Hope

Hope (12/24/2000 - 04/12/2014)

Hope (12/24/2000 – 04/12/2014)

Two weeks ago we put our beloved Husky-German Shepherd dog, Hope, down. I know that most dog owners will make this claim about their dog, but she truly was the greatest dog ever. Even friends with their own wonderful dogs would argue she was the best. She rarely barked, when she did we all looked at her in confusion about the sound coming from her mouth. She never hurt anyone or anything, one time she was being attacked by a pit bull while we were walking and she just stood there, waiting for the other dog to lose interest and go away. Although we’ve known for a few months it was coming, it has taken awhile to process.

I remember the first day I met her. She was my brother’s dog and he was moving back to BC after spending a few years living in New Brunswick. They flew in from NB and my brother had her in a travelling cage, one which would later become her “house” where she got sent to on the rare occasion she was bad, when she was let out after the long flight she warmed up to each member of my family right away. We took her out to our truck and she jumped into the back like a pro, something she could do without even lowering the flatbed gate.

Having wanted a dog for years I was so excited to take her for a walk around our neighbourhood that evening. Being the responsible new dog owner I took baggies with me to clean up anything she wanted to leave along the way, something I was dreading and didn’t know how I would handle when the time came. I quickly learned that she doesn’t do that, she would never poop anywhere aside from her own backyard. Even when we went camping she wouldn’t poop for the first couple of days until it became absolutely necessary. She never did it within view of people. She was a lady after all.

We became walking buddies right away. We’d wander for hours and only once did she poop on our jaunts. I remember it clearly, we both looked at each other wondering what the hell just happened. I’m sure she was embarrassed that she would do something so horrible in public and I was embarrassed because I had nothing to clean it up with. So we walked away like nothing had happened.

It was in an abandoned lot, so I don’t feel too bad.

As she got older our walks became shorter. She’d still get really excited every time anyone said the W word, but her age would show when she got home. In pain and unable to do much for the rest of the day.

Aside from walks, Hope had three loves: chasing the ball, treats and my dad.

She had multiple balls hidden around the backyard, when she wanted to play she’d drop it at your feet and run after it after you threw it. Jumping so high to catch it, we’d worry she was going to land wrong and break her legs. She would follow my dad around as he cut the grass and drop the ball along his path, waiting for him to kick it and then bring it back to him. She was his shadow. And although she was technically my brother’s dog, she became my parents when my brother moved again and couldn’t take her with him. She remained loyal to Dave whenever he’d visit, but she understood my dad was the boss. She loved all of us unconditionally, but she listened to and wanted to please my dad the most.

hope and dad

This photo perfectly represents my dad and Hope. We were camping and he was going to the washroom across from our site, she was walking along behind him but knew she wasn’t allowed to leave the site. So when she got to the edge, she sat there and remained there until she saw him reemerge from the bathroom. At that point jumping to her feet and dancing around in circles, excited about the return of her best friend.

Hope gave everyone unconditional love. She loved everyone and you could see that she knew when something bad was happening or you were sad, because she would always come over to you and try to make it better. One of the things that sticks out in my mind the most about her is when I was at my parent’s house watching Toy Story 3 alone with her. The end, the scene with the toys in the incinerator and they all grab hands, just killed me. I was ugly crying, actually sobbing, and Hope looked at me from over at her blanket, concerned. Then stood up and came over and started to lick my hand, then did my most favourite thing in the world where she would snuggle up under my hand trying to get me to pet her. She was there for me and everyone else when we were sick, sad or just needed a friend. She couldn’t say anything but you knew she knew and understood. And loved you no matter what.

When my dad injured himself last December and was off work after knee surgery for a couple of months she would lick his surgery scars all the time. She would see him limping around and grabbing his knee in pain, would then limp over to him herself (with her bad hips and all) and “kiss” his scars better. Without prompting.

At one point, while camping with my brother, she was sprayed by a skunk. A smell that didn’t wash out for about a month. She earned the name Stinky from me, one that stuck with her because of the skunk incident as well as her bad breathe. This nickname then gave birth to multiple other nicknames: Stinks, Stinkenbaum (what I was told by my translate app was Stinky in German) as well as Hoffen, which was German for Hope (she was half German Shepherd, I figured she understood).

In the past couple of years she was no longer able to jump for the ball, even stairs were hard for her. While younger she’d run up and down the porch stares hundreds of times a day to chase the ball or to run after some squirrels that happened to be close to the yard. During a visit to the vet last fall he made it clear to us that she was older, 97 in human years, and wouldn’t have much longer.

We agonized for months about when we would know. While she couldn’t go for long walks anymore and stairs were a problem, she was still smiling and happy to see everyone. When I’d visit my parents she’d always be like her old self, my mom would remark that she would be hiding it from me and that it was not like this at all when I wasn’t around. It was just like her to look out for others, selflessly. Because of this I always joked that she was the reincarnation of my maternal grandmother. They had similar eyes and personality, Hope came into our lives a few years after she passed.

We decided to go to the vets on a Saturday afternoon so we could all be there, well my parents and I, my brother is not living in town and wouldn’t be able to be back for months. I went out to my parents in the morning and we spent most of the sunny Spring day with Hope. Each of us looking for distractions, but wanting to soak up every moment with her. Finally, an hour before it was time to go to the vet, the three of us sat on the front porch as she sat on the grass. We cried and she looked around the yard. I’m sure she knew what was happening and was just surveying her land.

All day we had been giving her treats and food. She was so well fed that last week. But when we got to the vet’s office and I gave her one last treat, one of her favourites, she just dropped it to the ground. When I tried again she dropped it again. It was like her way of saying she was done.

On April 12, 2014 at 3:37pm my baby girl and one of my best friends was put to rest. She was smiling her trademark smile until the very end. It was important to us to all be there, even though each one of us was in our own personal hell, I’m sure. She was there for us through so much and we needed to be there for her. I stroked her fur and reminder her how we loved her, that she was the best dog ever and irreplaceable. The life left her beautiful blue eyes and I knew she was gone before the vet could even tell us. She passed and we spent another few moments in the room alone with her. I rubbed her soft ears for the last time, gave her a kiss and whispered that I loved her.

I know I will never be able to replace her, but I would want to get another dog in the future. My parents refuse, saying that they would never find one as good as her and they couldn’t go through that again at the end. While I think this is true, because the end was truly painful and one of the worst experiences ever, I wouldn’t want to deny myself the pure and unconditional love that dogs give.

Hope passed away on a Saturday, by Monday I had already done this as a tribute to my girl:

tattoo

It says hope and Love, on my ankle to remember my walking buddy.

Hope smile

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2006 – 2011

Rest in Peace my little Knut (aka: K-nut and Nut)

December 5, 2006 - March 19, 2011

From my visit to Berlin Zoo in 2009

He had a love hate relationship with the public

On his 4th birthday, December 5, 2010

Fame always brings loneliness. Success is as ice cold and lonely as the North Pole.

Vicki Baum

Friends Forever? Pt. 2

Remember this post?

I wrote about a friend who had unfriended a mutual friend on Facebook (my head hurts from typing that, I’m sorry if that hurt you to read that), it all seems so high school but I wondered when I was going to be the victim of a random unfriending by someone who was a good friend in high school.

Seems I have.

To be honest, I don’t know when it happened. I just realized this morning when during a marathon procrastination of exam studying it dawned on me that I hadn’t seen one of her status updates or posts of uploaded photos recently. Without a word or explanation, she was gone.

I did email her a few weeks back because I was insulted by an “fwd:fwd:fwd:fwd:insert subject here” email she had sent (yes, people still do send them). Normally I would just delete the emails without reading it, but because I was reading them on my phone it’s easier to open them and delete them that way.  After reading what I felt was a racist email particularly towards immigrants, I sent off a quick (what I thought was firm but polite) email asking her to stop sending me hate filled messages as well as a quick reminder that my parents and grandparents were immigrants, regardless of their skin colour, and have worked their asses off in this country, much like other immigrants. Maybe including a not-so-obvious comment about paying taxes that pay for social programs (i.e. welfare).  She replied back her defense and I left it at that.

Was it this exchange that was the final blow? Or had she read the thinly-veiled blog post directed at her Facebook unfriending spree?  Maybe she had taken Jimmy Kimmel’s National Unfriend Day seriously, although quite frankly I would have thought I was safe from that.

This isn’t just some guy that I had gone on a date or two with that I thinks owes an explanation for not calling (although in those cases it would be nice as well and have seen some people have the manners to do so). This is someone I’ve known for over 10 years and they can’t even bother to email a “we’ve just grown apart” message?  This is the age of Facebook, you keep the person on as a “friend” and just don’t make contact, hide their status updates and don’t go to their profile. Obviously this was more than us growing apart, otherwise I’d still be a around on Facebook. It’s so childish.

It appears it was a friendship where one member cannot accept the flaws or differencing opinions of the other. Better off I say, it appears I’m exorcising a lot of those demons this year.

I’m not saddened, I’m just surprised. As someone who needs an explanation for everything I’m not about to go looking for one.

Maybe we’re better off this way.

Teenage Friendships

I was watching Law and Order last week and it got me thinking. First, don’t ask me which L&O because I can’t remember. It’s wasn’t LA, since I can’t get into that. I want to say SVU because I’ll always love SVU but the case wasn’t exactly a heinous crime of the sexual nature. But that is all neither here or there.

The point is that I’m I’ve spent a lot of time looking back at my high school life this year. Maybe it’s due to the high school reunion earlier this year, the end of friendships or being hated. This episode got me thinking about how things really don’t change that much between generations, during the episode the girl was murdered and it eventually came out that the girl was new to the popular girls, leaving behind a friend who was not so cool. Teens these days have social networking like Facebook or Twitter at their fingertips, whereas my generation did not (thankfully), but at the core a lot of the things remain the same.

In particular I got to thinking about best friends. I remember being friends with the same girl since elementary school, it was probably grade 4 or 5 we became best friends although we had been friends since preschool. Once we hit high school we drifted through different groups together, first staying with our friends from high school then becoming close with another group, it was more her choice but I just went along with it. This group seemed like nice enough girls, but alas they were the classic mean girls. After a year or year and a half of hanging out with them things started to change. I had never felt truly accepted by these people, I think I was too quiet for them (shocking, I know). They eventually started to phase me out. First by not saving me a seat at lunch, next by not inviting me out on the weekend and then my friend stopped going to school with me. We’d always walk together or her mom would give us rides, she would call every morning making some stupid excuse that she had to go to school early or had basketball practice (which I knew she didn’t because I had known other people on the team with no practice). The worst was when we made plans to see Titanic together (the whole group) and I was left outside waiting for them to show… they never did. They told me that they were in the theatre waiting for me, how was I to know that, everyone knows you meet outside the theatre!

I was probably a little slow to realize what they were doing to me. Maybe I had hoped that the friendship wasn’t over due to influence of these mean girls, or that she would at least tell me to my face it was over. Nope, I had to come to the slow realization, even though I had seen them do this just to another girl just mere months before me. One day I just decided to stop torturing myself and stop sitting outside their little group at lunch in silence, to stop being the idiot who just. didn’t. get. it

I’m not sure what I was refusing to let go. Being with the popular girls? They weren’t necessarily the most popular but they were sitting pretty on the high school hierarchy. Or was I refusing to let go of a friendship I felt like I put so many years into… and I was so hurt that she felt she could give that up without even thinking about it.

I do regret not confronting her about it. I haven’t spoken to her since, except maybe a quick phone call regarding some assignment in a class we shared in our first year of Kwantlen. If I could say anything to a teenage girl going through the same thing, or to my younger self, I’d say just leave. Everyone goes through it, trust me. It’s pointless to expect another teenage girl to end the friendship in the right way, I’ve even done the same thing years prior! Just walk away and move on. No drama, being a teenager is dramatic enough.

I don’t regret it or miss her. I left that table where I barely spoke a word or had an opinion and moved to a group where I was encouraged to speak, was listened to and accepted for myself. I also met one of my best friends.

I meant Knut

Friendship is often outgrown; and his former child’s clothes will no more fit a man than some of his former friendships.

– Sir Arthur Helps

Friends forever?

We’re getting to the point in our lives where big changes are happening. Friends getting married. Having kids. Getting real jobs. It seems like everything we couldn’t imagine happening anytime soon when we were teenagers, is actually happening.

Crazy.

As I said previously, I’ve lost touch with a lot of my friends from high school. Life changes and things make you grow apart, distance and circumstances eventually take what used to be everyday meetings with each other to bi-weekly, monthly, then yearly coffee dates until you finally just catch up with each other through Facebook messages on birthdays or other big events.

I’ve been okay with this, because frankly I don’t need to go to weddings of people that I don’t know anymore, just because we were inseparable in high school doesn’t mean a guaranteed monogrammed invitation.

Last month an old friend got married, I was updated through a change in relationship status on Facebook and did the obligatory “congratulations” note on her wall then checked out her wedding photo’s when they were posted a week later. She looked beautiful and so happy, her face was lit up as her new husband looked at her adoringly. I’m happy for her, I see no reason not to be.

I was quite surprised to find another friend was not. Admittedly these two were much closer in high school, but as of late I believe their friendship had changed too. I don’t believe they saw each other so much and the one had never meet the husband-to-be. Apparently she took the snub of not receiving an invite personally and has cut all ties with this girl. With or without a word to her, I’m unsure. But it seems very drastic. You end a friendship because someone didn’t want to invite you to her wedding and it’s played out on Facebook?

I’ve said it before, adulthood is not that far from being a teenager.

The realist in me argues that weddings are expensive, I’m assuming the price to pay for a guest can run up to $50 or more. I also argue that weddings should be celebrated in front of those that care for you and your new spouse, not to say that the friend in this situation didn’t, but some kind of contact in the past few years would be necessary. Or at least the knowledge of each others current addresses and phone numbers.

I guess I’m just surprised. Do we not hold our relationships to a higher value? I remember being petty and immature with friendships in my teens (and early-twenties, I admit) but this makes me sad. Friends, no matter what the relationship has crumbled to, are hard to come by and I see a real value in holding on to those that you knew back then. Sure, you don’t see each other often or at all, but there’s something reassuring in knowing that you survived the rocky teen years with (or because of) this person and you could reminisce when you run into each other at the store. Instead it looks like it could be an awkward conversation in the produce section in this case.

It also get’s me wondering, when will I be “un-friended?” What innocent mistake will I make to get the cold shoulder?