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Nothing But Love in Her Heart

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

Maybe Today.

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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


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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.

Sep 20

The Blog Post below was written by a friend of mine.  It makes me cry, probably in a good way, although any crying is unwanted at this point; it’s been excessive.  The picture of Fallon was created by another friend.   I wanted to share these sweet gestures with you.  I have been watching the sky for my girls.

We’re trying to continue making awesome memories with Maggie.  This week is our biannual trip to Dewey Beach, and we’re here.  She has been loving the beach.

Fallon is our September 16, 2018 Pup of the Week

We stand up to cancer!  We fight it, we raise money to research it, sometimes we even wrestle it to a draw.  But in the end, it either wins or something else takes us, before cancer can finish the job.

The list of angels whose mortal life ended because of cancer would fill 1,000,000 blogs.  This week another cancer warrior, Fallon, joined us.

Fallon battled the cancer demon with such ferocity that I thought she would escape its evil grasp.  She surrendered her front leg to the cause and continued onward with her life like a tick had been removed, not a limb.  Every soul who knew Fallon rooted for her with all their spirit. Sadly, we are only given so many heartbeats, and those can be robbed from us.  Nothing steals heartbeats like cancer.

A little less than a year ago, at age 11, Fallon was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and given a devastating prognosis.  Her parents had two options: Amputation or Rainbow Bridge. Fallon was in pain from the tumor, but she was courageous and enthusiastic.  Her parents could not send her to the Bridge when she was in high spirits. The decision was made to amputate.

How would a greyhound, who loved to run, like Fallon adapt to losing her front leg?  The answer was swimmingly. Fallon, no longer in pain from the tumor, barely noticed the missing limb.  She was back to being the dog her parents remembered before cancer affected their baby.

Fallon would stay with her parents past her twelfth birthday.  There were wins and losses, as there always are with cancer. Shortly after her birthday, the stolen heartbeats exceeded the remaining ones.    Her parents had fought, along with Fallon, so hard against cancer, and it was hard to accept the battle was ending. When you have a sick dog their health becomes the center of your life.  Without having Fallon’s struggles to concentrate on, Fallon’s parents would be adrift. But, they loved their girl, and, despite the pain it caused them, they sent her free.

Meanwhile, on our side of the River of Life, we waited for Fallon to arrive.  We didn’t see her, but the dust cloud caused by all four of her paws digging into the ground and pushing off, as she flew through the air, enjoying running like she had when she was a puppy, could be seen for miles.

She ran past all of us awaiting her and kept going, over the fields, through the meadows, into the hills, and over the mountains.   She was enjoying having the legs, hearts, and lungs of a young dog again, but also running away from the sorrow of losing her parents.  We dogs do run from pain, and Fallon felt a tremendous amount after leaving her parents, so she kept going. Fallon heard pounding paws next to her and turned to see her sister Willow, who had arrived at the Bridge previously, alongside.  The former greyhound racers challenged one another. Willow was the better runner, but she kept dropping back to keep her sister nearby.

We waited for hours as Fallon kept trying to run the pain away until she and Willow finally joined us, We gave her wings in case she wanted to fly and watched the sisters soar together even faster than they ran.

That night Willow took Fallon to see their parents, which eased her sister’s pain.  Unfortunately, humans are not allowed to see their angels. We pray for their parents, so they can somehow overcome their anguish.

Maggie, who joined their pack after Willow went to the Bridge, can see her angel sisters, and she is being taught how to make her parents smile.   Willow and Fallon are confident that Maggie is the dog to do it.

Willow and Fallon want their parents to know, if they ever see small clouds in a row, they were caused by their two greyhounds, running hard across the sky.

From:  Small Tales: The Big Adventures of Tiny Terrierists

Sep 16

My warrior girl is gone.  My love, my heart, my Fally…

I knew someday I would need to write something like this.  I never thought it would be this soon.  All indications were that Fallon was doing awesome.  Two weeks ago we saw 2 doctors—good reports from each.  X-rays and bloodwork were good.  You can be too confident, and if you are, you can get blindsided.  Last week, we lost her.  My girl is gone.  I am devastated.  Confused.  Angry. Cheated.  The pain is overwhelming.

Paul got me the angel greyhound around the time Willow died. I had just gotten the Teeny Tripawds Heart from the Tripawds Etsy Store. It’s gorgeous, says Fallon on the back.

Paul and I decided we’d go down to Mustang week in Myrtle Beach.  I dropped the girls off early with our trusted petsitter on Tuesday, and things were awesome—both of them exploring the house, taking treats, they were with their good friends, excited to be there so barely noticing I was leaving—which I like.  It gives me a level of comfort that they are happy.  Paul and I started off, we got as far as Roanoke, VA—9 hours from home, 4 more hours to Myrtle Beach.  At 7:30PM., we settled into a hotel, went to get some dinner, then sleep.

At around 12:45AM, our petsitter called frantically—Fallon was having bloody diarrhea,   and had stationed herself in the bathroom and wouldn’t leave.  She took Fallon to the emergency vet.  I wasn’t going to sleep anymore, so I waited for the e-vet to call to update.  Fallon was in rough shape.  Her bloodwork had many concerning features.  My head is still sketchy about details, all that was clear now is that I wanted to be with her.  We left the hotel around 3AM, and started driving home, 9 hours without stops by the map.  No coffee, didn’t want to spend time on extra bathroom stops.  We went directly to the hospital, arrived about 1PM the next day.

The doctors consulted us every step of the way, we talked every couple of hours on the trip home, and we visited 4 or 5 times over the course of the afternoon and evening.  I was also working the phones, trying to get input from our other doctors.  We kept telling the e-vet to proceed with treatment because even if it was small, if it seemed there was a chance of recovery AND pain/discomfort was not a factor, we wanted to run with hope.  She had her ups and downs. The last night we went to bed with a bit more hope, her blood pressure was improving and bloodwork was looking a bit better.  But the next morning, she hurt to be touched.  She was still bleeding.  We went to see her and it was clear she was in pain.  We had no more good choices left.  We hugged her and kissed her and sang in her ear, and cuddled her and told her she was the best girl ever, such a good, good girl, and what a hard worker she is, and how soft and pretty she is, what a good job she’s done, and how much we love her.  We will always love her.

What happened?  No clear answers.  Maybe that’s the most disconcerting thing.  She had the issue labeled anxiety at the oncologist the week prior.  Yet she had awesome x-rays and bloodwork.  We saw our primary vet the very next day and got meds for anxiety.   I never had a chance to give them, they were PRN and she never showed symptoms afterward.  When I left her off at the petsitter, she was awesomely normal…exploring, sniffing, hopping around, eating treats—totally normal.  I left without her even noticing, she was so comfortable.

A couple of people mentioned hemangiosarcoma, without collaborating, without prompting, based only on my description of symptoms.  My grasp on the disease via google makes it a plausible explanation.  I called the e-vet doc afterward, the doctor who took care of her the longest to discuss this, all she could say was there were no clear answers what caused this, but it could be, she supposed. No commitment, the e-vet docs weren’t on that mission—they were addressing her symptoms and trying to save her.  I am grateful for all they did. Our other doctors could only reiterate what the e-vet reported to them.  What I get was she had severe gastroenteritis, as serious as they had ever seen.  Her blood wasn’t clotting (which is a greyhound thing, and they gave her the appropriate med to address, once the issue was identified), her liver and kidney values were way off, even for a greyhound.  No explanation of why, no crystal ball available.  I just put together a fresh batch of food—did I screw up somehow with that?  Maybe it had something to do with whatever was labeled stress the prior week.  Maybe we should have examined that further, I just accepted it as good news.  Maybe we should have pushed and paid for pathology tests after the fact, an autopsy to understand, just for closure…but in the moment, grieving, gutted, floored by the quick events of the last 24 hours and also cognizant of the thousands of bucks we just spent to not get our girl in the end, that didn’t happen.  I will be keeping my side hustles for more than a few more months now to get back on track financially, but I don’t care.  When you see hope, you chase it.  But maybe, given the way I feel now, some answers would be good.  It’s too late to second guess.  I’ll always be looking for answers that will never come.

My girl is still gone.  Nothing changes that anyway, no matter what we do.

I cry even more when I think of all the last times I didn’t know were the last.  When was the last time we cuddled in the yard?  Fed her breakfast? Took a walk for fun?  Played chase?  I even cry that we never realized the last time we were at the Veterinary Cancer Center really was the last time.  I didn’t make her favorite chicken-rice balls that week because it was too hot to bake.  Now I regret it.  I’ve been perseverating over choices I made—right or wrong, no way to tell now, and it’s only making me crazier.  I keep on with it nonetheless.

Maggie is lost.  She yields to a Fallon that isn’t there.  She waits to eat, won’t go out the door first, is really trepidatious about lying on a bed that is traditionally Fallon’s.  We’ve been walking, doing miles, talking and crying, Paul, Maggie and me on a mission to feel better.  Maybe someday it will work.  It hasn’t for me yet.  Maggie won’t let either of us out of her sight. She whips around to make sure we’re all there.  She’s already missing one of our family, she won’t let the others get away.  She’s uncharacteristically clingy, which is fine, it’s how I like my dogs.  But it hasn’t been her nature prior.  Her retirement job was being a sister, she’s the best at it.  This happened with Fallon too, after Willow died.  Another dog would probably help Maggie out, it helped Fallon.  I am nowhere near ready.

Our rose garden has been struggling this year, I think it’s been too hot for them to thrive.  We were outside last weekend, crying and, reading sweet, heartfelt messages about Fallon from the Tripawds forums.  Paul noticed a sign Fallon may have for left us…after nothing happening all summer, we had roses blooming—white, for my white girl, and pink, because everyone always thinks she is a boy.  We always dressed her in pink but people still thought she was a boy.  I think because she was a big girl with a boyish frame.

I don’t know how to not hurt yet—but I’m working on it.  It’s overwhelming, and impacting everything I do.  I feel a strong urge to simplify my life significantly.  I can go along, seemingly fine, and burst out crying.  Paul’s the rational one now—usually it’s me.  He says we have tons of greyt memories with Fallon.  We need to reflect on those, treasure those—and start making more greyt memories with Maggie.  I really, really want to.  Remember to do that with your loves, too.

I will always love this picture of her. She is in her favorite place in the world, the yard.  It’s so her–happy, happy girl.

We’ll keep in touch.  I want to post some stories about Fallon that you might not know.  She really, really was a special, special girl, she will never be forgotten.  I’ll let you know some of the new greyt memory making things we do with Maggie.  Thank you, all of you, for the support and love you give us.  You have been there for us from the beginning, I feel like you understand what I am going through more than most.

Fally, I’ll see you on the moon.  I always used to sing that to her, it’s a favorite of ours.  Imagine it with dog names in it.

Horrible, horrible hurt.