Somewhere Over the Rainbow- Just This Side of Heaven

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October 9th 2010 2:30 pm
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Yesterday I was one of the Diary Picks of the Day. I almost missed it, until I noticed a kind Dogster member had given me a gift congratulating me. Thank you, Dogster. It was an honor. :)

 

The Grieving Period

October 5th 2010 7:35 pm
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It's hard losing someone close. It's even harder when he's your best friend. Chance crossed the bridge almost a year ago today. It will be exactly a year the 26th of this month. It seems like just yesterday I was feeding him in the morning, patting him on the head, telling him what a good boy he was. But tomorrow morning, I'll wake up again and he won't be there. Even after almost three hundred and sixty five days it seems hard to accept the fact that my childhood friend is gone. I take it with strides, I suppose. I know that he wouldn't want me to be sad, but in the beginning, it was so hard not to be sad. He was an old dog, but eleven years just didn't seem enough. They never do seem to live long enough, do they?

I've always been told to allow myself a grieving period. I've been constantly reminded that most people go through such a period, even if they do so in different ways. I think back to when Chance passed and realize that I did, indeed, go through one myself. To be honest, I think I'm only just finishing it. The day it happened, I was in denial. I saw him, I helped bury him, I put his favorite toy in his grave with him- and yet, that entire day, I was in denial. I didn't want to believe he was gone. Through that entire week I would even get his food ready, get half way to the door, and remember that he wasn't there. I think the denial is the worst part. You don't want to believe it's true, but every day you're faced with the fact that it is. Yet, you still deny it, still choose not to believe it. I'd passed all his old things down instantly, not wanting to see them alone. I couldn't bare the thought of seeing his rope toys laying around with no dog to chew on them. I couldn't stand the thought of his blankets going unused.

A hollowing sorrow followed the denial. Once I realized he truly was gone, I was sad. I'm not even going to lie about it. Chance had grabbed a tight hold on my heart, and had squeezed even tighter in his old age. Chance and I weren't always close. I went through my adolescent phase like everyone else and I'll admit, it took me a while to mature. When I started taking care of the dogs... feeding them, walking them, bathing them, cleaning their houses and crates... Chance and I bonded once more. I remembered why we'd been best friends when I was just a child. He cared so deeply for us- his family- that he seemed willing to do anything if it meant keeping us safe. There was something wise about his deep brown eyes. Even when he was but a pup, barely one year old, there had been some wisdom in those handsome eyes. Knowing I'd never look into his eyes again was painful. I wouldn't cry in front of anyone. I wouldn't allow myself to. Looking back now, I don't know why. We were all going through it. All of us. Even my rebellious little brother made a makeshift cross for his grave the day he passed and wandered off for a while, looking just as sad as I was sure the rest of us felt. But I wouldn't cry in front of anyone. Except Sandy. Sandy comforted me through this stage of grief. She loved him, too, after all. I remember clinging to her, crying into her fur. The sorrow passed slowly. It usually does.

Months went by and then came the anger. I'm not even sure what I was angry at. We're usually not sure when we reach this point. A part of me felt like he was too young. I know how silly that seems. He was eleven. In American pit bull and bulldog years, that's pretty old. Whatever the case, I became intolerable for a couple weeks. But when the anger calmed, that sorrow returned. But it, too, calmed.

I haven't forgotten him, of course. You never do forget. But I think, I might've finally ran the course of my grieving period. I hadn't braved viewing his page for a few months, not wanting to see the wings that the kind Riley made me or the nice picture the nice Snow Angel made me. Nor did I want to hear the playlist of sad songs I'd put together. It was all too much. Finally, though, I ventured there. This time, when I looked at his pictures, it wasn't tears of sorrow I let out. It was tears of joy. Tears of joy because I was glad that he had such a wonderful life here with us. Instead of thinking about losing him, I thought about having him. I remembered all the good things. I remembered walking him down the street, watching him lay down, and having to carry him the rest of the way home. I remember watching and laughing as Sandy and him played back and fourth through the fence, tails wagging at lightning speed. I remember how happy he'd always been when he got a new blanket, how easy it had been to make him happy period. I remember him when he was just a puppy, coming out of his dog house for the first time, tail wagging, waiting for his food. I remember how he was always the dog who never stood a chance. Yet, eleven years later, he'd pulled through all his chances. The only thing Chance couldn't fight away was old age.

The sorrow is still there. I still miss him, I still long to pet his head, and I still want to give him a kiss on the nose like I used to after feeding him every afternoon. You never do forget losing a loved one. Why would you want to, though? It doesn't matter if they're flesh, furry, scaled, feathered, or otherwise, if you love someone they grab a hold of your heart, and when they pass on they don't let go. They're still there with you, still in your memory, still in your heart. You never forget them, but it does get easier. It takes longer for some of us, for me it took almost a year, but it does get easier. I'm glad I got to have Chance in my life. Never forget to give your dog a kiss good night and tell him how much you love him, because they never have enough time with us and you don't want to waste a single second. That isn't to say that you should worry about him passing. No, quite the contrary, don't think about it. Be the dog old, young, sick, or healthy... never take a single day with him for granted. Enjoy it, make the best of each moment. And when he does pass on and cross the bridge, allow yourself time to grief and then, look back on the good ol' days. When you held your best friend for the first time, when you walked him through his favorite places, when he'd cuddle close to you at night, his quirks, his kisses... and when you do remember them, I guarantee you those will be happy tears streaking your face.

In Loving Memory of Chance,
1998-2009

 

March 26th 2010 8:09 pm
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Dear Chance,

I was looking at your page today and I cried. It's been several months since you left me and, yet, I still cry thinking about you sometimes. I read the diary entries I posted right after you passed away and I only cried more. Because I remembered how I felt in the days after your death and the feeling returned. That longing, that painful, empty feeling where you used to be. I'll always miss you. We're getting on great, though. Meepster has taken up position as "Stud of the house". Though, Sandy has taken your place as "Top dog". She may not have been here before most of them, but she sure can keep them in check. Lilo's starting to age, too. It's scary because everything Lilo is doing now is everything you'd done two years ago when we knew you were reaching senior age. Lilo's still got a good four or five years left on her, but her muzzle is graying and her hearing is no longer what it used to be and it's terrifying because every time I have to whistle for her, I remember when I had to whistle for you. Sakura is still as spoiled as ever. Still hogging all the toys. Remember how she tried to take one of yours once? Well, she did, actually. Precious has gotten very hyper. Even more so than last time you saw her. We're getting by. We all still think of you from time to time. Sometimes I look at your pictures and cry. But I know you wouldn't want us to go on feeling this way forever. I will never let you go, but I will keep going. Because I know that's what you'd want. I know that's what Sandy and Cinnamon and Lilo and Sakura and Meepster and Precious want. I've always prided myself on being strong and, so, I'm getting through this. I just wanted you to know that you were on my mind today. I was thinking about you and, though I cried, I realized I've come a long way since losing you. If anything, you made me stronger. And, now, I'm closer to the other six than I've ever been. How are things at the bridge? Just remember that I love you always. We all do.

Your faithful human now and always

 

February 17th 2010 3:29 pm
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Three months, three weeks, one day...

... but who's counting?

... I miss you.

 

Untitled

November 14th 2009 9:02 pm
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It's weird not having you here.
Some days, I step outside...
and I expect you to run to me.
I wait to feel your tongue kissing my hand.
I wait to hear you bark.
But when I don't,
there's a void.
An emptiness.
And it hurts more than the knowing.
Sometimes when I sleep,
I wake up because I could've sworn I'd heard you bark.
But when I get up to check on you,
I remember that you're gone.
Some nights when I'm sound asleep,
I see you in my dreams.
I can feel you so vividly that when I wake up,
I'm convinced you're still alive.
But when I go to find you,
and I don't,
the pain is too much to bear.
It's been almost a month since God took you away,
yet, sometimes,
I still break down and cry.
Sometimes I still stop and wonder...
why was your life so short?
Why were you taken away from me?
Why can't dogs live as long as us humans?
Then I have to remind myself.
If dogs lived as long as us,
surely not all of them would find a home.
Surely, we'd all only have the chance to know one or two dogs.
The dogs I've known have made me who I am today.
You helped make me who I am today.
And I know there will be more dogs to come.
I'm just thankful you spent your life with me.
I miss you but I know that I made your life worth living.
Your life was too short
and, yet,
I know that if you grew old with us,
we would never have the opportunity to open our homes again-
to another stray,
another rescue,
another puppy in need of a home.
The glazed over look in your eyes still haunts my dreams.
Yet, there was something in those eyes that I hadn't seen in so long, Chance.
Peace.
You were finally at peace again.
You were no longer old.
I just want you to know that I will never forget you.
And when another family dog joins us,
it is because of you...
that I will appreciate him just the same.

 

Gifts

November 14th 2009 8:36 pm
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I'm usually so good at giving rosettes and gifts when I receive them. I usually get to it right away. However, when Chance passed away, I admit, I was out of it. Returning the favor didn't cross my mind. However, I did read the messages and the rosettes, furever stars and special gifts received were appreciated. They each helped in their own little way. They let me know that I wasn't alone in the loss I was feeling. They let me know that there are other dog owners out there that understand. They let me know that even though Chance is gone, he is young again. He can chew all the pig ears he wants now and run as fast as he could when he was a young dog. I apologize for not sending out rosettes or gifts in return. I know it's not important. But, I want to make sure that everyone who sent me one knows that they were appreciated. Things like that just don't go unappreciated. Out of all the communities I've been on, I have never been on one with nicer members than there are at Dogster. Thanks for your kind words, thanks for your condolences. Thanks for letting me know that I am not alone.

 

How long has it been?

November 8th 2009 1:25 pm
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I'm not sure how long it's been. It's hard to remember time when you lose someone so dear. Has it been weeks already? Has it only been days? I miss you Chance. Things are getting harder down here on Earth and it feels odd not having you here to help me get through them. The other dogs- they do a wonderful job. But I still remember how you've always been there. Through everything. I remember when I was still a child and I would bury my face in your fur and cry. And you'd lick my face and make it right again. I can't do that now because you're not here and that sucks. To put it blunt. That sucks. I know you were old and I knew it was going to happen soon. But, even so, it feels like we didn't have enough time. When it comes to animals, it always feels like we don't have enough time. Your lives are too short and ours are far too long.

I'm down here missing you and thinking of you.

 

A Letter From the Bridge

October 29th 2009 10:28 am
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I thought I'd said everything that needed to be said in Chance's last Diary Entry. But, really, there was so much I left unsaid that I couldn't get out. Words that were stuck in me that I couldn't express. Last night, someone on Dogster sent me a link to a video that made me think of Chance. And, suddenly, the words started flowing and it was perfect. I wrote this before going to bed. The timeline isn't right, some of the happenings are in the wrong order. But, what matters is that it's what I was feeling when I wrote it- what I am feeling now. I wrote it from Chance's point of view because it was easier to word that way.

Dear Family,
You're far away today. Further away than you've been in eleven years. But we dogs don't measure our time in years, we measure it in moments. And looking back-counting the moments- I realize, I've always been one lucky dog. Out of all the moments in my life, there are a few that stand out the most. I think back to that first moment eleven years ago. I was no older than ten or eleven months old- yet, no one wanted me. I was a stray pit bull-type dog and for that reason alone, I was surely doomed. But one day, I was on your street. I could not walk because I was too malnourished. But a simple act changed my life. Even then, I was no small dog. Even then I was at least 35 lbs. Which isn't big, but it is for a child. And, yet, it was a child who approached me when no adult would. It was a child who reached out and picked me up. It was a child who carried me down the street to her mother. That is a moment a dog could never forget. After that, I spent most of my days in a dog house, unable to come out. I didn't stand a chance. Which marks the second moment in my life.
You guys loved me, fed me, tried to play with me. At first, it wasn't enough. I was sick. I wasn't trusting. I was afraid. Probably afraid of getting sicker. Probably afraid of being kicked back to the streets. But, finally, in one moment, I came out of my dog house and wagged my tail. Since that moment, I have been yours and you have been mine. That moment was a major turning point in my life. From that day on, I knew you were different. I knew I could trust you. I knew you trusted me, too.
There were the moments in between. The little ones that meant so much. First bath, attempts at walks- that often ended in me being carried home-, depressions, job losses, teenage years- that are so rough. I was there through it all. And it all marked a moment in my life. When I was found, a guinea pig had joined the pack and when he died, I was there. When Cinnamon joined the pack, I was there. I was there through Faith and Tigger. I was there when Gypsy was born. I was there when a new guinea pig came. I was there when he died. I was always there. And even when money was tight and you were pinching pennies- though most families would've seen me gone... I was there!
My next big moment was when we moved. The yard was bigger. So much bigger. Until then, I'd always been chained or tethered. But one of you children- you trusted me. You knew I couldn't jump a fence. You knew I wouldn't bite through. So, one day, the chain was released... and I loved it. Never had I felt so free. That moment was a big step for me. A big step for you all, too, because you felt a little more human. My patrols of the yard were easier. I could play, sleep, mark, lounge wherever I wanted and, I loved it. The big backyard was mine and it was wonderful.
I was there for so much... I was there when a step father died, when a child saw something a child should not see, through an abusive boyfriend, through an emotionally abusive girlfriend. I saw you cry, I saw you laugh, I saw you angry. I was there.
Soon after you moved, Lilo joined us. This time period marks not only a moment in Lilo's life, but mine as well. You started noticing that I was slowing down. I slept more, played less. My eyes looked wiser, older. I didn't run as fast to eat. I was no longer middle-aged. I was senior. And this scared you. How long did I have? Years? Months? Weeks? But I made it through that Winter. And that next Summer. And the Winter again. And, then, Sakura was born. In December, along came Sandy. I always loved Sandy. I enjoyed playing with her. During that time period, I was aging more and more. You realized my hearing was slipping. I had arthritis. My patrols were fewer and fewer. I now simply walked fast to eat. I was aging fast. You kept fearing each day would be my last. A couple of you even discussed putting me down. What kept me going was you. But when I had a senile moment and went off on Spot- who I usually loved- you knew my time left was short. I got through two more years. I saw Meepster and Precious and I saw Gypsy gone. I saw as the economy effected you. And I saw Meepster and Precious turn one. But my last big moment was coming. I tried holding on for you. In those last few days, I still ate and I still tried to patrol the yard. Though, mostly, I slept. Then, my patrols ceased and I merely barked.
That last day, when I was fed, I didn't even move when the door was open. I continued to sleep. And when you walked up to feed me, I still didn't move. The signs were there, but you denied them. I ate, but only half-heartedly. What goes through a dogs mind when he finally lets go? Well, a dog like me thinks about what his family did for him. You took me in off the streets even though I was a 'pit bull'. My rickets disabled me a bit- but you still loved me . And you never even thought of me as disabled. I was never a good dog, but you thought I was a great dog. You took good care of me when I was young and better care of me when I was old. I'd done so much in return, too. I protected you, I was always there for you, I put up with you even when your teenage rebellion caused you to ignore me. I loved all of you unconditionally. But, still, I realized you were suffering seeing me like that. I was, too. I no longer needed to protect you. The little ones do that themselves with their loud barks. And, when I'd be gone, you'd have six others to get you through the rough time. Six others to help ease the pain. That night, I faded away. I finally let go. The one thing I never did stand a chance against was old age. You all knew that the year I turned nine- all those years ago. But, now... now I'm no longer old. I'm young again. Arthritis free and hearing as well as I did that day you carried me home. I miss you of course and I can tell you do, too- but, always remember, even from my spot at the Rainbow Bridge- I'm there.

Your faithful companion,
Chance

 

Chance's Last Day

October 26th 2009 6:39 am
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I knew it would happen eventually. Honestly, I thought it would two long years ago when he started going deaf and slowed down a lot. But, Chance was always a fighter. He was a dog that could get through anything. He survived malnutrition. He fought rickets and won- even if he had a deformity, it didn't change the fact that he won. Before he came to us, he was obviously abused- and he got through that wagging his tail. That first day we had him, we didn't think he'd make it. My mom only agreed to let us keep him thinking he wouldn't make it through the night. The next day, he was still there. He was there the next. And the next. He wouldn't get out of his dog house, but he was there. And, on the seventh day, he got out of his dog house, wagging his tail, waiting for his can of dog food. And, since then, he was our family dog. Always there through everything. He got more than one of us through depression. He got us through job losses. Economy failure. Our adolesence. Our teenage years. He was there for it all. And, just like us, he got through it all. But, unlike us, he got through it without ever being depressed. His tail would still wag and he would still look at us with that look of life and happiness in their eyes. If Chance didn't want to keep alive for himself, he wanted to stay alive for us. More than anything, he loved making sure we were safe. He would do daily patrols of the yard- walking around the fence just watching and every time he saw someone, he'd bark until they were gone. When we were almost robbed, he chased the people away. He wanted to keep his family safe- and he did. In his last years, those patrols slowed down but he still made the effort. In his last days, they ceased completely- and that's when I knew. But, still, when he saw someone, he would stand up and bark and keep them away. I kept telling myself 'When it's time to let him go, he'll let us know.' and we'd been discussing the decision- but we never got to make it because yesterday and today WERE his last days. I came home last night at about 11:30 from the store, he was barking at someone walking by, my last words to him were "Yeah, you keep him away from the yard." which was perfect since that was something he loved doing. He passed away some time during the night. I will never forget him because he was the best darn family dog a family could've asked for. And though I knew it was coming, it still leaves a numbness that will never be gone. I hope he's having fun protecting Pumpkin, Zues, Faith, Hank and all our other Rainbow Bridge babies in Pet Heaven. Because, dog knows the animals will get there before the rest of us.

RIP Chance, Summer of 1998-Fall of 2009

 

Just another day to Chance...

May 31st 2009 3:53 pm
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I'm amazed Chance made it to the Spring. I honestly thought he wouldn't even make it through the winter, yet, here it is, almost Summer and he's still alive and kicking. But, after sitting outside with him today and spending the day with him, I'm beginning to realize something. He really is getting older. He seems to slow down every day. He's been on a senior formula for a few months now. Soon, he'll be gone. And that's scary. But, I enjoyed the time we spent together today. Even if he didn't want to play like he used to, even though all he wanted to do was lick my hand and lounge in the shade; Chance has taught me something. Dog ownership is a rainbow. Puppies are the ray of color on one end, the rainbow is the dogs life, and seniors are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Everyone with senior dogs that are nearing their end, just remember; when the time comes, he'll let you know. And, please don't make him stay miserable longer than he has to. I think Chance's time is drawing near.

 
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In Loving Memory of Chance


 

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