After a rough week, and a good cry in my husband’s arms last night, my dog reminded me that everything will be okay.

As you know our sweet old boy, “boy” being our boxer Mack, turned twelve on March 18th.  He and his brother Kuda, who was our first pick of the litter, were dangerously close to being born on Brianna’s 16th birthday, March 17th, 2005.  Their mother went into labour in the early afternoon, and we all waited, excited at the possibility that our newest family member would share her birthday.  But their mother, Velvet, had many complications, and in the end the four pups were delivered almost a full day later on March 18th.  We should have taken her difficult birthing experience as a sign, that perhaps like our other boxer, Beau, who had to be put down at six months of age, who had come from the same mother and father, two years prior, that we were putting ourselves in the line of heartache once again.

But we did not.  We forged ahead.  Taking ourselves to our breeder, and by this point in time, also our friend’s home within two days to meet our boy.  Our “replacement” dog for the tragic, brutal, untimely loss of our sweet, sweet boy Beau.  There was one male with the white flash on his face, the boots, and tuxedo coat, similar to our Beau.  We claimed him for our own, and named him on the spot; KUDA BISSON.  Two days later, Sherri, our breeder and friend, called to let us know that she lost a pup.  A male, but not our male.  Now there were only three.  We were asked to skip a week from visiting him, as the third pup wasn’t doing so well.  Not long after, Sherri contacted us to let us know that for some reason, Velvet, had stopped feeding the other boy, and now she was left with only two dogs.  Kuda, and the smallest boxer of the litter.  Every week we visited Kuda, every week, the little boxer, who Mikaela had affectionately named “Baby” (they had a natural bound, she and this pup) didn’t have a family of his own.  As they got bigger, and were able to run around freely out in the field with us, “Baby” began to respond to the name Kuda.  He thought he was Kuda, and he thought he was ours.  When it came close to having to take Kuda home it dawned on us that these two boys had to stick together, we couldn’t bring ourselves to be the people who separated them.  So we did not, and we inherited Mack.  The dog we never chose, but the dog who chose us, all these years later, twelve of them in fact, and he is still standing.

Some of you might think this is not a big deal, twelve isn’t that old for a dog, and I would have to agree with you on that.  But for us, and our luck with dogs, it’s pretty damn impressive, especially since we lost Kuda, his bigger, stronger, healthier brother at the young age of eight, and suddenly.  And although we’ve had terrible luck with short life spans of our beloved four legged kids, I’ve heard beautiful stories of some dogs living until their fifteen/sixteen years old.  I had always had that in mind for Kuda, but it wasn’t meant to be.  I never expected to see twelve years with our boy Mack.  Yet here we are, he the weakest link has made it to twelve years old now.  The dog that has battled, and beat more diseases than I even knew it was possible to get.  From the time he was four months old, when he presented with HOD, we thought we were going to have to put him down after he literally became a quadriplegic over night.  Then he got prostate cancer at three, Mast Cell tumor at four, he has had his spleen removed, his thyroid removed, thanks to cancer AGAIN, he has half his jaw missing on the lower right hand side of his mouth, with all the teeth gone with the bone, he blew/lost an ear drum, he’s had more eye surgeries on his two eyes than medically makes sense.  Now he is aging, as well as he can, while living with the symptoms of a disease he’s been carrying around his entire life, Degenerative Myelopathy, and an adrenal tumor.

Yet he persists.

Still, he has joy in every single moment when his eyes first open.

He will bound across the room to say hello, to greet you, to let you know that he loves you, even if it is the fifteenth time he has seen you that day.

Why am I posting about Mack today, when his birthday was on the 18th?  Well because, I’ve been in the dumps a little bit this last week, questioning my purpose, my direction, my reason for being in this world, this life, this body.  After a very good cry in my husband’s arms last night, I woke with a new focus this morning, and it was driven home when the dog who should never have been, who is on his last legs (but doesn’t even know it) bounded across the house to greet me, to give me some of the extra love that he has in his spirit to remind me that…

All I Need To Know About Life I Learned From My Dog

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you’re not.
Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
Thrive on affection and let people touch you – enjoy back rubs and pats on your neck.
When you leave your yard, make it an adventure.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t pout – run right back and make friends.
Bond with your pack.
On cold nights, curl up in front of a crackling fire.
When you’re excited, speak up.
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
If you stare at someone long enough, eventually you’ll get what you want.
Don’t go out without ID.
Leave room in your schedule for a good nap.
Always give people a friendly greeting.
If it’s not wet and sloppy, it’s not a real kiss.

Author: Unknown

6 Comments

  1. Oh Shantelle, I’m so sorry you were sad yesterday. But how fortunate you are that you have an extraordinary man that will cradle you, let you cry, be there for you in this dark moment, and envelop you with his love and understanding. The universe has truly given you this gift named Yannick. I am happy to know that he is there for you too! That’s not to say the other “B’s” are no slouches either. Each of your girls wouldn’t be where they are right now, if it weren’t for your great parenting and example on living life as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as a friend.
    As far as not feeling your worth, well, I for one will stand up at this moment, in this comment section, and speak for all of us that admire you; think you are the “cats pajamas”! (I love that saying, my Mom always said that). We love you too! We wouldn’t come to your site day after day, commenting on your thoughts or not, checking in on your twitter feed, if you weren’t worth something to all of us! You are an absolute awesome writer! I for one feel that you’d give “50 Shades of Gray” a run for its money with BPF!!! I am waiting with bated breath for it to be finished, published and available for purchase. You have an incredible way with words and your daily musings are funny, thought provoking, tearful and ire raising. You hit all the points with us, your followers Shantelle. NEVER FORGET THAT! NEVER!
    You’re right about a dog’s love. It doesn’t matter how many times you go in and out of the house, there they are, tail wagging, body wriggling, so happy to see you. It would always soften me when I’d come home after a 12-14 hour day, dog-ass tired (no pun intended), and there my 3 would be, each one trying to get to “Mom” first. Admittedly, I had to learn to pet 3 dogs at once. It wasn’t easy at first, but you adjust, to make them happy and not feel left out.
    I miss having dogs. They have such wonderful, unconditional loving spirits.
    We’ve been without for several years now and although my partner is not keen on getting another one just due to being tied down (like children). I don’t care. I think it’s a flimsy excuse. Its not like she goes to work anymore, she retired for crying-out-loud! Well, when she’s off on her golf trip to Ireland this July, I plan to change that, what’s more, she knows it! And I don’t want just 1. I want at least 2. They are company for me and each other when we’re not home. I found that they are more relaxed, less wound up when there are 2 or more of them. You know, kindred spirits! Just like all of us, and you!
    We love you Shantelle. Please know that you will get through menopause, and this up and down will ease with time. But until then…VENT GIRL!!!!
    Sincerely,
    Theresa

  2. Hi Ya Shantelle,

    This one hit close to home. In fact, you were on my porch knocking on the front door! Like you, wondering “what’s next?” Don’t want to spend the next ten years “lawyering.” Ready for a new challenge but not sure what. Uncertainty has a particular purpose, I believe. It allows us to think and forces us to just stand. Stop running in place and doing all the “right things.” Time to engage in an inner focus in search of “us,”

  3. Yes, I agree with you; dogs and other animals can teach us a lot! I’m sorry you’ve been feeling a bit down. A good cry in YB’s arms sounds like a step in the right direction! But I would say you could use some more ME time. Don’t forget to stop and smell the fresh sea air (warm sunshine on the shoulders and bare toes in the sand aren’t bad either).

  4. I don’t know if it’s my place but I have to write you a little comment.
    I feel so bad when I read your post and see how down you fell this weekend.
    I just want to give back what you learnt to me : FIGHT, ALWAYS !
    One day, you told me that life is magical and wonderful : you’re definitely right. But somedays, we’re down because the balance is fragile and can tip to the wrong side. In that case, we need FRIENDS, two or four legs, to help us get up and find the strength to fight.
    You just have to open your eyes and your mind to see them…

  5. Thank you. It’s been a horrible week for me and my fight is all about gone. Penny my sweet cancer survivor knew it as well and has been extra cuddly today. I don’t know how but I know I must continue. Give your three boys a hug for us frozen toronto peeps.

  6. Said what I wanted to say in Twitter post, but forgot to say am hoping you use some of that reborn spirit to be working on Black Pickett Fence edits..we’ve been waiting a long time, & will read it if all you can do is put the frigging novel back online so we find out what happens to Kat and family. We will purchase it, too, if you get it to the right publisher. #FansChoiceShantelle

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