Note: this post is back-dated. I am currently attempting to catch up on many missed memories that I failed to post over the last 2-3 years). I appreciate your patience as I attempt to bring my diary of “special moments with my dogs” up-to-date!
You blessed us with 12.5 wonderful years of having the privilege to call you family. How we got so lucky to be the ones you picked as your people, I’ll never know – – but I will forever be thankful…the memories you created, the gifts you bestowed upon us, and the lessons that you taught us are things we will hold dear for eternity.
Little did we know the grand escapades you had planned for us when you joined our family! Camping…hiking…dock diving…rescue…social media…all things we knew NOTHING about until you came along. The interests and activities you introduced us to paved the way to countless memorable experiences, enabled us to help many humans & pups, and connected us to the most wonderful, supportive, kind-hearted people anyone could ever hope for in their lives. Our proudest moments were brought about by you. You ushered friendship, love, and adventure into our lives. You made us better as individuals – and as a couple – and guided us to find our purpose. We are forever grateful for your direction and enlightenment.
We are beyond fortunate to have an enormous network of extended family members -both near and far- all because of YOU. Our involvement in dock diving, Cello’s Corner social media and rescue has enabled us to be members of communities filled with support that is truly inconceivable to others. At times the wonderment of it all is even unbelievable to us. Thank you for renewing our faith in humanity and surrounding us with such an immense and astounding group of people.
Every pastime, hobby and passion we have began because of YOU. You have taught us so much about the remarkably strong bond between humans and dogs and showed us how it goes above and beyond what we ever imagined. It’s going to be excruciating to continue these ventures without you. We thank you for continuously introducing us to new activities and promise to proceed to 𝙎𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙚𝙯𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝘿𝙖𝙮 in your honor.
Over the course of your lifetime, you benevolently accepted 8 new dogs into your pack. You took leadership with each one and showed them the way (aka YOUR way)! I loved watching the admiration in the other pack members as they followed your every move. They adored you. You heightened our pack expectations as you managed proper pack order and behavior with confidence and grace. The transition will be a difficult one for your pack, but we know in our hearts you will still be watching over us all, and guiding us.
You eagerly did 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 we asked of you with trust and love in your eyes. You let us 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑘 WE were teaching you – but the reality was: It was YOU who was schooling 𝒖𝒔. Thank you for tolerating our faults and humbly making us look like we knew what we were doing.
You are THE definition of 𝙎𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙚𝙯𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝘿𝙖𝙮. You let nothing obstruct your path. A miraculous full recovery from Dilated Cardiomyopathy was just one of the many examples of your strong will, strength and determination. You loved to surprise your medical team! Intent on ending your journey YOUR way, you shocked everyone, and competed in the DockDogs World Championships for the 9th year in a row…letting cancer know full well that “𝑖𝑡” did 𝒏𝒐𝒕 have you … 𝐘𝐎𝐔 had “𝑖𝑡.” YOU called the shots. We will forever admire your fortitude, willpower and tenacity and pray that we have even a fraction of your strength as we try our best to continue to carry out the purpose you paved for us despite any roadblocks we encounter.
Your medical team was taken aback with the dramatic results of your CAT scan – yet you stood before them asymptomatic and unfazed. For two full months after your diagnosis you continued to silently fight a battle most humans could not endure- saving us the heartache of displaying how you may have truly felt. For those 9 weeks after your diagnosis you pressed on – hiding any signs of discomfort from us- and ambitiously continuing to do things that most healthy dogs don’t ever get the chance to do. You are a true inspiration and the mightiest of warriors.
On November 2, 2023 you let us know that you could no longer quietly fight. We had been nervous wondering 𝘩𝘰𝘸 we would know when “the time” had arrived. Thank you for clearly alerting us that you were ready to cross the rainbow bridge. It was one of the most difficult days of our lives but our grief is just a small price to pay for the abundance of joy, love, and companionship you unconditionally gave to us. It is worth all the tears and pain in the world to make sure you are not in agony. We are heartbroken and devastated that you are not here with us, but we are comforted knowing you are no longer suffering.
You hold a place in our hearts that no other being could ever fill. We are grateful beyond measure that you chose us to be your family. Thank you for for loving us and for completely changing our lives for the better. We will miss you each and every day – every single second – for the rest of our lives. As God embraces you in His arms, we will hold you closely in our hearts and pray that you continue to guide us until we can meet again.
When you know a loved one is living on borrowed time, the clock seems to tick much faster…Although I am doing my best to incorporate the advice of “take one day at a time,” lately it seems that several days gang up and attack me at once. Some days I find myself caught in between having hope… and knowing there isn’t any….between trying to stop myself from grieving as if Cello is no longer here…while trying to be grateful that she still is. Daily laughter provided by the antics of our pack, support for each other between Brian and I as a couple, as well as the continued encouragement and love from family and friends both near and far keeps me sane and reminds me each and every day to reset and refocus on faith, gratitude, and positivity. Limoncello has taught me many things, but one of the most important lessons of all is to live in the moment and 𝙎𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙚𝙯𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝘿𝙖𝙮…and as difficult as it may be, I intend to do just that for her.
Nine weeks go, on Wednesday, August 30th 2023, Limoncello was given a terminal diagnosis. Her estimated prognosis was 3 weeks to 3 months…with the realistic approximation weighing heavily at the three-week end. For the last two months, Limoncello has certainly 𝙎𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙚𝙯𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 heck out of each and every 𝘿𝙖𝙮. Aside from the initial observation of what we first thought was an irritated right eye which led to her diagnosis, in the last 9 weeks, not only she has she shown zero additional symptoms, but her right eye also seemed to miraculously transform back to its normal state.
She traveled out to Iowa, and enthusiastically competed in the DockDogs World Championships.
We are extremely grateful for these last 9 weeks!
A couple of days after our return from Iowa, Limoncello developed a dry cough. It did not sound like kennel cough and none of our other pack members were displaying any symptoms. When the cough persisted, we took Cello to her primary veterinarian. Although Cello was not exhibiting the typical kennel cough symptoms, Dr. Campbell put Limoncello on an antibiotic to be sure any type of infection would be avoided. Cello’s overall exam was unremarkable. Her heart sounded to be at its “normal” function with her murmur sounding no worse. Her lungs sounded clear. However, over the the course of her antibiotic, our other pack members still remained asymptomatic, while Limoncello’s cough did not diminish.
October 29, 2023: First observation of nasal discharge. Limoncello’s right nostril had a discharge of mucus that also contained some blood. Although alarming, we were prepared that this was one of the symptoms we would see. We contacted Dr. Campbell right away to update her.
October 26, 2023: Cello has never been a picky eater… In fact, she is the type of dog that will eat an”unhidden” pill right out of your hand and not question it. She eats every meal and licks the bowl clean. On October 26th, Limoncello hesitated to eat her breakfast. She eventually did eat the meal, but began to grow increasingly hesitant to eat. After several experiments of food consistency toleration, and height elevations of her bowl, I began to notice that it appeared to be the bowl she was hesitant of (meanwhile her food bowl has not changed). I began to offer her the meals from my hand, and she began to eat her meals in their entirety again.
October 31, 2023: I touched base with Dr. Campbell again to inform her of the change in eating habit, as well as to let her know that Cello’s cough has not resolved. Dr. Campbell said the cough may mean that Cello either has mucus or blood dripping into her throat or that the cancer has spread to her lungs. It is uncertain why all of the sudden Limoncello will not eat from her bowl, but Dr. Campbell speculated that the height and/or angle of eating from the bowl may create a pressure or discomfort of some sort which is deterring Cello. The important detail is that she still is eager to eat – and if that means I need to hand-feed her for the rest of the time we have with her, so be it. Later that evening, evening we once again noticed a minimal amount of discharge from Cello’s right nostril that contained a small amount of blood.
Until now, I have been shocked that Hooch has not been acting any different. In the past, ANY time there has been something wrong with Cello (including her DCM), Hooch knew it before we did and would display odd behaviors that led us to take Cello to the vet. This time however, “Dr. Hooch” has been unfazed…unti… Limoncello was laying next to me on the couch. Hooch walked up and began to sniff her right nostril and her right eye. This was an additional confirmation to me that there are obvious changes and/or developments occurring with Cello’s cancer. Hooch then “stood guard” of Cello the rest of the night.
November 1, 2023: The good news is, as of today, Cello has not had any additional discharge from her nostril and is eating as long as her meals are delivered from my hands and not her bowl. Close observation, documentation, and communication with Dr. Campbell are all extremely important at this point. Continued prayers for Limoncello are very much appreciated as she continues to 𝑺𝒒𝒖𝒆𝒆𝒛𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒂𝒚 and live her life to the fullest despite her cancer diagnosis.
As Limoncello begins to show signs decline, we are remaining vigilant in observing when more bad days than good are apparent. We are beyond grateful that we have Dr. Campbell to be Cello’s advocate and to help us determine when Cello becomes too tired. We still are remaining positive and grateful for every day we have with Cello, focussing on the “little” moments that are creating memories, and letting Cello call the shots. I’m not going to lie – the anticipation is not easy. In fact, some days it feels like I am sitting on train tracks waiting for the locomotive to hit. Preparing for the blow that I know is coming is both sad and terrifying. Brian and I are doing our absolute best to follow Cello’s lead to 𝙎𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙚𝙯𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝘿𝙖𝙮 every day and not let our feelings of grief take over before the loss even happens. Above all, we are trying to take things one day at a time. We understand that at this point, Limoncello will have good days and bad days and that as her caretakers and family, we will have good days and bad days also.
The Struggle Is Real, But So Are The Blessings
Some days are truly a struggle. However, we truly have so many blessings in our lives … Here are just some from the past few weeks:
Support at the 2023 DockDogs World Championships
“Thank you” doesn’t even come close to expressing the gratitude we have. There is nothing – and I mean NOTHING like the DockDogs community….
Our trip was filled with support, love, friendship and reunions within our dockdogs family. I’m not sure where to even begin, as it is impossible to find the proper words to convey all that I feel. I don’t think that I am even capable of being a good enough person to figure out a way to thank everyone involved in helping our special girl 𝑺𝒒𝒖𝒆𝒆𝒛𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒂𝒚 and make the most of the present 𝑚𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡. To everyone who took the time to come up to us to tell us how happy you were that Cello was there … you ALL turned an already-very-special-week into one-big-spectacular-𝑚𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡 that will forever be cherished and 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 be forgotten.
We had less than 24 hours from the time we had Limoncello’s exam to the time we had to leave for Iowa, not knowing if we’d be able to make the trip or not. Understanding there was a good possibility we we’d have to cancel the trip, I chose to only purchase the necessities- food for ourselves and the dogs – skipping the usual team shirts, banners, and trading cards…But our DockDogs family would not have that … As a surprise, a friend had shirts made not only for us – but for anyone else who wanted to support Cello. It was so heartwarming to see all the Cello-yellow both at the competition and in posts from afar!!!
… but that wasn’t all…
…We arrived to the competition to find a sign and banner, and trading cards were made …
…Yellow bracelets were purchased, and lemon string-lights decorated our crate area…
…Yellow Super Fly suits were made for our team as well as others who chose to wear one in support of Cello…
…We were also gifted a custom handmade metal team sign…
…a friend and fellow Pointer Rescue, Org volunteer traveled many hours to come visit with Cello…
The kind and generous gestures overwhelmed our hearts and made this trip filled with moments that we will remember forever.
Grand Marshall of the 2023 DockDogs World Championships
Leader of the 2023 DockDogs World Championships Hero Parade
Visits from Family and Friends
Watching MLB Championship Series
Snuggles on the Couch
Lemons and Yellow in My Social Media Feed Or sent to me from a Friend
I will continue to do periodic updates on Limoncello and appreciate all of the love and support you all continue to send for our special girl!