Keeping my perspective, as difficult as it may be

I think one of the few reasons I am able to pull my head up, out of the water, and look into the clear blue sky today is that tragedy strikes us all and connects us in a way that we should be more conscious of.  As I turn on the news today, the accused killer of Mollie Tibbetts is in court.  That poor family who lost their vibrant, beautiful daughter in such a violent manner.  The world is cruel.

Perspective is important.  My small world, consisting of Hugo, my parents and family, our other dog Nala, and a few select friends, is just that, small.  We get trapped in our own bubble, for good reason.  But I think it’s important to take a moment to actually open your eyes to the other bubbles floating by you.  Across the street on our quiet dirt road, our neighbor is slowly dying in front of his wife.  Diagnosed with advanced multiple myeloma cancer about two years ago, he first found out about his illness while walking casually through his bedroom mid-morning on a random Sunday.  Out of nowhere, what felt like a shotgun shell to his left rib cage struck, causing him to fall to the floor and rile in pain.  That feeling was his rib breaking in half, as his first signs of cancer snapped his once strong bone in half.  He is not doing well and the slow decline into the great fade is starting to happen.  Another bubble is one of my coworkers, Garrett, who was in a bad motorcycle versus vehicle accident about last month.  Garret was riding his motorcycle into work, when a moronic vehicle driver cut him off, causing them to collide.  Garrett had his foot amputated on Tuesday afternoon.  Breathe that reality in for a second.

Even writing about all of the other circumstances I see is helping.  And this is just in my little world.  I am not a very social person as Hugo and I tend to keep to ourselves and lean on each other.  With that said, imagine the heartache occurring every day worldwide.  I implore you to look outside of your bubble, have a little compassion and put a smile on your face.  Because maybe, just maybe, it’s not that bad.

Love and loss

It finally happened.  The sweet, old man who Hugo and I loved so dearly passed away just before midnight last night.  It was about 11:50pm on August 22nd to be exact.  I couldn’t help but check the time when we walked back into the lobby of the emergency vet hospital, both of us sobbing and holding each other.  We loved him like family, as most pet owners do.

We brought Kaiser into our life just after getting married in the Spring of 2009.  Our first baby together, if you will.  He was our second Rottweiler that we shared, our first, Marley, having passed away while we were out of the country for our wedding celebration.  Kaiser’s recalcitrant attitude and strong-will tested me many times throughout the years.  Rottweilers are dominant, outspoken dogs that require equally assertive and alpha owners.  He proved ever portion of the latter sentence to be true.  He would bark shout in outrage if he was told to leave the room and angrily huff if he was forced to go outside to urinate, after sleeping all night and clearly needing to go pee.  He had a bold, lovable personality that everyone who met him adored.  During vet trips or road trips, Kaiser could often be found sitting between someone’s legs, whether it was Hugo, myself, the vet or a complete stranger, with a big smile on his face, his legs flopped open and his wiener touching the ground due to his relaxed, happy state.  As funny and crude as that may sound, we could always tell he was at ease and enjoying life in that position.  Hugo and I would have a little laugh every time we saw him like that.

Whenever we’d play fight in front of Kaiser, we would always joke that he was like our referee or a police officer because we would jump into action by jamming his body in between ours in an attempt to separate both parties.  He always knew it was in good fun but he equally got a kick out of joining in on the play fight.  I will be looking over my shoulder for a charging Rottweiler next time I tickle or pinch my husband, hoping he will bound across the room to stop it all.

From his grumpiest to silliest times, Kaiser taught me a lot about life.  I began to realize this a couple of months ago when he first got sick.  You become so accustomed to certain things in your life.  Waking up to the same person in bed every morning and kissing them goodnight sixteen hours later.  The sound of the coffee maker percolating to conclusion and enough money in the bank to buy the quality grounds.  Dogs greeting you at the door, almost causing you to trip as you walk in from a long day or vacation away from home.  It’s these things that we sometimes take for granted but when any of them come to a screeching halt, even momentarily, it makes us surrender to the truth that nothing is forever and none of this is guaranteed.

The house feels so empty without him here.  At his final weight, after being sick for months and slowly withering away to just bones, he clocked in at sixty-nine pounds.  He was a ghost compared to the svelte, masculine 109 pound canine that prowled our backyard for nuisance crows or a rogue rabbit.  It was madness to hear that weight number fall out of the vet tech’s mouth last night, just minutes before his catheter was inserted.  About an hour before that, Hugo had come home early from work because we knew it was time.  We both genuinely knew in our hearts that he was suffering and it was time to give him some peace.  But even with that said, we stood in the threshold of our laundry room, hovering over our sick dog, debating if it was the right thing to do.  We love each other and him so much that we had to just stand there, cry together and talk it out.  And we did.

As we spoke and came to the inevitable conclusion that he was in pain and it wasn’t humane to make him slowly continue dying through the night, Kaiser looked up at both of us repeatedly with his sunken eyes and nearly hollowed skull.  He had lost so much weight that the outline of his body was like a sketch artist had drawn a skeleton of a dog and pasted some hair on it.  It pained both of us to see him like that and the look in his eyes gave us the answers we needed.  Hugo took out his collar and leash, to which he wagged his tail to one last time.  Nala, our other dog, said her final goodbye at the trunk of my Jeep and we descended the driveway one last time with our little puppy in tow.

Grief is a strange thing.  I am not sure what stage I am in or when I will come out the other side.  One thing I do know is that I have never seen my husband cry, out of the fourteen years we have been inseparable.  But I saw him cry on and off several times since the events of last night unfolded.  Kaiser touched his and my heart in such a way that only the unbiased, non-judgemental, unconditional love of a gentle giant can.

So for now I will continue cleaning up the house and gathering his toys for our local animal shelter.  I will continue randomly crying as I remember the good times we had as a family of four.  I will comfort Nala and Hugo, as they both need me in similar yet different ways.  And I will keep a little place in my heart reserved for the beast that was Tootie, his nickname for all those years.

As a final note, Kaiser actually brought Hugo and I a tad bit closer these past couple of days.  We have been bickering a little and mildly getting under each other’s skin, most likely due to the fact that I am like a loaded gun that has been grounded at the house in excess of six weeks due to my knee surgery.  We have bonded and united as a team as we cared for our sick family member and ultimately laid him to rest.  Life has a funny way of coming full circle in that sense.  Maybe some times it takes a little bit of sadness to make you cling just a bit harder to the ones you love.

 

Better late than never

After a short four-day hiatus from writing, here I am!  Back and better than ever.  I didn’t really go anywhere, just didn’t have too much to say.  That’s fair, right?

So after my lengthy, 96-hour break, some of which I spent debating whether or not to return to school, transcripts have been ordered, degree programs have been explored and decisions have now been made.  My final decision is to enroll in an online bachelor’s degree program in the very near future.  I have wasted the past fourteen years debating it so I decided, enough is enough.  There is no better time than now.  Plus, I found an outstanding online degree program through National University that works very well for working professionals.  It is 100% online and you only take one intensive class at a time, with classes only lasting a month.  I like the sound of it so I am getting pumped to begin.  As of right now I intend to major in Homeland Security (that just sounds bad ass, right?), but that may change as I iron out the final details this week.

As the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards are about to start, this little scholar is typing away as Hugo makes sausage and shrimp paella.  Another outstanding Chef John recipe that is worth checking out.  Needless to say, the house smells amazing.  He has made this recipe before and it never fails to impress.  What a lovely man he is.  Feeding someone you love is a beautiful expression of selfless caring.  I am a lucky girl.

 

Still got it in him

Despite being nearly seventy years old in dog years and being mortally ill with throat cancer, Kaiser still has it in him.  And by “it”, I mean the will to fight.  He has always been a scrapper; never a fan of other dogs, he has fought with all breeds, ages and sizes since he reached adolescence.  In addition, he gets rather feisty with Nala from time to time, whether it is over food or random dominance battles.  That is exactly what happened moments ago in our kitchen…over an ice cube.  Every time that I scoop ice from our freezer, both dogs frantically run into the kitchen, in hopes of acquiring a fat-free frozen treat on these hot summer days.  Although I didn’t give them one today, which may have lent itself as to why they were upset, as they turned to leave the kitchen, it was on.  Either Nala looked at Kaiser sideways or Kaiser didn’t appreciate the side eye that Nala was handing out because as they both took a step forward, they simultaneously turned and began battling.  It is normally mostly bark and minimal bite but two large Rotties getting crazy is always enough to get me yelling as loud as possible and stomping my feet, in an effort to break their attention away from one another.  Since they are both aging and quite frankly not in the mood for craziness like they used to “back in the day”, the brawl was brief and short-lived.  No injuries reported and both parties retreated to separate corners of the house, as they normally do for a short period of sulking and licking their wounds, if you will.

Although I don’t want to see my dogs fight, or any cross feelings between anyone in my midst, it is still nice to see that his soul is alive and well.  He can’t fight his instincts which is both real and raw.  Dogs can’t lie or fake it so it warmed my heart to see him want to get wild with his kid sister.  It will be rather telling when he does slow down to the point that a quick ice cube brawl is too much for him to sustain.  I know that day will come eventually but let’s hope it is later than sooner.

Afterword:  About twenty minutes later, as I continued thinking about this post, I couldn’t help but consider the similar behaviors that humans engage in.  The main difference is that as humans, we have the self-awareness and knowledge of our condition, which is both a blessing and a curse in my opinion.  For instance, if we have knowledge of a terminal illness, some of us may shelter ourselves or limit our energy exertion, which goes completely against acting purely on instinct.  If we are aware that we are sick, we may not solely act on how we actually feel but we factor the knowledge of our sickness and all of the negative attributes in when we make decisions or assess ourselves.  

I have said it before and I will say it again – we have a lot to learn from the animals in our lives.  Now I am off to refill Kaiser’s food bowl, so his belly can be full and his heart can be happy.

Isn’t it sad

As I sit here watching the 9pm news on the West coast, I find it incredibly sad that the Charlottesville, Virginia police department has to essentially shut the city down, on the anniversary of the nasty white supremacist demonstration ‘Unite the Right’ one year ago this weekend.  The event last August resulted in three people dying and over 38 other injured.  Fearing another catastrophic and dangerous event, authorities are prepping in an attempt to keep their residents as safe as possible.  Isn’t it a sad world that we live in, one that necessitates the closure of city streets and strict implementation of heavier rules, in order to keep people safe from each other?  It’s 2018 right now.  This country is the most volatile I have seen it in my lifetime.  It is scary at times as our future is uncertain.  It seems like nowhere is truly safe anymore as homegrown terrorists lurk in both urban and rural environments.  Our sense of community, with love for thy neighbor, feels lost but hopefully not forgotten.  I can’t help but wonder, where do we go from here?

Two things I love on this Saturday afternoon: Sex and the City & Infrared Saunas

How is it that I have watched the Sex and the City movie, as well as years of episode reruns, over and over again, yet when it is on TV, just as it is right now, I can’t help but watch it once more!  It is just that good.  I just found myself standing in front of our television, lovingly staring at our eighty inch screen, as Miranda and Steve reunite on the Brooklyn bridge.  Those ladies give me laughs and give me hope; laugh if you want but it’s true.

And that leads me to the second thing I am loving right now: infrared saunas.  After discovering our new local sweat spot, the Organic Sweat Shack, I have now fallen in love with climbing into a small cedar room and sweating my ass off.  Literally.  Outside of sweating and shedding a few pounds during a session, the additional benefits are worth exploring – detoxification, cell growth, improved circulation, and relaxation just to name a few.  My hope is to aid my knee in healing and to drop a few pounds while doing so.  Plus it feels great to sweat again, as I slowly transition back into an active lifestyle.