I Rang Your Bells Today…

I Rang Your Bells Today…



It seems like yesterday we were celebrating your 6 month birthday

Today you would have been 11 years old, a calm yet a dignified senior. I know your eyes would still be clear and brown, following me silently as I moved about. I also know you would still have your “fetish”  about being clean, something that used to crack your doggy daycare owner up. I took out the bells I hung on the door to housebreak you and allowed myself to wander back to April 2005 when you first entered my life. It was such a long drive, nearly 4 hours one way along a stretch of the turnpike that was completely barren; no stores or gas stations, just trees as far ahead as one could see. When we arrived at the PAWS Shelter in Calais I could literally see Canada as it was just a few minutes walk from where I stood. We bonded immediately ~ so much so that it was uncanny. I remember when out-of-state relatives came to visit in May. They asked if they could take you outside for a potty trip only to return 15 minutes later saying you wouldn’t go. I took the leash from them and walked you out. Once I said the word, you immediately went. They didn’t realize all your commands were in German and acted a bit indignant. But what fun we had! I took you to puppy class that summer and remember how the black flies attacked us. Many of the other humans weren’t bothered but not being a native Mainer black flies were new for me. I researched and found that fabric softener sheets acted as a deterrent so the next week you had them tied onto your collar and I had them stuck everywhere.


I think it was during that class that I first realized that many people from this area resent outsiders or as they refer to us, flatlanders. I was so tempted to ask the extremely rude and condescending class instructor if I needed special dispensation to cross the Maine border but figured it wouldn’t go over too well. I let it bother me for all of one night and after that, I got a secret chuckle out of it. The irony of being called a flatlander is I learned to drive in a mountainous region very similar to Maine sans the rude people. It wasn’t until the last day of class during the graduation ceremony that I wanted to punch her lights out. When handing out the diplomas she referred to you as a “primadonna” and in a snarky tone of voice asked where your Downy dryer sheets were; that you’d have to toughen up if you were going to be a Mainer. Instead, I sweetly told her that although she seems to find the dryer sheets amusing, at least your eyelids weren’t swollen like many of the other puppies in the room that night. She quickly shut up. I also never took her up on her Intermediate Training Course because she was an idiot.

That night when you hopped into my still new Volkswagen Jetta (oh those heated seats), I realized you had quickly become too tall for it. A few weeks later we went car shopping for a mid size SUV. I don’t really think it was because you were a black dog but when salesmen would show us SUVs you hopped into the back of the black ones every time which was a hoot. Unfortunately, because Mom only drives a standard we wound up with a greyish green Honda. I still smile when I think of the dealership’s reaction to me wanting to trade in a 6-month-old car with less than 3k miles on it. They were great though and even installed a barrier gate I bought for the back (not that you ever used it). We had a lot of fun that year taking road trips in Maine to learn about our new state. We also visited other New England states and my home state of NJ. We even spent a few vacations either in NJ or some other state. You were so well-behaved, never chewing or barking unnecessarily in the hotels and never failed to get a compliment from housekeeping.


I took a job as the jail nurse that fall and even though you were only 6 months old knew from the outside of the building exactly where my office was. A few times I brought you into the sally port and had you walk up the stairs and across the catwalk as I called it.

It was important to me that you become accustomed to different surfaces as well as surroundings. That was one of the reasons I walked you on sidewalks in a busy town, dirt roads, and dense woods. I crossed busy city streets with you while traveling so you wouldn’t grow up fearful of traffic. People often asked why I spoke your commands in German since you weren’t a GSD but I told them it was a habit.

Your first autumn you decided to pull the chinking out from between the logs of the house. As I painstakingly hammered it back in I told you if we froze to death that winter it would be your fault so you better knock it off; didn’t faze you. Looking back I wonder if you rather enjoyed it as true chinking is made with hemp. Other than your chinking fixation you were a great puppy, never chewing shoes or door jambs. Although we did suffer a bit of pain when you were teething. Such alligator teeth! Yet at the same time, you were kind for I remember picking Molly, the terrified beagle up from a transport in MA. You snuggled next to her for the long drive home which eased her trembling.picture-4029

The next spring when you turned one you began digging holes in the ground, usually in the same area. You dug so deep that I told you I was going to rent you out as a gravedigger. Once you FINALLY got out of that phase I turned the area into Callie’s Place. A Vietnam veteran down the road made picnic tables, chairs, and wishing wells,  I asked if he could put “Callie’s Place” on a well and he did. Over the summer with your help, of course, I laid weed paper then covered it with cedar chips. We encircled it with rocks we brought down from the mountain and added a small child size bench. Over the years I added a few decorative glass items but for the most part, it remains the same today. Funny how your last summer you and The Germs teamed up and dug a huge hole in the backyard.


I remember when we added Inga to our family and how leery you were of her at first. As tall as you were you were scared of a tiny puppy. Eventually, you became best buddies. The two of you even destroyed the mattress when I boarded you for a few days at doggy daycare, earning your picture on the Wall of Fame.




The years seem to have passed much too quickly. It wasn’t because I worked but rather that it was such a long commute each way that my 12-hour shifts 3x a week turned into 15 or 16 hour days. But at least it gave me four days off in a row so we could do “dog things’. For a dog that was part labrador, you never cared for the water. When we went to the river so you and Inga (and later Sasha) could swim and cool off, you only dipped your feet in the water, preferring to explore the woods behind us. That’s why it was so ironic that your last summer you not only ventured into the river but actually swam. I’ll never forget that summer because at the end of it I kept saying it had been the best summer of your life. Little did I know it would be your last.

There were a lot of “Labrador” traits you didn’t share; playing ball and water sports. I remember when the canine DNA tests first came out and I did one on you. The results were  55% GSD, 34% Labrador and the remainder a bit of this and that. Perhaps the GSD component played a factor in your amazing tracking ability. I often wondered if the “this and that” included Great Dane as you were so tall, much taller than The Germs. You weighed 100# but were lean and muscular. That takes me to the summer of the “boneyard”. You would go outside every day and bring me an animal bone and then sun yourself on the deck. After the third “gift” I followed to see where they were coming from only to discover a boneyard. A quick visit from the Dept of Fish & Game answered my questions. He said they knew coyotes were using my mountain as a crossing to the river because they track activity when possible and if a pack of the coyote encounters a deer they “take it down”. It all clicked then because I often heard coyotes howling in the mountain and every once in a while I’d hear a God awful noise, almost like a woman screaming. The warden explained that was the noise a deer made when being attacked. I kept a loaded gun and when I’d hear then howl I’d shoot off a few rounds hoping it would disperse the pack thus saving a deer.


You were the first dog that was truly mine.  Yes, I had one when I emancipated but you were different. Whereas that was happenstance I searched Petfinder diligently for you. Once I decided you were the one I had to wait for you to turn 8 weeks old. I still remember how excited I was when I brought you home. Our friend Tom tried to talk me into giving you to him because you were so adorable. Little did I know that the fluffy black baby I’d picked out on a computer would turn into a dog that gave me more love, attention, and concern than my own parents.You had such an uncanny ability to hone into my every emotion, often before I knew they were there. I think with the proper training you would have made a wonderful PTSD dog.


I also looked at your ThunderShirt today, the first time since you left me. For such a big fearless dog thunderstorms reduced you to a quivering mass of jelly. When Maine approved fireworks in 2012 it became even worse for you because people were either shooting guns, fireworks or both. I’d read such good reviews of the ThunderShirt and must say it helped you tremendously although initially, I thought you looked funny wearing it.

I’ve thought about you a lot this week because your birthday was approaching. I wanted so much to make a tribute video but simply couldn’t get the hang of it. Plus I recently received some news about the veterinarian whom I blame for your death. One of the vets who fought to save your life that night sent a letter of complaint to the Board of Veterinary Medicine. She knew your vet was grossly negligent to keep you in her office all day with a slow dripping IV and a temperature escalating to a dangerous level. The Board issued her a reprimand ~ that’s it. She caused your death by allowing your temperature to reach over 106 degrees then told me it was time to leave as she was closing early. By the time I got you to the emergency clinic 2 hours away your temperature was over 107 degrees. They worked all night and got it down but the damage to your organs had already occurred and you were in acute renal failure. I did what I thought was best for you that day ~ taking you to your lifelong local vet because of the temp and nausea. I thought it would be easier for you to take a 20-minute car ride than a 2 hour one. I was wrong, a mistake that will never happen again. Not only was she your veterinarian but she was my friend;  we both hail from the city. We shared the same values, opinions and we had the same accent. I didn’t mention her for a long time and when the Board sent me forms to fill out I kept procrastinating. Now, however, I call it as it was; she caused your death. I know it, the doctors in Portland know it and most of all, she knows it. She apparently zeroed out my bill as I never received one (I wouldn’t have paid it anyway). She also purged all of your dog and cat siblings records because when I started going to a new veterinarian they called to get records and were told they didn’t have any plus never heard of my name. I saw her this summer at the Farmer’s Market while there with Sasha. She was heading over when she spotted me and did a fast about-face. Too bad because even though Sasha has a bum leg and lost her vision, once a Schutzhund IPO 3 (masters level) it’s ingrained. I would have told her to sitz  (sit) and gib laut (bark) just to watch the vet scamper as GSDs always made her nervous especially if they were working dogs. Oh well, there’s always next time.


I miss you Callie Ann my angel, just as much as ever. I find myself remembering the abundance of joy and laughter you brought to my life more now than I did after you first left and I jumped on the Crazy Train of Grief. I still cry every once in a while when I see your picture appear on the digital frame and sometimes I daydream, remembering the many happy times we shared, how you enriched my life in ways that you can’t possibly know. There’s a black girl named Maddie who left her Mom one month after you left me. I like to think that you have found each other and are spending your days playing, free of the stress and pain of illness. And most of all, I KNOW we’ll be together again. You’ll run up with your favorite toy, Pinky, and look at me with those beautiful brown eyes and nudge me as if to say “Where’ve you been”? And I’ll tell you I had things to do but I’m here now and will never leave again.


Jeanne B


**I tried to get this up for her birthday but have literally been snowblowing and hand shoveling snow for over 6 days.

Callie Ann…

Callie Ann…

One year ago today  I was less selfish than I’ve ever been before. At 1:15 pm on November 6, 2015,  I  set my very best friend free. I think of that last lick on my hand or her hair that stuck to my clothes as I lay beside her in her final hours. I remember those deep, soulful brown eyes that will never greet me with such joyful expression or meet mine from the backseat of “her” Honda. I’ll never enjoy her comforting presence at my side, each basking in our inherent mutual trust and it breaks my heart all over again.  I know some people don’t understand and say “it’s just a dog.” But she saved my life in more ways than one. She was my muse, the reason to put one foot in front of the other when life had nearly defeated me. She gave me something that no single human, animal, or event had ever managed to do before and I will be eternally grateful for being blessed when I adopted that  little black puppy from Calais, Maine  in 2005.


My  life is never going to be quite the same.Yes I have other companion animals that I love with all my heart. They make me laugh, always keeping me on my toes with their individually unique personalities. They shower me with love and affection as do I them.  I spend more time and money on their medical care than on my own and that’s ok; they’re family. Yet something is missing, an essence that Callie brought forth every single day. I can’t describe our bond. It was like the once in a lifetime love many people have with  a companion, beautiful but beyond words. I miss my love and look forward to the day I am reunited with my beautiful black girl.

A Poem For Callie…

A Poem For Callie…


May I go now?
Do you think the time is right?
May I say goodbye to pain filled days
and endless lonely nights?

I’ve lived my life and done my best,
an example tried to be.
So can I take that step beyond
and set my spirit free?

I didn’t want to go at first,
I fought with all my might.
But something seems to draw me now
to a warm and loving light.

I want to go. I really do.
It’s difficult to stay.
But I will try as best I can
to live just one more day.

To give you time to care for me
and share your love and fears.
I know you’re sad and afraid,
because I see your tears.

I’ll not be far, I promise that,
and hope you’ll always know
that my spirit will be close to you
wherever you may go.

Thank you so for loving me.
You know I love you, too.
That’s why it’s hard to say goodbye
and end this life with you.

So hold me now just one more time
and let me hear you say,
because you care so much for me,
you’ll let me go today.

“Dedicated to everyone who has ever had to have  a beloved dog laid to rest.”

Author: Susan A. Jackson




I cannot take credit for this poem as it was written by Susan A. Jackson, a gifted author and poet who penned it after she had to make the heart wrenching decision to have her beloved dog laid to rest. Although our paths never crossed, Susan lived in my native New Jersey. She wrote this over fifteen years ago and it remains a well-loved poem for the loss of a pet as well as a human family member, often for a hospice patient.

Advice From A Grieving Dog Parent…

Advice From A Grieving Dog Parent…

I lost my beloved dog, Callie Ann, on November 6, 2015. Ironically it was not because of her recent lymphoma diagnosis  but rather irreversible kidney damage brought on due to mismanagement of an extremely high temperature by her local veterinarian of nearly ten years. This was not the scenario I had envisioned for my sweet girl. Just earlier that week her oncologist was excited to report that her lymph nodes had shrunk “90%” after just one IV chemo infusion. Her prognosis was excellent and I thought we’d have “more time”. This post isn’t about laying blame but rather regrets for missed opportunities and suggestions that might keep another person from experiencing the heartache and anguish I’ve gone through and to some extent ~ still am.

♥︎Take lots of photos with both you and your 4 legged companion. Callie had an inmate ability to tell if someone was holding a camera and as a result always turned her head away. I’ve got hundreds of photos and videos of her that I often resorted to subterfuge to get but sadly, only a handful of us together. All because I didn’t want a photo of the back of her head. Now, I’d give anything for more pictures of us together ~ back of the head and all.

♥︎Advocate for your beloved companion just as you would for your child or significant other. Just because the person treating your pet has been their veterinarian for years doesn’t guarantee their diagnosis/treatment is correct. If a little voice creeps into your head questioning the treatment or if you get an uneasy feeling in your stomach ~ act. Question your vet, ask for a second opinion from another doctor in the practice. Don’t just assume that because they have DVM after their name they’re automatically right. Callie is proof that mistakes happen and tragically, the cost of that mistake was her life.

♥︎Don’t allow a vet, their tech or their assistant to intimidate you. They need to  accept that you have your pets best interest at heart and understand when you question something. If they are unwilling to listen then find a new practice.

♥︎Never, ever give up if your pet is given a serious diagnosis like cancer. Don’t let the high cost keep you from getting treatment (if the age and prognosis is favorable). There are many organizations that can hep fund the treatment along with Care Credit, fundraising, social media to name a few.

♥︎Know when to say goodbye. None of us want to lose our beloved pet and sometimes that causes us to hold on “just a little longer”. Ask yourself “Am I doing this for the RIGHT reason? If it was me, would I want my family to keep me alive despite my failing health?” Always remember that it’s the quality of your pet’s life vs the quantity of days. As painful as it is, be prepared to give your faithful friend that one final gift.

♥︎Spay/neuter and keep vaccinations up to date. Yes the vet visit can be expensive but if you can’t afford pet insurance call your vet to ask about prices then incorporate them into your budget so that when the time comes you’ll have the money. Also keep in mind that many communities offer low cost rabies vaccinations and animal organizations offer low cost spay/neuter clinics. Do your homework ~ your pets good health is worth it. Trust me, that mani/pedi can wait; monthly heart worm prevention can’t.

♥︎Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Carve time from your schedule to spend with your faithful friend. Take walks, go to a lake or even a lawn sprinkler in summer. Toss a few snowballs in the winter or frolic in freshly fallen snow.Go hiking whether in the mountains or a stroll on a city sidewalk. Create your own adventure! Talk to your friend while cooking, sewing, working on your car. Surprise them with a treat they love like deer antlers, rawhide or a stuffy. Make a ritual you and your pet can do together and that they can look forward to such as getting the daily newspaper, waiting for the school bus or walking to the post office. We don’t realize it at the time but each interaction fills pages in a memory book that will last forever within our hearts.

♥︎Finally, love them unconditionally just as they do you. In a 100 years, will those occasional dog hairs on your black coat really matter? Trust me, I’d give the world to find some of Callie’s precious black hairs anywhere!

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Now go hug your pet!


Tribute To My Callie…

Tribute To My Callie…

♥︎♥︎♥︎ Where to Bury a Dog…♥︎♥︎♥︎

But there is one place that is best of all…

If you bury her in this spot, the secret of which you must already have,

She will come to you when you call

Come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death,

and down the well-remembered path

                                                           and to your side again.                                                                                                                                           

And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel,

They shall not growl at her, nor resent her coming,

For she is yours and she belongs there.

People may scoff at you,

Who see no lightest blade of grass bent by her foot fall,

Who hear no whimper pitched too fine for audition,

People who may have never really had a dog.

Smile at them, for you shall know something that is hidden from them,

And which is well worth knowing.

The one best place to bury a dog is in the heart of her master.

Callie Ann Feb. 16, 2005 ~ Nov 6, 2015


The World’s In Turmoil So Let’s Talk Hair!!!

The World’s In Turmoil So  Let’s Talk Hair!!!

Hair. Let’s talk about something we can relate to in one way or another. We all have it as well as the accompanying emotions that seem to cause us endless angst. We have straight hair but long for curls. Natural redhead but would prefer being deep brunette. Or those who struggle to stay ahead of graying locks and when the battle is lost, struggle to stay ahead of the gray roots. I’ve always said, if I worried about my body the way I do my hair I’d look like Madonna  back in the 90’s but minus the cone bras.

Look at her pecs!

Let me tell you about my hair. It is extremely thick and I can honestly say every stylist who has ever worked on it “claim” they’ve never seen such thick hair (which somehow I doubt). In my late teens I allowed a stylist to thin it out with thinning shears ~  never again. Because my hair is also course (especially the top) when it was thinned I had pieces sticking out all over my head that literally resembled corkscrews . I’ve had stylists subtly ask if I was biracial because of the texture of my hair ~ the horsehair part that is. I’ve been tempted to say that I’m only biracial on the top of my head but haven’t. Biracial isn’t a bad thing but I’m 100% Irish with extremely pale skin and dark hair. Adopted by a Polish couple and later lived in Little Italy. Some diversity right?


I’m now nearing 50 so have undergone quite a few hair transitions over the years. Frosting in early 20’s which was torturous because they used THOSE caps. For me it was like they were pulling my brains out because of the thickness but did I have it done again? Of course! In hindsight I think I must have been going through a masochistic phase but didn’t realize it.

Man did that hurt!!!
blog 8
What was I thinking???









I’m a natural dark brunette with red undercurrents that keep coming through. But I have something different in that I have a Mallen Streak . I was born with one in the area of my upper right hairline. As a child my adoptive step-mother (who knew one kid could have so many mothers?) would take me into a room and have me look at a photo of Shirley Temple and berate me for not looking like her. “Look at Shirley’s beautiful curls Bunny. Why can’t you look like her?” or “Shirley doesn’t have that horrible white spot on HER hair”. I had no idea who Shirley Temple was but I knew I didn’t like her because I was constantly being compared to her. At home I was ridiculed for my white patch as well as for my “birds nest” ~ a term they used to describe the particularly course, thick hair on the top of my head.

Sorry Shirley ~ you had cute dimples!

At school I was called Skunky, Lily Munster, Bride of Frankenstein or Pepé Le Pew. Seriously? Ridiculed and beat at home and taunted at school. The name calling continued throughout high school but seemed more like a harmless joke then as opposed to the cruel way grade school children inflict pain with their words. I think I began honing the fine art of sarcastic retorts during my time in high school because I’ve got quite an impressive collection.



True Fact: Boris Karloff’s daughter Sara has a Mallen Streak…

Once I gained my freedom, one of the first things I wanted to do was have my white streak colored but was told it was impossible. I eventually discovered (pre Google folks) that the hair lacks pigment). Looking back I think that’s what steered me in the direction of the masochistic frosting cap.

In my late 20’s and into early 30’s I had that section bleached then highlighted. I had the chunky highlight going on before it became vogue. But alas by late 30’s I was tired of it. Salons had found a way to color Mallen Streaks so I was on that like white on rice. I turned my dark brown hair with the auburn highlights into dark brown with burgundy highlights. I thought it looked fabulous but in reality I probably resembled an eggplant from the neck up.

How I thought my hair looked…
How it REALLY looked!









That phase ended in a few years and I stuck with dark brown for my streak, stripe or chunk. In between I went through a braid phase  (and occasionally still do especially for hiking) and actually am somewhat adept at a variety of braids. I used to put my toddler granddaughter’s hair in cornrows just to annoy her mother (my son’s now ex-wife). In 2011 I had my hair chemically straightened and can say with all honesty that was my favorite hair phase. When I returned a year later to the same stylist to have it done again, I had major breakage and I really do think it was “operator error” as the whole process was somewhat different from the first time so despite a love of all things three, won’t go for a trifecta.


Look Mama! Cornrows!

Since I discovered Argon and Macadamia oils my hair is much more manageable and I’ve come to love it. During the winter I do add a bit of EVO to the shampoo just before I slap it on my wet head because it gets dry easily if I don’t stay one step ahead of it. After towel drying I use a spray leave in conditioner. I can’t find the one by Nexxus that I used for years but recently discovered It’s A 10 Silk Express Leave In  that’s quite nice. Then I follow that with either one of the oils and I’m good to go.

The texture is such that I essentially wash and go as I despise blow drying (makes it frizz uncontrollably). I rarely use a comb instead opting for fingers and until last winter I kept it pretty long. When my dog Callie died in November I hopped on what I eventually began to refer to as the “Crazy Train of Grief” and a week later went into the bathroom and cut inches off. Then a few days later I cut some more. And because I like the #3, I went back one more time and tried to layer it. Yeah, not a pretty picture. A return of the corkscrews from my late 20s only cut by Edward Scissorhands before he honed his craft.

Never cut your hair by watching a You Tube tutorial!

During my train ride I also didn’t worry about the Mallen ~ until the day I decided to self color my entire head with a dark brown. It came out nearly black! Because I used a permanent one as opposed to semi-permanent, my choices were live with it or lift it. Therein was the problem because I didn’t want my hair bleached or stripped simply because of its course dry texture. I scoured the internet and found an interesting concoction that received great reviews on Makeup Alley (my go to site because every woman who lives in the willy whacks up a densely wooded mountain simply must know the latest fads). It’s a mixture of crushed Vitamin C tablets combined with shampoo to make a paste which you apply to wet hair.  To be honest my family thought I’d been on the train too long as they heard me use a meat mallet to pulverize the Vitamin C tabs inside a zip lock bag.  However it worked and I had my normal dark brown back plus the streak. At that point I decided on a different approach; I’d “embrace” my white streak. It’s visible from mid winter in my Gravatar picture. I still liked it then. I liked it for nearly six months. Now however I’ve decided (depending on the day of course) that it’s served it’s purpose and must go back into hiding. I mentioned this to my hairdresser when I ran into her recently and she babbled about all the coloring ideas she had for my streak; lavender grey, plum, copper, or a sparkly silver. I just looked at her, laughed and said “Hell No”.  I have an appointment this Wednesday and she booked me for enough time in case I change my mind. Somehow I doubt it but then, never say never.After all, I don’t drink, smoke or go anywhere (except of course the veterinarian) because I hate driving 5 miles one way to shop so I guess you could say hair is my hobby…


Welcome to my hair! In a way it’s therapy…

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Hello Epiphany! I’ve Been Waiting For You…

Hello Epiphany! I’ve Been Waiting For You…

The recent death of Pennsylvania DOC K9 Totti has galvanized me into action more than any issue in many years. K9 Totti, a two-year old yellow lab, was left by her handler, Sgt. Chad Holland, in the car on a day when the temperature outside was in the high 80’s. Unlike some police cars, the DOC vehicles do not have safety monitoring equipment installed that could save a trapped K9. Instead, Holland left K9 Tottie for over two hours while he attended a training session. The temperature inside the car would have rapidly escalated to over 100 degrees. There is no doubt in my mind that this poor dog suffered. When Holland realized his negligence, he and coworkers rushed to the vehicle and took actions to cool the still breathing K9 down. They then took her a veterinary facility where she was treated. I know I put the timeline in a previous post but this is  germane  so please bare with me ( failed to notice until today that in this timeline issued by the DOC they referred to K9 Totti as male when in fact the dog the officer was female):

12:15 p.m.- Dog handler stored training items in his vehicle at the end of a training session
2:44 p.m.- Dog handler realized Totti was locked in the car. Dog handler and other Drug Interdiction Union staff cooled Totti down with water and carefully placed him in ice to reduce body temperature.
2:58 p.m.- Totti was placed in truck and driven to vet clinic.
4:15 p.m.- Totti’s body temperature was back to normal, but creatine levels were high; blood sugar was low but being treated; heart rate remained elevated
7:30 p.m.- Totti passed away

The key words for me here is “creatinine levels” as they indicate Totti suffered acute and irreversible renal failure because her body was subjected to a very high temperature for several hours. It dawned on me today why this dogs death has resonated with me on such a passionate level; my own dog Callie Ann who died last November.  Yes Callie had lymphoma however THAT is not the reason she died. I have been reluctant to go into great detail surrounding her death for several reasons ~ the primary being that nothing could bring her back. I could publicly flog the person responsible yet it wouldn’t change the outcome. At the end of the day my black angel still wouldn’t be by my side.

After Callie’s initial chemo dose, her lymphs reduced by 90% and her oncologist was extremely optimistic. During the week until her next chemo she became quite nauseous. It didn’t stop so I decided she needed to be seen. I checked her temperature and it was slightly elevated. Not wanting to subject a nauseous dog to a two-hour car ride to the specialty practice, I opted to take her to our local veterinarian of many years. She started an IV and put Callie and me in a cluttered back room. I laid on the floor next to her, constantly talking and petting her. She seemed warmer so I asked them to check her temperature; it was elevated to 103.2. The vet assured me this was fine and said “that shows her immune system is working”. Something in my gut didn’t feel right but I am not a veterinarian so I stayed silent. We spent several hours in that room with the vet’s children coming in and out as they apparently stay at the practice after school. I asked again to have her temperature checked and the male tech openly expressed his annoyance via his body language and audible sighs. I insisted and her temperature was now 105. I called out to the vet saying that Callie was in danger but she assured me she wasn’t. At this point I began to panic and emailed her oncologist in literal desperation. My email opened with “Please help me”. He responded and said Callie needed to be hospitalized and TREATED. A few minutes later someone from the specialty practice called the veterinarian asking if she was going to treat and admit Callie. She said no, that actually she was closing early and if I wanted Callie to have further care I could take her to an animal emergency clinic. When she hung up with them she turned and told me the same thing. We left and drove straight down to Portland. The specialty practice also has a 24 hour Animal Emergency Clinic in the same building so that’s where I wanted her as opposed to an emergency clinic that was a bit closer. The Animal Emergency Clinic and the specialty practices collaborate so closely that I knew this was best for Callie. When we arrived they took her from our car into the building via stretcher. A few minutes later the technician came out to tell me Callie’s temperature was over 107. My heart dropped when I heard that number because I knew that it was extremely high and she risked organ damage. They immediately gave Callie a cold bath and were able to lower her temperature. But that begged the question ~ what were her internal organs doing? Having an ultrasound was an option and I chose to pay extra money to have the internist come in and do it that night. I was thrilled when she arrived to see it was Dr. Sarah Noble, my German Shepherd Sasha’s internist whom I have come to respect tremendously in the three years she has been treating Sasha. The ultrasound was good and her labs were somewhat acceptable so her prognosis was guarded. Time would tell. We spent the night at a local motel and went back early in the morning. The Animal Emergency Clinic transferred Callie over to the specialty practice even though she stayed in the same area. As soon as Dr. Noble entered the room I knew by her face that my time with Callie was drawing to an end. Her creatine levels would not stabilize and she was in acute renal failure that they could not reverse. It was from having a high temperature for several hours without treatment. They told me the exam room was “yours for as long as you need it”. I spent four hours with my angel, telling her how loved she was, how much joy she had brought to my life, and how I never, ever expected this to happen. I would have paid any price, done anything if only I could have changed the outcome. When I saw that she was becoming uncomfortable I summoned Dr. Noble. At 1:15 pm on Friday November 6, 2015 I said goodbye to the best friend I’ve ever had.



I then embarked on what I called “The Crazy Train of Grief” which literally lasted for two months. I did things I’d never done before such as hacking my hair off in the bathroom, not eating, cooking, cleaning the house, paying bills ~ I merely existed. I shared my intense grief with another woman who lost her “heart” dog several weeks after I lost Callie. We bonded because we both had loved and lost beautiful black angels who filled our lives with unbridled joy. The pictures I post every Sunday morning at 7:33 am along with a prayer is my special tribute to these incredible dogs who blessed our lives. Until the day comes when each of us meet our black angels again, my weekly ritual must suffice.
Callie’s premature and unnecessary death also prompted me to become a “helicopter” dog owner, a word usually applied to parents. I oversee every aspect of Sasha’s treatment, get copies of every lab result and progress report which I then scan into the computer. I’m respectful to all the veterinarians on her team because they’re all consummate professionals. However I’m not afraid to ask a question (or 100) if there’s something I don’t understand and basically micromanage all her treatment. I learned trough Callie Ann’s death to never take what a veterinarian says as gospel if it raises an internal red flag. I only wish I hadn’t been so trusting last November.

So for this reason,  K9 Totti’s tragic and unnecessary death has provoked me into action. I’ve collaborated on a petition which now has over 100k signatures, checked and double checked facts by email with the reporters who wrote various articles, and created a firestorm on Twitter. I’m not writing this to call attention to the negligence of K9 Totti’s handler; I do that through other venues. Instead, I’m writing it because I finally understand just why this K9s death is so intently personal to me.

Ending with a quote that I use as a signature for my email!