Healing power of puppy love

In the summer of 2014, shortly after our tragedy with Isa, Mike and I noticed that Raro had become acutely shy of new people. This change in her attitude was not apparent until Isa’s absence. We soon realized that for the past year Raro, a very naturally submissive dog, had been using her oldest sister as a doggie shield. She’d let Isa absorb all of the love and attention rained onto them by passing strangers. But now that she was an only pet Raro, did not care for the attention, in any way. Every time someone approached  her, Raro tensed up, pulled away and tried her best to become invisible. She only wanted to play with other dogs, and even then if the dog’s owner wanted to greet her, she’d cower and run away. This was such an unexpected behavior to us, and I felt as though somehow we’d failed as pet parents.

Her loneliness and dependency on a pack became scarily apparent when in late August Raro experienced an almost near death accident. I naively thought she was capable to staying tied outside, while I could make a quick trip into a local pharmacy to pick up some items. This wasn’t new, we’d often leave Raro and Isa outside, waiting for a few minutes back home in Jacksonville. However, I came to see that I was horrifically wrong. A few minutes into my shopping trip a stranger screamed into the store stating that “Who ever had a big dog tied outside, it just ran away!”

My heart. Stopped.

Oh my god, someone must have approached her while she was outside and she freaked out and took off. I immediately dropped everything and sprinted through multiple lanes of traffic and oncoming vehicles only hoping they would see me before slamming on breaks. As I frantically looked around and continued to sprint, I couldn’t help but to think this felt surreal, and movie like.  Pedestrians standing on the sidewalks pointed in her direction when I’d yell at them “Have you seen a big dog”. Fortunately, the 50 pound sign that she had been tethered to was going along for her wild ride. As Raro made it down the sidewalk, and into a nearby neighborhood she must had made such the scene, because people were still standing and talking about what they had seen and heard. As I continued running, I knew I was hot on her trail, I could still hear some of the conversations “some huge dog running…”

Thankfully, a taxi driver who had been watching volunteer to pick me up at no charge to cruise around the neighborhood that some spectators pointed me to. I was so thankful, because I started to lose steam, especially since that morning Raro and I had been running through the hills of Rock Creek. We finally found her though. She was still galloping but free of her tag along sign. I called to her, but at first she didn’t even hear me. After I jumped out of the taxi and rushed by foot again, she reluctantly turned around to look at me. She cowered  a bit and practically crawled back to me. I could see that she was exhausted and feel how frightened she was. She slowly sinked into my arms and I promised I would never let her down again.

Shortly, after this incident, Mike and I decided that we needed to build up her runined self esteem. We thought besides some training in greeting strangers we needed to expand the pack. The hunt for another puppy began. We considered getting her a puppy from her original litter, since there were a few still looking for homes. I remember her half brother, Diezel and really made a push to get him, but we decided that as sweet and wonderful as he was, he would be too passive. They just wouldn’t be exactly what we were looking for. We needed to partner Raro up with another bull headed  strong will pup like Isa once was.

Our search ended when we came across a Litterbox announcement of a beautiful Dane named Sandy who was happily expecting a large litter of 9. After a puppy visit in November, we had the awful decision of having to pick one of the two that Ophelia, the breeder recommended would be a good fit for our home. After a night of dilberation we called her up and filled out the paper work. On January 7th, we finally brought him home. So with out further delay here he is, our newest family member – Osiris, the 13 week old Great Dane pup.

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And as for Raro, let’s just say, she’s been too tired to be scared anymore.

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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.