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Friday, October 30, 2015

Part 2. Coping.

“Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have.”- James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time, 1963

I had to include this quote.

The reason is because after Sydney passed, I found myself questioning death... It's hard being alone and having these moments where I know I should be taking her for a walk or hugging her soft fur but she's not around. Having those "Oh yeah, that's right, she's gone" kind of moments are hard.

I chose to get a tattoo to commemorate her on October 14th, 2015. Initially wanted to get it on the 13th but the artist wasn't working. The reasoning being that it was Ian Thorpe's birthday and he had been a pivotal role model in my life. I was 14 years old when I got my dog and my crush was Ian (it has been since I was 8 years old and up to age 25). Always had envisioned this plan that he would be my husband and would have my dog as a ring bearer at my wedding... It was an homage to this transition of a point in my life to where we are now...

She was/will always be essentially my totem animal (see part 1). This is why this quote, I think, hit me hard. I became so used to having her around and took advantage of her presence. Death is always around. It can be in the next couple of hours or a few years from now. That phraseology that "Live every day as though it were your last" (Carpe Diem, YOLO, etc.) really resonates with me now. I took advantage of her presence when I tried to confront my own mortality head on and I, certainly, took advantage of her in a period of time when I had my head stuck up somewhere. No blames to the boys in my past... (note the sarcasm in that last sentence). In all honesty, these are my regrets for not spending enough time with her, talking to her, rough-housing, and playing with her. 

(Side Note/randomness:) Why is it that certain cliches really work? There must be an element of truth in it for it to withstand the test of time. I find it interesting that death, really, is the absolute truth. Our troubles are certainly internalized, self-imposed, and anthropocentric dilemmas which are so trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Aside from her death, which I made that horrible, logical decision, there's a couple of other things that have been re-evaluated in my life. It's just been a coping mechanism to try and get over the mess that is my hyperactive brain. Just been thinking too much about her and this other situation going on in my life. I recently got an amazing opportunity at a place I feel at home and I'm going to grad school full-time. The only thing that is missing is my "furbaby"... She was the sole purpose for my going on and pursuing life. It just reminded me of 2011 (midway through my last semester as an undergrad), I lost my box turtle Bindie Sue. She was my "transition" puzzle piece from moving to the States in 2000 to 2011. Again, another angel that listened as I wailed on about life. This blog piece doesn't do her justice and, maybe, I'll write about her some day.

Essentially the last half of my childhood has faded.

I'm not really sure where this post intended on going really other than give snapshots of longevity and commitment but also some solace in the torment that it's not really longevity when the sands of time fade out in each and every one of us.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The other half of my soul is gone (Part 1)

I had never wanted to get an Australian Shepherd because I thought it was cruel their tails were docked. One Valentine's day (2003) I got this little card from my best friend with a blue merle aussie on it and just thought it was the most precious dog on the face of this planet. As a 14 year old girl, it was all impulsivity and the cute things in life that were part of coping with the ridiculous hormonal changes that happen. SOLD!

Never became obsolete. As it always does...

I consulted my parents to get a dog (albeit naively... anyone with an aussie understands) and the classified section of the newspaper religiously to find a blue merle puppy within a decent price range ($300). Finally found a lady in Salida who had a litter born January 18th, 2004. Because of the distance we decided to compromise and find a destination midway- less stress on all fronts. It was Good Friday 2004, when my family and I went up to the Thornton or Brighton Fairgrounds (some kind of dog show... my memory gets a bit hazy here) and met this mottled furball with green and gold marbles for eyes and one black- socked paw. The lady appropriately named this dainty legged pup- Tenderfoot.

Something cosmic happened... I can't exactly explain what/how but just think of when Harry Potter gets matched with his wand.. (corny, I know, but it's the example that came to mind)... Nevertheless, All felt right with the world... 

Sydney Truganini Adelaide Bugir. 

We already had a chow chow named Coco, who we brought with us when we came to the States from Australia. She was my mother's dog and I was so adamant about having my own velcro dog. We introduced Sydney to Coco, much to the matron dog's dismay... It was clear who was alpha-bitch. 

I had my own companion. 

That night, I took her for a walk so she could clear her little bladder and we went to sleep. She peed on the carpet and I started having regrets as I was cleaning (think postpartum depression kind of regrets). BUT, I was in this for life. Her life was in my hands. Couldn't wait to see her capabilities and what essentially I was getting into...She was so smart and picked up sitting straight away. On Easter Sunday, we got a Beagle named Max and that was my brother's dog. Syd and Max were instantly the best of friends. In retrospect, he probably thought more of the world of her and she was just so ADD.. took after me, in that sense... 

Those two were a comedic duo and definitely worked in concertina destroying our material possessions... One story that comes to mind-
My dad had wanted a Linden tree. It's a Ukrainian thing. Linden trees can be used as tea for fevers and some other old wives' tale mythology I can't necessarily remember. Anyway, Syd formulated this plan with Max to take down this tree... My parents had just planted the relatively large sapling in the rock bed we had in the backyard of our old house. She saw the methods used to get the tree into the ground and worked on uprooting it. Max had an oral fixation with wood (get your mind out of the gutter...) and chewed/pulled the poor tree (as well as our deck). A moment later, we looked out the window and saw the two puppies running with this tree. One mouth on each side just playing tug of war and having a grand time. It's hard not to be mad at something so...Hilarious? Is that the right word? Perhaps, clever...
Needless to say, we replaced the tree with another, older Linden tree.

These kinds of shenanigans also happened to various homemade sausage logs (back when my dad... like many dads... was obsessed with his smoker), clothes, books, pet beds, toys, and, again, whatever material possessions. I knew my Syd was the mastermind... I raised her and it seems "miss smarty-pants attitude" rubbed off during the bonding process. 

I graduated high school in 2007. We left the dogs outside because of celebrations and didn't want to come home to accidents. The following morning, the doorbell rang... animal control was on the other end and had warned us that our neighbour(s) had complained the dogs were barking. We explained our situation, animal control gave us resources and took our side. Needless to say, my temper got the best of me and I gave those neighbours a piece of my mind... For anyone who has an issue with dogs barking... talk to the problem first before hiding behind law enforcement... Be an adult...

We lost Coco October 2nd, 2008. This was the first time had ever been exposed to euthanasia in animals but it was my mum's dog and we had the other two still at home. It didn't feel so empty... There was emptiness there but it wasn't like coming home to an empty house. Coco has a special place in my heart and I feel like I'm not doing her justice by devoting only a paragraph to her but she's a different story. One day she'll get her own tribute.

Down to 2.

One of Sydney's favourite things to do was go "Bye-bye". She was the first one in the car... I took her with me (alternated with my rabbit) to the University sometimes just because she was my companion and it was nice stress relief for the other students. We even made it into an issue of the Boulder Daily Camera sitting outside the campus stairs. Having her in the car was a joy. Could just take her anywhere and yak away about the day. She was such a great ear to vent to and very aware of the surroundings. 

One car trip to Boulder, we were waiting at the light on Table Mesa road and there was a motorcyclist behind us. The noise or the masked face of the rider made Syd so angry. She growled, snarled, and barked the loudest I had ever heard her bark. Quite frankly, I was scared. Syd never did that to any of the motorcyclists in our neighborhood... hmm. 
In my last semester of undergrad, my box turtle and best friend, Bindie Sue, passed away traumatically (September 23rd, 2011). I was a nightmare. Skipped classes, didn't shower for days on end and couldn't sleep in my own room. Sydney was my saving grace throughout that ordeal. She was so scared of that turtle... She slept on the bed with me, which she usually didn't do (her fur made her hot quickly and she was independent with which to begin)... licked the tears off my face and was the perfect cuddle buddy.

October 19th, 2012. Max passed away. He was a genetic mosaic of every textbook problem. Don't get me wrong, I loved that boy to death but he was always at the vets office. The people we got him from named him "Cash" and, sure as hell, he cost us a lot of cash... Nevertheless he was such a beautiful soul and a funny little beagle. I loved how he would cuddle up with you on the couch and had no consideration for personal space. He was 8 years old when we had to have him euthanized. Max had a stroke from which he never recovered.

At least we still had Syd and the foster kittens...

We made the best for her as best we could. Spoiled her to death with Goodtimes pawbenders, lots of "bye-byes"/walks, and toys out the wazoo. Tried taking her with me to the doggy day care where I worked. She didn't much enjoy other dogs' company. Very velcro. Very bossy. Very human-oriented. My brother used to tease her by opening my bedroom door rapidly and singing a part of "Wonderlust King" by Gogol Bordello obnoxiously... She got so upset by that.

September 21st, 2013... This is the hardest and darkest part of my life that I don't really want to delve into. Those who know me, know what this day signifies and Syd was there with me when it all was happening. I looked into her eyes as I had one toe in the grave and realized she was the reason why I stuck around on this planet. Depression is something that I face every odd year... It's seasonal but it's probably not going to go away anytime soon. I believe in riding out the storm, giving up thoughts sometimes, using it as a creative outlet, but never in imbibing prescription anti-depressants.

October 2nd, 2015. I took Syd for a drive with me after an unnerving night's sleep. There were so many thoughts flooding through my mind. Mentally needed clarity, so we went up to the mountains. She was so beautiful just sitting in the seat next to me, looking out the window and at me while I was talking to her. Syd knew me better than I knew myself. I felt at peace with her. I apologized to her for being kind of out of it and not being a present animal mother. We listened to Bastille's Bad Blood album in its entirety and switched to Vance Joy. It was beautiful seeing the changing leaves and having ice cream together up in Nederland. Dorothy and Toto. I had a ZZ Ward concert that night so needed to get home and prep for that.

October 3rd, 2015 is a day I will never forget. Sydney was not herself. So lethargic, belabored breathing and her abdomen seemed not quite right to me. She didn't eat at all and didn't even react to when we asked her if she wanted to go "Bye-Bye" or when I put cheese (Her fave) right in front. Called the vet, got there by 11:05am. She couldn't walk much. [I got scared because in February, while I was visiting my grandma, Syd collapsed and was struggling. She had pericardial fluid build up in her heart. That was drained. Syd was okay after that but according to the paperwork it was indicative of cancer.] Her abdomen had masses in there that ruptured. Syd's body was filling up with fluid.

Intuitively, I knew this was the beginning of the end and sure enough... It was. My life crashed at 12:47pm with her euthanasia. My brother and best friend were there with me. I called my best friend because, in March, I had to euthanize her dog so I thought she could probably use the closure with Sydney. So glad to have these two beautiful souls with me.

Now we're at no dogs but a rabbit and a cat, both were raised by Sydney. They were the three amigos. Chai, my cat, is very lost just like me. I'm not sure how Winchester is processing this all. We're in the phantom stage where it still feels as though her presence is in the house but it's not. That duality is what is leading me to emotional breakdowns and thoughts I haven't had in such a long time. The other half of my soul is gone. She wasn't just my dog, she was the best friend I needed for this leg of the life tour... She raised me when I thought I was raising her. She taught me to love unconditionally. To nurture that child within and the maternal nature towards all living beings. It's hard to culminate the memories at the moment as this is so raw. Not sure how many parts there will be but just needed to scribe the bare bones. What's so strange about all of this is Gwen Stefani was my hero throughout high school and Syd died on her birthday...

So thankful for the support of friends and family. Really having a hard time standing on my own two feet but you guys have been incredible.