Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One More Anniversary

For those of you not fortunate to see what Chandler looked like when I first got him, here is a photo taken the day he came home with me, June 23, 1995.

Chandler came to live with me 14 years ago today. I saw him on a Sunday and as you know fell in love. But I had to wait a few more days before I could bring him home. I needed to buy all the necessary puppy supplies.

When the day came to get him, I was so excited. My friend Rose came with me so she could hold him while I drove. He snuggled against her shoulder and chewed on her earrings for most of the ride home. He also threw up a little on her. We had to make a stop before getting home so that we could get his nail cut. Being raised on grass, his nails never wore down, so they were like talons. When we got to the groomer, I was terrified to hold him. I was so afraid I would hurt him.

Once home, I put a collar on him. I had to get a kitten collar, and even that was too big. Chandler was all of 3 pounds. My ex's dog Burt, a yorkie, was none too thrilled to have a rival in the house. Chandler charmed the entire neighborhood. All my dog walking friends came over to meet the new addition to my family. Chandler fell in love with Tarzan instantly. Tarzan is a Golden Retriever, just 5 days older than Chandler.

Chandler loved to wrestle with Tarzan. When Tarzan would get tired of it, he would gently put his paw on Chandler and flatten him out. As Chandler got older he started humping Tarzan. Didn't matter where - geographically or physically. Chandler would just climb up on Tarzan and go at it. Could be on Tarzan's side, didn't matter to him. Thank goodness Chandler was fixed.

I remember walking him around the neighborhood when I first got him. It was like I was seeing everything through his eyes - seeing everything for the first time. But, when he didn't want to walk, he could make himself weigh 500 pounds and I had to put all my strength into it to move him. Chandler developed a fear of manhole covers that no one understood. He knew where every one in Brentwood Forest was and well before he would come upon it, he would pull to the side so he wouldn't have to walk on it.

Chandler and I had so many great times. I miss him constantly and adjusting to this new normal is taking time. Chandler gave me a great life. If I could go back in time and know that if I didn't get him, I would have been spared all this pain, I would still get him. I would not trade the 14 years with Chandler for anything.

I love you Chandler. I'll see you at the rainbow bridge. But until then, play with Kristy, Sugar, Bravo, Eli, Mulder, and Blackie. I know you are at full strength and energy again.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

14 Years Ago

14 years ago today, Chandler and I met. I wrote about that meeting last week. He gave me 14 wonderful years of love. At times he frustrated me, at times I upset him. But through it all, I loved him with all of my heart.

I have heard from so many people saying how they didn't like little dogs until meeting Chandler. He was such a presence. No one could resist him. My friend Rani never met Chandler in person, but she got to know him through me. Yet without ever seeing him or seeing the two of together, she saw the connection he and I share.

Everyone should be lucky enough to have a Chandler of his or her own. I am so grateful for the time we had together. And as only Chandler could, he even made his passing easy for me. He fought a good fight. Much more than most humans could endure, especially an 84 year old man. He let me know when it was time to go.

Chandler brought so much to my life. And now that he is gone, I feel as if the best part of me is gone. I know this is part of the grieving process, but that is how I feel now. At times I think, "was it all a dream? How could someone so wonderful and full of love have been in my life for 14 years and then suddenly be gone?"

When I was little, I had a stuffed dog named Bow Wow. He was my everything. It may sound strange, but in someways, I think Chandler was Bow Wow personified. As said in The Velveteen Rabbit

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Bow Wow is now furless, eyeless and shabby. He became real for me. This is not at all meant to take away from who Chandler was. This is meant to say that all the love a child has for his favorite stuffed animal is what I felt for Chandler. Perhaps that can give some inkling as to who Chandler is for me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One Last Kiss

Chandler was cremated today. Wow, that was hard to say.

Ethan and I drove out to Long Island to Regency Forest Pet Memorial Park for it. When we walked into the office guess what song was playing on the radio... Yup, "My Life Would Suck Without You." That was Chandler letting me know he is OK. I of course started crying. We then went down to the funeral home. I was terrified to go in. Ethan went in to identify Chandler. He then came to get me to say it was OK for me to go in. They had Chandler laid on a blanket on his his side, like he was asleep. He was covered so only his head was showing. We pulled the blanket down so that we could fully see him. He looked so peaceful. No scars showing, no harness. Just my beautiful little boy. I got to pet him and then give him a final kiss good-bye. Ethan went with him to the other room and put a rose and a lily in with him.

We waited until it was all over and then brought his ashes home in a pretty wood box with a rose carved into it. When Ethan went through this with Blackie 4 years ago, I thought it was weird for him to talk to the box with Blackie's remains in it. However, I found myself doing just that. When I put the box in the back seat, I said, "you stay here," just like I did when he was going for a ride in the car. When we got home, it was, "come on buddy." I get it now.

This was a sad sad day. Not as horrible as last week. Just really sad. I know Chandler's spirit was already free and this was only his shell. But it was still so hard. Ethan told me that this was our revenge on the cancer - the cancer took him from us and now we were destroying the cancer.

I miss him. I feel like a part of me is gone. And it is. Chandler is waiting for me at Rainbow Bridge. Someday we will be reunited forever. Until that time, I have my memories of him. He will always live in my heart. He was such a special little person.

I love you Chandler.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Good-bye My Little Buddy.

At 4:46PM, Thursday June 11, 2009, my beloved little buddy Chandler passed away in my arms. Those of you who had the pleasure of knowing him, know what an amazing person he was. Chandler filled my life with so much love.

Over the past 2 months, Chandler was fighting cancer. He was so strong and went through so much. In the end though, his body just could not last.

He was my constant for almost 14 years. I first met Chandler June 18, 1995, in Pocahontus, IL. He was this little ball of black and brown fur that came running up to me and jumped into my arms. I knew in an instant that we were meant to be together. I have so many wonderful memories of our time together. He was always there to greet me when I came in the door. It didn't matter how long I was gone, he was always happy when I came home. From long trips he would greet me, and then walk away as if to punish me. He wouldn't come to me, but he wouldn't let me out of his sight either.

Chandler and I had a connection that defied reason. I knew when he was hurting. I could understand him in ways no one else could. All he ever wanted was a lap to sit on. He had a wonderful life full of people and animals who loved him.

Chandler and I grew up together. He raised me as much as I raised him. He taught me a depth of love that I didn't know existed. He taught me a level of responsibility that I will always treasure.

Chandler, I love you with all my heart. I will miss seeing you every day. You are now at peace. There is no more pain. You are able to run and play with your friends. You can chase squirrels, ducks and pidgeons to your heart's content. Farewell my friend, my companion, my dear sweet little man.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our Song

When we took Chandler home from his first surgery 2 months, the first song I heard on the radio was Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You." While the lyrics weren't right on, the thought of my life sicking without Chandler was correct. When we got home and I went up stairs, the song was again playing. Everytime we drove home from the vet and came in the house, the song was playing. To me this meant this was Chandler's and my song. I changed the lyrics to fit, so with respect to Ms. Clarkson, I present, "My Life Will Suck Without You."

I know that soon you’re leaving
It’s so hard to say good-bye
You have always been there
You’re my little guy
All you ever wanted
Was a lap to lay on
Anytime I’d sit down
You’d come right along

‘Cause we belong together now, yeah
Forever united here somehow, yeah
You are a part of me
And honestly
My life, will suck, without you

Maybe I was stupid, for wishing you’d never go
Maybe I was wrong for believing it was so.
I know that I will miss you
I love you with all my heart
Saying good-bye to you is tearing me apart.

‘Cause we belong together now, yeah
Forever united here somehow, yeah
You are a part of me
And honestly
My life, will suck, without you

Being with you
Has made my life so great
From the first day we met
I hoped we’d never part.

‘Cause we belong together now, yeah
Forever united here somehow, yeah
You are a part of me
And honestly
My life, will suck, without you

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Not Sure What to Say

This is getting harder to write every day.

Chandler is not doing well. His breathing is around 35 breaths/minute. Normal is below 26. I have a nebulizer for him to help make breathing easier. Yesterday he barely ate anything. Today he finally ate some food. That made me feel a little better, but not much.

Ethan had a very candid talk with Dr. Mlekoday today. She saw Chandler yesterday when he came in for the visit and said he didn't look like Chandler. It is looking like a matter of days now. So I am working from home for the next few days to be with him as much as possible.

I love him so much. I cannot imagine a life without him. As my friend Beth said, he is my forever dog. It is killing me to see him like this. Watching him slowly leave is torture. His mind is still there, but his little body is giving out. He has given me so much love. I only hope that I gave him even a fraction of what he has given me.

Chandler and I have always had a very special connection that few people can understand. Normally I can tell how he is feeling and know when something is wrong. Lately though I haven't been able to feel him the same way. It is as if a part of me is disappearing. Playing the "what if" game isn't helping: What if I found the tumor sooner? I know it likely wouldn't have made any difference. I just would have known about this longer.

I know when he goes, he has so many friends waiting for him: Kristy, Bravo, Eli, Sugar, but that doesn't help too much. I want him here with me.

I took these photos today of my and my boy.

I love you Chandler. Now and always.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I Spoke too Soon

Yes, Chandler has recovered from surgery. In fact, his stitches came out today. However, over the past few days, we've noticed that his breathing is getting faster and shallower. Not good. While he doesn't appear to be in any discomfort at all, this is not a good sign. So while he was getting his stitches removed, he got a chest x-ray. It appears that the mets in his lungs are bigger than they were 3 weeks ago.

I know we are dealing with cancer. I get it. But come on. Hasn't he been through enough? Can't he have a little time with nothing wrong?

June 18th will be 14 years from when Chandler and I first met. The 23rd will be the 14th anniversary of when he came to live with me. I hope that we'll make it to those dates. 14 years. Please let me have that.