Showing posts with label Fur kids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fur kids. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Turbo - A Good Dog, A Beautiful Life

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I laid down next to him on the couch, stroking his still-damp fur. He hadn't been himself for a few weeks, but now, he was simply too tired to muster the energy to growl, to whine or to simply be the stubborn boy he has always been. Instead, he stretched his limbs and let his paw land softly on my shoulder. The smell of salt water puffed forward from his breath and I wanted to inhale the scent so that it would linger in my nose for the days to come. I knew he was in a happy state. I couldn't be bothered to wipe away my tears; my hands were too busy caressing his ears and the soft wrinkles of his jowls. I knew we would have to make the inevitable trip to the vet that afternoon. But that half hour of couch time - it belonged to us.

I've waited almost two weeks to post about the passing of my beloved bulldog, Turbo. The pain I have felt, combined with the flood of happy memories, has been too strong, too overwhelming, to let myself stop and think about the fact that my little buddy is gone. Even now as I type, that uncomfortable ball that rises in the throat is threatening to leap out and form a sob. It would be a disservice to simply pass over and not write about the loss of Turbo. He has simply been too important in my life, as I hope has been evidenced by his presence on this blog.

When it came time to make the decision to say goodbye, Kevin and I decided to be sure the last 24 hours of Turbo's beautiful life with us would be filled with his favorite things. As a family, we went to our local park with hands full of tennis balls. Keagan delighted in throwing balls over and over, as this was a feat we rarely attempted anymore due to Turbo's growing arthritis. Turbo ran with abandon and it made me think of the first week we brought him home.

In 2007, we had just rescued him and brought him back to San Francisco. The first stop was Fort Mason, where the expansive grass fields provided ample room for a 1 1/2 year old dog to run wild. The emphasis is on the word wild. He took off like a shot and didn't return when we shouted his name. We chased after him at full sprint to catch him before he fell off over the side of the ravine. This wouldn't be the first time he took off in a mad dash across a field...or down a busy street...or after a mailman...but I digress.

Turbo ran along side Keagan at our local park, hoarding tennis balls in his possessive way and panting happily. It wasn't just Turbo's happiness that concerned me. I wanted my son's last memories of his first dog to be filled with joy. The evening was a blur, both from the fast-paced play and from the tears that were ever-present in my swollen eyes.

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The next morning, while Keagan was at school, Kevin and I took Turbo and Sutton to Crissy Field. I have always called Crissy Field our "happy spot", with its stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the dozens of dogs at play in the lapping waves. Sutton sat in the sand, trying to take the occasional mouthful while Turbo ran through the water, more tennis balls being flung about. I could see the top of the Palace of Fine Arts from our location, where Kevin proposed to me in 2008. I smiled when I thought about how Kevin got down on one knee. He blamed Turbo for jumping up on him and getting his jacket dirty - a totally plausible excuse - while he brushed himself off and slyly reached for the ring. Turbo rode with us around the bay in the limo Kevin had arranged, staring at us with confusion from his perch next to the mini-bar while we clinked champagne flutes and kissed.

Turbo limped back to the car following his beach play, but he held his tennis ball with determined force for as long as we would let him. His old age, his graying fur and his weakened limbs couldn't hide the traces of puppy enthusiasm that he has always held.

After the long couch cuddle at home, Kevin and I left the kids with a sitter and took Turbo on a long walk around our neighborhood. Until this moment, I had been the one shedding giant tears when the kids were in bed. I had been leaning on Kevin for support during one of the most difficult moments in my life and he was stoic. He was the proverbial rock. He was so steady that I was feeling like perhaps I was leaning towards being emotionally unstable. On our final walk with Turbo, Kevin let his tears fall and it was almost a flood of relief for me that I wasn't the only one feeling this deep sadness and love. We cried, hugged each other, caressed Turbo and told him he was a good boy. We told each other that we would focus on the happy memories and they would carry us through. Turbo had a good life with us. Turbo is loved.

We stayed with him until the end. I laid with him, big spoon to his little spoon, just like we did every night, while Kevin kissed his face and told him how much we love him. It was peaceful. It was calm. It was the most heartbreaking moment of my life.

I won't even begin to profess to be an expert on how to tell your children about the passing of a beloved pet. I asked friends for advice, which they thankfully gave, along with their support. We decided to go with a straightforward approach - that Turbo got old and that he is gone. It's okay to be sad and we will always miss him. But, he will always be in our hearts because we loved him and he loved us. These are concepts that are tough for a 3-year-old to grasp, so as recent as last night, questions about Turbo have still come up. We have just remained consistent in this statement and I've grinned through watery eyes when Keagan talks to Turbo, or as he puts it, "I'm pretending to talk to Turbo." Time and photos will reinforce what Turbo means to our family.

We are going to scatter Turbo's ashes - half at Crissy Field and half will be saved to plant with a tree when we buy our forever home in the Bay Area. I'm still struggling to come to terms with the new normal - I find myself looking around the house for him every night before reality sets back in and my heart seems to drop deep in my chest. At least I can take comfort in the fact that we loved Turbo fiercely and gave him an ending full of joy, family, dignity and peace.

My veterinarian told me, "That is the hard part about being a pet person. In most cases, they don't outlive you, so you have to go through this again and again." I know that someday we will welcome another fantastic dog into our home. But there will never be a dog as funny, stubborn, silly, hungry, wild and perfect as him. I will love you forever, Turbo.

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Friday, March 8, 2013

On Aging Dogs

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Turbo has been in our lives for the past 5 years and 3 months. On the first day that we brought him home to San Francisco, we took him to Fort Mason to run around and play. The spry little 1.5 year old took this as license to take off running and ignore any of our pleas to return. We had to run breathlessly to catch up with him in fear we'd lose him to the horizon. And that set the tone for our life with Turbo. These days, he's doing less running but just as much ignoring of anything we request as he ever did.

I've recently noticed that my active boy is cruising right through middle age and into senior territory. I can trace the graying hair around his eyes with my thumb. A long walk will wipe him out for the rest of the day and a trip to the beach puts him in a three-day coma. His arthritic joints are really suffering; he licks at his shoulders and elbow joints incessantly, no matter how much glucose and rest we force upon him. I've noticed that when it gets dark, he gets jumpy at the lights from passing cars, just one more thing to add to his list of fears and anxieties (joining the ranks of German Shepherds, Huskies, flies, bees, skateboards, floating fuzz balls, loud noises, vacuums and us leaving and never, ever returning again in the five minutes we left him alone).

My friend recently lost her sweet dog after a long and happy life. It has caused me to reflect on the longevity of my own furry friend. He is endlessly frustrating and has been a challenging dog, to put it nicely. But I love this guy to the ends of the earth. He has come so far since we found him. What was once an aggressive, fear-anxiety driven dog with separation anxiety issues has become...well, a lesser degree of all of that. The aggression is gone, replaced with heavy sighs while he lays his 70 lbs. across our laps. He has become a wiggly, giddy, food-obsessed dog that just wants to be a part of the family.

I had huge anxieties around the transition that would come with Keagan's birth, and with minor hiccups along the way, the two of them have become buddies. Turbo follows Keagan from room to room when it is playtime and I've even sneaked up on the two of them cuddling on the couch. This warms my heart to know that Turbo has found his place in the family and Keagan has the experience of a first dog with who he loves to share his toys. "Turbo, look! Buzz Lightyear!"

The idea of Turbo not being around has started to fill my mind, not because he is unhealthy or showing signs of demise. Its the little details, the aching joints, the graying eyelashes, that make me pause and absorb the fact that I need to enjoy every minute of this guy while he is here. It is a raw gut punch to think of the days where he will simply fill the pictures on our wall and not the empty space in my lap. For now, I choose to think about the fact that there is a doggy life vest at our in-laws pool just waiting to be worn this weekend and how I can't wait to see the slobbery grin that accompanies.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Sick Day With Turbo

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I've been feeling under the weather all week long. I kept thinking, "Ugh. I have no outfit photos for the week." This is because no one wants to see me in yoga pants or Uggs. It's not cute, it's not fashionable and combined with a runny nose, it's just plain sad.

The only one happy about my home-bound situation was Turbo. The guy would not get off of me all day long. My one reprieve from having 70 lbs. of perpetually-shedding fur on my lap was when I got up to grab lunch. I came back to the couch to discover him fast asleep in what can only be described as Superman-mode. His extended paws and half-closed eyelids were twitching while he was deeply dreaming (about flying, I assume). I may have been feeling bad, but at least I was thoroughly entertained, cuddled and loved.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thankful


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Thanksgiving is over, but I still hold an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Obviously, I'm thankful for my loving husband and my sweet little son, but I thought today I'd target the space in my heart where my bulldog resides.

Turbo came to us in December 2007. We were the third owners in the first year and a half of his life. He wasn't neutered, he was aggressive towards other alpha dogs, and he was afraid of everything. We are fairly sure he was beat in the past, indicated by some early cowering when objects like tennis rackets or brooms were lifted around him. Separation anxiety has always played a part in his demeanor, even after the 3+ trainers we've hired over the years. He doesn't do well off leash because he doesn't listen, he is stubborn and sometimes he will plant his 70 lbs. down on his hindquarters and refuse to walk. He has pushed our patience to the limit on many occasions.

And then I look down as he sits among the beautiful fall leaves while he looks up at me with a wide doggy grin on his face, his eyes reflecting nothing but love. I can see the gray forming around his left eye and his black wet nose seems to become more pale with age. I notice that he doesn't like to walk at the fast pace he once did, dragging me behind him on his way to his next adventure. Instead, he likes to plop down and stare up at me with a face reflects the happiness I feel when it is the two of us hanging out together. When I plop down beside him to give him a big hug, he rests his big head on my shoulder, his little lifelong quirks on hold for the moment.

Then he goes spastic and bucks me off because he spotted a fly and flies are his kryptonite. He is crazy, this one. But he is my middle-aged baby boy and I can't imagine life without him.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Sniffles

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Oh, hello there. You thought you had escaped me, right? No. There is no escaping me.

These are the pretend conversations I imagine Turbo is having with me when I wake up from a flu-nap only to see this square in my face.

Expecting Chic will be back next week. I have the flu and I have a wedding to attend this weekend. Perhaps next week I will entertain you with pictures of me all dolled up in a dress with a bright red, chapped nose. I know. You can't wait.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Save the Babies and Bulldogs First!

I have many things I obsess over on this blog. Fashion. Functionality. Bulldogs. Let's combine the three for some joyous results, shall we?

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 Dog life vest: Paws Aboard Neon Yellow - size Large

Turbo is wearing the latest in high fashion floatation devices. The neon yellow vest from Paws Aboard provides visibility and comfort, while the mesh bottom allows for a cool circulation. Neon and mesh - so IN this season. For a mere $28, it provides the security and safety required when you can't pay close attention to a weak-swimming bulldog because you are too focused on keeping your squirming son in your arms.

Plus, it is hilarious. I literally danced with glee when I saw this:

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And then I nearly peed my pants laughing when I saw this:

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He was too tired to swim anymore, yet too stubborn to actually get out of the pool.

Typically, I'm not one for dogs in clothes. But dogs in life vests? Apparently, I'm sold.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Professional Relaxation

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When I said I was relaxing this past weekend, I meant it. But clearly, I had the privilege of learning the art form from a professional.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Art of Relaxation

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Happy Monday, everyone. May your week be as stress-free as Turbo's everyday.