Weathering life's furry whirlwind


The spring came in like a lion, and left with Journey.

Rewind two weeks to the start of spring football (more on that later) and to the end of our road with the biggest baby I've ever met. I returned from Houston for work and Josh from a wedding in South Carolina to find Ms. J fragile and unable to walk. The next week was spent at the Eastside Animal Hospital - with a brief back-and-forth-field trip. 

There wasn't much upside to the week which included a giant bill (though substantially smaller than expected), test after test with few answers, a dog blood transfusion from Rex (resident "willing" donor) and heartbreak in eventually having to make a difficult decision to end Journey's life. The great part was meeting a team of people who perform their jobs with love, which we were comforted by during and after we said goodbye.

Journey was a modern story of a girl found on Craigslist by an unlikely pair, still grieving from the loss of Brutus (April 22, 2009). She wasn't well-heeled or bred, but she had tremendous upside. I had every intention of returning Journey to Lisa for training about a month after she arrived to the gas station near our house filthy, with nothing - no collar, leash, food, bowls, bed, toys. But despite the problems - she couldn't walk on a leash, she chewed the baseboard in the laundry room and she ate everything in sight - we couldn't give up on her.

After two days in Ohio with Lisa, our dog broker / family-by-choice in Ohio who can show a dog expectations and love, I drove back with a different dog. I also saw some of Brutus' character in Journey and that brought a certain comfort in remembering our big man. 

Over time, we've enjoyed Journey and it was incredibly sad to see her go, six days and three years from Brutus. She taught us a lot of things, namely to believe. She wasn't the kind of dog we usually got from Lisa (i.e.: perfectly trained, well-bred), but she deserved the life she came to have - with challenges like jumping 5+ feet to get into the compost pile for a "snack," and all.

Journey taught us to believe in people - the doctors, staff, techs - we all were rooting for her to get better and we trusted them to help us do that. Her case mystified the doctors and scores of tests, x-rays, labs, ultrasounds and a lymph aspiration didn't tell us her underlying story. Though our team wasn't able to fix the problem, in her sickness, she showed us her strength. Even at the end, she jumped up to greet us, wiggled her nub, stalked after stray cats and gave us relief from our despair. 

Her death was peaceful - with her life she taught us to experience the joy of a pet again. Brutus was a very special dog, but Journey will be with us always in other ways. When we're ready, the fat paws of a Rott will again roam our halls and we have her to thank for that.

The house is still somewhat full with our kids,  Clever (the 11-year-old-but-you'd-never-know-it) Border Collie and Wheldon (the #Tot I've referred to on Twitter) AKA Smelly because of the number of baths required to keep him from being that way. His favorite pastime is running, playing and flopping on the grass and chewing on a ball, toy or the downspout tray which draws rainwater away from your house - both of which he's collected into his "fort" which is mostly made of the sticks he's made his job to gather from the yard. 

I don't think Clever has time to miss Journey with Smelly chasing her around and taking her tennis balls and/or favorite spot on the couch. Overall, I'd say we were hanging in there as best as we all can.

This is part of how I'll remember Journey, our patient anchor in believing: 

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