“Daisy” of My Heart

Good Morning and Happy Summer, to you! It’s hard to believe the Summer season is finally upon us after a brutal Winter, over here in Pennsylvania. With that being said, the entrance of a new season and completion of a swift training program brings to me an announcement I’ve been waiting to make – On February 17, 2018, a new family member, best friend and companion entered my life by the name of Daisy. It’s hard to envision life without her, as everyday is an adventure, filled with excitement and new possibilities. With Daisy, the simplest moments become exciting and she teaches me to appreciate the smallest things in life, as they often become the things that make our lives whole. As the rescues often say, “Who rescued who?” Welcome Home, Miss Daisy and Happy “Gotcha” Day!

Daisy smiling          Daisy 9           Daisy toys

It’s important for me to note how Daisy and I first became “acquainted,” so to speak. Following my beloved Oliver’s passing, I began to research and follow numerous area animal rescue organizations via social media (i.e. Twitter & Facebook) and would regularly browse their available animals. Though many of the animals (or all of them, rather!) tugged at my heartstrings, none of them summoned a connection or pull to me. That is, until the first Sunday morning in February. It was a brisk day, albeit bright and sunny, and there I sat, on the iPad mindlessly perusing through my Facebook feed, not believing I’d find anything remotely interesting. Without warning, a white-haired, light brown spotted furry creature with a pleasant smile and the most beautiful/unique eyes – a light russet hue, graced the screen. Her name, as stated by Crossing Paths Animal Rescue (www.xpar.org), headquarted in Alabama, with various satellite sites (a local one by me, in Pennsylvania) was Cinderella and several months prior, she’d given birth to numerous puppies. With all of her puppies adopted and in their “furever” homes, now it was Cinderella’s turn at a new family and home. As I read her story and gazed at her photos, something within her stood out to me. Just about where I sat was the painting of Oliver, created and sent to me by pet supply company, Chewy.com and as I looked up at his photo, I couldn’t help but feel (as strange as it may sound) an approval and encouragement by him. Since his passing, a piece of my heart lay empty, longing for Oliver, wishing I could see or touch him again. His final day still haunts me; I can still hear my voice calling to him as I rocked him in my arms one last time, “I love you so much, Oliver, I love you so much.” Still to this day, I wish he hadn’t left me, but I know of the pain and anguish he was in for so long and force myself to believe he is over the rainbow bridge, enjoying all the pleasantries of where he is. With that being said, I still feel his presence and felt his urging to submit an application for Cinderella, giving me his approval. In a way, I felt him saying, “There is so much love inside you, Melissa, why not give that to another dog in need?” “Give yourself the chance to love again, don’t deny yourself the chance to experience another one of my friends; it’s okay, I know you’re not abandoning me, you’re continuing my legacy.” For so long, I was unable to take Oliver for walks, unable to see him enjoy his dog food and treats or life in general, due to his significant health issues and I realized at that moment, adopting another dog would give me the chance to give all that repressed love to another who is truly as deserving.

Daisy selfie              Daisy 1             Daisy 2

Within an hour of first seeing her, an application was completed and submitted to Crossing Paths Animal Rescue for Cinderella (who would soon become Daisy). About two weeks or so later, Daisy arrived at a local Petsmart in my area via transport van from an Alabama shelter with an assortment of other dogs, also being adopted. The day she arrived was one of the coldest days of the Winter, but standing outside and seeing her, also made the day one of the warmest, in a sense. Life with Daisy is never short of an adventure. She is full of energy, life and zest, with a true puppy-like nature (one I still have trouble remembering, as Oliver was 15.5 years and it had been so long since I’d been around any dog with that amount of momentum!). My favorite points in the day are when I am outside in the warm sun with Daisy, taking our time walking and looking up at life. Each time I hold her leash, I can’t help but smile as I see her swaying from side to side, sniffing the ground, taking in the sights and smells. Sometimes I find myself wondering what her early life was like in Alabama, but I try to live in the present, letting myself love and enjoy her the way she deserves. When I become sad due to the daily stresses of life, I take a moment to sink into Daisy, holding her in my arms, petting her, and realizing how even though I feared I might not be able to love another dog the way I loved Oliver, there are all different types of love and plenty to go around.

Daisy 4              Daisy 7

With Daisy, my home and heart is full again and I know Oliver couldn’t be prouder, not only of me, but of his sister. Often times, I’ll tell Daisy stories about her brother, Oliver, and as strange as it may sounds, I know she understands and accepts her title of sister, with much pride and contentment. Each and every day, I’m so thankful for Daisy, so glad I stumbled across her photo and so blessed to have submitted the first application for her as they proceeded to receive countless ones following mine. I thank Oliver for watching over me and for giving me the greatest gift – the chance to love another.

Daisy Rescue      Daisy HomeDaisy chair            Daisy Waiting

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Memories in Paint

Yesterday, upon arriving home, I was greeted by a surprise that not only captivated me, but brought me to tears which persisted the entire day. The tears I shed were tears of mourning and grieving, but also tears inspired by a touching, genuine and kindhearted act by a company I’ve come to know and love. Therefore, the following is a post on my personal Facebook page from yesterday, detailing the monumental event:

It’s been just over two months since my family and I lost our beloved Oliver. In that time, the healing and grieving has been slow and painfully difficult. For me and I’m sure also my family, it’s still surreal to accept his absence, given he was the heart of our family.

A pet food and supply company, Chewy.com whom many of you may be familiar with recognized our loyalty and deep loss. Shortly after Oliver’s passing, a bouquet of beautiful crimson roses arrived at my doorstep and just today, a beautiful custom-made painting arrived of Oliver, bringing tears to my eyes. For those of you who might have known him, this painting truly captures his uniqueness and true self, right down to his characteristic pink nose.

Oliver painting                Chewy roses

If you’re a pet owner or might be one someday or know someone who is, Chewy.com is not only a pet food/supply company, but a sense of family and a community. They pride themselves in reaching out to their customers in all situations and circumstances with heart and understanding.

I just wanted to share this today because companies like Chewy.com are often hard to find.

*In memory of our beloved, Oliver, forever in our hearts – 3/10/2002-11/22/2017

Reach for Hand, Lend a Paw

Today is National Love Your Pet Day and I find it particularly fitting in that in a mere two weeks, I’ll be celebrating 15 years of pet ownership, or more specifically, when Oliver, my bichon frise, joined my family. Ever since the early years of my childhood, I’ve been a fan of dogs, enthralled with their pleasant, spunky nature, their ability to comfort, inspire a smile and simply maintain a calming and joyful presence.

oliver-after-eating            dog-quote

Several weeks prior to my 14th birthday, my mom announced she found an ad in the newspaper for bichon frise puppies, just having been born. Once the phone call was made, my mom, sister and I ventured to the short distance to the woman’s home whose dog had recently birthed several bichon puppies. The puppies fit in the palms of our hands, their white fur just starting to take on their signature curl. Too small to leave their mother, we waited several weeks until we ventured back to choose our new family member.

oliver-alone

From the moment I spotted him, I knew he was the one. The smallest of the bunch, he was a bit timid, but inquisitive, and I knew, there was something special about him. At first, my family questioned why I was so set on him when his other siblings happily frolicked about. For me, though, perhaps there was something about Oliver that resonated so deeply within me. From that moment on, I knew it was him; my co-pilot, my friend, my companion, the one constant in my life, who would be there through it all, always waiting for me at the end of the day.

oliver-busy-bone

So today, a day when we commemorate the love our pets, I’d like to share a montage of photos I’ve accumulated through the years, showcasing Oliver in his happiest moments, adding joy and light to my life and my family, showering us with love and care. He is truly loved and that love has persisted through his 15 years and will always continue. Here’s to you, Oliver, thank you for being you, thank you for your love, your presence and your guidance. Thank you for teaching me the meaning of resilience and strength and that sometimes, love is the best medicine we could ever give.

oliver-busy-treats              Oliver in his shirt.png     oliver-tongue

Bark Around the World

Good morning! I hope your week has been a pleasant one and that your weekend will be filled with fun, sunshine and relaxation! Originally, I had intended to compose this very post yesterday, after first reading the to-be mentioned article, but honestly felt too overwhelmed with emotion to do so. I figured this morning would be best, after I gave myself a chance to digest all I read.

If you’re a social media follower (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc) of news organizations/TV stations, such as ABC News, or a follower of various magazines, such as Health or others, then it’s very likely you’ve already seen, read, or heard about the heart wrenching story of New York City resident, Thomas Neil Rodriguez and the trip around the world he recently took with his terminally-ill, 15-year-old mixed-breed dog, Poh and his fiance.

Poh 2

Together since Rodriguez adopted him in December 1999, Rodriguez described Poh in an interview with ABC News (via http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/york-man-takes-dying-dog-bucket-list-adventure/story?id=31338158) as, ”

“My life is kind of hectic,” Rodriguez said. “I’m always traveling, but Poh is my home, my child. I think this resonated with a lot of dog owners. They wish they could do stuff like this with their dog and spend these moments, but sometimes life gets in the way.”

“I am super blessed that I have actually gotten to do this,” he added. “People think I take care of Poh, but Poh takes care of me.”

Back in March, the 12,000 mile journey throughout the United States commenced and was documented on an Instagram account he created to show others of their experiences. Several of the photos were shared on the aforementioned ABC News article and one in particular brought tears to my eyes. Though the story in general left me in tears for a good portion of the day, the photo of Poh in a wagon, with the San Francisco Golden Gate bridge as backdrop, touched a part of me that hasn’t been that moved since my own dog, Oliver had a recent host of health issues. What I felt when looking at the photo and simply reading through the article is something that is truly difficult and near impossible to place into words.

Poh

In thinking about it, I suppose what really got to me, is the notion of me being a dog owner since a couple days before my 14th birthday. As a child, I begged and begged my parents for a dog, always finding comfort and solace in them. Beginning from when I was 9 years old, I was enthralled with dogs. Towards the end of May, as a 9-year-old, my sister and I took comfort and comradeship with the dog belonging to the family who lived behind us. Our grandmother had recently passed away after an intense, 6-month battle with Leukemia and being able to play with Darby, the friendly Golden Retriever in our backyard, was the best therapy that could have ever been offered to me. He stayed by my side, licking my hand, taking delight in my playful nature. He offered a distraction from the sadness and loneliness I felt.

From that moment on, I desperately longed for a dog and for my 14th birthday, my wishes were finally answered. Seeing an ad for Bichon Frise puppies in the newspaper, my mom took my sister and I one Sunday afternoon to choose the puppy we wanted and having tied a blue bandana around him, Oliver was chosen. It’s hard for me to remember what life was like without Oliver. Of course, it’s not to say life has been easy with him, because it hasn’t. It has been a challenge, both physically and emotionally. Throughout the years, we’ve watched him battle through infections, surgeries, surgical errors, and a host of other issues, but his resilience has always shone through. Throughout all of it, no matter the obstacles thrown his way, he’s always risen above, maintaining his strength, sometimes sobbing, but still making it through, his tail wagging each day, greeting me when I walk through the door.

Oliver tongue

Though sometimes I can become frustrated with him, he is my family. It’s hard for me to imagine my house empty, without him. So perhaps this is why reading about Rodriguez’s journey with Poh hit home. Reading about their adventures together, seeing the passion and joy they experienced, is something I long for with Oliver. Looking back on old pictures of Oliver, it’s hard for me to remember when he used to move about easily, sitting perched on top of the sofa, eagerly running up and down the steps. Being 13-years-old now, it is challenging for him to move around, as the arthritis often reduces his mobility. My life with him consists of patience and understanding. It’s all I can do to repay him for his patience with me, seeing me cry as I experienced the many disappointments in life. Though I am often distracted by my own personal struggles, Oliver always seems to look at me with a certain sense of pride and understanding and he is forgiving.

Oliver in his shirt

If nothing else, Oliver teaches me what it means to be resilient, forgiving and understanding. He offers me companionship and like Rodriguez and Poh, for the past 13-years, he’s been my consistent home.