Ramblings (Dogs, Family, Fairness)

WARNING SHOT: This might be a long post. I typically have a 500 word limit, but I’m breaking it tonight. I’m hoping enough people aren’t scared off that they go ahead and read this.

I probably won’t be very funny. It hasn’t been a very funny time. There’s been laughs, and smiles intermittently, but lots of tears and talking too. HopeToBeMommy officially miscarried on Monday, September 26th. hCG is likely down very close to zero as of tonight. It’s been a hell of a two weeks, and while we’ve had our happy moments, it’s a two-week span I would definitely not choose to re-live. There’s so many reminders of that loss everywhere….the normal breeders just wouldn’t understand. You have to live the miscarriage, and then survive the reminders afterward. It’s a sick, twisted fate.

This would be enough for ANYONE to have to go through. We buried ourselves in work, alcohol and TV in order to get through that first week. And then, well, Friday afternoon (September 30th) happened.

Josie was the sweetest soul you could ever have hoped to meet. The fact that she was a beagle didn’t diminish that one iota. We adopted her when she was 8 from a local rescue. Back then, we were newly married and new homeowners. We were living the American dream, that dream that every couple gets to live, or so it seems. We fell in love, got married, bought a house…we weren’t ready for kids yet (oh, how much we had to learn). But the next obvious step was a dog.

We’d been thinking about it for a while, but it came to a boil over point when I had to travel two weeks in a row for work. HopeToBeMommy had been okay by herself in an apartment when I’d traveled, but she’d been having a difficult time adjusting to being alone in a new house in a new neighborhood. There was little choice at that point but to go out and find a companion to share our house with her while I was gone. There was one part of ‘traditional’ that neither of us wanted anything to do with, however, and that was a puppy. She hadn’t really grown up with dogs, and while I had, I wasn’t going to always be around to do the training and stuff. It was to be an adult dog, which we considered to be quite noble at any rate. After all, what better deed than to adopt a dog who, suddenly in adulthood, had no permanent home?

We thought 3-5 years old would be ideal, but as soon as we saw that 8-year-old beagle at a rescue event, we knew she was ours. She had these eyes….well, you can’t really explain it. But they were these innocent, friendly eyes that made everyone who met her, love her. They explained to us that she had been very obese, cared for by a woman who gave in to her love of food too much, and while she’d lost a lot of the weight, she’d need help to lose the rest through lots of walks. Sounded great to me. We took her home, gave her a much-needed bath and she was instantly a part of the family. I mean it. No transition period, nothing. She loved everyone and hardly ever barked. Never howled. People who didn’t like dogs (like Lisa’s stepmom) ended up LOVING this dog….she is the only dog to this day that was welcomed into her home.

Everyone thinks their dog is the greatest…and everyone is probably right. Nevertheless, Josie was something special. I’ll never meet another dog like her. After HTBM’s miscarriage, she didn’t leave her side for two days. Sure, she was now 13.5 years old and loved to sleep….but she was extremely caring. She all of the sudden wasn’t eating as enthusiastically as always, but she’d eat eventually. I was worried in the back of my mind but I had enough to think about so I pushed it away.

Then Friday. I came home and she wasn’t herself. Shallow breathing, difficulty walking…she wasn’t comfortable. I took her in and they gave her muscle relaxers and pain killers, hoping it was her back and she slipped a disc or something. If things didn’t get better, we were to bring her back in. When HTBM got home, she noticed swelling in her back left leg and paw. Like fluid retention. We decided to bring her in again right away on Saturday morning (October 1). That night, I couldn’t sleep. As I listened to her not be able to get comfortable, not be able to sleep, not be able to breathe normally, I knew what was coming. I knew when I went to bed the next night, she wouldn’t be there….laying against the back of my knees, sprawled out between the two of us. I knew that she wouldn’t be waking me up at 6 AM for breakfast. I knew she wouldn’t be following me around as I made dinner the next night. She’d be…gone.

We brought her in that morning, and you don’t need to know the details. Bottom line, it wasn’t good. She was going to get worse. And probably quickly. I couldn’t see that. There’s no wrong decision here…but personally, for me, I couldn’t watch my little girl suffer. That isn’t something I’m going to do, and neither is HTBM. We brought her home for a little bit, loved her up, then brought her back. We were there at the end, and while it was really, really hard…it was peaceful too. She fell asleep in her favorite bed that we brought from home. We got to spend time with her afterward too and just feel her one last time, smell her and kiss her…just one more time.

The problem is we think of our pets as kids. It’s impossible not to, but we almost always outlive them. They get old…and they die. There is absolutely no stopping it, yet we keep getting pets. I think it’s because they bring so much happiness to us. I miss her so, so much. I don’t think I will ever stop missing her. I don’t think I want to.

So since then, it’s been a hell of a week. I kind of want to stop here, but I’ll push through. We moved from one pain to another, and I’m not really sure where one mourning stopped and the other began. HTBM and I were talking today and we don’t think we finished mourning our little guy who left us so shortly after becoming a part of us. We moved on prematurely…and now we find ourselves regressing.

My parents were over this weekend, which was nice. They chose to stay with us instead of my twin brother and his wife and baby, which I thought was very cool. Still, when it came time for the outing to the apple orchard with them this afternoon, we had to pass. Not sure what apple orchards in the autumn are like across the country (and world), but here in Minnesota, there are TONS of young couples and their babies and toddlers that go there on weekends. It still feels too raw. We had to watch my parents and my brother’s family move ahead to the apple orchard outing….while we stayed where we were at. Felt way too much like a metaphor.

I got to chat for a while with my dad last night. He isn’t always the most outwardly caring guy ever, but he’s really smart, really empathetic and kind. He told me that when we were all together, he sometimes felt like he should hold back on doting on my twin brother’s kid, even though he never did so. That he felt pulled in two different directions, and while he loved to see his grandson, he also knew there must be a level of pain there for us somewhere. The last thing he wants to do is contribute to that. I told him that’s not fair to my brother and his kid, and it’s really not…but I appreciate the sentiment. I appreciate the caring. Not many people ‘get it’ like that. When there are so many that simply don’t understand what we’re all going through, it’s nice to have one person who gets damn close. I love my dad a lot. I want to be that smart and empathetic for my kid one day.

It’s not fair. It’s not fair when we have to battle so hard to get pregnant. It’s not fair when we finally get what we want, yet it’s taken away. And it’s not fair that when you’re at your lowest, you lose the best dog in the world. This is about as bad as it gets…at least, you’d think so.

I ran into an old friend at lunch today. He married the younger sister of another classmate from high school. It reminded me that this classmate had two kids…but the younger one was struck with a disease that ended up being terminal. Sometime after his 3rd birthday, he passed away. I remember at the time reading about the pain that they experienced. I couldn’t then and still cannot now imagine what that must feel like. To lose a child in that way…watching him deteriorate in a hospital setting and feeling helpless…it must be worse than anything in the world.

They are now pregnant again with their 3rd child, this friend reported. They were able to move through the pain, find solace, and continue to live. And all I can think of at this point is, we will too. It’s amazing what we as human beings can persevere through. There will come a time when our hearts will be repaired; sure, the scars will always be there. But we’ll heal.

We will persevere.

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4 responses to “Ramblings (Dogs, Family, Fairness)

  1. Ugh, I’m so sorry you had to deal with both the miscarriage and the loss of Josie at the same time. No fun at all.

    But I’m glad your dad gets it and is good support for you.

    *hugs* to you both.

  2. I’m so sorry about both of your losses and all of the reminders.

    Your dad sounds amazing. It’s great that you have such a wonderful role model and support system

  3. I’m so sorry. I mostly lurk, but I’ve come out to share with you a few things. First, I’m always a little surprised at your ability and talent of articulating difficult subject matters. Your writing is honest and has a nice balance of eloquence and candor.

    Second, your post brought back a memory of something I saw on NPR about a year ago. I finally found it & thought that you might enjoy it. For me, it gracefully depicted what our pets do for us…just as you expressed.

    The link:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2010/10/03/130312296/vimeo-contest

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your wife.

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