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23 months an angel

WOW … just wow. How did we get to 23 months; almost 2 years? Where has the time gone my sweet Shelby? I miss you but you know that. You visit MUCH less. You send less signs. I think you know I am doing better. Almost 2 years and that sparkle has come back to my life, that will to live has come back, the sidekick brings more joy vs guilt. Life moves on. Yet life stands still.

Death and grief are a funny thing. You realize how strong and weak you are all in the same. I just got over the flu and it was a doozy! I remember how you were the best nurse. You just rested with me. And we had snuggles. And it was great for healing. Nothing like a dog’s love.

You were the mom sometimes … even when I had to be the mom and be brave, you were always the brave and strong one. You guide so much of what I do to this day.

I feel more of a peace in knowing that you are my angel … I wish you were still here – in a perfect world – but knowing you keep me safe and keep a watch out for me soothes my heart. As each new soul here earns their wings, the memories of your passing come back fresh and raw. But I wouldn’t change one day of our life together for anything. We did everything we needed to do when we needed to.

I feel less guilt about the things we didn’t do now. I know that our entire life together prepared me for the life I am living now. It isn’t a perfect life but it’s a more peaceful life than it was last year at this time.

There is a degree of sadness that surrounds me at all times and I assume that eventually will fade as it already has. I love to look back on our photos of all the great times we shared … our Santa Barbara trips were the best. I wish I had the courage to go back since it’s a beautiful place and one that brings me peace AND joy but I’m not ready. It was our place and our first vacation and our last vacation together. But these photos from spring break years ago are able to bring smiles instead of tears and for that, I celebrate your day.

I miss you my sweet angel … love of my life … soul mate ….  always and together and for all infinity. Don’t be a stranger! Mama misses and loves you!

At the wineries … one of my favorite photos of Shelby!

Snuggles! At our dog friendly hotel!

Shelby got her sea-legs!

One of my most favorite photos of me and Shelby – ever! I have this framed in my office at work.

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22 Months an angel

Another angelversary? Oh Shelby Lynne…. where has the time gone!?! You visit me so much less. But that doesn’t make me miss you less!!!

February will always be a double shot of grief since Feb 7 is the day that my darling daddy passed away from a long battle with cancer as well. This year was 19 years since he had passed. That seems unfathomable to me. I was a baby when he passed – only 22. I couldn’t even wrap my head around what that meant. And like the grieving process with Shelby, I just kind of became a zombie for years. As I get further away from his passing and further from Shelby’s, I do see a lot of similarities in that grief process. I have experienced romantic heartbreak but nothing compares to the loss of someone you love, admire, respect and strive to be more like – both my father AND Shelby. Neither let their disease define them – in part, some could argue that Shelby was a dog and didn’t know but I don’t really believe that. I believe with my heart and soul that Shelby knew something was wrong but she fought hard and strong since she knew she had to get me to a place of true strength. And when it came down it, I didn’t feel strong at the time, making those end of life decisions for her, but in retrospect, it was the strongest I had been in a long time.

So on Shelby’s day (the 8th) and on Daddy’s day (Feb. 7), I take a lot of comfort in thinking they were together. My daddy LOVED animals – so much so. We always had dogs growing up and in the end, his dogs were of great comfort to him while I was away at college. They were a perfect pack. Kind of like the pack I am creating with Jasper Lily, in that I much prefer to spend time with her other than humans.

Daddy and Shelby also LOVED the beach so to honor them, we went to the off-leash dog beach (forcing Jasper to embrace the beach lifestyle which she doesn’t love but humors me). Jasper had a blast! Divine intervention?!? I think yes.

My daddy loved the beach, the sea, the water … he was a Navy man back in the day. And I remember, as a child, romping around the beach with my parents and the dogs at our beach home. The beach life is in my blood, in my soul.  I am so grateful to live near the beach now.

And Shelby … she loved the beach too. I think she liked to have the fresh air in her nose. She always perked up at the beach – even when she wasn’t feeling the greatest after her chemo, she would definitely get a little boost from our beach time. The Long Beach dog beach was one of the best things that Shelby and I discovered while she was still healthy.

And so it made sense that I would honor them both yesterday with a trip to the beach (along with the new sidekick).

Happy Angelversary you two… I hope you are celebrating together and I know you both watch over me (and the sidekick) all the time. I love and miss you both – always and forever – to the moon and back and for all infinity!

Mother’s Love

Beach therapy!

Pre- cancer … Shelby at the dog beach!

Me and my daddy … Christmas 1995 – our 2nd to last Christmas together. I love and miss this man SO, so much! He was my hero – always

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21 Months an angel

But heck… who’s counting?!? I cannot believe it. Two years ago today I had dropped my sweet angel off to remove that tired old leg and we began our journey as a tripawd. And became introduced to this amazing community. I can still remember, being new, being petrified, already battling cancer (we kind of did things backward in removing the spleen first, starting chemo and then finally taking the tired leg). This community – I cannot state this enough – is amazing. You all embraced us. Talked me through the highs and lows of the surgery day (we had lots of complications and almost didn’t amputate). And calmed me while Shelby was under the knife.

You celebrated with me, read through my rambling stream of consciousness posts and helped me remember that I was doing this FOR Shelby and that I was a GREAT dog mom and I had more strength in me than I thought.

And thus… here we are today. Celebrating ‘Shelby / infinity’ day. As someone shared with me… an eight on its side is infinity and that is the love that Shelby and I have forever. The pain has definitely gotten less. It is still very real and I still talk to Shelby every single day. I still wait for signs that she is with me.

We got two signs over the last couple of weeks. One, at my mom’s house, my mom brought me a heart charm she had found on the floor and asked if it had fallen off one of my earrings. It was not mine and my first thought – it’s from Shelby. Now admittedly, my mom supports and loves me to the moon and back but I also think she thinks I am a little nutty when it comes to these signs. But just the night before, there was absolutely NO explanation for my mom being awakened by rattling chains … see that as you may but I believe Shelby was visiting in the wee hours of the night and only my mom heard her.

Then as soon as we arrived home from our trip, I noticed the new little dog licking something on the floor. Never knowing what is in her mouth when I can’t see it, I reached for her and it was the little coin with three paws that the Tripawds had sent to us after our first Tripawd Foundation donation. There is NO way Jasper could have reached that as it’s on Shelby’s shelf so I can only assume, in true Shelby form, she tossed it on the floor for me to see. As she did with the Christmas ornaments earlier in the holiday season by having 3 jingle and rattle and fall to the floor.

It doesn’t scare me to have the ghost of Shelby in my space. In fact, I love having her there.

I am only sorry that Shelby’s earthly story ended four months after her amputation.  But her story didn’t end there. I truly believe it continues on today; in me, in Jasper, in the life we live. We honor Shelby everyday. We talk to her. We visit her favorite places.

And the bonds … the friendships, the lifelines I have made through this wonderful community. Some days it is so hard to log-in, not knowing what has happened overnight but then I see that we have lots to celebrate. There is so much joy that can and does come from so much sadness.

Shelby did a really great job – protecting her mommy – looking out for me over the bridge, knowing when to visit, sending me Jasper to love. I never thought I would love again after Shelby. I really didn’t. I knew I would have a dog again since that’s who I am but the love and the bond that Jasper and I have formed … thank you my sweet angel girl. You sent me a pretty and photogenic girl, who loves to travel, who is 50 shades of crazy, who has unpacked her baggage in my heart and my home – all the while honoring you.

I love you Shelby … to the moon and back and for all infinity!

Basking in the sunlight after a hike in the hollywood hills (2013)

Mommy went on vacation and all I got was this lousy boa?!? (2013)

First night home after her amputation. Jan 2014

Did someone say dinner?!? A couple hours post-amp and look who was hungry?! So proud of my best girl. January 2014

Honoring Shelby in one of our favorite parks in Seattle. December 2015.

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20 months an angel

I cannot believe Shelby has been an angel for 20 months. A year and a half (a little bit more). Almost 2 years. This will be my second Christmas without Shelby and while it does get easier, the pain is still there. The memories we shared bring me smiles as I pulled out ALL her Santa photos for display. Each one has a special place in my heart as each dress, each antler, each Santa hat. Each costume forever remains locked up in a box under my bed. I can’t bear myself to remove them and I don’t know what else to do with them.

Holidays with Shelby were the best. That dog was SO spoiled! No dog has ever gotten more toys, more bones, more cookies!!! We LOVED (well maybe mostly me) going to Petco or Petsmart to get her photo taken with Santa. It wasn’t the holidays until that was done – and she always had the perfect “I am sooooo going to murder you in your sleep” face. No matter what.

And the Christmas walks on the beach. In her new dress, spreading holiday joy.

I hate the holidays. I have for years. I hate that time between Thanksgiving and New Years with every fiber of my being and I work really hard NOT to show my “Grinchy” side. But with Shelby … I had reasons to smile, to laugh, to feel joy.

Last year was really hard; not only because Shelby had passed but because it was the last month of the last year we had spent together. This year will mark the first full year I spent without my faithful soul mate. It has been a long year. A lot of questions left unanswered. And a lot of soul-searching left to do.

Sunday on our walk, Jasper led me to a shiny penny. I wouldn’t have seen it if Jasper hadn’t stopped and sniffed and then I looked and three more… brand new sparkling pennies!!! From heaven. Shelby always sends me pennies when she knows I need her the most.

I feel fiercely protective of our bond and preserving that bond. I know no one thinks I have forgotten Shelby but sometimes, an hour goes past and I don’t think about her. She is everywhere – on my desk at work, my walls at home, my screens on my phone and computers. It is impossible to forget her. But maybe I just see her all the time, it is like she never left. Of course she is forever in my heart and with the tears and laughter, I feel the pitter patter of her little paws. And if I close my eyes really tight and breath in really hard, I can feel and smell those velvet ears against my face.

As I get ready to say goodbye to 2015 – I look forward to positive energy in 2016. I made it! One whole calendar year without my soulmate, the love of my life, my one and only best friend. Her spirit resides in my heart for fur-ever and I remain guided by her wisdom, her love and her amazing capacity to live each day for the greatest gift that it is.

Love that face so, so much!

Her last Christmas dress …. one of the best, ever!

Santa was always so good to her! Spoiled!

Beach Living – Beach Girls!

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Northern CA Tripawds Gathering

What an amazing weekend – it was fun, cathartic and healing! It was SO amazing to meet so many people who have traveled this journey and survived! My Shelby’s spirit was definitely there and I was so happy to meet Golden Shelby – the Petite Princess! They were one of the first to welcome us on this journey and their initial kindness and outreach to me restored my faith in humans. In the pits of deep depression and sadness, their kind handwritten note (and wine) made more of a difference to me than they will ever know.

Jasper and I drove up Friday and then drove out to the party Sat. We were early so we walked around the park – taking full advantage of the sights and being full of gratitude for our health.

In what seemed like the perfect way to start the day, we saw Shelby and her wagon! And to the party we headed. Before I knew it, more than 4 hours had passed and we had shared amazing stories of fur-babies passed and new fur-babies and relationships that only strengthen with time.

I am posting these photos on Shelby’s blog since without Shelby Lynne… I would never had had the honor to meet these wonderful, caring and loving people. And over 19 months since Shelby earned her wings, this community continues to lift me up, support me, let me cry and remind me that I am getting stronger.

This is a place I never feel judged for missing Shelby. Where there is no time limit on grief. Where Jasper and all her quirks are relished and we are reminded that Shelby brought us together. Because without Shelby, I would not have this community of support. So thank you Shelby – for bringing me light and sunshine on dark times and for sending little Jasper Lily to ensure I would have a travel buddy to explore places outside of LA – where – for one brief afternoon – I could escape my current reality and just be in the moment and “be more dog”.

We can’t wait till the next party!


All checked into the hotel room!


Very cold (39!!!) so it means sweater time!


Checking out the park pre-party.

Checking out the park pre-party.

Pre-party cuddles (it was really cold).

Pre-party cuddles (it was really cold).


Shelby in her wagon!


Obi snuggling on Elly!


Elly and Obi


Austin looking regal and handsome!


Tripawd Hannah


Elly getting braver!


Obi and his little tongue!


Bernie Bin Laden and Linda (white in the front).




Puggle cuddles!




Shelby in the front


The one, the only, BERNIE Bin Laden!




Jasper in front of Shelby’s wagon!


Jasper hanging with the big dogs!


John and Shelby!


Jasper checking it out!


Elly and Obi (*and mom Karen)


Jasper giving me the stink eye on John’s lap!


“Someone” partied too hard!


Good night sweet Jasper Lily! So proud of you.

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19 Months an angel

My darling Shelby … I miss you SO much. With each month that passes it just means it’s been even longer since I have kissed those velvet ears. I find it odd that I can be two steps forward and three steps back in this journey. I know the grief of your passing is something that I will live with forever. And that is OK. We love hard and we grieve hard.

I was out of town this year on the “Day of the Dead”. I thought about you and wanted to honor you in some way but it wasn’t possible. But know you were in my heart ALL day long!

Right before I went out of town, and had to leave Jasper for the first time (which was the hardest thing I have done in a really, really long time) was so thankful to get the shiny penny from you. And the other coin that we found on our walk. Thank you! Thank you for sending me TWO signs that you were OK and that I was going to be OK (and so was Jasper in her first long boarding situation).

There are so many ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ moments that go through my mind. It’s such a waste of energy to live in the past and I strive to live more in the present. Which is why I think leaving Jasper was SO hard on me. I never want to miss one minute of her life as I missed too many of yours as I was learning about myself, growing up and trying to figure out who I was and where I wanted to be in life. I am a work in progress!

We walked down by the beach today. It’s still “our spot” as Jasper tolerates it. She prefers the woods.

And finally, today I was driving home and was behind a car from Tennessee. I rarely notice these things but today I took note. They were from “Shelby”. That was my sign! Thank you my love … I know you are always with me. I strive to do you proud!

I miss you. I love you. I love you to the moon and back and for all infinity! My best girl. The love of my life. My soul-mate. XOXO


My beach girl!

My cajun pooch with her alligator!

Jasper with the coins you sent us! We love you!!!

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Happy Birthday Shelby Lynne!

Happy Birthday my best girl! You would have been 15 today. Somewhere along the line as you started to get older, I had in my mind that you would live to 15 (not the 13 1/2 you made it too). When you were 8 or 9, people said you were getting to be a senior even though you had showed NO signs of slowing down and still looked and acted like a puppy! I told people, Shelby will live to 15. She’s a little dog and little dogs live longer.

But alas, we all know how the story ends and that we  cannot control what the universe has in store for us. So I hope with ALL my heart they are celebrating over the bridge for you today – complete with your tiara and cupcakes and lots of sprinkles and glitter.

Little Jasper looked up at your “shrine” last night and I know she was sending you love and birthday wishes because I know she  can feel your presence. I don’t always feel it but I know she does.

But I know you are ALWAYS with me. So I hope you heard me sing to you this morning, and tell you “happy birthday” and that I loved you and missed you.

Enjoy your special day that I had picked for you when you picked me all those years ago … I love you, my little princess… cuddles, snuggles, hugs and kisses … to the moon and back and for all infinity!


The year I put a candle in your dinner!


Your birthday montage!!! All the amazing times we shared!


Baby 2

One of the first photos I have and only ones of you as a baby!

I love this face!!! I miss this face…. one of your first photos back in 2001.

Your birthday gift a few years ago! Love those little ears!


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18 Months an Angel

I actually had to stop and count on my fingers how many months you have been an angel. I miss you, sweet Shelby Lynne. Every minute of every day. BUT today we celebrate you and your life and your legacy since today is the “8th”.

Thank you for the quarter (you big spender you). I have a little jar with all the items you have sent to me, pennies, dimes, the dollar … I won’t spend them but save them so I can always see how much you love and still think about me. It makes me feel closer to you.

It is your BIRTHDAY month so I hope they celebrate BIG up over the bridge. You always loved your birthday (like your mama). You got a special dinner (sometimes with a candle), lots of presents and lots of cuddles.

I see your beautiful photo on my Tripawds calendar right now… your sweet little smiling face as you balanced so well on three legs. You did SO amazing as a Tripawd. I am forever proud of the strength and courage with which you fought that ugly cancer.

Never was I SO happy to play tug of war with you. This was a couple months before you lost your leg but well into your cancer treatment.

But I miss you – that is the theme that permeates my life right now. I do love the little dog you sent me to bring me smiles instead of frowns and the life that she and I have built together. Sometimes we still act like strangers and two lost souls trying to find our way in this world but then we come together and remember that you put us together because you knew we needed that love and support.

So today, we honor you, little Miss Shelby Lynne and all the lessons about strength, courage and love and living in the moment that you taught us. I strive to remember the happy times. I strive to remember the fun that we had.  I strive to never lose sight of the battle we fought and how we beat those odds – if even for one month longer than what they said – we beat them. My soulmate, my angel, the love of my life. You taught me SO much and I feel your paws on my shoulder all the time. I feel your energy by my side and in our home. I love you! I miss you. I honor you.

I miss that beautiful face!

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Running with the Spirit of Shelby by my side

For the first time in almost 2 years, I laced up my running shoes to run an actual race – not just run on my own for fitness and general health. I haven’t felt the desire to train for anything since my last marathon over 2 years ago. They say when tragedy affects your life, your priorities change. Before Shelby got sick, running was a way of life for me; it was my zen, it was fun, I was always motivated to run faster, further, stronger. I dedicated three marathons, trying to break 4 hours and qualify for Boston. I did it in winter of 2011 and ran the Boston Marathon in 2013. Everyone knows what happened at Boston that year and I was determined to re-qualify to get back there and run that race without the same ending.

But in the fall of 2013, Shelby was diagnosed with cancer and all the training I had done for a fall marathon just kind of fell by the wayside. I didn’t care anymore. I ran that marathon in Salt Lake City but my heart wasn’t in it. I only wanted to get home to Shelby. So I didn’t qualify – I don’t even think I broke 4 hours. I simply didn’t care.

For the next 8 months, I ran to stay fit and to compensate for the wine I was drinking to manage the stress and sadness surrounding Shelby’s illness. While I knew we were beating the odds, I knew deep down our time on earth together was limited.

After Shelby passed, it was almost 2 weeks before I went for a run. It was too much time in my head – alone with my thoughts. Shelby passed on the beach by our home and I couldn’t bear to run past that spot which limited places I could run since I’ve always run by the beach. I could barely make it through a short run without massive crocodile tears and feeling like I would pass out from the crying and emotional pain. Eventually, I got through it and I was able to resume my normal running routine – a couple days a week, no more than 5 – 12 miles at a time and for fitness. No need for speed. No desire to train.

I put together training schedules and lost interest in them all. I am by no means out of shape but I am far from my peak levels of fitness. When did a 14 mile run become so hard? When did it become acceptable for me to bargain my way (in my head) out of running the entire distance I planned to run? When did I become lazy?

Yesterday, to support a friend for charity, I laced up my shoes for a 5K. It’s only three miles (well 3.1) and I run 4 – 5 miles before work a couple days a week so hard could that be? It wasn’t the distance or difficulty level – it was the pride thing. I used to be fast. I used to blaze through a 5K in no time. It’s almost not even worth getting sweaty for less than 25 min. So I went all out. I fired up my legs and said no matter what – I was going to run the whole thing and run it fast. I was going to get it done. And I did. And it felt great. To be surrounded by other runners, competing, racing, running … and for the first time in over two years, I pushed myself and I did it.

I completed the 5K in a little over 22 min and placed 2nd in my age division. (it was a small race). And I felt inspired. I felt like this was something I could do again. I could get this part of my life back.

I know I have a long way to go before I can even thinking of running another 3:35 marathon but that I even want to think abut it is a huge plus.

So I thought about little miss Shelby a lot yesterday. I felt her spirit riding alongside me on the run. I felt connected. And then I had an unsettling dream. I dreamt that Shelby was alive and well but not living with me. She was living with a former acquaintance of mine and she was older and doing well, recovered from her broken leg. I asked if she missed me and thought about me and he said she did. But she saw that I had moved on with Jasper.

My heart broke and I woke up sobbing. It doesn’t make sense. The grief shouldn’t be this intense still. Does my desire to run again mean something? Does having Jasper in my life mean that Shelby thinks I’ve moved on? The mind is the most powerful thing and it can work for and against you. I woke up unsettled and 6 hours later, I still feel “off”. I need my spirit girl to know that she is still the love of my life and her strength DOES guide me daily.

The thing about this journey – while we say the pain lessons – the life we are left with is every changing. I am a work in progress for sure … one step forward, two steps back. Inspired. Hopeful. Optimistic. And still grief stricken…

Santa Barbara 2013

Just love!

The Love of My Life

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17 Months an angel

Dear Shelby,

It’s been a month since I last updated your blog. I miss you. This time of year will always be a bit rough for me since it was when we got the definitive diagnosis of your hemangiosarcoma cancer. I remember when I couldn’t even pronounce this cancer let alone spell it and sadly, it quickly became part of my normal vernacular.

You have been gone 17 months! It feels like a lifetime since I felt and kissed those little velvet ears. I look at photos of you and just miss that sweet little face SO much! You always “got me”. And as time goes by … I realize even more how much the “alpha” in our relationship you were. Little Jasper Lily definitely knows that I am in charge (yet that doesn’t seem to stop her from making some bad choices but she always feels guilty).

Thank you for placing that shiny penny under the rock this weekend. You knew I would find it and think of you! Always sending me money around your angel-versary.

A lot has happened over the past month; as you know we went on the trip up north to Portland and your favorite place, Cannon Beach. It was a great trip and I hope you enjoyed the ride. We thought about and talked about you – a lot! You would have loved that journey.

I am so thankful you found me a great little traveling companion in Jasper Lily. The world would be perfect with the both of you but it has been so much fun getting to know Jasper and seeing her grow. I know you are helping guide her.

It’s almost football season. We LOVED to watch the Saints together. My little Cajun pooch!

There is just so much I always miss about you and how much more healing I need to do … I don’t know that I will ever completely heal and that is OK. I focused last year on Jasper’s issues and getting her to a good place and now it’s time to work on healing me. I moved your photos to one wall and we call it “Shelby’s Corner”. It warms my heart and soothes my soul to look at your corner while I am sitting on the couch.

I am hoping that since last year, I survived all the “firsts” … this year will be easier … I know what to expect, I know what we went through and as much as I do love little Jasper Lily (and I really do), I will always think of my soul-mate, my heart dog, the love of my life!

Mommy misses you … be good sweet girl and remember, I love you to the moon and back and for all infinity!

“Shelby’s Corner” – her photo montages (complete with her paw print). On top of the bookcase, her ashes, her tiara, and all the cash/trinkets she has sent me.

Future’s so bright! Such a patient dog.

Who Dat??! This princess loved her Saints!

Our last trip to Santa Barbara right after her diagnosis! It was a tough trip on the both of us but we always loved our road trips! Kisses for my one true love.

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