Journey’s Journey – Goodbye my Friend

I’m already in tears after just writing the title of this blog post.  How I’m going to get through it, I’m not sure.  I sit here, surrounded by my dogs, tears running down my face. Sadly, I had to say goodbye to my sweet Journey earlier this week.  He had been dealing with some health stuff for a while and it was clear that it was his time.  Those that know his story know that he is afraid of everyone but me so putting him through more tests after a year of trying different things seemed to only benefit me not wanting to lose him.  It was his time and I’m heart-broken.

The fours years he spent with me doesn’t seem like enough after the years of abuse he was subjected to.  I keep vividly remembering the broken dog I met four years ago in a sad county shelter.  A shelter that doesn’t ever get dogs out of their kennels for bathroom breaks. They hose off the kennels with the dogs in their runs.  Once the dogs enter this shelter, they never see the outside world again unless they’re adopted.

I went to this shelter every Sunday for months along with some of my rescue friends to walk the dogs, vaccinate them, give them a name, take pictures and try desperately to find them homes.

It was my first Sunday going to this shelter and I believe I was meant to be there that day. Journey and his friend Tristan (at the time they were just dogs #151 & #152) were frozen in the back of their kennels.  They wanted no part of the love we were trying to share with them.

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My dear friend Carolyn, the Phodographer was there (phodographer.com) to use her talent to capture the emotion of the day and try to get these dogs adopted.  With great effort, I was able to get Journey out of his kennel but that was as far as he would go.  I just sat with him in front of his kennel, scratching his ears while Carolyn snapped some photos.

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I took the above picture and posted in on Facebook, hoping to find someone who could give Journey a home. The dog warden at the shelter planned to put him down because he was deemed not adoptable. A term I’ve grown to dislike very much in the rescue work I do. I have been working in the pet care industry for eight years and fostering dogs for over four years.  Saving dogs is who I am.  It’s what I love.  Some people have the view that there are so many healthy dogs in shelters, why spend money on the sick and broken ones. I think the broken ones deserve a chance too.  Often times, those healthy dogs aren’t available to rescues, but I won’t try to explain how the rescue world works now.

I will say that this dog, the sad dog sitting in the back of his kennel, deserved love and rescue more than any dog I’ve ever met. So did his buddy Tristan whom a friend of mine fostered and adopted.

These dogs were subjected to terrible abuse.  The kind of abuse that so many could never wrap their heads around.  Most dogs that are scared in shelters snap out of it as soon as you get them out, or soon after.  Some broken dogs emotionally heal after a short time. Tristan and Journey’s emotional wounds were deep.  I can’t imagine what they must have gone through on a daily basis to be the terrified dogs we met at the shelter that day.

After no one offered to help with Journey, I knew I had to.  It took months for Journey to even look at me.  After a trip to the vet we found out he had two dislocated hips and buck shot pellets in his abdomen.  He had surgery on both of his hips and some swim therapy to strengthen his legs.

Here he is with his friend Sandy at K9 Waves (K9waves.avmp.com)

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Even though these dogs were so horribly abused, they didn’t have an aggressive bone in their bodies.  Journey was a teddy bear.  A terrified, broken teddy bear.

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There aren’t words to describe the look in Journey and Tristan’s eyes when something would scare them.  Lori, my friend who adopted Tristan did the same thing I did while rehabilitating Journey.  We took it slow with them, talked to them, read to them, sung to them.  We didn’t push them to do more than they were ready for.  Slowly they started opening up to love, but only to us.  Journey really only trusted me and my mom who watches him when I’m out of town, but he was still guarded in his trust of my mom.

Watching him open up to me was amazing.  He wouldn’t look at me at first.  Trust took months.  I was cooking in the kitchen one day and I felt his cold nose touch the back of my leg.  I didn’t move, I slowly looked back at him and he moved away.  I turned back to cooking and he sniffed me again.  Insignificant to some, major in his ability to start to come close to me.

He started opening up slowly.  Eventually he started to howl when I first saw me in the morning.  I cried the first time I heard it.  He had learned to enjoy a humans company. He started stealing my clothes off of the bathroom floor while I was in the shower.  He would take them back to his bed to curl up with.

I started fostering puppies which he adored.  It really helped him to open up and start playing.

Journey with foster puppy Elton.  He adored puppies.

journey11His best friend was my pyrenees/lab mix Vita

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I could sit here and type out his whole story but what you need to know is he suffered the worst kind of abuse.  Someone took pleasure in hurting him and Tristan.  Small things could send them into a panic.  What you really need to know is that they learned to love and trust again.  Any life is deserving of a chance.  All dogs who are dumped in shelters deserve better, but I will forever be drawn to the ones like Journey, who need extra love.

I am heart-broken and missing him like crazy.  I miss his high pitched screech that he made every time I came home and every morning when I woke up.  I heard it as soon as I shut my car door when I came home.  I am so sad to not hear it when I come home now.  As my mom said to me yesterday, “You knew how much he loved you by that scream.  He couldn’t wait to see you EVERY DAY!”

If you have read my blog in the past, you know I’m likely to never have kids. I ‘m ok with that.  I tell my mom often that I prefer dogs to kids.  My dogs are my world.  When my body is hating me because of my brain condition, I have my dogs to curl up with.  When I had a miscarriage and everyone went back to their normal lives after being there for me, my dogs snuggled with me and let me cry.  They’re my world.  My mom is the only real family that I have.  My dogs are a bit more spoiled than most.  They have their own dog room that I am in search of toddler beds for.  I joke that I’ll be single forever.  Just my dogs and their race car and fire engine toddler beds!  Kidding!

Journey was more than a great rescue story.  He was a testament to what a little love can do.  People want to say “someone do something” but how many rarely get up and do it.  I will keep saving dogs, for Journey.  I miss his big bulldog head, his wonky ears.

I can’t control a lot in my life.  I can’t control my headaches and all the ridiculous things my body throws my way.  What I can make sure of is that the lessons Journey taught me will fuel me to keep saving dogs.  To advocate for dogs like him and Tristan.  I’ll remember the things that are important in life.

I miss you like crazy J.  I wish I could have given you more years of love than the abuse you lived through.  The four years you spent with me don’t seem like enough.

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Thank you to Shannon Debra and Shera Keeton with Recycled Doggies for pulling Journey from that shelter.  Thank you Carolyn Evans for being there on that fateful day to capture the emotion and energy with your pictures.  Thank you Lori Hiltenbeitel for saving Tristan.  Thank you to the rescue world that saves dogs like Journey and Tristan every day.  Thank you Sandra Hodges for the water rehab you gave to Journey.

Journey was loved and I was honored to be loved back by him.

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Lost and Found

How do you find out where you’re suppose to be in life if you never get lost?  Can you truly appreciate where you are if you have never struggled?  Some times I feel you have to do the wrong things, or the things that are wrong for you to figure out what feels right.  It’s ok to need change.  It’s ok to take a break, to need  to breathe, to break down and reevaluate life.

I have put much of my personal life in this blog in the past. Some find it odd.  I think it’s therapy.  Through my miscarriage, brain condition, grandma’s cancer battle and other struggles, I worked a lot and kept busy to deal with things.  I over do it.  I do too much.  I never rest.  Running my own business, Paw Joggers, was a great experience.  It was successful and kept me very busy, but it wasn’t the right place for me.  It’s hard to leave something that means so much to you, but when you know in your gut that it isn’t your path, what do you do?

I have felt lately like I am stuck in quicksand, weighed down my stress.  I haven’t written on this blog in awhile and remembered how therapeutic it is to type the words out, instead of letting them swirl a round in my head.

I just want to say to the person who feels stuck in life.  It’s ok to break down.  In the break down you just may find out how strong you really are.  Don’t be afraid of change.  Change can be a healthy and necessary step.  You should work hard, but also take care of yourself.  Recharge your batteries every now and then.  Remember to live.

Life can be tough but my faith is strong.  After you break down, after have you cried it out, remember to be still.  Breath and stay calm.  It may not seem easy but worrying doesn’t add a day to your life. It only makes you sick.

I start a new job tomorrow at an emergency vet in my area and am going back to get my vet tech degree. I’m excited about where I’m going.  I’ve taken chances and risks in my life.  I jumped with faith and I trust and believe in the journey.

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Year’s End, Life, Change…and Stuff!

Hmmm…

It’s been awhile blog world.  It’s been quite the year.  I’m running a pet sitting business, finished an amazing program with Bad Girl Ventures, missed my grandma, broke my wrist, fostered some dogs and the list goes on.

At the end of this year, 2013, I’m feeling something.  I’m feeling sadness for the miscarriage I had five years ago today.  I was seven weeks pregnant.  The first anniversary of this day was hard, the last three years passed and I was not emotional, but this year I’m sad.  It’s been on my mind since last week. I’m sad, not depressed, just deeply sad.  I wonder what my life would be like with a four year old, how it would be different.  Boy or girl?  What would he or she look like?

Miscarriage isn’t often talked about.  Those who have one don’t talk about it much.  I know I didn’t want to burden people with my sadness but it was a deep, gut wrenching loss.  I wasn’t even sure if I wanted kids, but the loss of a life you were carrying is immensely painful.  Nothing anyone says can make it better.  I didn’t want to seem needy, so I didn’t talk about it much.  I’m not needy, but extremely independent.  Even strong people get weak.  Strong people need help.

For the past five years I’ve thought I should do something to remember the child I lost.  I knew I wanted to get a tattoo.  It took me five years to be ready or figure out what I wanted.

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Thanks Tyler at Beelistic Tattoo for the awesome symbol of my loss.

I still felt I wanted to do more.  I thought about being cheesy and releasing balloons but I’m not cheesy and those balloons just become litter and really don’t represent what I went through.

So this happened…

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As if I have time to start a non profit.  I’ve been thinking about it for awhile.  I’m not sure I’m ready or if I have the time but wanted to get the ball rolling.  If not now, when?  I wanted to talk but didn’t know who to talk to.  I know other women have to feel the same way.  I ordered business cards. I want to at least get my email address out there so if woman need to talk, they can reach out.  I’m not a therapist, but I’m someone who has been there.

It feels odd to put such personal information out there, but in a way it’s healing.  What do you think?  I’m crazy and sometimes entirely too driven but that’s me.

Here’s to 2013 and bring on 2014!  Happy New Year!

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Letter to my Dogs

Dear spoiled doggies,

Just a couple reminders.

I can’t make the bed if you are on it. When I say off, that doesn’t mean get off the bed, then right back on. When I say off a second time, that doesn’t mean jump down a second time, then jump back up. When I say off a third…

There is no K9 neighborhood watch program in Newport. I promise you. You don’t need to alert me to every neighbor working in their yard or bird landing on the neighbors roof. There is only one K9 officer in Newport and none if you are it. You don’t wear a badge and we all know everyone of you would hand over all of my belongings for a belly rub and a treat. Stop acting tough.

We know the dog across the street is a talkative guy late at night, but you guys have a curfew and a bed time. It’s lights out at 10PM.

Love,

Your crazy mom who really needs some sleep

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Tough Love

Tough is listening to your foster dog scream as you walk away from him and his new owner.

Tough is doing that over and over again.

Tough is seeing the sad face of a shelter dog.

Tough is seeing lots of sad shelter dogs and knowing you can’t save them all.

Tough is pet parents who don’t give their dogs the love they need.

Tough is a foster dog who eats your walls and watches.

Tough is loving that foster dog like your own and hoping he doesn’t feel as if you’ve abandoned him when he gets adopted.

Tough is knowing your county shelter doesn’t try to save it’s animals.

Tough is not being able to do much about it.

Love is knowing you’ve changed a dogs life.

Love is getting an update about one of your foster dogs being spoiled in it’s new home.

Love is knowing you can’t save every broken dog, but knowing that you’ve healed many.

Love is turning an abused scared dog into a happy pet.

Love is not being able to take a break from fostering, because it’s who you are and if you can help, you should.

Love is a dog who was very abused and afraid of me, now curled up next to me on the couch.

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Run for Boston

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It’s been a week since the bombing at the Boston Marathon.  All of the Cincinnati running stores organized a local run for Boston.  My friend Lori and I joined a group at The Running Spot in Newport for a 2.62 mile jog this evening.  It was the perfect sunny night for a run.

The Running Spot posted something on their Facebook page today that I found interesting.  It was a letter written by Collin Peddie, the owner of the running store that was right by where the first bomb went off.  He went for a run after the bombing and tried to fight tears as he ran.  He couldn’t.  He was trying to figure out if he was running away from something, or towards something.  He decided it was neither.  He said he was living in the moment and couldn’t get away from what had happened.

I think running does all three for me.  Sometimes it’s an escape.  A way to run from my stress for a little while.  A place to free my mind.  I’ve cried on runs, especially when my grandma was sick.  Running is not only my happy place.  Sometimes it’s a place of peace or place I go to reflect.  Sometimes I just want to run and not think.  I can relax my mind as my legs carry me through the miles.

Sometimes I feel like I’m running towards my goals.  I’m running to be healthier or to relieve stress.  Sometimes I run for my sanity.  When I’m feeling like life is crazy, running puts me in a better place or mood.

There are those times where you just can’t escape life.  Running can’t fix it all.  I never regret a run though.  It was a pleasure to run tonight for those that were injured.  As long as my body will let me, I will never stop running.

Beautiful right?

Beautiful right?

 

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Thief

I haven’t blogged in a while and I debated writing about what happened in Boston yesterday, but I can’t get it off my mind. I can’t stop watching the news. What did I lose? I didn’t lose a loved one. I didn’t lose a limb. My marathon experience wasn’t robbed from me.

I didn’t lose anything but as a runner I’m sad. As an American, I’m sad. I’m heartbroken for those involved. I’m inspired by those who rushed to help. I’ve heard stories of doctors who had just finished running 26.2 miles and then rushed to the scene to help victims. There are so many hero’s who helped those in need.

I was talking to my mom today about it. I told her that I hope this doesn’t keep spectators away from events like marathons. Spectators help you survive a marathon or half marathon. Without people cheering you on, it would be a long, lonely race.

I ran my first half marathon last spring, The Flying Pig. The spectators were amazing. One of my favorite parts of the race was running up 5th street downtown. There was a wall of people on each side of the street. It was an amazing feeling. The whole route was full of people there to cheer on the runners.

My mom always cheers me on at my races. At the flying pig last spring she was waiting for me at the finish line of the race with a sign and a tiara. Yesterday I thought of how much it means to me that she was there to watch me finish the race. I felt for the families who lost their loved ones at what is usually such a happy event and an amazing experience.

Some people train their whole lives to run Boston. I would love to one day but I know I will probably never be fast enough. I’m a slow runner.

I am haunted by the image of the man being wheeled away from the scene who had lost both of his legs. All of the images are heartbreaking.

This horrific event makes me want to get back to being able to run races. I just finished physical therapy for my lower back pain. I’m easing back into running. I’m eager to get my race legs back, now so more than ever. I’m a runner. I want to run for those injured. I want to run for those who now can’t.

I sit here writing this with the news on, hoping they find out who did this. My prayers are with the victims, first responders, bomb sniffing dogs, doctors, and everyone who offered help yesterday.

The coward or cowards who did this are thieves. They stole an amazing experience from so many people. They took lives. They ruined lives. They didn’t take my love for running. I will be at The Flying Pig marathon in a few weeks to cheer on my friends and coworkers.

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