Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Letter to a friend

A few months ago my good friend/customer/possible soulmate, Shanda, envisioned the perfect collar for her dog, Lemonhead, and contacted us. This is the result (and that's the Lemon himself modeling it).

The Lemonhead

Coincidentally, Lemon and Paco had the same exact neck size, so I took the completed collar home that night, had Paco wear it, and then promptly made him an identical one the next day.


Shanda and I are a little in the same head space right now. She works in the animal industry, lives in Florida and, on this past Christmas Eve, had to make the difficult decision to put down her dog, Lemonhead (aka. Frodo). While it doesn't necessarily help you heal faster, somehow it's helpful to know you aren't the only one out there feeling the way you feel. Here is a letter I sent to Shanda today:

Actually, you are bonkers, but more so for carrying your own bags [the trend of bringing your own bags to the grocery store has not yet caught on in Florida] rather than grieving like you are. I was thinking about you all night last night and this morning. Like you said, not that it really helps, but it kind of does to know you're not the only one out there.

There has been so much change in a short amount of time that it almost seems like Paco's death was a lifetime ago. Frankly, I was not able to go into work until after we found out that we got the new studio. The old place was just too depressing. It was seriously bumming me out when Paco was alive, and the thought of going there after Paco died was just too much. The only way I could stomach it was knowing that we were able to jump ship soon.

Since every routine in my life hinged around Paco, it was vital to break that habit. If everything was still exactly the same as it had been before he died, I don't think I'd be handling things nearly as well.

It's kind of like quitting smoking (which I've done more than once). You have to change your entire lifestyle. In fact, in one of the only activities that remains relatively the same, driving, I lose it almost every day. That's actually where it hits me the hardest, but I've gotten really good at navigating traffic through blurry tears and have decided I don't give a shit if other people see me cry.

As dumb as it sounds, the first day I was blaming the collar. I figured it was cursed. I mean, first Lemon, then Paco... then I realized that was an insane theory, but sometimes you're just so angry you have to blame something. And then I blamed The Roach. In theory, if we hadn't gotten her then our landlord wouldn't have insisted we fix the fence, Paco would have still had his trick board, and never would have tried to go over the fence. But that line of thinking doesn't get you anywhere, either.

I know you feel directly responsible, but even if you hadn't been the one to make the decision or Lemon had died a natural death then you would probably still find either some way to blame yourself or blame some insane theory. That's just part of it. I can't even imagine carrying the weight of that burden, but at some point you'll have to forgive yourself (now you see why most people wait for their veterinarian/behaviorist to make the decision for them... too bad you're both rolled into one).

In the meantime, take a vacation, get a dog, or institute some sort of change. I'm going to be doing all 3, lol! Don't get me wrong, I love The Roach to death. It's hard to keep crying when she does something adorable or hilarious, but, from the get-go, she was never supposed to fill the role of "dog"... she was supposed to be the bridge between Paco and Pirate. Right now the house is feeling a little feline heavy, so we need to get a dog in here soon. I think I'll start the search later this month. Every day with out a pit bull in the house just feels kind of empty. I know I'm not quite ready yet, life is still a little too jumbled, but as soon as the new routine starts, I'm adding a dog to that ASAP.

Okay, need to get a move-on. I've gotten into the routine of staying in my PJs until about noon every day, not the most productive of habits.


~lindsey said...


hopefully this doesn't seem all weird and stalker-like since you have no idea who i am, but i recently discovered paco collars and subsequently read your paco story. so incredibly devastating. i can't tell you how much i cried while reading your blog. i am a total dog nerd & pitbull advocate. in regards to shanda, i have to completely agree about getting another dog. when i had to put my boxer down 4 years ago after she became completely debilitated by degenerative myelopathy i was crushed, and so was my other dog. 2 months later i adopted my first pitty from PAWS in seattle. miss olive is the light of my life and i don't know what i'd do without her (oh, and she also has TPLO surgery coming up). i wanted to tell you both about pinups for pitbulls. if you don't know about the organization, little darling is such an incredible advocate for these wonderful creatures. her website is http://www.pinupsforpitbulls.com, and she has an awesome network of rescue connections all over the country. i can't encourage adopting a rescue enough because, as you both already know, there are sooooo many unwanted pits that need homes out there. anyhow, my heart goes out to you both. ana, i can't wait to outfit my entire dog family in your super awesome, fantastical collars!! your work rocks!

Paco said...

It's cool, we don't mind stalkers ;) And thanks for sharing.

I sometimes wonder what it's like to be one of those people who never experiences the joy of sharing their life so completely with an animal. While I'm sure they're able to avoid some heartache, I wouldn't trade that for all the highs you get in exchange.

Soon we'll be looking to rescue for another dog. And by "soon" I mean I'm already looking...

pitbulllady said...

Pullman's mom here, I just wanted you to know you are in our thoughts. Ever since receiving the email of what happened I have just felt terrible. But do realize grieving is very important for healing. when we have an older pet we have a bit of time to prepare if they have an illness. When tragedy strikes it is so much more difficult. But don't make the mistake I did when I had to put Bruno down. He was a magnificent APBT. He developed a brain tumor and began to have seizures. When it was apparent medications were no longer keeping him comfortable I had to make that call. He wasn't even 9 yet. I had time to prepare myself, but that was when it hit me how much he had always meant to me. How we kind of take that for granted at times. He was my side kick too, that was the perfect word. He had been every where with me from the age of 4 weeks. Many things were going on at that time, and I tried to tuck all the grief away. I didn't grieve like I should have. It didn't hit me until later when in line at Petsmart there were some losers with a little Bruno look a like. I couldn't get out of their fast enough. I broke down sobbing in the car. It opened all the feelings of pain back up. So grieve, if you feel like crying then do it, if you are honest and just say you don't want to talk about it in detail but your dog has passed and you feel crappy, most people realize you are in pain. If you feel like yelling, do it, just let out the feelings, you will heal faster. I have always been grateful for dreams with my passed pets. It to me is like having them with me again, even for a short time, to see them and touch them. It is a let down to awaken and realize they are gone, but I find a visit nice. And when the time is right I am sure you will share you life with another. There will never be another Paco, but there can always be new pets to share our lives with. they each have their own special qualities. I have 8 dogs right now and they are all very different. Some I admit have an "extra specialness" about them, but that doesn't make the others less important.

I recommend reading J. Allen Boone's books, "Kinship with all life", and more importantly " Letters to Strongheart". They are very good for some one who has shared life with an extra special dog.