These are a few of my favorite things.

Here are few of my treasures in the house.  I’m not sure what was up with my camera making everything look beige.  But you get the gist.

My most favorite photo of my guy. IMG_4636

 

My daily remider. IMG_4637

 

My superheroes. IMG_4639

 

My favorite guard dog butts. IMG_4641

 

A canvas I had made on ETSY. IMG_4644

 

Doug’s first framed photo! IMG_4647 (1)

 

Our Yellow Brick Home Pet Portrait treasures!IMG_4649

 

And the book I had made of the all the Instagram memories I have of Melvin and Jake. Sneak peek video below. IMG_4651

 

 

The other leg.

Doug is a lot like Melvin (the early days Melvin) ethusiastically.  But his hind legs are 100% Jake.

We have the ongoing saga of his newly rebuilt leg. That one takes us down the inmate path where Doug is jailed and I take his tranquilizers.

We also have the other leg. It now has a stage one luxating patella. It also, likely from several months of compensating for the other leg, hyperextends in the hock area.  The best way for me to describe this to you in a way we all understand is that his ankle area on the good leg, pops forward when he uses it.  Ankles probably should not do that.

Enter in the new brace.  When I tell people about the new brace they just assume its for the newly rebuilt leg and even when I try to explain it’s for the not new leg, they still say ‘yeah, it’s for his surgery leg’ and I say no, it’s for his non-surgery leg and then we all just agree to disagree but still agree that both legs are problematic. Then I get the vodka back out.

Here is Doug, and his new leg brace. He’s tried to eat it 4,672 times (we just got it on Friday) (bottom two videos). I break into a full sweat getting it on him. But look how nicely it accentuates his juicy thigh!

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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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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

March 1st.

March 1, 2015. That is the day I would give if someone granted me the ability to go back. It’s one day before Melvin’s 10th birthday and two days before we found out he was dying. Its today…two years ago.

That March 1st is the last normal day I had with my perfect little family. It’s the last day that felt right, complete. That I even have a day to go back to where I feel life was such perfection, makes me blessed beyond measure.

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In addition to Melvin being there, Jake would be there too. My odd couple, in all their glory. I could live March 1, 2015 on loop, indefinitely.

That said, I have started realizing that March 1, 2015 will not always be the day. In fact, with each new day I remember, joy is where you look for it. I am still in a bitt of a messy grief stage since Jake has not been gone that long. A phase where escaping loss and missing Melvin and Jake, sometimes trumps the joy that is currently unfolding. But each new day, I become less torn, more here-and-now.

I have loved Doug since the moment I saw him on Facebook. I didn’t have my full self to give to him because Jake had only been gone a few weeks. As the grief of Jake lessens, I realize how much my heart is opening up to Doug. There is a love that connects him to his brothers, and that love is powerful and lovely. There are moments I look at Doug and know that we are building towards a love that will own me, (and one day, crush me). You can’t have one without the other. I can confirm that journey is worth it.

I love Doug. I love him every bit as much as I love Melvin and Jake and he has started healing me in ways that I didn’t expect. He has started to soften March 1st. He has made me believe in right now and has made me excited about tomorrow. He holds coveted space in my heart next to Max, Melvin and Jake and he is every bit as amazing (albeit much more crazy) than my angels are.

It’s hard to learn a new love in a shadow. I don’t think Doug realizes any of that though. From day one with me, he has been loved a thousand times more than he ever was in his previous life. As that bond between us becomes magical, I see the realization in his eyes. I see him look at me and he knows I’m his. He knows he’s home. He has opened himself up to love and joy and relaxation.

So have I.

On the eve of Melvin’s 12th birthday, when all of me feels the ache of not knowing a 12-year old Melvin (I mean the only thing more perfect than a 12-year old Melvin would be a 9-year old Jake by his side), I sit with Doug, and I tell him stories of his brothers and I realize that this March 1st, is a good one too.

Doug’s love anchor is winning. And that is how it’s supposed to go. Tomorrow we will celebrate Melvin’s heavenly birthday.  We will do things that Melvin enjoyed and we celebrate a love that lives on, a love that Doug owns now. I know Melvin sent Doug and I know he is fine with me letting the old March 1st go.

Doug in Melvin’s chair, in Jake’s sit style. #lovelivesonimg_3108

 

 

 

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.