a99kitten's Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

Today week is the 10th “anniversary” of when Angelus died. A decade. It’s really hard to believe. And since my dream the other night, it truly feels like I just saw him. That dream is still full color in my head.

What’s even crazier is that it means it was 22 years ago that we first met. What the f? How is that possible? We picked you up and drove you home on 12.31.00. You were not pleased – understandable since we basically kidnapped you from your mom and pack (in your mind anyway.) I slept with you on the kitchen floor on your first night – you slept half way in/out of your crate while I watched you (and made sure you didn’t have any accidents!

And then you became my best friend. It was that quick. I carried you down to our bedroom to go sleepytime every night after that until I could no longer physically do it and then I’d just say “sleepytime” and you’d follow me. I skooshed you good night every night – and you learned to tolerate it (ish). You went everywhere with me. You taught people who didn’t even know they liked dogs to not only love them, but to buy treats and give them to you on your schedule in your role as Chief Morale Officer.

Angelus was truly the greatest dog. The bestest friend. His personality was incredible. And I loved him.

I can look at his pictures now and not cry. I smile and remember our adventures. And his smile and smiling eyes. I think it took me over a year though. I hope I get there with Smokey. I still cry (sob) at his pictures. He was fixed my heart after Angelus and Storm.

And I miss him. I miss them both. I still have a broken heart.

(and yes of course Stormy too..)

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” ~Rose Kennedy

It’s snowing today. First time since the first week of January. First time since Smokey left.

We would have been up and out early to get the fresh snow up on the ridge. He would have been smiling. Making sure to rub on all of the bushes with fresh snow as he got it all over him. He loved to do that SO much. He smiled every time.

So yeah…not a good morning for me so far.

Superbowl Sunday and I have zero plans. Did not plan a party obviously. And no one that I know locally seems to be doing anything either. Quite honestly not even sure I will watch it. Having a shit load of feelings today.

Finally decided to gift away Smokey’s leftover prescription food. The local shelter could not take it and suggested seeing if someone locally needed it since it’s so expensive.

I’ve had it in the garage but every time I thought about listing it, I just left the garage. Finally decided to list it on Nextdoor last night and got a response fairly quickly. Guy was supposed to come this AM but then I had second thoughts. I looked at his profile and it seems he lost a dog (and never seems to have found) last year. That made me feel yucky. Messaged him this morning and asked him if his dog had liver or kidney issues or was on a prescription diet and he responded no – that he thought it was just regular food (so I guess not even reading the words in my post or looking at the pictures – just saw the word FREE.) So I said never mind.

Then within a few minutes another person sent a message saying they had older dogs who were just put on the liver and kidney diets. I checked out their profile and they seemed to be active locals. I moved the food into my entry way and immediately started sobbing.

Smokey was such a picky eater. Always was. Although got even more so as he got older. When his kidney values came back higher a couple of years ago, the vet said to lower his pure protein intake but no reason to put him on the prescription diet yet as they were just on the high side of normal. So I made him his food usually and gave him low protein kibble with it. Which he seemed to enjoy. Usually.

But then this past October, he got very sick, seemingly overnight but that can’t be factual. His kidney values were about the same but his liver values were so high they thought he would go into liver failure.

After a week of daily fluids at the vet and 2 rounds of antibiotics, I switched him to the prescription diet – switching between kidney and liver. Turns out – he really liked both flavors. And gobbled up his food. I wonder if he felt sick over the past couple of years and just never showed it? I just don’t know. And I know it does not do me any good to second guess everything but I can’t help it. That’s fun.

The couple just came to pick up the food and were so grateful. They talked about their dogs – 1 with kidney issues and 1 with liver issues – and offered their condolences. I’m happy someone can use it for their buddies.

But heartbroken that I no longer need it.

It’s been 1 month since I lost Smokey. Was 4 weeks this past Sunday but today is the “1 month”. I didn’t even realize it was the 9th until mid morning.

It’s hard to believe it has already been so long. I’ve tried to keep myself extra busy today to not focus on it. Pretty impossible since every single thing in this house, in this neighborhood, everywhere, reminds me of our daily routine and life. And how different it all is now.

On one of today’s afternoon walks with my neighbor and her dogs (I did 2 today with 2 different neighbors to stay outside and busy), I saw 2 different people who would always smile and wave (and stop to say hi if they were out walking and not just driving by) every time they saw us. One lady always stopped to chit chat and let her dog say hi to Smokey. Neither did that today because I am sure they did not recognize me. I did not have Smokey. Everyone knew Smokey – even if they did not know me as anything but Smokey’s mom.

Still cry every day. Still light a candle every evening. I still say goodnight to him and tell him I love him every night. I know I will someday not do this – at least the crying part – but I don’t know when.

This time 8 years ago, I was driving around the Sacramento Valley area meeting huskies/mals to consider adopting. My first visit was with a “husky-mix” named Smokey. He was at a foster home in Woodland with several other dogs. We walked in and sat on the sofa with the foster mom and he immediately jumped up on the sofa to sit down too – to be part of the conversation. He was super sweet and while the other dogs were running around and going in and out completely ignoring us – he stayed there calmly with us.

Honestly, I wanted to adopt him right there but told myself go and meet the others who were set up to meet me today. Don’t just jump on the first adoption because he is sweet – they will likely all be sweet and this is an important decision. Went and met 3 other dogs – all super cute and in need of adoption. But I kept thinking about Smokey. We had not eaten all day so decided to grab some food around 5pm. Rodrigo asked me – would I be sad going home without Smokey or without a dog? I said Smokey – without even thinking twice. That was it. Called the head of the rescue org who organized all these meets and told her. We went back to Smokey’s foster home and adopted him. I never, ever doubted it. And smiled every day since then.

Plenty of people have called and left me messages, sent me texts, sent me DMs via all my various social media asking what happened, how was I doing, etc. I have answered very few. But to respond to everyone at once best I can – Smokey was doing great. He got past his liver scare in October, was back to his normal self. His blood work was perfect – the vet was actually shocked how well he was doing at his age (he was a big dog turning 14 or 15 this spring) after such a scare. She called him a super hero and said she tells everyone about him.

We went for a walk just like normal on Saturday AM. He asked for his walk treats just like normal. Was hanging out post-walk just like normal. And then he had a seizure type event. He could not stand, he could not get up. We spent the day at the vet testing and discussing all possibilities and options. Brought him home Saturday evening thinking he’d be more comfortable. And I hoped to see some form of him wanting to get up, go outside onto his deck even to just sit in the snow which he loved more than anything. I stayed up all night watching him and hoping. But he did not. He did not want water, food or his favorite treats. Or to move at all. The vet came over on Sunday afternoon and Smokey left us, while he was in my lap/arms and I told him stories of all the fun he led us on. How many coyotes and bears he scared away from his momma. The snow hikes and adventures he led us on. All the fun we had.

2.5 weeks later and I’m obviously still broken-hearted. Still sad every day. It will take a while because every day for the past 8 years has been Smokey filled. And now it’s not.

I told him every night as I skooshed good night that I loved him, that he was my best friend and that tomorrow we will have more fun. And every day we had more fun.

A lot of people have told me how they looked forward to his pictures every day because he made them smile. While I am very sad, it makes me happy that Smokey was able to bring smiles to people that we know both in real life and through social media. And while I did not want to write anything, or even get on social, he deserved his “birthday” adoption day post.

He was the best.

It’s now been over a week. Like that’s some great amount of time.

Still just as sad. Still cry. Got a few chores done today. One of them was not getting out of my pajamas.

Hot tub service guy came today and asked where Smokey was. Great. I love starting to cry in front of people who not my close friends.

Still living in a fog really. This loss was the loss of a presence that was in my life all day, every day for almost 8 years. Every single waking moment reminds me that presence is gone.

Last Saturday at this time, my life changed for the worse. Smokey had his seizure. On 1 hand, I cannot even believe it’s already been a week. But then on the other, it feels like so long since I’ve seen him.

Weekends will suck for awhile – I don’t have the stock market to focus on. And doing anything else will remind me that Smokey is not here.

Yesterday I picked him up from the vet. Tried to keep it together but I did not. Got McDonald’s, watched some Big Bang Theory and then The Eternals. Tried to keep my brain on other things because I knew if I thought about the box I brought home, I would lose it again. And I did – right before going to bed.

Going to bed is hard – I always skooshed him goodnight as he sighed like “again mom?” Asked him if he needed peepee before sleepies. Skooshed him again. Then he always got up and checked to see if I was in bed. Then he’d go back to sleep.

But waking up is just as hard because he came in and woke me up every morning. And I skooshed him then. And asked him what walk he wanted to do and we got up, got ready and were out of the house. Now I just wake up. I’ve changed out of my pajamas 2x this week.

Helen goes home tomorrow and then I will truly be alone in the house. I am not looking forward to that.

Spent yesterday afternoon cleaning up – put Christmas tree away in garage, re-orged some holiday bins, got distracted by beanie babies, and moved the dog beds from living room to garage which is what I needed distraction from.

I have wanted to throw away the 2 old beds (they were the buds’ so more than a decade old) but every new bed I bought for Smokey, he preferred the old ones. So – they stayed. I took the smaller one apart to throw away first. Then in the middle of the night I wondered if I should do that. It made me sad. It’s where he did most of his sleeping and I miss seeing it, seeing him on it. Need to think on it.

The vet called as well. Said Smokey made his way back to them and was ready for pick up. I do not want to do this. But I know I have to. And I want him home. Even though I know it’s not “him”, it still is. He should be home. Helen is here till Sunday so I should go do this while she is here so that I do not wallow in my sadness right after which I would do if I picked him up alone.

I still have Smokey’s bed in my bedroom. He did like that bed too. I need to move it (it is huge) but I do not think I can do that yet. Don’t really have any place to store it anyway.

And then my neighbor texted me to let me know that the Chewy order that I called and cancelled a few days ago was delivered after all – great. And instead of bringing it to my front door or porch, Fed-Ex left it at the top of our easement in the snow. He offered to bring it down but then never did or respond so at around 11pm I walked up there to grab it. Mostly so the bears were not tempted by the many bags of treats that were inside. So now that’s in my entryway. Cool.

My living room is so bare without the 2 giant dog beds in it. It basically makes me sad every time I look at it. That’s fun. But then looking outside at the snow makes me sad too. And still feel semi-nauseous pretty much all of the time. Need to stay distracted with projects, chit-chatting with H, crypto (stocks suck hard right now) and bingeing crap on TV. Because when left with quiet time, it’s just too much sad.

Still not doing so well. Trying to stay busy, not give myself too much quiet time to think about loss. Stare at stocks, crypto, trade Star Wars cards, put away Christmas stuff (which always makes me sad anyway).

Still haven’t been able to put away any dog stuff. But seeing it every day makes me sad too. No win situation.

Helen is still here and that has made things a lot easier. Probably saved my sanity. I’m not alone here. But I know when she leaves, and I wake up in an empty house, or go out and come back to an empty house, or look around and see no one, I will hit a wall.

It took about 6 months for me to look at Angelus’ pictures and not cry. And I still had Stormy with me. After losing Storm, I’d watch Shadow frequently. And went down to the bay area regularly. But I do remember the sadness of coming home to an empty house.

Now? I’m not sure what I’ll do. The market is garbage so pretty tough to keep my mind focused on that. I do have a ton of chores and projects I want done, and that will help I guess, but that won’t fix having no buddy to hug goodnight. Or having a wet nose wake me up every AM. Or having a constant presence in my life who always wanted to know where I was, or take me on long walks or just come over to make sure I was OK.

Just alone now.

I had a feeling deep in the pit of my stomach that 2022 would suck. Even worse than 2021. It’s kind of why I was not too excited for Christmas. Because then it was the end of the year. And 9 days in, I was right.

I am heartbroken right now. Truly feeling lost. I appreciate all of the kind words about how people loved Smokey but it makes me cry non-stop so I need a bit of time before responding to anything on social media or texts. A couple of neighbors came by to offer condolences – Smokey was well known and loved here. And that was very hard. People want to know what happened – he was always so active, healthy, full of life. And now he is gone.


Smokey has been doing fantastic. Unbelievable really. He had a liver scare back in October and the vet was honestly concerned he would not recover at his age.  Not only did he recover – all of his blood values went back to completely normal ranges which they said was actually a miracle (and probably would not happen) for a dog his age and where they were. He truly was a wonder. 


On Saturday, we went for our AM walk like normal, ate our walk treats like normal – he was visibly 100% fine. Then about an hour after we got home, he collapsed into the snow on the deck.  I got him inside and laid him on his bed – he was sitting up and panting heavily (likely stress) but could not and did not want to move.  This was not Smokey behavior. Then he laid down and was shaking/twitching.  I got him to the vet – got a neighbor to help me carry him to the car which is also not Smokey-allowed behavior.  Also, he gets car sick – which is why I always let him ride in the backseat so he had the windows – and I think the ride there with him laying in the back made him nauseous – he tried to sit up but could not move his legs well enough to get them in the position to sit up and was crying. I also get motion sick so I understand this feeling.


At the vet they ran all of his bloodwork – which came back perfect (which they were also amazed at from his liver scare). No fever. His eye reactions were fine (not old dog syndrome which he had before), but his leg reactions were not – his right front did not react and he did not care when the doctor handled his feet and toes (this was very much not Smokey behavior – he hated his feet touched, especially by anyone but me.) We gave him some anti-nausea meds to see if that feeling was making things seem worse. And fluids.  


To know Smokey – anytime we went to the vet – his first mission was to get the heck out of there.  And he was just lying there, not even trying to get up. This worried them and me. They love him there, and know his desire to get the heck out. He peed himself which he has never, ever done.  Even when he was sick from this liver stuff, or when he hurt his paw years ago, he did not care – he had to potty – he was going outside.  He loved outside.


The vet said that without an MRI or more advanced imaging (not available locally), there was no way to tell for sure but all symptoms and behavior pointed to a stroke/brain clot or possibly brain tumor. Either would need drives down to Davis (Smokey hated long drives or being in the car long) for the advanced facility and he was stressed anytime I was not with him. I asked if after getting any diagnosis like that, would there be any type of quality of life solution to this. I was not getting him brain surgery at his age nor would I start him on chemo at his age. Both vets at the clinic said no. Other than home care such as making sure he was fed via syringe, trying to get him to walk for potty or managing pee pads, etc.


So I took him home in the hopes he would feel more comfortable at home, and maybe after a full night sleep, he would show me signs of trying to get up, move around, some fight, Anything that gave me hope that he could be happy. Because he had now gone 8 hours without showing any interest in even moving. 


Smokey’s true joy in life was being outside (with me). And hiking in the snow (with me). And sleeping the snow when we had it on the deck (as long as he could see me).  I left my deck door open for him to go in/out all the time – even during blizzards because if I ever closed the door – he instantly wanted to go out there.


I slept on the couch and watched him all night.  He never once even tried to move, I hoped he would try to get up in an attempt to go out to his snow on the deck. He did not.  He didn’t even move his position. When I’d pet him, he’d open his eyes but that’s it.  He peed on his bed while laying down a couple more times and when I would move his lower body/back legs to change out towels and pee pads, he didn’t even care. I didn’t know if it meant he couldn’t move them at all, or just didn’t want to.  Either way – I knew it was not good. 


He didn’t want string cheese (a favorite treat) or even water. 


Then on Sunday AM, he started shaking uncontrollably. He tried moving his front paws a little to maneuver himself in a new position but really couldn’t and was in clear distress. I helped him to try and get his upper body into a more sitting position and he just collapsed in my lap where I held him. Smokey was not a lap dog.  He had only crawled into my lap 1 time and that was after his dog sitter lost him and he was lost in the woods for 3 days and I found him. So him crawling into my lap and arms showed me how bad he was feeling. At this point it was more than 24 hours with him not moving on his own, or showing any interest in moving, eating, drinking or anything. 


He had to pee again (I think this is why tried to move) and his shaking/shivering slowed a little but never stopped. I had to face the fact that this was not a recoverable situation. There was not a magic pill, or procedure that would allow him to run in the snow again. or even move himself to go outside and sit in his snow & enjoy the fresh air and some kind of life. If he had showed me any signs of sitting up, eating or drinking anything, or any interest in anything, I would moved the world for him. But I would not allow him to suffer like this.  We made an agreement when he got sick with his liver stuff (for 2 days he was very sick) that I would do anything for him, but if he needed to go, he should not worry about me. And to let me know. And I asked the universe a long time ago to never let him suffer or be sick for a long time. If it was his time, he should be allowed to be having a great life until the very last minute. No long sicknesses, no long-term pain. 


The vet came over and Smokey went in my arms with me reminding him of all the times he had fun in the snow, chased bears away from him momma, played with his friends and had his favorite treats.


I am heartbroken. Smokey was literally the reason I woke up every morning. He came in and woke me up every single day to tell me it was time to get up (crack of dawn.) Our AM hike was our favorite part of the day.  I am currently feeling lost. I planned everything in my life around him and our routine. My friends and neighbors knew inviting me to anything, meant inviting him. And they all loved him. Smokey was loved by so many. But none more than me. I am thankful for having him in my life. But I am currently feeling very lost. And sad.


I am glad to know he was so loved. The best ambassador for dogs, wolves, creatures of any kind. I hope he knew how much I loved him.  I told him many times every day. Showed him by any walks he wanted in whatever weather there was.  If he wanted to go – we went.  And if he wanted to sit outside in the blizzard – have at it. 


I never ever wanted to make this decision again in my life, but I felt allowing him to just lay there, not really knowing the extent of his suffering as he could not tell me, but could show me he was not normal Smokey, not happy or feeling well and was miserable, was not fair to him. It would only be allowing me to not make that decision which would break my heart.  And if he declined further and faster throughout the day or the next day that was not fair to him. 


I know he lived a long life for a big dog.  I was hoping we’d make it to 16+.  He was either turning 14 or 15 this spring based on the paperwork I had from his rescue. I know he had a full life.  I’m glad more of it was with me and here than whatever he went through before he was in the rescue where I adopted him from. I hope I made him forget all of that.

In so many of my pictures of him, he is smiling and I hope he truly was that happy. I think he was.
It hurts me (and angry at the universe) thinking he was perfectly fine on our walk and then an hour later our lives were made worse forever. And I wish I could go back to that walk and let him have all the extra treats. But then I think, maybe that was the universe doing what I asked – no long suffering or sickness. I don’t know. 

But I do know that my days will not be filled with his smiles. He was always there. Next to me. And now he is not. My life feels very, very alone right now.