Quote for October 1st, 2014

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The Theme for October is Education, in celebration of my return to graduate school this month after nearly 25 years!

Quote September 29, 2014

Need I say more…

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Get involved;  donate, volunteer, offer hope, make a difference.  Together we can do this. Thank you!

Quote for September 27, 2014

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It’s nearly over but for so many of us, childhood cancer awareness continues all year long..

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A Pair of Pugs Minus One- A Dog’s Grief

A Pair of Pugs Minus One- A Dog’s Grief

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We lost our black pug Dillon in August, he was only eight years old. I did the math wrong. I couldn’t comprehend that he wasn’t less than ten when I posted his obituary, but the numbers don’t lie.

I remember the day he came home to us. My husband brought him home as a birthday gift for our children; they’re all born in the same week in November so it was easy. Dillon was a surprise. Paul had left on a “business trip” to pick up our pup from the breeder in Oregon.

When their father arrived with the wrigling round flat- flaced ball of fur, everyone clambered around the front the door to get a closer look.  The kids gasped in surprise and cooed and squealed over our newest family member. Finally, Dillon escaped from the adoring crowd and crawled into the safety of my lap. I sat cross legged on the floor across the room in a quieter part of the kitchen. Those big soft brown eyes looked up into mine and seemed to say “I’m yours and you are mine,” and that was  all it took for me to fall in love with my little black pug.

Two years later we brought home Dublin, a 12 week old black pug pup.  She was my birthday present and a companion for Dillon. We discovered we needed more pug to spread around the five of us than one dog could possibly provide. We now had a pair of pugs. Dublin followed Dillon everywhere. She would tug on his ear, bark at his backside and beg for him to play. Dublin would begrudgingly oblige. She was outgoing to his reserve. He was buff  to her rounded portly figure as she sniffed out every scrap and would rather sit and greet people at the dog park than play with other dogs. They ate, slept and travelled together and when our son was sick, people came and walked them together.  They comforted us all over the  years, whether through illness or a tough day, they cuddled and came close. Burning the midnight oil or just hanging out, there was a pug or two at your feet. Dillon and Dublin, cream and sugar, peanut butter and jelly- they went together.

Then, Dillon started to get sick. At first it was gradual, he’d howl in the middle of the day in confusion, growl if you startled him or get lost in a corner. He didn’t want to play much and slept most of the time, but Dublin didn’t seem to mind. She’d sleep in the bed right next to him. Then one day while at our cabin, Dillon  lost his balance and began walking in circles, his head tilted to one side, his eyes moving wildly back and forth. He panted and was agitated, scared. Dublin sat on the couch and looked up at us as if to say “do something!?” She grew despondent as she watched Dillon grow weaker.  The next day we drove him to the emergency vet with Dublin nipping and barking at him to rouse him to move as if begging to get him up. He was too sick and dizzy to move his head from the blankets we’d set up for him. I wept from the frustration of how sick Dillon was feeling and the fear and panic in Dublin’s barking.

Dillon was diagnosed with vestibular disease and treated with antibiotics and drops. Dillon recovered for about two weeks but he continued to lose weight and clumps of black hair.  The vertigo returned and we knew our dog was very, very ill. He was losing fur, drinking water and voiding in copious amounts. Our vet suspected a brain tumor. Dublin knew he was ill and her little face was furrowed in concern as she watched from her perch on the sofa.

We knew his time had come and still it was one of the most difficult decisions we had to make. I cried for nearly two weeks as I found pieces of our Dillon around the house; his favorite chew toy, the last of his medicine bottle, a dog blanket in the dryer or a clump of hair that had fallen by the sofa. I was comforted that I still had Dublin, at least we had a reminder of our Dillon.

I had heard that animals go through grief after losing a companion, but I’d never personally experienced it. I missed my Dillon but to see how heartsick Dublin became upon losing her companion was a new kind of pain. Here was a faithful friend, loyal companion who was now suffering. She missed her Dillon and now she would need us.

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Dublin refused to eat for the first two days after we lost Dillon. She wouldn’t leave her dog bed for the first day not even to go potty or drink water. I finally had to pick her up and wrap  her in a blanket. I held her while I studied and moved my computer by the couch so she would be next to me. I hand fed her scraps of her favorite cheese and meat to get her to eat. She didn’t want to walk. Paul and I heard her moan and pant in her sleep. Dogs dream and have nightmares the same way people do. It was after two weeks when I thought she was getting better that she collapsed, her legs fell out from under her and her head hit the floor. She didn’t want to walk. I took her to the vet and she told me there was nothing neurologically wrong with our dog. She was in grief and it would take time.

Paul noticed she wouldn’t bark to greet him when he came home from work, or get up to leave her dog bed. Meals were haphazard or hardly touched. I did notice she’d perk up if we took her outside for walks or spent some time around other dogs. She caught an eye and an ear infection and now we are trying to save her right eye.  Perhaps she would have gotten sick anyways, but research has proven that under extreme stress our immune systems can become compromised. This happens with animals too.  Our happy go lucky, friendly dog has changed. She is depressed and in grief. I’m told it will take time and lots of love, just like with people.  When a person loses their life partner sometimes they never recover  and some die of a broken heart. They say dogs have a sixth sense,  are intuitive and feel deeply others emotions. It is true. They feel for us, but what about when they are the one’s doing the feeling? Do they feel and grieve that much more deeply and intensely because they don’t hide it, stuff it or displace it the way humans do?   If love conquers all and is the answer to all, then perhaps that is what our Dublin needs. More time, more affection and assurance. As I finish typing this entry my dog has climbed into my lap and is now fast asleep.
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We hope to bring a new puppy home in another month or so, this time a fawn pug. He’ll  be a companion for Dublin, heck for us too. Will she treat him like a partner or more like a pesky little brother?  I hope  some true healing will occur. I don’t know how this will play out, but I will make another blog post and give you an update on Dublin and puppy.

 

Do you have a pet grief story to share? I would love to hear your story and how your pet is doing now.

 

Quote for September 25, 2014

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Quote for September 23rd, 2014

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month- Be Aware!

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Quote for September 19th, 2014

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Be Strong, Have Hope, Care
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Quote for September 16, 2014

Another fact for September’s Awareness Theme:

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Ice Cream with Eleanor

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Ice Cream with Eleanor

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The Big Gulp of Mountain Dew sat next to her stack of sketch pads and study guides.  Pens, charcoal pencils and twiggy stems, crimson and deep veined great leaves and a cluster of autumn flowers in hues of burnt orange and thick yellow lay strewn around the books. She was drawing the flowers onto a thick sheet of paper, taking time to shade in shadow as the light cast its hand across the page.  She wore a chunky sweater as colorful as the flora before her, the yarn woven into chains of bright red and cool blue. Her wavy thick gray hair cascaded over her shoulders. But what pulled my attention from across the room was her infectious smile that shone through her careworn face and the deep hearty laugh that invited others to join in. I immediately liked her.

Each class, I edged my seat closer to her until finally we met.  Her name was Eleanor and there wasn’t a concept she wouldn’t argue, ask for clarification about or add her years of experience. Eleanor added depth and dimension to our Monday morning bible study. We soon became friends.  During the week, I found  interesting specimens for Eleanor to draw; a shiny chesnut I picked up in the park,  an extra large variegated Maple leaf or fluted Gingko leaf. Eleanor learned I was a writer, and she encouraged my passion by asking to read anything I had written. She celebrated with me when I joined a writing class. We were friends and artists. It didn’t matter to either of us that she was 25 years my senior, learning from her was fun and gave me  a fresh perspective:  my life was just beginning and there was always time to learn.

The class no longer fit my schedule but our friendship did. Eleanor wanted to meet, so I suggested the usual coffee, lunch or dinner venues.  Eleanor had another idea.” Let’s go out for ice cream,” she said plainly. Most of my friends were watching their calories or didn’t mind drinking a glass or two of  their calories instead.  Openly celebrating 30 years of sobriety, Eleanor found the simple pleasure of ice cream a fantastic way to spend an afternoon with a friend.  I couldn’t argue.

Our first outing was at a frozen custard store in an artsy hip area in Seattle called  Capital Hill. Parking isn’t easy in that part of town so I arrived  early. I parked across the street from the frozen custard shop and spotted a store boasting a large sign with a bulldog wearing a large studded leather collar.  I thought to myself “Oh a dog store, I can go shop for my puggies before I meet Eleanor!”  One step into the store and I realized this place wasn’t a pet shop and the collars weren’t for pets.

“May I help you?” a man clad from leather from head to toe asked me suspiciously. “Um no, I’m fine,” I gulped and quickly exited the store. I ran right into Eleanor. Ashen faced she asked me, “Hi what’s wrong with you?” I told her in hushed tones what had happened to me trying to vaguely point. “Oh so that’s the gay S&M shop huh!” Eleanor nearly shouted.  “Shhh!” I whispered horrified realizing in her 70′s Eleanor didn’t worry about being politically correct or if anyone overheard. She also didn’t make fun of me, for which I was quite grateful.

Shortly thereafter, I was thankfully able to divert our attention to the amazingly complex menu of delicious treats at the frozen custard stand. I chose my favorite peanut butter and chocolate and she picked a vanilla and berries concoction. I’d never tried frozen custard and it had an amazing creamy thickness that wasn’t in ice cream nor a soft serve cone variety. After I started my new job, Eleanor met me after work at Baskin and Robbins.  She’d pile her bowl high with heaping scoops of vanilla meeting me with her sketch books in hand, having had been drawing for quite some time before I’d arrive.  She’d always be interested in what I’d have to say and tell me about her latest art class. I was always fascinated in her ability to continue to be so passionate about learning and growing her skills. She asked me what was new in my life and I beamed about just turning 50 and how I still felt so young even though I was nearly half a century. I looked across the table and forgot who I was talking to, my friend who was 76 years old. She smiled wistfully and said, “you are still so young, you have your entire life before you.”

When I moved to Everett, a city just north of Seattle, she insisted on driving up north to meet me for ice cream.  We had just sat down to our usual cups of  her vanilla ice cream and my peanut butter and chocolate when Eleanor said, “At my age your friends start to leave you, they die or just move on. We’ll still be friends wont we? I’ll come see you as long I can. I love a good road trip,” she spoke of the 30 mile drive up 1-5 from Mercer Island. I shook my head yes and reached for her hand. “There will come a time when I won’t be able to make this drive, ” Eleanor continued.  I swallowed  hard, trying not to imagine that day and jumped in to say “Then I will come and see you of course.” “Yes you will, of course,” she smiled.  Eleanor asked me about my latest class and graduate school updates. She loved to hear updates and talked about her fall art classes and bible studies.  We then  made plans to meet for our next ice cream date at Mukilteo Beach. She wanted to sketch the ferry boats and the waterfront.  “Of course they have great ice cream and it’s not too far from where you live,” she insisted.

Friday we met at Mukilteo beach.  The salt air hit my nose as I opened the car door, and I was instantly transported to my girlhood on Cape Cod.  I experienced the same tangy salty smell,  light chilly breeze and cry of seagulls overhead.  I had a few minutes to walk along the pier and gaze on the snow capped Mount Baker in the distance and the white sandy cliffs of Whidbey Island. I spied  Eleanor across the street standing by the ferry terminal. She was reading a newspaper and leaning on her cane.  Her cheerful purple tye dye shirt was as bright as her smile. I called over to her and soon we were wrapped in a warm hug! I pulled three thick slices of banana bread  from my purse, “Here these are for you,” I smiled and handed them to her. ”These look delicious,” Eleanor exclaimed.  It was so good to see her!  I then asked which ice cream shop, she’d like to visit as we had our choice of soft serve or hard. I should have known she’d pick the hard serve across the street.  After purchasing our bowls of vanilla with berries and peanut butter and chocolate, we took our ice cream to a park bench that faced the sound and sat watching the ferries. The sky was a brilliant blue overhead and the waves gently slapped on the shore. We looked at Whidbey Island across the water and spoke of family, being friends and our plans for the fall. It was comfortable and easy  talking together. We made plans for our next ice cream date, at the Everett waterfront next month.  It has a beautiful view, a pretty beach and a great little ice cream shop.

 

Quote for September 12, 2014

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Go Gold


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