I know I’ve been absent on the blog for a little while now, but I have been grieving.
The week of my last post started off as a great one. The campus was quiet now that the semester had finished. The weather lately has been beautiful. America’s Got Talent started back for the summer (yes, I am an AGT addict). I start planning the dates to take off work next month to head home to KY for a bit. One evening while Carl was out of town with the baseball team, Lola & I went out to go pick up a Zensation Zalad from Zaxby’s, the weather was perfect for all windows to be rolled down & music blaring—Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ came on the radio = heaven. Just all around the right mix of ingredients to be reminded of how blessed I really am & to be thankful for all that I have.
Then I get a phone call from my dad at work with news that knocked me back down from my grateful high.
As I’ve mentioned before, my mom’s Chihuahua, “Pookie” has been having some health issues lately & not bouncing back to her normal self as quickly as she once did. When Pook turned away from her food the other day, we knew something was really off so mom took her into the vet to get her checked out. The results were dismal. Pookie’s heart was enlarged & working overtime & they found some suspicious spots within her lungs thought to be cancerous. The vet apologized to my mom, informing her he could give her some meds to attempt to help her heart & decrease the amount of fluid from her lungs but it did not look good. I can only imagine how heartbroken my mother felt being hit with such hurtful news. Pook is like the fourth child in our family.
The next morning while getting ready for work, I received a text from my mother that simply said, “Our little angel is gone.” I was in shock for a few minutes—staring at those words, trying to comprehend exactly what that meant. The next thing I realized, my phone was ringing in my hands—my mom calling. She does her best to get the words out of her mouth—through heavy sobs—that Pook passed away around 1:30AM. Once they got home from the vet, Pookie progressively got worse, struggling to breathe; becoming more of a battle to catch her breath. Realizing that she was straining so badly to stay alive, my mom took her into her arms, cuddling & kissing her one last time while telling her it was alright to let go; that she didn’t want her to be in pain any longer. Minutes later, Pook was gone. Mom & I cried together on the phone for a while, but I had to pull myself together to drag myself into work. It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a long time. By 3 o’clock that afternoon, the stress migraine was taking me over. Lights were excruciating & kicked in the nausea—needless to say, I went straight to bed once 5 o’clock finally came around.
It’s so hard to let her go and yet, it was a blessing in disguise. Pook was due back to the vet’s office the following Friday to figure out their next step of action in “where do we go from here” with this fatal diagnosis. I think it would have been harder for my mom to be faced with the decision of euthanizing our precious pup. I feel that Pookie knew this & she wanted to leave this world where she belonged—at home & in “Grammy’s” arms.
My mom was however, faced with the decision of burial or cremation. I have adamantly been the only person in my family pro-cremation & that is my wish for my remains upon my death. Everybody (including my mom) always thought I was so strange for wanting to be cremated but funeral expenses are outrageous nowadays & I can remember attending so many funerals it seems like as a child. They were always the same; crowds of people you barely know but are somehow related to & depressing–even harder when they spread out over two days. But a few summers ago, my mom read an article defending the act of cremation & it actually swayed her opinion. Embalming puts as many as 5L of formaldehyde products in your body to help slow down the decomposing process of the body when showing it at a funeral home or church. When you bury the body, this chemical ends up in the earth and can sometimes find its way into the water table and ultimately into our waterways. There is also the matter of tying up land that could otherwise be used for productive purposes. I mean, we’re bound to run out of land at some point, right? And your body is merely a physical vessel we inhibit during our time on earth—you should be remembered by your soul—something that no act of nature (burial/cremation) can diminish. Just my opinion…
My family took Pook to the vet to have her cremated so that we can always have her with us. She was quite the traveling pooch, so when my dad retires & my parents choose to move elsewhere, they can take Pook along. It’s been a rough week to get through with the absence of our little stinker, but we have to be thankful that we were able to share 14 wonderful years with Pookie. Just have to continue to take it one day at a time & deal with our emotions as they come & go.
“Having a rough day? Place your hand over your heart. Feel that? That’s called purpose. You’re alive for a reason. Don’t give up.”
As I said Pookie’s passing at home was a blessing in disguise, I am also coming to the realization that from her passing there can come good. Being accepted to run the NYC Marathon this November, I was wrestling with the decision of what charity I should adopt & raise funds for in support of my run. Upon Pookie’s passing, there was no longer a doubt in my mind.
2 Million Dogs is an organization started by a man in 2008 who, with his two dogs, embarked on a cross country trek that was inspired by the loss of his Great Pyrenees to cancer. 2 Million Dogs Foundation is committed to discovering the common links between canine and human cancers and the causes of these cancers through comparative oncology research. Being a relatively new field, this foundation strives to educate people about its tremendous potential through a global campaign of strategic partnerships, seminars, speaking engagements, social media, events, broadcasts, and other forms of media. They also are building the largest pet and people cancer community in the world through organized “Puppy Up!” walks across the U.S. 2 Million Dogs scientific objectives are: Broadening our understanding of the links between human and companion animal cancer, creating a cross institutional collaborative platform, developing new approaches to research, and funding translational cancer studies that benefit both pets and people.
I have been in contact with the executive director of this foundation, sharing Pookie’s story, and am currently in the process of having a website setup for donations for this wonderful organization as my fundraiser/charity for my commitment to run the NYC Marathon. Hopefully, through my physical challenges and tests, I am able to help raise awareness to this cause & perhaps aid in further developments of one day defeating this dreadful disease that affects all walks of life.
“It could be that man’s best friend might one day be man’s best healer.”
I have also volunteered to be the City Leader for my town in Alabama to host a Puppy Up! Walk next spring to assist with additional funds–funds raised from these events will be used to fund canine cancer and comparative oncology research particularly focusing on the causal relationship between infections, immune response, and cancer. We are in the early stages of our process as we are currently looking for research partners and raising monies to fund the study. You too can become a City Leader & host a walk in your town. They are in need of southern states in particular. Check out the list & learn how to become a host here.
I will keep the blog updated with the progress of my fundraising website once it is all set up & ready for your donations. If nothing else, please help spread the word of the importance of this research by passing the website with the information along to everyone you know. Our four-legged friends are so much more than pets.
You kindly increase self-esteem in me
Distracting from problems each day…
You make me feel that I am needed
Giving love in your silent way…
Take a lesson from loyalty
For loving unselfishly pure..
If we follow God’s creatures examples..
Pets can give mankind a cure….
(c) M. Linda Steffey 1990