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dog

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As a family, we love animals. The first thing the Big Guy and I did together as a married couple was adopt a gorgeous brindle boxer puppy. We named her Saffaron and she was our first little girl; our first dip in the parenthood pond. We were young and in love and we adored this runt of the litter with the giant personality. She stole our hearts from the moment we picked her up to play with her. It was love at first sight.

Over time, she grew from the tiny puppy who could get lost amongst the blades of grass into a rambunctious, if not compact, version of her parents. Always loving and loyal, she would fiercely defend us if anyone even hinted that they might hurt us. She was doted on constantly and anywhere we went, so did our Saffaron.

I remember in those first years of marriage when finances were tight and we were moving frequently to places nowhere near anyone we knew, those trying first years full of the growing pains of married life, on those nights I’d find myself crying over the uncertainty, Saffaron would jump in the bed and lay her head on my shoulder and gently kiss my face, as to reassure me that it would all be alright. She made me smile.

On September 11th, while I sat alone in our small apartment in Greensboro, North Carolina, watching the footage play on a constant loop, trying to make sense of the world falling down around me, out of my mind with worry because my husband was working in Allentown, Pennsylvania and having no way to reach him because all the phone lines were tied up. There our Saffaron sat, always at my feet, my constant companion.

When we had our first child, Saffaron was aware of the shift in the hierarchy that inevitably comes when pet parents become parents to a tiny human for the first time. But Saffaron never let on that it bothered her at all, as I am sure that she noticed the drop in one on one time she got with us. She welcomed both of our girls home, each time, as if it were the Big Guy or I.

She loved them fiercely and in a big way. They learned to crawl by chasing her. They learned to cruise by grabbing hold of her back. They pulled her ears, chewed on her face and slapped her away and started her on the regular but she did not care in the least. She never showed her teeth, nipped or even barked at either of our girls, even when they were laying on her like a pillow or hurling baby dolls at her. She took it all and loved us unconditionally. She taught us how to care for little people and love with our everything. She taught us to be vulnerable and open and when the time came, because of her, we were better parents.

In 2012, 2 days before she turned 13, the week after our youngest started Kindergarten, 2 months after I suffered my miscarriage and again there she was at my side as I wailed and cried in the most primal way. She was not afraid. She got us through with her unwavering love and devotion.

On August 17th, our Saffaron died of complications due to pancreatitis. We had taken her to the vet and we knew that she had developed pancreatitis but she was fine and then one day, she was very ill. We lost her very quickly. It was heartbreakingly devastating for all of us. She was our first “daughter” and to lose her was one of the worst things to watch happen and to have to helplessly watch your children experience that loss was more painful than words can describe.

I thought I would never want another dog because the pain was so enormous but our girls, felt the loss and needed to feel that void of companionship and love that only a dog can provide. A few months later, our girls fell in love with a Victorian Bulldog puppy. I remembered that same feeling when first laid eyes on Saffaron. She made our lives better just by being in it. I could see it in their eyes, they were smitten and by that point there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do to take away the pain in their face each time anyone said Saffaron’s name. That was the Christmas we brought Lola home.

The love is deep and real between our girls and Lola. She’s still a puppy and not as docile and low-key as Saffaron was but she will get there and I love watching the relationship form between the three of them and slowly, I can see the hole left by Saffaron’s passing being filled with Lola’s love. Dogs are not just man’s best friend, they are unconditional love in fur so please cherish your pets and keep them up to date on their vaccinations and well-visits.

The bond between you and your dog is a special one, and you’ll go to great lengths to keep your furry family member safe and healthy. K9 Advantix® II is a once-a-month topical application for dogs and puppies that REPELS and kills ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes.  Visit https://petparents.com/products  to learn more.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of K9 Advantix® II. The opinions and text are all mine.

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dog, daughter, kindergarten, back-to-school, first day of school, letting go

The first day of kindergarten and a sick dog. This week is emotionally chaotic. Too much change at once. This week is supposed to be hard. It’s the first week of school for my girls. Gabs is starting kindergarten, so obviously I am all verklempt. I am trying to hold my shit together because there is nothing worse than a 5 year old seeing her Mommy act like she’s sending her baby off to war. Oh, but my mommy heart. It hurts.

dog, daughter, kindergarten, back-to-school, first day of school, letting go

Meet the Kindergarten Teacher Day

I’m trying to be proactive and make it easier. Yesterday, I took her to school to meet the teacher and showed her around the room and the school.  We investigated every nook and cranny of that Kindergarten class. She was a bit overwhelmed but I kept telling her how awesome it was going to be and her big sister was there to reassure her. I just kept swallowing the lump in my throat. Pushing it down, down, down; where it will stay until I am safely outside the building on the first day of school this Thursday. THEN, I will collapse in a heaving, hyperventilating  pool of snot and tears.Yes, my heart is going to break. I know this. I’ve been here before with my first but this is different, this is my last baby.

My sweet little shy girl who embarrasses easily and who wears her heart on her sleeve. But like her sister before her, she will suck it up and make that funny little smile that tells me that she is feeling unsure and a little bit scared inside but she won’t let anyone else know, just her and I, it’s our secret. I’ll want to make it all better but the only way to make it better is to let her experience it and know that it is okay. This is one thing the girls have definitely inherited from me, they need to feel their feelings and survive them to know they can. We are “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger girls” and we are firmly set in our beliefs that, “Failure is not an option” even when it may seem like the only choice there is. We keep on trying. Both my girls are like that; stoic to the bitter end, almost to a fault. I wish she could just cry and get it all out but she’s too much like me. We do cry but first we push stuff down, way down and we carry on no matter how much it eats at us on the inside and necrotizes that spot we push it down to.

But the crap just keeps piling on. The same week that my baby starts kindergarten and my Bella has moved up to 2nd grade, my oldest and furriest girl (our 13 year old boxer, Saffaron) is sick. She’s old and we know that every day is a gift with this girl. Saffaron was the first baby the Big Guy and I had together. We brought her home in September, 4 months after we were married and she has been by our side since. I love this dog like only a Mommy can. My girls adore her. I’ve been trying to explain that sometimes people and animals get REALLY old (I’m trying to convince them that me being 39 is NOT really old) or sick and they go to sleep and then they go to be with God and wait for us. This is what I told them about their baby and now I am telling them this about their dog.

kindergarten, dog, letting go, growing up, getting old

This is how the dog marked meet the kindergarten teacher day

Today, the dog was really not feeling well. She was lying around not moving (she was breathing, I checked) but she just seemed done. Yes, I’ve seen this look before and we had a conversation last year. She owes me 5 more years, because my heart is not ready to say good-bye again so soon. I just had to say good-bye in May and I think there should be at least a year in between good-byes to people and things you love. Last year, she almost died from an acute case of pancreatitis. My grandmother died from pancreatic cancer about a month before my dog was afflicted. No, I am not saying that my Grandma gave my dog pancreatitis but my year in between good-byes rule came to mind this morning.

I grabbed my girls; sleepy (because she’s trying to adjust to the school sleep schedule), nervous (because she has been sporting her nervous “Help me mom” smile since she realized that this was the week she started BIG school) and Grandma Moses (because my once spry puppy is now an elderly 91) and off to the veterinarian hospital we went. As I looked in the rearview, I saw both of my daughters sporting the “Oh Jesus, please don’t today be the day our dog dies!”  TO my right, the dog is giving me the,”Please don’t hit any bumps. Dear Jesus, take me quick!” Me, I am torn. On one selfish hand, I don’t ever want that beautiful bitch to die. I just love her too damn much and our family will be incomplete without her walking around looking at us all like we are all a bunch of assholes before giving us lots of love out of pity for our stupidity. She thinks we are big dumb animals; it’s obvious to us.  But on the other hand, I don’t want her living in pain. Her body is not what it used to be. Her arthritis is awful in the mornings, she’s got glaucoma, and benign tumors pop up all over her body at random times for no apparent reason. She’s tired and I’m pretty sure that soon she will be ready to go and we will have to let her go.

The letting go sucks. I just hope it’s not this week. This week, I have that beautiful and sweet bitch pumped full of antibiotics and pain pills. We are all giving her a little more love and attention than usual. I’m hoping she will grace us with her big heart and floppy ears for at least another year. This week I have to start the letting go of my 5 year old and I just don’t think that my Mommy heart can handle losing my furry daughter. I don’t think any of us can, least of all the 5 year old. Please don’t turn the first week of kindergarten at my house into a country song.

How did you mark the first day of kindergarten?

kindergarten, dog, letting go, back-to-school

Kindergarten has got nothing on this dog

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