Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter's Identity Crisis

 Her touch is too gentle to be mistaken;
It's swift, it's silent, it's too strong to be shaken.
Some even say she makes everything bland,
But it shows the beauty in how nature withstands.
Next time it snows, give a different perspective a whirl
For I believe old man winter, is actually a girl.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Man’s Best Friend

My Dad and I have always said that everything happens for a reason, and the more life goes on, the more I believe it.

I faced a fairly difficult decision one week back in April. On one hand, I had a huge birthday party in the keys with some of my best friends and on the other, was a weekend at home with my Dad. I’d been in Utah for the past year and I hadn’t seen my friends or family since my move. My friends tried so hard to convince me to come down to the keys, but something told me that I needed to be with my Dad that weekend. For me, family absolutely always comes first, and once I realized that,the decision became a bit easier.

I arrived Friday night and was welcomed home by my Dad’s open arms and Winston’s wagging tail. My Dad’s dog Winston is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel; and yes, his personality is as regal as his breed’s name. As a breed, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels regularly face heart complications and in Winston’s case, his heart complication was extremely appropriate: an enlarged heart. Winston was calm, loving, and compassionate in every way, even if he was the most spoiled dog I’ve ever known. His heart was growing so rapidly that it began to crush his trachea, making his breathing remarkably difficult. Unfortunately, there’s no surgery that can be done to reverse the growth, so since we received his diagnosis almost a year prior, we began to treat every day as if it was his last. Little did we know, his actual last day would be one of the most difficult days we would ever endure.

As the weekend continued, his symptoms worsened. He couldn’t breathe unless he was sitting up, which prevented him from sleeping at all. The second he would lay down, he would begin to choke. The sound of his struggling breath was heart breaking. Over the next day of battling to stay awake, to stay alive, the life slowly drained from his exhausted face. As a family, we decided that we couldn’t put him through this anymore and chose to have him euthanized. It was time to let go. When we asked Winston if he was ready, he simply got up, grabbed his favorite toy (a stuffed Pooh bear) and looked at us, as if he were ready to go on a trip. We knew then, that we were making the right decision. Sometimes the right decision is the hardest one to make.

Winston passed peacefully and we mourned for a long time. He was my brother, my friend, and my dog.

Before Winston passed, my cousin’s dog, Dudley passed as well. I called him shortly after hearing to send my condolences, but I had no idea what he was going through. I do now. Dudley was a special dog, too. Athletic, goofy, and extremely fun, Dudley was the epitome of my cousin’s personality in a dog. They were truly a perfect match for each other.

If losing Winston this year wasn’t enough, my Mom & Step-dad's dog, Jack passed away this past week as well. Jack was a strange dog. Loving one second and devilish the next, you truly didn’t know Jack until you actually met Jack. Jack was a godsend in a sense. A short few weeks after my grandmother passed away in 2003, Jack just popped into our lives, bringing much needed laughter and distraction. I was spending the summer at home working my favorite local landscaping job and, one afternoon when I came home, Jack was just sitting patiently at my front door. I gave him water, food, and kept him in the patio until my Mom came home. Andrea & I begged her to keep him, and we won. We posted “FOUND” signs around the neighborhood, but we never heard anything, so Jack was ours. We learned very quickly that Jack had a very disturbed personality. His anger would switch like a light and he actually nipped my nose within the first month or two of having him. I was so angry with him that I could barely contain myself. But we reconciled and became great friends. Jack had big Chihuahua ears and the body of a rat terrier. He had seemingly endless energy and the legs of a cat. He would pull me on my skateboard for over 2 miles straight!!! I dare you to find another dog that size that can do that!! Jack, like all of us, was special in his own way and had his own demons to battle. We had jack for almost 7 years; he made us laugh, he made us cry, he helped mold my family into who we are today. For better or worse, the lessons he taught us will forever be instilled in us.

Death is inexplicable, but makes so much sense. It’s the one thing that everybody and everything in this world shares. Out with the old, in with the new. With death, comes life and with these deaths came 2 beautiful new lives. Dudley and Bentley are my Dad’s new Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. I can’t wait to meet them.

Some of you might think, “Why put yourself through the inevitable pain of losing a dog?” Parents know the beauty of having children, and it’s similar to having a dog, but the feeling and responsibility of bringing a dog up is difficult to explain. I implore you to give it a chance. It will teach you so many lessons about dogs, and about yourself.

All you really need to know is that dogs are truly “man’s best friend.”