Monday, October 3, 2011

Hardest Day Ever - Ashley Puppy

I don't really like going to home/DIY blogs and reading about cooking, photography, babies, pets...anything but home DIY.  I'm very "silo oriented" that way.  I want my home DIY to be, well, home DIY.  That's why you won't find jewelry giveways here and though I might post a photo of my homemade granola, there's no recipe attached.

My gardening probably starts to cross that line.
And for the very astute passengers on this train,
my puppy loving definitely crosses that line.

This is Ashley

Well, Ashley and her best buddy in the world Robert.

She is the best little puppy you will never know.
On Friday, we had to carry out the hardest decision of our lives.
And I've had my fair share and then some of hard decisions.

On Friday, we had to let her go.
We decided to let her stop fighting
and I made the appointment, and we kept it.
We let that beautiful little soul free
from that horrible, unfair (but awesomely cute) puppy body.

She had grown into quite the big puppy lady dog.
She was only 17 months old.

She was born with a congenital kidney issue.
Almost a year ago, she was diagnosed with Canine Renal Failure.

It is worse than a cancer diagnosis.
There is no cure.

Most conventional vets will tell you that you've got 2 - 4 weeks.
They send you home with the silly/stupid advice
to just enjoy the time that you have with your lovely little puppy mutt.
They shrug their shoulders because this disease is an old dog disease.

Thing is, this little girl, she was a fighter.
That, and the power of the ball was strong in her (smile).

A year ago, I was devestated.
All I wanted was another year with her.
A year so that she could celebrate her first birthday,
see her first snow,
meet our relatives,
play in the fallen leaves,
hit the beach,
learn to swim,
chase a few more sticks...

At the time she was NOT a ball dog.
Boy did she ever grow into one.

I'm grateful for the year we had to just live life with her.
She got to do all of the above and then some.
I have some of the best memories of my life because we lived in the moment with her.

This dog saved my life.
We fell on some REALLY hard times.
8 months of hard times.

Our lives here at Pinehurst are filled with the most breathtaking highs
and the most devastating lows.

During one of the highs, we put off getting a dog because we didn't have the time.
During one of the most devastating lows, we needed a sense of purpose. He needed a best friend.
She saved us.

I wish we could have saved her.

We got a second opinion from the most amazing holistic vet ever (Dr. Sodhi in Bellevue).
We changed her diet.  Yes, I cooked Whole Foods organic meals for her.
My puppy mutt survived another year.

She took down 24 pills a day without batting an eye.
She got poked and prodded once a month for blood draws
that just kept telling us she was getting worse.
but she kept being the puppy mutt spreading nothing but puppy love.
we were astounded that she was not only surviving, she was LIVING with her numbers.
It wasn't time.

Then two weeks ago, she couldn't keep anything down.
We called the vet.
We took her in.
He kept her for three days straight (home each night).
It worked to give us a weekend.

Robert got to jump in Rattlesnake Lake with her.
She got to go to Puppy Disneyland (aka, Marymoor Park)

Then Monday came and she wasn't keeping anything down.
The wonderful people on the Canine online group offered support.
And I wish I would have/could have done more.
But she just couldn't keep anything down.

And she was too tired to chase her ball.

It is hard to know when it is time.
I was so sure, but now I just miss her so much.
I mean, what's so wrong with wanting to sleep all day?

Her condition made her extremely anemic.
I've been there before.  I know how draining that is.

She used to run up and down our main hallway (the puppy runway) chasing her ball.
She couldn't do that anymore.
She used to throw herself at the door and whine when we got home at night.
She couldn't do that anymore.
She used to whine all the way to puppy park and run back and forth across the back seat.
She couldn't do that anymore.

She would muster a frisker every night when I came home those last two weeks.
On Friday, she took one more nap with us and didn't budge.
We went to the puppy park hoping to be there alone.  There were bully dogs there.
We were going to go home for one more drink of water.
I wouldn't have been able to leave home if we would have done that.

We went to the vet.
She was excited to see everyone.
They were sad to see her.
They knew. They had tears in their eyes.
Anyone who knew this little fighter would have.

He curled up on the floor of the exam room with her.
He held her in his lap.

She kissed him. He let her.
He usually doesn't.
She turned her head to me.
As if to say "Your turn mommy"
And of course, I kissed her too.

Then we all held hands.

The vet had tears in his eyes too.
He said we were such good puppy parents.
And that he loved her too.

And it happened so fast.
She didn't flinch.
She didn't fight.
She didn't budge.

She didn't sigh.

She just curled up in his lap.
As if to say
"Finally, I can get some sleep"

I was never a dog person.
I was definitely an Ashley person.

I don't think my granny was a dog person either.
But she was a gardener.

And my puppy is a puppy gardener.
I bet she'll make my granny into an Ashley person up there in heaven.
Just like she did with me.

I miss her so much.
So, so much.

4:21 pm
Now there is just two of us again.
I love you baby girl.


  1. wow-- Bernadette, I am so sorry for your loss, but I am so happy that I was able to read such a powerful and well-written post about a wonderful friend. It got me crying and I'm usually a rock. You're a wonderful puppy parent! I'm glad I've found you, even if it's just online

    1. Phew. Each time I get a new comment on this post, I have to stop for a moment. Usually, I can't leave a reply through the tears. Just wanted to take some time to individually thank each of the folks who took the time to say this post mattered. Or touched them. Or that they're sad they didn't get to know her. I'm grateful for the folks like you that I know online who got to know Ashley. Even if just from a distance (smile). Thanks for your sorrow and your condolences.

  2. Oh, dear... I stumbled onto your lovely blog and this had me at tears at work. I'm so very sorry for your loss. I hope Ashley sends you another puppy to love when the time is right.

    1. (smile), good to know I'm not the only one who stumbles into moments on break or at lunch at work when I have to get my blog viewing in (smile). Ashley was the best puppy caretaker ever. Less than a month after she left us, I firmly believe she had a hand in introducing us to Mary. We met Mary 4 days after her birthday in October and brought Mary Christmas home with us on December 17, 2011. This house was just not a home without four paws to love and snuggle up on.

      Luckily, no more Whole Paycheck gourmet meal Friday night preps. Love Ashley as I did, that girl was high maintenance (smile). Said with nothing but love...

  3. Wow...what a beautiful story. I am also a puppy person. My husband and I have 2 dogs one beautiful West highland terrier that just turned 2 and a 8 month old mountain feist. Those of us who are blessed enough to have received the love and friendship of these special friends are better people for having the time with them. "Thank you" for sharing your story with us.

    1. I am such a dog person now. Who am I kidding (smile)? The sharing is healing and I thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It means the world.

  4. I don't know you. I didn't know your puppy. What a sweet story. I cried because it reminded me of when our 12 year old puppy left us. Those of us who have been blessed with wonderful puppies in our lives understand and feel your heartbreak, and hope that someday another wonderful puppy will find their way into your lives and hearts.

    1. Oh those puppies. I always (foolishly) thought that if we just had a little more time, it would be easier. Really, it would have been harder because there are never "enough" memories and experiences. Logically, we can tell ourselves that one more year is enough time, but at the end of that year, it never is.

      We are so lucky. One, to not only have had the best ever first puppy dog (for me) in Ashley. Two to have the best ever little Christmas miracle join our family so soon after losing Ashley. Yes, it is still tough and Mary will never be a replacement. We catch ourselves often wondering how awesome the two of them would have been together. In our hearts, they both play.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. It really means a lot to me.

  5. I think I'm an Ashley person now too. And here was me thinking I was just a cat person. Thank you for sharing your story so beautifully. I think I got something in my eye though.

    1. The other night, I was watching the news and there was a Making a Difference segment on a program out of Detroit that rescues dogs. They were down to their last $40 and after their segment they got a lot of donations...including a $1 million dollar check. I exclaimed "that is SO AWESOME" to which my husband said "I don't think you're an Ashley person anymore". To protest he said "what I mean is that I think you are now officially a dog person."

      We have an awesome new TWEEN dog (kinda puppy still, but really kinda teenager now) named Mary (or Chunk Chunk...or Ms. Cotton Toe). Love her to pieces. Can't help but to think about how AWESOME she and Ashers would have been together.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting on this post. Every time I get a comment here, I take time to come and read this again. Some days, I get something in my eye too. Still...

  6. I was never a dog person until our sweet puppy Delilah. She saved my life too. This had me in tears. I can't imagine how hard that must have been letting Ashley go. You really are great puppy parents.


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