Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Birthday pretty girl.

Today is Seven's 14th birthday. I dug up these puppy pictures earlier today and can barely believe how tiny she was. And dear lord she was cute! Sheesh! I ask her all the time "how are you so beautiful?" I pretty much think she's perfect. Now, how we ended up with her...not so perfect.
Tom and I had just moved in together and decided we wanted a dog. In hindsight it may have been a bit early in the relationship to be making such a huge commitment to a living, breathing thing, but it seems to have worked out so I won't dwell on it too much. I suppose I think about these things due to being in rescue now...I see these young couples wanting dogs and I can't help but wonder (and I do usually, rudely, ask) "who is gonna take the dog if you two don't work out?" Hey, my priority is the dog! Anyway, we went to both the city shelter and the local Humane Society. There was an adult dog at the shelter that I wanted but Tom REALLY wanted a puppy. At the HS there was a litter of three adorable puppies. Two brown, one black - they were calling them beagle/heeler mixes (we found out later, much to our shock, they were actually Dingo mixes). When we met them two were adopted. One little brown girl left. The HS employee took her out and we played with her for a bit. We fell hard for her in about two minutes. We couldn't take her home that day because she had to be spayed. So we came back to visit the next day and the next, bonding more and more each time. Then came the day we got to pick her up. I had to work so Tom was gleefully up for the job!

I remember being at work with time crawling by like ants with a full belly. It was late in the evening. Tom was going by the HS on his way home from work and was supposed to call me when he left with her. He did. And here's what he said. "I think they gave me the wrong dog." Me, "What do you mean?" Tom, "I think they gave me the wrong dog." Me, "What do you mean?" Tom, "I don't know, but I think they gave me the other puppy." Me, "Well did you tell them? What did they say?" Tom, "No, the other puppies have already been picked up." Me, "I'm calling them." So I call the HS. Apparently the ENTIRE time we had been interacting with the WRONG puppy. The already adopted puppy. Something about the id numbers being transposed in the computer. I don't know. But their solution was "Well, you can bring her back." But we knew we were not going to get the puppy we'd fallen in love with, she was gone, left the building, adios! So, time to meet our new dog for the first time.
Of course we joke, Seven was an accident. She is the complete and total boss. She would sooner have you poke her eye out than cuddle with you. She barks INCESSANTLY! Her sister is probably a calm, quite, snuggler. And I would not switch them for a bajillion dollars.

My beautiful girl. Knock-on-wood, she might be 14 but she acts like an ornery two year old. She bounces like a gazelle at dinner time, announces every activity in the front yard whether its an actual visitor or a leaf falling from the tree. She bosses all our other dogs, be it one of the chihuahuas or the pit bull, all 37 pounds of her. She takes her sweet time accepting new people who stop by and she pretends to detest just about every other dog in the house. Everything is on her terms. But despite all of that we think she is perfect. She is the princess. This is her castle and she is kind enough to let us live here and honestly, we wouldn't change a thing. Okay, maybe the barking, I'd cut the barking down by about half.

Happy Birthday baby girl. Love you.

Friday, October 21, 2011

the last cuddle.

Sweet little Della Street went on a home visit last night. Her hopeful new mom asked me last night, "are you gonna be sad." and I said, rather quickly in hindsight, "No." She seemed a little surprised and I felt bad, like it came across that I don't care about Della or love her...but it's not that at all. After fostering for nearly 12 years it is less sad. In the beginning I was always a basket case when the dogs left, I literally mourned my loss. But now if you find a good home that you know will love that dog - it's just all happiness! Plus one going out means I can go save another one. So it's not that I've become this hardened wretch, I've just evolved my thinking. Does that make me sound mature? Because I will never claim maturity. Ever.

Monday, October 17, 2011

one dozen

Yesterday marked 12 years of marriage for Tom and I. A dozen years. I'm pretty crazy proud of that. Early, early on in our marriage I told Tom that I wanted to be like Paul and Linda McCartney and never spend a night apart (I think they spent three nights apart over their entire marriage). We haven't quite managed that, but we are pretty darn amazing.

We met at a record store in 1996...

We both had significant others, but there was just something about him. I look back on it now and the way we started out was really a recipe for disaster. But we just kept creeping on to the next step...never really in the "right" order. Sneaking around, breaking up with the significant others, sort-of dating, sort-of moving in together, really moving in together, adopting a dog, buying a house, adopting a second dog, and last but not least...

...getting married. We had THE most amazing wedding. It was exactly everything I wanted. We got married in my parents back yard. They worked for months planting roses and building trellises to make it gorgeous and yet not over-the-top. It was a beautiful evening, there was a giant white tent, orange-vanilla candles, we danced to Nobody Knows Me by Lyle Lovett, and most importantly everyone I love most in the world was there. I walked in barefoot in my handmade (by my mom and my other mom) dress that was layers and layers and layers of yellow tulle. ohhhhh, I could do that day over and over and over again...
And now here we are, 12 years later and I love him more today than I did on that perfect night. I could say all of those cheesy things like we complete each other and we fit and we are perfect for each other and they would all be true, but they still aren't enough. I adore him with every fiber of my being. And I am grateful, insanely grateful for every one of the 4,380 days I've spent married to him. And I'm looking forward to the next 4,380.

Monday, October 10, 2011

settling in.

Although I don't really want to think about it, we might be inching our way into a new normal. I don't want to think about it because I'm not ready to feel "normal" yet. I'm not ready for what life with out Preacher feels like. I need this to happen without realizing it's happening.

The day we lost Preacher we were kind of all over the map figuring out how to cope. Tom's immediate reaction was "we have to get rid of the couch", his couch. We both could not bare the thought of seeing it empty. We kind of manically rearranged the furniture that very day. And that actually helped quite a bit for both of us. But for Seven I think it created even more stress. She was the dog I was most worried about. She was the one who was here for his whole life. She's the one who welcomed him home. She is the one who we could send out into the yard to get him when he couldn't hear that it was time to come in. We could tell her "Go get Preacher" and she'd run into the yard and bring him in. So we made sure that she saw him before he left the house. For days she paced the house. Was she missing him? Looking for him? Or was the furniture rearrangement just throwing her off?

Our sweet, bossy, barky-ass girl is turning 14 at the end of this month. We need life to be normal for her, for life to be easy for her. Happily she appears to have found her new spot in our rearranged life. I love her here in her newly claimed chair. I brought this chair home from my Aunt Millie's house, which for some reason makes me love her in it even more. It's not quite normal, we're just settling in.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Meet Miss Della Street.

I've been struggling the past two weeks with the idea that "life goes on". Honestly, I thought if anyone said that to me I might punch them. For me the idea of life going on equals forgetting. In my head I know that's not true, but telling it to my irrational heart is another matter entirely.

But the night before we lost Preacher I got a new foster puppy. A six week old pit bull baby we named Della Street (I've been on a huge Perry Mason run lately). Because I was scheduled to leave for an art show in Kansas early the next morning Della went to stay with my best friend until I got home. Needless to say the I didn't end up leaving town...but bringing a puppy into the house was difficult to wrap my brain around. I think Tom was feeling the same way though we were both having trouble putting words to our thoughts. But after about a week we decided to give it a go.

I'm not gonna lie, it's been a challenge. At first I had zero bonding going on. Oddly I think I kind of resented her. I know that is awful, but it's honest. I feel terrible about it now, but you never know how you are going to process things like this and while I wish I would have felt different, it is what it is.
As you can see I have gotten past the walls I had built up with this puppy. I've totally bonded with her, I adore her, and I've found some peace in cuddling with her and talking to her while she sleeps. The other night we laid in bed and I told her all about Preacher. I explained to her that she has the potential to be someone's make a family as happy as he made us. It's an amazing thing really, the potential life for this little thing. She has it in her to make someone's life feel whole, to be a part of a family, to be loved more than life itself, to be the end-all-be-all in someone's world. Just like Preacher was for us. It's all right there in that tiny six pound body.

Monday, October 3, 2011

my sweet boy.

I knew the day would come when I would have to write this post. There were even times when I would think about what I would say. But then I would put it out of my head because it was far to dreadful to imagine. But now I'm here. And I can't put it out of my head because now, now it's real. I'm not sure how to write the things I need to say. I can barely see the key board because of the tears. I have no idea how to adequately put into words how amazing, how precious, how loved, how goofy, how regal, how adored, how everything Preacher was and is to Tom and I. The thought of life without him is staggeringly painful. And yet we've made it now 11 days.

We lost Preacher early on Thursday September 22nd. It was fairly sudden. Tom and I were with him, just the two of us. He took the hard decision out of our hands...something I will be forever grateful for and in awe of. As difficult as it was, and it was excruciating, I was able to hold my baby and feel the last beat of his heart.

I've had a hard time making sense of everything. I want to be angry, but how can I be? I was able to share his life with him. We were given and incredible amount of time with him. I'm trying to make sense of everything. Trying to understand how he was just here... I'm trying to hold on to memories, think about the good things, but I'm not quite there yet. I'm having a hard time finding any relief in much of anything just yet. But I know that I need to find a way to be happy. I need to find a way to feel normal again, just like we did with every milestone we passed through Preacher's life with us.
This was from the day we brought Preacher home. I just crack up looking back at these photos! I forget how much pink he had on his nose when he was young. And over the years we marveled at how he never seemed to age...but looking back at these early pictures, his gray was so much darker. I guess you just never notice a white dog going white. To me he just looked more regal the older he got.

These were also from that first day. I wrote about that day in a recent post...when we first loaded into the car Seven wanted nothing to do with him. But by the end of the day I think she was more attached to him than we were.
It took us a little longer to bond with him. I remember the first day at home with him. He was laying on the couch and I sat down next to him and he growled at me. I hopped up and went to tell Tom. He sat down next to him and got growled at too. We were kind of freaking out. We didn't want to return him but we also didn't want an aggressive dog. After a little while we figured out that he just was not a snugly boy. There was no aggression behind the growl, it was just his way of saying "Hey, if you are gonna sit here then you might as well pet me, if not then scoot over and give me some space!" Tom figured out quickly that our new addition meant he was now relegated to the floor! Up until the day before we lost him I would use that as a way to gauge how he was feeling - if he growled at me it meant he was feeling good enough to give me attitude, no growling meant he didn't feel good.
I love this photo of he and Berklie. Berklie adored, absolutely adored Preacher. Back when Preacher could still jump up on our bed that is where he would stay when we were away from the house. And Berk would lay with him, groom him, rub back and forth under his chin. This 130 pound dog and this 12 pound cat were the best of friends. When Preacher could no longer jump on the bed Berklie followed him out to the living room to sit with him on the couch. Every night Tom, Preacher, and Berklie would share the entire couch while I was over in a chair with at least six other dogs!
Our first Christmas. I had no intention of being in this photo but Preacher had no intention of sitting with Santa alone!
The Mighty Texas Dog Walk aka the time when Preacher unloaded what looked like 20 cans of pumpkin before we ever made it out of the gate! Poor Tom was having to set give-away dog bowls around Preachers nervous diarrhea like safety cones.

I love this photo because it marked the return of his apatite after beginning chemo. It was a mighty exciting day around our house!
He was not a cuddler, so these moments were precious. It didn't matter if the blood flow to half my body stopped, I would not move until he was ready. We took every bit of snuggle time that we could get.

I think there are three reasons that I have made it through the last 11 days.
one. We have THE best family and friends in the entire world. They have all treated this with the gravity that it is for Tom and I. We've received flowers. People have cooked for us. Lots of sweet cards. Texts every single day to see how my day is. Listening to me cry and crying with me. Sitting with me. Donations to Blue Dog. And more.
two. As much as I have wanted to get in bed and not see the light of day for a good long time I know that that would be no way to honor my boy. I need to live my life with all the joy that he brought to me for 12 years three months and 16 days.
three. I have never believed in Heaven as much as I do now. I cannot believe that I will never see my baby again. I just can't.

There are so many of you who have read my blog over the years. I don't kid myself. I know that Preacher was why. And I thank you for every time you read about him and wished him well. For every comment you made. There was something about this dog. People lucky enough to meet him would want to come back to get their "Preacher fix" - you know who you are! People who knew him vicariously through Tom and I felt like they knew him and were rooting for him. He just had a way of drawing people to him. I have to pinch myself sometimes because I was lucky enough to be his mom.
I love you and I miss you more than I ever knew was possible. I still scoop your food out in the morning and walk into the kitchen to get your meds. I'm terrified of forgetting the way you smell, the way you feel, the way you sound... Someone I met while dealing with your cancer told me that one day I would be able to feel you by my side again. I am dreaming of that day. I got your name tattooed on my wrist the other day. It gives me something to rub when what I want is to pet you. I'm trying to figure out my feelings from one minute to the next but the bottom line is I miss you terribly. You made it too easy to love you. You filled up our lives so much that now there is a Preacher shaped hole in our world. Thank you for letting me be your mom. Thank you for fighting so hard and giving us these last two extra years. Thank you for making it easy on us in the end. Thank you for being the bravest boy in the whole world. I love you Big Man.
your mom