#TBT Our last vacation together

I find it so hard to comprehend that it was almost a year ago (this weekend) that Shelby and I took our last road trip together. There was a part of me that “knew” as a mother always does, that it would be our last trip. And I tried SO hard to enjoy it, be more dog, and live in the moment and not think about the ticking time bomb, also known as hemangiosarcoma. Shelby didn’t know she had cancer. We were going to – as we always had when the going got rough – escape our reality.

I hadn’t been to Santa Barbara in almost 2 years since I had been up there with an ex. It was ALWAYS mine and Shelby’s place but I ventured up there with T with false hopes of a for-ever love becoming a reality. Obviously that didn’t happen and it was always too painful to go back but I wanted to take that place back as mine and Shelby’s special place. We had spent many weekends there over the years, going to wineries, going out to eat, hanging by the beach… Shelby loved it almost as much as I did!

So we packed up our stuff and hit the road. Shelby, at this point, hated riding in the car and I later learned that was probably because her broken yet repaired bum leg still bugged her. I was the ultimate nervous mommy … venturing two hours away from our ER vet but they assured me it was safe to take Shelby. Nonetheless, I found ER vets in Santa Barbara!

The weather was perfect and as soon as we hit the outskirts, Shelby perked up. We stopped for a picnic lunch and headed off to our favorite winery. No one noticed the slight limp on Shelby OR the shaved fur. They all remarked that she acted and looked like a puppy. She was almost 13. Shelby was the life of the party – as always. EVERYONE was drawn to her. Her personality, her smile, her positive energy.

Just a dog and her vineyard!












Aaaaannnndddd … she’s done! Dog’s a light-weight!

We hit up a couple wineries and then headed to check into the hotel. Of course there were a million stairs UP to the room so I carried Shelby up them to avoid any  strain on her leg, joints, body. She was always great in hotels. Never barked. Made herself at home. Never insecure or weird. I unpacked our stuff, took her for a quick walk and we headed into town for dinner.

Dining with Shelby was always an experience. She was a begger but she was “usually” pretty good about boundaries but she liked to ‘visit’ other tables so I had to keep her on a super short leash and even put her on my lap from time to time. It made it harder to eat or drink but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was the best!

My best girl!
Wine and my girl… could life have been any better?

We headed back to our hotel and had some wine out in the courtyard and that is where I truly lost it. I think reality kicked in about what we were dealing with. I was scared. I was saddened. I didn’t see how I could go on without Shelby. I didn’t know what that life looked like (I still don’t but I go through the motions each day).

Outside at the hotel – could she be any happier?

The next morning, Shelby wasn’t feeling 100% … I could see it in her eyes so I got us packed up early and was ready to head back. But I wanted to take her by the beach one last time. It was her favorite place and mine too. So  I got out our blanket and we shared it. Well actually, Shelby took the whole damn thing and I was mostly on the grass (the things we do for love). And a peace came over her. She settled. She seemed calm. She seemed to be taking it all in. She was ‘one with nature’. Until she started to pant (her usual signal that she’s had too much), we just sat and listened to the ocean and the breeze.

Taking the whole blanket
A compromise!

We drove back to LA and as soon as we got back, she was fine. She settled back into her home and her routine. And then the next week, we started chemo.

So  next week, I’ll go on my first vacation in over a year when I travel home to Seattle for the wedding of my two dear friends. I am excited to celebrate their union, their love, their commitment. Last year at this time, I didn’t know how I would swing their wedding in October if Shelby was still with me. I knew it would have been an inner struggle with my devotion to the love of my life and my devotion to the one man (aside from my daddy) that has always had my back.

I still don’t know if I can go back to Santa Barbara. The memories of ALL my trips with Shelby are too fresh in my mind. She was the BEST travel buddy. Many photos I have framed around my office and apt are of our trips up there and they serve as constant reminders. When I think back to this trip a year ago, I force my brain to go to the happy place – not the dark place. I find myself living too much in that dark place right now – too many regrets, too much guilt, too much sadness. Shelby wouldn’t want that. Shelby has moved on. She lives in her moments and she has a new life … and I am not in it right now and that hurts me so much. I wish, wish, WISH we could still be together. But she visits (more and more now since I think she knows these next months are going to be very hard on me), as I hear click, click, click of nails on the floor when there is no dog on the floor.

I desperately want to run away, escape reality but the funny thing about running away, you always have to come back and that same shit is still there. So next week, when I leave Los Angeles, I’ll look at it as a respite from this world and part of my healing process…because ..till we meet again, my Shelby Lynne … my soul mate … my one true love… you are truly fur-ever in my heart!

From our photo shoot a year ago … Love this face … forever, to the moon and back and for all infinity…

One year ago today … the news

It was one year ago today I got that dreaded call – “Shelby has hemangiosarcoma”.

What started off as a wonderful day – off to a new job with lots of promise, opportunities, excitement. I felt like my world and my bad luck with crappy jobs had finally turned a corner. I was valued and needed by a team that was sure to be a wonderful one. I remember driving the long commute home (well, not every job has the perfect commute, right?) and talking to my mom about how LUCKY I was. I got to work in a place that was similar to my high school (which I loved) and I got to meet the most amazing and interesting people. Everyone was nice. They were supportive. I had my own BIG office.

First day of work snuggles! Shelby wasn’t used to being up so early so she looked a bit sleepy.

And most importantly, Shelby had done great on her first full day at home without me – for the first time in over two months. She was snuggled up on her bed when I got home and we began, what would become one of the best parts of my day, when I would walk in the door, rush to her side and gently rouse her from sleep with soft sweet kisses on her velvet ears. She would make the happy moaning sounds of delight and slowly rise up, stretch, and we would go outside for our short walk. She was still a quad-pawd at this point but the stairs were hard on her. We would then have our ‘happy dance’ time around DINNER.

Did someone say dinner!?!? Always such a happy, happy girl!

As I sat down on the couch, with a glass of wine and my best girl next to me, my phone rang. Advanced Critical Care on the caller ID. I figured they had the results of Shelby’s spleen removal. I didn’t want to answer the phone but I knew that I had.

It was, of course, the worst possible news. EVER. As I tried to contain my tears and shock, I “heard” what the doctor said. I vowed to fight. We would do chemo. We would prove them all wrong.

I hung up and called my mom and burst into the biggest tears. I couldn’t breathe. I felt suffocated. I felt scared. I felt alone. And I felt anything but strong. As I looked at my beautiful Shelby, I saw that there was no fear in her eyes. Her world hadn’t changed. She didn’t know what was wrong. I knew then, as I had back in June when she broke her leg, that I needed to be strong for her. I needed to rely on her strength to guide me. And I knew that I had to believe in positive thinking and prayer.

And I knew that I couldn’t mess up this job so I needed to put on the biggest happy face and channel that positive energy the best that I could to get me through the days, the weeks and months yet to come.

I made plans for us to go to Santa Barbara (which on a level I did know would be our last trip up there). I made the decision not to leave the state or Shelby while she was ill. I made the decision to make Shelby my #1 priority. And I made the hardest decision of all – to fight this alone. I didn’t tell a soul. I alluded to it on Facebook, etc with the hashtag #shelbystrong and #dogisafighter but no one knew for many, many months what we were fighting at home. Because Shelby looked good – the whole time. She looked like a puppy. She acted like a happy dog.

As the days, weeks and months wore on, it got harder to put on a happy face and hide my internal fear. But I am proud that Shelby almost never saw me cry. She saw concern, compassion, helicopter parenting but she never ever saw the incredible fear that I felt. We had the best doctors; we made going for chemo a happy experience. I treated her the same – told her to “suck it up, buttercup” when I knew she could and would do something.

#truth #shelbystrong

So today marks one year in which our short seven month journey with cancer began. I miss you, Shelby Lynne. I love you more than life itself. And I think about you every single day. And I still dream about you. You remain – the absolute LOVE OF MY LIFE!

Five Months an angel

4.8-.14 – 9.8.14 

How have five long months passed already? It feels like yesterday and forever all in the same. Time stands still yet time goes on without my best girl by my side. I miss Shelby every single day. The pain does indeed subside but there is still a dull and constant ache.

And not only has it been five months since you joined the other Tripawd heroes (Jake, Sassy, Brendol, Jerry, Libby, Polly, Franklin, Maggie and many others who were there to greet you) but September marks one year since we got that fateful call with the worst possible diagnosis. Oh how I had wished it had been Osteosarcoma since your diagnosis of Hemangiosarcoma was so much worse.

I remember it like it was yesterday. We had spent a wonderful weekend with our friends; two young pups and Shelby was such a good sport. She played a bit but mostly kept to herself on my lap. I suspect that rear leg was probably bugging her but she was putting on a brave face. The grown-ups drank wine and ate cheese and crackers (and I probably slipped Shelby a few slices of cheese). Shelby was the alpha in the group and the other dogs respected and honored her hierarchy.

Wine night















Fun with other dogs!












The next day, while suffering a wicked hangover, Shelby and I snuggled up to watch our beloved Saints take on the Atlanta Falcons. While I don’t remember if we won or not, I remember that football Sundays with Shelby was always the best. Shelby was a great Saints fan and a great sport – no matter how loudly I screamed at the TV, she took it all in stride.

Geaux Saints!











Monday evening, as I was preparing to leave town that Friday to run a marathon in Utah and I was making plans for where Shelby would stay, Shelby got this awful look in her eyes. I figured she was upset about the luggage and my packing but it was worse. She started to dry heave and I knew instantly something was wrong. I rushed her to the ER vet and they told me that it was probably pancreatis (damn that cheese I had given her).

Sadly, it was not the cheese. It was her spleen. It needed to come out. Our trusted surgeon and her wonderful tech delivered the news. They said there was no way to know if it was a benign mass until it was biopsied. They told me it was a 50/50 chance that it was cancer. I prayed to God. But I knew. A mother always knows.

They told me to go run my race; that Shelby would have her surgery and she could stay there. I stayed with her and visited her after her surgery and every night until when I left. Things that had been so important 5 months ago when I started training for this race were rendered insignificant. I no longer cared about my race time or if I re-qualified for Boston. I just wanted to get home to Shelby. I dedicated my race to her and I didn’t re-qualify. I don’t even remember my time.

While I was away, my dear friend went and sat with Shelby and sent me photos and videos. Shelby recovered well from her surgery. She was doing great! Maybe we had dodged another bullet.

Dedicated my 11th marathon to Shelby












Monday, I started my new job. Shelby was home with me, resting comfortably. She was happy. I was happy. My life was falling into place.

My first day of work! Shelby wasn’t thrilled that I was going back to work.











That night I got the call that no one wants to get. Shelby had hemangiosarcoma. I heard the concern, sadness in our surgeon’s voice. She kept asking me if I understood what she was saying. I was speechless. How could this be? I was in shock. She tried to give me the information about an oncologist and treatment and the prognosis. I couldn’t speak. My heart and my world collapsed.

Shelby and I were given a timeline of 1 – 3 months – WITH chemo. How could I possibly begin to say goodbye to my girl? What did that look like? What did a world without Shelby look like?

I did, what I always did, I put on a brave face for Shelby. I refused to let her see me cry and be upset yet she could feel it. She and I were so incredibly bonded that she felt my emotions before I felt them, most of the time. We were indeed one soul and true soul mates. I vowed to fight – with every ounce of my being. I would fight until there was no fight left. I would do everything and anything to save my girl and maintain her quality of life. I told no one. I feared judgement, opinions, feedback. I knew the love and bond that Shelby and I had was strong enough but I needed my focus to be on her.

And together, we did fight. We fought for 7 months. Seven beautiful months that we didn’t think we would have. And when Shelby was done, she let me know. There was never a doubt in my mind; it was crystal clear she was tired and she was ready to transition. And now, as I prepare to re-live those last several months we had together, I pray that Shelby sends me signs, guides me and holds me tight. She was the brave one. She was the strong one. She was the one that always saw the glass half-full.

I miss you, Shelby Lynne. I miss you with every ounce of my being; every fiber, every moment of every day. To the “love of my life” … I love you to the moon and back and for all infinity.

Kisses … always and forever!