A Sunday Stroll Through the Park: The Oshawa Peony Festival

Tis the time of the year for one of my favourite local summer festivals – the Peony Festival! This year’s festival was held from Saturday June 10th to Sunday June 11th. Chris and I had a busy weekend, but I knew that I wanted to squeeze in a walk through the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens for the big event so we made time on the morning of Sunday June 11th.

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Photos spontaneously captured by Rosenlee Photography – just good timing!

The location of the festival is special to me: oddly the gardens are outside of a small arena that I used to frequent for hockey practices in my youth (Children’s Arena); my family had lots of fun and took photos there before my parents divorced; and lastly, Chris proposed to me in these gardens a year and a half ago (they put a garbage can in the exact spot where he knelt [we laugh at the “romantic” spot now]). The paths and gardens represent a lot of happy memories for me and the Peony Festival celebrates the parks beauty, Oshawa’s beauty.

edit.jpgChris and I were excited to bring Summit because it’s held mostly in a public park, there are elements held in the arena, but why would you want to go inside on such a beautiful day? Parking was a bit crazy which I think is wonderful because it means that the festival is an ongoing success! Luckily the neighbourhood has many side streets that quickly filled with parked cars. We walked the short distance from our car to the park grounds and people had already started to compliment Summit on her beauty – I am a shamelessly proud mother.

collage 1.jpgThe festival includes: manicured gardens with over 300 varieties of peonies; dozens of local art, artisan, and food vendors; contests; live jazz music; and people enjoying the walking trails. Chris and I first stopped to view collected bugs in glass cases that was surprisingly fascinating. It was neat to see bugs from Malaysia too, Chris says that he hasn’t encountered them which is good because they were pretty damn big!

We continued to browse vendor booths along the walking trails and I especially loved Fancy Fellows who makes bandanas, bows/bowties, and other fashion accessories for dogs and children! They sold out of the Star Wars selection so we are planning on Photo 2017-06-11, 11 24 01 AMordering a custom one from her online! She has some really great fabric patterns so be sure to check out her page!

We met with the committed creator of What’s on Oshawa, a local online supporter of my hometown community that I have followed online for a long time! Creator Anna Huk was a joy to meet and I recommend you follow them online to keep up with cultural events to attend if you live near by! What was so fun was that Anna also recognized Summit from her Instagram account, she asked “is this @summit.the.sweetheart?!” and my proud-dog-mom heart grew four sizes. Chris laughed because he knew it would only encourage my commitment to our dog’s Instagram shenanigans.

collage 2.jpgWe took Summit to the water to get a drink and walked the rest of the trails. I also met a lovely En Plein Air painter working by the river. Her name was Judy Harper and she mentioned that she was looking forward to painting in this coming September’s Plein Air festivals in both Millbrook and Belleville. It’s a lot of fun to watch the live painting process so even if you don’t paint I recommend going to see artists in action. Keep your eyes peeled to see her work!

Photo 2017-06-11, 11 05 00 AM.jpgOur morning was filled with beautiful nature, friendly festival goers (so many people stopped us to talk about Summit and loved hearing her St. Berdoodle breed name), and a long healthy walk. Summit had a great time and it was really nice to expose her to socializing with that many people since her past wasn’t an easy one and she was once much more scared of people than she is now. Chris and I love spending time together at free events like these and it was the perfect Sunday morning activity.

I hope you keep in mind free local events like these in the future! They are incredible mini-day-dates, make for fantastic family photo back drops, and you can meet some wonderful people while you’re there! Oh yeah, the flowers were pretty nice too.

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Dog-Mother’s Guilt: A Quick Update

Photo 2017-05-15, 6 34 19 PM.jpgWow. This week has gone by so fast, I have a ton on my plate now that I’ve started my new job. Even though I’ve only worked there for a few days, I’m already feeling like I fit in (clearly a welcoming workplace). I’ve started getting the groove of things and it feels great to contribute to the team effort.

Something that I knew I would have a hard time with when I started working was mother’s guilt from leaving my dog Summit at home during the days. She and I were lucky to have all of the time together that we did; I was unemployed when we adopted her and she had a solid six months of all-love-all-the-time from mom (me). She seems to be doing incredibly well with the new schedule though and I’ve been committing to an after-work routine that I hope helps make the transition easier.

Our days go like this now:
-Wake up between 6:30-7:15am (that’s me, not her…)
-Summit gets out of bed around 7:45am
-I make Summit go outside to go pee
-Summit sleeps on the back porch and sometimes I have to go outside and be a pee-cheerleader (she sleeps in and is used to peeing in the late mornings[10:00-11:00am])
-I finish getting ready, drag out my goodbyes with Sum
-I Leave the driveway at approximately 8:20am
-I head home at 5:00pm and usually get in the door around 5:30pm (not a bad commute at all)
-I immediately get changed into dog park clothes and Summit starts jumping around
-We have tons of fun on a half hour dog walk through the conservation area
-I feed Sum and start making dinner for myself between 6:00-6:30pm
-By 7:30pm we’ve both eaten and I sometimes have some projects I need to work on, but when I’m able to, I like to give super amounts of loving to Summit!

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Look how cute Summit is in the hat they gave me at work!

Earlier this week, I had a moment at my desk that reminded me of how happy I am. My university education actually paid off (it hasn’t been paid off, but it’s officially shown me it’s worth) and I am finally able to do a job that I love in a full-time stable environment! It’s been pretty tiring and I can’t wait until my husband gets home from his month away from work! I look forward to having someone to help cook, clean, and spend time with Sum – plus, you know, I miss him!

I’m looking forward to the long weekend and I’ll definitely write a longer blog for next week! I hope that everyone stays safe and has fun – don’t forget to make time to rest (I always need the reminder so I assume you might as well)!

Dog Sitting Days are Over

Fact: I am a crazy dog person. Crazy about dogs and crazy for thinking that taking care of three would be pretty easy.

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Top Left: Summit | Top Right: Deeks | Bottom: Kensi

Even though I love dogs, I only own one dog and only want one dog (Summit). Last week I dog-sat my mom’s two fur-babies, a 2-year-old bernese mountain dog named Agent Deeks and a 1-year-old poodle named Agent Kensi (named after characters from (NCIS Los Angeles). I had three somewhat large dogs in the house and Chris left for work the same day that they arrived, the dogs definitely kept me company, but also pushed me close to the edge of insanity.

What is a week like with three large dogs who are still quite puppy-like? Hard, but cuddles and kisses helped make it all bearable.

It gave me a chance to see what it’s like to constantly watch a few monkeys and made me really admire parents of human children (rather than fur-children) even more than I already do. I’m currently 26 and it boggles my mind when I think about how my parents had three kids by the age of 25. I really applaud mothers and fathers of young children that are all within a few years of each other. Obviously dogs are very different than humans, but taking care of any living creature can be a lot of work when they out number you!

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When the dogs realized you could easily pull off the toilet paper off the holder.

As many destructive and mischievous moments as there were over the week, the dogs always won me over in the end. Those cute little faces and their incredibly loving hearts make it all too easy to forgive them for any grievances. My favourite times with all three dogs were always cuddles in bed, definitely dog-lady heaven. Deeks and Kensi officially went home yesterday, Wednesday March 1st, and my mom stayed to help me clean the very muddy house.

What did I learn? Dogs are incredible, but are a handful (wait, I knew that)!

Photos from the week:

 

 

 

Summit’s Safe Place: One Month Adopted Home Update

Yesterday, Monday December 5th, marked my one month anniversary with our newly adopted dog Summit (See her Instagram account @Summit.the.sweetheart).

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Summit and I on our 2nd day together.

In a previous blog post, I explained the process of grieving my late dog Daq and finding Summit online. To summarize, Summit is a 2-year-old St. Berdoodle (Saint Bernard/Poodle) who was rescued when she was pregnant with 11 puppies. Her rescuers in the US sent her to foster parents who ran a Portuguese Water Dog breeding business and were familiar with handling the impending puppy situation properly. After finding homes for the puppies, the breeder then set out to find a home for mommy-Summit. When I saw her photo online, I had a weird feeling that told me she was right for us and I expressed this in an email.

Like all rescues, Summit has a colourful past that contributes to present issues, but she is the biggest sweetheart. It is believed that she was abused because of her fear of meeting new people. She loves playing with other dogs and has zero anxiety about her furry friends (even when they are strangers).

Summit has come such a long way in a very short time.

photo-2016-12-05-9-54-27-amWhen I first brought Summit home, I was excited, but it was hard because she didn’t trust me enough to let me hug her and cuddle her the way that you want to when you get a new fur-baby. The sweet girl had never gone up and down stairs before so she was limited to staying on the main floor. I decided that I would sleep on the couch that night so that she wouldn’t be alone – I think this really helped our initial bonding.

She seemed to be picking things up really quickly! On the second or third day, she was learning what her dog bed was and even showed interest in wanting to go upstairs with me. One day when I was about to jump in the shower, I saw her little head poke up from the landing! She had come that far, but then immediately forgot how she had gotten up there and couldn’t figure out the rest of the steps (she had this thing where she didn’t understand that she needed to move her back legs). I paused what I was doing and helped show her how to climb up the stairs on four legs (I had been doing this for days like a little animal). I was an extremely proud mama when she made it all the way up and discovered more of the house.

Summit had not only never used stairs at the age of 2, but she had also never seen a TV, nor did she know basic commands like sit, lay down, stay, etc. She was housebroken, but

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Summit watching an animal documentary.

with moving to a new environment she did leave me a couple stinky presents in the house early on. By the end of the first week she had conquered the stairs, was cool with the weird moving pictures in the living room, and had even officially mastered the art of sitting on command!

Week two included visits from more family and friends (lots of practice at meeting new people), but Summit especially loves playing with her friend/my mom’s dog Agent Deeks. These two are so infatuated, they love playing, cuddling, nuzzling, grooming, humping (we continually break them up) – they just can’t get enough of each other. After a week and a half of bonding time, it was hard to let go of my control, but I let her off leash on a woods-walk with mom and Deeks.

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Summit and Agent Deeks.

With her friend at her side it was more likely that she’d stick with him, she did such a good job and had so much fun! By the end of that week she had learned the lay down command and was growing even closer to me.

Week three was fun because Summit and I went on a road trip to see my sister who lives four hours away. My sister has a Bernese Mountain Dog named Dude (brother to Deeks), a German Sheperd named Sidney Prescott, and two cats named Rafi and Taco. Summit was fast friends with her cousins, especially Sidney who seemed to be ecstatic to have a girlfriend since she was always surrounded by males. The dogs had a ton of fun and I can’t wait to see them reunite for the holiday season.

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Summit and her cousins Dude and Sidney.

This last week has been nice, Summit seems completely at home now.

  • photo-2016-11-21-3-00-10-pmShe loves:
  • Looking through the front window
  • Standing on the backyard deck to guard her kingdom
  • Napping on her bed all day
  • Going for walks to Poke-stops
  • Playing with her dollies
  • My made-up songs and dances in the kitchen
  • Cuddling with me in bed
  • Playing with other doggos

This month of so many firsts has been hard work that has already proven to be well worth it and I can’t wait to share more of these experiences with her fur-daddy. Chris has been away for five weeks and is coming home in a couple days – he will finally get to meet the fur-baby that he has grown to love through the constant receival of unfiltered photos and videos each day. I can’t imagine how excited he must be.

We are so lucky that we found a new dog to share our love with and to spoil this Christmas. She still has a lot to learn and so do we as new puppy-parents. She is two, but has so many firsts that dogs her age would normally have already experienced that we are going through puppy stages and also getting used to such a playful girl compared to our gorgeous old 12-year-old labradoodle (we still think about her every day).

Dogs, like people, aren’t perfect and it is often the imperfections that we grow to love most. Do you have a rescue dog and have some helpful anecdotes to share? Let me know and give them a kiss for me!

More Pictures from this past month:

Snow Time like the Past, Present, and Future: Merry Memories in the Making

People often talk about how they would like to travel south for the winter and escape to a hot paradise, but don’t forget to appreciate your surroundings – especially if snow is involved.

I live in Ontario, Canada and we get a bit of each season around here. I think that getting to experience each weather change is really special, don’t you?

1 hyperdrive edit.jpgThe first snowfall of the season happened on Sunday and it made me so happy. The white flakes fell in a hyperdrive-like fashion as I was driving to visit my mom with Summit, listening to Christmas songs on a few alternating radio stations, and it finally felt like the holidays were close by.

Sometime in the last few years I started thinking about how certain places around the world are always hot or others only ever see snow, but we get both. We get spring, summer, fall, and winter which is really amazing.

I absolutely admit that a complaint or two comes out of my mouth like anyone else when I start to get sick of the heat and humidity or the extreme cold temperatures, but by that time I start to get excited about the next season. I have definitely been without a vehicle in the past, walking in the spring showers, sweaty summers, and windy winter flurries (fall is my favourite and I like to imagine it as close to perfect). The point is that I am lucky enough to be able to appreciate the beauty of the changing weather conditions while having a warm house to come home to and I’m truly grateful for that.

Let’s talk about how amazing snow is.

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Summit exploring the melting snow in our backyard.

Think about people who see it for the first time or how fun it is to watch a puppy playing in a snowy backyard. There is an innocent joy to experiencing the phenomena of snow and I think that we get a little piece of that each year when the first snowfall comes around.

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The late Daq and I a couple of years ago.

The snow also reminds me of my youth, playing hockey, going skating, and laughing while decorating the Christmas tree with my family. I smile as I recall a shaggy looking black labradoodle covered in white flakes, smiling back at me and further enhancing my love for her. It also reminds me of my husband who loves the snow.

If you take a few minutes to think about your own personal positive memories that are surrounded by snow you might not dread it as much this year (until you see your driveway that needs shoveling).

The snow has started melting already, but I look forward to it coming back! I am excited about making new memories this year as a newly married couple with our new fur-baby Summit. The falling snow, like the green buds on the trees in the spring, help measure the time that we spend together. Years from now the snow will continue to trigger happy memories that feature sheets of white and some cute doggy footprints.

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Handmade hat by Black Cabin Salvage Co. and handmade ornaments by Tammy Gay (take the workshop on how to make your own here).

 

Let me know some of your favourite snowy memories!

This coming Thursday I will be writing a pop culture post that is connected to appreciating a good snowfall and I’ll leave you with this quote as a hint as to what it will be about:

“Wait, close your eyes and breathe. I smell snow.”

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: