Throwback Thursday: Once I Loved a Duke

My love of dogs feels lifelong.

In my lifetime, my family had a Border Collie who I don’t personally remember, but have seen pictures of, named Hook (like the movie). He herded us a bit too much for our young ages (apparently we cried at the nipped heels) so they found another home for him. The next pup we had been a white German Sheppard named Coach (Craig T. Nelson‘s greatest character). I remember bits and pieces, but my main man growing up was my pal Duke.

Duke was a beautiful two-year-old Flat-Coated Retriever (we think) who we adopted from The Animal Guardian Society (TAGS). The organization really wants to make sure that the family and the dog are a good match and within the process there is a two-week

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Duke and I through the years. The bottom photo was taken a couple months before he was put down.

period where the dog can stay at the house. Duke had been living in a small apartment and was kept in a crate for long hours so he thought that our wide backyard was paradise. He ran and ran, I sat on top of out patio table to avoid his speedy laps. When he settled in and I began to fall in love with him our epic friendship began!

I loved him and he loved me. I hugged, kissed, and shared secrets with him. I was also a very sick kid with a lot of physical health problems, he was my cuddle buddy. My mom remembers me falling asleep on him and he’d notice and rest himself to not disturb me. He was far from perfect in his rescue-monkey ways (some bad habits that never really went away), he was some sort of stomach-of-steel-dog who ate crazy things!

Firstly, he loved drinking mom’s cold coffee left in mugs on livingroom tables. Then we get into the stuff that he ate that he was definitely not supposed to: batteries; candles; garbage. One time he got into my brother’s Halloween candy and ate only the red suckers, somehow leaving the sticks and wrappers for us to clean up later.

He was trouble, but he was mostly a happy boy who we all loved so entirely. He put him down when his body began to fail from a type of cancer when I was 13 and I remember missing him so much for so long. I didn’t think that I’d love another dog again, but we all know that didn’t come true.


Thanks for reading this week’s Behind the Throw Back Thursday! What was you first true-dog-love?

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Valentine’s Day: Cheap Dates and Quality Time

As Valentine’s Day is fast approaching (February 14th is this coming Tuesday), you may still need to come up with an affordable date idea. If we broke the bank to celebrate every holiday throughout the year, we’d be broke ourselves.  

Yes, you can absolutely splurge a little on an expensive dinner out, but if you’re looking to save money this year maybe you can try some of the following five activities:

  1. Instead of spending money on typical Valentine’s products, mutually decide on an at home activity that you could invest in.

16299381_1291067520951162_1872430606541810506_nThis year Chris and I bought a new boardgame that we can play with just two people (up to six) called Pandemic. We had a night recently when we became more familiar with the rules so that we can really enjoy it on Valentine’s Day. Romance can mean different things to different people, and to us in our first year of marriage (third year of living together), our best-friendship is a big part of our love. We embrace our friendship by making sure we will both have fun – we hang out. If you’re on a smaller budget I suggest checking out the games section of Value Village, I’ve found some great games there for under $5.00!

  1. Find a recipe on Pinterest.

the_best_of_dean_martinIf you have the time, cooking together can be a lot of fun. Chris and I often like to put on a playlist that works well with our meal. For example, when we cook pasta I like to put on my Dean Martin album, or sometimes we just put on a 90’s Spotify playlist to sing and dance to. You will either share pride over your delicious meal or laugh at what bad cooks you are which will make for a funny memory – it’s about the quality time you spend together more than it’s about the quality of the food.

  1. Write a love letter.

Chris and I have done this a few times for past Valentine’s Days as well as anniversaries. It costs nothing and makes you feel really good about each other. This is the kind of gift that takes a little thought and effort, but goes a long way. Writing each other letters is also a good practise to keep up healthy communication and remind one another why you’re together. Don’t be afraid to add some humour into it with inside jokes, love letters don’t have to be all serious (they’re meant to make you smile).

  1. Borrow a classic romance movie from the public library.

Sometimes Netflix just doesn’t cut it, especially if you’re like me and have watched basically every romantic comedy on the list. When that happens, you can check out this incredibly useful resource that exists in most cities called the library. You can even put things on hold or find out which branch has which DVD via the good ol’internet – this is better than Blockbuster. My local library carries modern movies as well as many older classics, including a personal favourite: Roman Holiday. Watching a movie on a comfy couch (not necessarily the big one with dust bunnies), having the ability to pause for bathroom breaks, and not paying outrageous prices for snacks are all good reasons to avoid the movie theatre this Valentine’s Day.

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  1. Explore a local art gallery.
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Hand Embroidery I made of the RMG last year.

Want to actually leave the house? Many cities have art galleries with free or donation based admission like The Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) in my hometown or the Station Gallery one city over. I strongly encourage people who “don’t do art” to try this date idea, I think you’ll be surprised at how much you might enjoy yourself. Galleries are fantastic places to walk (healthy) and talk (healthy for your relationship). You can see how similar you are or just how much your tastes differ. Chris and I also like to make fun of the odd piece, again an art gallery doesn’t have to be a strictly serious environment – have fun!


These five ideas are simple and affordable, some also allow for comfort which is a huge plus in my books. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about extravagant gifts, it should be about celebrating your love for each other by spending time together and creating positive memories.

Let me know what some of your plans are in the comments!

Baby-Shower-Talk: What Other Husbands Don’t Do

(Warning: I had a lot of fun with GIFs)

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Friends S8 E20 “The One with the Baby Shower.”

I recently went to a friend’s baby shower. The decorations were beautiful, the food was incredible, one of the games was television oriented so I actually won, the mom-to-be was delightfully spoiled, and the conversations were very informative. Baby and bridal showers are like office water coolers of female friendships; these are the events that women love talking about their spouses at most.

Some of the discussions were eye opening and actually reminded me why I married Chris – he is a great guy.

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Many of the women that I spoke with told me that their male counterparts did not help with the laundry. This shocked me. Not as surprising, the same men who avoided doing laundry, didn’t like to help with cooking or cleaning either.

How could these men not be helping with household chores in 2016?

The women that I spoke to are admirable as they all worked full-time jobs yet they had these added responsibilities at home that their significant others didn’t. Even if you enjoy cleaning, I’m left wondering whether or not you would later resent your partner for not helping.

I’m friends with a lot of men and I know that many of them would help with chores – not all men leave this to be ‘women’s work’ (a terrible term). Chris is living proof that some husbands believe in sharing the unassigned home-work-load.

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What is wrong with these other guys? Do they want wives or moms?

The thing is that I know that the women who I spoke with didn’t love doing all of the housework because they were talking about it at this baby shower. The weird thing is that it was almost less like complaining and more like bragging about whose partner contributed less – it wasn’t funny to me.

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I know that Chris’ overly clean tendencies aren’t exactly typical, but it’s not just keeping a clean house that makes him a quality spouse (accidental rhyme).

 

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We take on jobs equally at home: we take turns going up and down the stairs to switch the laundry loads and both do the folding; we cook and then wash the dishes together; we both work on exterior landscaping; we renovate the house together; and while I scrub, he vacuums – we are a well-balanced team.

Knowing how the other person behaves as a live-in-partner is so important to me which is why I’m a firm believer in living together before marriage. Not only do you learn whether or not you want to kill the other person, but you also learn their habits and beliefs.

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If Chris hadn’t been as great as he was, he wouldn’t have been chosen to be on my team.

Although we have barely been married for 3 months, we are going on living together now for 3 years and I’m very happy with our system.

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If you are happy with your system that’s wonderful, but I’m just trying to let other women know that players get traded from professional teams all the time – sometimes there are better fits, sometimes there are better team-players who want to play for you.

Until we have Rosie-Robots in our lives, finding an equal partner to love and share your home with is an important standard to keep. Wife does not have to mean maid or mother to your husband, it means that you have a best friend (male or female) to help make life a little easier.

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Sick, yet Satisfied: Appreciating the Little Things

(Suggested song to listen to while reading [mentioned later on]: Brandy Alexander -Feist)

There’s a bad cold going around right now and it seems that I’ve caught it.

This past Sunday, I woke to the two glands below either side of my jawline being swollen and my throat hurting quite badly. I had that taste in my mouth, the taste that was less ‘last night’s dinner party wine’ and more ‘uh-oh a cold is developing.’

I soldiered through Sunday’s baby shower festivities and Monday’s hours of working on a commissioned painting that I still need to finish. Chris and I ran errands on Tuesday and the whole day slipped by.

This morning, Wednesday October 19th, I opened my eyes and realized that I actually felt much worse than the first few days even though I’ve been taking medicine regularly since it started. I took some daytime cold and sinus pills and crawled back into bed with a still sleeping Christopher. Unlike most days, I fell back to sleep quickly with heavy eyes, a stuffed nose, and my face feeling the fiery heat of what might’ve been a mild fever.

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Battlefield 1’s female protagonist (there are multiple protagonists that you play as) is actually really cool!

I woke at 11:49am. This was a very late morning for me, but my body obviously needed it. I told myself that today was a mandatory rest day, which worked perfectly in terms of timing because Chris had just gotten a new videogame that he was dying to play called Battlefield 1.

I remind you that yes, we are married adults, but that we have an odd schedule right now. You see Chris’ job as a commercial pilot for the mineral surveying industry keeps him out of the country for a month at a time. He has been home for almost two weeks now and when he’s home, he’s really home. We get approximately a month to spend as much time together as possible. This has been made ‘easier’ this fall by me not having to go back to school, but also currently remaining unemployed.

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Editorial cartoon by Gary Varvel.

I graduated this past spring and have been applying to jobs like mad. A handful of interviews have come and gone to some dream jobs. I pick myself up after each kindly written rejection to keep moving forward, reminding myself that something else will come up (I’m currently hopeful about a promising prospect).

The constant frustration with unemployment and the full-time job of applying to full-time-jobs occasionally lifts and I appreciate what I do have. I try to really focus on these positive moments to make up for the negative thinking that comes with new-grad-stresses.

This unplanned time off in my life allowed me to spend valuable time with Daq before I had to put her down. I would not have been able to take care of her the way that I did and spend whole days by her side if I had a full time job. This time off also gave me room to grieve for her, a family member to myself and many others.

I was struck by the luck of my unlucky unemployment once again this morning. Thankful that I got this bad cold/flu before getting a new job so that I can take a rest day without worrying about who I might be letting down somewhere else.

After I slept in, I didn’t have to rush out of bed. I took in the beauty of the way that the light from the bedroom window danced on the wall that I lay facing. My sweet husband had gotten up, let me sleep, and closed our bedroom doors so that his videogame didn’t wake me. I brought my bedroom pillow to our only couch on the main floor to spend some time with my guy. How many grownups get to have their spouses take care of them when they’re off sick?

I laid next to him while he cheered about not being the worst player on his online team (a victory for him) and I read a good book all day. I drifted off for a couple minutes at a time, waking here and there to the sound of Battlefield 1 machine guns. Being sick when he was home with me was so much better than when I’ve had to take care of myself in an empty house.

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Our receiver, globe, and a wedding photo.

When Chris made his afternoon coffee he also made a ginger-mint tea with some honey for his sick wife. We had a wonderful lazy day together where he enjoyed something that he doesn’t play nearly as often as some people I know and I was able to rest properly.

We were happy to have our leftovers for dinner, an easy dinner for an easy day. I slouched comfortably in my chair and we talked while sipping red wine. I admitted to him how content I felt even though my nose was on fire and my right ear popped whenever I swallowed. I explained that sometimes I experience these moments of recognized bliss that I never could have imagined earlier in my life.

What sparked one of these moments this evening?

Sitting at our vintage walnut mid-century dining table, sipping wine, and talking with my best friend.

The sounds of Feist’s soothing voice singing Brandy Alexander on vinyl while the taste of red wine still lingered on my bottom lip.

The vibrancy and beauty of the red leaves covering our back fence that I could see out of our dining room window – leaves that so often annoy me because they are the result of our backing neighbour’s creeping vines that we involuntarily maintain in our yard. Today they make me happy.

The dim light of the sun already having gone down and few lights being on in the room.

Chris’s smile as he agreed that he was also happy.

That we love each other very much.

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Our vibrant coloured backyard after some rainfall this autumn.

So although things might not be perfect in terms of: me still looking for a job six months after graduating at the top of my class in university; recently losing a best friend who Chris and I consistently miss in the house; a cold that has my body in a lot of pain; and that god awful arrival of the first of many student loan collection notices – it’s important to remind myself that I have a really great life.

Try to think of some things in your life right now that make you happy (as small as they may be). Here are some helpful questions and tips to get you started:

  1. Do you have a loved one or a close friend that makes you smile?
  2. Put on a favourite song and try to enjoy your surroundings with your own personal movie soundtrack.
  3. Tell someone that you appreciate them (this makes you feel good for making someone else feel good and everyone wins there).
  4. Watch the show “Life in Pieces” (It is currently a Netflix favourite and it makes me laugh.
  5. Did you see a dog today (if so I’m jealous, but also happy for you)?
  6. If you feel all alone, think of one nice thing about yourself and try to believe it (I’ll help you and tell you that you have good taste in blogs because you’re reading mine [yes I think I’m funny])

Let me know some positive things going on for you, leave a comment.

Grieving Goodbyes – Putting Down My Dog Daq

For those of you who follow me on social media, you know that I had to put my dog Daq to sleep last Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 – less than two months away from her 13th birthday.

I thought that I would write something here as a follow up to last month’s post titled “My Dying Dog and the Love that She Inspires.” In summary, that previous entry explains how Daq came to be a part of my family, my best friend, and the details of her failing health that the vets believed was likely bladder cancer.

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Daq and my mom’s dog Deeks were being kept out of the kitchen during painting, but Daq pushed through and got paint all over herself.

I was painting my mom’s kitchen two weeks ago when she and I started talking about Daq’s worsening condition. For the first time, I admitted that if my husband Chris was home from overseas I would put her down. I started to cry as I had the crushing realization that I needed to put Daq down now, before Chris got home.

My husband works internationally for a month at a time, it would have been a two-week period before he got back and we were able to put her to sleep. I wanted so badly for him to be home, not only as emotional support for me, but because his connection with her had grown so strong and I knew he wanted to be there with her at the end. Something that other pilots/pilot’s families know all too well is that working in the industry means that you miss a lot of things at home – no matter how important they might be.

Many people had confessed to me about how hard it was for them to make ‘the decision,’ but it still hadn’t really prepared me for saying goodbye to Daq. What made it even harder was that I kept a very active social media presence that featured Daq more than regularly and that on those social feeds I posted Daq at her happiest, silliest, and most beautiful. This meant that her death may have seemed sudden to some online-onlookers, but our reality behind the social media veil allowed me to be sure that I was making the right decision.

This was our typical day:
-Wake up at 3:00am after going to bed at 1:00am to go pee (with blood)
-Fall back to sleep by 4:30am
-Wake up at 6:00am to go pee (with blood), she wants to sit and enjoy the backyard for a half hour
-Fall back to sleep by 7:45am
-Wake up at 9:00am to go pee (with blood), hang out in the backyard
-Daq sleeps throughout the day with pee breaks as well as many bloody leaks which I then would clean up off the floor and comfort Daq because she’s embarrassed.
-Gets dark outside and Daq can’t see well – she gets scared and barks so I need to go out with her with a flashlight.
-Daq wants her independence to lay outside on the deck, but also barks at nothing so I need to sit with her and the flashlight
-Goes in and out to the backyard many times from 6:00pm-1:00am together
-Repeat from beginning

This also included me watching her strain to pee drops of blood at least five times each time she went out and petting her as she cried a lot more often.

 

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Purple Woods with Harley and Daq.

Aside from her daily struggles, Daq was still eating (she loved food) and she almost always had a smile on her face. The thing is, that it’s hard to tell when your dog is in pain, because they often don’t show it. Her quality of life was worsening and I couldn’t personally put her through that any longer.

I gave myself and Daq time together before saying our final goodbye, I made the decision Thursday and her appointment was booked for the following Wednesday. During this period, I took many happy photos as my friend Harley and I took Daq to Purple Woods for a nice walk, my friend Ian and I took her for a tractor photo shoot, and she had plenty of other hangouts with visitors at home.

I was and still am completely overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to say their goodbyes to her – I thank you.

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Ian, Daq, and I taking tractor photos.

Eve of Destruction

On the eve of her final morning, I had a few hours to spare between my last visitor and my mom arriving. My mom was coming to spend the night with us and help me bring Daq to the vet in the morning.

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During those few hours that Daq and I were alone together we went for our last walk at a nearby soccer field and we cuddled. I started to break down on the walk, the reality had begun to set in that this was the last one. When we got back, we went outside and laid on the backyard deck. I hugged her again and again, holding her tight. I tried to remember the feeling of her soft wavy fur between my fingers and I continually took in her scent. I cried into her fur and spoke about my love for her.

It was sad, but I needed it and I think she was just happy to cuddle and be petted in the cool fall air of our backyard, oblivious as to why I was upset.

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Daq’s pasta, see the video at the bottom of this entry.

That night I made her pasta – Chris and I always discussed giving her a great human meal for her ‘last dinner,’ she loved it and was very happy. She was excited to greet my mom at the door and to hang out with us all night. We cuddled with her, took photos, cried, but I mostly wanted to try to get through the night and try to distract myself from what was to come so we watched comedies on Netflix.

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Her Final Mourning

Her appointment was for 10:00am so that Chris could Facebook video chat in live (Indonesia is a twelve-hour time difference so it was 10:00pm for him). Getting the technology to work during the appointment was an added stress, but I do not regret it as it provided some closure for my husband who I love very much. We were both able to see her go peacefully, and we cried, which was necessary.

Watching my grandmother die last year in a hospital bed for almost 6 hours was hard. Her death seemed painful, sad, and frustrating. That experience was so exhausting and difficult, but it helped me during this situation with Daq. Putting Daq to sleep was humane; it was peaceful, quick, and almost beautiful. I held her as she laid on a blanket and I watched her slowly fall asleep from the injection. The vet was incredibly empathetic and cried a little herself, she also allowed us to stay with Daq for as long as we needed. I hugged and kissed her soft greying forehead more times than I could count, letting my tears fall into the fur around her own eyes that would cry no more.

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Photo from our last morning.

Daq is gone, but I still love her. I feel like putting her to sleep was the right thing to do and she lived a very long happy life. Thank you to everyone who has supported me during this process and to those who have shared kind words with me since.

At this point the surreality is wearing away and I’m starting to finally feel like she won’t be coming home, but things get better with time. I will get better with time.

Daq was an amazing friend who had so much love to give, was loved by many, and will be thought of often. I am currently grieving our goodbyes, but will revere our relationship.

Video of Daq loving her pasta:

My Dying Dog and the Love that She Inspires

Firstly, you should know that my dog is the black female (and currently a little shaggier) version of Dug from Up

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The photo of Daq was taken just this morning!

I wanted to properly introduce my readers to my dog Daq. Her full name is Daiquiri and we didn’t name her. She was my family’s dog who Chris and I have been taking care of full time for almost a year now.

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Photos from 2008 are the earliest I can find without search through a million family photo albums.

Daq’s story intertwined with mine when we got a call while being on the waiting list to adopt disqualified guide dogs from the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides in Oakville, Ontario. The foundation thought that they found a good match for our family and asked us to visit their facility to meet her. We knew that she was a black labradoodle, but that was about it. I remember thinking that she was adorable, but that she definitely didn’t look like the labradoodles I’d seen before. She was a bit shorter, rounder, and had wavier hair. The fact that she didn’t look like ‘typical’ doodles didn’t bother any of us. She was a sweetheart and we fell in love with her quite quickly.

I was approximately 15 at the time so my memory may be different than my siblings and parents. I remember thinking that she was so incredibly jolly, loving, and cuddly. We had lost our flat-coated-retriever to cancer at the age of 9 just over a year beforehand and I didn’t want to love another dog again, but Daq made it impossible not to.

At two years old, Daq had apparently been disqualified as a guide dog because she had a chance of hip dysplasia, was too fat, and too friendly. She had been on many diets, but she was always a beautifully stocky girl (more to love). The ‘too friendly’ bit had to do with how social she was and her innate desire to love everyone she meets rather than work and ignore distractions. These, of course, are amazing qualities to have in a family pet and I couldn’t be happier that she is my lil’ failure!

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Photo of Daq this year at age 12 taken by Natalie Wels.

Now, Daq is almost 13-years-old and we’re so in love, I like to joke that our connection is similar to Elliot and ET’s; if one of us is in pain the other is too or if I’m drunk, she’s drunk (refresh your memory of the scene here, also look at the cute doggy in the clip!). Chris and Daq compete for absolute best friend-status with me which Chris doesn’t seem to mind. When I moved in with Chris I would often have Daq come stay with me while he was away working internationally for a month’s time. I missed living with her and loved having the company. This past December, my mom asked Chris and I if we would like to take care of her full time since they had a full house with a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, my brother, my niece, and occasionally one of my mom’s boyfriend’s sons. Chris had told me he’d been thinking that Daq should live with us because she was getting much older and he loves to see how happy she makes me. That is when our household went from two to three.

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My favourite photo of Chris and Daq from a couple of years ago.

Since then, Chris has fallen more in love with her than I ever imagined he would (which makes me love him more) and we’re a happy family. Even though he’s a bit of a clean freak, Chris was actually the one who invited her onto our bed! She is our friend, our baby, and our cherished pet.

Two months ago she started having accidents in the house, we thought that it must have been a sign of her aging, but that it would be more than manageable. Things became harder when I discovered that she was bleeding each time she urinated. The blood combined with the frequent urination could have been a bladder infection, but with her age it could also have been much worse. Through vet visits with urine tests and antibiotic trials we unfortunately ruled out the infection.

The vets say that she likely has bladder cancer and that it’s a tumor that is causing the blood. Without treatment, she will likely need to be put down sometime in the coming months and I will be there to hold her as she goes. Chris and I hope he will be home too, but know that we wouldn’t wait for him to get home if she was in pain. As long as she seems happy, is eating, and is still able to urinate we are keeping her comfortable and giving her a lot of love.

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Daq the deck builder extraordinaire.

Her ODS (Old Dog Syndrome) is making the process that much more difficult because she barks more (louder and about everything), is grumpier to other dogs, and in general can see and hear less. She has lived a long happy life, and I know that I will miss her so much when I have to say goodbye. Until then, she continues to surprise people with her smiles and personality. As I finish writing this entry, she is asking to go for a walk and being the cute babe that she is.

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Daq doing Sudoku in her old age.
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Sexy back leg that she sticks out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Facts about Daq:
1. She has expressive human/gorilla eyes
2. She loves posing for photos and will sit in front of people if they’re having a photo taken (without being asked)
3. She sometimes (most times) eats and drinks while laying down
4. She lounges across the stairs and shows a sexy leg
5. She does daq-crobatics while rolling around on her back
6. She smiles a lot and has a sense of humour
7. She walks like a dinosaur when she pees and poos
8. She loves to dance to music with Chris and I in the kitchen
9. She refuses to look directly at any piece of electronic technology
10. She’s the absolute best

Life Lesson: If a dog has died in your life and you feel that you could never love another dog again, don’t worry you will. Dogs are innocent, loving, and loyal. Dogs are better than people.

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She made it to my wedding day and it meant the world to me.

A million photos of Daq being awesome: