Vincent’s Progress

Vincent is our foster dog from the CCRT (Canadian Chihuahua Rescue and Transport) that came to the farm one week after Gizmo was killed. As I watch Vincent progress I can’t but think how much Gizmo would have helped this little guy.

Vincent is one of the last remaining dogs from the Oakville hoarding situation back in April 2011. He was rescued by the Oakville Humane Society in April and spent months in another cage at the Humane Society.

Vincent would sit shaking in his cage terrified of all the people, dogs, cats and noises. When potential families would look at him they would see a disfigured chihuahua that refused to be held, walked or touched. Vincent would freeze or try and run.

Vincent survived the first two years and eight months of his life by running and he still didn’t get away without damage.

While still a puppy Vincent had his ears chewed off. One ear is completely gone and there is only a small piece of the other ear flap remaining. I looked up the article and the dogs were stacked on top of each other in large crates. Several dogs to a crate and they were left intact to breed.–33-chihuahuas-seized-from-oakville-home

The article reports 33, but the Humane Society says it was 37 chihuahuas that were seized. As of August 2011 there are only three remaining chihuahuas that have not been adopted, and Vincent is one of them.

After several months of being unable to find Vincent a home the Humane Society called the CCRT and asked if they could take Vincent into rescue and see if he’d thrive in a foster home. The CCRT called me.

It was one week since Gizmo was killed and I spoke the the regional coordinator in tears one evening. I suggested that perhaps we wouldn’t be a good home. We’d just lost a Gizmo. She asked if we needed time. I thought, yes and then she told me about Vincent.

I didn’t think my heart could break further at this point, but it did a little for this damaged soul. Gizmo would want us to help this little guy. Gizmo would not hesitate to let Vincent crawl into his heated bed to cuddle. Gizmo would have shown Vincent where we keep the endless supply of kibble. Gizmo would have played with Vincent and shown him how to be a real dog.

I cried as I drove to pick up Vincent. I took Taz and Poco for the ride to Oakville since I couldn’t possibly leave them behind. We walked into the busy building as an elderly man at the counter was making arrangements for cremation for his pet. I cried a little more. He looked so sad.

I waited my turn and took in the bags of dog food, toys and supplies on the floor: donations. The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. I kept my tears in check long enough to meet Donna who was cuddling Vincent. She had tears shimmering in her eyes as she passed Vincent over to my arms stating “please take good care of him. He deserves a break.”

We exchanged emails and I promised to keep Donna and the staff at the Oakville Humane Society posted on Vincent’s progress.

I took a video of Vincent’s first day on the farm. He wouldn’t come close to me, but would run over and sniff my hand then then run away. He’s was so afraid and Gizmo would have loved him.

Vincent sat between the seats of my Smart car the whole drive to the farm. I cried and Taz tried to lick my face while I drove. I thought of Gizmo.

Vincent must have been tired because he spent his first week sleeping or hiding. We let him. In his second week he started to cuddle and tried to play with Taz. It’s like a tap dance scene from West Side Story. Who’s the Jet and who’s the Shark?

After three weeks at the farm Vincent barked for the very first time. The progress is incredible. Go give your dog a hug and he’ll hug you back in all sorts of ways.

When Gizmo first came to the farm he slept for months and it was a year before we heard his rough bark. Vincent was more damaged on the outside, but luckily dogs have no idea that appearances matter.

Vincent is a tribute to our Gizmo who still continues to rescue other dogs in need. Thanks little dude for keeping us on the right path and for watching over us from your heated dog bed in heaven. We miss you buddy.

Water Wings

It hit me when… 
I was putting on my socks.
I was cutting the grass and I looked out on the road.
I was walking out to turn off the water pump.
I was feeding the dogs. 
I was getting the mail. 
I was planning our next puppy friendly vacation. 

When I found the little brown sweater with the buttons on it that is the same colour as Gizmo. 

It’s my last thought at night before I fall into a shallow sleep and the first thought when I wake up. 

He’s gone. My Gizmo is gone and I can’t change it. I can’t bring him back and I miss him so much it hurts.

I got the package in the mail from International Therapy Dogs with Taz & Gizmo’s ID cards and information. Gizmo would have been an amazing therapy dog.

Sometimes when I’m outside and it’s really sunny, I think: Gizmo wouldn’t have been outside much today because he didn’t like it when it was too sunny; or when it rained, but he loved the snow. He’d push his way through and you could almost hear his puppy giggle. He’d come in covered in snowballs delighted with himself. He was always so delighted with himself. 

I miss him so much. Life goes on and thing go on and work goes on, but I still miss him every moment of everyday. I can’t think of much I wouldn’t trade to get my Gizmo back.

My heart aches and the tears fall as I think of his chubby little body and his happy smile. I’m sad or angry or empty. I still smile, but it’s only through the tears. 

I can barely hear the things going on around me. It sounds like the radio is on low and I can’t quite make out the words to the song, but I can hear the noise. It’s like Charlie Brown’s teacher talking. I know things are happening and the world is spinning, but I’m not really a part of it. 

I like riding my motorcycle and the wind knocks the thoughts out of my head. I like going a little too fast. I like a little danger. It makes me feel a little more alive, but this is when it hits me. Gizmo hated my motorcycle. 

I have been reading a little on grief and I know everything I’m feeling is normal. I found this great quote about the ocean: Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.

I could really use some water wings.  

Farm Life Goes On

Amid our sadness and grief there are still other animals that must be tended to and care for with summer quickly fading to fall. The tire needs to be fixed on the tractor. The hay building needs to be cleaned out and the roof repaired. The pig shelter needs to be moved, insulated, sided and fenced.

The water needs a float.  A trip to the feed store is in order for chicken feed, pig feed and some more white electric fence ribbon.

We have two roofs to fix and a shelter to build for the backhoe before October. This doesn’t include the daily activities of feeding and watering. This doesn’t include puppy care, foster care, vet visits and some sort of social life.

It’s amazing I have time to cry. We’ve had to stop recent projects because of the grief. Brent and I simply could not move forward. We had to sit and cry. We miss our little dude who was a huge part of our daily life. It’s not getting easier and in some ways it’s harder the farther away we get from the day Gizmo died.

We did get the pig shelter built, moved and sided. We’ve gotten to visit with a handful of friends. We’ve been lucky enough to share our grief. There’s a lot of people that miss Gizmo.

Life on the farm must go on, but every few hours the loss hits me in the gut like a Mike Tyson punch. It hits me in the core and rattles everything. I have to stop. I can’t breathe. It’s the same image that causes me to double over – picking his little body up off the road knowing.

It’s seeing his body in the dark, not moving, not breathing and Brent immobile over top. It’s scooping him up and his head lists to the side. It’s cuddling him until his warmth is gone.

A friend said I need to find the joy back in life. I have smiled as Vincent comes to life with our love. I have smiled when we brought Autumn a bale of this years hay and she nickered in delight.

I’ve laughed at Brent arguing with the j-trim as we sided the pig building, but deep down there is a sadness. A loss. Immense grief that catches me off guard and knocks me down for the day.

Time is a great healer and most of the time, I’m filling time, until time passes. That’s like therapy. Ironic that the beast that took my Gizmo is the same thing that gives me comfort. The farm. I hate it and I love it.

I’ve been thinking about the beach lately. I’ve been thinking about long walks on the beach with no cars. I’ve been thinking about winter isolation. I’ve been thinking about escaping for a little while. I guess I’ve been thinking a lot lately.

I miss Gizmo.

Going to Town

As I make my rounds through town people are noticing the lack of a gorgeous chocolate shih tzu that used to be part of our pack. The owner of the PetValue in Fort Erie remembered Taz’s name and then started to talk about the most beautiful chocolate shih tzu that comes into the shop. I showed her a picture of Gizmo and she said “yes!” Where is he?? Gone. Lost. Dead.

I cried in the middle of PetValue. She gave me a free sample.

I got home and got the mail and in an envelope was a letter from International Therapy Dog wanting to congratulate us on completing the multi-dog therapy dog training. Taz and Gizmo were a team and just got their therapy dog status this past June. Bitter sweet. Happy and heartbreaking. Sad and wonderful. More tears for my overflowing bucket.

No wonder I don’t want to leave the house when every time I turn there is a six degrees of separation person who misses Gizmo. It hurts and wells up inside me and then I’m proud that he touched so many people.

A friend said I needed to find the joy in life again and one of my favorite things to do is ride Autumn. I rode and then gave her a big bubble bath. It passed the time, but the grief is still strong.

I moved the horse and goats back into their three acre paddock and walked back into the house to notice that my necklace was hanging off my neck and my locket was gone.

The week Gizmo died I ordered a locket. It was a simple silver locket with a paw print in the front, Gizmo’s name engraved on the back and his picture inside. I loved it. I lost it too.

I contacted the company I ordered the locked from (Heartsmith) and they’re sending me a new one. ASAP. A ride on my horse and an act of kindness. There is still some goodness left. I think Heartsmith may have pulled a Gizmo. An act of kindness.

The Bed

I have a HUGE King size panel bed that easily stands over four feet at the mattress. It’s huge and lovely. The dogs have a tough time getting in and out of it. I’ve tried cushions, stairs, couches, ramps and nothing.

The nothing was bad because they’d wake me up in the middle of the night to get on and off the bed. It wasn’t like Gizmo where I had to get up and walk him down stairs for a drink. Poco and Taz can do it on their own. I was also afraid they might fall off.

I put a ramp up, but that lasted a day when Taz got her toe nail caught and cried like a baby. That’s it! The bed is going on the floor.

I can only say I bought the bed years ago from Lampman’s Furniture in Fenwick and it wasn’t cheap. Now, my not so cheap bed with lifetime warranty on the mattress is sitting on the floor because of my dogs.

I still have the headboard and footboard in place, but the box spring and mattress sit on the floor. I have an old couch cushion as a step, so they can jump up and down. It’s a big bed. At first it felt like sleeping in a coffin with the high front and back, but now it feels safe and comfortable.

Even little Vincent can manage the leap and the pups spent the first day delighting in jumping on and off the bed without any hint of danger.

Gizmo would have loved it, but he’d still wake me up in the middle of the night to turn on the hall light, so he could navigate the stairs. I think he was afraid of the dark.

Grief and Thoughts

What do you believe? Fate? Destiny? Karma? A higher being? God? Religion? Do you believe that things happen for a reason? Do you cling to your beliefs during times of crisis? I have a certain amount of ambiguity about my beliefs.

Life is rarely clear defined as good and evil or black and white. Life is full of grey areas and this is particularly true when discussing fault. Brent and I are responsible for keeping our heartbeats safe. We must keep them out of danger they don’t understand. We failed to keep Gizmo safe and accept our responsibility. 
Brent and I are level headed people and understand accidents happens. We’ve walked that off leash walk from car to house a hundred times and we knew the risks, but we never actually believed anything bad would happen.  
A parent can tell a child a million times to watch for cars, but if a child gets hit by a car a parent feels guilty. Why? Because, it’s a parents job to keep their children safe. It’s my job to keep my puppies safe and I failed. I take responsibility. I won’t blindly accept that it’s not my fault and I ask for forgiveness. 
I am responsible for Gizmo’s death and I have to live with that. Was it destine to happen? Am I somehow less responsible because of fate? I don’t know, but I am living with my broken family and fractured life. Gizmo was our glue, he was our love and our joy. I miss his so much. 

I had this vision of my family over the next ten years and my vision is shattered. I can’t seem to adjust to life without Gizmo. I had the most amazing family for three years and I should be grateful, but I’m lost without my little dude.

I marvel at how versatile Taz has been over the years. She lost her most loved companion: Misiu, who helped her transition from puppyhood into adulthood before he died. She grieved deeply at his absence. She stopped eating. Stopped playing and would sit in the window watching the world, but refusing to participate. Gizmo has left her, along with all the fosters that have come and gone over the years. She’s spent some time sitting alone in the back porch gathering all her dearest toys and staring outside. This is her grief.

I wish I was at the phase where I could see the good and feel positive, but I’m not there yet. Give me time.

Changing the bedroom

I clean out my bedroom today. I put in a new TV wall mount and hooked everything up and it works. I moved out a couch and put in a ramp, so the dogs can still get on the bed. I thought of Gizmo the whole time.

When Taz and Poco would retire for a nap while I re-organized a part of the house, but Gizmo would watch and jump on every opportunity to play and plunder. I missed his little chubby body while I moved the wall unit without his help. I picked up a package of unchewed paper and thought of my little dude.

I put the drill bit down knowing he wouldn’t be trying to eat the sawdust and possibly cut his lips on the drill bit. I moved things and thought of Gizmo.

He would have had a great time today re-arranging the bedroom. He was always my co-conspirator when it came to moving the furniture of the house. Nary a blanket was moved without his spit or at least a quick bite of a pillow.

I can only hope he would approve of the new changes. I wish he was here to give the okay.

Another long day of missing my boy. Another full moon trying to break through the clouds. Another car going too fast down my road.

I want to tell you all a happy tale of moving the pig house, but I’m not ready. I don’t know when I’ll be ready.

Gizmo walking the Bridge

The sky looks like heaven tonight. Blue sky with pink and gold edging on the fluffy white clouds. I imagine Gizmo and I are both under that sky tonight. It’s a summer night in August and we’ve got a fire going in the backyard and I can’t help but think of my Gizmo. I have the wagon with a pillow out for Taz, but I think Gizmo would really love it too.

I’d like to say my heart breaks, but it’s already broken and I realize now I can’t fix it’s deep fracture, but I know it will heal with time. I feel sore and tired like I’ve run a marathon, but I’ve only gotten out of bed. I crawl from my dark room and drink tea and check my email. Another day goes by and another day I move farther away from the memory of my little chocolate love.

I wander my farm and look after the other critters who still need my care. I mow the grass and get the mail and see the spot where my Gizmo died and I don’t want to live here anymore. It feels like it was never real. It feels like the farm was an illusion. Life can never be that good.

It’s like losing myself. It’s like nothing can really be that good… and last. I wasn’t prepared for the shoe to drop. I wasn’t ready to lose a piece of my family. I am distraught.

With Gayle’s words swirling in my head I walk out and sit crying at Gizmo’s grave when I suddenly see him clearly in my mind. He’s walking across a long beautiful bridge and he stops and turns his head to look at me. He wags his tail and jumps a little and I think, I’ve got to let you go Gizmo.

I cried a little harder and I said good-bye to my little dude and watched him trot happily along the bridge. I couldn’t see where he was going, but he wasn’t afraid to go there and I finally found some comfort. Gayle is right, my Gizmo is still surrounded by love.

Knowing I need to let him go and letting him go are two different processes, but I’m glad that I finally know what I need to do. I’m glad I can work towards something.

I still cry everyday and probably will for a very long time, but I can picture him doing is cheeky backwards glance and almost hear him giggle his puppy giggle.

Nothing, but time will ease the grief. Nothing but love will heal this ache.

I still can’t believe it happened. I miss my Gizmo every moment of everyday. His dance, his wiggle, his giggle and his love. I was so blessed.

I remember making the video of Gizmo on his last day and the final shot is of Taz and Gizmo and on the tape I say “oh… my twins”. I miss having my twins. I miss having the pair that loved and played. I miss my Gizmo.

Gayle’s Message from Gizmo

My dear Amy,
I don’t know what I have to say will bring you any relief, but this I know to be true. He’s safe in the hands of his Maker. I saw him go to the other side for I helped guide him there upon hearing of his passing. He hesitate to crossover the bridge, but I told him that he must go there and play in the meadow with my Sugar and Zangi and when the time comes we will all join him. He is surrounded with love there, so he is not alone.. He promised to keep an eye out for you. The grief you feel is more than gut wrenching, this I also know. I compare it to losing a child, it feels like a piece of your soul has been torn asunder by a hurricane. You feel like you are drowning in your own tears and you can’t come up for air. Your body feels beaten up, your head throbs from all the “what ifs” . No other grief will ever compare to what your are experiencing. Gizmo’s life was filled with love because of you! He knew what you went through to get him and how you made him his own, he made you his world. Oh, how he wanted to please you! He could never find enough ways to say thank you for saving him. Thats why he was so good with the other dogs you brought home. He understood where they were coming from and would tell them what a wonderful life they were going to have with their very own family (once my mommy fixes you up, you’ll be good as new!”) He gave them courage, trust, understanding, patiences and love. He gave everything he knew and learned from you.
He was and is, so proud of you! For he felt he had the best mommy in the world. He knew how special he was all the time. He accomplished things on this earth that most people (muchless dogs) don’t get to do. He wants to say thank you for believing in him and never giving up on him, no matter how ruff things got. You just loved him through it all. He says he’s going to tell everybody about his mommy and daddy on earth, so everyone will know who you are when you come. But don’t rush mommy! I’m okay waiting for you!
He sees your tears, even the ones you don’t shed. And this saddens him, but he is knows this means you love him and miss him. He is boasting, again! “Celebrate my life, mommy!” Celebrate my life!” For I will celebrate yours everytime I see you share life and love with another dog! It means you loved me and honoured me. It means I was special!” Don’t worry, I know you can’t forget me! No matter how far away I am, I’m really not that far. If you sit very still, you can feel me. 

God! This dog is making me cry again! He sealed my fate with shi tzus I think forever! Pure love he was! Pure dark chocolate love!

Oh oh! One more message from Gizmo! “Good cookies, mommy! good treats! I love you! I love you! I love you!” I must have done something really good, because I am being spoiled!!!! Thank you for loving me for no one could have loved me more! I am the luckiest lil’boy! oh, and mommy? Its ok to love again. I’m so proud of you!” Snuggles and Licks!

Perfect Home

The farm was perfectly balanced. All the animals that lived in the house brought joy, love and a wonderful balance to our home.

Poco is our guardian. Our stoic male role model who still dreams of the marine corp that he’s now retired. Poco can clean a rifle, fetch a ball and take you down in a knife fight. He’ll also defend his home and all those who reside inside. He loves with all his heart, but please don’t ever point it out. He’s our soldier, defender and protector. You can feel safe knowing Poco is on duty.

Super Taz is our watcher and our hunter. Nary a stray leaf passes the lawn without her knowledge. A frog does not spawn, hop or swim without her permission. She’ll out run you, out bark you and own you in a matter of minutes. She’s loud, crass and defiant. She loves with all her heart and is not ashamed to be exactly who she is: a warrior. Taz also gives great kisses and cuddles. She’s not shy about her passions.

Gizmo was our lover. He filled the house with nothing but joy and laughter. He would big bear fight with Taz, but that was the extent of his ire. Gizmo was our romantic, our cuddler, our sweet and peaceful boy. Gizmo hated the rain, wet grass and loud noises. Gizmo would demand you stop playing on the computer and play with him. He would insist on attention with his head on your shoulder he’d roll on his side to accept all kinds of bell rubs. Gizmo was an expert at begging for cookies, food and meals. I’m certain Taz and Poco would send Gizmo in to beg for cookies and I never said no. He was my cookie monster.

My balanced triangle is missing a side. My home is missing it’s love. My life is broken and it’s so hard to adjust. I don’t know how to right this wrong. I don’t know how to find my love again? There is something obviously absent in my home. There is a soul missing at roll call. There is a heartbeat that isn’t beating anymore.

The love has been replaced by grief. There is a cloud that has settled over this farm and without the love to push it off I fear it may stay dark for a long long time.

It will be a week today when the cloud settled over the farm, when a light went out, a soul lost and our love was lost. I’m still waiting for it to get easier. I’m still waiting for tomorrow, but how to go forward without love?

I turned the radio off in the kitchen because it kept playing that song that played the night Gizmo died and I’d remember holding my limp puppy in my arms and watching my love die. I can’t seem to get to the tomorrow where things get better. I can’t seem to find the path that heals.
There is no more kitchen dancing at the farm. There is no daily Gizmo duet before dinner. There are no morning tummy tickles or afternoon games of rattle.
Gizmo had a particular way of cuddling with his head on my shoulder and his body across my chest with his belly exposed for rubbing. We’d sit in the evening with his nose in my ear and my hand on his belly until he snored and woke himself up. I’d laugh.
He brought so much laughter into my life. He was all the things in this world that are good and loving and genuine. 

Missing you more than I can say my Gizmos.