Thursday, March 5, 2015

Two Years

My Puppo Jersey,

It's been two years since I said goodbye. It was so hard for me on that day. My heart broke and my life was shattered.

Somehow though, I healed.  I'll never understand what happened but I have come to accept it.  I've had no choice.  Day by day the tears I cried got less and less until I was left with an ache that seemed never to dissipate.  That was the grief.

Eventually the ache, too, subsided.  My life had to move on and it did. Only it was with you in spirit next to me.

I dreamed of you.  I dreamed I released you.  I dreamed I saw you playing with a passle and pack of dog friends.  You looked up from the middle of the scrum and saw me.  We locked eyes.  You wagged your tail, I knew you were alright.

I felt you in back of me looking through the screen door. It was early in the morning.  I was at the computer and I suddenly knew you were there.  I turned, I saw you out of the corner of my eye.  You were checking on me.

I took Tellie and Skylar for a walk by the pond and we saw one of the ducks. Imagine my surprise when I realized that in the yellow of his beak in contrast to green of his head was your face. I believe you were there and you were saying hello. I especially believed it was you because of his persistent "quack QUACK! quack QUACK! quack QUACK!" He only stopped when I stopped walking and said hello back.  He looked at us, tilted his head in a satisfied way as if he was glad he caught my attention, fluffed his wings and swam on. We walked on.  I felt comfort. You had come for a visit.  I saw you.

I believe that when that Cardinal keeps showing up in the backyard, it's you. I believe when Tellie, Skylar and I walk on the path, through the woods and the Cardinal follows along, it's you coming with us. I believe when the Cardinal is sitting in the tree looking at the house for minutes at a time, it's you.

Your all time, without a doubt favorite place in the world was in Colorado at the Cherry Creek Dog Park.  This was your doggy Disney Land.  How you loved it there...We spent so much time in the back of beyond.  There were so many paths to choose from.  One way would take us to the creek, one way would take us to the marsh, one would take us to the horses, one would take us to the river. You always picked.  And it was always perfect.

This was your place. This is where you were home.

I'm going to take you back there someday. When the time is right, I'm going to revisit this place and really let you free to run.  This is where I'll find you again.  This is where we'll meet and we'll rejoice and we'll get lost, together.

Momma misses you.  She thinks about you and her heart misses you.  We share stories and our memories makes us smile.  We talk about when you were a puppy and tried to jump over the gate in the fence around the house in Santa Fe.  We talk about taking you out at 3 o'clock in the morning so you could pee.  You would sit in the middle of the yard on the rocks under the brilliant night sky, the moonlight shining down on your fuzzy head. We would see your puppy legs akimbo as you taunted us to play.

Tellie misses you.  You taught her how to be a dog, just as she has taught Skylar.  Skylar would have loved you.  We tell her about you and I think somehow she understands though she'll never really know the joy of knowing you.

It's snowing now. The weather is dingy, the sky is grey. We are alone, we are together. These two years since you've been gone, you have been missed. I know you have never been far away and I cannot and will not ever forget you.

Thank you for choosing me. I chose you, too.

Well my girl, I better go now.  We've got stuff to do and dogs to walk and breakfast to eat.  I just wanted to write to tell you I love you and think of you every day.  I know you're doing well and having a lot of fun with all your friends.

Be good and play in peace my Jersey.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Updates and Revision

An update:

For those that didn't know, it turned out Tellie did not have cancer.  It was only a growth on her front paw which resolved itself and cleared up shortly after the last time I posted about her in June.  She's doing really well and is truly a joy in our life. She makes us both laugh. She gets excited with us when we are happy and celebrate, she comforts us when we are sad.

Skylar is a truly a part of our family.  Her best friend is Tellie and she is a very, very, very well behaved, friendly dog.  I've never had a dog with such a great personality.  Everyone she meets is her best friend. Every dog she greets is a potential playmate and Skylar is always ready to "get her dog on."

A few months ago, we bought a new car.  I don't know why I was surprised at myself when I realized the decision about what to get was based on research I had done about what car was the most dog friendly.  I already knew I would get some sort of SUV.  The first new car I ever bought was a 1994 Jeep Cherokee Sport and I've had an SUV ever since.  I used to have to haul and schlep video equipment when I was actively making TV.  I still carry stuff around but most regularly I load the dogs in back.

When I was researching what would best suit my needs, I was most concerned about getting a vehicle with the most cargo space so the dogs would have adequate room.  I also had to concern myself with how high the rear hatch was from the ground.  I needed something low because Skylar could never work up the nerve to jump into the back of the Jeep.  She thought it was too high off the ground.  I wanted to get something to accomodate her.  She is 80 lbs big and I was the one who had to lift her in and out of the vehicle since she never learned how to get in the car by herself.

I also needed to take into account the color of the interior.  I didn't want somethething that would show all the hair, mud, dirt, grass that invariably accumulates when you travel with dogs.

I also needed storage compartments to keep all their stuff in order.  I needed a place to store extra leashes, water bowls, toys, bones and all the other dog related junk I had to carry around.

Finally, I would require something that had windows big enough for them to stick their heads out  of. They needed a way to stick their heads out and have their tongues hanging out in the wind, so dog slobber could get streaked along the outside of the car; and noses twitching with their ears swept back as I would drive the roads and highways as we visited old destinations and explored new places.

I ultimately decided on a 2015 Subaru Forester.  We are all very happy for the purchase.

Finally, I let the Jersey's Place web page expire.  It is no longer active.  Instead, people have been joining us at the Jersey's Place Facebook group page.  Members share news of their dogs, seek advice from one another about different dog related things, post dog stuff and generally support each other in celebrating all things dog. 

A down side to letting go of the webpage is that there was no longer a vehicle for folks to access the National Canince Cancer Foundation webpage to make donations and get Jersey's Place wristbands.

I created a Jersey's Place Friends page at where people can donate if they choose to help in the fight to eradicate all forms of canine cancer.  Check it out, it's a great resource for information .  Vist our page at

There you go, you're updated.

Don't forget to visit us on Facebook at!/groups/202086693263877/

Welcome to Jersey's Place! Come, Sit and Stay for awhile...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

To the Moon and Back

Tellie has cancer.  It's a Mast Cell Tumor and depending on its staging can have either a good prognosis or a bad prognosis.  At least the vet thinks that's what it is. The tumor is on her front right paw and is big and ugly. The vet palpated it and basically knew what it was as soon as she touched it.  She aspirated it and drew a sample to send in for lab testing.  Though she didn't actually say the word "cancer" she cautioned us not to worry about it until results from the test were in.  I know though what a Mast Cell Tumor is and don't know if I'm ready to go through the process again.

Granted, Jersey had a different type of cancer that was very advanced by the time we took her to get her lumps checked out. We know how that ended.  Because of our experience with Jersey we are quick to act if we discover any lumps or bumps on the dogs. Early detection is the key to success in this battle.

A Mast Cell Tumor is the most common cancer that will strike a dog.  No one knows why they occur, no one knows where they come from. 

"Mast cells are specialized cells that normally are found distributed throughout the body and help an animal respond to inflammation and allergies. Mast cells can release several biologically active chemicals when stimulated, among them histamine, heparin, seratonin, prostaglandins and proteolytic enzymes. Although these chemicals are vital to normal bodily function, especially immune response, they can be very damaging to the body when released in chronic excess."

Knowing this doesn't make it any easier.  Tellie will still probably have to go in for surgery to have it removed.  Since it's on the top of her little paw, there is not much room to get an adequate margin to check for spread of the cancer.  Aspiration will tell us what stage it is at.  Removal, biopsy and testing will tell us whether it has spread.

A saving grace is that her Lymph nodes appear to be normal.  If it has spread there, we're looking at a sad prognosis.

Fortunately, Tellie displays no other symptoms. Hopefully we caught it soon enough to make a positive difference.

Tellie is the biggest little dog I have ever seen.  She is a sensitive soul, exhibiting compassion for our pain and joy at our happiness.  She loves her family and demonstrates it on a daily basis. We are committed to providing whatever is necessary to help her.  I carried Jersey, I've carried Skylar and I am prepared to carry Tellie to the moon and back if I have to.

Unfortunately, this situation is a powerful reminder to continue support for the National Canine Cancer Foundation.  It's bewildering that know one knows why this cancer happens.  It's shocking that there is not really any alternative to provide a cure other than submitting a dog to a lumpectomy.  Our on-going support provides a much needed resource to fight this terrible disease.

Telluride is only four years old is full of life and has been our joy ever since I spotted at the Animal Shelter in Aurora, CO.  She invaded my dreams and captured my heart right from the beginning.

At this point, I'm not really worried or anxious.  Absent any conclusive information there is no room for speculation. It is what it is and right now all I can do is hold that healing place for her.  And wait.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Backyard Memories

A year ago today Jersey spent her last afternoon lying on her blanket in the backyard.  I remember the warmth of the sun, the sound of the birds and the way she seemed to drink it in.

Alexa and I decided that since it was such a beautiful day, Jersey would probably enjoy being outside. We placed her blanket in the rear of the yard and got a place ready for her.  We wanted to spend time with her, enjoy her. We wanted to let lay on the grass for a little while on this unseasonably warm and sunny March day.

I carried her down the stairs and gently put her on the ground.

I can still see her ears moving about while she listened to the breeze through the trees, picking up the sound of some critters rustling among the fallen leaves.  I lay down next to her. I can still feel her fur and smell her when I buried my face in her neck.  The orange, red, and gold of her coat was highlighted by the sun and stood out against the brown dirt and light green, dormant grass. I can still see her looking at me with peace and contentment in her eyes. She was alert, she was present, she was with us.

My heart knew we wouldn't have much time left with her.  My senses were attunded to capturing these last impressions so I could always hold them in my heart and remember.

Jersey, Alexa, Tellie and I spent a large portion of the afternoon not doing anything other than being together. Tellie knew what was going on and was watching out for us.  She sat among us alternately climbing into my lap, climbing into Alexa's lap and stretching out next to Jersey.  She knew what to do and provided the physical touch each of us needed in our own way to stay grounded in the moment.

The mildness of the day brought the robins out.  Their round little bodies were still puffed up with the downy feather coats which keep them warm for the winter, their chests vibrantly red.  They hopped around the yard looking for bugs and worms, scrounging for something to eat before the weather turned cold again.

Jersey watched them closely as they gathered food.

In that moment we were alone, we were together, we were a family.

She was getting restless.  I picked her up and Alexa gathered Jersey's blanket. We brought her to the brick patio and I set her down next to the Adirondack chair I would sit in at night with a blanket wrapped around me, alone with my thoughts and Jersey at my side.

Alexa and Tellie went back into the house and Jersey and I were alone.  I sat in the chair and stroked her head and began talking to her.  I began saying my goodbye.

24 hours later, she was gone.

As I think back over that serene afternoon, I consider myself foruntate to have spent that afternoon with her, just the two of us. I am thankful I can measure the passage of time with that beatiful memory of me and Jersey and the robins.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

National Canine Cancer Foundation Fund Raising

I've created another avenue for fund raising for the National Canine Cancer Foundation! Please consider supporting this organization which plays a vital role in the fight agains all forms of canine cancer. Believe in a Cure...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chasing Sand Pipers

We were in Florida over the Thanksgiving Holiday.  We packed up both dogs, Tellie and Skylar and drove 1831 miles there and back to spend time with Alexa's parents.  I knew Tellie would be fine. she climbs in to Alexa's lap and promptly falls asleep.  She is an old pro at being in the car for long distances.  She drove across country with us when we moved from Colorado to Maryland.  Jersey was also so very good at marathon driving.  She would climb into the back of the Jeep and take in the scenery as it passed by the windows.  She also would fall asleep but would excitedly wake up whenever we would make a pee stop.  Driving in the car was always an adventure for her not only because she knew we were going somewhere fun but because she was able to spend time with us.

I didn't know what it would be like for Skylar.  The furthest from home she had been in the car was Annapolis which is 30 miles south of where we live. She hasn't even learned to jump into the car yet and here I was expecting her to not get car sick, be calm and not mind driving a long, long way.  My only experience long distance driving with dogs was based on how good Jersey and Tellie were.  I thought all dogs would behave the same way and have the same reaction to being cooped up for hours at a time.

Aside from whining and pacing from window to window for the first half hour, Skylar settled in and seemed to realize she would be in it for the long haul.

We found the trick to getting her distracted enough to not mind the drive was to give her a huge knuckle bone.  This bone which is as big as my head, was plenty to keep her occupied for hours as we drove through DC, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and the northern part of Florida. The gnawing, scraping, nipping, peeling, nibbling sounds; the "skishhhhhh, skishhhh, skisssh" of her teeth tearing the fat off the bone mixed with the sounds of snoring told us she was content.

The other key to the drive was leaving the rear windows open about a quarter of the way so she could stick her nose out the window to get the particular smells of each state as we passed through.  I think the noise of the wind rushing along the sides of the car as we drove the highway also soothed any concerns she might have had.  Unfortunately for me and Alexa, it sounded like being in an airplane for hours at a time.  We found ourselves shouting at each other as we struggled to be heard above the cyclonic noise of the wind.  We endured it though because we needed to make sure Skylar would peacefully get to Florida.

Bottom line, we all made it and had a great time, especially when we would walk to the beach.  Skylar discovered the joys of chasing Sand Pipers as they scuttled up and down and back and forth along the waterline while the ocean waves rolled onto the sand. She never gave up the chase as the birds continually fluttered from one place to the next; the big dog charging after them.  Skylar's tongue flapped out of her mouth like a flag blowing in the wind atop a flag pole; her legs galloping like those of a Stallion at a full run, pounding and splashing through the water.  The delight on her face when she would get knocked and bashed by a wave washing ashore left both Alexa and I with a sense of gratitude that this nine month old puppy, revelling in her futile pursuit of birds, had truly become a part of our family.

Tellie spent her time digging holes.  Her front paws furiously throwing sand behind her and through her legs while her face would disappear deeper and deeper into the ever growing trench she was scratching out on the beach.  Every now and then she would take a break and chase Skylar as Skylar chased the birds.  Tellie would leap at Skylar's neck and try to hold on as they both ran down the beach.  She growled with joy trying her best to hold on.  She looked like she was riding a mechanical bull as it would spin around and around, faster and faster.  Eventually she would get thrown off only to get back on her feet and resume the chase, barking all the way.

Alexa and I couldn't help but comment on how much Jersey would have loved to be with us.  She would have relished the sand, the water, the beach and the sun and the chase.  She would have chased the birds and plowed through the ocean just as Skylar was now.  That's when we stopped and looked at each other. Understanding washed over us like the ocean was washing over Skylar. She was enjoying it now and Tellie was engrossed and focused on digging her holes. This is when we realized being in the "now" was filling us with happiness and contentment.  As much as we knew Jersey would have loved it, we knew our chase of Skylar as she ran further and further down the beach after the uncatchable birds was where we had to be and we loved it, too.

Skylar never caught the birds and Tellie didn't dig to China and that's OK.  They'll have the chance to do it again and again and again.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

We've arrived at the end

I started this blog last February when we first found out Jersey was sick.  At the time I thought I would share my experiences so that others suffering what I was going through could have a roadmap to navigate the accompanying range of emotions and have some idea of what to expect. Within a month though, my writing turned into an expression of the grief and despair, shock and heartbreak, confusion and loneliness and the anger I was overwhelmed with. I didn't realize at the time that it had also become a kind of theraputic outlet for me.

As a result I've come to see that this particular phase of the journey is complete.  I think I've accomplished what I originally set out to do. So now it's time to say goodbye.

Goodbye to the soul baring posts I made fairly regularly; goodbye to the sadness that engulfed my every waking moment; good bye to the awful hurt which burned painfully in my soul. Goodbye to the all encompassing thoughts which go with the horrible loss of a loved one.  It's time to let it go.

As I do, there remains a deep appreciation for the precious support I received from all of you.  Though I didn't see it at the time, you guided me. You graciously allowed me to share my deepest, innermost feelings and stumble through the ugly thoughts I had until I arrived at the place where they became acceptance of the past, growth toward the future and the wisdom acquired upon passing through the blinding "dark night of the soul." For this, I say thank you.

Thank you and goodbye.

I feel I'm leaving you with a sense of who Jersey was and why she was so important to me.  Maybe you came to love her, too.

I may post here now and again to tell what the future turns out to be.  I'm sure Skylar and Tellie will provide fodder for tales of the joy they bring to the life which lies ahead.

In the meantime, I cherish the time I had with her and will always carry her in my heart. I am eternally grateful that she changed my life forever.

I will always miss my Jersey.

The End.