A friend is going through an equally tough time today… She asked if it gets easier so I’m re-posting this for her and her boy. Heart dogs are irreplaceable. Still miss him every day, but it does get easier.

Pittieful Love

Today, two years ago, you picked us 🙂  That’s what you really celebrate when you adopt a dog…who cares how old they really are.  We celebrate the day you changed our lives, and we changed  yours.

I can’t possibly express how much that rainy, cold Monday changed our lives.  I tried to tell you about it in the three letters I wrote to you (Here, here and last but certainly not least, here).

When I wrote those posts, I was caught breathless by the support from our readers (I say ‘ours’ because where would I be without you, boy??)  Everyone, and I mean everyone, said such kind, thoughtful things.  Some understood how I was feeling, some wished and hoped they never did.  One particular reader quoted a play/film called Rabbit Hole (which I have yet to see), but it really resonated with me.  In a nut shell (

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Dear Knox: The New Guy

Hey Bud,

So you heard huh?  Well of course you did, I’m positive you had something to do with this. He’s pretty fantastic.  He’s like you in so many ways.  His head and body shape are the obvious – all of his weight is in his chest and head, his lil butt doesn’t compare to the rest of him!  And he’s pretty tall too…just like you.  Oh and handsome!  Duh, that wasn’t a question right?  Handsome boys you two are.

He loves his ball so much!  But not your orange fetch one, he hasn’t met that one yet.  He loves your CUZ ball (that one you and Tyson ripped the feet off?)  LOVES IT.

I can’t believe this toy is still around a year later…that’s a huge feat in this house!

He’s met Tyson who gives his blessing, but I’m sure your laughing up there… thinking of your buddy Ty; who does Tyson not love?!  I know, I know, he doesn’t exactly set the bar high, but it’s good news for us.

Chocko’s a bit anxious…ok maybe more than a bit.  I’m trying to remember if you were in the beginning… you turned into such a confident guy at the ripe old age of 3.  I was proud of you for that; you were kinda a push-over at first 😉 .

I’m hoping he learns to relax a bit… we’re giving him a lot of consistency and stability and hopefully that’ll settle him down some.  He needs to be underfoot all the time, so we’re trying to help him build his confidence in the house… keeping him in a different room where he can still see or hear us but can’t be touching us.  He’s not as bad as you were in the crate when we leave during the day, but I do hear him crying and barking when I lock the door in the morning.  His WIRES are still in tact so he must not be as bad as you!  I can’t believe you went and ripped metal wires off a crate!  Crazy boy.

He would have been a year older than you.  Perfect.  I was so defeated when we lost you… I couldn’t comprehend starting all over again.  I love that he’s four and we are essentially picking up right where we left off with you… He’s a perfect foster-brother in the making.  Of course we’ll give him some stability and not drag in any new fosters just yet, but I know he’s gonna be so great… he’ll make you proud.

But with all your similarities he’s still very different.  His personality is a lot less confident in the house (hoping that will change over time) and he’s pretty timid of Brian (though he also loves him a ton).  It’s different because you know we’d never ever in a million years, hurt you.  Chocko hasn’t completely figured that out yet… and if Brian raises his voice he immediately rolls on his back or pees.  We’re working on it.  He’s also very excitable, just like you were, but is still learning the most acceptable ways to show his excitement… that’ll happen with time too (you took like a YEAR to learn that one).

Well Knox, there isn’t a whole lot else I know about him yet…it’s only been two weeks…but I wanted to say thanks for sending him our way.  I think we were a bit lost without a dog of our own, but until now, we weren’t ready.  I’m thankful we waited.  Five months later and I still love and miss you more than I thought possible.  Everyday I’m thankful for this passion that you brought out of me.  I can’t imagine my life with all of ‘this’…the blogging, fostering, photography, rescue stuff… I owe it all to you and not a day goes by that I don’t recognize that.

Love you, Knox.

Here’s the rest of the letters to my boy, incase you haven’t read them

Dear Knox I, Dear Knox II and Dear Knox III 

Two years ago…

Today, two years ago, you picked us 🙂  That’s what you really celebrate when you adopt a dog…who cares how old they really are.  We celebrate the day you changed our lives, and we changed  yours.

I can’t possibly express how much that rainy, cold Monday changed our lives.  I tried to tell you about it in the three letters I wrote to you (Here, here and last but certainly not least, here).

When I wrote those posts, I was caught breathless by the support from our readers (I say ‘ours’ because where would I be without you, boy??)  Everyone, and I mean everyone, said such kind, thoughtful things.  Some understood how I was feeling, some wished and hoped they never did.  One particular reader quoted a play/film called Rabbit Hole (which I have yet to see), but it really resonated with me.  In a nut shell (here’s the comment), a mom asks her mother about the loss of a child, and if it ever goes away (the feeling).  She hesitates, and says it doesn’t but that it does get easier, “The weight of it, I guess. At some point it becomes bearable. It turns into something you can crawl out from under, and carry around — like a brick in your pocket.”

The day I read that, I couldn’t wait for it go get bearable.  But you know something?  It is now.  I’m tearing writing this buddy, but it is.  I promise you.  Gosh I miss you so much.  Little things, like the other day when I was petting Holly and using her as a pillow… it wasn’t you.  Her fur was different, longer, a bit courser.  It’s strange the things that stick out.  It was a quick thought at the time.  My heart skipped a little beat, a pang maybe.  But then it’s gone.

My silky, boney-butt pillow

I certainly don’t carry a brick around, but I wear you on my heart (pretty close to it).  And just like the mom in Rabbit Hole, I don’t really want to forget, because your memory is all I have now.  We’re hangin’ in there buddy.  Brian is still tempted to keep every foster that comes to our home, though he has the ‘comparing to Knox’ syndrome too.  He used to be quick to offer you a permanent buddy, but it was to compliment you… not replace.  Hopefully we’re healed of all that soon.  People say you can never replace your Heart Dog, you just learn to love another.  I’m anxiously awaiting that time.

Until then, you can be my brick… and I’m totally okay with that.

Love you buddy.

You nursing me back to health after that terrible bug I caught in Peru– you didn’t leave my side for 2 weeks. Thanks for being an excellent nurse.

Oh, and here’s the comment– I figured I’d leave it here for you 🙂

TwoKittiesOnePittie on March 2, 2012 at 11:54 am said:

What a gorgeous gift and beautiful song! This makes me thing of a line from the play/film, Rabbit Hole, where a mother and daughter are discussing what it’s like to lose a child, and the following scene ensues (it’s long, but bear with me!):

Becca (Nicole Kidman) has been numb with grief since Danny, her 4-year-old, was killed by a car. Now, eight months later, her mother, Nat (Dianne Wiest) — whose son, Becca’s brother, died at 30 — is helping Becca to put away, finally, the little boy’s things.

Becca and Nat carry the milk crates of Danny’s stuff down to the basement, and put them in the corner with a few other things Becca has put aside.

Becca stands there, taking it in. Danny’s been reduced to a small corner of stuff in the basement. She lets out a breath, then turns to her mother.

BECCA: Does it ever go away?

NAT: What.

BECCA: This feeling.

They lock eyes. Nat can see she actually wants an answer. Maybe for the first time ever.

NAT: No. I don’t think it does. Not for me, it hasn’t. And that’s goin’ on 11 years.

(Beat)

It changes, though.

BECCA: How?

NAt: I don’t know. The weight of it, I guess. At some point it becomes bearable. It turns into something you can crawl out from under, and carry around — like a brick in your pocket. And you forget it every once in a while, but then you reach in for whatever reason and there it is: “Oh, right. That.” Which can be awful. But not all the time. Sometimes it’s kinda … not that you like it exactly, but it’s what you have instead of your son, so you don’t wanna let go of it either. So you carry it around. And it doesn’t go away, which is …

BECCA: What.

NAT: Fine … actually.

The Wall of Fame

We added this wall to our dining room several months ago.  I don’t know what’s taken so long for me to share it with you (aside from the fact that the natural light in our dining room is terrible, and I was never really thrilled with the pictures of the pictures).

The wall was started sometime in December, long before we knew Knox was sick.  It started because we had a blank wall, and no art.  I had been going camera crazy and thought, wouldn’t it be nice to display some of the faces that have come into our lives, and left marks of various kinds on our hearts?

So up they went, one by one.  It’s not every dog that has come through our door, by any means.  We chose them each for different reasons.

Here’s the run down: clockwise starting at the top left.

Jenny, our first official foster.  Wow…puppies…potty training…and adorable snugglies.

Trey the Husky.  The first dog brought into our home after we adopted Knox.  It was a transport gone awry— an afternoon turned into 4 days over thanksgiving weekend…. oops?  He was malnourished, had worms, a resource guarder (wouldn’t you be if you were practically starved?), had gun residue on him (quite a store with this guy) and a HOWLER.  Well talk about biting off more than you can chew.  He’ll always have a special place in our heart (and is doing great in Long Island, NY by the way!)

UPS/Rayven– Rayven was a temporary foster, when BARCS had to clear out the shelter due to Hurricane Irene.  We thought we couldn’t bear to bring this sweet girl back to the shelter, but we wound up having a difficult time with her.  It wasn’t anything big…but just not the right ‘fit’.  She greatly taught us to be aware of our limitations.  If we’re in this for the long haul, we need to recognize what works for us, and what doesn’t.

Eve— our Evey girl!  This girl was our longest foster, and she graced us with her presence over the summer so we had tons of fun!  She was a breeze, a love, and left us with a bit of a broken heart.

Then comes Buddha and Lola, who were equally loveable and heartbreakers too.  Both we seriously considered (for a mila-second) keeping as a second dog.

Then there is Woody… He was a loveable boy from BARCS who I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with at the Fells Point Festival this past fall.  He didn’t make it.  He’s up there as a reminder that we can’t save them all.  Our shelters are over crowded and dogs are put down due to space regularly.  We can try, and hopefully over the years, there will be less and less to save.  He’s up there to remind us of all the loves that just don’t make it out of the shelters across the country.

Woody gettin' love on one of his last outtings

Next is Ivy.  She was with us very briefly, but we fell hard for her.  She developed a few issues just after getting adopted, but she got through them with flying colors (thanks to her awesome parents!)  She reminds us that what you see in one home, isn’t what you get in all homes.  She also showed us that committed owners make all the difference.

And last but certainly not least, Chloe and Tyson.  We get to see these two all the time!  Our friends adopted them (two separate couples), but we’re all in the neighborhood.  They are VIP’s so of course the made the wall.  But they also serve to show us that this is a domino effect…and you do influence the people around you.  Which is a wonderful thing.  We can keep changing minds, one friend at a time.

And the star of the show, our boy.  He influenced this entire journey of ours.  We would certainly not be doing what we do today if it wasn’t for him.  He was the best damn foster brother that ever did exist.  So now more than ever, we’re happy we added him to the center of the wall.

Do you have any ‘art’ in your home that’s pictures of your pups or foster pups?  Any other ideas on how to remember each of these special souls?

Thankful.

Today it’s been a month.  Feels like just yesterday, but also ages ago, that our good boy was relieved from the suffering and went off to the Rainbow Bridge.

I’ve said it before, but through all the terribleness that is loosing a dog, I’ve never been so thankful for support in my life.  It sounds silly, (and if you don’t know this type of loss, I don’t quite expect you to understand– I didn’t get in until recently) but Knox was a part of me that is now gone.  I’m sure it will change and morph into some other love, at some point.  But damn, love hurts.

It just so happens that last night I went out for a few drinks with two good friends who I’ve come to know through all this rescue and dog non-sense (joke…that was a joke).  They are just two of the many people who have shared love, kindness, and support to us through this icky time.

 Look at all the love and support we’ve received through good old US Postal mail.

Just a sample of all the love and support we received through US Postal mail

After some catching up and a few drinks, the friends gave me this adorable little box.

Inside the box, was a necklace.  Not just any necklace.  A special necklace.

It was engraved especially for Knox.  They picked out three words.  They could not have picked three better words.

Happiness

Love

Loyalty

As my eyes started to well with tears (for the record, I don’t cry very often, and haven’t cried much in the past few weeks at all), they told me to turn the necklace over.

Well then I really lost it.  Those are the Coldplay lyrics that I posted on the facebook page moments after Knox left this world.  It was the song I cried my eyes out to, blubbering like a baby on my drive home from work, the Thursday before I knew we were going to end his suffering (the line quoted above – I wanted to be there when he left this world, when my saint, Knox, went marching…) I don’t know what it is about that song.  I know it had no intention of being about a girl who lost her dog…but man, does it hit home for me.

Take a listen… think of my Knox…and incase you’d like to read along, here are the lyrics:

Oh morning come bursting, the clouds, Amen.

Lift off this blindfold, let me see again

And bring back the water, let your ships roll in.

In my heart she left a hole

The tightrope that I’m walking just sways and ties

The devil as he’s talking with those angel’s eyes

And I just want to be there when the lightning strikes

And the saints go marching in

And sing slow-ow-ow-ow  it down

Through chaos as it swirls

It’ us against the world

Like a river to a raindrop, I lost a friend

My drunken as a Daniel in a lion’s den

And tonight I know it all has to begin again

So whatever you do, don’t let go

And if we could float away

Fly up to the surface and just start again

And lift off before trouble

Just erodes us in the rain (x3)

Sing slow-ow-ow-ow it down

Oh Slow-ow-ow-ow it down

Through chaos as it swirls

It’s just us against the world

Through chaos as it swirls

It’s us against the world

Dear Knox, Part III: The Legacy

Dear Knox,

I’m so sorry it’s taken me a few days to write this, bud.  I thought I’d have it all ready for you on Wednesday, but here it is, Thursday night and I’m having trouble even starting.  I think the other two posts about how you found us, and what our lives turned into, were a lot easier.  This letter is to say goodbye, and I think that’s where the struggle is.

Knox, you have done so so much for a whole lot of humans and animals, and I’m very impressed by that.  After all, that was your doing, not ours.  I was shocked to see your face everywhere on Monday (blogs, articles, and facebook pages).  What a celebration of your life; an honor really.  How did you do that?  Boy, you’re busy up there.

But the thing is, aside from how proud I am for you… this past week, none of that mattered to me.  I.miss.you.  So much.  My heart is heavy and it aches for you.  I’ve felt every kind of emotion this past month.  I felt angry, confused, sad, guilty, helpless, lost… you name it.  I’m a planner bud, you know that!  You messed up my plans… some day you were going to be the most perfectest big brother to a human baby, that was my hope anyway.  Thinking of you in that way, and knowing now that won’t happen… it just makes me so sad.  You were part of my plan.  A big part of it.

I, of course, was confused about why this rare, horrible and ruthless killer (ultimately you died of Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia) had to take you down so terribly and so soon.  I felt helpless that we couldn’t fix you.  I felt guilty when I worried about money.  I felt more than sad for you, when you were suffering.  It was suffocating; I felt like until you were free of this sickness, I couldn’t breathe.  I was unsure at first, but a wise friend told us,  “It’s that look that says, ‘I love you, but, I’m tired, really, really tired and I can’t stay any longer’ – they just tell us with their eyes.   You will know, or already know.”

Those last 24 hours, I knew.  You let us know that you were tapped out.  You couldn’t fight anymore and as soon as I knew that, I had a great desire to let you go as soon as possible.  But knowing you were going was absolutely devastating.

I was frantic to find someone who could come to the house.  The last thing I wanted was to stress you out and drag your weak body to a vet’s office.  Of course that T from MABB had the answer and hooked us up with a vet she knew of (she helps at the SPCA and that’s how we got hooked up with her).  It was a quick phone call to a mobile vet we’d never met before. She was willing to come in a heartbeat.  We were so thankful.  Finally something to be thankful about… ironic, isn’t it?

You mustered up all the energy you had when she arrived, and got down from you chair to give her a few wags and licks and welcome her into our home, like you were a pro at doing (you didn’t even know she was a vet, not that you ever had problems with vets).  B picked you back up and laid you down in you most favorite spot.

Sharing your favorite chair with B this past fall

We rubbed you head and surrounded you with love.  We tried so hard to stay strong for you, but who were we kidding, you were the strongest out of us three.

It was the most peaceful ending we could have given you, and I’m glad we had the opportunity to pay you back in this small way.

You left us behind, and way too soon.  But we are better humans for knowing you.  I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.  Thank you for influencing who we are as human beings, and for teaching us to forgive, to forget, to live in the moment, and to embrace the signature Knox Zest for Life.

I know you are free now, to run and play and roll in the grass (the good kind, not this stinky, patchy city grass).  I’m relieved you are no longer suffering, but instead enjoying your favorite things… you had so many favorite things.

You leave with us your Legacy.  You, inside of our hearts.  Our hearts that are forever changed.

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.

Dear Knox, Part I: The beginning

Dear Knox,

My sweet, sweet boy…where to start?  So much to say…First off, let me tell you a little bit about how you came to be our Knox.  Me and B decided (ok, I begged, pleaded and convinced him) that it was finally time to get a dog… this was after my whole entire life of begging and pleading for a dog.  The time finally came.  We knew we wanted to adopt and rescue an animal in need of a home.  We also knew, living in Baltimore, our city shelter was busting at the seams with pitbull type dogs.  We did a little bit of googling, and decided as long as we were committed to being a responsible owner (as any dog owner should), why not?  Let’s go rescue a pitbull.  So off we went.  We contacted MABB and met a few of their dogs.  We decided it would be best to adopt a dog from a rescue instead of straight from the shelter since we wanted some background info and weren’t home during the daytime, so housebroken was important to us.  All the dogs we met seemed perfect, on paper, but we just didn’t connect.  We asked ourselves, “what’s wrong with us?!  We’ve met some great dogs?!  Great with kids, other dogs, running buddies…why don’t  we love any of them?”

We just hadn’t met you yet.

So off we went to BARCS, with the thought that if we didn’t love the dogs in foster already, going to meet these wild, pent-up dogs with no manners and tons of energy, may convince us otherwise.  So we walked through the shelter.  We were shocked…so many dogs, such a big place, how could we ever even narrow it down?  We did a walk through, and you caught my eye.  You were sitting (deceptive little boy!) and staring at us.  I made a mental note to come back and meet this “Oil Change”.  Our escort picked a few dogs for us to meet, and they were all ok.  I remembered you though, and I asked if we could go meet that big blocky-headed dog named “Oil Change”.  We couldn’t find you at first, but I was relentless.  We walked all five rooms till we found you.  Waiting.  For us.You, sneaky boy, were wild.  WILD.  But you loved us right away, and we loved you.  We met you at first in an escort room.  Small, tight space, but we weren’t intimidated by your jumping, your tail, your huge head and that awesome smile.  We wanted to take you outside to the run.  You were in HEAVEN.  And you loved to run!  But you kept coming right back to us, and sitting on our feet.  The fresh air, the open space, you loved it!  But you loved us too.  And that was a good sign to us.  We couldn’t stop smiling.

your first night at home

We knew then and there that you were going to be ours.  We asked what the next step was, and they told us we paid the adoption fee and city registration, and you were ours.  We only had 24 hours to pick you up.  We were SO unprepared. So unprepared, that you came with us to PETCO to get your goodies, and a nice bath since you were so stinky and gross. 

And little did we know, our life as we knew it would be forever changed, because boy did you have plans for us!

to be continued…

How’s Knox?

The question of the month.  I can’t even imagine counting how many times I’ve been asked this question in the past month.  And my heart is grateful to every single person who’s asked.  So, how IS Knox?

Knox is skinny, lethargic and sick.  He’s sicker than I’ve ever imagined he could be.  So sick that sometimes I start preparing for the worst.  But smart and supportive friends have said to just take it one day at a time.  He’s got two weeks (well, 10 days at this point) to turn a corner.

I know he’s fighting hard.  Really hard.  And so are we.  Our boy has gone from a jubilant, energetic boy who would amaze everyone with his speed after a tennis ball…from my running partner, an entertainer for each foster dog that came through the door…a great big muscle-y lug head; to skin and bones.  He gets up only to go for a quick walk or to eat (thank goodness he has continued to do that…).  He’s lost what little fat he had before, and we suspect a whole lot of muscle (thank you, prednizone).  His spine, hip bones, ribs and shoulder blades protrude.

Will he get better?

We have no flippin’ idea.  It’s been an emotional roller coaster to say the least.  Some days I accept that 5 weeks on medications and no progress means, he’s done.  Then I really think about it… and how is that possible?  Just over Christmas he was his normal, happy, (sometimes over) excited self.  In just a few weeks he’s turned into a different dog.  He’s sad; he’d prefer not to cuddle when before, you had to warn guests that a 68lb pile of love would most likely attempt to sit on your lap.  Of course we give him his space…most of the time.This boy is loved, that’s for sure.  And not just by us… and that is comforting on some level.  But the truth is, we just wish there was an answer.

If there is no improvement by February 10th, we’ll probably cut him off his meds and let fate take it’s course.  It may sound horrible (it certainly does to me), but I refuse to string him along for no reason, not to mention waste thousands of dollars to keep him alive for my own personal benefit.  This is not him.  If he starts getting better, I’d risk my arm to make sure he improves, but if he doesn’t?  Keeping him alive, barely…who is that serving?  Certainly we love him too much to be that selfish…we love him way too much.

Knox the Blood Donor (well…previously)

This post is very late…about a month late actually.  See Knox had just recently started to donate blood, something we were hoping he’d be doing for a while.  Unfortunately he became sick (completely unrelated to the blood donating).  So needless to say, he’s no longer a donor.  However, we’d love to share our experience!

Knox was first brought into a small room at a local vet’s office.  You can opt for on or off-site donating.  BRVBB (Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank) is located in Virginia, but they visit a local vet’s office only 10 minutes from us, score!

He entered the room and met the two humans who’d be working on him.  He was greeted with lots of treats, peanut butter and love.  Not a bad start!  Lots of luvin’ and schmoozing the clientele…. something he could easily get used to.  And of course he schmoozed right back. 

Hand over the peanut butter...and no one gets hurt.

Next up, a nice snuggle session.  And of course, more peanut butter!

Next, getting down to business, the blood was drawn.  Knox continued to eat his peanut butter and treats and barely noticed the quick shave and then the needle.
And the finished product!
Look at this proud boy.   What I forgot to mention, is that the blood testing that the blood bank does is very thorough.  We wouldn’t have known Knox was positive for the blood parasite that started his downward spiral if it wasn’t for the pre-testing that the blood bank does.  One of the many benefits of donation.  Be sure to think about it!