Category Archives: Family

Dear 2018

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As 2018 draws to an end I find myself reminiscing the happenings of the year.  Holy moly, it was a MAJOR year for our family.  Not only did we have some huge changes, but we also had a multitude of tiny life events that added to the excitement (and stress) of 2018.

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About a week ago I saw this meme on Facebook and immediately the word that popped into my mind to describe 2018 was “CHANGE”.    We have had so much change.

2018 was our first full year without Leo.  We are still humbled on a regular occasion when strangers contact us thanking us for sharing Leo’s story.  We love knowing that Leo is still touching lives during their time of need, even in his afterlife.  Leo was truly the BEST BOY.  We were blessed to have him in our lives on a daily basis for over 14+ years, from bottle feeding him as a puppy, to having my hand on his chest as he took his final breath on 8/21/2017.  We wholeheartedly thank Leo for every moment we had with him and the lifetime of memories he provided us.

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The beginning of February saw Kuki having oral surgery that removed 8.5 teeth (yes, I do have them saved in a small baggie…they were only the tiny front teeth), and Doc having a double surgery at once.  Doc had his stenotic nares fixed (had no idea they would take so long to heal, but now he is able to breath like a champ), and a large lump between his shoulder blades removed.  I laugh because the vet did internal sutures with Doc’s lump surgery, which left two tiny lumps at the end of his scar line.  Kuki’s surgery went smooth, but her healing was a challenge as she developed a heck of a cough, that took a couple different medications to get under control (of course this crazy mama bear went into panic mode fearing we would lose our girl).

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We opened our hearts and home again, just a few days after Doc and Kuki’s surgeries.  When Leo passed I adamantly said “I can’t do this again” even though I knew that we would have to in the future with Doc and Kuki.  In February of 2018 I was contacted by a client, letting me know about a senior disabled Pug that needed a forever home and that she believed we would be the best home for the Pug.  On February 8th we did our meet and greet, driving hours over an Oregon mountain pass (thankfully snow free), and immediately feel in love.  Her name was Lulu.  This name didn’t stick with her long as we quickly realized that it was her “abuse” name and we wanted her to feel happy and safe.  After a few months the name Wu-Puggy stuck with her.  Wu-Puggy has Pug Myelopathy, causing her to have limited control over her hind legs, bladder, and bowel.  Wu is also prone to UTI’s because of her condition.  During the first couple weeks after adopting  her from the Willamette Humane Society, I honestly questioned if we were the best choice of family for her as she was so much work and her adjustment had been a challenge.  I now regret having those second thoughts as we couldn’t imagine our lives without our loving, curious, spunky little Wu-Puggy.  We did learn that having a senior disabled Pug can be quite expensive.  We did also learn how to express her bladder so that she is finally able to eliminate all of her urine and hopefully in the long-run lessen her amount of UTI’s.  Since learning to express Wu-Puggy she has no longer needs to wear her doggy diapers, which makes her a happy girl.  This also makes us happy as there are no urinary accidents any more, eliminating quite a bit of stress and manual labor (aka LAUNDRY and dog baths).  As of right now we are helping keep Wu-Puggy as healthy and happy as possible with a vast supply of supplements, doggy stretches, and all the love we can give.  To end this Wu-Puggy section we say “ADOPT DON’T SHOP” when it comes to adding a new family member.  Don’t forget the senior dogs.  Don’t overlook the disabled dogs.  They are so full of love and all they want is a family to live out the rest of their days with.

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2018 also brought a long-distance move for our family.  A move back home.  After spending 5.5 wonderful years in beautiful central Oregon we made the decision to move back home to Minnesota.  As you know, moving is stressful!  Now, make that move long-distance, with three dogs (two of which are senior disabled), on a limited budget, a husband that has an amazing amount of stuff,  and without the 100% security that the home we would be moving into would be available by the time we arrived…holy moly stressful.  When all was said and done, we arrived safe and sound.  The move all together from out west to getting stuff out of a storage unit here in Minnesota took just under four months, three separate moving trucks (one giant one for the main move, two for getting stuff from the storage unit), four dump trips, two tow trailers, fifteen different helpers (people helping load, unload, haul, professionally clean, carpet clean, etc.), and well over $4,000…ouch.

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Adjusting to the changes from the move has been a challenge.  Personally, I have never done well with change, the older I get the harder it seems to be to adjust.  New state (well, not a new one as the majority of my life has been in Minnesota), new house, new neighbors, new noises (we hear sirens every day now),  new taxes (yes, MN has more and higher taxes than OR), new utilities, new vet, new job for the hubby, rebuilding my business client base…just a ton of new that was overall good, but extremely challenging at the same time.  My husband got his dream job which is fabulous, but the first four months we were here he had a total of one day off…yes, ONE DAY in four months.  I think that made settling in a little more challenging as I was busy working on rebuilding my pet sitting business, and doing household projects while he was busting his butt at work, meaning the tiny bit of awake time we spent together was essentially just a quick cup of coffee in the mornings and the “how was your day” conversations in the evenings before drifting away to sleep.  Thankfully, with the change in seasons, he does now get some time off and is working to make sure that he will have one day off per week once the busy season starts at his work.  Even though it has taken quite a bit of time, we are both settling in well to our new location.

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This year also brought family, reconnections and new connections.  Moving back to Minnesota helped reunite family.  My husband got to spend his birthday with his son for the first time in many years.  The cool thing about this was his son came down (lives just a couple hour drive away), treated him to lunch, and spent the day at his work with him as he didn’t have the day off…this made my husband’s day.   I hadn’t seen my two sisters or brother in 20-22 years…yes, a lifetime.  Have gotten to spend some time with each of these siblings and their spouses doing a variety of activities from a zoo activity to concerts.  Needless to say, after so many years of not seeing each other or being in contact much, there is a ton of getting to know each other still to do, but now living back in Minnesota and being near family will make this easier.  One of my sisters thought it would be fun for us all to do 23 and Me genetic testing so see what percentage of DNA we shared (as they are full siblings and I am just a half, sharing the same mother).  Much to my surprise the day that 23 and Me contacted with my results I also found out that I have a half-brother from my dad’s side.  It was interesting getting to know him through messages and we look forward to meeting him sometime in 2019.

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This year brought more than reconnecting my husband with his son (they have always been in contact, but getting to live close and see each other has been a plus for both of them).  It brought more than reconnecting me with my two sisters and two brothers (it is interesting saying two there as for 38 years of my life it had only been one).  It brought a connection to quite a few members of my dad’s side of the family.  I was honored to be able to connect with and help a cousin of mine as she went through radiation and chemotherapy in her fight against a brain tumor…she is an amazing person who is showing that tumor who the boss lady is and I think we became part of each others lives at the perfect time.  One of the things I am loving about living back in Minnesota is that we are now close (distance wise) to family again, making it easier to visit, catch-up, etc.  During the summer I also got to meet my Aunt Kathy from my mom’s side of the family that came out from California.  Was also spoiled by a visit from my cousin Dani and her wife Vanessa.

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Lessons I’ve Learned and Knowledge Gained from 2018

  • Change can be scary.  Change can be challenging.  Change can be amazing.  Change can be an excellent learning opportunity.
  • Goodbyes are hard, as are Hellos sometimes.
  • My anxiety sometimes makes me seem like an a$$hole, especially to those people who don’t know me well.
  • I struggle to bond, connect with, and trust others.  When thinking about this in depth I realize that there are few people who actually know me.  Yes, a lot of people know of me, or some things about me, or some things they’ve heard about me from someone else, but not many actually know me.  I am painfully guarded.
  • I am stronger than I believed.
  • I am an over-thinker (even though this isn’t new information).  Sometimes it takes me longer to process things than it does most people.
  • No matter what you do in life you will always be the bad guy in someone’s story.
  • No matter what you do in life you will always be the light in someone’s story.
  • You can’t control what people say about you behind your back, but you can control your reaction (or lack there of).
  • Speaking your truth will be/is one of the hardest things you will ever do in life.  The best you can hope for is understanding, compassion, and that the person/people who you confided in believe and support you.
  • Best friends are just that…the BEST.
  • Family is not only genetics, but the people we chose to have and keep close in our lives.
  • I love my privacy.
  • Some people in our lives will love and support us for exactly who we are.  Of course, on the other hand, there will always be other people in our lives that try to change us and make us not feel like who we are is enough…don’t let those people get to you.
  • Words are powerful.  Words can lift you up.  Words can crush you.  Someone can walk up and slap you in the face, you will immediately be shocked, angry, and in pain, but all of those will go away with virtually no lasting result.  Words on the other hand end up etching deep in your memory and can still cause pain years later.  Learning to not let those words have power over you is a challenge…something I am still working on.
  • Learning new skills is wonderful.
  • When you do something or complete something you are proud of, don’t be ashamed of being proud of it!  Own it!  Seriously, I built gates, stairs, etc. this year and was (am) extremely proud of how good of a job I did and how each of the little projects add up to make a nicer place.  I often struggle with finding good in myself or being proud of myself for anything, so being proud of the projects I completed over the year is a huge step.
  • Dogs are the best therapy.  I love being a professional pet sitter, even if other people don’t consider it a real job.  I get to provide care for, teach, play with, snuggle with, and love so many amazing animals, and for that I am honored.
  • Always take the time to look at a situation from not only your view point, but the other parties point of view.  Kind of like a walk a mile in their shoes.  Take your time to understand them and hope that they reciprocate.
  • I have gained new insight this year into things that trigger my anxiety.  This is priceless.  Every little bit of extra knowledge helps.
  • I realized that I have never felt like I belong.  I wasn’t raised around family.  Heck, didn’t meet the majority of family members from my dad’s side until I was 12 years old.  Unfortunately, this left me feeling like an outsider.  I’ve always felt like an outsider or a flattened tire with my siblings too, like I am just there clinging on, unwanted.
  • There are so many more things I learned, but my brain is now mush at this point and I am just ready for 2018 to be over.  2018 was a great and exhausting year.

 

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Image Credits Creator:wujekjery Credit:Getty Images Copyright:This content is subject to copyright.

Knowing the word that best described 2018 was CHANGE, I found myself thinking about the word I would like to describe 2019.  I would like that word to be STABILITY.  This last year had so many changes that I would like this upcoming year (and hopefully the years following) to offer some stability.  Stability in our home/living situation.  Stability in our dogs’ health.  Stability in our finances.  Stability in our family.  Stability in our relationships…friendships, family bonds, etc.  I have had a lifetime of instability, so having just turned 39 years old I would love to put down the permanent roots and have the security and stability of knowing I belong.  Belong in a place, belong in a family.  Stability, yes, that is a good word for 2019.

 

 

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The Never Goodbye

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I’ve written this blog a hundred times at night as I lay trying to fall asleep, each time slightly different, each time with tears muffled in my pillow. Honestly, I don’t believe that I will ever be ready to write it. I force myself in this moment, with tears in my eyes, and an emptiness in my soul to type this out, as maybe in sharing our loss we will be able to take another small step forward in the healing process.

 

Today, March 11, 2018, would have been Leo’s 15th birthday. Leo didn’t make it to today. Leo lived to be 14 years, 5 months, and 10 days old. Our little old man passed away on August 21, 2017 (the eclipse), in the comfort of his home, surrounded by all the love we could give him. Leo took his final breath with mom’s hand on his little rib cage comforting him at 8:21 p.m. He passed naturally, with no chemical assistance (even though his vet did offer to come to our home and help him pass). Not sure how everyone else is with numbers, but we see Leo’s passing as significant as he took his final breath at 8:21 on 8/21, he wanted us to always remember just how amazing of a boy he was.
In the end Leo’s little body could no longer battle the Cushing’s disease and the cancer, but he sure tried. Leo outlived his vet’s life expectancy guess twice. In January of 2016 we were told we would be “lucky to have a few good months.” In June of 2016 we were told he probably had “a few weeks left.” The mum bear in me couldn’t handle the thought of only a few more weeks, so we made big changes to help keep Leo as healthy and happy as possible. Immediately we changed his diet to 100% homemade full of inflammation fighting and cancer fighting goodness to help him with his battle. We started him on a cannabinoid based supplement. Finally, I stayed home to care for him (though this put us behind, I wouldn’t have it any other way as being there to care for my old boy during the end of his life when he needed me the most was the best thing I could do for him as a pet parent). A diet change, natural supplement, and full-time care helped Leo outlive the vet estimate and gave us more time with him, which of course is never enough.

 
During Leo’s life he taught me many valuable lessons. Leo taught me what unconditional love was as his love the was pure (I am still working on transferring this knowledge to humans). Leo taught me how to put someone else’s needs before my own, as no matter what happened in life I would always put him first. Leo was the love of my life. He was my lifesaver, as I have had dark times where I questioned my need for living, but knew that he needed me and I couldn’t hurt him by ending myself. I loved Leo more than life itself, and told him every day. Leo was my best friend. Leo was my son. People say, “it’s just a dog”, no Leo wasn’t just a dog. I am honored to have called him son, friend, love, lifesaver. He was truly the best boy.

 
Since Leo’s passing we’ve realized how truly amazing it is that one little dog could touch so many lives, both during his life and since his passing. How one little dog could help so many strangers. We get messages on a regular basis thanking us for sharing Leo’s eye enucleation story and providing families with some comfort when it comes to their fur kids going through the same procedure. We love that Leo’s story has helped and is helping so many, it warms our hearts. We’ve also realized how important that connection with others is, that connection that helps others, that connection of family bonds…that human connection. It took an amazing little spunky Boston Terrier named Leo to make us truly think about and appreciate love, each other, others, and the connection that brings us all together.

 
Thank you, Leo, for all the laughs, the memories, the stories, the love. Though we had to say goodbye to your physical presence, we will never say goodbye to your spectacular soul.

 

 

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Happy Golden Birthday Leo!

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Yesterday was our wonderful one-eyed Boston Terrier Leo’s Golden Birthday!  The big 11! I am so lucky and blessed to have this little black and white bundle of joy in my life.  Thank you Leo for being such a great boy!

Samsung Cell Photos 232Over the weekend we did our special birthday tradition where Leo gets to go to the “toy store” and pick out any toy (or two) that he wants.  Leo is yelling at me in this photo because I am not playing like he wants me to!

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Of course, as we all know, you can’t celebrate a birthday, none-the-less a GOLDEN birthday without your own special bowl of ice cream!  Leo got spoiled with ice cream and his very own dog-friendly cupcake.

 

Leo-9 &10 Days Post Surgery

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This is how Leo spent much of his 9th day of healing.

This is how Leo spent much of his 9th day of healing.

You can see that the swelling is pretty much gone, very little bruising.

You can see that the swelling is pretty much gone, very little bruising.

Leo's eye is healing very well.

Leo’s eye is healing very well.

9 days into healing.

9 days into healing.

Top view...looking good.

Top view…looking good.

 

Sorry for combining days 9 & 10 of Leo’s healing progress…we can blame work and a tired Leo mama.   The photos above are from Leo’s 9th day of healing.  The photos below are from today, Leo’s 10th day of healing post surgery.

 

Leo 10 days into healing and wanting to play...I am holding his Hedgy down while he is trying to get it, just so I could get a couple photos.

Leo 10 days into healing and wanting to play…I am holding his Hedgy down while he is trying to get it, just so I could get a couple photos.

Day 10-Leo & Hedgy

Day 10-Leo & Hedgy

All of the kids out on the porch soaking up some sunshine.

All of the kids out on the porch soaking up some sunshine.

Leo is usually a ham, but I think he is starting to get sick of daily photos...look at that dirty look he is shooting me.

Leo is usually a ham, but I think he is starting to get sick of daily photos…look at that dirty look he is shooting me.

Both of us soaking up some love.

Both of us soaking up some love.

Leo 10 days post surgery and looking good.

Leo 10 days post surgery and looking good.

Kuki-Everyone Needs to Smile.

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Kuki-Everyone Needs to Smile.

This is our little Kuki monster, she is a Bug (Boston Terrier/Pug mix). Kuki has one ear that flops over and the other one that is perky, her eyes go in different directions, she has interesting markings…oh, and her tongue is too long for her little mouth, so it is sticking out 99% of the time. Kuki just looks schnockered in this photo or else like she is saying “the schnozzberries taste like schnozzberries!”

Leo-8 Days Post Surgery

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Leo on his 8th day of healing!

Leo on his 8th day of healing!

Leo is very perky, alert and the goal is to play.

Leo is very perky, alert and the goal is to play.

Leo's eye is continuing to look very good.

Leo’s eye is continuing to look very good.

You can see that Leo's bruising is almost 100% gone.

You can see that Leo’s bruising is almost 100% gone.

Leo was in a love-puppy mood, yet every time I tried to take a photo of kisses his tongue wasn't out.

Leo was in a love-puppy mood, yet every time I tried to take a photo of kisses his tongue wasn’t out.

Whoo-hoo, caught a tiny tongue photo.  You can see how good Leo's eye is starting to look in this photo.

Whoo-hoo, caught a tiny tongue photo. You can see how good Leo’s eye is starting to look in this photo.

Another close-up...look how excited Leo looks.

Another close-up…look how excited Leo looks.

Even with just one eye Leo is still a very handsome boy.

Even with just one eye Leo is still a very handsome boy.

"Are you eyeballing me?"

“Are you eyeballing me?”

Leo-1 Week Post Surgery

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It has been exactly 1 week since Leo’s eye removal surgery (enucleation) and he is doing great.  Leo’s vet actually called this morning to check-in on him and she was very glad to hear about how well his healing is going.  Dr. Gayln also reassured me that Leo has internal sutures, so the two sutures that he has had come untied is not anything to worry about.  We love having a vet that truly cares.

 

Leo woke up this morning is a super good mood.  After doing his “business” he literally came into the house sproinging and doing a full body wag.  Leo then got to do one of his favorite things in the whole world, he got to go for a ride…he actually got to go for two rides this morning, lucky boy!  Leo also enjoyed quality time outside soaking up the sun, lots of tummy rubs and long snore filled naps.

 

Leo’s healing progress is still going very well.  Majority of the swelling is gone, there is still a small amount, but it looks much better.  Leo’s bruising in the last few days has gone from a dark purple (he was looking like Rocky) to barely noticeable.  Leo took his final antibiotic this morning (I think he may end up getting the special-just-for-Leo-treat every morning and evening).  Right now the hardest thing for Leo is not being able to play.  Leo loves to run, play tug-of-war, wrestle and all of the other things boys love, but being that he is just a week into his healing we can only let him do gentle play…Leo is taking this poorly, but his brother Doc seems to be taking it worse and neither one of them seem to enthused when we tell them “play gentle”.

 

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