrong to do that, and in the end, I kept the name.

But now, its time.

Here is where my heart is…

  • Oh Melvin the blog started six years ago with just me and Melvin, hardly anyone even read back then! I chronicled his severe allergies, his tail amputation, his joyful exuberance.
  • When Jake came along, it was easy to add him and still feel like Oh Melvin worked. Everyday that passed, they became life partners. Now that Doug is here, and knowing other dogs will come, Oh Melvin feels…like a look back. Oh Melvin doesn’t feel like it captures this new world where I am without Melvin and Jake, where I am learning to chase joy with Doug.
  • Oh Melvin is from where I’ve come, and although it will always be a part of me, I don’t say those treasured words very often anymore. And the moments when I do say them, well now those moments are more personal, they belong only to me.
  • The URL will always be ohmelvin.com because Melvin is the soul of this blog. OhMelvin.com is the road that will always lead you to me and me to you, but it’s time for the blog name itself to support a past, present and future.

Moving forward is OK. Its good. Its how life goes.

I’m not going to do a big introduction, one day soon you will stop by and the change will have occurred (it’s actually all loaded up, I just have to publish it). The photo will change too, I thought I should warn of you that also. I hope when you see it, you smile. I can tell you with certainty that Melvin and Jake are fine with it.

Just as a sidenote, I changed our Instagram name this week too (it’s now: @dougholupka.for.president).  It only seemed fair that Doug get some real estate in some of our social media presence. I’m not sure why I never changed that account name after Melvin died (but had I, it would have either been Just Jake or Wonkalicious). I think Jake was ok living under the Oh Melvin umbrella though. I think he wouldn’t have had any other way.

Change is hard, but joy will guide us.

xoxo, Tracey

 

Doug is still in search of a sibling.

We are looking to add a dog to the household!  Doug loves meeting new dogs which makes it all very fun and easy, except for the part where I give a lot  of thought (probably too much for my own good!) to how each dog will fit.

As for my part in the search, the last dog I looked for was Doug and I met so many dogs and had so many breakdowns that each dog was not Jake. My last search was in the bubble of the deepest grief. That time when the house was so empty and my heart was broken and every dog I met made me even more sad (good times!).  Until I saw Doug’s face. The dog search before that, was wrought with so much stress because Jake hated every dog that was not Melvin. The dog search before that, was Jake.

I was the last winner of the dog search. img_2531

This go around is so fun! I am loving watching Doug meet potential new siblings. Sometimes he overwhelms them with his exuberance, sometimes they underwhelm him with not wanting to play with him. There are a few things I feel very strongly about this go around:

  • I obviously would like the two dogs to like each other. Basic like, they don’t have to love each other but hey, that would be great too!
  • Doug is still very young and has a lot of training left in his journey to breed ambassador. That means that unlike Max, who schooled Melvin, or Melvin who schooled Jake, this next dog is going to need to be part of Doug’s schooling. Doug can bring the funk, but this next dog is going to have to bring some of their own soulfulness.
  • I don’t want another Doug. That sounds harsh, but it’s really just honesty. I love Doug, I love that he is who he is. But when it comes to the next dog, I don’t want a dog a of equal energy. Not because I want to do less walks, Doug still needs walks so that is not going away. I just don’t want two dogs in the house, bouncing off each other. I want a dog that will play with Doug but also one who can school Doug on the other aspects of being a dog that don’t require constant zooming.
  • I think the age range that would work best for Doug and for me is 5-8 years old.
  • The ultimate goal is to have three dogs, the third of which is a super senior (10 or older)!

We have not found the dog yet but we have met some great dogs on our journey.

Is my new brother or sister in here? img_2507

We met Angel (here), who was lovely! She is a little older than Doug and she’s deaf. She made the most awesome noises. I was a little worried how Doug would respond to her Chewbaca talk but he did fine.  Doug and her got along pretty well, but they never stopped chasing each other. Inside, outside, inside, outside, chase me, no you chase me, ok I’ll chase you, hey jump off the back of the couch with me. No, please don’t. Just when I thought Doug could not get more energetic, enter Angel! Now before you worry that I don’t want Doug to play, I DO! I so want him to have a playmate and a life-partner-in-crime.  But I can sense when we meet a dog that plays into Doug’s need for anarchy and when we meet ones who have a better balance between mayhem and peace.

We met Wendy (here), who is the sweetest Pittie and who if  I had met her before Doug I would have swooped her up and called it a day. Wendy is adorable and lovely. Wendy is also very young, like Doug, and is coming into her exuberance (which she should!). Wendy and Doug would make for a tornado and while it would be so fun for them, mamma wants a more stable weather pattern. I know, I know, I’m a party pooper. I do trust my instinct to know when it’s right though.

I have prescreened about ten dogs for Doug. A few have gotten adopted because I am unable to walk into an adoption event and walk out with a dog. I NEED TIME! I NEED TO MAKE LISTS! I NEED MY LISTS TO GIVE BIRTH TO NEW LISTS. I am who I am! A few were not a good fit (the dog does not like other dogs in their space or they are dog selective). I have found when a dog is selective, Doug rarely makes the cut, even though he tries too so hard.

We are meeting  a dog this weekend that I actually met after Jake’s death, before I got Doug. She was one that was perfect, but at the time, was just not Jake. I go back and visit her often and this weekend, Doug is going with me.  We’ll keep you posted!

She lies, I’m always calm and wonderful and I never misbehave or chew feet or pillows, like this pillow which I destroyed yesterday but I only did it because I know she secretly wanted me to. img_2477