Wordless Wednesday {comfort creature}

comfort creature.jpg

As sad as we both are, I can’t imagine going through this without my comfort creature, my favourite boy Beary.

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After you hear the words that can’t be unheared

We are looking at sooner rather than later to euthanise her … maybe this week.

So, what exactly does go through your head after you hear the words that can’t be unheared?

Monday 6 March
But we have so much left to do.

It’s not fair.

I’m not ready.

Love Bug and Beary aren’t ready.

She and I had a deal. We made it the day she became my family. My friend Martin and she were both to be at my 50th birthday. We shook paws on it!

Is she ready? Really ready? Or is this all a mistake? Is there something else I should have done? Could have done?

{Ridiculously} maybe the vet just wants this over? I told you, ridiculous right? Particularly considering he said to me that this was always going to be extra tough on us because he knows how loved she is – and that she’s one of their most loved patients.

The vet nurse got all teary when she was saying goodbye. And she has only known us for a couple of years.

‘We will hold out for a miracle on Monday with her results and we won’t make any plans before then.’

How am I supposed to read an information card about pet cremation when I can’t see straight. At one point I thought there may have been an earthquake, or at least a tremor, because I felt myself wobble. Actually, it’s happened a few times.

When I think I’m okay for the moment, something happens and I think ‘but I will be doing that without Bella for the first time in a long time’.

She has been my everything. In the past 11½ years I have had her by my side while I have faced big life rocks:

  • Recovered from my most broken heart
  • Had my home broken into while I slept – she chased the bad guy away
  • A date that went horribly wrong {she chased that bad guy away too}
  • Moved house … six times
  • Lost my job through redundancy … twice
  • Welcomed Beary into our world
  • Thought a LOT about having a baby
  • Welcomed that baby, making us a family of four
  • Lived through a nightmare and the ensuing court case
  • Started big school
  • Started dating again

… and that’s just the big stuff.

She’s had more tears cried into her fur than I could count.

We’ve curled up to read Harry Potter, twice. And more other books than I can remember.

We’ve written a blog, making friends around the world.

She greets me every day at the front door, tail wagging, gift of one of her toys in her mouth, and offering for my safe return to her.

She’s been my little spoon. With the exception of being physically away from her, and in the late stages of my pregnancy {although even then she was within touching distance and generally had a paw or head resting on me somewhere} I have gone to sleep knowing she was beside me. Feeling her warmth and the rise and fall of her breathing descending into snoring as her sleep deepened. How will I fall asleep now? Sleep has never been the greatest of eases for me, but knowing I could pull Bella into my arms always brought me comfort.

Before anyone suggests Beary, he is only a snuggler on his terms. If I try to pull him to me in the night he’ll jump off the bed entirely. If he wants to snuggle though, it’s totally fine. Dare I say it? Such a boy: if it’s his idea it’s a good one! He does give amazing cuddles though, so I hope he decides they’re a good idea sooner than later.

For her garbage emptying escapades and her deep snoring which is loud enough for the neighbours to hear, she has always been such a lady, tucking her tail between her legs as she lays down. She is stoic. Whether this is from me poking and prodding her everywhere since the day we met, or because she was abandoned as she was as a pup I’ll never know. As much as this characteristic has been a blessing during our many years of vet visits, needles, little operations, thermometers, nail clipping and so on, now I’m not so sure it will work in our favour as her tumour grows. Pain is the last thing I want for her. We have meds to lessen anything she may be feeling. She hasn’t given any physical indicators as yet, other than not wanting anyone to touch the left side of her face. She is my puppy so hopefully I will just know.

I’m not going to enjoy being able to walk freely around my house without checking that there’s someone on the floor beside me, or just around the corner, or in the most awkward of spots. To walk without fear of tripping over a bundle of fuzzy love is something I’ve forgotten how to do.

Will I hold her like little spoon when they give her the needle? Or will I lay in front of her so she can look in my eyes. I want to hold her close while she takes her last breath, but I want to look at her so she knows I’m with her. That I have been with her in this life and I am entirely sure our souls will meet again. The thought that they won’t is just too much to bear.

I didn’t want to have any part in making this decision. I wanted us to die in our sleep holding paws when we’re old. Really old. Really really old.

For my whole life, even more so since becoming vegan {and in the years prior as a vegetarian}, animal neglect, cruelty and abuse have been abhorrent to me. I don’t know how anyone can bring a companion animal into their family then mistreat them. In the past few days, notification of such things is cutting even deeper than it usually does. One Facebook post reduced me to tears in a heartbeat – the utter neglect of a family’s “pet” dog who had been left in the back garden tied up for 11 years and had just been surrendered. I wrote: I can not understand people. I have loved my dog for 11.5 years and was told by our vet that I am losing her because of an insidious cancer. My world is rocked to the core and I am broken – my heart shattered into a million irreparable pieces. Which is how you should feel after being lucky enough to spend 11 years with a dog. I’m going to give my Bella another cuddle.  {Sadly, that dog died just days later due to complications of being so badly treated.}

Bella, Bellalicious, Bella the wonderpup, my puppy, fuzzy soulmate, princess Bella, loved up pup – I feel like nothing I say to her or about can ever be enough. I’m worried I will miss something, or forget something really important that she’s been to me or helped me through. How can I repay the immense and overwhelming love she has given me for over a decade. How can I adequately and eloquently put into words the impact she has had on my life? On my heart? The lessons she has taught me? How little did I know and how insanely I underestimated that scrap of a dog who leapt into my arms when I asked “are you my puppy?” all those years ago in a rescue foster home many miles away.

So I will say this from the bottom of my irreparably broken heart: thank you Bella. For being my dog. For being the best dog. For being my confidant, my friend and my family. My heart is in more pieces than I had ever imagined possible. I will miss your precious spirit and presence in my life with a force that threatens to crush me.

I will always love you.

Tuesday 7 March
My shadow. I have worked from home today and my little shadow has been with me no matter what room I’m in. She has always done this. I’m sure going to miss it.

The interminable wait for the vet’s call with the pathology results continues.

Wednesday 8 March
The call came. There will be no miracle. Now to get our heads around saying goodbye. How?

Thursday 9 March
I spoke to the vet again last night. No further news despite further testing. He thinks she probably only has a few weeks at most so will monitor her over next few days but we both agree for her not to decline for the sake of me having extra days with her so still probably next Thursday 💔 Vet does home visits between 1 and 4pm … I can pick Love Bug up from school at normal time then we can all be together for it. I don’t work Fridays so I will be home {grieving and with Beary} and Love Bug can either go to school or stay home. Or if she goes to school but then wants to come home it’s easier. Then the 3 of us have the weekend together. We may all be okay or we may all be a sad sack in bed for the weekend. It’s just the day that gives us the most time together after. The tumour is growing rapidly so I don’t want Love Bug’s memories of her to be with a deformed face or bulging eye, or in pain. Bella is still a happy tail wagging puppy right now. She’s keen to share any food we have and she is not apparently in any pain {although she does flinch if you go near the left side of her face}. Her breathing and bleeding from her left nostril are the issues. I don’t want her in distress {which has been increasingly happening with her breathing – although she is fine after short bursts}. I want to say goodbye to her with as much dignity as we can, and if we can do it in a non-emergency kind of situation that would be ideal.  We {me, Love Bug and Beary} want and need to remember her as the happy, tail wagging puppy who went go, in peace, in her own home with her favourite people around her and not in an emergency room which is filled with anxiety and worry and strange smells. Obviously I want her to live forever. I have been second-guessing myself constantly. And the vet. But I think that boils down to the huge burden it is to be involved with ending the life of someone so loved.

I have been taking even more photos and filming more than usual – I just wish I could bottle the smell of her paws and the top of her head and feel forever the soft velvet of her precious ears 😢💔

She elicits love and emotion from many people who are self-professed “not dog people”. Probably because she’s not your average dog!

Monday 13 March
I did it. I called the vet. Then I thought better of it and sent an email instead. Easier to type and cry than talk and cry.

My biggest fear for me: without Bella being accredited as such, she has absolutely been my service/therapy dog. My anxiety has been crippling in the past few weeks but she’s been there with me. I can barely breathe when I think about facing the swamp without her.

Thursday 16 March
I’m so sad. I’ve had such rotten nights the past 2. Tuesday I didn’t go to bed until 1:30am. Maybe if I didn’t go to sleep the future wouldn’t come? Last night I went to bed relatively early and Love Bug went to bed relatively late. The four of us climbed into my bed and snuggled up together. We all slept fitfully and I had awful nightmares. About Bella being euthanised before I could say goodbye. About a predator getting under my radar with Love Bug. About all manner of other awful things.

Today I feel like I’m walking in a swamp. Or a fog. My head is pounding, my anxiety is awful, despite my medication and extra natural remedies. My heart is shattering.

Thank heaven for my beautiful mumma who is here pottering around and keeping Love Bug looked after. I feel like I’ve run out. I’ve had so much care and concern and thought and planning for the three of us leading up to today, but today I’ve got nothing. Bella also has nothing today. I had to lift her onto the bed this morning. She ate her breakfast but hasn’t wanted a kong with peanut butter so that really tells me something. Her eye is obviously swollen today and the blood from her nose is consistent. She looks tired. Each time I move more than a few inches away from her she seeks me out and makes sure her paw is touching me, or she is leaning on me.

And there goes another crack in my heart. Beary is subdued. He keeps sniffing both of us and licking Bella’s face as if trying to fix her cancer with his love. If love alone could fix her, she would no doubt live forever.

Her last meal was a bed picnic of peanut butter sandwiches, some cheese and ice cream {vegan of course!}.

Later that evening
I feel like I’m in a total fog – other than the insanely focused things around me. Bella’s favourite toy. Beary digging the blanket to try to get her out once she’d passed. The lovely vet unwrapping her so he could say his goodbyes. The guttural scream from Love Bug. The look in Love Bug’s eyes when she said she remembered something that she hadn’t done with Bella – and now she couldn’t do it. The emergency services sign on my door that alerts 2 dogs living here. I dropped a blueberry on the floor and had to pick it up myself. I haven’t done that in almost 12 years.

She’s gone. My precious puppy of love is gone. It rips my heart to shreds. Beary {despite being mildly sedated} is walking around the house from room to room sniffing everything and whimpering.

The vets came to us at home and they were lovely. They commented that she was bright but so tired and what a kind thing we were doing for her. It sure doesn’t feel that way right now. Because of the tumour she has had some trouble breathing. Normally when this has happened she just lifts her head, but because she’d been give the sedative she couldn’t lift her head, and her breathing was laboured and distressed. That broke my heart a little more.

I told her it was okay to go. That she could not possibly have been a more magnificent dog or a better friend. And that I loved her more than I had ever imagined. They increased the dose and her breathing settled, and then she was gone. That last few moments went by in an instant. I wanted to scream out stop, don’t do this, bring her back to me. Selfish I know, but oh for one last night falling asleep to the dulcet tones of her snores, feeling her warm little body rise and fall beside me.

bella

I am empty. There is a big hole where my heart should be. There is no adequate way for words to express the impact Bella had on my life.

There is no good time to say goodbye to a love so strong. So instead I’ll say I’ll be seeing you my sweet love.

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Broken and lost

It’s been 48 hours and the only two words I can use to adequately describe my state right now are: broken and lost. 

I keep thinking I should do things like clean the house, tidy up the back garden in between deluges of rain, change the linen on my bed, make a banana cake for Love Bug for school lunches this week, read. But I can’t seem to actually do any of it. 

I want to lay on my bed and hold onto Beary and let my tears come when they come. He looks as broken and lost as I feel. We have been all but inseparable for two days and nights. 

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We took Love Bug to school yesterday morning and made drop off last as long as we possibly could. We got coffee. We filled up the car with petrol. We went to another place to put air in the tyres. Whether they needed it or not. We went to the pet store to buy Beary a new halter. Eventually we had to come home.

I opened the front door and he bounded down the hallway tail wagging, looking for his best friend. He went from room to room then looked at me with that gorgeous goofy face of his and whimpered. It was like he only just remembered.

Last night we were on the couch together and he heard a noise. He looked up, glanced at me then stared at the door for a full minute, ears alert. As the seconds wore on I watched him deflate, realising that she was not there.

A home with no Bella doesn’t feel like a home. Opening the door without the rhythmic thumping of her tail on the wall as she eagerly awaits my arrival feels wrong. Not seeing her happy face there carrying a gift of a toy to welcome me home was like a knife through my heart.

Part of me wants to leave the house exactly as it is. Exactly. Not clean for fear I will get rid of all fibres of her that are floating around. Not put away her food bowl, but leave it there next to Beary’s forever. Not clear out the garden for poop between torrential downpours of rain for fear of getting rid of every part of her. Not wash the blankets on my bed which still have her fur stuck to them and her blood stains from where the rotten tumour attacked her nose.

Another part of me wants to close the door to the house and never go back in. To move somewhere else immediately, so that I don’t see shadows of her around every corner. So that I don’t hear her footsteps in the hall, when there are no footsteps there at all. 

It was a cool night last night. I got into bed. It was the first properly cool night we’ve had in a long time. The turn of weather that would have seen Bella nuzzle under my arm and burrow under the covers to curl up behind my knees. When she warmed up she’d wriggle back up far enough that her nose poked out from under the covers, but not too far that she couldn’t snuggle in and be my little spoon.

I am worried I’ll forget. Forget her smell. Forget her warmth. Forget how her ears feel. Forget the sunshine/dirt/popcorn smell of her paws. Time will be my saviour and my terror. It will take from me things I can’t bear to part with.

Oh how I miss her. With a force that crushes my chest.

 

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An obituary for my dog

 Bella Destiny {loved up pup, Bella the wonderpup, Belle, honey, sweet pea, honeybun [Love Bug’s favourite of late], buddy, precious, pup pal, fuzzy love, fluff bum, fuzzy soul mate, grand-pup, my heart dog}, 11 years 10 months 4 days. Late of Lilyfield, Leichhardt and Surry Hills. After a brief battle with a cancerous tumour, Bella died peacefully at home on her mumma’s bed shortly before 3pm AEDT on 16 March 2017 surrounded by those she loved most dear.

Born on 12 May 2015 and abandoned as a 2-week old pup with her brothers and their mumma in the greater west of Sydney, Bella was taken in by a rescue group and fostered until her mumma found her while glancing at rescue sites. Her name at that time was Destiny and she was a little under 9 weeks old. She waited for her mumma to move from an apartment to a house, warding off all other potential adopters, until that fateful day in August 2005 when they became family forever.

Educated at puppy school, Bella spent a great number of years teaching her mumma the important things in life. Get so excited that you pee a little when you see someone you love. Live in the now. If someone drops the crusts of their peanut butter toast act quickly. Furniture can be replaced, so if you feel like snacking on it, go right ahead. Have patience. You are perfect just the way you are, so don’t change for anyone. One outfit really can take you from bed to black tie. {Okay, so maybe that one really does only work if you’re a dog!} Love fiercely and demonstrably. Live every day as though it were the most precious day ever – because they all are and eventually goodbyes must be made. Before that day comes, store as much love in your heart as you can. Breathe your loved ones in. Hold them. Appreciate them.

Bella’s hobbies were many, some of her favourites: knee resting – the perfect skill of placing your snout on someone’s thigh with just enough pressure that they can’t help but look into your pools of chocolate eyes and hand over their dinner; airspace regulation – if you’re a bird or a plane and you’re flying over our home, you’d better know that’s out of bounds; garbage game – if you see trash that’s still tidy in the container, tip it over and have a dig through it – there’s treasure to be found; sleep well – this is particularly important as the dulcet tones of your snores will keep your people calm; bitey face – a rambunctious game of bitey face {or five} each day will keep your blood pumping. It will also remind your baby brother who’s boss. Also leaning is a great hobby if you can master it … lean ever so on the person you love most. Not so much as to topple them, but enough for them to feel your love.

Bella is survived by her completely heartbroken mumma, her human sister Love Bug, her brother from another puppy mother Beary, her doting grandma, aunty Shannon and uncle Kieron and fuzzy cousin Barker.

Having family who are responsible pet owners, Bella had been neutered and leaves no offspring. She does leave behind many many friends – some surprising ones over the years as she became the gentle soul dog for every I’m not a dog person she ever met.

Bella’s body was taken away by our lovely vets, and her ashes will be returned to us.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your local rescue. Better still, go adopt some fuzzy love of your own.

Please watch these pages for a eulogy in coming days.

bella soft

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We need a miracle

We need a #miracle. Please talk to your #guardianangel and put in a good word for us. Send love, courage and more love our way please. #pawcircle #adoptdontshop #bella #bff #bond #dog #dogstagram #fuzzysoulmate #fuzzylove #unconditionallove #seniordog #tumour #tumor #cancer #family #forever

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An inoperable tumour

Wednesday afternoon
I’m glad I took notes because after I hung up all I could hear repeated in my ears was: an inoperable tumour … palliative care … wish I had better news … she’s had a good long life … we will know which of the four tumours it is after the weekend.

None of these things can be unheard.

None of them.

There were other long words and more conversation. I asked some questions. The vet answered, but I don’t know that I heard too much that made sense.

None of it makes sense. She loves to rifle through the garbage. Surely she just inhaled something that got stuck in her nostril? That was what was causing her to have issues of late. They would take the foreign body out and she would be back to normal.

They can’t take a tumour out. Not this one. Not because of where it is. Or what it is. Or how old she is. Or the fact that these types of tumours are death sentences by the time they are found.

I only got her yesterday. It seems like that and yet I can’t imagine my adult life without her. She has been my soul mate, my best friend, my source of unconditional love and companionship, my therapy dog throughout the rollercoaster of the past decade.

I am in shock. I am horrified. I am crushed and overwhelmed. I want the world to stop and I want to go back in time an hour. Or two. Or a year. Yes, a year. I want to travel backwards in time a year and take her to the vet as soon as she sneezes more than once a day and find it when it is a spec and have it removed. And if they can’t find anything a year ago, I will take her again eleven months ago, and ten months ago. As far ago as I need to.

Blank. That’s what I feel. Actually, I don’t know how to feel. Someone else should probably feel for me because although I can see my fingers moving on the keyboard, I don’t feel like they are attached to me. I feel like this is some alternate universe and this is all happening to someone else.

What happens when the vet delivers such devastating news about your beloved dog? Does the world really just keep turning?

A few hours later …
Thankfully our favourite vet nurse was there when I arrived to pick Bella up. I managed to get through the fact that I wanted to pay the gap and have them claim the rest from our insurance … only just. She said to me that she hadn’t expected today’s outcome either. As soon as the other nurse brought her up to me I sat on the floor and held my puppy and started to cry. Everyone in the waiting room gave me the look I’ve given before when people walk out in tears with their fuzzy loves. The look that says we feel for you but we are sure glad we aren’t in your shoes.

We got into the car and Bella sneezed three times – as violently as she has been for the past couple of weeks – but this time blood went everywhere. At which stage Love Bug joined the tears. There was blood all over me and the car. At this moment though I would have given my arm to have her blood all over me than not have her with me at all. It was in this moment too though that Love Bug knew. She asked me why the vet hadn’t fixed Bella’s nose, then – without waiting for a response said “she’s going to die isn’t she mumma? I really don’t want her to die.”

That night …
In the past few hours,I have cried buckets of tears into her fur. I have held onto those beautiful velvet ears and kissed them. I have told her what an amazing friend she has been to me. I’ve told her that I don’t want to be without her but that my gorgeous bright puppy with the happiest tail on earth just needs to let me know. I don’t want her to be in pain. I’d never want that for her.

For now, I need to prepare myself. Prepare Love Bug. Prepare Beary. As much as I can. I honestly don’t think there really is any way to be able to truly prepare for losing your family. My heart is starting to shatter and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

For now, I’m going to breathe in those paws that smell like dirt, sunshine and popcorn. I’m going to tell her I love her every moment of every day. I’m going to love hearing the clip clip clip of her paws on the floorboards as she wanders to see where I am. I’m going to enjoy opening the door and seeing her on the other side, her happy tail wagging, the gift of her favourite toy in her mouth for me as she has done every time she has greeted me in the past 11 and a half years.

All four of us are going to sleep in my bed tonight. I imagine we will all sleep together for the foreseeable future. Beary spent a considerable amount of time sniffing Bella’s points where she’d had a drip and needle. And her snout. He’s been sniffing her snout for a while now. Anyone who lives with more than one animal knows that they know. How long had he been trying to tell me?

We settle into bed. A jumble of snuggled up limbs, tears, furs and varying depths of breath. We sleep fitfully but all together.

Thursday morning …
None of us wanted to get out of bed, it was as if the moment one of our feet/paws touched the floor everything would be real again. Love Bug and I didn’t want to leave the house. Adulting is the last thing I felt like doing. Obviously, I don’t want Bella to be in any pain. She actually flinched and pulled away from me when I touched her snout this morning. I understand that she is probably still hurting from being poked and prodded under anaesthetic yesterday, but it absolutely broke me.

I spoke to a friend who said goodbye to her beloved dog late last year and asked her how I prepare myself. She said you can’t. The answer I expected but also feared most. She also said that having another dog really helps provide comfort during your time of grief. She also said this “we had the most awesome bond and she had an incredible life – darling Bella is equally as lucky”.

Work was hard. I don’t know how many times I wished I could call Beary to check in on Bella. Or how many times I cried. I want to be at home with my fuzzy loves.

I plan to be by her side as much as I can be for as long as we’ve got.

The wait for pathology results on Monday seems interminable. At least then I will hopefully have some idea of how long we have. However long that is, it will never feel long enough.

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Senator Love Bug

Wandering home from school on Tuesday and Love Bug just casually drops into the conversation that she has been voted one of two Class Senators.

For my somewhat reserved Love Bug this is a huge deal. I had such a proud mumma moment. We’re off to assembly this Friday morning when the Senators are officially announced. She thinks she might even get a badge.

Gah, so cute.

Senator Love Bug {who has also started tennis lessons}

Senator Love Bug
{who has also started tennis lessons}

Yesterday they voted for their class Green Team {the environmental team} Representative. Even though they couldn’t vote again for the people they had nominated as Senators, Love Bug told me that one of the boys said he had voted for her again because you’re so great.

I couldn’t agree more!

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