Good Morning and Happy Weekend! Today is Saturday, and I sit here, blogging away, my 11-year-old Bichon Frise, Oliver is napping on the floor, as apart of his daily routine. Much of the time, he is frisky and energetic, running around and searching for his favorite foods (Royal Canin dog food, carrots, sliced fruit, etc). Sure, he can be overly energetic, but when it comes down to it, he’s my best friend, having grown up with him and a significant part of my life. Before I share more, I’ll pause for a moment to reveal my morning eats, per usual:
Breakfast (Saturday, July 13, 2013):
1 container Yoplait 100-Calorie Tropical Greek Yogurt (Yes, I know, it’s been on here several days this week, but really only because I purchased several at a time, all with an expiration date of this week, so I’ve been frantically rushing to consume all of them prior to expiring!).
1 cup Cascadian Farm Multigrain Squares (Sadly, I completed the box this morning, but on a positive note, I was able to print a coupon from the Cascadian Farms Facebook Page! Never fear, Multigrain Squares are here to stay!).
1 cup Special K Red Berries (Yay, they are back, after a couple days hiatus! I can assure you this: Special K certainly isn’t stingy with the red berries; they are abundant and plentiful – just the way I like them!)
1 Banana (Love me some bananas, however, my only complaint is that it wasn’t really browned enough. I like my bananas sweet, so the browner the better!).
Getting back to Oliver, today I decided to share a bit about him, because he is a significant part of my life, as I previously mentioned. Over the past year, my family and I have been through quite a bit with him. For much of his life, he has suffered from urinary stones, causing him to have frequent accidents and also experience discomfort. Having taken to him to the vet numerous times throughout the year, last September, together as a family, we made the brave decision to have the stones surgically removed. Without removing them, the vet explained, we could be placing Oliver at risk of having one of the stones completely block his bladder, which would prompt for immediate surgical removal and could potentially pose grave harm. Rather than let it escalate to that point, the surgery was scheduled to occur for the first week of September, 2012.
That morning, I was fraught with fear, anxiety and worry. I cradled Oliver in my arms the night prior and the morning of. He appeared lively and energetic, his typical self, not knowing what was to imminently occur. Early that morning, my dad arrived to pick up Oliver and I and transport us to the vet, where the surgery would commence. The car is not one of Oliver’s favorite places, so we held him with care, trying to calm and reassure him.
Before we knew it, the veterinary technicians arrived to prep Oliver for surgery. As they walked him away, back into where the surgery would be completed, Oliver glanced back at us, unsure as to whether or not he should accompany the technicians into the surgical area. I felt my eyes welling with tears as I watched him looking back at us, scared and unsure as to what might happen. At that moment, I tried to place all of my trust and confidence in the vet and the technicians. Up until that point, Oliver’s vet was a young man who I believed had Oliver’s best interests at heart and truly wanted to see him well and healthy. The technicians reassured us the surgery was common and routine and would likely be completed with 45 minutes to an hour, so when I STILL hadn’t heard several hours later, I began calling on the hour, inquiring after him.
What happened next is something that still pains me to discuss. It’s hard for me to talk about or even think about it without becoming overwhelmed with sadness, desperation and fear. The images it conjures in my mind are some of which causes my heart to race and the only thing that seems to quell it, is seeing Oliver prancing about before me, happy and energetic, filled with life – the way he should be.
Without wanting this post to become 10 pages, in summation, the vet whom my family and I had faith in, ended up causing a grave surgical error which almost resulted in Oliver, an otherwise healthy Bichon Frise, losing his life. My family and I spent hours holed up inside the emergency veterinary hospital, as the surgeons performed exploratory surgery, at first unsure as to why his kidney levels were approaching those of kidney failure. If it wasn’t for the bravery, confidence and faith of the veterinarians and surgeons at the emergency veterinary hospital, Oliver would not be by my side today, napping and living his life.
A couple months ago, on Oliver’s 11th birthday, as odd as it may seem to some without dogs or pets, or maybe even to those who DO have pets, I wrote him a letter and though I obviously know he will never read it, writing it gave me peace and let me reflect on the 11th anniversary of his birth, of how special he is and how it felt as a 14-year-old teenage girl to receive him on my own birthday, that year, in 2002.
A Letter to Oliver, on his 11th Birthday (March 10, 2013):
Eleven years ago on this very day, you, along with your several siblings, were brought into this world as a Bichon Frise. The smallest of your siblings, affectionately referred to as the “runt,” we visited you less than two weeks later, claiming you as our own with the tie of a blue handkerchief. After designating you as ours, you pranced around the cage amongst your fellow siblings, as though you were the chosen one and really, you were. You were ours, or mine, really, my 14th birthday present. That year, you came home with us, days prior to my birthday, at the end of April, and as I recall, you whimpered the entire way home. Briefly, we stopped at Grandmom Ida’s house to show you off and she inspected you, uncomfortably and noticeably afraid to touch you. Surprisingly though, I wasn’t at all afraid. After bringing you home, I wanted to be with you all the time, racing to complete my homework so I could be in your presence, watching you learn, grow and play. Together, despite your state as a puppy, or baby, rather, you would sit on the sofa, amongst Hope and I, munching on pretzels, Doritos and whatever other junk food we could find. Life became normal with you there. Years later, you and I would come to be closer than we ever were, as it was always you and I, at home together. You saw me when I was still whole, and still continued to see me as I grew frail and small. Never though did you judge. Sure enough, you are canine, but still, I could always count on you to view me as whole and as a hero, no matter how insignificant and alone, internally, I felt I was. You saw me as me, Melissa, there to play and comfort you, perhaps taking better care of you than myself.
When we parted for two months, first in 2005, and again in 2008, life was so very difficult and unbearable to be apart as I realized the significant pull you have on my life. Life was lonely and boring without you prancing around each day, making your sounds and gestures. While hospitalized, I thought about you often, wishing and hoping for the day we would once again be reunited and when we finally were, I promised I would never leave you again. Since then, I haven’t gone back on my promise, but 6 months ago, as I painfully recall, you almost did. A surgery intended to repair and improve your life, ultimately proved horribly wrong. A grave surgical error on part of the veterinarian nearly cost you your life. I’ll never forget that week and that one day, in particular, a Friday in early September, where Mom, Dad, Hope, and I sat in the CARES clinic on that bench, unable to think of much else besides you, as the tears flowed from our eyes. I felt nearly everything within my body leaving me at that moment at the thought of you leaving me. Until then, I never really thought I could feel as much pain as I did then. I never thought I could love something, or someone so much as I did in those moments. No matter how irritating your whining might be, or your barking, there’s nothing I would rather hear each day, than the pitter patter of your feet in the kitchen, or your sighs as you drift into a pleasant, restorative slumber. There’s nothing I’d rather see than you sitting on top of the sofa, relaxing, and enjoying an afternoon. Those days you weren’t here, loud, inescapable silence filled the house. Your absence was felt in every room and every moment as I began to notice how I alter my every thought, move, and gesture, according to you. How empty and lonely the house felt each day as I walked in, failing to be greeted by your smiling face and humorous sounds.
The day you came home from the hospital, life was suddenly breathed into the house again, becoming whole and lively. It was then I truly began to believe the quote, “Home is where the heart is. It is not the house itself that makes a home, but rather the people and things in it.” How true that very statement became when you were absent. With you, my forever puppy, I am home. So today and every day, I wish to tell you how very, truly thankful I am you are here, beside me, as my partner in life, my buddy. No matter how frustrated I might become sometimes, you’ll always be the one who always stood by me, no matter what.
Happy 11th Birthday, Oliver – here’s to 11 more!