Tuesday, December 12, 2017

SEPTEMBER 1, 2017

September 1, 2017. The day everything in our world changed. We woke up as a family of 6 but went to bed as a family of 7. September 1, 2017 is the day our son, Henry Maxwell was born.

Only a few people knew Hazel and I were trying to adopt. We only told our closest friends and our work. We didn't want to have to explain to everyone if the adoption didn't go through. We didn't even tell our families. It was the decision we made as a couple and we were doing our best to guard our hearts and the hearts of our loved ones.

We made contact with Henry's birthmother through family friends. The birthmother was local and she was unable to care for Henry. We met her and her mother and grandmother about a month before Henry was born. We talked and got to know each other some. At the end of our meeting, the birthmother and her family were in agreement that Hazel and I would adopt her baby. The birthmother told us her due date was September 4.

I was initially concerned of learning the baby's due date because the birthmother was small and didn't look to be 35 weeks. She is a poly-substance user and we took that into account but I was mentally preparing myself and Hazel that the baby was going to be very small. We knew the baby would probably go through drug withdrawals and we spent countless hours on the internet researching, trying to glean knowledge about what we were facing.

We learned a few weeks later that the birthmother went to the doctor and learned her due date was October 3 and she was carrying a baby boy. I felt better knowing the due date was off and that could account for the birthmother's small size. We prayed for the best and kept the faith that all would be well.

On the morning of September 1, I was getting ready for work and Hazel called and said the birthmother was in labor. She was at the hospital. Hazel left work and I called my work to let them know I wouldn't be in. The grandmother kept Hazel updated with texts and phone calls. Her labor progressed rapidly and she delivered Henry at 0859. She was in labor less than an hour. The grandmother could only tell us that he was alive and had cried at delivery. They immediately took Henry to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Unfortunately, her cell phone chose that time to die so we were left with no information for awhile.

Hazel and I got to the hospital and went to the labor and delivery floor. We sat with the birthmother until she was transferred to the post partum unit. The birthmother and grandmother wanted to see the baby and we all went to the NICU together. They went in and saw Henry. Nothing can prepare you for all of the emotions you will feel. We were so excited and couldn't wait to see our little boy but then you see the birthmother and grandmother grieving. It was hard not to be emotional when you see two other people realizing they are saying hello and good bye to their child/grandchild. After they left to go to their room, Hazel and I got to meet our son. Our first day together was a whirlwind. So much happened quickly and our lives would never be the same.







Tuesday, October 24, 2017

OFFICIALLY RETIRED

I have started this blog many times. I've had multiple versions in my head but none of them seemed right. Life has been busy lately and I thought about just doing a short, sweet blog about Marley's retirement. But then I got to thinking. Marley has done so much in her life and she deserves her agility retirement to be acknowledged. I know, she's a dog but she's my soul dog and she is owed this tribute.

The 2017 agility season is nearing its end for us. This was the first year KK competed alone. No Marley. This year Marley retired from agility.

I knew Marley's agility career would be short when she was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia as  a puppy. Marley had many highs and lows during her career. When I brought home that cuddly blue eyed puppy, I had so many dreams and expectations. While my dreams of big titles and accolades may not have came true, Marley excelled in so many other ways. She pushed me to be a better agility partner and took me into the obedience and rally world. She pushed me to stand up for her, to fight for her. More importantly, Marley became my soul dog.

Marley was never the fastest, most accurate agility dog. Sometimes she walked the course, sometimes she ran all out, sometimes she would both walk and then full out run. I never knew what dog I was taking to the start line. Sometimes there were tears on my part. Frustration from Marley not achieving what I had planned. But nevertheless, Marley persevered. She raked up agility Q's and titles. She had an article written about her in our local paper after being recognized by the AKC for being the top All American Dog in Arkansas. She ran in four agility organizations. She earned a Snooker Super Q in Texas. I will never forget that run!

No amount of love, tears, hard work and prayers could change the fact that Marley's agility career would end before I was ready. Even after she recovered from her bilateral hip replacement surgeries and the surgeon cleared her to do agility again, it wasn't the same. I was afraid to jump her. I thought I would cause her to damage her new hips. By then, KK was running agility consistently and it made for an easier transition for me. Marley still went to trials, but she didn't compete. We had started doing a lot of NADAC trials and they have this great event called Tunnelers! It involved no jumping, no weaving, no contacts, just tunnels!!

Marley loved tunnelers. I felt no pressure. I just took her to the start line and let her go when the judge said 'good luck'. Then Marley and I just ran. If she off coursed, it was ok, because I was getting to run my dog. The dog so many had written off. The dog I fought for. The dog I shed so many tears for. I got to run Marley. She made my heart full and now I cried tears of happiness.

The last time Marley ran agility was Sunday, October 23, 2016 at the Run as One trial in Texas. It was a tunnelers run. Her favorite type of agility, not a weave pole in sight. She was a happy girl. She wanted to run with me and I wanted to run with her. She ran her tunnelers run with her usual Marley flair. Bouncy, clunky but happy. She finished her run with a big smile on her face, matching the smile on mine. I'm so lucky that Hazel caught that moment with her camera. It sums up Marley's career.


I didn't go into the ring that day with the decision made that Marley was retiring. It was just going to be a tunnelers run. An opportunity for us to run together. No pressure, just a run that Marley and I could enjoy together. Later, I made the decision to retire her completely from agility. It was not an easy decision but a decision that needed to be made. She will still go with us to trials, but she may not get out of the RV. She loves her home away from home!

I was blessed that I got to run agility with Marley. I'm so happy that Marley retired on her own terms and she left the competition ring happy. I'm thankful that we got to run together as long as we did. I'm very proud of what Marley achieved while she was competing. But what I'm most proud of is that Marley is my dog. She is my dog and she is loved deeply.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Time


This sweet girl is approaching her 17th birthday. It seems just like yesterday that I brought her home from CARE as a foster dog. Missy was to have been a foster. A dog that I would care for, love and then let go to her forever home. But Missy had other ideas. She came into my home with a lot of baggage. She would take treats and hide them. I would find bags of treats and food hidden under my bed. It took time and trust on Missy's part to realize that she would want for nothing in my home. I took her to lots of adoption events and when I would come back to get her, I would be told that "she didn't show well". Apparently as soon as I left, Missy would hide under a chair and not be interested in anyone or anything. She once almost got adopted by an older family. I left her for the day. She was friendly and happy when I was there. Molly and I left and went home. I got a phone call later that day. The family told me they couldn't catch her and she was a different dog than what I had left. I quickly drove to get her and found her in their yard. She was so happy to see me. I remember the lady saying "She has found her family". It was true. Missy found Molly and me. We were meant to be her family.

As time does, it kept moving. And moving. No matter how much I want to stop time, it won't happen. Now 14 years later, she is still a happy, healthy pup. Missy still looks like a puppy. The other day when Hazel picked her up from grooming, someone asked how old was her puppy.


Missy is my little diva. She doesn't believe in getting dirty, or going out in the rain. She wants her dinner brought to her. She would prefer if you came to her to love on her. Missy is a princess. She is the first to try any new pillow, blanket or dog bed. She loves to lay on the back of the sofa and she can fit her little body into a window sill. I had a neighbor when I lived in Little Rock that used to tell me, "That dog there isn't far removed from the wild". At the time I was kind of offended, but now I can look back and laugh. Missy is cat like and a little feral, but she's my Missy and I'm so glad she picked me.



Wednesday, September 7, 2016

WHY DO THEY HAVE TO GET OLD?

Why do they have to get old? Both Molly and Missy are well into their senior years. Molly is 15 and Missy is 16.5. These two have been by my side through a lot of ups and downs. This post is about Molly.



Molly was my first dog I got as an adult. She has taught me so much about being a pet parent. I look back now and think of things I wish I had known or done differently. But I didn’t know and Molly lived my experience with me. She was a sickly puppy and we were in and out of vets offices the first two years of her life. I have often wondered if I had been more educated about dogs, maybe I would have used a different food or tried a different vet. Maybe she wouldn't have had to endure so much sickness. Molly also got to be my first dog that I trained. We did basic obedience and she hated it. We tried agility because she was so active. She liked it ok, however I loved it. I overlooked Molly’s happiness and pursued my hobby. I drug her along for the ride. When she didn’t want to do it, I would get so mad at her. I didn’t stop. I just kept pushing her and she responded my pushing back. She didn’t want to do it. Her very last agility run, I set her up at the start jump and told her to ‘jump’. She turned and ran off the course towards the exit. And just like that, her career was over. She had to be brutally obvious with me. She didn’t want to do it and she wasn’t going to anymore. I relented on the agility.


 After we moved into the country, I let Molly be what she always wanted to be. A free dog with lots of acreage and time to explore. She went out every night ‘on patrol’. I don’t know where she went or what she did but she always came home happy. Some nights she would be gone for hours and would return home hungry and ready for bed. The next day as soon as I would get home from work, she wanted back out to ‘patrol’.  On the really hot days, I would have to keep her in until the sun went down. To which she would repay me for the wait by staying out even longer. But Molly was happy. She was getting to be who she was.


Unfortunately time kept moving and Molly was the victim of a GSD attack on several occasions. I had to stop her ‘patrols’ before she was killed doing what she loved doing. It broke my heart to not let her be free but her safety was my top priority. Molly is still my side kick. She loves a car ride! Whether it is to the mailbox or a long afternoon running errands, she always wants to go. She gets so much pleasure hanging her head out the window and breathing in life. We have been together so much, that she can tell the days I’m off work and somehow knows she will get to go with me.

 I cherish every car ride we have together. I may have to help her in and out of the car, but she gets so excited to go that her aging little body doesn’t care. I may have to carry her across the parking lot into stores, but once she's inside, she's ready to explore.He favorite stores are Tractor Supply and Bass Pro Shop. I often take her to the bank for cash just so she can get a cookie, when I could have just used the ATM. The pharmacy is another one of her favorite stops.


Deafness may have robbed her hearing, but she doesn't let it stand in her way. We use a lot of hand signals with her and it works out well. Molly still has her bossy attitude. When she wants a piece of Pupperoni or more food, she will stand in front of the cabinet and bark in a way that means business! She loves to go outside every night and smell the air and bark. Then she will come back in and dig the carpet. After barking and digging all night, she will sleep all day. Just like me, a little night owl. 

I love every moment I have with her. I know one day a decision will have to be made and just the thought of that brings tears to my eyes. I don't know when that fateful day will come, but I pray it will be easy on her. I hope I have given her the life she deserved because she didn't deserve anything less. I know my heart will be fractured into a thousand pieces when she goes, but I know she will get to be with my mom and that makes me smile. My mom will get the see the 'black and white' again. And they will both be so happy to see each other again. 

WHY DO THEY HAVE TO GET OLD?

Why do they have to get old? Both Molly and Missy are well into their senior years. Molly is 15 and Missy is 16.5. These two have been by my side through a lot of ups and downs. This post is about Molly.



Molly was my first dog I got as an adult. She has taught me so much about being a pet parent. I look back now and think of things I wish I had known or done differently. But I didn’t know and Molly lived my experience with me. She was a sickly puppy and we were in and out of vets offices the first two years of her life. I have often wondered if I had been more educated about dogs, maybe I would have used a different food or tried a different vet. Maybe she wouldn't have had to endure so much sickness. Molly also got to be my first dog that I trained. We did basic obedience and she hated it. We tried agility because she was so active. She liked it ok, however I loved it. I overlooked Molly’s happiness and pursued my hobby. I drug her along for the ride. When she didn’t want to do it, I would get so mad at her. I didn’t stop. I just kept pushing her and she responded my pushing back. She didn’t want to do it. Her very last agility run, I set her up at the start jump and told her to ‘jump’. She turned and ran off the course towards the exit. And just like that, her career was over. She had to be brutally obvious with me. She didn’t want to do it and she wasn’t going to anymore. I relented on the agility.



 After we moved into the country, I let Molly be what she always wanted to be. A free dog with lots of acreage and time to explore. She went out every night ‘on patrol’. I don’t know where she went or what she did but she always came home happy. Some nights she would be gone for hours and would return home hungry and ready for bed. The next day as soon as I would get home from work, she wanted back out to ‘patrol’.  On the really hot days, I would have to keep her in until the sun went down. To which she would repay me for the wait by staying out even longer. But Molly was happy. She was getting to be who she was.



Unfortunately time kept moving and Molly was the victim of a GSD attack on several occasions. I had to stop her ‘patrols’ before she was killed doing what she loved doing. It broke my heart to not let her be free but her safety was my top priority. Molly is still my side kick. She loves a car ride! Whether it is to the mailbox or a long afternoon running errands, she always wants to go. She gets so much pleasure hanging her head out the window and breathing in life. We have been together so much, that she can tell the days I’m off work and somehow knows she will get to go with me.

 I cherish every car ride we have together. I may have to help her in and out of the car, but she gets so excited to go that her aging little body doesn’t care. I may have to carry her across the parking lot into stores, but once she's inside, she's ready to explore.He favorite stores are Tractor Supply and Bass Pro Shop. I often take her to the bank for cash just so she can get a cookie, when I could have just used the ATM. The pharmacy is another one of her favorite stops.

Deafness may have robbed her hearing, but she doesn't let it stand in her way. We use a lot of hand signals with her and it works out well. Molly still has her bossy attitude. When she wants a piece of Pupperoni or more food, she will stand in front of the cabinet and bark in a way that means business! She loves to go outside every night and smell the air and bark. Then she will come back in and dig the carpet. After barking and digging all night, she will sleep all day. Just like me, a little night owl. 

I love every moment I have with her. I know one day a decision will have to be made and just the thought of that brings tears to my eyes. I don't know when that fateful day will come, but I pray it will be easy on her. I hope I have given her the life she deserved because she didn't deserve anything less. I know my heart will be fractured into a thousand pieces when she goes, but I know she will get to be with my mom and that makes me smile. My mom will get the see the 'black and white' again. And they will both be so happy to see each other again. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

THE DOOR CLOSED

While it has not been a secret that I had shoulder surgery in December, I had chosen to be quiet about the circumstances that encircled my recovery. Writing is cathartic for me and it is my outlet for expressing myself. So it's time for me to let people know how 'the door closed' on me.

I had been working in hospice and loved it. I saw myself staying with hospice for the rest of my nursing career. It was very rewarding for me and I loved my patients. But my hospice career quickly unraveled when I got my shoulder diagnosis. A completely torn rotator cuff with a bicep tendon tear that required surgery and would put me out of commission for 12 weeks. Surgery happened the week of Christmas and I had originally volunteered to do Christmas call. But my health was more important to me. Apparently to my coworkers I ruined their Christmas. I guess they forgot I did Thanksgiving call too. But it didn't matter to them. They had the audacity to include me in a group text where they discussed how they would 'never burn' each other like I apparently was doing to them. Then the morning of surgery as I was walking into the hospital, one of the nurses sent me a text saying I had '@#@#@#' up their Christmas. These were my coworkers. People I had helped out. Switched up call and saw their patients when they couldn't get to them and I had the time. They were supposed to be my coworkers. And I had actually thought of them as friends. But clearly they weren't my friend.

Not one person from my previous job ever texted, called, or even sent me a FB message asking how I was. This includes my supervisor. My supervisor, who had even been in my home, never bothered to see if I lived or died. Not a word. Even when I had to send weekly updates as a condition of my leave of absence terms, she wouldn't even respond. The social workers and chaplain who boasted proudly in meetings at their profound ability to help and nurture others, also never lifted a finger to send a text. Complete radio silence. Needless to say, I took this very personally. It hurt that people you worked with on a daily basis, didn't even bother to see how you were after surgery. Everyday I would think surely one of them would call. But my phone never rang. It is mind blowing on how self centered adults in the healthcare world are. We work in a 'caring' environment, but I never saw that from my coworkers.

It was a hard pill to swallow. I thought I mattered to my coworkers. I thought we were a team. I thought we had each others backs.I thought I mattered. It took me a long time and a lot of Hazel telling me I needed to accept the reality of the situation before I could finally close the door on that chapter of my nursing career. It was added psychological pain to go along with the physical pain of my shoulder. It was just a painful time in my career.

Two people did check on me. The spouses of former patients. They cared enough to check on me. Even though they were dealing with their own issues, they took the time to call. So the time I spent in the field doing hospice nursing did make a difference...to my patients. Maybe not to my coworkers, but to my patients. And that is what truly matters.




Saturday, July 30, 2016

GOAL TIME



June and July mark the only time of the year we make it to Springfield, MO for agility. I love the opportunity to run NADAC agility in the summer, on turf. I also like that we get to take the RV and camp out.

The June trial was good for us. But KK and I weren't in sync. She was having some bratty moments and I wasn't going to allow her to develop that pattern. So she got escorted off the course each time she decided not to listen. We actually left the trial early, forfeiting a few runs. KK and I just weren't working together and it was pointless to force it. So we packed up and went home.

July was a much better trial. KK and I were coming off an USDAA weekend where we had worked well together, so we were more in tune for this trial. KK ended up finishing 4 titles: Open Touch n Go, Open Weavers, Open Chances and Open Versatility. She's in all Elite now. So now I can see that NATCH in the horizon. I've already counted how many Q's we need...much to Hazel's advise against it. But once you get close, it's hard not to count. The big title will come in time. I just have to be patient and keep up our training.