Finding Joy Through Doggie Heartache
This past weekend, it was our Rusty's time to become our angel. And, boy, what an angel he's going to be!! I had written a post last Friday, but while typing it, I was just so full of tears so I just deleted it. It wasn't the time to share.
And, I'm not writing this to make you cry...there's lots of smiles on the way! I promise!! :)
Rusty came down with blood in his urine the Friday after Christmas. We had him on some UTI meds, but they didn't seem to be working. So, every Friday, since that Friday, he'd been going to the vet for the day to be monitored and to see if we could find some answers.
This past October, we boarded him while we went on a family trip to Disney World. He was supposed to have this teeth cleaned and have some lumps looked at, but they didn't do it because one of his kidney numbers was a little high. But, the doc said they weren't in a very, very high range and that he was OK.
We just had to switch his food to a kidney prescription one and then we brought him back in a month to see how he was. Everything seemed to be going fine. And when you'd look at Rusty, you wouldn't have any idea that something was up. Happy as can be and so full of life and energy and still eating every little crumb that fell on the floor.
The first week he was on his meds for the UTI, from what I saw, his urine seemed pretty back to normal. So when D picked up that Friday, I was shocked that he still had blood showing up. The doc switched him to a different med and that's when Rusty started vomiting.
That next Friday they concluded that it wasn't a UTI and to take him off of his meds so they could further test that next Friday. They told us it was the meds that was causing him to vomit, so we had to wait a few days. A few days went by, and he still didn't want to eat much. He definitely looked at me like he was hungry, but he didn't want the dry food. So I went to the vet and got him some canned food. He ate it, but it didn't stay down.
He ate some peanut butter and some treats, but then the eating of peanut butter stopped. And when that stops, that's when I know he's not right.
I knew something was wrong and I honestly thought it was going to be treatable. But, this past Friday, when I dropped him off, I was SO emotional. His urine was just full of blood. And, deep down, I just knew he wasn't getting better. Especially since it had been almost 2 weeks since he'd eaten or kept anything down. :(
Thursday, I thought he was getting better. I got him some different food to eat at the grocery store, because at this point, I just wanted him to eat something...anything!! He ate it and then he went outside and he rolled around in the dirt, like he ALWAYS did when he was feeling good and he even laid out in the sun for a bit. He came back in, looking happy and he even followed me around in the kitchen while I was cooking again. He played with his toys and his urine was looking better, too!!
So, yeah, I really thought it was going to be treatable.
D had gone on a business trip, last Wednesday, and I was going to pick him up that Friday afternoon. When I took Rusty out that Friday morning, the blood was back, big time and he didn't eat again. He even vomited that morning. I was SO shaky and my emotions were high.
D had been taking him to vet for me, so this day, I had to take him. I took him in before I dropped C off at school, because I wasn't sure how long he'd make it in the car if his tummy was off.
As I drove up, I began to get emotional. While talking to the woman at the front desk, I was holding back my tears. I had to recite the months events over again. SO hard!!
Then, while walking back to the car, I was still trying to hold back my tears, because I didn't want C to see me cry. Once in the car, she asked me, "Why does your face look like that?" Then I lost it, started crying and I told her, "I'm just sad because I want Rusty to get better." And she said, "Me too. I want Rusty better, too!"
The rest of the day, I was a mess. When I was on my way to pick up D at the airport that afternoon, the doc called telling me Rusty's blood work and his X-ray weren't good...at all.
I cried the entire drive down because I just knew. :(
We all went to the vet together and D talked to the doc while I waited in the car with the kids. The longest 20 minutes of my life!! Luckily, D asked the vet if we could take him home for one last night with us so we could say our goodbye's and I've been crying ever since.
If you read my blog, you might remember me posting about how ever since I've had C, I've had SO much mommy guilt with Rusty. You can read where I wrote about how my heart was SO full of mama guilt with him here.
So that night, I loved him up as much as I could (and even for as long as he'd let me, because he'd get up and move to a spot away from us to be alone...which was SO weird, because he NEVER wanted to be alone his entire life).
I cried...I apologized...I thanked him...and I told him over and over and over again how much I loved him. As I did this, I felt comfort come over me, because I really felt like he was telling me he understood by the way he was looking at me.
It reminded me SO much of when I saw my grandmother at the nursing home when she had her late stages of Alzheimer's a few years back. I just knew in her eyes she knew who I was and that I was there. I knew she knew Damian was by my side and that my parents were there too. I just felt it and her eyes just said it all. It was amazing!
I felt this same connection with Rusty. Which made me feel better.
This past weekend was tough, but it's been more tough this past week. Rusty had been glued to my leg for 10 years. Well, almost 10. His 10th birthday is February 28th. So, it's definitely a big adjustment with him not under my feet while I'm walking around tending to my kiddos.
But as I've gone through these days of adjustment, I've realized that I did give more love than I thought I did. I was focused on him more than I thought I was. And, I talked to him all day long.
I see now that I was so much more focused on the things that I wasn't doing instead of things that I was doing.
I focused more on how I was frustrated with him...that I didn't give him as much love and play that he deserved...that I stopped taking him on walks because it became too much for me with the kids...that we hadn't taken him to the beach and swim in SO long (something he LOVES to do!!)...that I stopped giving him treats because his treats now were the kids food, that I could NEVER get him to stop eating.
When, really, looking back, I WAS loving him up all day long by making sure I was feeding him and then I was always talking to him when he was by us and showing Luca, "RUSTY!!" and always telling him where we were going when were leaving and always telling him he was a good boy when we returned to the house and how I always smiled when I saw him making my kiddos smile and laugh while being his awesome doggie self.
I hugged him when he was SO scared of the fireworks in our neighborhood and I was always trying to find a place in the house that made him feel safe while they went off. I was SO happy he finally found my closet for that comfort.
And, while looking back at his pictures, I'm brought back to how he lived such an awesome doggie life that showered him with SO much love and adventure!!
I had two other dogs while growing up, but I was always the sister. Rusty is my first dog that I was mommy too. And same for D, too.
We got him on Guam a few days after I joined D there after I graduated with my teaching degree in Florida. He was in the back of the pet store because he had kennel cough. We walked over and saw him and he nibbled and bit our fingers as we said hello.
Then we walked away to go look at the other lab puppies, who were just lounging around and sleeping. I looked up and Rusty had somehow figured out how to get his water bowl way up in the air. When I saw that, I told D, he's the one!!
We didn't leave the store with him initally, because out on Guam, dogs our super duper expensive. So we left, talking it over. Well, we really didn't talk it over, we just sat there figuring out what we'd name him, which only took us 5 minutes.
Rusty! Yes, Rusty!! That's it!
So went back and the rest is history.
He was born in Australia, and the other day, while looking back at his paperwork, I noticed the website address for the Vet that gave him his 6 8 week vaccinations. I looked them up and he was born in Melbourne. So that was fun to see!! We always said he had a accent...an Aussie bark! :)
He LOVED life to the max!! Some say he was hyper, but that made me mad. He wasn't a hyper dog, he was just so full of happy energy!! And, he LOVED people and he HATED when were not all together as family.
As soon as Damian would leave for work, he'd go nutso on me. Like here, when I was blow drying my hair...yep, he loved to have his fun!! LOL!
He drove me nuts, but he made me laugh even more!!
Our first family photo for our Christmas card...yep..it was fun and I'm surprised we actually got one with him settled and looking forward. LOL!
When he wasn't swimming in the Pacific Ocean, he was having a blast with the hose. Man, did he LOVE this. He even put a hole in my parents house at their house in Florida because we put it away and he wanted us to know he wasn't done, so he tried to pull it back out himself. Our smarty!! :)
We moved back to Florida a year later and we took him camping.
More fun in the ocean, but his time it was Atlantic style. :)
And, he even got to see the southernmost point with us. :)
After spending two years in Florida, we moved up to Virginia. Our first year there, we had to buy this lovely kitchen bar because we didn't have enough cabinets. We came home to this kinda stuff A LOT!! He lived to eat!! :) SO many stories to tell like this one, which, really, was always my fault because I'd forget to put something away.
That would be flour and yeast that he got into...see his paws in the corner...he knew he was a bad boy!! :)
But we could never stay mad at him long...I mean, really, a dog that can hold 3 toys in his mouth is sure to make you laugh and smile. :)
He LOVED car rides...and just like with this everything else, he was determined to get what he wanted. Waiting and just waiting for that car ride. :)
He experienced his FIRST snow!! Although, he wasn't really sure to make of it each time he was in it.
And, he got to experience what it's like to LOVE when Spring time comes around after a long winter!! Woohoo!! Get me in that water!!! :):) I was pregnant with C here.
He was a great model for when I got my first SLR. I had so much fun snapping his handsomeness.Especially when he cocked his head in this way when I asked him, "Do you wanna go to the beach??"
He was ALWAYS looking out the window waiting for Damian to come home from class.
Once C arrived, he took over our bed in the wee hours of the night. LOL!
Her bond with him began and he was so gentle with her. The best ever!! And so heart warming!!
Even though she started taking over HIS trampoline, he was always by her side when she played.
There were many times this week, while walking around the house I was thinking that I saw him laying on our beds. I'm SO grateful we were able to provide lots of coziness for him.
And, when she came close, you could tell he loved her as much as she him. :)
He wasn't the only one waiting for Daddy to come home anymore or to check and see who was outside walking by or dropping a box at the door, either. :)
And when I got on the floor to play with C, he was always playing right there with us and pushing his toys on us. It would NEVER miss a moment of playtime.
As much as he LOVED the hose, we wasn't a fan of taking baths. Ha! What a face!!
As I look at the picture below, I see that buddy boy was very well taken care of with treats, when I used to walk around thinking I didn't give him as much love when it came to this department anymore. (Oh, and not to mention how many times C would yell...MOOOOOOM!!! Rusty's trying to get my food!!!!" and be SO upset with him. Yep, sibling love. :)
Our handsome boy...
who LOVED life to the fullest.
And who was ALWAYS by our side. He was a lover of family BEing together and that's something I'm always going to keep in my heart. He was the perfect fit for our little family in this way, because there's nothing more than we love too...and that's all of us BEing together and savoring it up!!
The next night, while walking through the house, trying to adjust to him not under my feet, I looked outside really quick (which I was trying not to do on this day because I'd get emotional looking outside in HIS backyard, and I still do) and I saw this sunset. I hadn't seen one like this...ever...since we moved here 4 years ago. It was just what I needed!! It warmed my heart and lifted my spirit.
Then, on Monday, Brene Brown posted this on her Facebook page in honor of Martin Luther King day...and I just had to save it. It spoke wonders to me at the most perfect time.
I've been very heavy with sadness this entire weekend and this week, but there has been lots of lovely light as well. I have lots of mommy guilt that I'm trying to let go of and I'm trying to come to terms with how suddenly this happened. I really thought Rusty would be with us for another two years.
I always called him my energizer doggie because the only time I ever saw him down for the count was when he was a puppy and he ate a bandaid. And this dog has gotten into EVERYTHING!! He even ate every type of chocolate out there...dark, milk, raw, brownies, chocolate chips...all of it!!
Other than that, he's always been up and full of happy energy.
Even during this time that he was sick, I never thought he was 100% off...I kept saying to my mom that he seemed like he was 10% or 20% off. Even when he wasn't eating, he still was running around with toys when D pulled up the drive way and he was still moving to the rooms we were in and laying by us.
But, that last day, he wasn't himself at all. He didn't even jump up and greet our babysitter like he always had in the past, and actually just did two weeks ago.
So I new something was up, especially that Friday. I knew before the doc even told us. But, I spent that entire week trying to push away those thoughts that this might be his time, just because nothing "bad" was showing up in his testing and I didn't want to think that if it was treatable.
So yeah, I'm adjusting over here. I feel better today and when I go through his pictures, I begin to focus more on all the fun he had in life and that makes me feel better.
I don't know what I'd do without pictures. They're truly SO powerful and SO healing. It's when I look through pictures like this when I get even more connected as to why I take the pictures I do.
So keep snapping away and who cares how many pictures you take...because, in the end, you'll be happy you have SO many SAVOR!! They make you smile and they fill your heart with happy love!!
C asked me a lot, when she saw me crying, as to why I was sad. When I'd tell her I was missing Rusty, she ran over to his pictures that I placed on our kitchen windowsill and she pointed at him, and she said, "Look! He's right there!" And then she repeated the words I've been telling her, "He's right here, mommy...in your heart!"
And I just smiled and I was SO thankful that I told her these words. I also told her that when you think of him, you begin to smile and you start to FEEL all warm and fuzzy. I said, that's how you know he's in your heart. Because, when I told her he's in her heart, she said, I don't feel him.
So it's nice to hear my own words being said back to me, because I always need this reminder!! :)
She hasn't asked about him all week, but today, after picking her up from school she gave me this picture she drew. She said it's for me to look at while she's at school so I can miss her. :) I knew she was saying this because of the pictures I put up of Rusty.
I asked who she drew and she said, "Mommy, Luca, Camille, Daddy and Rusty (he's yellow!)." This is exactly what I needed and she made me smile and of course, had me in happy tears.
So I'm feeling better today. Still a little sad, but I'm not drowing myself in Vanderpump Rules and Keeping up with the Kardashians as much as I was at the beginning of the week, so I could keep my mind off it for a little bit.
I know it's going to take time, but I'm SO grateful we were the ones to take our sweet, buddy boy home from the Guam pet store so we could love him up.
We LOVED him SO much and he was a BIG BIG part of our lives. Born an Aussie. Found his family on Guam. Stayed a night in Hawaii. Met his best friend in Florida (my parents dog) and visited the Southern most point. Experienced snow fun in Virginia and partied it up, New Orleans style. What an adventure he had.
I'm SO happy my kids were able to be in his life and that they were able to experience all the fun and laughs Rusty brought us.
I wish he could of been with us just a little bit longer, but I know he's happy and feeling better than ever now. And, I know he's with us...always.
And I know this, because I'm able to find JOY while my heart aches. :)
Until next time...
Take it from our dog Rusty that life is SO SO SO SO SO SO GOOD...and it's meant to be SAVORed up no matter how busy life is!
Oh, and please, if you have a pet, please go and hug them right now!!! I'm serious, stop reading this and go and hug them up!! It's one thing I wish I had done more of these past few years, because at the end of the day, I was so wiped out from being mommy that all I wanted to do was go to bed and not be bothered, but really, I could have given him 5 minutes of petting and hugs and love before hitting the sack. Yeah...I definitely could have!! But, now looking back, I'm pretty sure Rusty was SO tired of me talking his ears off all day long that he probably needed a break from me, too. lol.
And if you're a mom to young kiddos and you have pet mommy guilt like I have, please know that you are loving your pet up!! I promise you are!!
And, last one for now...like our Vet said, if we all greeted our significant others when they get home as pets greet us when we get home every single day of their lives, we'd have very little divorce rates!! I couldn't agree more...so be sure to greet the ones you love with LOVE and HAPPINESS and KISSES (and licks!! hehe!) and BIG BIG SMILES and HUGS!! :)