Happy Birthday, Doug! Three.

I know that the norm in rescue, is to not know your pets actual birthday (or age). Melvin and Jake were both turned into to rescue by their original owners, so I knew both for them.

Doug’s age was guessed and his birthday was chosen by me.  On December 1st he is ‘officially’ three. But there is a chance he’s four. Or five. And there are 364 chances that his birthday is not December 1st.

The only thing we know for sure, is that Doug is living his best life.


The time he has lived in this home, exceeds the time he lived as a stray in South Carolina. If I’m doing my job right, he doesn’t even recall his first life.  He only knows stability and routine; his belly is always full and his legs are now built to ferociously chase joy.

He is unlike any dog I have had before and at the same time, he reminds me of his brothers daily. Love lives on fiercely in this one.


We are opposites, in so many ways. He has so much energy and a party animal mentality. I’m laid back and calm. He likes mobs of people, I like intimate crowds. He seeks to destroy, I like mending things.

There are a few areas we agree on. We both like the same spot on the couch. We both are food motivated. We both like a good nights sleep and we both give all we have, to spreading joy.

Doug – your entire existence in my life was unexpected. The only thing I know for certain is that you have my heart. I can’t wait to watch your glorious life continue to unfold.



The dogs have never gotten birthday gifts – they live lives of leisure and safety and they want for nothing. Instead, to celebrate, we donate items to a shelter so that a dog in need will know about comfort and love.

Happy Birthday, baby! Three (or four or five) looks great on you!





Melvin man.

Thirteen years ago today, at some point, my life was set on a path. I didn’t know it that day. It would be three years until I understood the magnitude of this date, one so great, as to change my life and my purpose, forever.

Today is Melvin’s birthday. He would have been 13.

There are parts of me so full of joy that he was born, that we found each other, that I got to love him. Oh man, that I got to be the one to love him is so much of everything that it is in fact, everything. Me. I was chosen. I’m infinitely grateful for everything about him.

I have never wanted to be by a dogs side as they grew older, more than I did with Melvin. Every year, he was more soulful, our connection more spiritual. I cannot imagine anything more delicious than Melvin being 13. I would have been honored to care for him, to linger longer on walks, to stare into his always loving eyes.

Melvin and I were not meant to grow older together. He is forever ten. Same goes for Jake, he is forever eight.

On Melvin’s birthday today, I will celebrate love. I will celebrate all the moments I had with him, and all the moments I’ve had becasue of him.

Today, I choose joy.

Maybe, just maybe, Melvin and Jake, were preperation for me guiding Doug as he grows older. Maybe Doug will be, my old dog.

Time will tell. Melvin will guide us. Love lives on.

This was my last birthday letter to Melvin, on his tenth birthday. The day after that birthday, he was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma.

We still won.

9 4 13


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.


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




Doug turns one!

Doug is the first dog where I don’t know their actual birthday. The vet and I chose December 1st and that means today he is one! I have never said the words today my dog is one because he is still (by two years) the youngest dog I’ve ever had!

Doug, I don’t know the circumstances of why you were homeless but I know the reason why you were found, to be loved by me forever. In addition to turning one, today also marks three months that you have been here!

Here are some last three-month takeaways (since there are no are turning one takeaways yet!)…

  • We have walked more in the past three months than I have perhaps walked in the past three years.
  • There have been some tears (by me) from you wanting to eat my feet. I actually googled ‘cute steel toe shoes’ at one point.
  • There have been accomplishments, as you have proven to be extremely smart and have done awesome with training.
  • There has been some frustration, because you are a puppy and well I don’t like  my hair chewed.
  • Mostly, there has been a lot of love. I actually know the exact moment that your face relaxed and you knew I was your forever. You are home.

I imagine the past three months for you have looked a bit different…

  • Why is this woman putting me in her car? Must run zoomies ASAP.
  • Who’s Jake and why is she crying again? Zoomies will help.
  • Her feet are delicious, whoa wait, why can’t I eat them? Run zoomies then try to eat feet again.
  • Have I always been here? Never enough zoomies.
  • Stop, zoomie time!

Happy birthday monkey, I love you and all your cray!

The first photo I saw of you:


And your now forever: img_0329img_0384img_0437



September 27th – a day for birthdays and life.

September 27th is a very important day for me.

First reason.

Nine years ago on 9/27, blood clots flooded both of my lungs. You only really need one blood clot to kill you so the fact that countless blood clots flooded my lungs and tore my pulmonary artery was not viewed as something that would have a positive outcome. In fact, it was the first time I had heard the term ‘grave prognosis’ spoken so many times. My family was called to come to the hospital, right away.  My poor parents were in South Carolina at the time and drove through the middle of the night, not knowing if I’d still be here when they arrived.

I lived! Yay me!

(True story: the moment I was told I was critical I asked for paper and a pen so I could write out instructions for how the rest of Max’s life should go. Melvin was not mine yet).

Everyone I tell this story to says that day must have been the worst day of your life. Oh no – quite the contrary. It is BY FAR one of the best days of my life.  I survived! I have pretty much been a joy seeker ever since that day.

Second, but most important reason.

September 27th is  Jake’s birthday. In fact, at the exact moment I was being rushed into the emergency room, Jake was being born. As everyone thought I was having my last moments of this life, Jake’s googly-eyes were seeing for the first time.

The same day. The same year.

Jake being born, trumps anything that could ever happen on September 27th. Jake brings me infinite joy.  Living is only part of the story, loving is the real gift. Jake being born saved me in a billion new ways. Jake opened my eyes and my heart to champion the unique and to face struggle with solutions. Jake increased the value of my life and my love, simply by existing. I don’t know who I should thank that he was born, but I’m forever in your debt. I’m forever grateful that his path and my path collided. He was born to be with Melvin and me and I know he felt true love from the day we met.


My heart carries you.

My soul celebrates you.

I miss you. I miss you so much.

I love you.

Happy 9th birthday, bug! You are one of the greatest gifts of this life of mine and I love you forever and ever.

You were mighty, and you were mine.

Here is my birthday post for him from last year, a reminder that time is never a guarantee.

Happy Birthday, angel!

Today would have been Melvin’s 11th birthday.  I am infinitely happy that he was born, that he proved to be too much for his first family and that he ended up on small lab rescue site that I happened to stumble upon.

Aside from the one-year anniversary of losing him (coming up in April), this birthday, is our last ‘first’ without him. In fact, we found out about his cancer the day after his birthday last year. I sorta like that his birthday is our last hurdle of all the firsts, because there are very few things in life I am more profoundly joyful about than the fact that he was born. Today, we celebrate that he was here, that he was ours!

Melvin, Jake and I miss you every minute of everyday, but we also feel your love and guidance.  You are with us, we know it.  A beautiful part of our soul and happiness and joy. Happy Birthday my sweet, angel!  You and I (and Jake) were written in the stars. We love you, forever!

Today, in honor of Melvin, please go hug a senior (dog or human).  But of course, ask first!

And here are my past birthday letters to Melvin (since starting the blog)

7th Birthday

8th Birthday

9th Birthday (this one may be my favorite)

10th Birthday (even if I had known what was coming the next day, this is still the letter I would have written).