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Yet there is beauty

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Today as I watched the sun setting, I reflected on the day.  Wildfires have been burning down our most gorgeous forests.  The air in town was filled with smoke and there were air quality alerts throughout the news.  At the close of the day, I saw this amazing sunset and thought to myself, yet there is beauty.  In the middle of the most horrible situations, I have seen beauty.

There is a co-worker and friend of mine who is facing her final days.  Cancer has crept in like a terrorist and attacked the most delicate places in her body.  It’s been a few short months since she was invaded so unfairly.  I’ve had the privilege of spending some time with her these past few days and hearing her thoughts.  She looked into my eyes and said, “I’m so at peace and I’m ready to go.”  She has such a calm spirit and truly is prepared for her next destination. I asked her if she had any faith and she does, she knows she is simply changing addresses.  She said she’d recently read a book called, “Proof of Heaven” and she wanted people to read it.  She said she respected the writer because he is a scientist.  I will purchase this book tomorrow and start reading it. When I walked out her door, I was fully aware that it may be the last time I see her.   There is such sadness in knowing her life is ending, yet there is beauty!  She is leaving quite a gift behind to her daughter, husband and friends.  She’s giving them the gift of her peace and calm to everyone who is close to her.  We all know she’s ready, unafraid and calm….it’s beautiful.  I approached my car, took one last look at her front door and smiled.  Thank you dear, sweet lady for passing on your peace to me today.  May your last breath be as sweet as you have dreamed it to be.

It’s all in the name

While efforts are still being made to find the person who shot our sweet pug, Popeye (story in previous blog in February), we are on the verge of a journey with a new puppy.  While the feeling is bitter/sweet we are beginning to feel excitement.  Several people in the community offered us a pug puppy.  The timing was a factor in choosing to go ahead with it.  I suppose the first offers that came in were quite possibly just too soon.  I did my best to respectfully decline.  As the weeks went on and the tears began to slow a sweet woman (Jennifer) began her relentless attempts to reach me.  She finally posted this note on the news story comments:  “Does anyone know how I can get ahold of this family? My pug is having babies and I would like to offer them a free pug, I know it won’t bring back their pug but I would still like to offer.”  There was something about her note and the mood I was in because I actually let the idea roll around in my head.  I replied by thanking her for the sweet and gracious offer and asked her to give me some time to talk to my family. When she and I communicated through messaging, she offered me the first pick of her pug’s litter.  Amazing!  Our family did discuss it and our sons were actually more convincing than I expected.  They were all for it, so it was up to my husband and I to decide on our final answer.

On February 4, 2013 a new journey began.  One male pug puppy was born of a litter of five.  It was an easy pick.  When he was only four days old, I was able to visit him and hold him in my hands.  What joy filled my heart! Holding him reminded me of the days when Popeye was a puppy.  This new puppy melted my heart and the decision was made.  He would be our new furry family member…final answer! What do we name this new fur baby?  Since we had a “Popeye”, do we call this one Brutus?  No!  Brutus was mean (only those of you who remember the Popeye cartoon will know this).  We wanted to name him something that would in some way bring honor to Popeye and his story.  Must keep thinking…

When Popeye was shot and killed, a local tavern owner (Griffy Bibeau) had posted on his Facebook business page that he’d like to offer $300 cash for any credible information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for shooting the pug.  The gentleman (David) who tried to help save Popeye contacted this tavern owner to ask if he knew us and to thank him for his offer.  This tavern owner said he didn’t know us but that he used to live in my neighborhood and was bothered that this happened.  He said he just really wanted to help.

I had an opportunity to meet the tavern owner and talk about our story.  He was really nice and so very sorry about what had happened.  Since he started the conversation about reward money, a bunch of other people began to want to add to that dollar figure and before we knew it, there was over $1,000 in a reward fund.  The generosity spread so quickly from this man’s initial offer.

We continue to wait on law enforcement or the conviction in the individual’s heart for answers.  In the meantime, we will love our new fur baby with all the love we gave to our sweet Popeye.  He will be coming home sometime in the middle of March.  I would like to introduce you to our appropriately named puppy.

Dear friends, meet Griffy:

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The day I didn’t smile…

Something happened we would have never anticipated.  Our dog was shot and killed in our neighborhood.  It was a very cold night, only 11 degrees when my husband came home from work.  He walked in the door, greeted me with a kiss, and set down his computer bag.  Our other dog is an attention hog and she was making all sorts of thankful noises as she tried doing the figure 8 around my husband’s legs.  She recently had surgery on her knee and my husband was trying to keep her calm so she didn’t re-injure her leg.  During all this commotion, our pug slipped out the front door.  The door was then closed with no knowledge of our little guy being outside.  We ate dinner and chatted about the day’s events for about an hour.  As I scooted my chair away from the table and looked down to keep from stepping on Popeye, who normally sat at my feet during dinner, I didn’t see him.  This is the moment we both realized he was not in the house with us.  Oh the sinking feeling I felt when I considered how cold it was and how long he’d been outside.

We rushed out the door and began calling his name.  We walked up and down each street with flashlights assuming we’d see him sniffing around the bushes along the walkways just as he did a hundred times before.  Not being able to bear the cold, we got into my car and continued the search.  We saw only a few people and stopped to ask if they’d seen him, nobody had.  I wanted to get back home and begin to use other avenues like posting his image online and calling the local humane society.  As I started to look for a picture to use and get the word out on Facebook, my husband went back out on foot to search.  He walked up and down the icy streets in search of our beloved furry family member while I posted an announcements on Craigslist and Facebook.

My husband went to pick up our eldest son to continue searching with him when I got the phone call.  A very sweet veterinarian’s assistant called and said a pug had been brought into their facility that evening by a gentleman and unfortunately it had passed away.  She said she had pugs of her own and was feeling really awful about it so when she got home she looked online to see if she could find any announcements about a missing pug when she found mine.  She said the dog looked exactly like my photo.  I asked her if he’d been hit by a car and I never would have anticipated her next words, “Actually the doctor thinks he’s been shot.”  I immediately assumed it was not my dog.  That dog would have been brought in from some rural area, somewhere away from town where a gun would go off and nobody would hear it.  She pressed on, “I saw him when he was brought in and I’ve looked at your picture and I swear it is your dog.”  She was quite convincing even though I didn’t want to believe her.  She offered to drive back to work and meet me there so I could see him.  I called my husband and we met there.

Shivering from the cold and nerves as I approached an outdoor freezer with my family members, she opened the door to reveal a couple of black garbage bags, just like the ones you put your lawn clippings in.  She grabbed one and put it on a table, it was wrapped tight with duck tape.  As she gracefully tried to unravel the tape, her eyes were trying to contain the tears that were welling up in them. Once she got it opened, she revealed his side and then his face. My husband was the first to look as I stood back.  I could see clearly from my vantage point that it was Popeye, I even recognized his paws.  I knew the color and size of his body, I knew his fur was graying and I just knew it was him.  My husband wasn’t convinced, the whiteness of some of his fur didn’t compute as the flashlight shone upon his graying hair.  Once his face was revealed, it revealed the answer we didn’t want.  She showed us where the hole in his side was…a perfectly round hole in the side of his abdomen.  She closed the bag and offered to let us take him home to be buried or we could leave him there and talk to the veterinarian in the morning.  We chose the latter.

When we got back home, I received a call from a friend of mine.  She had “shared” on Facebook my post about our dog missing and one of her friends had seen it.  What that friend also saw was another post from a different friend of hers indicating he had found a pug lying in the road and rushed it to the vet but it didn’t make it.  She made the connection between the two stories and gave me the phone number of the gentleman who had found him.  I quickly placed a call to him, he was so kind and grieved right along with me.  He said he saw Popeye lying in the middle of the road as he was driving.  He told me he lifted him from the road where he was suffering and put him in his back seat.  “He let me pick him up, he was very weak”.   I was not expecting those words either. “Wait, he was alive??!!”  The words stung as he explained the details to me so carefully and with kindness.  He told me he talked to Popeye the whole way to the vet’s office.  What a sweet, sweet man.  Upon arrival, the clinic staff immediately took Popeye into a room.  While this gentleman went into the bathroom to clean the blood from his hands, the staff and doctor analyzed our dog.  He gave Popeye some Morphine for the pain but he had lost so much blood that he didn’t have much time.  He began what the doctor described as “end of life” breathing and then he left us.

When we met with the vet the next morning, he explained how the wound was likely made by something like a .22 caliber weapon.  It entered his abdomen, severed his aorta, broke his pelvic bone and exited near his rectum.  How unbelievable were the words this man spoke to us!  In our neighborhood?  How could this be?  How could anyone shoot our little furry child?  He was no threat, he was a happy little aging pug.  We determined this crime occurred within 30 minutes of when he slipped out the door.  How could it be that someone in our “safe” neighborhood would do this?  We may never know but we have hope that someone will come forward over time.

I am reminded that while we experienced the unimaginable, there are people in the world who have lost their children in a similar way. What a heartache to know there are people in the world who are willing to take innocent lives.  Our story made top news in our community and while it was good to get the story out so our neighbors would be alerted, it was a bit embarrassing when in the same night two young girls were killed in a car accident.  Having the media attention presented its own set of challenges but all in all we have been humbled by our amazing community, we’ve been supported in so many ways.

The many blessings we’ve experienced through this painful experience include cards and flowers from people we don’t even know.  We’ve been blessed with a printing of Popeye from a local gallery.  A childhood friend of my son’s did a beautiful oil painting of our sweet Popeye.  A reward fund was put together with over $1,000 donated from members of the community.  A local tavern offered a cash reward for any credible evidence leading to an arrest.  People have helped spread reward flyers around the city… it’s simply been amazing.  Several people have offered us puppies.  We were unsure at first but now that the sting of the pain has eased a bit, we have reconsidered.  We want our family to have the joy of a new wiggling puppy around the house.  Due to the generosity of a wonderful family, we will have a new pug puppy coming in the spring. We will give him all the love we gave to Popeye.   Sleep peacefully little buddy, you were my favorite!!  Thank you for blessing my life for 11 years.

Rest peacefully buddy

Rest peacefully buddy

Wash your bad attitude away!

Don’t you love a hot shower? When my son was younger and started to get crabby or snotty I would say to him, “Go take a shower!” He never understood why I would insist on such a thing but each time he got out of that shower, he was in a much better mood…dare I say a much more humble mood? He would go into the shower as a debating teenager and come out of the shower as a sweet and apologetic teenager. I loved what the shower would do for him.

A shower is a fantastic way to wash the stink away. Oh sure, there’s the true stink from being dirty but there’s the stink you carry around after a bad day too. Maybe you just have a stinky attitude you need to wash away. It’s so nice to stand and let the warmth wash over you, taking with it your bad attitude.  Maybe it’s the heat…a soak in the tub or in a natural hot spring…it all seems to provide a sense of calm almost immediately. Whenever I’ve been frustrated, scared or sad I’m always pleasantly surprised by how different I feel getting out of the shower. Something interesting happens, surely I’m washed clean but my mind receives a cleansing as well. There’s new clarity to whatever situation I’m facing at the time.  As I feel the water spray on my head, I imagine all the junk running right down the drain. I rarely step out of the shower and feel worse. So next time you’re feeling crabby, my advice…”Go take a shower!”