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**


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.

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.

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.

puppy 020
Me & Anna
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.
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.

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*

Cooper and Me with her favorite purple football.

Anna, Cooper, and Salem playing three way tug

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.


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!!!

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


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


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!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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.


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.

What would you do?

What would you do if someone you loved developed an autoimmune disease? A disease that attacks the insulin producing beta cells that live in the pancreas.

What would you do if they could die from this disease if not treated by insulin injections? Insulin injections that must be administered by needle six to seven times at day – minimum – to keep their blood glucose levels at a normal healthy range, their entire lifetime.

What would possibly be the root of this assailant on someone you love? This aggressor would be Type 1 diabetes. A debilitating disease. A disease of mystery and power.

This disease knows no bounds. It could attack you. It could attack me. Research has not proven why, or how. They know an autoimmune response is triggered. Maybe from an infection, maybe from an inherited gene, maybe even from not being breast-fed as a child. In addition, not everyone that has an autoimmune trigger develops diabetes. Some do. Some don’t.

The first person I ever knew with diabetes was my paternal grandfather. He died in 1975, I don’t remember him. I missed a chance to know him – he died too young. I never really knew anything about diabetes, despite my grandfather having had it. I was just a little kid. It didn’t affect me. I had no reason to find out why I didn’t grow up with my grandfather.

What did get my attention was another man who had Type 1 diabetes. His name was Uncle Bub. I would come to live with him and his sister during a separation from my second husband. It was a turbulent time of my life. Uncle Bub was my saving grace. He was my friend. Someone I would talk hours to. His health had deteriorated quickly with Type 1 diabetes.

In the previous years, He hadn’t taken care of himself and let his blood sugar levels get too high. He didn’t inject the life saving insulin. His body began failing. He had a stroke. He lost all feeling in his fingers. He developed heart disease. He lost his right leg, from above the knee down. He lost all his toes, except the big one on his left foot. He was near blind.

This six foot two inch tall man of such stature and pride, a leading manager for over twenty years with an oil company, was reduced to near helplessness in a wheelchair. His life stricken and battered by this autoimmune disease. He could no longer live by himself, nor take care of himself. This independent man had to rely on others. It was harsh and painful. The disease, left uncontrolled, wrought havoc on his fifty year old body.

When I came to live with him, I helped him as many ways as I could. His strength weakened, lay coiled inside. He was a fighter. Most men would have given up, faced with the nightmare, but he fought and he lived. I would load Uncle Bub’s insulin shots every morning for him. He could administer the shot himself, just not prepare it. His fingers, without nerves, could not navigate such a delicate task, nor he could his damaged eyes see the fill lines.

I would take him as many places as he wanted to go. Often to the computer electronics store, or Walmart, or to out to eat. I would throw his wheelchair in the car and off we’d go. Nothing could stop us. He never let his disability keep him down. In fact, he got the biggest kick out stuff – like when I searched, and searched for his matching sock. Um, yeah, he only needed ONE sock. Boy, did that give him belly laughs for the longest time.

We even got to take our girls to Orlando together (his granddaughter, my daughter). Airplane, car rental, two hotel rooms and two little girls ages ten and eight trek across the country. I wheeled him all over Universal Studios. He wore a cowboy hat everywhere. No matter who we met, they called him Big Tex. To make the trip truly memorable, a hurricane hit Florida. We rode it out in the hotel. Hurricane Charlie. He smiled and entertained the hotel guests all day during the storm. It took their mind off it. His smile lit the whole dreary room.

He was the first man I knew and loved with Type 1 diabetes. My heart ached over his disease. He died a year and half after our trip. Heart disease and complications of Type 1 diabetes. What a shame. What a loss. He had so much life in him. He was such a dear confidant to me. He wasn’t even MY uncle. He was first husband’s uncle. His love for me shows , what an incredible man he really was.

The second man to enter my life with Type 1 diabetes? My boyfriend Jason. He developed the autoimmune disease while serving in the Marines, diagnosed February 1997. He was 22 years old, in the pinnacle of his youth. What a shocking blow. But what could he do? This was his fate. There is no cure. He dealt with it, like the soldier he was. Twelve years now, he has tested his blood sugar, by puncturing his finger, taking a drop of blood, and feeding it into a meter.

If it’s high, he takes insulin to bring it down. He has to pierce his skin with another needle, using pressure, to inject a shot. It’s as painful as it sounds. If it’s low, he has to take in sugar to bring it up. If he goes too low, he could go into a coma. If he goes too high, he has to take another insulin shot. It is a dangerous game. It is a guessing game. Most days, there is no winner – just the constant ups and downs.

The highs and lows don’t come without a price. The highs, are edgy causing light headiness, thirst and nausea. The lows, are blackened vision, spots – an inability to stay alert. Imagine those things happening to you. Imagine how that would affect your moods and your nature – while working, while parenting, while sleeping, while exercising. It’s no cake walk. Welcome to their life.

In my quest to understand, I decided to check my blood sugar. I pricked my finger. I fed the meter. Mine was normal, of course. I did it ONCE. He does it, six to nine times a DAY.

One time during lunch, my blood sugar dropped. I was sick, anxious, and nervous. My leg twitched constantly. I wanted to rotate my head several times around, thinking that MIGHT make me feel better. After I ate, it took thirty minutes to kick in and stop the madness inside my skull. ONE TIME. Jason does this on a daily basis.

My hearts grieves over this disease. Not because one, but TWO men I love dearly have their lives directly affected by it. One’s life was cut short. One’s life could very well be cut short, if they don’t find a cure soon. I can try to put myself in their shoes, but I will NEVER truly know the pain of living with Type 1 Diabetes. I only know the pain of watching a loved one, bear the burden of Type 1 Diabetes. I pray for a cure. I long for a cure. I have hope for a cure.

October 24, 2009 – I will walk for a cure. I will walk next to the man I love with his beautiful children. I will walk in honor of Uncle Bub’s spunk, that encouraged me during a very low stretch in my life. I will fight for Jason. I will fight for the millions affected. I will fight to see him healed and free. I have to believe…we’ll win this fight.

What would I do? I would do anything.

If you’d like to join me in this cause -please do!- I would consider it a privilege. Even as little as $5.00 could bring them closer to solving this mystery. From what I understand, they are very close.

If financially this is impossible for you, then all I ask is that you say a prayer for those enduring Type 1 Diabetes. Pray for their strength, pray for their journey, and pray for their families – who love them and ache to see their strain. Lift them up.

Pray. Hope. Believe.

Diabetes – Walk for a Cure- Click here to visit my page and make a donation.
*Link updated for October 2010 walk for a cure.*

***edit and update September 17, 2010**
This year’s Diabetes walk is Oct. 23, 2010. We have “registered” for donations. This time I am asking family and friends attending our wedding October 10, 2010 to gift us the greatest marriage gift we could accept. A hope for a cure. The link above has been updated to this year’s walk donations. We deeply thank-you and send you love and blessings in return.