In honor of National Pet Day, I’m going to share sad stories of how I suddenly lost two of my fur babies and then tell you happy tails of the new pets that came into my life because of those circumstances.
If you are waiting to adopt a new dog because you are so devastated over the loss of another pet, I hope you will read this and be inspired to welcome new love into your life.
I firmly believe that when our pets leave us, it’s because another dog is waiting at the shelter that needs us.
Our pets teach us lessons, help us discover more about ourselves (maybe you never considered yourself a dog person until you met “the one”) and offer us unconditional love and support for the short amount of time we have with them. One of my friends told me, “When you get a dog, you invest in a tragedy.” It’s totally true, but pets are also among our greatest love stories.
I’m already crying so I don’t know why I’m doing this. But when I think of my pets, I always think of my boy Lucky and my girl Skye, who are no longer with us in physical form but are very much a part of our family spiritually.
Lucky visits me in my dreams all the time. My daughter still talks about him every day. Skye has been gone longer so she doesn’t give me signs of being present with me as much, but a few years ago, her photo used to fly off the wall all the time, and she does visit me when I sleep sometimes.
This is how Skye and Lucky left me and the signs that told me we were meant to have our current rescues, Lulu and Gracey.
SKYE BLUE- German Shepherd/ Siberian Husky Mix
I actually wrote my entire story about Skye in my book, Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s. And I filmed this video blog with Skye and Lucky on my Trash the Dress YouTube page.
We got Skye as a puppy. She was my everything. My daughter, my best friend. She was with me through every breakup, and was my rock during my divorce. She had the softest fur, shed like crazy and sang like a… well, only a husky can!
Skye was in my life when I met my now husband, Frank. We didn’t know she was sick.
After a picturesque Christmas Eve dinner with family (complete with snowfall in the mountains) we arrived home to hear SCREAMING. I didn’t know if it was some weird animal outside or what, but it quickly registered that was Skye’s voice and that certainly wasn’t her usual husky yelling.
Frank got to her first and I just saw him froze, which terrified me even more. We found her in a bedroom with her front leg literally sideways. It appeared that she broke it jumping off the bed when she heard our car come home- at least that’s what we would like to think. I can’t imagine if she was hurt for hours and we weren’t there. Dogs sense their owners cars coming and she probably got excited and jumped off and broke it then.
We rushed her to the animal hospital and waited for x-rays. I prayed they wouldn’t find anything else wrong with her. She had been limping on and off on that leg since the summer. We thought it was arthritis and because I was taking her on 2.5-mile walks every day. I thought perhaps it was too much on her senior legs, so I stopped walking.
The vet told us they found a tumor and that it was most likely cancer, but who knows it could be a fungus infection, etc. She said we needed to amputate her leg or put her to sleep because the leg would not heal. Like, excuse me?!
We asked if we could take her home for the night, to have her home on Christmas and then take her to our family vet the day after. So they bandaged her up on a leopard print cast and put a pain patch on her that would kick in 12-24 hours from then and gave her a lot of medication that made her feel very out of sorts.
She screamed nonstop all night. I even lay down on the floor next to her, but nothing could comfort her. Lucky even went to check on her a few times and lay down next to her. Our vet was away on vacation, so we couldn’t speak with him that morning.
We went back to the animal hospital and this time met with the director. He was so much better than the first vet we saw, who really had no bedside manner. He showed us her x-rays, explained how the odd fracture she had was caused by a tumor and cancer eating away the bone. He shared other cases with us. Three doctors consulted on Skye’s case and agreed that this was very aggressive bone cancer and when you usually find it at this point, it most likely spread to other parts of the body, like her lungs.
If we were to amputate her leg, it might give us another three to six months. Now, if we were guaranteed that amputating her leg would give her more years, we would have gone ahead with the procedure. But the cancer most likely spread and it’s not fair to put a ten-year-old dog through that. He also assed her walking and said her back legs were too weak to support her if we amputated.
We decided that since the bone couldn’t heal and we were not going to amputate her leg, the best we could do for her not to suffer was to put her down. This was the most difficult decision to make.
When the time came, they brought out a Jets blanket to lay her on—This brought out more hysterics because that’s Frank’s favorite team and he was even wearing his Jets jacket. All morning Frank was asking her for a kiss (she LOVED to kiss him and sometimes liked his face for two minutes straight) but she wouldn’t give him one. But right there on the table, I told her to give daddy a kiss and she did. She kissed us both on the lips. Then I buried my head in her fur and wrapped my arms around her neck as Frank held her paw and the vet injected the needle.
She passed away peacefully and loved. We held her till the end.
WHEN SKYE LEFT US, WE NEEDED TO FILL THE VOID IN OUR HOUSE. WE ADOPTED LULU BELLE, a 5 year-old plot hound/ black lab mix.
I wanted a black dog and I wanted to name her Lulu. We went to the shelter to see another dog named Lulu, and our dog (then named Noelle—I always had best friends named Noelle, so this was a sign!), immediately saw Frank and ran over to him. She chose us—well she chose Frank! She’s been with us for years now, living senior life in style. She has no front teeth- she was a puppy mill mom locked in a crate most of her life. She has survived cancer and is a real hero dog. She does her own thing and lets the kids jump all over her. I know she’s getting old and I see the tumors growing on her, but she’s a fighter so we aren’t worried yet! She’s still healthy enough to bark like an old lady and steal food from the kids, so she is doing A-OK!
LUCKY—Aka Mr. Wiggles. (Korean Jindo/ Chow/ Shar Pei mix)
I was the lucky one. This dog changed my life. He was my son. He was with me through the hardest times of my life and by my side as I found my way to the happiest. He introduced me to the world of animal rescue.
I always said I wanted to rescue a dog and name it Lucky. And then it happened…
I found Lucky on the street during a thunderstorm on my way to work one day. He was just sitting on the lawn of an apartment complex, with his eyes closed getting rained on. Every car drove by him but I pulled over and tried to lure him into my car with tuna I made for lunch. It didn’t work. Passerby told me I was a good person. I went back to my apartment and got Skye’s leash, praying he would be there when I got back. And he was. He was meant to be mine.
When I returned, he was there waiting for me. We walked in the rain back to my apartment. I called the animal shelter to come get him, just in case he was injured or someone’s pet. He had a scar by his eye and a little pink nose. We waited in the rain and I fed him dog treats. When animal control took him from me, I started to cry. I felt such a bond with him.
No one claimed him at the shelter and I took him home two weeks later—the day before Mother’s Day 2008. I got my mom a card that said “Thanks for letting me be a mom again” and brought home the dog she didn’t want! I was only allowed one dog in my apartment, so I took turns keeping Skye and Lucky with my mom.
The first night I brought Lucky home, he just lay on the floor and didn’t move. It took three months before he would walk up or down stairs. I had to carry him. He also flinched every time we tried to pet his head– we suspect he was abused. But in time, we rehabilitated him. He was about 1 or 2 years old at the time.
Many training sessions and a year later, Lucky and Skye became best friends. He was always my shadow. The best dog ever. Never had an accident in the house, never barked. Never went on furniture without being asked. All typical traits of a Korean Jindo, which after years of research, I concluded that he was.
Lucky loved to hunt, eat asparagus and be outside. He actually would not come in the house at all- only for Frank. I’m the only person he would ever let look him in the face. And he sometimes licked my hand. I’m the only person he could cuddle with. He loved to sit on my lap and had no idea he was 50 pounds. He would also lean into you when he wanted to be pet.
He was very interested in Geneveive when she was born and soon became her guardian. She loved him. Called him “Lucky boy” and would line up her Cabbage Patch dolls next to him and sit by him. He was so strong, I could barely walk him.
But he couldn’t stand up against cancer.
One Friday night, I noticed he wasn’t acting right. We suspected something was wrong so we called the vet 8 a.m. Saturday morning and by 1:19 p.m. we were in the car leaving the vet, hysterical crying.
We didn’t know Lucky was sick, either. But we found out he was at the very end stages of his life. At first we thought he was going to be OK because the blood tests on his kidneys, etc. came back OK. But the vet felt something was still not right, so she did an ultrasound. His heart and stomach were filled with fluid and the vet gave him a day or two basically. She wanted us to transfer him to the hospital to the oncology unit for the rest of the weekend so they could test him on Monday. But she said the type of cancer he had wasn’t going to respond to steroids. So we made the difficult decision to say goodbye and bring him to peace. She told us we could have taken him home for one night and she would give him medicine to help feel better, but that he felt awful. And we did that with Skye and ended up right back at the vet, so we didn’t want to go that route. It was awful and Frank and I were by his side the entire time. I held him in my arms and kissed his face as it all happened.
FOUR DAYS LATER WE ADOPTED GRACEY.
Seems fast, right? But it was meant to be. I couldn’t take the emptiness in the house after Lucky left, so I started looking at dogs to adopt. We found a purebred lab at the shelter and planned to go see him. Then, I wanted to cancel because it was raining. Frank convinced me to go see the dog.
We went. The lab, it turns out, was not suggested for a family with young kids, so we looked around. And there was Gracey, this 8 month-old floppy fur ball, in her cage. She had just arrived four hours prior. She was noted as a terrier mix. I wanted to see her immediately. Frank cared more about the husky/ shepherd puppy he saw. I won. And Gracey won over all our hearts. On the way home that night, a rainbow appeared—a sign from Lucky. I went back the next day on my lunch break with my co-worker, brought Lulu to meet Gracey and got her.
After Lucky passed away, I soon found out I was pregnant with our son Luca. He’s my rainbow baby. And his due date was near Mother’s Day.
It all ties together!
Gracey is THE BEST DOG EVER—everything I ever wanted. We did a DNA test on her and guess what she came back as?
Mostly SIBERIAN HUSKY, Chow, Lab, Golden, Beagle and Bichon. Literally a mix of all dogs we have had before.
I don’t believe she really has husky in her lineage, but I think it was a sign from Skye that Gracey is meant to be with us, too!
Thanks for reading this super long post. Thanks to my old Facebook Notes published so I could copy and paste most of these old stories. And thanks for adopting rescue dogs! Check out www.petfinder.com for pets that need homes!