Tag Archives: Dogs

I’ve Waited Long Enough to Post This….

I’ve been putting this off for quite some time now. I wanted to write back in November of 2015, then back in June of 2016. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Well, today, March 26, 2017, I saw one of those Facebook posts, either a ‘sponsored’ post or one that one of the pages I follow posted. It was a link to an article about how losing a pet can be harder than losing a relative for some people.  I didn’t follow the link, I already know how hard it is to lose a pet that you’ve had for what seems like forever. I didn’t need justification for getting emotional every time I think of my Gilly, Tex, or Dusty. I lost all three of them in the span of 8 months between November 2015 and June 2016.

I read some of the comments of the Facebook post, though. I got angry reading said comments. “It’s just a dog.” “It’s not the same as losing a relative.” “You can’t compare losing person to losing a dog, an animal.”

Well, you know what? Yes, it very much is the same as losing a family member. This April – April 20, to be specific – will be ten years since I lost my Dad. It was devastating, and on some days hurts almost as bad as it did the day it happened. I miss him terribly. My world changed dramatically. I became less organized, changes in my routines and the way I do things. I still relive a few moments that I wish were different. I still wish he was here.

It took quite a while to get back to being me and when I did, I made changes to my world. I started caring less about things and more about making memories and reliving some old ones. I started a million projects that may never get finished, even with my best intentions. Living life to the fullest, so that I no longer live with regrets of not doing this or that. Trying new things and expanding my horizons.

Things felt normal until October 2015 when my “just a dog” was diagnosed with kidney failure and then later an aggressive cancer. “Just a dog.” Gilligan (Gilly, for short) was much more than “just a dog” – a lot more. He was my snuggle buddy, my best friend, my comfort, my everything.

“Just a dog.” I still cry to this day missing him. My world is empty without him in ways I can’t articulate. It hurt just as much as losing my Dad. That’s right, “just a dog” people, it hurts just as much as it did to lose my Dad. My explanation as to why it hurts just as much will do nothing to convince “just a dog” people that it is the same pain for some of us who’ve lost a dog, or cat, or other family pet.

I don’t listen to my massive and eclectic playlists anymore. I don’t draw anymore. I’ve tried to get back to being me, but I just can’t get all of the way back to me. I do listen to music periodically. I have started watching my favorite shows from ages ago again and all the things that make me happy. There haven’t been nearly enough concerts for me to find my way to, but I’m trying to not let losing Gilly bring me down nearly a year and a half after he passed away.

Maybe it’s because Gilly was my shadow. He had to be on my heels at all times. He hated being away from me. No matter how long I was gone, a couple of hours to a week or more, he greeted me the same every time. He cried, he jumped up, he shook, he was excited I was home. It was like those soldiers coming home to their dogs videos that go viral. I got that every single time I came home.

He was never “just a dog.” He was everything to me. I don’t have kids. I don’t have a significant other. I have my dogs and cats as my kids. That’s just the way my life is. I’m not complaining about it, even when they drive me up a wall. They make me laugh and smile. They comfort me when I’m sad, calm me when I’m angry. They know when I’m not feeling well and try to make it better. They are more than “just animals.”

Maybe Gilly hurt still hurts so much because just a few months later I lost Dusty, the cat who thought she was a dog, and then Texas James, the dog who was as human as a dog can get. All three of them were very significant parts of my life. Gilly was 9, Dusty 14, and Tex 12. More than a decade of my life.

I don’t think that anyone who looks at their pet as “just an animal” has the same bond as those see their pet as a family member. I don’t necessarily think that there is anything wrong with that way of thinking. I do think it’s heartless to tell people who think of their pets as family members, to get over it, it’s “just a dog” and not a family member. They don’t understand the bonds formed that triggers the “family” notion and the feelings of grief that accompany their loss of their pet.

It made me angry today to read it. It made me miss Gilly. The text that follows will explain it. Or maybe my Wal-Mart and Lowes purchases will. 😉

Pillow from Wal-Mart
Welcome Statue from Lowes

Gonna Miss This… [I started writing this in June of 2016…]

Mav helping to make the bed
Mav and Gilly Help to make the bed

Every time I make the bed, Maverick insists on helping me. By helping me, he gets in my way, annoys me to no end, and gets annoyed by me for moving him over and over again. It never fails, the minute I start taking off the old sheets and putting on the new sheets, he is right there ready to smack me for moving him or to lay right in the area I need to remove or put on the fitted sheet.

The other night was no different. I had pulled the sheets off, meeting with resistance as always. In pulling off the sheets the mattress cover came off a corner up at the head of the bed. Beneath it, a blue towel. Beneath that blue towel another mattress cover and another towel below that.

Why do I have two mattress covers on my bed? And why do I have two towels underneath each? In the summer of 2015, I bought a new mattress pad topper, a much-needed addition to my sleep and something that Gilligan (Gilly) enjoyed on his sore hips. Especially as his health declined, he enjoyed the memory foam topper on the bed. In his declining health, he had bladder issues and I wanted to protect my new mattress topper from his accidents and leaks.

He wouldn’t wear a doggie diaper and quite frankly, there wasn’t one that fit him comfortably anyway. I couldn’t say no to him sleeping in the bed and this was the compromise. He got to sleep in the bed and under my pillows, where Gilly preferred to sleep, I had towels to compliment two mattress covers and a bed covered in piddle pads.

Gilly passed away in November 2015 and while I cleaned the sheets many times since then, I never had to wash the mattress covers after that final time of putting them on my bed with the towels. In Gilly’s last days, he slept in the living room since he was so weak.

Changing the sheets with Maverick’s help was a painful reminder of how much I still miss my Gilly. Since Gilly passed away, Maverick’s bestie, Dusty passed away in 2016. Well, they were besties when we lived in California. When we moved to Tennessee, they decided they didn’t love each other anymore. They were the same age, and would have both been 16 this year. Maverick is still the same old Maverick, but at almost 16 years old, I pay more attention to him. While I hope he’s around a lot longer, I know I’m going to miss his annoying habits when he’s not here anymore.

Maverick is now the last connection to our California menagerie. Texas passed in June of 2016. Texas was younger than Dusty and Maverick by two years. I think Maverick knows that I worry about him because he is way needier than he used to be and wants to be sure to annoy me as much as possible. He loves me, but he shows it more by annoying me doing things like rubbing on my tablet or computer, standing on top of me (he’s like 15 lbs or more), and biting me after I scratch him where he asked me two. He also must lay in a certain spot next to me.

Seventeen months ago – one year and five months ago, we found out that we didn’t have much time left with Gilly. We had a chance to spoil him and take him on an adventure. He enjoyed his last days, even though it was at times painful. We had time to adjust and cry it out before he passed. Not that his passing was easy, but we were prepared.

Gilly at the Chuckwagon Races for his last adventure

Dusty didn’t give us that much warning. She hadn’t been a normal kitty ever in her life. She dealt with immune system issues that was usually a result of food allergy. Her entire life we had to pay attention to what foods made her lips or feet swell up and not get those again. She was otherwise a normal kitty with dog-like behaviors. She played fetch, she walked on a leash, she barked at the birds, and she would get excited when her favorite human came home from work.

In her last week, she lost her purr for a couple of days. The day or two before she passed, she got her purr back. I had a feeling what was coming, but I was hoping she would bounce back as she had done in the past. She was 14 was she passed and we lost the baloney lover of the house. The dogs missed her baloney snack time, since they always got some, too.

Tex and Dusty

In losing Texas, we lost the leader of the pack, grumpy Grandpa, and our best friend. We had no warning. He was up and around earlier in the day, by evening he was sleeping, but we knew he wasn’t himself. He was fading, unable to get up without help, no interest in food or water. We slept on the hardwood floor with him that night. We didn’t know if we had a minute or an hour, so we made sure we were there for him. He passed away the next morning, being the same feisty old man he had been for the last couple of years.

In losing three animals in eight months, it’s really painful. It’s the little things that pop up daily that remind you of them. Walking out to get the mail and taking the younger dogs with me. It made me miss Texas. He would always go with me and I would tell him to go to the mailbox as I went out the gate. He walked over to the fence in front of the mailbox and waited for me. I miss that. The other dogs haven’t been trained to do that.

Tex’s insulin, still in the fridge

Texas passing away changed everything that had been normal about our house. His insulin still sits in the fridge, his syringes on top of the fridge. His collar still hangs on the key holder. A grocery store bag with the hair we brushed off him still sits next to the microwave. Not because we haven’t cleaned, but because we can’t let go of him. How do you let go of 12 years of companionship? You don’t.

Texas was a different kind of dog, Dusty a different kind of cat, and Gilly one-of-a-kind. We still have four cats and thirteen dogs (three are fosters and two are returned adoptees), but we still miss the ones we’ve lost. Their presence is missed and can’t be replaced.

I started writing this nearly a year ago, June 2016, and it’s now March 2017 and I am just getting back to it. The paragraphs below I started writing right after Gilly passed away in November 2015. It’s always been something I needed to write and wanted to post, but it’s not easy to finish.

I think sometimes we forget how much we take in subconsciously from our daily lives. The routines you get used to no longer stand out. You pass the same stores day after day, year after year, but don’t notice the small changes or you take for granted that it will always be there. Time goes by so quickly that you forget how fast it can go.

It’s when someone or something is gone that you wax nostalgic and realize the difference it made in your little world. It’s especially true of not only family and loved ones, but of beloved pets, as well.

When you adopt a puppy or rescue a puppy, you expect them to live a long time. After all, you’ve adopted your best friend. As the years go on, you tend not to think about the fact that their life span is shorter than yours. You can see the age in their face as they get older, you watch them deal with old age issues of varying sorts, but you don’t realize how little time you may have left with them.

When a dog gets to a certain age, say nine or ten years old, you’ve lived enough life with them that you just assume they are always going to be there. I mean, you know it’s not the reality, but you don’t want to put a time limit on their existence either. When you lose an older pet, that’s when you realize how much a part of your life they really were.

The ages of the animals in the house range from about a year to nearly 16 years old. Two fish and a hamster currently round out the entire menagerie. Each loved, each spoiled, and each a small piece that completes the puzzle of everything that is home.

I still miss Gilly. He was my snuggle buddy most nights in bed. I don’t have another dog that wants to be around the cats and sleep in my bed on a regular basis. The dogs are mostly weirded out or scared of the cats. I am trying to get a couple used to it, but it’s a slow process.

I saw a dog that looked just like Gilly at Christmas time, waiting for her photo with Santa at the mall. I could have easily broke down and cried. She was the spitting image of Gilly. Maybe a little more slender, but otherwise looked just like Gilly, red nose and all.

Tex’s insulin that is in the fridge will probably never get thrown away. When we get a new fridge it will move to it, not one of us will throw it away. There are still times, even nearly nine months after he passed away, that I feel like I should be giving him his nightly medicine.

It’s pretty regularly that I wish that Dusty was here to snuggle with me. She was someone special, fiercely independent like most cats, but the ultimate snuggle buddy at the same time.

None of the three of them – Gilly, Tex, Dusty – can be replaced. They were unique individuals. Gilly’s been gone seventeen months, but it hurts just as bad as losing Dusty eleven months ago and Texas seven months ago. Coping with losing all three of them in the span of eight months, changed everything about my world.

I know that they are free of the issues that they all had in their old age, but I wish they were still here. I wish it could be like it was before. What had been normal for so long.

For the last two years, we’ve been fostering and placing dogs in what we hope is their forever homes. Fostering isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. We’ve kept dogs from being places in crowded shelters. We’ve found them homes with people who wanted a life-long companion. It’s an emotional roller coaster, it’s not easy to let them go sometimes. I cry every time, even if it’s a little after the fact. You miss them more when you go through the daily routines and notice their absence.

That absence is easier to bounce back from when you’ve only had the foster for a few, or even several, months. When you’ve had a dog or cat for years, nearly a decade and more, that absence is even more noticeable, even many, many months after they’ve passed away.

I don’t know if there will ever be another pet in my life that is like any of the three I’ve lost in the last seventeen months. We’ve always had a crew of misfits, and each have the most unique personalities. But, at the moment, none have the personalities that are even remotely close to Texas, Gilly, or Dusty. Those personalities developed over time as we grew together.

Maybe the next time I write about losing a pet, I’ll realize all the personalities that I still have. I hope that every cat and dog, even the fish and hamster, know that I love them.

About Gilligan…

I really haven’t had as much time to keep up with all things Creatively Musical this past year. It’s been a wild ride rescuing a dog that had puppies, and life just got really busy.

I have, in the past, posted these kind of blog posts on my personal blog, but I was planning on combining them this past year anyway, so here’s to a fresh start on sharing all things creative, musical, and some personal in this blog.

This blog is about Gilligan, a skinny, big eared pup we rescued nine years ago…Gilly-1

One year ago we rescued a dog we named Pinky Lee. Weeks later, she had nine puppies. Thus began our adventure in fostering and adopting out puppies. It was hard watching the first puppy go to his new home, especially since we didn’t start placing them until they we about 9 – 10 months old. We decided to keep two of them, and there one puppy left to place. Mama is waiting for her home as well.

Mama and Jazz are looking for their forever homes. It’s been quite the adventure raising and adopting out the Pinky Lee Nine, but we’ve had successful placements for Charlie, Jade, Melody, Diana, Jack, and Colt.  JoDee and Downey are the two we’ve decided to keep with us.

That would make an even eight dogs in our pack…a pack of rescues and misfits. Tex is twelve years old, diabetic and ornery. Lady is ten years old, has an extra vertebrae and is crabby. There’s a spoiled basset named Daisy with the loudest voice and most annoying whine of any creature on the planet. Her nephew, Brownie (B.B. for short), is a pretty good boy, even though he doesn’t like the other boys. B.B.’s buddy is the anxiety filled hyper monster, Eve or Evil as we tend to call her when calling her in after dark. Then there is the aforementioned JoDee and Downey, the newest members of our pack. JoDee can’t see half the time because of her eye lid issues and is quite the goof ball. Downey is a good watch dog, has some crabby issues that we are slowly addressing, but is a good boy who loves to give hugs.

That leaves one. The one that hasn’t been feeling well. The one that sleeps in my bed. The reason I didn’t sleep for a very long time because he wasn’t himself. That’s Gilligan – Gilly, Willy, Gilly Willy. He turned nine this year. Like most of our pack, he was a rescue. He was dumped out of a truck in front of a school bus. My brother brought him in. We made posters, but nobody wanted him, so we kept him.

Gilly-3 Gilly-4

He was Rascal’s reluctant snuggle buddy before he became my snuggle buddy. While I enjoy a few days here and there without him in my bed while I travel, I always look forward to coming home to him and him snuggling with me in my bed. He’s my baby. He’s the reason I sleep diagonally on every bed I sleep on, whether he’s in it or not.

Gilly-2

These last few months have been really hard on me with him having to go potty every three hours, then things looked up when he was on Clavamox. The next two weeks without the antibiotics seen him decline further. He’s not been himself. He doesn’t want to do anything, not even partake in his favorite snack of cat poop. He lays down and sleeps for hours. He’s not demanded my attention like normal. He hasn’t done anything like normal in the last couple of weeks.

We took him to the vet on October 28, 2015 for a checkup and to see what we could do. He hasn’t been eating much, he vomited the day before, and he hasn’t been drinking much water either. He isn’t showing any signs of pain, but he isn’t comfortable either.

I got a sample from Gilly before we went since he tends to run out these days. I knew the news wasn’t going to be good. I’ve had it in the back of my mind for a while now that something’s wrong and it won’t get better. He’s my baby, I know him inside and out. They ran some tests and did a urinalysis. Gilly just laid down on the floor and slept while we waited. The vet even noticed he wasn’t himself.

His diagnosis is renal failure. Based on the tests they ran, the vet said it’s probably about stage four. She wanted to do what we could for Gilly and run some more tests, so she asked for him to stay for a few days.

For the week after those few days at the vet he seemed almost normal. He was more like himself than he had been in a while. He got to go out to Loretta Lynn’s Ranch and get spoiled. He watched the Chuck Wagon Races and got lots and lots of love.

Gilly went back to the vet on November 5, 2015. It was a follow up visit and he had more tests done. The ultrasound showed the bad news, but further tests were sent off to the lab. Those results took a couple of days. November 11, 2015 I took Gilly back to the vet because his right back leg was bothering him. He also had a little, occasional cough. Dr. Shannon was the doctor we had been seeing, but this time it was Dr. Johnson. We love the doctors at our vet. The staff as well. They are all really great people, especially when it comes to being dealt a bad hand like Gilly’s condition.

Dr. Johnson did some x-rays to not only look at his hip, but at his abdomen as well. He took Gilly back twice for x-rays to get the best view of what was going on. The tumor that was found by the lab tests has a hold of not only his bladder, but his spleen as well. There was medicine that he could take to keep the tumors in check, but that medicine would wreak havoc on his kidneys, kidneys that are already badly damaged.

Gilly’s not wanted to eat commercial dog food the last couple of weeks, so I’ve been cooking him chicken, ground beef, etc. just so he would have something to eat. Dr. Johnson said that whatever Gilly wanted he could have and if he had an upset belly or diarrhea, just to give him some Pepto Bismal tablets. Unfortunately, outside of just making him comfortable, there is nothing that can be done to treat his tumors without hurting him more.

It’s never the news you want to hear, but Dr. Johnson’s honesty about the tumor medication and the fact that Gilly is not really showing signs of being in much pain, made the decision to just bring him home and love on him as much as possible. No more medicine. Just keep an eye on him, as the tumor on the spleen is the one of most concern right now.

Like I said, Gilly’s not complaining, he’s not crying in pain, he’s just tired. All I can do is love on him and make sure he is comfortable.

Heartbroken seems not nearly strong enough for how I feel right now. I don’t know what to do or how to think. Yes, I did say several lines ago that I had a feeling it wouldn’t be good, but hearing it still hurts.

Gilly is the only dog who is 100% tolerant of the cats who live in my room 99% of the time. Gilly is my shadow. Gilly couldn’t be more than a few feet from me at all times. Gilly would butt in between me and whichever dog I was paying attention to.  It drove me nuts. It’s gonna hurt when he’s gone. It hurts just knowing that he doesn’t have long.

He’s gonna leave a big hole in my heart for a long time.

When we first took Gilly for his issues back in March, he weighed 72 lbs. He now weighs only 53 lbs. It’s noticeable. He was never really fat, but at 72 lbs, I had a hard time lifting him when I had to do so.

I feel guilty getting mad at him for peeing in his sleep in my bed every night. Worrying more about the blankets, electric blanket throw, or the mattress than about the fact he can’t help what’s going on. I have been exhausted from not sleeping more than 3 hours at a time for months and it has made me really irritable really quickly. Of course, there were 16 dogs and 5 cats there for a while, too, so my entire day was dealing with one dog/cat or another. Adoptions, running around for meet and greets, cleaning up, playing with, feeding and all the other things that come along with being a foster and a dog/cat owner.

I haven’t even mentioned the cats in all of this either. Two 14 year old cats (Dusty and Maverick), three 9 year old cats (Mousey, Mini, and Socks). We rescued the 9 year old cats just weeks before rescuing Gilly. One of the 14 year old cats has been nothing but skin and bones for the last year. She’s been behaving like herself, just not getting fat. She’s lost a few teeth and as of late has been having belly issues. She’s next for the vet, well after Lady (the dog) that has her own issues and will go to the vet November 12, 2015. Then we’ll take Dusty, and then Tex.

Texas James, while long overdue for a visit to the vet himself, knows that Gilly isn’t well. He knows that something is up. He checks on Gilly every time he comes back from the vet. He’s started lying next to him in the living room. He’s the most human-like dog we have, and he is the one dog that will hurt the most when it’s Gilly’s time.

Tex is the patriarch of the pack. Well, of the dogs anyway. Dusty is queen bee of everyone. Tex and Gilly have been buddies for all of the 9 years we’ve had Gilly.

The emotions I feel right now are overwhelming. Gilly is sick, Tex is old, Dusty is old, Lady’s got stuff going on, Mousey is peeing everywhere he can, puppies are crazy, and I’m just tired. Tired emotionally and physically, but some days are better than others. I feel guilty I can’t do more to make all the critters better or give them more, but I can’t. I feel like not many people will understand getting so worked up over a dog, but until you’ve lived with the unconditional love you get from a dog, or a cat, most probably won’t understand.

Gilly is not just a dog, he’s my baby, my best friend. All my dogs and cats are that to me. This hurts more than I can explain. Gilly will not be the first animal we’ve lost to old age or illness in the last 14 years. We’ve lost a few actually. We cried at every one of them like I am now. They’re our family. Their existence in our world was important no matter how much they drove us crazy nor what the destroyed.

Yes, life will go on, but it won’t be the same for a long while. Our band of misfit rescues won’t be the same without Gilligan. In the meantime, though, he will get lots of love and anything his heart desires. His kitties, Mousey and Mini will love on him, even Socks wants to check on him. A bunch of misfits, I say, but happy misfits.

Here’s some more photos of Gilly, with appearances from quite a few of our bunch of misfits.

Photography For Sale

Computer Issues have set me Back a little bit, but I have started a gallery for some of my favorite personal photographs.

This gallery will offer prints and digital downloads, and you can reach out to me for commercial licensing options.

For the time being I am hosting it through Shutterfly Pro Galleries. The link is below and thanks for looking!

http://www.shutterfly.com/pro/CreativelyMusical/cmphotos

Here are just some of the photos in the collections:

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