Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Farewell to Ms. Fanny

~ Farwell, my sweet Ms. Fanny ~
It's been shortly over a week since Aaron and I sent Fanny to the rainbow bridge. Though it was a tough decision on all levels, it was clear that she was suffering over the weekend. Although the current winter has been quite mild, a godsend for Fanny's ailing body, a recent cold snap, coupled with freezing rain ended up being too much for her to cope with. In the final 48 hours of her physical existence with us, she struggled to stand up outside...falling to her belly on a several occasions.  It broke my heart to watch her in such a state because I knew she was trying so hard to fight her failing body.

~ Fanny on one of our camping trips in Door County ~
 When I arrived home from work last Monday evening, there she was, laying on her bed - exactly where Aaron had left her 5 hours earlier when he left for work. She could barely lift her head as she opened her eyes to greet me. Her breathing was rapid and shallow, she struggled to keep her eyes open and as I quickly came to her side she gave out a great sigh of relief. I knew it was time. She was ready to go onto the next part of her life.

As tears began to pool in my eyes, I made the call to the vet...telling them that it was time for us to let our sweet Fanny's body go and that we needed to honor her request tonight; it could not wait until the next morning. I called Aaron and told him that when he got home from work we needed to do this act of love. Shortly thereafter, Aaron arrived home and we both consoled Fanny and promised her that soon she would be happy and running pain-free. Her lungs would be free and clear and her back legs would have the strength and abundance of a puppy. With a great sigh, and one last request for an eye rub, she agreed and asked, "Well, let's get goin' then!"
~ Fanny's favorite activity (besides eating!)
was going for car rides ~

Having never experienced the loss of a close pet before, I knew the evening's events would be difficult. Aaron and I packed a full Kleenex box, Fanny's blanket and got Oscar situated. We had been preparing for this inevitable day for a few months, still there was a huge flash of reality when we were going through the motions of getting her ready for her last breathing car ride. Upon arrival to the vet's office, they welcomed us into our private room, where they had already set out a thick warm blanket for Fanny to rest on. We laid her down, never once ceasing to be with her...Aaron rubbed her ears and eyes and I quietly beamed healing energy to her as I steadily placed my hands on her rear end.  Soon, our sweet girl would be at rest. The tech administered a sedative to help Fanny relax before the procedure and gave us a few minutes alone before the doctor came in. They prepped the injection site and together, we all told Fanny how wonderful she was and how her life was only going to get better...a new body will be born and she will run wild and free until we see her again. Without hesitation, she went quietly and peacefully to her final rest.

~ "Is he really staying?"~
We had made prearrangement's to bring her home the evening of the procedure to help Oscar - and us, quite frankly - cope with the event. Just like he always has, Oscar went over and sniffed her body... concentrating on her sweet front paws and her ears. We quietly spoke to the two of them as they said their good-byes and Oscar finally got his wish...for Fanny to allow him to lay by her. It was a sweet moment between the two. The following morning, we returned Fanny to have her body cremated.

So as we wait for Fanny to return home to us, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on how much she brought to my life over the past 10 years.
To my dear, sweet Fanny,  
You were my first dog. The memories I have of the first day we met are some of the happiest moments in my life. After 22 years of begging my parents for a dog - I finally went out and got one myself! Fanny, you were simply stunning...a beautiful White Shepherd girl...all alone in your adoption room. I knew you would bring great joy to my life as I signed the application papers. I didn't care about the 'negatives' on your intake form - they didn't scare me - although you certainly fulfilled them as some of my friends would soon find out. 
You taught me that kangaroo tails aren't reserved for kangaroos - you had a fabulous tail and carried it well...on multiple occasions hitting it on something that made it go limp. You taught me that you would gladly eat any and all food that was offered to you - even those that were for my anniversary dinner with Aaron. You taught me that you are smarter (and stronger) than most humans - I will never forget the time when you moved Chris' entertainment center away from the wall to puke back there. You taught me that you could, in fact, be trusted around anyone - it just took some time, love and lots of hot dogs for some of those scary men to be OK. You taught me that I couldn't live a day without finding white dog hair everywhere - admittedly  I would miss it if it weren't around.  You taught me that finding a man who really loves dog is a hard thing - but I found him and will never let him go. You taught me that I had to be careful when I was preparing your food b/c you have secret ninja skills and could sneak up on me nearly tripping me on multiple occasions. You taught me to never give up on anything, and make adjustments along the way - I regret those days when I didn't know any better and used a prong collar on you, but it afforded me the opportunity for ultimate growth into the positive training world and I have never looked back since. You taught me that you were always there with me - your timely "drive by" nose bumps at night are sincerely missed. You taught me about unconditional love - I never once regret staying home on a Friday night to be with you because I know appreciated it, even though I got shit from a lot of my "friends" for it. Fanny, you were a wonderful companion. You put up with your little brother and set a wonderful example for your breed. Your presence will be missed by all that knew you...but the memories you have given will always be there.
Until we meet again, my dear, run wild and free - and jump on a counter or two, especially if there's a steak up there in the sink. ~ Your proud Momma, Laura ~
~ The ultimate lounger in her golden years ~

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 in Review

Another year has flown by in the blink of an eye and, 2012, you were another year to remember. You gave many of us new challenges, new victories and a few failures. As I look back on my review from last year, I am grateful for so many things and am proud to say that I lived up to most of the goals I set for myself and my family, both skin and fur.

So, let's begin...here's the year 2012 in review...

To my loving husband...
You never cease to amaze me with your kindness. Not only to me, but the dogs and almost everyone in your life (and I know your Grandmother does love you, even though she can be very nasty). Your patience is unmatched and your tolerance is that of a saint. I love you more each day and know that between all of the "adult" stuff we deal with, my love for you grows with each pass of the clock hand. I look forward to growing old with you and will keep my promise that our next dog will not be a GSD :)

To my dogs...

First, and foremost, my dear, sweet Fanny. We almost lost you in May and many tears were shed during your hospital stay. It forced me to stop my life and focus on taking care of you - something that, admittedly, had been put behind Oscar as we were working hard on his behavior "problems." I am sorry for putting you second so many times in the past few years. Aaron and I took off of work while you were hospitalized because we couldn't be any other place than with you in those moments. I knew when that beautiful Spring thunderstorm rolled into the sky the afternoon we were to bring you home, you were not ready to leave your physical life with us just yet. You still had dignity and fight left in you. Aaron and I love you and - while it drives us crazy how you can sneak up on us and near trip us every time we prepare one of your meals - we want you to stay around for as long as you want to bless us with your presence.

Next, my silly, sweet Oscar. We had quite the year. I vowed to stop bringing trainers over to help me figure out what was "wrong" with you and I'm proud to say that I kept that promise. I did, however, take you to meet a wonderful woman, Kathy Kawalec, but I promised you a bit of fun (sheep!).  You have grown so much in the past year and I feel that our relationship can only get stronger. I'm happy that you have felt comfortable enough to hop up into bed with Aaron and I each night and are learning the fine art of comfortable relaxation on a warm, shared bed. I'm grateful that you have remained healthy this year and have filled out into your stud muffin body :)  You teach me so much and each day with you is an adventure. Never stop wagging your tail, my sweet little man.

To the "Dog Nerd Community"...
This year was a lot of fun and I had a lot of support along the way. First, to Eric...my dog boss. Becoming part of the BehaviorWorks family has been wonderful. Eric, you have allowed me to grow as an individual and as a dog trainer. Thank you for listening to all of my crazy ranting and receiving my emails :)  To Kathy Kawalec, meeting and working with you has been amazing. Even though we've only been together twice, your kindness and honesty has spoken volumes to the way that I want to be with everyone in my life. Thank you, Tresa Laferty, for hosting Kathy at your fabulous home and opening the invitation to those, like me, who are seeking a deeper connection with those in their life. To Kathy Sdao, an infinite "Thank You" for writing and publishing your book Plenty in Life is Free. Your words throughout the pages had me smiling and wanting to be more to every dog in my life. To Dee Wilsuz, a challenge for you. We need to get together in 2013. If for nothing else, to drink a bunch of margaritas and talk about dogs.  To Monica Segal, thank you, again, for supporting the entire Holder family. Your dedication, passion and humor are second to none and I wish that more people get the opportunity to get to know you and see that you are an amazing woman. To Ms. Kathy Hatch, I am thankful our paths connected in 2012. You have helped and supported me the most. Oscar and I joined your wonderful NoseWork classes and are having a blast, but what I am getting our of your classes far surpasses the fun sniffing we are doing.

Professionally speaking, I am most proud of passing my CPDT-KA exam this year. It was a long couple weeks of studying - followed by another stretch of time while I waited for the test results. (Eric - if you are reading this, you still owe me a beer!).

My wishes and goals for 2013...
First, and foremost, I wish that all of my family members stay happy and healthy this year. There were a lot of uncertainties in 2012 for some of my close family members and may this year bring you clarity and security.

To my husband, I wish for a year of challenges, but one with more rewards. I'm already looking forward to our trip in July where we can enjoy some food, wine and good company. You are my best friend and I don't want to share the world with anyone else. We will continue to grow together and I only see great things for us.

To Ms. Fanny, the fighter, what I wish the most is that this winter not be too harsh on your aging body. Wherever 2013 takes you, Aaron and I will be at your side, supporting you all the way.  Lots of warm beds,  delicious food, and on-demand belly and eye rubs for you, my sweet girl.

To Mr. Oscar, the ding dong, I wish you happiness mixed with a bit more learning. I vow to keep showing you that the world is not as scary as it may seem and that people actually like you when you aren't yelling at them :) My goal for the two of us is to get out there and pass the ORT birch test. That's it. If you want to try a NW trial, cool, if not - no biggie, I promise :) Lots of "butt flosses," Frisbee games and maybe even a few lure coursing dates for you, my silly boy.

To the other important folks in my life. May you have a challenging and fair 2013 that affords you the opportunity for personal, professional and financial growth. I wish that those around you be happy, safe and healthy and that you get to do something that you love every day.  Never stop learning.

To myself. I challenge you to stop and smell the roses every once and a while. The emails can wait and the dog nerd books will be on the book shelf...they won't walk off on their own. Be with your family and when you are, be as committed as you can be while you are with them. Go someplace new, fun and exciting with Aaron and explore like an 8-year old with no reservations....just breathe, love and live it up.

Here's to a great year!  Happy 2013!