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Nothing But Love in Her Heart

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Apr 02

My Girls are home.

They’ve actually been home for quite a few weeks.  I expected them back around Valentine’s Day (I was going to surprise Paul) but due to the very bad snow in Seattle this winter, they were delayed a bit.  It was worth every minute of the wait.

I knew right away, when I decided we were going to go with Rainbow Bridge Hearts, what my girls’ colors would be.  Fallon—red, pink and gold.  Fallon’s color has always been red—when it wasn’t pink.  As a white dog, she looks greyt in every color, but despite being drop dead gorgeous, girly pretty to me, she was often mistaken for a boy.  We suspect it was because she was a big girl (for a greyhound) and had the boxy head rather than the needle-nose.  So we often went with pink, girly collars and jackets for her.  It rarely helped.  The red probably started with a racing vest we got her to match her sister Willow’s—we bought it in an auction, and it was red.  So red stuck as her theme color.

Fallon’s Heart

 

 

Willow was without a doubt to be green, gold, and brown.  Her coat colors were red and white, but red hair is more like a golden vibe—really pretty girl, my girl.  And her racing vest was green, so we often accessorized her with green.  She looked gorgeous in green.

Willow’s Heart

Choosing the shape was not difficult.  I was drawn much more to the spheres than the hearts—don’t know why.  But both my girls are clearly hearts.  We always said Fallon has nothing but love in her heart.  Can’t put a sphere on that.  And Willow had a heart on her back.

Willow’s Real Heart

No lie, so no choice to be made there, either.  Plus Paul was a fan of the heart shape.  Not a tough choice at all to make.

Rainbow Bridge Hearts was a dream to work with.  They hold your hand every step of the way so you know what to expect—they made it super easy.  You contact them, they mail you a kit with explicit instructions and everything you need.   They emailed us to confirm our girls arrived.  When their creation day was delayed, they also kept us in the loop, and assured us our girls were tucked safely in a warm, dry safe.  It was like they were on an extended visit with our new friends Rich and Erin.  They really understand how important this is, how sending your loves away in the mail in a metal box inside a cardboard box is rough, and how much out pets really, really mean to us.  Their compassion was really evident.  When the girls were on the way home, we knew it.  And the final result for both is breathtaking.  We also got the lighted stand for both because it just seemed like it would be really cool.  We were correct.

Most who read this blog may know *of* Willow—let me tell you more.

I met Willow at a rough time in my life.  Paul and I were living separately at the time.  I was looking for a dog and got semi-serious about a Jack Russell Terrier, and even more so about a big dark boy named Toad, a giant sized mix breed boy.  I never really chose Toad, but his adoption group felt he needed to live with a woman, so they chose me, told me we were perfect for each other.  I went through the home visit and we got along fine, but it didn’t feel 100%.  However, I *wanted* to love him.  I decided to see him again at an adoption clinic the next weekend—and did.  Same.  Paul visited with me and right after that, he asked “Where are the greyhounds today?”

I fell in love with Willow online that summer, but she disappeared—she was adopted before I could meet her.  Weeks later, in the Fall, I met Toad, then went to the greyhound adoption clinic at Paul’s urging, and Willow was there.  I immediately recognized her, she is a unique beauty.   Turns out she was adopted and returned—she got stuck in a kitty door while pursuing a cat.  The door needed to be removed to free her.  Shortest adoption/return turnaround on record, per our greyhound group president, the stuff legends are made of.  Things happen for a reason.  She was meant to be my girl.

The Day We Met

Those who knew her would say Willow had a unique personality, especially for the normally laid-back, aloof greyhound breed..  She was the ultimate self-centered, drama queen.  She would hold her paw up when we took a walk, and I was supposed to—clean it, I guess.  I frequently never saw anything on or in her pads.  Our doctor could not find an issue.  Nonetheless, I was happy being her slave, I would give it a little massage and we’d proceed.  She could not move if the leash got between her legs, she would freeze and I would be expected to fix it.  Of course I would, I waited on her hand and foot.  She was my girl.

Willow and Mom

She always seemed happy to see the greyhounds when we’d visit her old group, and she was VERY excited when I surprised her (and me) when I brought Fallon home to live with us.  They coexisted peacefully, a greyt sister-pair.

 

Valentines

At Seneca Lake

With Paul on the Patio

Christmas Decorations

Sharing Ben and Jerry’s in P-Town

On Remote Squirrel Patrol

 

I am 99% sure Willow also had osteosarcoma.  We lost her when she had a horrible broken leg, just out of the blue.  Our vet did an xray and we saw how the bone had deteriorated.  She was 13, and we had to make a decision then and there.  Even if I knew as much as I know now about osteosarcoma/Tripawd life, I don’t think we would have gone the same way we did with Fallon.  99% sure, anyway.

Anyway, I digress.  My girls are home.  They are back with me.  They are beautiful, in a different way.  And while I’ll never hold them or hug them again, it gives me some level of comfort to have them here, in heart-form.  Some comfort, not all I need.

I can’t tell you how much I miss them.  No number’s big enough.

Feb 17

Fallon has been gone since September.  It seems like forever.  Things are still going tenuously, sometimes OK, sometimes horrible—living without her still seems impossible, yet we’re doing it.  Nighttime is awful, I have been sleeping with headphones on, piping noise into my brain so I don’t have to listen to my thoughts. I can’t stop thinking about her and second guessing everything we did.

 

Given that, I can’t say I would change anything.  We made the decisions we did based on the best knowledge we had at the time.  Someday I’ll blog on things we learned, though—if we ever had to go through this again, with the benefit of hindsight I may do things differently.  I have some really good thoughts to share.  Today I don’t have the energy.  I intended to write something on Valentine’s Day, just couldn’t pull it off.

Paula started a forum topic on heart dogs—are they born or made?  I followed it closely, really wanted to chime in, just couldn’t get my thoughts together.  And I can’t answer. I think my bond with Fallon grew as a result of her diagnosis and having to navigate treatment together—but it was there before that too.  We were an amazing team, I just can’t say what made us so perfect.  I have Maggie and Dani now, and love them dearly, but I don’t feel the bond I did with Fallon.  I sometimes wonder how they would weather all Fallon was subjected to as a result of her diagnosis, while with Fallon, I had no question she would be all on board with whatever I came up with for her.

Maggie and Dani love each other most of the time

Dogs in Montreal

Fallon’s been unpacked and downstairs for a few weeks now.  I had been having trouble moving her from in her paper box next to my bed to a more suitable place.  Eventually, I did it.  I dusted the spot I envisioned her staying, put her, in her wooden box with some of her mementos nearby—her ID tag collar, her beaded name necklace, her pawprint, in a spot of honor near her sister Willow.  It’s been OK, but I don’t feel the sense of accomplishment I thought I would.  And her wooden box is really ugly, it has unnatural streaks in the wood grain, like they should have used more stain.  We got the free box because nothing else in the catalog seemed suitable.  I will find her just the right thing.  As soon as it’s nice out, I will put some of her ashes in the yard where she loved to spend her time more than anything–except cuddling, so if we cuddled there it was her favorite day.  She had a lot of favorite days.  And we’re headed to Dewey Beach the first week of April.  She’s going there, too.

Fallon’s kingdom

One of the best Dewey pics of all time. Fallon loved the beach.

I did order a Rainbow Bridge Heart to remember her—not that I would ever forget her.  Some of her ashes (along with her sister Willow’s) are in Seattle right now, safe in a safe in a glass blowing studio.  They tell me their hearts will be created somewhere around February 22.  The date was delayed because of the severe storms in the Northwest.  I’ve been oddly worried, and miss my girls after mailing a small piece of them off.  The bulk of them is still here.  I can’t explain it.  I can’t wait until they are home.

from Rainbow Bridge Hearts

I have a long way to go, still.  I trust things will feel better.  The slow progress is frustrating.  A piece of my heart is gone and will never come back.  Super crazy.  Working on it.

Dec 28

It’s Fallon’s twelfth Gotcha Day December 30th–New Year’s Eve Eve is the day I picked her up from the Dunkin’ Donuts.  I always joked with her that I bought her there because she is the sweetest thing.  She always laughed at my jokes.  We picked her up there because it is a place close to where our adoption group president lives, it’s easy to meet there.  We’ve gotten a few of our dogs from Dunkin’ Donuts.

We met Fallon the weekend before, ran across her accidentally when we took our grrl Willow out for a ride and to visit other greyhounds.  We didn’t intend to fall in love that day, but after we spent at least an hour—probably more—loving on her in the Benson’s Pet Center where the adoption clinic was.  After we left,  I couldn’t get her out of my mind—or heart.  That would turn out to be true forever.  I called later that evening to see if she was still available, and was floored to find that God’s most perfect creature still was not scooped up by someone with more foresight—she was so mine.  I committed to adopt her then.

We brought her home despite my best judgment and instincts.  I always wanted to do the best by my dogs, and worried about the financial responsibility.  My heart won, though, and she was ours.  Turned out I was right about financial challenges, but even knowing what I know now, I would not change a thing—except maybe hopping into the time machine and buying pet insurance years ago.  This grrl was meant for us.  I can’t imagine what life would be like if I never had her.

It’s hard not to say she was the best dog ever, but I think that about all our dogs we’ve ever had.  They are all special in their distinct, unique ways.  Fallon was close to perfect, though, as far as what our ideal match for a dog would be—lovey-dovey, easy going, super friendly, full of nothing but love.  She would look you straight in the eyes, stare at you intently with her big, beautiful eyes, and you could feel her looking straight into your heart and soul, knowing we were the center of her universe, we meant everything to her.  She loved us so much.

Such a good girl, perfectly perfect in every way—except for nail cutting, which we always struggled with—she put up with everything we put her through.  We put her through it because I was sure she was up for it…and she was.  What an awesome Tripawd grrrl.  Happy, healthy outside of the cancer, looking forward to our daily time in the yard was her very favorite thing to do.  She’d hop around for a little, then we would lie down together, just cuddling and watching the clouds go by.  Nothing made her happier, and I am happy we prioritized this time with her.  It was perfect for both of us.  She taught us the true meaning of “Be More Dog”.

Fallon’s kingdom

Her osteosarcoma challenged us beyond anything anyone in love should ever be challenged with, but I wouldn’t change any decision we made together on her behalf.  She was up for the challenge until the very end, and met each test we ran across with grace and enthusiasm, as well as trust for us and the process.  We were an amazing team due to her positivity.

We’ve had a number of dogs, so have been through losing them before, and it is always very painful.  Losing Fallon has seemed worse.  I think we had an extra special bond, and going through the treatment process just made that stronger.  Cancer treatment became a lifestyle, and while that sounds negative, I am only referring to the structure of our days that revolved around what Fallon needed—various appointments—some hours from home, meds at various times through the day, strategic time in the yard, exercise and walks, cooking her special diet and meal prep in the morning—losing this structure and sense of purpose has been oddly difficult as well.  Adjusting to NOT having these responsibilities has been a challenge.

I miss her so much.  I miss our hugs. I miss her boundless, unconditional love.  I miss how excited she would get, even on 3 legs she would dance around like a madman absolutely elated over—anything: my coming home, a walk, food…anything….except nails.   I physically ache knowing I’ll never touch her again.

She taught us so much—how to keep fighting despite adversity, how to advocate, even when you don’t know the right answers (I am a social worker and thought I knew this and was good at it, doing it every day—no way, compared to the extent I could go out of my comfort zone advocating  for Fallon), how to find the right answers and options, and educate myself on topics I know nothing about—and didn’t used to care, where supports are, and where they are not.  She taught us love—what unconditional love is, and the wonderful feeling of being adored—and adoring her strongly right back.  Fallon taught me about  what hope really is, and how it can keep us going, against all odds, contrary to what makes sense—you always chase hope, if you see it—and if you don’t, keep trying to find it.  Maybe it’s there, maybe it’s not—but you’ll regret if it *was* there and you let it slip away.

There will be other dogs—no other Fallons, but other individuals, special and perfect in their own way.  Fallon was one who gave me more than I could ever give back to her.  I hope I can do her memory justice.

Tripawd Fan

 

Dec 17

I can’t convey how difficult the past 3 months have been.  Life without Fallon on earth has been quite a transition—as has been life on earth without Fallon.  I still feel a good amount of pain.  There have been tons of challenges, and I have been facing each one with a “fake it ‘til you make it” approach, with varying levels of success—mostly low to none.  But I try, I do.

She still sits at my bedside in a wooden box inside of a paper box, this paper box has all sorts of other things in it—her plaster footprint, some charm, a poem, our bill—all put there by Forget Me Not, the business who cremated her.  I reach over to touch her during the night, and visit her during the day.  It brings me some level of comfort.  I have walked around the house just hugging her when I am upset.  And while this sounds horribly, horribly dysfunctional, perhaps borderline crazy–know that I agree with you.   I am entertaining the thought of moving her.   Maybe even today and that is progress.

We have some  shelves set aside for her, I have yet to dust and clean them, because cleaning and moving her there will be just one more step toward this all being real.  But I think about it more and more.  Maybe today.

I had a burst of positive energy last week after seeing an ad for one of those businesses that makes your baby’s ashes into a beautiful globe or heart.  I took the pictures to Paul and he’s all on board.  So I think we’ll do that.  I like the globe and he likes the heart–but I won’t fight this one, the heart is greyt.  Red’s her color.

from Rainbow Bridge Hearts

from Rainbow Bridge Hearts

I had the idea we’d scatter some of her ashes in the yard—her favorite place on earth, where we spent hours upon hours just laying and hugging.  Paul is in opposition.  We plan to move some day and won’t always have this yard.  My counterpoint is that Fallon won’t know our new yard, she knows this yard.  This is where she should stay, at least a bit of her.  I’m still working on this one.   I have found gorgeous urns online, and actually spoke with the artist when we were in Dewey Beach for Greyhound Week in October.

From The Barking Tree on Etsy. This is only an example, Pete Wade, the artist, will work with us to create something absolutely perfect.

He realized I was not ready by my sobbing—but I know where he is when I am.  So wherever we move, the rest of Fallon—what is not in the beautiful globe or heart and in the lawn, will come with us—wherever we go—in the lovely urn.

That’s a far as I have gotten.  I am encouraged, though, because any level of forward motion has been a losing proposition lately.  This is progress.  Maybe I’ll make more today.  And I concur there are more substantive things to work on, this is just where my aching heart has taken me right now.

Some of you might not know we have gotten another greyhound to be a sister to Maggie.  Her name is Danica.  We call her Dani.

I had been hoping for Fallon to give a sign that she approved of Dani.  I think it came during our annual Christmas visit to Niagara Falls, ON.  We walked and walked, and met many people.  Dani is really Fallon-esque in her friendliness, and tried to make eye contact with everyone, strategically placing herself under their idle hands waiting for attention, whether they wanted this or not.  I was encouraged that she was so much like our angel girl but the one thing that happened that solidified Fallon’s approval—in fact, that she may have even paw-picked Dani–was that Dani climbed up on a rail by a fountain to see the water better.  Fallon loved the water, and probably would have tried to jump in.  Dani may have also, except we are alert to all things she does, so we can correct her when she needs it.  That sounds like nothing as I write it.  You probably had to be there and know us and Fallon to really appreciate it, but Paul and I both got it—we looked at each other in tears.  We both really felt our girl then.

I do miss writing here, it is just not as much fun—but we’re still here.

Merry Christmas and all the holiday greetings to you for whatever you celebrate this special season <3

Ashley Wilbur Photography 2018

Dawn, Paul, Maggie and Dani

Oct 11

OK

Posted in Uncategorized       4 Comments »

I find myself oddly OK today—at least no more bent out of shape than is usual for me these days.  Today is Fallon’s one year ampuversary.  It’s rainy here.  I’m kind of glad.  All my party plans for her centered around the yard, and I am sure we would be there if she was here for the party.  I dreaded this day coming, because I had been looking forward to it for months, to celebrate with Fallon, to treat her and love her on her special day.  I never dreamed we would not have her today.  I got overconfident.  I stayed awake all night dreading today arriving, and thinking I’d be more of a mess than usual, but I’m actually pretty solid right now.  Relatively speaking.

I had a dream a couple of weeks ago, so real that I could feel her soft fur.  She hopped up to me—three legs, I think everyone thinks they get their leg back, but not always.  She stood in front of me with her pretty smile and we hugged and hugged, then we laid down and hugged some more.  I rubbed the spot her leg was, I always did that, and would always cuddle with my hand over it.  She always lay with that side facing up. As I think back, I feel happy that we did that frequently.  Her favorite thing to do was a daily affair.  For that dream, that one brief part of one night and not since, I felt whole again, so wonderful, not awful, as my baseline is now.

We took a trip to the beach a couple of weeks ago—bittersweet, as this time last year was Fallon’s last 4 leg vacation.  In fact, it was the day after we returned that I called my vet and insisted on an x-ray, as she was still limping.  We got the news of her osteosarcoma the following day and our lives changed forever.

Maggie had a greyt time there.  I think she likes being with other dogs.  She recently stayed with a friend who has 4 greyhounds, and we were afraid she wouldn’t want to come home with us—but she eagerly did.  I see another greyhound sometime in our future.  I think Maggie will need to choose her new sibling, just as Fallon chose Maggie…but my ideal dog would be a love sponge just like my pretty Fally.  I am nowhere near ready, but last night I kept thinking—while not sleeping—what if our perfect match is out there?

I have to turn things around, I’m just having some trouble mobilizing.  Crying does get in the way, as does not wanting to leave the house.  I’ve alienated quite a few well-meaning friends by bursting into tears and running away.  So isolating is easier.  I’ve been trying to stay pretty together for Maggie.  I’d hate her knowing her mom is crazy.

I have more to say, I’m just not into it right now.  A few weeks ago I was thinking this blog was done, and it made me sad. Well, sadder.   This was our way to help other lost folks who were in the clueless, but educable position we once were when faced with horrible news about their bestest friend. But there’s still stuff to share….I think.

So, more to come…once I stop crying.