My girl

This morning I was woken up by nails clicking on the floor in the hallway and I instantly thought “Oh thank you, it was all a horrible nightmare, she isn’t gone” but of course it wasn’t and of course she is. The nails I heard belong to Maddie. There has been a lot of heartache lately: family drama, hurt feelings from friendships, the loss of family members stacked very close together, old wounds being reopened as I rekindle a relationship with my brother and on top of it all, the loss of my most precious girl. When we had to put Izzy down several years ago, a friend made a comment referencing a lifetime pet. Mayday was mine. Izzy was the love of our whole family. She came to all of us equally (but might have hedged a bit more towards being a daddy’s girl) and was generally happy to love on anyone that would love on her, it’s the Golden Retriever creed after all. Mayday? Mayday was my shadow. My spirit animal. As Sprog’s BFF said when he found out “I’m so sorry, I know she was your main bitch.” She was glued to me, she followed me from room to room, she was constantly under my feet and slept on my side of the bed at night. She stole my sheet and pinned me in constantly. She always knew when I felt like shit and kept me company as I tried to heal. She interrupted my yoga practice by sitting on my hair, licking my face or belching on me. If she went to Willy or Sprog I would sit behind her and talk for her and they would laugh because even though I couldn’t see her face, my words always perfectly matched her facial expressions and her face was incredibly expressive. She let me put anything on her, we dressed her up in clothes, antlers at Christmas, I put remote controls on her head…she would do anything for me.

She was a fighter her whole life, just like me, she was a tiny little sickly bit of nothing when I found her and her sisters underneath the stairs of that abandoned trailer 14 years ago. She was covered in fleas, starving and so desperate for someone to save her…she climbed right up on me and licked my face in joy, while the other two huddled together in fear. She survived two surgeries and even though they said we could expect about 3-6 months with her after having to have her spleen removed, she lived happily for another 15 months. She had horrible allergies, just like me, and I don’t know of a sadder thing than a dog allergic to grass. We battled ear infections and skin infections constantly. She had two strokes, her eye sagged permanently after the first one and she lost her hearing after the second. Her bark forever changed at some point in between. I call her the most expensive free dog in the world. But, I don’t care, I would’ve spent anything on her, for her.

I debated telling you about her last day/night but it was awful and graphic and I just hate remembering her like that. I hate remembering how she suffered. I hate that the last image I have of her was her in pain, struggling, in that place. I wish that she hadn’t lost her hearing so that my words could’ve actually comforted her. I promised her that she’d never have to camp again. That she’d never be tormented by another bug or another little annoying dog again. That she’d only be in the air conditioning she loved so much forever. That she was never going to feel anymore pain. That she’d only ever get her fancy wet food and huge fluffy bedding and mommy’s soft sheets. That she was the very best girl. The very BEST GIRL and I loved her so much. I wish that we got that beautiful last day filled with cheeseburgers and gorgeous pictures but as with most things the internet is not like real life. I wish I could say that I am okay with her being gone because at least now she isn’t suffering anymore and while yes, I am so glad she isn’t in pain anymore? I am most definitely not okay with her being gone. I am a fucking wreck actually. Like sobbing mess, can’t go into my own bedroom, wreck. When I was sad, when I was lonely, I would put my nose flat on the top of her nose and my forehead on hers and just hug her, I would stroke her super soft ears or lay on the floor with her. She always made me feel better and now she’s gone, just like that. 14 years is over. Every day I expect it’s going to get easier and it doesn’t.

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I miss you so much beautiful girl. Thank you for gracing me with your life. I am so lucky I got to be your mama.

More pictures here

the walkers

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I’m not sure how long ago I committed to walking the dogs every morning but it’s been long enough to make it a solid habit now. So much so that the dogs get antsy the same time every morning and Maddie (the black dog) starts slapping me if I’m not up and getting ready to go “on time”. We had to pause for Maddie’s surgery and her recovery but I went by myself during that time and I thought she would burst from happiness on our first day back out there, they really do love it that much. I’ve even forced Sprog to drag his teenage hide out there by himself and take them when I’ve had other commitments that prevented me from doing it.

We go when it’s cold. We go when it’s crazy windy.
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Today thanks to DST was the first time I’ve been out before the sun was actually up
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and we almost caught Willy leaving for work. He was turning the corner right as we were about to cross the street and Maddie spotted his car and started to run for him. So cute and slightly dangerous. Thankfully I always walk the girls on the leash :-)

Over the weekend I shot an outdoor wedding and as I currently have a sinus infection, it knocked me down pretty hard but we had plans with friends that evening to see another one of our friends do an acoustic set here before heading on to SXSW shows and I didn’t want to cancel. I’m really glad I went because not only was it a crazy evening for the record books but I also had a couple of people tell me how much they love seeing our morning walk pictures and it really made my night. I didn’t plan on it turning into a “project” but somehow it has morphed into something that I not only look forward to every day but that I get excited about documenting and putting out there into the world. The fact that other people are enjoying it too? It’s just icing on the cake and brings a smile to my face.

the traditional family pics: outtake edition

Y’all know by now that no family session goes perfectly. Since it’s me doing the photos via remote and tripod…I don’t have someone physically standing in front of our crazy ass dogs getting and maybe keeping their attention. This results in MANY outtakes.

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Half of Maddie cut off in front, her refusing to sit.

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Mom has the brilliant idea to try treats

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Treats are distracting

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WHERE DID YOU HIDE THE TREATS?

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No dogs, Mom is distracted by teenager talking about his hat.

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Final shot.

Compare if you please to last year’s
With the DOGS OF CRAZY

and pay particular attention to the GIANT looming in the background. My son is a man and it’s FREAKING ME OUT.

it’s a dog’s life

So, our computer exploded last week. Not literally but close enough to it…because as I was in the midst of editing photos it began to crash in such a spectacular and rapid fashion that I had a little emotional break down. It happened multiple times (13 times in fact) so i finally gave up and left it for dead until my husband could deal with it himself. He’s made some changes and *knock on wood* I seem to be back this week.

Over the weekend we were in kid birthday party hell (one jumper place, one party playland place) and I’ll talk about and share photos from that later, but for now, I’d like to talk about cupcakes because what is better than cupcakes? Cupcakes for dogs.

That’s right. Saturday night we tried the recently opened Sprinkles Cupcakes in town (You should know that I remain loyal to Crave at this point, but the dog cupcakes are a slight point in their favor)
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and after placing our order I spotted two remaining Doggie Cupcakes and had to bring them home for our girls
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because as confirmed by the packaging, doggies love cupcakes too.

And as soon as we got home, before they had even had their dinner, we set about giving them their cupcake, with me photographing it, of course. Now the me photographing it part made the process take QUITE a long time and by the end the girls were RATHER PEEVED about the whole thing because, to be fair, they were WAY too excited in the beginning and it was all one big damn blur but once we got them calmed down

Doggie cupcake
magic happened!

Of course, their magic would be once the cupcake actually made it into their faceholes.
Maddie's turn!

BEST DAY EVER

The dogs do indeed love cupcakes too.

What they don’t love? Are the baths they received yesterday.
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Not even a little bit.

i like big dogs and I cannot lie

I have always had big dogs. I will always have big dogs. I make these statements frequently and I probably will continue to do so. I have never been a small dog person and although I have made allowances in my life for a select few (like my mom’s dog who is IN LOVE WITH ME and has to be upon my person the moment I walk into her house) I don’t see myself ever owning one. PS I don’t consider a bulldog a “small dog” and I fully intend on having a bully of my own someday.

Of course every dog I’ve ever had has their own very distinct personality but I have to say that Mayday is seriously something else.

She is my shadow (and is under my chair, all 71 lbs of her, as I type) and hates for me to be out of her sight, she also hates bugs, hates to be too cold or too hot and generally would appreciate her life to be as pampered and posh as possible. She has allergies just like her mama and has cost us a pretty penny in medical bills also just like her mama.

She barks her fool head off at the slightest nip of the tiny dogs next door or if a squirrel farts in a tree (as we say) but she’ll be damned if she’s going to bark to go outside, if she wants to potty you had best understand her plaintive stares or else. She loves to be loved on and if you stop? She’ll use her paw to let you know the mistake you’ve made or she’ll rub on you like a cat until you get the message.

She’s adorable

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and clearly a genius

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dog days of summer

The weather has changed drastically in the past few days, it’s supposed to be in the 60’s this morning so I don’t know how many more days we are going to get in the pool (if any) but we did recently scare the shit out of our poor girls by making them go swimming.

Regardless of anything else, this video makes the pool worth it.

all systems are go

Did I talk about having to have a mammogram here? I know I whinged and fretted about it on twitter, but one social outlet /= every other. It wasn’t pleasant and if I’m being honest, it was a fair bit more hurt-y than I was expecting (the runt so didn’t enjoy that experience, I guess more is better for the squish) but I didn’t move or breathe so I didn’t have to do any of the positions more than once which was good. My results came in the mail and everything looks normal so WOOHOO!

I also had to have a Pap with my well woman visit this year and now they have started incorporating HPV testing into the test, so you get special instructions on how to retrieve your results. I have been trying to get my results for almost a month to no avail, so I finally called my Dr yesterday and was told that everything is clear and normal so again WOOHOO! I have had an abnormal Pap in my past and had to do the punch biopsy thingo and OMG, I never EVER want to do that again.

Finally, Mayday went in for her follow-up appt this morning after her dramz from while I was in NYC. All of her urine came back good. Her Ph is great, no blood or sediment so we are off cranberry pills again and just have to watch her peeing behavior to see if she needs to go back on them again at any point. Unfortunately it’s seasonal allergy time again so I also picked up her ear ‘roids but that’s really not a big deal and nothing we aren’t used to around here. Obvs.

I’ll leave you with a funny image.

Mayday is 77lbs as of today. Mayday is scared shitless of the vet, this includes shaking and major panting the moment we walk in the door. It also includes her 77lbs self trying to get into mommy’s lap as often as she possibly can, but given that she’s huge and that it’s a tile floor, this usually just ends with her front half being dead weight on my lap as her back half slides across the floor, rinse and repeat.

the cone of shame

Mayday has been doing fairly well in her recovery. We didn’t have to move Maddie out of the house and even though she was trembling and whiny for the first couple of days, she still had her complete appetite back and got around normally.

We did, however, have to slap a cone of shame on her Saturday. She started messing with her staples and now she has to wear it 24 hours a day until we see the Dr on Wednesday to have them removed.

If you have never had your dog in a cone?

It’s actually pretty damn hilarious.

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Of course as funny as it is, it’s also painful; she whacks the crap out of my legs with that thing constantly. She’s also scraped every piece of furniture, walls and doorways that exist in this house and even got out of it once, I will be so happy when she gets her staples out.

Yesterday though, she started with some swelling and redness so I am going to be calling the Dr in about 20 min to see if we need to get down there today instead of tomorrow and get her checked out. *fingers crossed* it’s nothing or that it’s gone down this morning (I slept courtesy of benedryl last night so I haven’t checked her yet).

Hopefully I’ll be back to regular blogging now….but I’ll also be job searching so we’ll see. Miss you!

there on the path of stress and freaking out go I

So I haven’t been around much, or anything resembling consistently of late and when I try to come here, I feel completely overwhelmed. If you are on my facebook you know why (or have spent any time on the phone with me lately) but I decided some other people might want an update so here we go.

-a little over a week ago Mayday (the black and white one) stopped walking. I promptly lost my shit and thought I was going to have to put my second dog to sleep in less than a month. We rushed her to the ER Vet (it was nighttime OF COURSE it was nighttime) and they gave three options each more horrible than the last and wanted $900 dollars just to run tests. We opted for the $200 fluids, pain meds and out the door solution so that we could take her to our day vet instead.
-the day vet decided it was inflammation from allergy ear and put her on a course of antibiotics and prednisone. the inflammation was making her dizzy and not wanting to walk after her second day of her meds she was doing awesome.
-after her last day of antibiotics and her first day of step down on the prednisone (one day on, one day off) she promptly started throwing everything she took in up again. I spent the entire night cleaning her up and washing every towel we owned, only to start the whole process over again as soon as they were dry. she also started with discharge from her vaginal area.
-back at the day vet, they diagnosed pyometra (which we had already figured out thanks to dr. google) and said that she needed an immediate spay surgery (she hadn’t been previously spayed due to concerns over her allergies and ability to withstand the anesthesia but that with their equipment they could only give her a 50/50 chance.
-as we were put in the same exam room that I was given Izzy’s diagnosis and ultimately said goodbye to her, I was a total effing wreck. Wills was with me (you have no idea how thankful I am for this) and so I just deferred to him for every decision and sat on the floor with Mayday.
-they then referred us to the Gulf Coast Animal Hospital and we hit the road (in rush hour of course) to get her there immediately. I spoke with the surgery intake people so that they would expect us and we got her there in record time.
-they took her back before we even finished the paperwork and we saw a doctor as soon as we handed our forms over.
-they explained the procedure, the diagnostic tests and what else they would look for all without any sort of hard prognosis so Wills asked. the doctor we saw said she seemed like a strong dog even though she was dehydrated and that she thought that it would go well but that they wouldn’t wait for us to decide to go through with the surgery, once they ran the tests and determined what it was for sure and if she could withstand it, she would be in immediately.
-we went back out front to figure out how to pay for the estimated $3000 surgery (if no complications) and I broke down and sobbed in the corner on the phone to my friend D.
-we left after paying the $1500 deposit. thank goodness we had paid off some credit cards recently.
-we went to lunch with D (Wills stomach never ceases to function) and the dr called to tell me the results of the surgery. I swear I was so distraught that all I heard for a few minutes was that she was alive.
-unfortunately her kidneys were as dehydrated as she is from the stress so they had to keep her on IV fluids and then she had some vomiting so she had to stay through the weekend.
-fortunately, we got to visit her for 30 min on Saturday. when she walked in the room she made a beeline for me and faceplanted into my chest.
-I get to pick her up today at 1 and find out what the final damage is.

Meanwhile, our lab Maddie has been freaking out suddenly being the only dog and thinking we are the grim reapers because we keep taking the others away and never bringing them back. She whines a lot and doesn’t want to be left alone for any length of time. I took her to D’s house the other day to see how she would get along with the Lollipop Guild (D has 3 pugs- 1 is a foster) in case we need to have her go there during Mayday’s recovery and she balked when I tried to get her out the door in her leash. I think she thought I was taking her to her demise.

I look and feel like hell, my head and stomach are constantly rebelling and I can’t seem to sleep enough, every night is a new and particularly terrifying nightmare; I will be so glad when she is home safe and sound.

camping; a picture post

Willy's morning view
Willy’s morning view: Izzy, fire, wife in slippers and coffee.

Breakfast
Me and Sprog having camp omelets.

Crossing one of many bridges
On the hike with the dogs: one of many bridges they had to be convinced to cross.

Spotted reverse skunk
Mayday after crawling under a burned tree

Burny
Examples of burny

A tree stuck through another tree
When a hurricane throws trees around

Daddy and his girl
Willy and Izzy by the fire

Blissful camp dog
Izzy at her happiest

Camp
Camp

We camped @ Boykin Springs Recreation Center in Angelina National Forest