The Missing Piece of My Heart

I haven’t written a blog post since “Bonnie is in Puppy Heaven“. I have been dealing with losing her along with all of the other things that are necessary to maintain a family and home.

I have a few things that I am working on and I will write posts about those, but some things have been bothering me since we lost Bonnie and essentially, these things are giving me writers block.

I want to bring something to light, that I have the feeling most people feel but they won’t discuss. Some people might take this post the wrong way and be offended by it. But I know that some folks will appreciate me speaking my true feelings.

My dog died. Seems simple enough. Its “just a dog”, right?

The day after Bonnie died, I spent the day crying uncontrollably. Its only to be expected. I didn’t get much done that day. I wrote “Bonnie is in puppy Heaven”  and I took my daughters to the skating rink to try to get their minds off of it. All I could do was cry. I was in public crying. Driving and crying. Doing the dishes and crying. Showering and Crying. Lying in bed Crying. I could see it on my kids faces. The deep sadness sitting just below the surface. We all tried to keep it together but inevitably, we cried.

Things “got better” as the days went on. Basically, I got used to my dog not being there. But things never really “got better”. The heavy sadness still sits on my heart. I still see and feel my fingers gliding over her fur and tracing her wrinkles as I said good bye to her for the last time. In an instant things are not “better”.

At first it felt like she just wasn’t home at the moment. I kept expecting her to come back home. Like she was on some vacation or at the vet or visiting grandma….I don’t know, just “not home”. Then my brain would tell me “no, shes over there, rotting in the ground”. Yes, I know that’s terrible, but that’s what my brain told me. And it made me mad. Did I bury her properly? Did she deserve something better? Should I have cremated her? How could I just let her rot like that? These were the thoughts that went through my head.

I was almost ashamed that we buried her. But then I realized something. She was not her body.  And her body was becoming a part of our property. It made me love my property more because I knew that her body was a part of it.

I have always heard that when you lose someone you love they never really leave you. You’ve heard it too, I’m sure. All those emotional sappy romantic ideas of someones love staying in your heart and you’ll always feel them in your heart because once you love someone they become a part of you..blah blah blah. Yada yada yada..WHATEVER! When you lose someone you love, they are gone physically and all of that “always in your heart” idea is bullshit. They are gone, and no romantic idea can take away the hurt you feel when you can’t find that missing part of your life.

As the days went on, I began to feel foolish. She was “just a dog”. I began to feel like people were thinking the same thing “why haven’t you gotten over this yet, it was just a dog”.

The truth is, she was not just a dog. She was my partner. EVERY DAY. FOR ELEVEN YEARS. She relied on me, and I relied on her. She was my responsibility and I was hers. I had to feed her and care for her, every day. And she had to show me how much she loved me and follow me around to make sure I was safe, every day. I have spent more time with her than I have with my own children and my husband. She was always there. ALWAYS. I’m not speaking metaphorically. She was literally ALWAYS there. Even if I wasn’t physically with her, she was at home thinking of me and wondering when I would come back to her so she could watch over me again, and wag her tail and show me she loved me. ALWAYS.

I realized that even after death she was still with me. In my mind. In my memories. Those memories will never leave me. Even if I wanted them to. She would always be there, just like when she was alive. I know, I’m contradicting what I said. But not really. Her memory is in my head and it makes my heart ache for that piece it lost when she died. Does that make sense? I don’t carry her in my heart. I carry her in my head and my heart hurts for her. There is no romance in that.

It has been exactly one month since Bonnie died. I still cry, pretty much daily. But now its a sudden bust of sadness that comes unexpectedly. From nowhere a moan will come from me and I will weep, for no reason at all. And it leaves as quickly as it came. I don’t know why. Nothing triggers it,  but everything triggers it. The memory of her intertwines with whatever it is I’m doing at the moment and reminds me of my aching heart.

I know that Bonnie was “just a dog”. An animal. My brain knows that. But my brain is the one that keeps reminding my heart of its loss. Logic is causing my sadness. So, I stopped feeling foolish for my sadness. And I don’t care if people think I should “be over it”. And she was not “just a dog”.

I know that one day I won’t cry from the hurt of the missing piece of my heart. My heart will learn to function without that part. But I will never view Bonnie as “just a dog” and my loss is real. Please don’t ever think any less of it. Please don’t ever think that there is a loss that is worse than mine that I could compare it to. I know there are terrible tragedies that would hurt far more than losing a dog, but non the less, losing any size piece of your heart is an important loss and it is painful.

She will be waiting for me in the meadow, along with the other pieces of my heart that are missing. And I will be whole again. I know this is true because both my heart and my brain tell me it is.

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Bonnie is in Puppy Heaven

The time is drawing near for my sweet Bonnie girl.
She has been battling lymphoma for 6 months now as I talk about in the Rainbow Bridge post.
She told me that she was ready to leave soon.
She was laying on the hardwood floor. Her breathing was heavy. She looked at me and I could see it in her eyes. She was uncomfortable.
I lay down on the floor beside her. My cheek on the cold wood floors, the same as hers. I admired her white fur peppered through her black. Her lips puddled on the floor under her head. Her tiny nose. Tears fell from mine.
I ran my fingers over her nape. This is her favorite spot for a good scratch. I pushed my fingers down into her thick fur and gently began to scratch. Her eyes brightened for a moment. She struggled to stand then slowly walked away from me to the other side of the room and lay down heavily again. She did not want me to scratch her anymore.

 

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I called the vet the next day. I fought back the tears and made an appointment for Bonnie’s euthanasia. The vet would come to our house in 4 days.
Now I had to tell the kids.
I loaded up on snacks and bought a couple movies. I knew I needed to distract them for the sadness. The first night would be hard but then they would have the weekend to spend with her and to prepare for her departure.
Having to explain to your child, that someone they love is leaving them, is very hard to do. Seeing their eyes well up with tears. Their little cries of utter sadness. It broke my heart.
The next day we took all the dogs on a ride to grandmas house. Bonnie loved to go for rides.
The girls swam in the pool. Honey ran laps around the pool and occasionally jumped in for a swim. Bonnie stayed to herself and rested. Grandma fed her homemade fudge. Everyone was tired by the end of the day.

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On the third day my husband and I walked the property to find Bonnie’s final resting place. It was early and the air was cool. Bonnie’s dad had the painful job of digging her grave. I’m lucky to have him. I couldn’t do it.
After lunch we took Bonnie for a ride to the pet store. We bought her a new collar and tag and some special treats. My youngest daughter bought her a cookie with her own money. She wanted to save it for Bonnie’s special day.


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On the way home we went through the drive thru for ice cream. Bonnie got a peanut butter blizzard. But she didn’t want it. She thought we were at the bank and that she would be getting a treat. The tellers always put a treat in the canisters for her. She watches them glide through the pneumatic tubes with her ears perked up.
Tomorrow we will take her to the bank.

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After dinner we wrote letters to Bonnie telling her how much we love her and how we will miss her. We also found a sheet to bury her in. We wrote notes on the sheet too.

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None of us want to talk about our Bonnie girl leaving us but I can see that it helps.
For me, its a relief to talk about it. I have kept her illness a secret for months. I’ve ran all these scenarios through my head a hundred times. I’ve dreaded the idea of telling my children the news and seeing them being sad. But to finally be facing that fear, its almost joyful. Its weighed so heavy on my heart.
On the 4th day Annie gave Bonnie the treat she bought her, for breakfast.

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We went for a ride to the bank drive through. I put a note in the canister.
“Please send treats. My dog Bonnie loves coming to the bank for treats. She’s going to puppy heaven today”.
I could see the sad looks on their faces.
Bonnie’s ears perked up as she watched the canister glide through the pneumatic tube. She climbed into my lap excitedly.
They sent her 4 big treats. She scarfed them down.

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I drove home extra slow. It was Bonnie’s last ride. I turned the AC up and rolled the windows down for her. She stuck her face in the breeze. Taking deep breaths. She watched the sounds pass by. Sneezing occasionally. Panting heavy. This was her favorite thing to do.

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When we got home I gave her a bath. She wasn’t crazy about baths, but I wanted her to look her best when she got to puppy heaven.
Then we painted her nails hot pink. We put her new collar and tag on her. I don’t think she cared about any of it. But she would do anything for me. She looked great.

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I prepared the treats to keep the other dogs busy while the vet was visiting. Two almost empty peanut butter jars and two toy balls that dispense treats when rolled the right way. I sat them by the back door, ready to thrown them out when the time was right.
We decided that Bonnie should be put to sleep where she is most comfortable. She has been spending most of her time on our bedroom floor. Its cool in there, and quiet.
I cleaned the room up. I swept and put the nice bed spread on the bed.
Then we waited. If it weren’t for the incredibly sad event to take place we would almost be excited. I think we were all ready to rip that bandaid off. The sadness had been hanging around for days. We took our last photos with her.

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The vet called to let us know she was on her way.
We put Bonnie’s last meal together. On a big cookie sheet we placed all her favorite treats and things she never had before. Some of my crock pot lasagna, bologna, grandmas homemade fudge, the dog treats we made for her, a bar of chocolate, the remainder of the cookie Annie bought her, and a bowl filled with her peanut butter blizzard she never ate. We also had saved a Smoked butt bone for her.

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We brought her in our room and set out the buffet. She went straight for my lasagna, then the bologna, the grandmas fudge and homemade treats. She was loving it all. We brought her more lasagna and bologna. Soon enough she laid down. Her belly was filled. That’s when we gave her the smoked bone. She loved it. She grasped it between her two front paws and gnawed at all the bits of meat.

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The vet arrived. I put the two other dogs on the back porch with their treats. They were totally distracted.
The tears started to fill our eyes as soon as the doctor came in the house. We chatted for a minute. She told us that Bonnie had lived twice as long as the average dog does after diagnosis of lymphoma. Bonnie never quits. She hung on for us.
We went in the bedroom. Bonnie was standing there waiting at the door. She knew we had a guest. She walked up to the doc. Her little stub for a tail wagging away. The vet reached down and pet her. Telling her how pretty she was. Bonnie drank in the scratches and compliments.
The vet sat her bag down. She examined Bonnie gently. Speaking to her softly. “Oh, your a good girl aren’t you?”.
Bonnie laid down and went back to work on that bone.

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The vet gave her a sedative. We pet Bonnie and talked to her as she slowed down on the bone. We told her it was OK to sleep. Gently scratching her and caressing her fur. Her breathing got heavy and she dropped her bone.
I crawled down onto the floor, looking her in the eyes.
” Momma loves you, good girl. You are the best dog in the whole world. You did such a good job, everyday”. Crying heavily, I traced the wrinkles of her face, her ears, her lips, her little nose. Everyone was crying. Each of the girls came down and kissed her head and said good bye to her.         I told the vet we were ready as soon as Bonnie was. As I felt her warm fur for the last time, the Doctor gave her the final shot. Bonnie’s heavy breathing stopped. My baby was finally at peace. The sudden realization that life had left her body hit me like a rock. I wept.

The vet softly said goodbye and let herself out.

We cried and held her. We pet her. I rubbed her ears. We all sat on the floor and told stories about the silly things Bonnie did in life and how she was doing her favorite things in Heaven now. We loved on her for one last time.

We brought our two other dogs inside the room to smell her and see that she was gone and not just missing. They seemed more interested in the smells the vet had brought in with her rather than Bonnie. I suppose they were used to her laying around sleeping. Maple did seem concerned about me as I wept over Bonnie.Sticking her hose between Bonnie and I and licking my tears; her tail wagging heavily.

We wrapped her in the sheet we made for her, tucking her feet close to her body like a newborn. We all walked together to her grave. We read our letters to her. We left special things with her. We said goodbye.

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Of course there was crying and a heaviness in our home. But there was also a great sense of relief. We knew that she was in puppy heaven and no longer in pain, and we were actually happy for her, in that sense.

Its the every day routine that is hard. Not seeing her, when she should be there. Making two dog bowls of food instead of three. Being careful not to step on her in the darkness of night because her fur blends so well, but shes not there.  The sound of her snoring is gone. Its quiet. Our home is missing something.

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Rest in peace Old Lady, you were the best dog in the whole world, and you were very loved.

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Violet infusion ice cubes for sick dogs (or humans)

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My girl Bonnie has Lymphoma,  as I mentioned in the Rainbow Bridge post. I want to keep her as healthy and comfortable as I can while shes with us.
I give her 1 violet infusion icecube each day. She loves the way they taste. They taste like green beans to me.
Among other things, Violet is know for assisting the lymph system. It helps clear lymph nodes. What better way to care for my girl while shes living with lymphoma?
I read that, on average, dogs diagnosed with lymphoma usually live 2-4 months after diagnosis,  without treatment. It has been almost 5 months since Bonnie was diagnosed.

Heres how I make violet infusion.

Ingredients:
2 heaping cups of violet flowers (stems removed)
2 cups boiling water
1 quart sized mason jar with lid and band.

Fill the mason jar with the violet flowers.
Pour boiling water over the flowers.
Attach lid and band tightly.
Allow to rest on counter for a minimum of 4 hours, maximum of 24 hours. (It will spoil or lose its potency after 24 hours)
Filter the flowers from the infused water into a large bowl.
Place flowers into a towel or cheese cloth and squeeze the remaining liquid out of the flowers and into the bowl.

You now have infusion!
Pour the infusion into desired ice cube trays.  Store in freezer (did I really have to tell you that).

My Bonnie girl is about 40lbs. I only give her 1 cube a day. Violet can cause nausea and diarrhea in large quantities. I was giving her two a day and she seemed fine but then we had a day of throwing up, which may have been completely unrelated,  but nonetheless I reduced the amount cos I don’t want to go through that again.

If you don’t have the time to use the infusion immediately,  you can freeze it. Just thaw it when ready to make Easy Violet Jelly or additional icecubes.

 

*Update: After 8 months of fighting lymphoma, We had Bonnie euthanized. Her illness suddenly progressed quickly.
She was at home with her family when she passed. She is buried on our property. She took a huge part of our hearts with her.
You can read the story of her last days on earth, here. *

I am not a doctor. I am not a professional.  These are strictly my opinion. You don’t have to follow my opinion. Use at your own risk cos I didn’t tell you to do it. 🙂

Crossing the rainbow bridge

No homestead is complete without animals. Whether its goats or dogs, most homesteads have some type of animal living there.

On our homestead we currently have 4 humans, 3 dogs, 1 rabbit, and 5 chickens. We also have plans to have at least 1 bee hive and possibly a couple goats. And those are just our current aspirations.

Our oldest dog, Bonnie, was diagnosed with Lymphoma at the beginning of this year. I knew something was wrong when I found golf ball sized lumps on my girl’s throat.

I avoided taking her into the vet at first. I couldn’t bear the thought of hearing the words I knew I would hear. But of course I had to put my fur baby’s well-being before my own.

The vet took samples of the lumps and within a week I had a confirmation of Lymphoma. My heart was broken. When I received the news my daughters were in school so , thank goodness, they didn’t see me break down.

For a few weeks I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I couldn’t make the words come out of my mouth. I didn’t want to hear myself say them because then it would be real. I kept it a secret from my daughters. I hid in the bathroom and cried then blamed my puffy eyes on allergies. I didn’t tell my friends or family. In fact, some of them may just now be learning this news.

I still haven’t told my children (for those of you who know my girls please respect this decision and do not speak to them about it, thank you). I know that one day I will have to tell them, but what is the point of telling them now when Bonnie shows no signs of illness or discomfort? Why would I upset my, still young, daughters? I see no point in my daughters grieving until the time has come to grieve .

Part of life is death and that is very much a part of a homestead or farm. Yes, raising chicks into chickens is adorable and fun but it is also a huge responsibility. When you bring a living creature into your care, you have to put that animals well-being before your own.

I went into owning chickens knowing that one day I will cull them when they stop producing eggs or if I end up with an aggressive rooster. On most homesteads an animal has to produce more than it costs or it will not be a part of the homestead any longer. Thats just a fact, Jack. You don’t take chickens to the vet if they are ill or injured. You put their well-being and comfort first and either nurse them back to health or put them out of their misery. I don’t have experience raising other live stock, but I know that a cow or a goat or pig, etc. would, in most circumstances, be treated the same way.

A dog, in my opinion, is different. Most people have dogs as companions and they are part of the family. They live in your house. They greet you when you come home. They go for rides in the truck. They play with your kids and lick your toes. They lay with you when you are ill and set their heads in your lap when you are sad. Dogs are amazing creatures that I believe, without a doubt, have souls.

When a dog is ill you have to take it to the vet. Wether you can afford it or not.

When you find out your dog is terminally ill you have to decide if you are going to pay for treatment or keep her comfortable until its time to leave this world.

I chose not to treat Bonnie. Chemotherapy would be the best option, and I don’t want to put her through that. She is 9 and a half years old. Shes had a great life filled with lots of love and adventures. Most dogs with lymphoma only live a few months after their diagnosis. DOgs that do get treatment live, on average, for an additional 1 to 1 and a half years. But the norm is an additional 6 months.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, you will have to weigh the options for yourself.

We have our vet on call for when we feel SHE is ready to go. We’re lucky enough to have a vet that will make house calls when putting an animal to sleep. We know that when Bonnie stops interacting with us, has lethargy, stops eating or using the bathroom that we may need to call Dr.Panada.

For now, we have been giving her extra love, attention (and ice cream!!!) and enjoying the time we have with her.

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*Update: After 8 months of fighting lymphoma, We had Bonnie euthanized. Her illness suddenly progressed quickly. 
She was at home with her family when she passed. She is buried on our property. She took a huge part of our hearts with her. 
You can read the story of her last days on earth, here. *