Living memorial

Back in May we let go of Stella, our beloved ACDx. The network our vet clinic is in has a great program. When you let go of a pet you can purchase a tree and participate in a planting ceremony.

Faye and I along with about a dozen other people did that today. I was able to select a redbud sapling (Cercis canadensis) which two of the techs planted. It seems like a strong young tree and I look forward to watching it grow. I’m unlikely to see it get large and old. That’s fine; this proverb gives me a lot of contentment.

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. – Greek proverb.

Here’s a photo of us next to Stella’s tree.


Pennies from heaven

Faye and I were recently in the States. We visited a grocery store. Walking through the parking lot, we saw a penny and I picked it up thinking ‘Find a penny, pick it up, all that day have good luck.’ Faye thought and said ‘Penny from heaven; Stella is saying hello.’ We walked on and about 50 feet later there was another penny. Faye said ‘Stella’s really trying to talk to you.’

I’m trying to listen.

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A journey ends, a journey begins

My journey with Stella has ended – in one way.

I prefer to not share all of the details of how and why. They are between me and Faye, Stella, our vet, and the Knower of All Things. It’s enough to say we are blessed with a vet who came to our home and helped us let go, with Stella’s head in my lap.

I adopted her over 13 years ago, discovered a new and deep sense of purpose. We learned from and trained one another. We prospered through the years of Avis and Moonpie becoming senior dogizens, being adopted by Corndog. We met Faye and I gained another new purpose. Someone to love and be loved by.

We let go of Moonpie, Avis, Corndog, and gained a new four footed companion – Achilles.

We moved to a new life, a new country, met new dogs – Rex, Kendal, BoJo, fosters Charlie and Lucy – and let go of them. Achilles is still here. We met yet another foster, Fitzi, and he has stuck. He’s the right dog at the right time.

I hope that Stella had a full life. Some people might have done more to keep her here longer. I believe it’s better to let go a day too soon, while she still had dignity, than a day too late.

I’m sad – for me and for Faye. Among the bargains I made when adopting her (that anyone makes when they adopt a dog or cat) was that I’d probably outlive her.

My sadness is tempered by gratitude for having years together, learning from and about one another. Deep gratitude to the family who trusted me enough to let me adopt her.

I don’t believe in the Rainbow Bridge. This isn’t a criticism of those who do believe, only a statement that I don’t believe. I don’t believe that Stella or any (every) dog I’ve owned will rush to greet me at the Bridge. She has too much good stuff to do, to spend eternity at my side. She’s too busy power-chasing squirrels and keeping them honest. There are too many rivers, lakes, and ponds for a duck wearing a dog suit to swim in. And that’s fine.

A journey ends, a journey begins. Stella is no longer here yet she is here – in my memory, head, heart, and soul. So she lives on.


Stella, giving pills to a dog, and ‘Find it!’

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Stella recently began coughing more than we liked so we went to the vet. She was diagnosed with pneumonia in one lobe of her right lung and some inflamed alveoli. The vet prescribed an antibiotic, a bronchial dilator, and a short course of prednisone. She’s in otherwise pretty good health – good appetite; drinks readily; wants to go outside; is alert and responsive; wants to walk and when walking keeps up a good trot.

In the past it’s occasionally been a challenge to get pills into her, even when they were packed into cheese or a similarly good substance. Once or twice I’ve had to almost force them down her throat. I felt bad about having to do that, and at times she became very reluctant to take treats.

I experienced an epihany. Play “Find it!”

Several years ago I began putting her into a sit-stay in the kitchen or laundry room while I hid treats around the house. Once finished I released her with the phrase “Find it!” She caught on very quickly and could be occupied seeking out treats for as long as 10 minutes or so. It was brain- and nose-work for her. So I tried the game.

It worked most excellently. She sought out, found, and ate every loaded cheese ball. No stress for either of us. Of course I stood by to make certain she didn’t spit out the pill.

Stella’s already responding to the treatment – Neither Faye nor I have heard her coughing for several days.

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