Monday, January 15, 2018

Pretty Sad Day

           If you've never owned a dog, you may not get why I keep posting about our dog.

Today was the final chapter in Charlie's thirteen year life. We woke up by seven AM and were on the way to the vet before eight. It may sound crazy but think Charlie was ready too. We put him on the leash and he willingly sauntered out to my car and slowly climbed into my back seat. He promptly laid down. We got to the Vet and he lumbered back out of the car. He usually doesn't take direction well, especially from strangers in a strange place but followed all commands asked by the techs...from stepping on to the scale to following another tech out of the room to have a catheter put into his leg.

At this point, Tim said he didn't really want to be in the room while they administered the shot.

I said Charlie has been by our side for almost thirteen years. What kind of people would we be, if we weren't by his side now?

They brought him back in to the room and the tech gave him a treat from a cup off the counter. Charlie slowly chewed it up and she said "You can have the entire cup if you want " and poured it onto the dog bed where I was sitting with him.

I immediately liked these people and knew we had found our new Orlando animal clinic.

Charlie never seemed nervous or anxious, which I was worried about, because I was nervous and anxious.

The vet came in and asked us a few questions about Sir Charles. She asked if we wanted to try some pain medication to help with his joint and breathing problems first. I told her we had tried  but at this point felt it best for him to simply be released from all his aches and pain.

She agreed, just stating she was obligated to ask. She also remarked how astounded she was that he was a thirteen year old English Bulldog.

She was very gentle and caring with Charlie, as well as with Tim and me.  She asked if we were ready and with tears and snot already flowing said yes.

Here's the thing. I never thought Charlie would be as calm as he was, especially knowing he could totally sense our anxiety.

He never flinched, he never tried to get up.

The ole boy just wanted his release and think was okay with that, as long as we were right by his side. 

And we were.

It took less than a minute.

It broke part of my heart but filled the other,  knowing he was whole again.

Silent car ride home for us both, except for commenting about how great the staff had been after first getting back into the car....sans Charlie.

Half of me is relieved for him. He much deserved rest from his pain. The other half is an emotional wreck.

I went into work at noon and I was okay until someone mentioned how sorry they were. I then fell apart on the inside, but kept it down to tears welling up on the outside.

                                                There is nothing better than a dog's love.

If this world had more dogs than people in it... would truly be a loving and wonderful place to live, with abundant happiness and no critcism or or judgement.

I salute you, Sir Charles

Till next time, COTTON

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Right Choice Not The Easy Choice

We all decided to let Charlie heal over the rest of the weekend here at home. True to his bulldog stubbornness,  has actually started to slowly feel better and survived the most brutal dog fight I've ever had to witness. We don't blame Ham, he didn't start it and tried more than once to walk away from it. I am sure his being totally blind didn't help. Charlie has always had the worst growl ever, but never bitten any one. His bark has always been worse than his bite.

This is the way he spent most of his days with us the past decade or so...relaxed to the max.

We always call Charlie "Switzerland." He was neutral and got along with everyone. Once Ham lost  his sight, the dynamics for us owning three dogs dramatically changed. Ham walks slowly and with much trepidation. As long as we don't move or change anything, he does just fine. Once Charlie got even older, has become even grumpier and truly the epitome of  'grumpy old man'.

Ziggy does fine because he can see Charlie, who always picks the worst spot in the house to plop down and navigates around him. Ham always slowly picks his way across a room and sometimes if he doesn't smell Charlies' scent first before bumping into him (sprawled out like a side of beef in the middle of the floor) makes Charlie go into that angry groveling growl of his.

Guess he tried to use that technique one time too many.

Ham also gets nervous around Ziggy, who is a freakazoid at best. Young, buoyant and playful to a fault. He tried playing with Ham after he lost his sight but it always made him nervous, the way Zig was on one side of him then suddenly on the other side and just as quickly, behind him,  then in front of him again.

Ham's only defense was to be on the offense, so we simply kept them apart from each other. Charlie, on the other hand, moves even slower than Ham so is easy to keep tabs on.

This is the life we've been living and dealing with for the past several years. It takes some getting used to but thought we had it down to a science.

So after Charlie's miraculous recovery from the whoopin of a lifetime, Tim remarked today that maybe we didn't need to have Sir Charles put down tomorrow.

That was all I could think of to say.

It's not that I don't love Charlie, because I do. We all do. Everyone and anyone who has ever met our gaggle of pups for the first time always comments about Charlie first.

Here's the myriad of reasons I gave Tim for sticking with our original plan.

For the past (about) ten months Charlie has tremendously struggled to even walk. During the summer months I'd bathe all three dogs out front of the house with the hose. Ziggy would almost drag me down the street and back again on his leash after his bath to dry off a bit. Even blind ole Ham had pep in his step on his turn down the street and back again.  I didn't walk Charlie down the street after his bath. I pulled him... very slowly, often time having to stop and let him lay down for a sec or two.

Then came his (seemingly) night terrors. Charlie would literally moan in a fitful sleep. It was a pitiful thing to hear. He's always whined like a toddler but this sounded more like a distress signal.

The topper was when I heard him behind the love seat licking the tile floor one night, about a couple of months ago. I thought one of us had dropped something on the floor.

It almost broke my heart.

He had urinated on the floor but was trying to lick it up, seemingly knowing he had done something he wasn't supposed to do.

That, my friends, was the sign.

Even Charlie knew he was getting too old and too tired.

Lucky for us, have a wonderful friend at work who lives right up the street and is also the owner of three dogs. She has taken care of our pups twice for us when we went back home to Georgia for Massey's graduation and then again for Christmas. She knew our drill and we didn't have to worry about the dogs at all. It was a true blessing.

Then I started thinking. (yes a stretch for me)

When the dog fight suddenly happened on Friday night, wonder if I had been at home alone? It took me and Tim a good three minutes to get those two dogs apart. Three minutes doesn't sound like a lot of time but is, when two powerful dogs are locked on to each other and neither will back down.

Wonder if that had happened when Kara was dog sitting for us?

Wonder if that had happened when Massey was home alone with them?

I then thought back again about when the fight occurred. Tim had Charlie's collar and I had Ham's. I distinctly remember Tim saying "Ham's gonna kill him if we don't get them apart."

And Ham would have.

 He's the strongest tank of a dog I've ever met or had. He's a gentle giant but when continually provoked, the law of nature takes over.

So here we are.

Charlie has had a good life with us here, at least I think he has, and pretty sure he would agree.

We are doing the same thing we did with our first boxer, Rosie. We kept her around while she suffered, just so we didn't have to say goodbye to her.

It is time for us to say goodbye to Sir Charles. The dog who chewed his own peep hole through the gates of the fence.

His determination has been admirable. His resilience has amazed us all.  Job well done, my fat little friend.

One of my dearest friends sent me this pic today and pretty much sums up our entire situation.

After all my given arguments, Tim agreed.

First thing in the morning, Sir Charles will cross over that Rainbow Bridge and join Rosie, who we let linger too long as well.

Dogs are a huge part of our life and family. It may sound silly to peeps who have never owned one ...but encourage them to adopt one.

Dogs love without any expectations.

                     There is a reason DOG is GOD spelled backwards. I'm just sure of it.

This is the first post I've made in quite a while that gave me chills down the spine of my back.

Doing the right thing tomorrow morning. I'm sure of it now.

Standing by Charlie, as we watch him cross that Rainbow Bridge, joining our Rosie.

Till next time... COTTON

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Making Hard Choices

Sometimes, a lot of times, choices are hard to make in life. Tonight was one of them.

We have three pups, basically all  rescues. One was living tied to a tree, another dropped off to stay for  two weeks, thirteen years ago and the other just in need of a home and a gift from a dear friend trying to get rid of a litter of pups , but wanted him anyway.

Things went great until Ham, our brown guy lost most of his sight from juvenile cataracts at the age of about six or seven. He went totally blind a couple of years later and after moving him to Orlando, out of his well known comfort zone of our old house and yard in Georgia, moves about carefully and with great trepidation.

Charlie, our white guy, the same age as Ham has slowed down quite a bit as well. He seems to have and suffer from more aches and pains than me.

We have the routine down pat. Guiding Ham to walk around Charlie, the grumpus and never moving furniture or leaving chairs pushed out from the kitchen table.

It's worked well for over a year.

The past couple of months Charlie has gone downhill. Moves slow as a snail and obviously often times in pain.

When he started becoming incontinent in the house, knew we had to make a decision. Unfortunately we selfishly put it off too long.

Charlie and Ham have always been buds. We jokingly call them Siegfried and Roy.  Ham licks Charlie ears clean every day along with Charlie's massive tear stained bulldog jowls.

They were besties.

Last night, the inevitable happened.

I was standing in the doorway of our bedroom talking with Tim. Ham sauntered in and blindly,unknowingly bumped into Charlie.

Charlie starting his famous growling technique...he's never bitten but sounds like he is. Ham turned and walked away. Charlie followed him and growled again. Ham walked away yet another time. The third time, Ham had enough. Can't blame him...couldn't see the enemy or where it was coming from. He simply reacted.

This is when Ham still had peepers.

This is Ham, now totally blind. He's a massive beast... half boxer half Old English bulldog.

It happened in an instant. I had Ham's collar and Tim had Charlie's. Ham had sunk his teeth into Charlie's jowl and were stuck there.  It took us what seemed like an eternity to get them apart, with Charlie's blood already pooling on the floor.

It was absolutely frightening, terrifying and beyond excruciatingly painful...for all involved.

It was a long night. Tim and I ...mostly me, decided it was time for Charlie to be put down. He had aches and pains beyond belief, and had become incontinent...seemingly knowing it was wrong and would attempt to lick it up before we saw it...which in itself broke my heart to see.

We decided to do it the very next morning. Called a good friend we've made here and got the number to her Vet.

Charlie moved one foot from the dog fight after I mopped up all the bloodstains, back to his bed a foot behind him and remained there for almost eighteen hours.

Morning came and just couldn't make myself take him to the vet and be put down. He slept and was breathing. Tim had to leave for work at six AM and Charlie was still sleeping as well. I checked on him all through the night and early morning and his breathing wasn't labored. He didn't whine or whimper.

The old boy has had a good life with us. TJ dropped him off to stay with us for two weeks...almost thirteen years ago and has been with us since.

Unfortunately, it's still Charlie's time to go. His quality of life as gotten to the point that we are making him suffer so we don't have to suffer without having him around.

That's just not right... not for Charlie.

It was a cold and gloomy day in Orlando. I chose to let Charlie remain on his favorite dog bed for another day or two.

Come Monday morning, the old boy will be lovingly taken to the vet and cross that rainbow bridge.

He incredibly survived the dog fight and even went out and pooped tonight after I got home from work.

Still doesn't change the outcome or odds of him having a happy life.

He won't. He is thirteen years old and has lived way beyond his life expectancy.

He has been granted two more days...more for us than him.

Oh, Charlie. You will be missed but always loved.

Thanks for all the memories.

Have said it many times, the only bad thing about having a dog is they don't live long enough.

Till next time...a grieving COTTON

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Nothing Better Than A Staycation

I am lucky enough to not only have a job I love but one which loves me as well. Yeah, it has its ups and downs...that why they call it working. You simply just need and consider yourself lucky if the ups outweigh the downs. There are millions of people who dread going to work every day. Once again I'm one of the lucky ones. It helps that I've always been pretty blessed to have wonderful management and co workers. One thing I've learned from experience after over almost thirty eight years of being a server is that just like in all other aspects of life, you get what you give.

I don't call out or show up late. I don't come in looking like I've slept in the clothes I'm wearing and just woke up twenty minutes ago. I try and not complain, and if I do is usually in a joking manner. It could always be worse. I begin working the moment I clock in and don't stop working until I am clocked out.

And you know what? Managers notice that...and so do customers.

Customers show me they notice by rewarding me monetarily. Management shows me by always giving me a pretty great schedule and always doing their best to give me time off when I request it.

It's a win/win.

A couple of peeps I really loved working with have moved on to other jobs and while I miss them, also salute them.

I just can't do it. I'm too old and detest having to start over again. It takes me six months to feel remotely comfortable in a new place, and once I begin to feel comfortable have absolutely no desire to be anywhere else.

It's been really busy at work lately and kicked my scrawny ass. Our new schedule comes out on Thursdays and when mine was posted was elated to see I had three days off in a row.

We were broke for more than a few years and always worked at least six days a week, out of necessity but grateful I was allowed to do so.

Now that we are doing comfortably and are financially stable...three days off seemed like an unexpected vacation!

I've cleaned out the refrigerator, dusted and swept. I've cleaned things you skip cleaning when busy working a long as company doesn't come over. Who's gonna notice but me?

I have never heard Tim say "You know, I can write my 

name in the dust on this table."

Of course if he did, would have handed him the Swiffer wand and replied "Knock yourself out."

He never complains if I don't cook dinner every night but is always grateful when I do.

Kudos to him, since we've moved to Orlando and are back together after a three year separation with him first working in Lubbock for two years and then being in Orlando working for a year before we joined him has stepped up his game with helping around the house. He does all the laundry every week on his day off and takes care of all the recycling and trash. He buys the dog food... no small contribution with us having three huge chow hounds.

                      It's been quite the journey for us both. It's been a journey for us all.

This is when TJ left for Australia to live for a year. It was right after Tim and I had lost everything
, including our jobs and once hefty 401k.

And look at us now...

We survived...all of us.

The saying is true, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

There were many sacrifices made by us but more acts of charity given to us. and I wouldn't change one single thing about the last ten years.

It's what  has defined us. 

Looking through all these pictures, all these memories, all this love...makes me happy beyond belief.

                         Never hesitate to help will help yourself even more.

We met thirty years ago, moved in together after three months and have been married for twenty eight years.

Always dance with the one who brought you.

                                                Once again, you get what you give in life.

                                                Luckiest woman in the world...That's me!

Till next time...COTTON