Living, Loving, and Losing

When asked to re-upload an old post that you wished more people had read, I had no hesitation. I knew exactly which one.

**originally published July 28, 2009**

THE FURRY LOVES OF MY LIFE

First off, I have to tell you how much I love animals. ALL creatures. Big and small. My biological dad is an animal buff and my mom is the crazy dog lady she has 24dogs right now!(yes I am worried the animal cops are coming).

I have a hard time killing bugs, yes even spiders, caterpillars ,grub worms, frogs, mice(edit-biting ants and mosquitos don’t count!). God forbid an animal dart out in front of my car and I don’t miss it! I’ve only hit a squirrel once and that was saaaad. I say all that so you know, that what I write about my animals it is from a very soft heart.

My first dog I ever bonded with was my girl Salem. She is a pure bred female black lab she will be 7 yrs old in September. Her full name is Salem Dixie Elizabeth. And she is a HOSS. Her Dad was and she got his figure. That chick is 88lbs!

I was working from home when she arrived. We spent every moment together. I’d look into her sweet face and just melt! I had never fallen for a dog before. She’d lay at my feet all day and sleep in her crate next to me all night. We had our bout of puppy trails but really it wasn’t tooo bad. I mean I didn’t need that rosemary plant she gobbled up out of my garden right?? I’m sure it was mighty tasty.

She turned out to be a GREAT dog. SO smart! I taught her to sit, roll over, lay down, stay, speak and the best one…hi-five both paws!!! It’s the coolest thing. Slap me some skin Salem! HAHA

I even bought my car in 2006 with her in mind. I got one with four doors instead of two so she could hang her head out the window. Tongue wagging and her eyeballs bugging as she blinks her eyes in the wind. Too funny to miss out on that. Ahhh the sweet life of a dog! To this day I can hardly leave her and do take her with me everywhere I can.

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Salem out window

My second dog was a complete accident. My MOM, the dog collector, had found a puppy. Supposedly, the story goes that a man had a box of puppies that he brought up to garage sale and asked if he could leave them for people to take if they wanted one. Well the owner guy said, “Uhhh NO”. The guy took his box and off to the woods he went where he promptly dumped them to die in the night by coyotes or any other wild animals around.

The next day my mom went back to said place and looked for the puppies. She found ONE. An itty bitty size of my hand black puppy with white on her paws. She took it home (of course!). That happened to be the weekend I came home to visit. I saw in the front yard in a crate this darling puppy. Awwwwh.

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Puppy Anna 1st day I met her

Now honestly WHO can resist a sweet little puppy and when I looked in her face OMYGOSH it was Salem’s face. Still! I didn’t want or need a puppy! No to potty training, no to chewing , no ,no ,no ,no. But on that day I couldn’t bear to leave another dog at my mom’s. I couldn’t do it (hangs head). She came home with me. Anna Foursocks Elizabeth was entered into the household.

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Me & Anna
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Anna at home on Salem’s bed

Well, Salem thought it was her baby. She licked her, cleaned her, and corrected her. She was such a good mommy! (still is) Anna grew and grew. We discovered she was not black lab at all, but mostly GREYHOUND. So very skinny , very skitsy, very nervous and shy, but really a sweet ,sweet dog. I only changed her name a few times. She was BAD BABY, MISTAKE, PAINFUL, STUPID DOG.

It was a challenge. She wore me out, was hard to potty train, and is not nearly as smart (she ATE the carpet!) as Salem. BUT she is a joy! She is charming, playful, and we have had a lot of laughs watching her chase and CATCH her own tail (ok that was really funny!).

Nowadays, she really is one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met. A very grateful dog (like she knows she was abandoned and saved). She always lifts her head as if to thank me when I put her food bowl down. I have to pet her head before she will eat. She also lays her head on my chest and just lets me hug her. She is my cuddle bug. God knew I really needed that.
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Anna
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Anna and Salem

So then enters my third pet, who wasn’t physically mine, nor was she legally mine in any way. She is my boyfriends dog. But she and I bonded immediately upon meeting. She is forever in my heart. Her name is Cooper Marie. She is eight yrs old. I got her a purple football and that was our thing, as soon as I’d see her, she’d run and get that purple football! It has a spot to put treats. She eagerly waits for me to fill it up, then off she’d run with it – bouncing. That dog ALWAYS bounced. She was so happy, so beautiful, and so very very dear to me.

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Me and Cooper

Her and Salem had somewhat of a cease alpha when together (SOMEwhat), but she found her best friend in the whole wild world with Anna.

Anna and her were inseparable; they had the same puppy spirit. They played from minute one. Cooper lost weight. She gained LIFE. She was happier. She was livelier. If I visited her without Anna she would look and look for her. After awhile, she’d run and get her purple football. *funny she wouldn’t get it if you said get your football you had to say PURPLE football*

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Cooper and Me with her favorite purple football.

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Anna, Cooper, and Salem playing three way tug

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Anna and Cooper playing

On her last day in this world I petted her head, leaned down, kissed her saying, “I love you , Cooper. You are a gooooood dog.”

Later, when she was outside we chased each other up and down the hill in the back. Who would have thought she’d be so spry with her white muzzle, slightly stiff hips, and her fat tumors? In that moment she was ONE year old! Happy , playing , running – LOVING life – can’t we all hope we go on a day that was so spectacular in spirit?

What happens to her is a terrible , terrible event and it’s very hard for me to recount but I also think it’s necessary for anyone who might believe she died without her loved ones surrounding her, pouring their hearts into her very soul.

We were going to watch a movie. Four of us. Cooper’s Dad, me, and my daughter, and her boyfriend. We were all right in front of the TV. Salem was laying down. Anna and Cooper started to play (like they ALWAYS did for almost a year!). But something went terribly wrong. Anna jumped up really high (greyhound remember?). She came down with her mouth open near Cooper’s neck (play biting) her jaw slipped through the space between her collar and neck.

When she came right side up she knew she was caught and tried to twist away. From that angle, it actually twisted her lower jaw tightly around Cooper’s collar cinching it tight. Anna was upside down. Cooper was laying on her belly upright and they were tightly wound together. The collar was biting into Anna’s lower jaw.

Think of it like putting your finger against your skin under a bracelet, then twist it around. That’s how they were caught.

How do I know this? I was RIGHT THERE. I saw it happen. Immediately her Dad and I went to them to try and free them. After a moment we quickly realized they were stuck. It was the oddest thing I had ever seen.

We were not panicking. Surely, we just untwist them, or unlatch them. Anna was scared stiff, freaking out, and trying to get away causing her to tug at Cooper. We were trying to keep them still so we could see how they were hung maybe just untwist them. How many times was Anna twisted around and which way do we turn her.

Cooper started to drool. We realized she was not getting enough air. That’s when our inspection turned to PURE panic. “WE HAVE TO GET THE COLLAR OFF!!!” The collar would not simply pull off. It was too tight for one. For two, it was all slippery from her slobber.

“OH NOOOOOOOOOOOO. Please get them loose. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!”

In that moment, I couldn’t think about Anna I just wanted Cooper LOOSE—PLEASE. Jason tried to get pliers to pull it up enough to get the prong out of the collar but that didn’t work.They just slippped off – useless. Anna had gone stone still in our panic.

I got some scissors squeezed in that tight spot under Cooper’s collar at her neck but they WOULD NOT CUT!!!
“NOOOOOOOOOO NO! NO! NO! PLEASE CUT! PLEEEEEEEEEASE!!!”

He got something to saw at it but it wasn’t cutting the collar through. Her eyes began to close.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! PLEASE NO! Something HAS TO WORK. IT HAS TO! THIS CAN’T BE REALLY HAPPENING! Not her, not Cooper.”

Jason was working feverishly , desperately. I found another pair of scissors. I got them under the collar. They WOULD NOT CUT EITHER. ”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO NO NO NO.”

The tears, the panic, the helplessness, MY GOD PLEASE. I went to the knife block. I took them all out. Which would work without cutting off our hands or their limbs??? Or a fatally stab us around moving dogs. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE . I didn’t know which one.

Finally, Jason grabbed a steak knife. I got Anna untwisted one time around (praying it was the right way), he had just enough space to cut through collar. THEY WERE FREED!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But she collapsed, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NO NO NO. GOD NO.”

He carried her outside. He put water on her face. He gave her some air. He did mouth to mouth. He begged her to breathe. PLEASE BREATHE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE BREATHE. But she didn’t. She never breathed again. That precious baby was gone.

He laid flat on the ground his arms around her and sobbed. I cried too. Great gulping helpless, shocked tears. I was devastated for his loss. Clueless to how painful it must be. I felt like my baby puppy had murdered his best friend of almost 9yrs. His children’s playmate.

It was utterly devastating. I would have traded both of my dogs (even precious Salem) for her life back. I will never forget one single moment of our fight. Not one moment of us trying SO HARD to save her. And we failed. We failed her. The grief is not measurable.

No matter what we did, it didn’t matter, in an instance she was gone. Life is so fragile and so precious.

His mother and brother came over. We carried her to the car. We took her to the 24hour vet clinic. I watched him at the back of the car. He pet his dog, his friend, crying before he carried her into the clinic. I cried with him and for him.

I watched as he held her in his arms face in her blanket, petting her until they put her on a gurney wheeling her away. My God the PAIN of that. The heart wrenching agony. It ripped us both open.

I still miss her. There is not a moment that I don’t miss her. That I don’t cry for his loss. She was such a gooood gooood dog. His house is not the same without her. It’s very empty. It’s very quiet.

Please get your dog a quick release collar. Never miss an opportunity to pet them and tell them how much you LOVE them. Tell them with your heart not just your words.

Anna did not kill her, nor did he, nor did myself. As much as I tried to blame myself, even for just being his girlfriend, introducing the two dogs. It was not anyone’s fault.

It was a terrible, terrible accident. A terrible, terrible tragedy. I believe something would have cut that collar off, would have worked if it hadn’t been her time. I THANK GOD only my daughter witnessed it and not his two small children, who would have been traumatized for life. God is Good. He really is.

My tribute to Cooper: A poem I wrote and pet memorial.

CLICK HERE FOR PET MEMORIAL OF COOPER

Loving a dog is the most beautiful thing in the world. It WILL bless your life. No matter how it ends. To love someone so unconditionally is a gift from God.

**This is part of the back to blogging with the SITS girls. Thank-you for this chance to re-tell Cooper’s story and possibly save more of our faithful friends by simply changing a collar.

Be sure and visit the sponsors Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, Florida Builder Appliances. All links open a new window.

Merry SITSmas!

This post is for all the SITS girls. The Secret is in the Sauce is a comment blog recognition support group. It’s a great way to find new blogs, and meet other bloggers. I urge you to check them out. Wishing you and yours, a very Merry Christmas. Hug your family tight and cherish those precious memories. You never know when they might be gone. Love and miss you Daddy-O, Grandma, and Poppy Carl. Forever in our hearts.

Bridget, Jason’s youngest, hoping to take a new friend home from ICE.

Molly, Jason’s oldest, in front of the Texas Christmas tree. Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, after ICE.

Salem about 7 years ago, but she is still my puppy.

Sydney and Salem, 2002

Salem’s first Christmas, 2002

Molly and Bridget trimming the tree at Dad’s house this year. Notice the placement of the ornaments. 🙂

Sydney and Kyle, Christmas 2009.

Molly and Bridget, Christmas 2009 at the Gaylord Texan. I love this pic!

Me and Sydney, Christmas 2007

Me and Sydney, Christmas 2008

Due to technical difficulties (DARN iPHONE wordpress app), I lost most of this post and had to redo it. If the pictures look different that is why.

Walk for Cure JDRF 2009

Approximately 4,000 walkers showed up in Fort Worth, Texas today. All with one thing on their mind, to WALK for a cure. To cure someone they are close to, who lives with diabetes. For a lot them, this was a child. For others like me, it was an adult they loved dearly.

I was really moved by the entire families at the event. Brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, moms, dads, and even grandparents donned the same “team” shirt and walked for a cure. Truly humbling.

Team Hardy consisted of Jason’s mom, his two girls, their two cousins and me. We pulled a red wagon loaned to us by Jason’s X. In my eyes, this was her contribution – it did not go unnoticed. NONE of the contributions went unnoticed. Every gift was received, gratefully and incredibly. I was moved to tears, many times this week with the outpouring of love from many. Some from close friends and family (our mothers) and some distance friends, who I have never met. EVERY ONE was a heartfelt desire to see progress for a cure.

That is how it was today at the walk. So much heart, so much grit, determination and NEED powered this 5K walk. Most importantly it wasn’t with sadness but with great joy and hope, families and companies WALKED together.

Start of the walk. Beautiful day.

I am going to tell you, it is quite the challenge (for me anyway) to walk with four very small children and one two-seater wagon. 3.1 miles. Either I was carrying a child or pulling two. I have ran many 5K’s, my goal is always to get to the end as fast as possible. Not so today, it was to GET to the end. We lost ALL the balloons. We had a pile of jackets and TONS of water bottles. We avoided several mud pits and had no misses, nor falls. Several places in walk you could see the finish line with all the tents set up, I wanted to just grab up the kids and head that way (why make the poor things walk all those miles). I didn’t though. I wanted them to know, standing up for what you believe in – means something, even if it’s hard. So, we walked, we played, we skipped and we sang – all for a cure – with big smiles all around.

It was a GREAT success. The finish line had food, bounce houses, and many other activities (and bees – a LOT of bees). We played for a while. I loved the girls trek on the big bounce slide. Jason’s youngest could barely climb the big ladder up to the top (while it’s bouncing) but she did it. I got lots of pictures. I was very proud of her and for her.

I was really impressed at how well everyone did walking THREE miles. Jason’s blood sugar was even high the whole time (how appropriate). We had to leave right near the end because the two cousins had a school carnival to attend (we did that too). By dinner tonight, everyone was exhausted. What a GREAT day.

I will definitely remember today. It was an honor and a privilege. If you are a facebook friend, please see my Thank you note to our supporters.