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  • To the end of the line

    To the end of the line

    I brought Koo home yesterday. I've got her in my desk hutch, along with her paw prints. There's a glass door in front of the hutch, because Aery goes through periods of deciding that my desk is an AWESOME place to knock things off of, so I want to keep these things safe from silly kitties.

    It was a relief to bring her home, because now all the crappy stuff is over with. What is left of her physical body is here with us, and it will always be. I don't have to worry about her anymore, whether she needs me, whether she's hungry or lonely or in pain. Don't get me wrong, I would rather have her here. But I would want her here whole, not how she left us. So this is the consolation prize in a way.

    Bleh. I'm not sure I'm writing coherent words here.

    Anyway, I want to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who has been kind to us in one way or another about Koo this last week. I wish to the heavens that I could undo everything, but having so much support and love poured out to us has really meant a lot. More than I can actually express.

    I guess from here, we start picking up the pieces.

  • My sunshine

    My sunshine

    It's so bizarre to me that her body broke down so quickly. She was doing so well up until she absolutely wasn't, and then she crashed so quickly. She gave everything she had and left nothing to spare, that's for sure.

    It's hard. I won't lie. If you ask me how I'm doing, I'll probably give you a soft smile and tell you that I'm okay, in that tone of voice that implies that I'm not a complete wreck but I'm not doing great.

    Hardest right now are mornings and late nights, because Koo was such a dog gone cuddle bug. She'd usually wait until Matt was up for the morning and then come steal his spot. I'd wake up to her next to me, and then either grab her for a snuggle or talk to her until she decided to come give me kisses. Nights are hard because I miss her settling in at my legs, waiting for her to flop comfortably on her side, feeling the gentle breathing and twitching of her sleeping body.

    It's amazing how the loss of one animal can make a house feel so empty.

    But at other times, it's hard to be sad, because of the reminders of how much JOY Mikenna brought everyone. She was such a goofy, intense, devoted girl. Whatever she did, she did with all the gusto in her little body. Want food? Don't just ask, BARK LOUDLY and flip your bowl over.

    She was an amazing companion. I appreciate how the kitties have stepped it up the last few days, keeping us company, and in Gwen's case, being as nutty as possible to make me laugh.

    We're all getting through it together. It's not easy, but when you lose someone you loved intensely, it's not going to be. I find keeping pictures of her around is very comforting. If I can still see her, then she mustn't be too far away.

  • Spectral Canine Sightings on the Rise?

    Spectral Canine Sightings on the Rise?

    Matt wrote this little piece. I liked it so much (ie: it made me cry) that I asked him if I could stick it on here. I like the thought that Mikenna is out there giving joy and love to people.

    Reports of paranormal pooch activity began rolling in during the evening hours of November 11th, 2016.

    "I was sitting on the couch, listening to the transistor radio, when I hear some animal running up and down my hallway," said local sommelier Joanne Whittaker. "I got up to see if I had raccoons or something, but instead there was this little white dog. As soon as she saw me, she stopped and looked up at me, tail wagging. I took a step toward her and she started running up and down the hall again, three or four times, before stopping in front of me. When I reached down to pet her, she started again. We did this three or four times before she just vanished. It was so bizzarre."

    "She seemed like a good dog," said Whittaker.

    A similar story comes from high school teacher Devadas Singh, who reported seeing a small white dog thrashing around on his bed with a chew toy. "It was adorable. And weird. She looked excited to see me, though. Nice dog. Good dog."

    Perhaps the most touching anecdote comes to us from Patricia Simon, owner of Patti's Books and Trinkets:

    This year has been incredibly hard for me. My youngest went away to college, my wife broke both her legs in a trapeze accident, and I've been fighting with my insurance company over a tree that fell on my house. Add to that a workday that was slightly more stressful than normal, followed by coming home to discover that the furnace had stopped working, and I just lost it. I crawled into bed and started bawling.

    Almost immediately, I heard the patter of tiny paws enter my room and felt something hop onto the bed. To put it mildly, I was shocked to see a small ghostly dog making her way toward me. She gently-but-firmly nudged my hands away from my face and started licking my tears. When I tried to roll over, she just climbed on top of me and kept going, her tail wagging furiously. Before long, I couldn't help myself and burst into laughter (and I'm pretty sure some dog tongue got in my mouth). This little dog had come out of nowhere and made it her sole mission to make me smile again!

    When I calmed down, she flopped on her back with her head on my pillow and looked at me. If I started to get choked up again, she gently licked the tip of my nose. Eventually, she burrowed under the covers and I fell asleep with her in my arms. When I woke up the next morning, she was gone.

    What a good dog.

    Dog experts at the Imzy Herald have pored over dozens of accounts and determined that the dog in question was a West Highland White Terrier. If you, or someone you know, has an encounter with this exceptional spirit, please write us a letter or send a telegram!


  • The last night

    I'm laying on the floor of my office. Mikenna is in her crate - her choice. Makes it hard to cuddle with her as I want, but her comfort takes precedence. 

    I know you know. It's not like i haven't posted about it everywhere social media will let me, in between outbursts of tears. Mikenna will die tomorrow. I hate the phrase put to sleep. Makes sleep so ominous. 

    I never wanted to be in this position, of having to choose. But it's not really a choice. There is no doubt that her quality of life has diminished rapidly and permanently. I can't question if we did it too soon. My only hesitation is in whether the vet was right that we bring her home tonight. 

    I looked it up a while back, how to make that choice if you have to. I wanted to prepare myself in advance to make a rational decision. The rule of thumb seemed to be, make a list of ten things they love. When they fall below half of that list, maybe it's time. Looking at her tonight, there's nothing left for her to enjoy. She seems too uncomfortable for cuddles, even. Not necessarily in pain, but not right. 

    Matt and I have done a lot of talking today. We have eleven years of shared Koo memories. Other than my parents, he has known her the longest and best. I'm not sure you could ask for a better dog. Maybe not by the textbook - we never did completely iron out potty training, and she would only sit on command if she really found a reason to. But she has had enough love for a lifetime. If you knew Koo, you couldn't help but love her. She made you. 

    She loved to attack boxes delivered by ups. Friendly to the guy, would viciously maul the box. Patient as a saint as kitten Aeris used her as a jungle gym, or when the neighbor kids got out of hand and smacked her. That made me so mad for her. She loved food. Bananas, pizza crust, french fries, yogurt and eggs were favorites. I was obsessive about only giving her little bits, because I wanted to watch her weight. She tried to stalk squirrels, as if they couldn't see a bright white dog coming. Never did catch one. Was a master at getting on the kitchen table, and took us years to master getting the chairs pushed in just right. Scones, Oreos, danishes and a stick of butter all fell prey to her at one time or another. She would look at you, then her ears would go flat back and she would climb up you and start mauling you with kisses. Whatever made her think it was time for a mauling is beyond me. I've never had a better cuddler, either. 

    Mikenna was a little over a year old when my cat Maggie died. Maggie had been my comfort whenever I cried. I told Koo that she would have to fill that void, and she did in spades. I'm not sure who that will be now. Neither of these cats really seems to care when I'm upset. I guess the legacy of Maggie ends here.

    I told Mikenna that she couldn't leave me until she told me how I'll live without her. She has been such a big part of my life for so long. I make so many decisions on a daily basis based on her. I run to the kitchen and prepare food quickly if she doesn't follow, trying to get back before she barks at me. I set up my computer and office in a Koo friendly way. I've taken many, many naps just because she wanted me to lay on the bed with her. She is so bossy! What do I do if someone isn't in the kitchen flipping her food bowl over because it's empty?

    I don't know. To some extent, I'll be starting a lot of my routines over. When do I go to bed if she's not there to yell at me to go to bed? When do I get up if not for her getting me out of bed to take her out? 

    But staring this in the face, the day I have dreaded forever, I feel okay. Well, let me try that again. I burst out in heaving sobs and little acts of kindness are melting me into crying mush. But I can see that life will go on, even without her. Koo has taught me so much patience, and that it's okay to love unabashedly. She will always be with me, even if her body has given up. 

    It will be hard to lose her. I will mourn her deeply and for a long time, but only because of how deeply i love her. Even in this deepest of pain... I wouldn't trade it away. I would rather love greatly and mourn deeply than to have lived without her. She is the puppy love of my life. I'd have had it no other way. 

    Thank you, Mikenna Oncha, my beloved mighty dog, for thirteen years, one month and six days of love and laughter and stubbornness. You will never be forgotten. 

  • I'm trying to be fine

    My body feels incredibly high strung these days. It's weird, because mentally, I feel fine. (Most of the time, anyway) It's not like I'm constantly worried about Mikenna. She seems to be doing really well on her new diuretic combination, and I suspect the pain pills for her arthritis are doing some good, because she's been a lot more spry. But someone should get that message through to my body. My shoulders carry my tension, and I think you could break a board on them. I feel as though my body has been to a few too many haunted houses lately. A little jumpy, a little on edge, even though I really don't need to be. Anxiety is my husband walking in the room and saying "oh man, I forgot about the Jeep expenses we incurred last month." and my brain (very irrationally) wondering if we have enough for groceries this pay period.

    I've also got some wicked indigestion going on, but that might be from about 500 too many peanut butter cups lately.

    I don't want to take this to my doctor as a first line of help. I'm already at the maximum dosage for the medication I'm on, and I'm in no shape to play the "does this work better?" game with meds right now. Nor do I want to have to placate myself with xanax. I want to handle my stress in a healthy, reasonable way.

    It's time for a big dose of intentional self care. Mind you, sometimes self care is best applied as getting the crappy things done now so you feel better later.

    I ordered myself a couple pairs of cheap Zenni glasses because we keep talking about going to the eye doctor, but it keeps not happening. I lost my backup glasses some months ago (SERIOUSLY. How on earth do you lose a pair of glasses? This is embarrassing.) and I'm irrationally stressed out at the thought of losing my good pair. So I spent $30 to get a couple backup pairs, and that seems well worth the price for peace of mind.

    I'm part of a penpal group that I've pretty much failed to take advantage of. So I chucked my anxiety to the side long enough to explain my situation and ask if anyone wanted to be pen pals. I've gotten a few letters so far, and I love it. I love writing letters. I can definitely use positive distractions.

    Also, in the spirit of National Novel Writing Month, I'm going to take this month to challenge myself. I'm committing to exercising every day this month.

    I'm hoping that between these things, it'll be enough of a boost that my body and brain will CHILL OUT for a little bit. If not, well, I'm going to have to go to the doctor for a medicine refill next month anyway, so I'll just talk about it then.

  • f201b9e17132a238-koopiyo.jpg

    Mikenna and I had a bear of a night last night.

    For whatever reason, she couldn't sleep, and I tried everything. Finally, I got up just to use the bathroom, and I realized that she didn't follow me, and that she was quiet. So I waited a while. She was still quiet. So I decided to go into my office at 2:45 am and just see if she would fall asleep. She did, which was good, and yet, also kind of annoying. Really, little girl? You have to kick me out of bed to sleep?

    So, that being said, laaaaate this morning, I was laying on the bed with her, as she snuggled up against my side. I could feel the gentle rise and fall of her breath, and I was relieved that her breaths were so smooth - the new diuretic seems to be helping.

    Then I remembered how, when we lived in Michigan, Mikenna would decide that it was time to nap.
    I would be doing something, and she would sit and stare at me. After a while, she'd start barking. When I acknowledged her, she would take off like a little westie rocket to the bedroom and leap onto the bed. Nap time.

    I looked at the sleeping puppy next to me. She doesn't run. She can work up an enthusiastic trot if she really wants to, but her pace is more of a meander. I stopped using the leash with her outside when I realized that she wasn't going to get away from me any time soon. This puppy hesitates a bit getting on the bed - and the mattress is on the floor.

    While as it hit me, it made me so sad to see what she's lost, it gave me a little bit of peace. She's getting older. It makes it a little easier to digest losing her when I realize that she's not a puppy. Her time is getting to sunset. And that's okay. That's how it's supposed to be. I've held my end of the bargain - to give her the best life I possibly could.

  • A hazy future

    I didn't mean for my last post to be around Koo's birthday. That was in early August. Wow. Time flies as well as creeps along. I mean, the election is still almost two weeks away and it feels like this election has been going on forever. I'm so tired of this election that I looked up to see if Virgnia has early voting - it doesn't. Also, fun fact, you can't request an absentee ballot just because you want one. Not that I looked that up. I happened to hear about it on a podcast this morning. But still.

    I don't even know where to start. I mean, I've got this yogurt cup sitting next to me - black cherry, one of my favorites - and I can't even eat it because that's how things are these days. Sometimes I've got enough appetite to down forty-five peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, five pizzas and a bag of peanut butter cups (exaggeration, yes) and today I feel like the yogurt is too much.

    Life is chaotic, sometimes in an actual scheduling sort of way, but mostly in a my brain and processing emotions and stuff way. I know it's hard to write about because I keep tabbing over to twitter, hoping that something interesting will pop up and I can avoid it. I guess that's also like life right now.

    For some blissful months, it was really easy to forget that Koo was sick. But the coughing has been creeping back up on her, and I had to take her back to the vet yesterday ahead of her scheduled appointment. The jist of it is that they can't just up the lasix, because her kidneys aren't handling it well. Or they're starting to fail. We're not sure yet. So we're having to play mix and match with medications, hoping that we can find some mixture that controls the coughing without harming the rest of her. They said that while she still presents really well (basically, she still looks good, she's happy, etc), the heart disease has progressed, and we're likely looking at 6-12 months. They would be really pleased to see her get to 12 months, and she could go beyond that, but it's not all that likely.

    It's not like I didn't know this was coming. It's not like I haven't had four months to process this eventual reality. And I feel like you either absolutely understand how I'm feeling, or you think I'm a nut for being this torn up over a dog.

    Twice a day, she gets her pills. I try to use as little cheese as possible because I want to keep the sodium down - but we're also talking 5.5 pills. I'm switching her to a lower sodium food to try and help out her kidneys. But she has been so incredibly picky about her food lately. It is seriously the most absurd thing. For several weeks, she would not eat her food unless there was baby food on it. Then it was cottage cheese. Then it was eggs. Now it's this chicken broth. Every few weeks, she decides she's done with whatever she was eating on her kibble, and I have to scramble to find something that she'll eat, something that I don't have to cook up every day, because I never know if it's going to be a two bowl or a five bowl kind of day. Lately, that last demand for food comes around 12:30-1:30am. But I can't just stay up that late. No. She'll whine at me until I go to bed, and then wake me up to feed her an hour or two later. I love her. But I spend so much time taking care of her...Between that, and her companionship, I look into a post-Koo future and I see a whole lot of blank space.

    That, in a really wordy way, is the crux of the issue, I think. Every day I look at those "on this day" posts on Facebook, and I see pictures of Koo. And I think, holy cow, it won't be that long before I'm looking at pictures of this dog, and she will be just a memory. At some point, there will be a "last picture ever taken" of her. She'll be gone, and what do I do then?

    She's such a presence in my life. I had to go grab her from the bed and bring her into the office with me because she was too lazy to follow me, but was barking indignantly. In the morning, I have until she finishes drinking water to get my shoes on and be ready to take her out.

    I know that things will be different. Very different. This is a season of inevitable change. When I'm feeling good, I try to embrace that fact. But it's hard. She's not okay. I'm not okay. I don't know what I'm going to do without her, and I hate that I have to find out.

  • Koo at Thirteen

    Koo at Thirteen

    My baby girl. She has no teeth, an enlarged heart, her knee caps seem to slip out more easily, and I'm pretty sure she's got some arthritis going on in her front legs.

    But she is so sweet. She loves to stretch out in my arms in the evening. She's one of the snuggliest creatures I've ever met. Oh sure, she'll wiggle out of my arms if she isn't feeling it, but more often than not, she wants nothing more than to snuggle in.

    If we would spend all day outside with her, she would be the happiest dog ever. Maybe she'd come inside for naps, but otherwise, outside is where it's at. Unfortunately, she lives in a rather indoorsy family. But I try to let her get some wandering in.

    I don't know whether we have any birthdays left with her. The odds aren't in her favor. But she had a good couple of days with us, getting completely spoiled, snuggled, played with, and fed special treats. Our next "milestone" is to get to Halloween. If she can do that, you bet your doggy biscuits she's getting a costume this year.

  • Thirteen years of Koo

    Thirteen years of Koo

    Yesterday Mikenna turned thirteen years old. While I'm usually more wordy, I decided that the best tribute I could think of would be to share some pictures. So I pulled out one for each year of her life. Enjoy!

    2003: Mikenna was born on August 7th, and I brought her home on October 5th. This picture is from that day.

    2004:

    2005: This year, she met one of her favorite people.

    2006: She would probably live outside if we'd let her.

    2007:  Mikenna has always been a good big sister, even if she doesn't ADORE Aeris the same way she's adored.

    2008:

    2009:  Aeris makes a pretty good pillow, at least.

    2010: This girl loves her Matty VERY much

    2011:

    2012:

    2013:

    2014:

    2015: At least when you get a sister who is already grown up, they're more low key. Mostly.

    2016:

    It feels like I've known her forever and for a moment. But she's been an incredible blessing and I can honestly say I've never loved an animal more. Whether she lives one more day or one thousand years, she will always be a part of my heart.