When I was a little girl, I grew up in a house with this puppy. She grew up with me and she eventually had my heart puppy. Also, admittedly, below is the likely the most swimming I’ve ever done in my life.

As Tootsie’s puppies grew up, I taught them to go up and down our back stairs from their litter box room to the outside world. Then, eventually, I timed them as they did the stairs and kept records of their times. Later on, at that same house, with that same puppy, I played vet in the basement with dogs. And as most of you know, I began to train dogs there, which led me to where I am in my career today.

Bammer tied me to that house. To that life. To that me. She will be gone exactly one month tomorrow. It has undoubtedly been the hardest month of my life. She was euthanized 15 weeks to the day of Sarge. I honestly haven’t been able to even talk about it. I haven’t been able to grieve Sarge. I haven’t been able to process the shock of Bammer. Those dogs. They tie it all together. They truly complete the puzzle. Where do I go from here?

Fall 2018

I graduated from high school with this crew. Bammer was the one of the originals. She was the little one of that group. Bammer slept on the side of my head for at least a decade- right side; it was always the right side.

Lombard, IL photo by Kathleen Schaffer

When I was in college at University of Michigan, I toured around the country performing with dogs during my summer. Bammer was there with me every mile. Bammer closed shows!

Lombard, IL photo by Chris Perondi

After I met the love of my life and moved to Massachusetts and got my first Border Collie of my adult life, Bammer was there. Bammer was the princess then.

Wilmington, MA photo by Scott Williams

Before we moved to Maine, in our house in Massachusetts, with my now pregnant first adult Border Collie also with my adult heart dog and of course my Pants Pie. Bammer was there. Bammer ran the show there.

Amesbury, MA photo by Lisa Kronz

If I was there, Bammer was there. And now she’s not. We were permanent residents of 5 states together. Illinois. Michigan. Colorado. Massachusetts. And now Maine. I’m so glad she made it to Maine with me. With us. (That secretly was one of my goals.) Bammer set the tone here.

Dogs are funny. They seem to know to hang in until they know we will be okay. I found this to be true with Sarge too. Bammer briefly shared her life with my best friend from college, Kate. Frankly, Bam liked Kate more than me. Kate’s youngest son has been struggling with a serious health issue that was recently resolved, and, luckily, he continues to thrive. Kate seemed okay.

Kate and Bammer- Crestone, CO

Bammer stretched over an even longer time period with my best friend from high school, Brit. It is because of her, we named her Bammer. Bammer was the last of our original crew combined. Brit is now in love with this amazing person whom Scott and I love dearly, owns one of my dog’s puppies, and has recently had some amazing career path changes come her way. Britty seemed okay.

Starved Rock State Park Utica, IL

<<Also, admittedly (again), this was the most hiking Bammer has ever done in her entire life despite the scene that the above two pictures paint. Or maybe these were at least 2 of 6 hikes.>>

And then, there was Scott. My love. My everything. Bam’s favorite. And Bam was his favorite. Bam wasn’t a people person. Unless you knew her, you wouldn’t get it. But she loved Scott. Similar to how she loved Kate but more. Scott was amazing. And enlightened. And happy. And productive. And floating. And meditating. And tapping. And so many other good things. Scott seemed okay.

Below is Bam 1 month before she left us in Salisbury, MA and Bam a few days before she transitioned in Eliot, ME. Both times with her person.

But what about me? Am I okay? I’m blessed. Bam was 18 years old. We shared eighteen years together. Sarge was 13 years old. He was with us for thirteen of those eighteen years. These dogs led me to a life that is better than I ever could have imagined. With a husband who is more than I ever wanted. Learning more about training than I ever even could have fathomed existed.

My life is easier without the old dogs. I have no one to constantly care for anymore. Feeding is easier. Grooming is easier. Life is easier in many ways. But what I WOULDN’T GIVE TO CARE FOR ONE OR BOTH OF THEM AGAIN! Just for one night! Just in one dream! Just in one lifetime!

Sometimes I resent our current dogs. They aren’t them. My rocks. My core. But I had lunch with an old student and good friend yesterday who reminded me to be grateful for what I have now. And that may seem obvious to most of you. But with dogs… dogs like these. It’s hard to not miss them. To miss that.

I am grateful for what I have. And who I have. And for what’s to come! But I just wanted to give you a friendly reminder to be grateful for what you have as well. Even if it’s a difficult puppy. Even if it’s an intolerable rescue. Even if it’s an old dog that pees every damn day! Be grateful for what you have now. Because you will be $%*&ing eternally grateful for what was.

Gratitude is important. Mindfulness is important. This month is a good reminder of that. I hope my dark days can lighten yours. Mine slowly get brighter by the day mostly because of the gratitude for what I have. = )