Today is one month since Margarita crossed over the rainbow bridge. The last month has brought so much pain, but also much comfort in seeing just how many other people love Sweet Reet. The thoughtful gestures and gifts presented to Brian and I not only have warmed our hearts, but also opened our eyes even more so to how blessed we are to have such a large support group – both near and far. I have been a wreck (to put it lightly) and Brian has been my rock despite his own sadness. I just could not find the words to write this morning, but then I saw the following posted on a friend’s page, which is pretty much spot-on for how I feel – and accurately describes Rita :
“We could live a thousand lifetimes and I’d like to think that I’d always find you, in every single one. And I hope one day I’ll have the words for that moment that we met. That kismet feeling like my subconscious had been looking for you my whole life without me knowing it. I recognized you instantly and I’ll never know how or why, but I’m so darned grateful you were mine. You changed my whole world. More than one could ever imagine. You were bigger than life. You still are I guess. My once in a lifetime. You just loved it all so much. You loved every single moment of this life. Every person, animal, all of it. You appreciated life in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. You were a miracle, and i know that sounds so ridiculous, but there’s no question, it’s just what you were in the most subtle and humble of ways. You had a life. You got to live. That was the miracle. And I’ll never stop being grateful for that, for our  years together, but I hate that you’re gone now. I hate it so much. I don’t want to do any of this without my [girl]. I just don’t want to. But I’m glad you’re healthy again somewhere. I’m glad you’re finally free. But I wish you could have stayed. More than anything I wish you could have stayed.” ~Author Unknown
The photo posted is my all time favorite picture of Margarita. I’m not sure why… I have many better pictures of her….It wasn’t taken at any special event, her piggy nose is out of focus…yet for some reason – it has always been my work email profile pic, my Apple Watch background photo, my phone wallpaper, the photo I choose of her for everything … Maybe it was just the way she was looking at me – or maybe it was because it was taken soon after I met her … soon after my life changed forever.
Today Heaven became even more beautiful…as the most special angel has arrived.
This morning, much sooner than expected, Margarita lost her battle with liver cancer. Just a few minutes after she woke up, she had a seizure while getting a drink at the water bowl in the camper. In addition, her abdomen looked to be distended and her gums were pale. A phone conversation with our veterinarian, Dr. Campbell confirmed what we had suspected- the mass on her liver most likely had ruptured.
Luckily there was an emergency veterinary hospital 10 minutes from the competition. By the time we reached the ER, Margarita was having trouble breathing. An ultrasound confirmed that she had internal bleeding. Dr. Campbell spoke to the ER doctor and agreed it was time to help Rita cross the rainbow bridge. Brian and I held her in our arms until the very end.
I am grateful that Brian and I were there with Rita when she had the seizure, we were able to go into the emergency animal hospital, and that we were able to be with her until she passed, kissing her and hugging her- telling her how much she was loved and thanking her for all she has done for us and all the love she has shown to us. We are fortunate and thankful to have a veterinarian who is always there for us and our pack no matter how far away we are.
The Emergency hospital offered to ship Rita’s remains to us in NJ. As much as I appreciated that, I will be driving or flying back to OH when Rita is ready to return to us – to bring her back to our family.
Brian and I were beyond blessed that Margarita chose us as her forever family. Margarita changed my life and taught me so much. The connection her and I shared was like no other and although I will cherish that bond forever, I will be lost without her.
Señorita Margarita is reunited with the love of her life – her fiancé and fellow Pointer, Mr. Spock. I know in my heart Spock was waiting with flowers for her (as he always did) at the other side of the rainbow bridge.
Words cannot begin to describe the devastation and pain of Margarita’s passing. Five years was nowhere near enough time with her. It has been comforting to be surrounded by our dock dogs family.
When it was decided by our veterinarian that Margarita should retire from walking 5K’s due to health related reasons, I bought her a Vergo brand dog stroller so that we would still be able to walk together. Below is the video of Rita’s maiden voyage in her new stroller. She gained her angel wings before we were able to complete a 5K using the stroller.
A 1st grade class at Osage Elementary School in the Voorhees Township Public Schools learned about Lager during a class discussion. The wonderful students in Mrs. Stillwagon’s class created a book of Thank-You’s to Lager for his service to our country. This was one of the sweetest, most thoughtful gifts Lager has ever received. I read each and every Thank-You out loud to Lager, and this awesome gift will now be displayed for a bit in our kitchen for all house guests to see. It will then be placed in his memory box, where we save only the most special items for Lager.
Mrs. Stillwagon and students…your class made Lager’s day – (and his PAWrents too!) We very much appreciate your kindness and thoughtfulness!
The snuggle is real! Being a mother doesn’t mean being related to someone by blood. It means loving someone unconditionally and with all of your heart…
To all the dog moms out there who traded beauty sleep for dark circles, salon cuts for ponytails, long showers for quick clean-ups, late night parties for late night potty walks, sleeping-in for early morning face-licking-wake-ups, pedicures for PAWdicures, and designer bags for poop bags …
Happy Mother’s Day!
This year I did a Dog Mom 5k with Jägermeister !
For Mother’s Day this year Jägermeister completed the I Run 4 Movement Dog Mom 5K with his Mama. We did dry-land training and also some swimming in the lake prior to our walk…and it seemed to be just enough of a warm-up to tone down his “crazy” and spark his memory of how to have leash manners out in public. We stuck to local trails in our town for this 5K.
A portion of our race fee was donated to Best Friends Animal Society , our nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary. Best Friends creates a better world through kindness to animals with a mission of achieving No-Kill in America by 2025.
It is with mixed emotions that I announce Margarita’s early retirement from Therapy Dog work. It has been decided that it is not in Margarita’s best health interest for her to receive vaccinations. Recently, her rabies titer test revealed she no longer has immunity and would require a rabies booster. Her Therapy Dog registration can not be renewed without a rabies vaccination.
Although I am saddened that she cannot carry on with official Therapy Dog visits, I’m thrilled that she can to continue to be actively involved in our online math lessons with my students for the remainder of this school year.
In the last 4 years, Sweet Reet has formed a bond with so many individuals. In hospital and retirement home settings, she provided much comfort to the elderly. Within the school setting, she has improved students’ success socially, emotionally and cognitively. I am absolutely honored to have been a small part in the huge role she has played in making a remarkable difference in the lives of countless people of all ages.
Some highlights from Margarita’s four years of Therapy Dog work:
initiated the therapy dog program in the Shamong Township School District as the district’s first Therapy Dog
featured in the Burlington County Times newspaper Not once …but twice!
participated on campus at Rowan College’s Mental Health Week event, while she helped enlighten students and staff on the positive benefits therapy dogs provide for students with depression and anxiety
participated in a 2021 Burlington County, NJ Board of Education Director’s Meeting explaining the benefits of a Therapy Dog Program in a school setting and how she was able to engage students during remote learning (Click HERE to see her slideshow)
Of all the adventures our dogs have taken me on, this — 𝘣𝘺 𝘧𝘢𝘳 — has been the most rewarding of all. I am beyond grateful to have witnessed the significant and lasting impressions Rita has made in the lives of those she visited – both in person and virtually.
In her retirement, we will attempt to accomplish the last two items of her lymphoma Adventure List. Beyond that, you’ll find her lounging on the dock, GLAMping, and visiting outdoor wineries and breweries.
Shamong Township Therapy Dog Photos from Pre-Covid In-person Teaching:
Coloring pages made from photos of Rita with students:
Remote Teaching with Rita:
Virtual School Spirit Days
Shamong Township School District Staff Yearbook Photo:
If you have a fur-kid there may come a time when you will need to pay for a pretty hefty veterinary medical bill. If you have insurance for your 4-legged child, it can help cover some of the costs. But there may come a time when a a fur-child’s medical emergency or illness will exceed your financial resources. When this type of situation arises, often PAWrents are faced with a difficult choice. If you find yourself in a tough financial predicament, here are some resources you can reach out to for help.
Boo tiki fund : Aims to keep animals in their forever homes by providing crisis medical care when owners are unable to pay
Credit Cards for Veterinary Care: Many veterinary hospitals do not take payment plans. One of these cards may be a solution if you are not able to afford the whole cost of treatment. Please note that your veterinarian must offer the service of accepting this type of payment.
RedRover.org : provides support to help care for animals in life-threatening situations . They also provide assistance to victims of domestic violence to help them escape abusive environments with their pets. Additionally, they have a program that helps with disaster relief, criminal seizures, and hoarding cases.
The Pet Fund : a national nonprofit dedicated to funding veterinary care for those who could not afford it.
Harley’s Hope Foundation : Financial assistance is offered to assist with major or emergency veterinary care and behavioral or specialty training.
Brown Dog Foundation : This organization is dedicated to helping families who find themselves in a temporary financial crisis at the same time their pet requires life-saving treatment or life-sustaining medications. They work with the clinic and the family to find the best, most affordable path to saving the animal and help bridge the gap of the veterinary bill.
Shakespeare Animal Fund : helps elderly, disabled and those whose total income does not exceed the current poverty guidelines to obtain emergency pet care.
The Onyx & Breezy Foundation : privately run nonprofit that started in memory of the founder’s dogs. This foundation helps to provide emergency medical care to animals whose owners have fallen on hard times.
Handicapped Pets Foundation : a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation dedicated to the health and well-being of elderly, disabled, and injured pets. They also donate mobility equipment to pets in need.
Dog-Breed Specific Support : There are many associations that support specific dog breeds. Reach out to your local breed clubs for information on local, state and national groups involved in dog breed-specific veterinary care assistance programs. Below are a couple of examples:
Dogs and Other Unsolicited Advice Foundation : a non-profit that was created to support and guide qualified applicants through emotional times with financial relief in the form of partial or complete payment of covered services.
Keep in mind the groups listed in this post are just suggested starting points to help PAWrents who find themselves in an emergency medical situation. There are many other local and national groups or organizations that may be able to assist, or who may be able to point you in the right direction. Even if the group or organization you contact cannot help, they may know of a low-cost vet clinic and/or possible solutions for financial assistance.
If you are looking for low-cost general veterinary care, Veterinary associations, veterinary schools, rescue organizations, and local animal shelters may be able to help you locate facilities and groups who offer low cost-spay/neuter and vaccinations.
Being a mother doesn’t mean being related to someone by blood. It means loving someone unconditionally and with all of your heart. 🐾💛💚❤️💖💜💙🐾 To all the dog moms out there who traded beauty sleep for dark circles, salon cuts for ponytails, long showers for quick clean-ups, late night parties for late night potty walks, sleeping-in for early morning face-licking-wake-ups, pedicures for PAWdicures, and designer bags for poop bags …
The Snuggle is real! Being a mother doesn’t mean being related to someone by blood. It means loving someone unconditionally and with all of your heart
To all the dog moms out there who traded beauty sleep for dark circles, salon cuts for ponytails, long showers for quick clean-ups, late night parties for late night potty walks, sleeping-in for early morning face-licking-wake-ups, pedicures for PAWdicures, and designer bags for poop bags … Happy Mother’s Day! 🐾
Brian and I are always trying to think of more ways we can help dogs in need. This Valentine’s Day Brian bought me a portable photography lighting kit and backdrop set. Not only will this be fun to use with our own pack, but the overall thought is that we could mesh one of my favorite activities (taking dog photos) and our biggest mutual passion (helping dogs in need). We plan to offer to take free photos of needy pups that shelters/rescues can use on social media in hopes to help some homeless pups find their forever families. …Now to figure out how to use the lighting correctly, learn how to shoot good indoor photos, and reach out to local shelters/rescues to see if they’d be interested!