Tribute to the Best Dog Ever

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Emmy girl 

There have only been two times in my nearly 50 year old life that I can remember uncontrollable crying. The can’t contain it, can’t stop it once it starts, can’t breathe kind of crying. The guttural, overwhelming sadness kind.

This — was the third. I’m not a crier. So when the tears come from the deep, dark, depths, it’s very unsettling.

I had been cramming this cry down for 312 days. Holding my breath. Knowing it was coming. Thinking I could outsmart it, outmaneuver it, outwill it.

April 12, 2015 was her diagnosis day. I heard the words – kidney cancer. The options? None of them good. No chemo or radiation option. Major surgery to remove the kidney would maybe, if there was a miracle, buy her a year but most of that would be spent recovering from such a brutal surgery. For an 11 year old Golden Retriever, it was hardly a viable choice. So Emmy and I had a talk. And we agreed .. go for as many good days as possible. When she didn’t want to ride in the car anymore, that would be my sign. I trusted her to tell me. She trusted me to help her go when it was time. It was our pact.

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For 312 days, she (we) fought that demon like hell.  Just when I’d think she was declining, she’d rally. We changed from kibble to a homemade diet and an incredible supplement invented by our good friend, Nancy Seymour. Emmy had all but given up and she came back to life!

Processed with MOLDIV

Processed with MOLDIV

We learned what foods fought inflammation and we cooked for her. As she lost weight, we’d try some other food combination. Constantly making adjustments to keep her quality of life. There were days we cooked three meals for breakfast to find one she wanted.

Second Mommy Cindy Sink deserves a ton of admiration and appreciation for her excellent care! TeamEmmy was relentless. Taylor, Curry, MaryAnne, James, Grandma, Aunt Laurie. All of our family who loved her so dearly.

If you’re reading this, you’re also part of TeamEmmy — cheering her on Facebook, shouting your encouragement from near and far, heeping her with compliments. She loved you. She loved everybody (well humans, not necessarily dogs.)

When she climbed out of that sleeping pile of puppies and into Taylor’s lap 13 years ago, we all won the lottery. She chose us.

 

And we adored her every day of her life. She was the happiest dog. The Walmart Greeter of dogs. Took us forever to train people coming to the house how to not be bowled over by her enthusiastic greetings that included flopping onto her back, whipping you with her tail and knocking down the less sturdy.

Emmy finally got everybody trained though and her greetings became the absolute best. She was patient. Smart as a whip. A pleaser who worked until she mastered the trick.

She went everywhere with her boy, Taylor. She especially loved golf cart riding around her Timberlake neighborhood. Snuggling with him. Being at the pool. Playing ball. And riding in his truck. Such a playful companion.

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She had a stunning life. A gorgeous dog who melted hearts everywhere she went. A nearly human soul who was a demand for your attention. An expressionist. A fashionista. A gentle spirit full of delight for life. And that SMILE!

She loved unwrapping Christmas presents, but only when she was told it was okay!

As our family went through hard changes, Emmy was the constant. She was always there with a hug, a nudge, a cuddle and a kiss.

She was a generous girl who, after 11 years as an only dog, welcomed in a homeless pit bull who desperately needed a pack.

 

She helped teach Lola her tricks.

To our delight, she was the maid of honor in our wedding this past August. Walking down the aisle with Lola and our good friend Mary Lou.

 

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Shelly and Cindy’s Wedding 08.27.16

And the car rides. Oh the wonderful times we had driving around town and road trips.

 

Emmy outlived every single prediction. She beat cancer 3 times. The vet called her the WonderDog. After 13 years, 2 months and 9 days, she looked at me and she told me she was ready. She had done all she could. We had done all we could. We had a deal. I promised we would let her go when it was time.

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Farewell, Emmygirl. Until we meet again. You were the greatest dog ever. Know we’re okay and we’ll be waiting for your spirit visit. We trust you’ll know when the time is right.

You always did.

 

You made a movie on your honeymoon?

As a Creative Director, I spend most of my time collaborating with a team, guiding the brand messaging and graphics for a local television station. After spending 17+ years as a writer/producer/videographer, it’s stunning how little I actually create with my hands anymore. I sure do miss it.

During my recent 3 week sabbatical, I had some time, and I happened to be in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen on my honeymoon in the Abaco Islands, Bahamas.

The Abacos are 120-mile-chain of islands and cays (pronounced keys) due east of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, known as “The Boating Capitol of the World.”

I must tell you, it was stunning. The clarity of the water, the blue green hues are barely describable. It was also a little bit like being on an episode of “The Amazing Race.” Though we weren’t in any kind of hurry, we did have to forage a little bit for our food! And I’m pretty sure we used every single transportation source on the islands. We traveled by taxi, bike, fishing boat, ferry and golf cart.

There were those moments of kismet, fate, and divinely inspired direction that last a lifetime. The stingray that came from the deep to swim along the shoreline with us, the fish we needed for dinner that found their way into our boat, the rain always perfectly timed, wrapped up in the magnificent rainbow that graced our beach on our last night. It was truly magical.

Creative inspiration  + my person + that water(!) = that spark in my bonfire heart. Special thanks and music credits to Paper Kites (“Bloom”) and to James Blount (“Bonfire Heart”).

I had an iPhone, macbook pro and iMovie, which doesn’t have nearly the finesse I wanted in an editor, but then again, I may not be much of a professional editor any more.

WATCH HERE: Honeymoon in the Abacos

 

Tears at the top of the stairs

The day I walked into Maybrook for the showing I knew it was the one. Not the house I’d always wanted, but the one I needed at that moment. The one that would get me to my son the fastest. The one that would occupy my mind and my time. The one that I could afford on my own.  I sat at the top of the stairs to feel the house to be sure. It was a confusing time, my mind was jumbled, and I was making a choice that would change my family forever. That spot at the top of the stairs seemed to be the energetic anchor of the house. I could feel it.  

I vividly remember moving day, after all the commotion of movers and people, I sat. Alone. At the top of the stairs. Broken. Physically exhausted. Emotionally spent. This was day one. The hardest day of my life. 

This is what I wanted and yet, I was crushed. Each day I would go to work and when I got home, I would sit at the top of the stairs and cry. Uncontrollable, ugly crying. I’ve never been a crier so this level of crying was not okay! 

At some point when I was a kid, I decided no one could make me cry. I learned I could control it. So I’d never experienced that depth of sadness or allowed that level of emotion to take over. It was terrifying. I think I cried for seven straight days. 

I decided this was a transition house. I would only be here for 2 years, while my son finished high school and moved between my house and our family home which was just a few miles away. I need not get attached to it. Oddly, I described it as my transition house when I talked about it.

When the housing market crashed in 2008, the neighborhood was hit hard by foreclosures and my notion of a two year stay disappeared quickly. Okay, okay, I’ll stay 2 more years but that’s it. 

In the meantime, I was putting myself back together, keeping my focus on my family healing and learning how to newly be together apart. And I was returning to the person I was born to be. At almost 40, it was the first house I’d bought on my own and the first time I’d lived alone for more than 6 months. 

I could move the furniture when I wanted. I could paint a wall orange or a room red. I could rearrange the dishes in the cabinets. I could fold the towels inconsistently. I could stack the dishwasher inefficiently. I didn’t have to make the bed. No one to please but me. God, I was lonely. And…I was, for the first time in my life, learning how to live with myself, how to find comfort in my own company, how to just…BE.

Years passed, and the relationship I thought would have to be a secret forever became too big to hold down. She moved in one drawer at a time. And together, we built a life together, with our families and children, that neither of us imagined could ever be possible. Seriously, our being together, out in the world, was never.going.to.happen.  

Today almost to the day, nine years after that first move-in day, I walked out of Maybrook for the last time with my soon-to-be wife. As I thanked the house for holding my amazing journey, I realized how many transitions had happened here. Not just mine. 

Despite my efforts to stay disconnected from it, the transition house became, “The House That Built Me.” 

As fate would have it, the buyer of the house is recently separated and trying to rebuild a new life for his little girl, who’s just a bit younger than my son when I moved there. Perfect.

So today the tears flowed again as I sat in that go-to spot at the top of the stairs. I left it better than I found it and it left me better than I was when I arrived.

Golden Retriever kicking cancer’s tail

I knew. She’s been my girl since she was 12 weeks old. She’s survived it twice. I could see it in her eyes and feel it in her presence. I knew the darkness was back.

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Tubular adenocarcinoma of the kidney.

DAMNIT.

At 12 years old, my Emmydog has already outlived the statistics. Beating mast cell cancer two times. Losing her spleen. Battling arthritis like a prizefighter. The thought of putting her through radical surgery to remove the kidney and tumor was gut wrenching. The alternative…unthinkable.

Tears. A LOT of tears.

Was she in too much pain already? She’s not eating much at all and is pulling away into the backyard and away from her people. This.can.not.be.happening.

My dear friend Nancy Seymour quickly devised a nutrition plan to see if we could get Emmy eating again.  We took her off dog food and put her on a vegetarian whole food diet and the superfood supplement Nancy invented. (Seriously, read Nancy’s story here!)

BAM. In a day, she’s eating again! And in ten days… THIS!

Processed with MOLDIV

Processed with MOLDIV

She’s like a different dog. She’s jumping up and down at feeding time. She’s running some in the backyard. Playing with her toys. Happy.

That’s all I want for her. As many happy moments as possible.

We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, remember ShiningStarPets.com.  It’s a revolutionary product and it’s going to take the world by storm. And my Emmy will be part of its legacy.