Facing your fears

By Eliza Boulware

I am scared, or should I say AFRAID of dogs. Any size, any type – yes, even the tea cup dogs. I know it’s bad and it is sometimes embarrassing because it seems like everyone has a dog. Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer and they told me it was aggressive which mean it grows fast, so I was faced with a greater fear. The fear of cancer and not sure if I would live through it.

Before I started treatment, I was told that they would bring therapy dogs around and I began to panic. If a dog came near me, I would run, jump, break things, as I screamed. My heart would race and it felt like I stopped breathing.  Now I am trying to figure if I am sitting there plugged up to all these machines, what if I pulled the needle out? I began to pray and made my mind up that if I could face the fear of cancer, I will face my fear of dogs at the same time. My journey started and I became the main attraction.  Everybody would walk up to see how I would respond. At first, I could not relax when the dog came in. The lady had to keep the dog from even touching me. As I continued treatment, I kept dogworking on overcoming my fear. As you can see in the picture, with trusting God to face my fears, I was able to allow the dog to sit beside me and even rub the dog. I can’t express how major that was.

Lesson learned that when we trust God, we can face any fear and overcome them. Life sometimes has us to face some difficult situations and we become fearful of the unknown. I still don’t know why I am afraid of dogs but that fear could hinder me from doing what God has for me to do or can keep me from being in the right place to receive my blessing. Face your fear so that you can overcome what maybe hindering you on your journey. With God all things are possible. Face your fear!

The Loss of My Precious Haley

This month, we are introducing our new bloggers not only with their posts, but with a video!

Meet Tina:

By Tina Cameron

The loss of a pet is heartbreaking. It doesn’t matter the circumstances; a pet dying from old age; an illness such as cancer or the difficult decision to send them over the Rainbow Bridge to end their suffering–it is just heartbreaking. This is the story of my precious Haley who was in my life for almost 10 years. She loved food, her stuffed animals and stealing my pillow at night.And, unfortunately, was also sick most of her life.

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At eight months old, she had emergency surgery and was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and seizures. At age two, she was diagnosed with liver failure and I was told she would not live past four. I was determined to have her time left with me to be just lots of snuggles, love and any food she wanted to eat. After a few months, we returned to the vet and there was no change in her liver enzymes but, she was still active and thriving, so I decided to change her diet myself since she refused to eat the specialty food from the vet anymore. Within three weeks, her liver enzymes were reduced by half. I was thrilled as was her vet. So, we carried on and still had the occasional Chick-fil-a run.FB_IMG_1510321410447

Year after year she continued to have elevated enzymes and birthdays. In October 2017 her liver enzymes were normal for the first time in 7 years. I was ecstatic since we had just celebrated her 9th birthday on September 20th, 2017. Fast forward to June 13th, 2018 at her next vet visit. She had begun losing weight despite eating like a pig. At the vet, while waiting to be seen, she became lethargic. She was seen right away and after her assessment was rushed for lab work and an x-ray. She had an enlarged heart, a heart murmur, severe constipation, low blood sugar (which explains the lethargy) and with Insulinoma, which is a rare malignant pancreatic tumor that causes low blood sugar, seizures, difficulty walking, and weight loss. She had all of these symptoms. The vet talked to me about options and that quality was more important than quantity.

The next twelve days were a blur as she had to be fed every four hours to keep her sugar elevated. She began to decline rapidly and started distancing herself from me in a way to prepare me for what was coming. On day 12, June 25th, 2018 I made the most difficult decision to put her down and to end her suffering. By this time, she was bleeding and vomiting bright red blood and refused to be syringed fed or watered.

On the way to the vet, we had the windows down, took selfies at red lights, and cranked up Miranda Lambert. She was smiling because I think she knew where we were going. At the vet, her IV was started, pictures were taken, and I wrapped her in her favorite blanket, held her and repeatedly told her through the tears it was okay to go and how much I loved her. The medications were given, and her suffering was over in a minute and a half.

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It has now been four weeks, I am still grieving and missing her every day. My other Yorkie– Peyton Manning is still grieving as well. Pets are our family. So, Haley, please know that you were/are my heart; my chick-fil-a loving, cheese and Pringles crunching loving sweet girl. You brought so much joy into our lives. You were sick more than you were healthy the 9 years, 9 months and 5 days you were on this Earth. You are finally free of pain and can run with all the sweet dogs, cats and bunnies in Heaven. My heart is broken but knowing you are happy and healthy gives me comfort. I will look after Peyton as she is so lost without you. I will love you furever my precious sweet girl.

Girl’s Best Friend

By: Katie Austin

Dafny as she looks off the back deck of the house

They say a man’s best friend is his dog, but I would venture to say that a dog can be a girl’s best friend too.  We have a 10-year old black Labrador Retriever named Dafny.  She is more than a pet, she is an important part of our family and we couldn’t imagine life without her.  Like a mom bragging about her child, I want everyone to know how truly special Dafny is and I think after reading my post, you will think she is too 🙂

Where to begin?  She is by far the cutest dog in the world!  Of course, I am biased because she is our dog, but she really is one of the sweetest, loving animals I have ever known.  What you see in the pictures is what you get with her and is just a small insight to what it is like to have here with us every day.  She, like her other furry friends, loves to go for walks (good for us too!) and meal time is her favorite part of the day as she runs in circles with excitement!  In a nutshell, she just wants to be loved and to love you back.   She is always there to greet you with a toy when you come home.  After a long day, all your troubles seem to fade away as you look down to see Dafny jumping up and down, almost smiling that you have arrived home.

Dafny sits in the snow, patiently waiting for her favorite thing - a cookie!

Dafny secured a special place in my heart during my breast cancer battle.  It was as if she knew I was sick and that she was going to sign up to be one of my caretakers.  She kept me company during the day as everyone was off at school/work, lying beside me for hours as I rested.  If I was in the bathroom sick from the treatments, I would open the door to find her sitting there, waiting for me to come out to see if I were ok.  She would check on me periodically as I lay in bed or on the couch, coming up to sniff me, lick my hand or face, then laying down as if wanting to be right there in case I needed something.  There were many days that I would hold her, crying as I didn’t know if the treatments were going to cure me.  She became my confident with whom I could tell her anything and knew that she would keep it to herself.  I think what helped is that no one else knew dog language, plus I bribed her with cookies which does the trick every time! 🙂

During that time, I learned just how special she is and how much I valued her companionship.  She was my guardian angel and she made me smile even during my toughest days.  I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have made it through my cancer battle if she wasn’t in my life as she seemed to nudge me forward in her special way.  She is more than a dog to us.  She is an important part of our family and we are so truly blessed that we adopted her so many years ago.

Do you have a pet that you couldn’t imagine life without them?  Have they helped you through a difficult time?  Post your story here for the Every Woman Blog family to honor them and appreciate the good deeds they have done 🙂

The Success of Unfulfilled Dreams

By: Summer Brons

I originally wrote this post in February of 2011 for a very short-lived personal blog. I often go back and re-read it when I’m feeling mixed up about my choices in life, so I thought I’d share it here now since February has rolled around once again.

“Now that,” I said, motioning to one of the TVs hanging on the wall at a frequented watering hole, shot of Goldschlager in hand, “is the perfect example of a failed dream.”  I downed my shot and set the plastic cup on the bar.  My boyfriend gave me a quizzical look, glanced at the highlight reels of parading dogs from the previous night’s competition and inquired as to how a dog show represents failure.

The last couple of days have given way to the famous Westminster Kennel Club dog show that takes place each February at Madison Square Garden. It’s an intense, glamorous show with a great deal of history and a cult-like following from both fans and competitors on the American Kennel Club show circuit. As with many events, dog shows are best appreciated if you’re able to personally relate. Dog people are, by and large, a quirky bunch; although I suppose you ought to be if you intend to spend the majority of your weekends traveling around multiple states to campaign your dog with the goal of becoming a Westminster hopeful. Several humorous books have been written on the subject, pick one up sometime if you’d ever like a behind-the-scenes look at the world of canine competition.

Bernese Mountain Dog

I used to show dogs back when I was in middle school, thanks to an English teacher who noticed me reading an AKC rulebook in class between assignments and called me up to his desk to tell me all about how he and his wife bred and showed Bernese Mountain Dogs, and would I like to come along to a show with them one day? Yes, in fact, I would like that, and like it I did. I began showing one of their young females, Peggy, in both breed competition and junior handling classes throughout Oregon and Washington. Turns out, I wasn’t too shabby for an awkward seventh-grader and started attending more shows, meeting more people and allowing myself to start dreaming a little bigger.  Beyond youthful visions of one day perhaps earning a living as a professional handler, competing at Westminster was most certainly at the top of my list of goals.

But then, as it often inconveniently seems to, reality stepped up to rain on my parade. Between health problems for my teacher and financial strain for my family, eventually it wasn’t so feasible to fund my dog habit, particularly when I was too young to enter the workforce and bear a bit of the load. The dog shows had to be shelved for a while and suddenly the years began to fly by.  One thing has a funny way of leading to another and, often, that chain does not involve circling back around to revisit glassy-eyed childhood aspirations.

That 12-year-old girl happily prancing around the ring with a big black dog certainly had no idea that 14 years later she’d be standing in a dimly-lit bar across the country, clutching a cup of booze and a pool cue while watching clips of the dog show she once thought she’d make it to.

“That’s terrible.” My boyfriend, Thomas, declares. I agree, on principle of disappointment over lost ambitions, but then I shrug and try to briefly think what I’d be doing with my life now if I had kept showing dogs throughout the years. Would I have ended up in South Carolina? Would I still be in the process of actively pursuing a writing career, something I’ve dreamed of far longer than I ever dreamed of Westminster?  Would I have developed such fierce affection for turkey bacon and rice cakes?

Who knows. Bottom line – I’ll never know what might have become of me in the dog world, but the point is that none of us ever really know what would have happened if we’d made different decisions or followed alternate opportunities. The only thing we have is the reality of where we are now and the open doors before us that we either opt to explore or refuse to walk through. Honestly, I really don’t even miss showing dogs anymore and I haven’t for quite some time. Westminster each year is mostly a distant pang of, “That could have been me once” more so than it is a, “Why, oh why isn’t that me?!” and quite frankly, I think we can all stand to benefit from those types of pangs from time to time. Gentle reminders to stay alert and focused, to remember what our goals are and follow our passions even as they shift with the changing tides of daily life. Thus, is America’s most famous dog show really a “failed” dream of mine?  No, it isn’t.

That being said, here’s my tip for the day: stop wasting energy complaining about the past, use it to make something happen for tomorrow.

For the Love of Buddy – Part 3

By: Shannon Shull

I promise this will be my last blog entry focusing on my crippled dog. But, I absolutely could not resist sharing with you the unique way that my, now Bionic Buddy, sleeps. Ever since he was smacked in the road and brought back to being, thanks to a surgery that placed a metal plate and many screws into his tiny hips, well, I think you’ll see by my pictures that our little Bud has acquired a very different way of sleeping.

Buddy Passed Out in the Kitchen Doorway

Buddy Sound Asleep at my Feet by my Desk on Hardwood Floor

I have to admit that I’ve become quite obsessed with getting pictures of Buddy in his range of unique sleeping positions – it honestly cracks me up and I cannot help but want to take his picture. I mean this dog can be smack dab in the middle of a room on the hardwood floor and be asleep laying flat on his back!  Half the time the dog looks dead when he sleeps!  I’ll come across him in the craziest places, on his back, feet straight up in the air and sound asleep.

We have this kid chair that we’ve had since our days in California – I used to like to sit in it when I was pregnant with my 2nd child so I could be close to the floor to play with my 1st baby, but up just enough so that I could actually stand back up with my big prego belly. Well, as you’ll see by the pictures, our Buddy has now claimed this chair. He will twist himself into this chair and I swear you wonder where his head is – it’s quite entertaining watching him climb into the chair and get himself positioned! And it’s unbelievable that the dog is comfortable and will actually sleep like that for hours.  The family will be hanging out together, I’ll get up in the middle of one of our family shows and someone will say, “What are you doing?!” and you’ll hear the response from one of my children, “Oh Mama’s just taking Buddy’s picture AGAIN.” I seriously can’t help it – I’ll be utterly exhausted and ready for bed but if look over at the kooky dog and he’s in one of his crazy positions, I have to take a picture!

Buddy Sleeping in His Chair - Can You Find His Head?

Buddy says, "Stops Waking Me Up With That Flash!"

I can assure you, our pet is no typical dog – he’s one of the most outstanding, bionic buddies on the face of the planet. Now, if I could only figure out a way to make money off the little rascal! Hmmmm…..

Share stories and pictures with me of your pet doing wacky things! Hey, it may not be an ultra important subject, but I figure if it brings a smile to someone’s face, then it’s worth the time and effort!   Cheers to you all and thanks for reading about my little Buddy. I hope I was able to bring a smile to your face!

Buddy Passed Out Flat on his Back Up Against the Door

Buddy - I Promise He's Not Dead!

For the Love of Buddy – Part 2

By: Shannon Shull

So now that I hopefully have your heart strings in a bit of a tether after my blog entry, “For the Love of Buddy – Part 1”, I’d love to put your heart at ease… My fellow animal lovers and/or sympathetic, supportive blog readers, take note! My little Buddy is A-Ok! After a long, grueling healing process – the dog that could’ve easily been left for doggie heaven is now alive, well and most importantly – healed and immensely loved. This little bugger has taught my little family many a lesson, whether it be to hang in there – the excruciating, healing wait is worth the while, or to lighten up and just enjoy the little things in life. Our little Buddy reminds us to take light, to chill out and enjoy life.

See the proof in my video that our once broken pup is now our “Bionic Buddy” –

“All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.” ~ Samuel Butler

Isn’t that a great quote? If only we could be reminded of that principle more often and actually apply that principle! Those little moments when you run around the house playing fetch, tag and wrestling with a rascal dog are moments in which I’ve learned need to be cherished, because they remind me to take a “daggome” breathe and not take life too seriously. I should really take heed of my own advice here, because I have to admit – especially lately – I have not been very good at taking a moment to chill and enjoy life!  But, you know those folks who take the time to play with or love on an animal and they seem to enjoy the heck out of it? Ever asked them if it was worth the effort? Worth their time? Probably not, because you were possibly too caught up enjoying watching them, watching a human and a pet enjoy the little things in life. Nothing wrong with that – as I’ve said before, if we let them, these little rascals can bring us a whole load of happiness. And this is coming from a human that’s not your average crazed animal lover. But I tell ya what, after experiencing having my own pet be crushed by a car and then saved by the grace of love…well, a certain appreciation happens that’s just well…unavoidable.

There’s a saying that has always rung true in my experience in life. “The purity of a person’s heart can be quickly measured by how they regard animals” ~ Anonymous. It isn’t the tell-all of a person’s inner being by any means, but you sure can get an idea of a person by how they treat animals.

It seems I constantly run into folks who are mentioning their dear pets and sharing tales of either their silliness, aggravation or sweet stories of friendship and such.  Pets are a big part of a whole lot of people’s lives. Do any of you happen to have a touching story of pet triumph? A pet that saved yours or someone’s life in some way? A simple story of an animal that made ya smile? I’m eager to hear your special pet tales – come on, do share!

Stay tuned for my next blog that will demonstrate the crazy way my dog now sleeps after having been smacked by a car. You will not want to miss the pictures I will be sharing! And after my next blog, I promise to lay off the pet talk and get back to other super cool, passionate things. Seriously, I promise.