Wednesday, January 18, 2017



I typically look forward to putting these posts together and sharing snippets of our Swell Rio life with you, but ever since my last installment in December, I've wanted to avoid today's post altogether. It would be easy to hide behind snazzy graphics featuring the latest and greatest pom-pom find, but that's not very realistic either. Today's update means I finally have to acknowledge that our little family has changed, and if you've been hanging around here long enough, you know I really HATE change.

We left Missouri on December 27th for Texas after spending the holidays with my in-laws. Our goal was to make it to Austin in time to pick up the new Volkswagen (Squeee! Name TBD.) we purchased before Christmas, and then prepare ourselves for a promising 2017 by taking down the twinkle lights, cleaning out the clutter, and spending quality time together — just the five of us. You could say that 2016 had its moments and we were ready to bid the blah adieu. So, when we finally arrived at home on the 29th, Flyboy and I unpacked both cars feeling more hopeful and eager than ever. As I threw dirty laundry in the washing machine and tended to a stir-crazy toddler, FB headed straight to the kennel and picked up our sweet pups. Oh, how we missed them!

Looking back, I think FB and I were so happy to be home and in business mode that we were also blissfully unaware of what the next 24 hours would entail. Our primary goal was to get groceries the next day and then spend the remainder of it relaxing in the living room as a family. We went to bed that night with a game plan, but little did we know that I'd spend the bulk of the evening with Tripp in my bathroom petting him as he yacked repetitively and his body shook. Since FB is a deep sleeper, he didn't realize what was going on, so the next morning I explained what had happened and we decided we'd pick up some rice and bananas to feed Tripp for the next few days in the event he had an upset stomach. This bland diet seemed to have done the trick countless times before, but later that afternoon when we came home from the grocery store, it was evident that our dear Golden wasn't well. He dropped to the ground when he went outside to relieve himself and he could barely keep water down. I remember looking at FB with tears in my eyes and said "This can't be good." He did his best to put on a brave face and immediately contacted the vet. Thankfully, the new facility in town was able to get us in and 1.5 hours later Tripp would be seen by a doctor. We felt a great deal of relief for approximately 20 minutes. That was, of course, until we both started noticing that Beesly was limping and wouldn't put any weight on her good rear leg. Sick to our stomachs, we gazed at one another in disbelief. Almost two years ago to the day, she had surgery on her opposite leg. NOT AGAIN! Not today. Did she really throw out the other leg as well?! At that point, we didn't know which dog to worry about, so FB called the vet again and asked if both pups could be seen by the doc and they willingly agreed to accept both of our fur kids, even under such short notice. In Swell Rio, this is what you call a blessing.

As all of this went down, Max was taking his afternoon nap. With days of irregular sleeping and no schedule, he was out for the count. So, while he slept, I helped FB load both pups into the car. I honestly didn't know what to expect with Beesly, but in my heart I knew we'd have to say good-bye to Tripp far sooner than I ever hoped. I think I was trying to prepare myself for the worst. But, despite my gut feeling, FB assured me that it would all work out and he kept a smidgen of hope alive—because that's what a best friend and husband is really good at in times like these. But as the three of them drove away, I felt guilty that FB had to take them both by himself. However, I knew I wouldn't be much help lugging around our wily tot, so I stayed back at the house and waited anxiously for updates. Within thirty minutes of their arrival, they ran a blood test on Tripp and everything looked good, but they wanted to ensure both he and Beesly have x-rays taken as well. We essentially knew with Bees that we'd be doing the whole ACL surgery all over again (ka-ching, ka-ching), but Tripp remained a wild card. The fact that nothing showed up in his blood test made both of us feel really good (no cancer, right?!). So, upon learning that good news, Max finally woke up and we ventured to a nearby park to keep the two of us mentally (me) and physically (him) preoccupied. I still recall a period that afternoon where I managed to stop crying for five whole minutes and I actually enjoyed pushing my son on the swing. That reprieve from the sadness felt really good. In that moment, I felt present with a glimmer of promise and I imagined FB would follow-up shortly with another phone call telling me everyone was coming home and that a hefty vet bill would be our biggest concern. Unfortunately, it didn't end up happening like that. No, the heartbreak in FB's voice as he explained Tripp's enlarged esophagus and pneumonia said it all. At 13 years old, it only made sense when the vet advised us to put our beloved boy down that evening, but we agreed that the five of us needed to be together as a family when we made that decision. Shaken by the reality of the moment, I strapped Max into his car seat and we met FB at the vet clinic to say good-bye one last time.

It's been a little over two weeks since he passed, and I think a lot about our final moments together. The pain and sadness that filled the room that Friday night still catches up with me from time to time. Actually, it catches up with me a lot. I'm kind of embarrassed by how much I miss my dog. Maybe it's the way Max tells me that "Boy was hurt" followed by "Boy went bye-bye", or maybe it's in the little habits like always getting out two dog bowls and treats? I wonder when I'll stop expecting him to be on my side of the bed when I wake up each morning, or look toward the patio window each afternoon hoping I'll find him basking in the sunlight? I guess there's something to be said about the fact that I spent more time with Tripp in the last eight years than anyone else in my family. That's crazy when you stop and think about it, isn't it?! How lucky was I?? Sigh. I see FB grieve differently and it seems as though he's moved on, and I question why I'm not there yet. Tell me, why do guys always get to be so emotionally put together? And if I'm being completely honest, I also worry about the day I stop looking for Tripp and my routine with him becomes a distant memory. That scares me. I think about how fiercely I loved this dog, and it makes me fear the moment I have to part with others I hold dear to my heart. I catch myself thinking about how badly this hurts and it all gets too overwhelming. It makes me want to put up a guard, but if there's anything Tripp taught me, it's that so much goodness can come from learning to trust and love fully. Whenever the sadness creeps in, I try to remind myself that Tripp's life really began the moment he stopped being afraid and he allowed himself to embrace the love that surrounded him.

Most of the photos in today's post have nothing to do with Tripp's death—many were taken before that fateful day and a handful after—but I think he'd agree that the colorful images are evidence of a life worth living well, something he grew accustomed to in the eight years we were together. I'll always take great pride in knowing that we gave him a second chance at life, and I'm forever grateful he gifted us with his trust in return.

If you're interested in reading more about Tripp's story, be sure to check out this post.

P.S. The photo of Beesly on her bed was taken a day after Tripp passed away. Max wanted "Boy" to lay with her. 
Additionally, the photo of Max on the swing was taken moments before FB called us and informed us we should join him at the vet.
Oh, and if it wasn't clear that I abhor change, take a look at the new BLACK wagon. Yep, it's essentially The Rig 2.0.

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