Monday, August 29, 2011
The End is the Beginning is the End
So...it has been a while. Again. There is a purpose to my absence, however. Some things have happened that took me a little bit to wrap my head around.
The position that I interviewed for was a position as a riding instructor and caretaker for a riding program in Wisconsin, at a girls' summer camp in Minocqua. A few days later I was offered the position! I accepted on the condition that I bring Harley and Cody with me, and they were just fine with that. A few days before we were to leave, I brought them to our new vet to have Cody's vaccinations brought current and to evaluate Harley's soundness to make the trip. Dr. Mead and I both agreed that she would be okay, and we decided on a medication protocol for her. Tramadol 3x day to control her pain without making her too drowsy, Pepcid AC for her reflux, and mirtazapine as an appetite stimulant. She made HUGE strides in the following 24 hours; enough that I was confident that she would be okay. I sure was looking forward to sharing this wonderful opportunity with my pups! We left on the afternoon of the 21st.
The trip itself took a little while because I made frequent stops to check the pups and give Harley her meds. It was really hot that day. They were making the trip pretty well until we were almost there. Harley began to pant and look uncomfortable, so when I arrived I had my new roomies help me give her some fluids. With that, meds on board, and a little bit of food in her, she seemed to come around. She curled up in bed with me that night and she seemed SO relaxed and content--more so than she had been in a long time! I was awoken the next morning by a loud thud. When I sat up, I saw that Harley had collapsed on the floor, gasping for air, with gums and tongue so pale they were white. She used what little strength she had to walk outside, and collapsed again. She never got up again--she passed away right there. I actually panicked; I hadn't expected that and I tried to look up veterinary clinics on my Android while keeping an eye on her. There was a part of my brain that took over and forced me to realize that I would never be able to get someone there fast enough; I wouldn't have even had time to place a catheter myself. The whole ordeal was over in less than 20 minutes. She passed at 6:33 a.m. on the 22nd of July. The details of those 20 minutes are only for me to know.
Needless to say, I was completely heartbroken. My new roomies helped me get Harley into my car, and I drove to a local clinic--Northwoods Animal Hospital--to have her cremated. They were GREAT and even though I wasn't a client, they treated me with as much respect and sympathy as if I were. They were also very respectful of Harley. When I returned to pick up her ashes, there was an employee standing by the entrance with a beautiful Border Collie on a leash. As I walked past them with the tears streaming all across my face, the BC looked at me and wagged her tail in such a manner that I couldn't help but smile through my tears. The woman then asked me if I wanted to adopt her. I looked at her, and she was serious. I couldn't help but think that this situation was more than coincidence--I was originally supposed to pick up Harley's ashes the previous day but I was held up at the barn. The fact that we were all at the same place and at the same time was uncanny. Long story short, I asked to take her back to camp with me for a few days to see how she fit with me and with Cody. Everything went VERY well, and I was all set to take her in...but her owners changed their minds. Sigh...so back she went.
My time at Clearwater Camp for Girls was amazing!! I shared a cabin with two other women, one of whom was the Head of Riding, and the other an instructor and caretaker as well. They were SO awesome--they had barely even met me when Harley passed away but were very sympathetic and helpful. They urged me to take the day off, and later that afternoon they brought me a sympathy card and some flowers. I was completely floored. I feel like the three of us got along pretty well and made a great team. I mostly tried to observe how things were run and stepped up to help teach during our lessons as well as participating in the care and cleaning. The riding program consisted of 14 horses, 3 instructors, and a decent but small arena. We taught English riding skills to girls between the ages of 8 and 16 and would go on the occasional trail ride. The girls are scheduled for at least one lesson a week; some girls want to take on more so they sign up to be an "extended" rider, which means they ride 3 days a week. Those girls had the opportunity to participate in a Gymkhana event, which was a LOT of fun and something they were pretty proud of! The entire camp consists of two sessions running from the end of June until mid-July for the first session, and mid-July until mid-August for the second. Many girls stay for the full 7 weeks. I happened to come at the start of the second session, and returned on the 18th.
Everyone I met there was completely amazing. They all feel very strongly about the camp and its intended purpose to provide the girls with great experiences. No one there was harsh or judgmental, and embraced the myriad of things that make us all unique. Ideas and thoughts about the camp, the girls, the program, the staff, each other...all were warmly welcomed. I received a LOT of sympathy from everyone about Harley, and everyone seemed to LOVE Cody. He kind of has that effect on people! I do hope that I am afforded the opportunity to return next summer--this was the first job I have had in a LONG time that didn't feel at all like a job. I felt like I belonged there. I had a TON of fun as well! Well, with the exception of the first day, and the last. I picked up some kind of nasty bug somewhere; the first day I was nauseated and vomiting; the second I was coughing and running a fever; by the time the morning of the 18th rolled around, I was heavily congested, feverish, and coughing so hard that I was gagging and vomiting and even made myself pass out a few times. I stayed in bed the entire day, and finally was able to leave late in the afternoon on the 19th. I have been laid up for the last eight days--went to urgent care and had a chest rad to rule out a fungal infection, and a culture for whooping cough. I haven't received the culture results yet. I'm feeling a lot better, but if I over-do things and try to do too much, I pay for it. Slowly but surely, I am recovering!
So...two new bits of news that are exciting for Ted and I. Ted took an active duty position with the Guard again. He is working in Range Control, which means he will be working to manage the safety and organization of training and live fire operations at Camp Ripley. Unfortunately, this means that he will be staying up there for the next year...again. The bonus: active duty benefits and pay. That includes 30 days of paid leave, so we will be able to see each other more than just on the weekends. Need I say more?
The second little bit of news: we have welcomed a new member into our little family. Her name is Sae Dee, and she is a six-year-old blue merle Australian Shepherd. I had been perusing through the herding dogs (like Border Collies, Collies, Shelties, Aussies, and others) posted on Petfinder for a couple of weeks, and I saw her photo and thought she was just stunning. I have always loved the blue merle variation in the herding dogs. When I had the little Border Collie girl staying with me at camp, it kind of showed me that while I am still grieving for Harley, there is enough love in my heart to give another buddy a chance. So...I e-mailed the rescue group that was caring for her and set up a "meet and greet" for Sunday (yesterday). Ted and I both fell for her, and she came home with us that day and she is now officially part of our crazy household! She and Cody are getting along; I am not sure that he is going to bond with her as he did with Harley but at least he is now beginning to come out of his depression a bit. He has seemed so lost without Harley. Sae Dee and Scooter are for the most part aloof from each other; she doesn't like Mickey so much but tolerates him as long as he keeps his distance.
For those of you who might criticize me for adopting a dog so soon after Harley's passing, don't. I am in NO way trying to "replace" Harley; that is impossible. I am still grieving for her, but I feel very strongly that wherever she may now be, she has been facilitating these "chance" encounters. The universe has aligned in such a way as to show me that in helping another pup have a chance at a happy life, I will be helping myself through the grief and sense of loss I am feeling.
I think this is where I will stop for now. I'm looking at this post and thinking, "Holy shit, no one is going to want to read all of this!!" If you do, you do...if you don't, you don't. I won't be offended either way, but I do hope that you will share my life with me through this blog. I am still considering changing the name, but I have yet to figure out an appropriate one. I will try a LOT harder to update more often so that I don't post these fricken novels all the time.
I hope everyone is having a great summer!! Seems like it is over way too quickly...I am dreading winter as I always do. Keep in touch, y'all!