End of a chapter, but not the story

I know it’s been a while since the last post, however, I felt compelled to come back and explain my almost 1 year absence. A few weeks after posting my first article we tragically had to say good bye to our sweet Isa. The announcement was as follows:

Friends and family,
It is with heavy heart that we are finally able to share our sad news. Over two weeks ago, Michael and I said goodbye to Isa, our beloved 11 year old Great Dane. As you may have known, for the past year Isa has battled several complications resulting from a disease known as Mega-Esophagus. After a rapid decline in her health this month we made the heart breaking decision to let our sweet girl get some rest. Thank you all for your thoughts and well wishes over the past several months. Most importantly thank you for being friends with our sweet old girl Isa – the Greatest Dane.

Goodbye sweet girl.

After losing Isa on July 13th, it took another two weeks for my husband and me to feel comfortable enough to even share the sad news.  The healing process is still an ongoing journey. It took 3 months, a move, and many miles of stress busting runs for me to get through a day without shedding a tear.

To those of you who have recently experienced a similar loss – I am deeply and truly sorry. The heartbreak literally leaves you feeling as though a hole was cut out from your heart. I’ve found that even during my happiest days I could never quite feel whole again. Sometimes, I still think I will see Isa saunter in my room and look at me with her “move over, I want to snuggle” face, and it kills me to know I won’t ever get to again. But life – as they say – goes on.

Today, I try not to think of my suffering as some kind of punishment, instead I’ve learned to embrace the feeling. I remind myself that I feel this way because I now know what its like to love and be loved unconditionally. There’s no physical object on earth that can replace these feelings, and a broken heart is such a small price to pay for such a deep bond.

So, on this note, yes, I am saying goodbye to my beautiful girl, but also thanking her. For Isa opened my heart and prepared me to become an wonderful pet parent, and even better human. She showed me how to love.

A wonderful end of the day photo,

Isa walking home.

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Balls are dangerous

Raro and her tennis ball.

Raro and her tennis ball.

Meet Raro, our 2-year old Merle Great Dane. As I write this post, she’s managed to find a spot next to me on the floor, and is feverishly chewing the head on a bright green and pink hippo, stolen from my friend’s pup, Zara. The toy itself, is made of what appears to be a rather flimsy, thin, rubber material that I assumed would break in a day or two. Surprisingly, after several months she hasn’t even punctured it! It’s always amazing to discover which toys break and which ones can stand up against the jaws of a power chewer. But one toy that we are weary of allowing our dogs to play with unsupervised are tennis balls.

Tuff Balls - Industrial Strength Dog Toys

Tuff Balls – Industrial Strength Dog Toys

The ball in the picture above was given to us at a charity event for animal shelters. These types are Raro’s favorite, because she’s mastered the art of splitting it in two in a matter of minutes. So much for Tuff Balls. Balls like these are commonly found in pet stores and marketed as rugged or safe toys for dogs. But did you know they can be dangerous?

Tennis balls are considered to be top five most dangerous toys for large breeds to play with. Like Raro, large dogs can have a more powerful bite, and most importantly larger mouths. On top of that it’s shown that the glue can actually destroy a dogs tooth enamel. Yikes!

So your wondering, “why is there a picture of your dog playing with the very toy that you know to be so dangerous?”

I would say to you the key is not to allow your dog to play with these toys unsupervised.  A simple game of fetch can become life-ending if the ball you’re playing with is crushed. It compromises the integrity and structure of the ball after which it can easily become lodged in your dog’s throat. As soon as we find, see or hear a tennis ball break we toss it out.

But if your dog is like Raro, and loves, Loves, LOVES tennis balls here are a few suggestions. The first being, don’t buy the Tuff balls. In my experience, they break just as easily if not faster than any other ball. I’ve witness her breaking them in the store. Your dog will become an expert at finding it’s weak spot. For power chewers, try

  • Natural and tough to break Deer or Elk antler. Antlers naturally molt seasonally, and pet stores are stocking up on them across the nation. A 12 inch long, maybe 3 inches wide antler lasts Raro a year to chew through. They are usually priced at about $29 – $40 dollars, depending on the size.
  • Knotted ropes I like to get the smaller portable ones and carry them with me to dog parks.
  • Finally, many of the Kong brand rubber toys have lasted pretty well for our dogs too but I am especially partial to the Kong frisbee.

At the end of the day, the lesson is, watch what your dog chews on, you never know when your decision could be a life saving one.