Friday, June 24, 2011


hershey photo taken by hershey's mommy
i got a text today from a friend who just found out her beloved chihuahua, 11-lb. hershey, has cancer. hershey is also my mattie's boyfriend. he is the cutest, roundest thing. he likes to snack on carrots and is a cuddler. hershey was a frequent attendee at our dog parties as mattie's plus one. the vet told my friend that hershey had only had a few days. she's a wreck and doesn't know what she's going to do without him. he's her life. i couldn't help but feel her pain. it's smacked-by-a-brick-wall shocking when you get that type of news. and suddenly i was reminded how i was smacked twice.

toto was our cairn terrier. he was such a tough guy, but of course, due to his size, you just couldn't take him seriously as a tough guy. it's like seth green as the hulk. not very believable. toto, like seth green, had this swagger about him, and he was one cool dude. but unlike seth green, toto could put even hulk in his place. i took him to the vet office to get a lump checked on the side of his mouth. they had to do a biopsy, and so i had to painfully wait for the results. i received a call at work saying that it was inconclusive, but it might be oral cancer. and that's when that first brick wall smacked me. 

after another vet visit, they said that it was growing at rapid speed. my mister was away at training, getting ready to leave for his deployment to afghanistan. i didn't know how to tell him, and when i did, he was upset that i hadn't said anything before. i told him i didn't want to say anything until they were sure. that there wasn't a point in getting him worked up for nothing, especially since he was getting ready to leave, and he already had enough stress. toto was his buddy. ever since toto took a tiny taste of mister's jugular, they were like {cross fingers} that. 

toto, mattie, and i went to the UGA vet hospital as suggested by our vet. the techs took him away and left me with mattie in a big, sterile, gray room. i felt numb. mister and i had discussed some scenarios and options. we decided before the visit that we did not want to put him through chemo, for a variety of reasons. we decided to let nature take it's course, and just make it as comfortable as possible. my mind was racing, but i can't pinpoint what was going on in there. that's when they came back in with toto. it had eaten away at most of his bottom jaw so much that removing it wasn't even an option, and it was starting to cross over to the other side. they gave him 1-2 months. 

i just broke down and cried as she continued to talk. but she just sounded like charlie brown's teacher. i told her i needed to call my mister so she left the room, and i frantically tried to reach him, but cell service there at the base was awful. how could i deal with this alone? how could i handle this while handling my mister heading back overseas to war? but worst of all, i didn't know how to tell mister that in less than two months, toto would be gone, and he wouldn't be able to say goodbye. 

it was the longest and loneliest car ride of my life after i had talked to mister. i just wanted to pull over and cry, but that wasn't an option. it was just me. the day was february 14, 2007. 

two months passed, and toto was still around. mister even returned from his tour to find toto waiting. we even moved to another state to be closer to mister's family. and toto moved with us. but in early december 2009, he wasn't in the best of shape, but he was still trucking. we discussed it with the vet, and she told us it was time. we always said we would go with what the vet recommended. and we did. it was the worst thing i ever felt. i tried to hold it in for mister. he was devastated. for the two plus years that i stayed with toto during his fight, i had been preparing for his passing. i had been saying my goodbyes. as we drove home, i could still smell toto, and we said nothing to one another. 

less than a year later, we had to put down our beloved lex. i was home sick with the flu, and mister had just left for softball practice. i noticed that lex had pooped on the rug, and i called the vet as soon as i saw his gums were stark white. fortunately, we are no more than two minutes from the vet office. i was met at the door, and i watched another one of my babies swept away to the back. once more i found myself frantically trying to get hold of mister, but could only leave him messages. 

the vet called me to the back room. they had him on a table in a darkened room, hooked up to an ultrasound machine. lex looked at me with his sweet eyes, and i went numb. the doctor spurted some medical words out while pointing at the screen, then i heard the word "tumor." all i could say was, "what tumor?" we knew lex had kidney disease and knew he was on the decline. but never knew he had a tumor in his abdomen. and that's when i was smacked with brick #2. again, i was alone when i received the news of one of our dogs having cancer. when the words come out, they drop like brick too. it just falls hard and lays there.

luckily mister went to look at his phone and saw all of my missed calls. when he called, he knew it was about lex. i let him speak directly to the vet. while we waited for mister to arrive, i sat alone in that dark back room on a cold stool with my best, best most loving lex laying on his side on a table. he didn't really look at me, but his eyes would sometimes peek up. i tried to not upset him, so i just told him that i loved him and that he was a good--the best--dog. i pet his soft, gorgeous coat. mister and i had talked on the phone what we needed to do. once mister arrived, he talked to the vet. i panicked. i didn't want to lose lex just yet, but the vet said he would probably only have a week, and there was a possibility of seizures. we didn't want him to suffer or go alone while we were not there. so i held his paw just like i held toto's. but i was not prepared. i didn't have two plus years to prepare for this... my mind scrambled at what i could have done... and how i wasn't ready to say goodbye...but then, he was gone. and i heard nothing. the silence was tremendous and the pain was world-ending. it was september 30, 2010. that was the day that i lost my sunshine.

i'm thinking a lot about my friend, who is suffering from the unavoidable future of having to let go of her baby. i tell her there will be days worse than others and it'll be rough. but i also tell her it will get better. i am here for her, and i know it must be so hard for her. i tell her that i am very sorry about her baby. 

for me there are days worse than others, and it's still rough. every so often, when i'm not thinking, i'm  expecting lex to greet me at the door. or waiting for toto to stiffly chase after bauer. i miss both him and toto. we had a lot of great years together, and i've got the pictures and the videos to look back on. but i miss being able to hug them, get after them, and get amused by them. even though they were complete opposites, they got along perfect. they were like felix and oscar. lex is the only dog that toto didn't hate. i wish they were still here. but i know that lex will always the angel on my shoulder. and toto's devilishly on the other.

a rare smiling toto photo by silly blahgs
ever-photogenic lex photo by silly blahgs
toto + lex, we miss you and love you so very much.
photo by silly blahgs

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