This too shall pass.

I am part of a support group on FB for folks who have dogs going through the same surgeries as Doug. A lot of times people will post that they feel bad for their dogs, day after day, every day, to have to go through any of this, and that is the moment where I have to ask myself: why I don’t feel this way? Do I not care about Doug? Am I dead inside?

The reality is, despite what Doug is going through, it is nothing even close to what Jake (or even Melvin had to go through).  And that is not to say that Doug’s life is a comparison to theirs, not at all.  It’s just…I never looked at Jake and thought, you poor thing. I felt for his struggle but our entire lives were built around overcoming and opportunity. Sure, that last year I screamed to the universe ENOUGH already! But Jake and I moved forward, even on his last day.

Doug is going to have a great life. I have a lot of faith that his legs will be better than ever (and sure, a little worry here and there that they will not be able to keep up with him at all). Whatever will be, will be. We will figure it out.

Our plans for this summer got squashed. No doubt about it. Unlike Melvin and Jake, Doug loves to be outside, even by himself. I have screens that allow him to go in and out on his own while I’m home.  The back yard is built for him to enjoy and run zoomies  There will not be a single day during spring, summer or most of fall that Doug isn’t outside on leash, with me. No opening the door to let him run, I must go out with him. No lingering on the patio furniture, he is not allowed to jump up or down. No pool time, he’d 100% break another part of his body.

As sad as that is, Doug is fine. There is no way he will remember this phase. The first chance he has at a full outside zoomie session, he will transition from inmate to superhero. He will live in every moment and continue to have everything he needs. If and when the next challenge comes along, he’ll get through that too. Doug is powered by joy. Trust me on this, I live it every day.

Here are some positives that have come out of Doug being in jail:

  • He’s had to work on impulse control, and he’s doing great.
  • If I am not in the room with him, he will chill all day in the jail cell if necessary.  This is a great tool for us to have when people come over who are not dog/Doug enthusiasts.
  • Despite the death stares, he knows I’m in this with him. He and I have bonded, even during the barking and snarling.  (I bark and snarl also).
  • Walks are less stressful now because he is so excited to be out and about that he doesn’t chew the leash or dart left and right and backwards the entire time.
  • We have MASTERED all his commands.

One of my favorite sayings/quotes is: Where you’re at is not who you are. I have applied that to just about every struggle I have ever had. Those low moments, they don’t define you. This legs phase, will pass. And I have no doubt that one day Doug will break something else in his attempt to be the most insanely crazy dog on earth!

—————————————————————————–

And with that, I give you my little graduate.  I wrote this blog post last week and this week Doug was cleared to be off leash in the house. I am 100% panicked he will break his entire body but here we go anyway!

Where are the chains that usally hold me down?IMG_6483.JPG

The jail cell comes down:

 

 

 

Doug’s first moments of freedom are spent next to me. Can anyone say Stockholm Syndrome?

 

 

 

He’s clearly not familiar with freedom yet.  All those lovely industrial rugs and mats are to prevent slipping (and surgery!).

 

 

 

 

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.

5 14 14

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.

6 12 14d

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.

2 4 14l

 

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.

 

 

Doug can be chill. True story.

Doug is boundless energy and exuberance.  I tell everyone that he is powered by joy.  Sure that results in a lot of walks and sessions out back to wear him out, but there are far worse things than being powered by joy.

Additionally, even though he is the most active dog I have ever had, he is equally the most chill upon arrival. Active and chill don’t usually go hand-in-hand and for Doug they certainly do not go together at the same time. When I am home, he be cray, but when I leave, he is totally chill. When I first got Melvin and Jake, they both had separation anxiety. If I was outside, Melvin would follow me from window to window frantically so that his body could be as close to mine as possible.  If I came home to grab something quickly, and then left again, Jake would flip and flail and shoot out meatballs. Eventually they would both relax and it got much better over time.

From day one, when I leave Doug, he lays down. If I come home and then leave again. He wiggles with delight that I’m home and the moment I leave, he lays down. Chill, chill, chill.  In fact the moment I say gotta go bye-byes, he runs and hops in his crate in the mudroom.  That is where I have been putting him when I leave, mostly cause we are still finishing up potty training. And because he chews my pillows.

It’s true, I find pillows to be delicious. img_0777

The mudroom is perfect for him. We had no reason to change-up our routine. Until we did have a reason. The mudroom is going to be out of commission for a little while and I needed to (sorta quickly) figure out how to keep Doug doing great when I left.  I thought about moving his crate to another room but honestly, I think we are at the point where he can have free roam, at least over the main floor, while I’m gone.  As long as he is comfortable with that freedom.

So yesterday, I left him in the house, un-crated and outside of the mudroom, and I watched him on the Dropcam the whole time. HE DID GREAT! He roamed around for a little while, checked the window a few times to be sure I wasn’t hiding and then after about ten minutes, he hopped on Melvin’s chair and went to sleep. I left him again last night and he did the same, only this time he took a snooze on the couch. He also did some redecorating.

img_0809

I like to joke about how crazy Doug is, AND HE IS CRAZY, but sometimes I forget to share with you how incredibly smart and awesome he is too. He knows that when I turn the security alarm on, its time to go upstairs.  He goes right to his bed.  He knows that I push snooze every morning and he does not get up until he sees that I am really rising. He knows potty and walk and dinner. He knows sit, touch and down. He continues to do great with other dogs. He knows how our day goes and he’s learning to be more independent.  Sometimes I open the back door (there is a screen he can go through in and out of the house) and he goes outside and plays and then naps on the patio and then will come in and check on me.  When he’s not Zoomie Doug, he’s Really Laid Back Doug.

img_0805

I love him. I have met him where he is and I love him for all his crazy and his good. In the same way I trusted him to be left out and about, he trusts that I’m coming back. He meets me where I’m at sometimes too. Jake has been gone for three months (today), and it feels like three months (like three rotten months).  Doug has been here for six weeks and it feels like much, much longer. It feels beautiful, like he’s been mine forever.  It feels like Doug must have been here when Jake was here. Grief and time and sadness and joy regularly collide.

It can be difficult and great simultaneously.

There can be tears and laughter at the same time.

There can be unexpected reasons why the mudroom is suddenly being re-purposed…

 

 

 

Formal wear.

I pride myself on finding solutions for Jake. There have certainly been times when those efforts have failed to produce options, but usually just for the minor stuff.

Jake drags his hind legs around now, which means his diaper gives me a big F-you every time I put it on him.  I readjust his diaper, true story, 100 times a day. Ask all the carpets we have waved goodbye too, the system was not working great. I had tried suspenders but Jake is pretty small and since he is on his stomach a lot, having the underside suspender part was not ideal because it would cut into him.  I also tried wrapping a scarf around the diaper (tighter), the scarf also gave me the big F-you. I even tried that mesh wrap the vet uses but I’d have to get a 2nd and 3rd job to afford that for every friggen diaper change.

So  I did what Elsa suggested and I let it go, and I just became the re-adjuster. Then Amazon, who serves up ideas based on my previous searches (guys, my searches would make you full on pee your pants — and we would have a diaper for you!), put the solution in front of me. Sheet binders. The straps you put on your fitted sheet to keep it in place.  They were 8 inches, the EXACT length Jake is from collar to diaper. Same day delivery? Yes, please!

We are only on day two, but my back is already hollering hallelujah! And Jake looks like he just came from a wedding reception. Pretty much the ONLY time you’d see white suspenders.

I mean, try not to laugh!IMG_9448IMG_9441

It took a while to get the sizing right so he was not choking.  Choking is bad. IMG_9425

For the record, dude had just pee’d in this bed and I was taking it up to wash.  He has no shame. He is more like a wedding crasher. IMG_9437