Going on Sabbatical – Time to Rest, Reflect, Refill and Renew.

IMG_1767Dear Friends,

I’ve been giving much thought these past four days about something I should have really done over a year ago. But I just kept pushing through and ignoring that wee voice in me that kept trying to tell me I needed to slow down and re-evaluate. Joie’s unexpected passing is my wake up call.

My sabbatical will be a private journey– A journey into my heart. It is time to once again be still, listen, and explore.  I believe this is Joie’s gift to me. It is also how Joyful Paws came to be when in 2005 I paused (paws) long enough in my life and worked with a life coach to explore what it is that would bring more joy to my life.  Cassy, my chocolate Lab at that time  gave me that gift.  It is time to once again “paws.”

I won’t be posting to my blog or Facebook, and will put my newsletter on hold now through September – quite possibly through October. I will check back in at the end of September to let you know where I am at.

I’ll continue to write, but will write just for me to hopefully uncover the next leg in my journey. I have some ideas I want to explore. I also feel like I’m being called to close the chapter in my life of my work around Frankie and Joie. Not completely, but move forward in a new way.  This, of course, is where I am at in this very moment so I try to put no expectations on what is going to come up in my self exploration.

And dear friends, I do believe I know one thing.  I will love another little special needs dachshund again. I feel quite certain of that. But for now I will honor Joie’s gift of taking this time for me.

Lastly, I want to say my deepest heartfelt thank you to all of you and your outpouring of love with the passing of Joie. Such beautiful sentiments you all shared here, on Facebook and via emails. I know you understand the profound loss of our special furry friends as you’ve all been through this at least once in your life too.  It is something we can never escape – but as much as it hurts – I want to love another one again. I look forward to experiencing that joy again someday soon.

You are all a gift to me and I want you to know that. Again, I’ll check back in at the end of September.  Until then, be well, choose joy, and follow your own hearts.

With love and gratitude,


Remembering Joie

joie 1200I’ve heard it said that 3:00am is the time of day of which we can be closest with God.  And so it is that I was called to my computer to share with you my dear readers, those who came to love Joie through me, that she has passed away.

Though I feel completely numb, I felt I needed to share this news with you for you have followed along on our journey that feels way too short.  I realize as I also write this that we truly are only here on this earth for the blip of a moment, and time is of no essence really when you love another person or animal with all your heart.

It was 10 months and 9 days since I held Joie for the first time in my arms. Though I struggle to understand why our time had to be so short, I trust that we will always be connected.

As I shared yesterday, the CT scan revealed many things.  Many complex things. Yesterday morning after talking with the neurologist by phone it became so complicated the many issues Joie’s little body was dealing with that he asked if I could come in to go through the CT scan together.  I called my Mom to please make the hour trip with me to Milwaukee so she could help me make sense of it all.

The scan revealed the confirmation of a herniation that occurred in her middle back before I had adopted her, which from what I understand from her previous home had happened in May 2012.  Because of that herniation of which surgery was not done, over time,  fluid had begun building in her spine unbeknownst to me.

The scan also revealed what appeared to be a pocket of fluid at the base of her skull – at the stem of her brain. Her most pressing issue of which I had brought her in the begin with was the pain she was experiencing which revealed a mild to moderate herniation in her neck.  The neuro is one of the kindest doctors I’ve ever met who carefully and compassionately shared with me how complex all these issues were.  How many unknowns we were dealing with. He shared with me that he tried to make sense of it all the night before, reaching out to colleagues of his, as well as getting a second opinion from a radiologist.

Surgery for the current herniation came with some big risks due to her current condition. If that surgery was a success we faced a potential surgery to deal with the fluid at the base of her skull.  That one extremely risky and one I would not have considered due to the nature of the risk.  The fluid build up in her entire spine from the past herniation and up her spine had slowly been progressing to this point without my knowledge,  Would management with meds have helped? Possibly, but no guarantees.

After weighing everything our very carefully I made the decision to bring Joie home yesterday afternoon from Milwaukee where she had stayed overnight for her CT scan. I felt it best to try conservative treatment. along with meds to see if the herniation in her neck would heal. I had every hope in the world we could do just that.

Upon returning home, I placed Joie in her kennel. She was so weak she fell onto her side.  Her breathing appeared to become very rapid. She clearly looked in distress. Something felt very wrong to me.  I called the neuro who again was so compassionate and was worried things had progressed so quickly to the point of choosing either surgery or letting her go.

My head knew the right answer as my heart screamed no. Time felt so slow but at the same spinning too quickly. I knew I could not let her suffer.  The neuro offered to call ahead to my local vet as I said I needed to call my mom and husband first to make this decision.  But I knew what was right for Joie.

Saying goodbye will never be easy.  I gathered every bit of strength and courage that Frankie had given me before this, and put myself into those last moments of breathing Joie in. Thanking her for being my friend. Telling her how much I loved her. That I always will. Though our time short, I loved her deeply.

My dear friend Cassy, along with our friend Christy, drove me and Joie to the vet so I could release Joie back into the hands of God. To be with Frankie. She went quickly and peacefully hearing from me as her last words how very much I loved her. John was also able to see her and say goodbye.

As I sit here in the wee early hours of the morning, Joie’s purple and white blanket with polka dots and fringes is my companion of something tangible to hold right now. It is not her as badly as I wish it was. But I reach into the depth’s of my heart reminding myself that if I sit and move through my intense and profound feelings of my hurting heart that Joie will always be here with me. When one loves another we are truly never alone and never separated, just together in a new way.

I will trust that the days will move ahead and my path will continue to reveal itself to me.  Right now that feels so scary to me, but I trust it will get easier.

As I sat starring at the blinking cursor for a few moments of how to complete this post I think of Joie’s legacy. Her day of being on the set of the movie The Surface just a short week ago, which will be out in late 2014. She will bring the positive message of dogs in wheelchairs and dogs with IVDD large to the screen and it will ripple out further than I can even imagine. My heart bursts with tears and joy all at the same time.

Joie was my Joie De Vivre (Joy of Living) which she reminded me of when I opened myself to love her after Frankie passed.  I have no regrets of letting the joy back in knowing grief would find me once again at some point. Each time grief finds me, I am reminded too that joy will come again. My heart will be called to expand yet again when it is time.

For now I will take my time as I ease back into a new way forward without Joie. I’ll forever be grateful for the time I had with her. She was my Buttercup and Little Duck that rolled into the sweet little girl that became what I called my Butterduck.  Goodbye my precious little sweet soul.  I love you. I always will.

Update on Joie After CT Myelogram Scan.

We have a few more questions answered, but now just awaiting second opinion from a radiologist.  We will know more tomorrow hopefully by noon at the latest.

The big question answered for me is that Joie does have a previous disc herniation that happened in her middle back before I got her.  She didn’t have surgery so they think there may be fluid building on the spine because without removing the disc that was herniated, it dies off and fluid then cannot flow through, which is causing her pain. Surgery at this point is likely not an option to fix that, but again, we await the second opinion.  There is also a potential other serious concern regarding something they saw on scan, but I’ve decided to not give that thought until radiologist looks at scan and eliminates that thought.  The disc herniation not being treated correctly the first time and fluid build up makes sense to me, so that is what I’m going to hope for as a best case scenario.

Her condition is going to be chronic, but hopeful we can manage with medication and possibly some other holistic approaches.  I’m sad this will be a lifetime thing for her, but I’m happy she is with me and that I will do what I can to help her.  I place no blame on the family before me, though I wish I could have known more. I believe they did the best they could with what they knew at the time.  But it serves no purpose to blame or accuse, but instead move forward, and help Joie the best I can.

I’m so grateful for all the prayers and thoughts left on my blog post yesterday, via emails and on Facebook since I said Joie would be getting a CT scan.  I hesitated whether or not to share the news initially because I didn’t want to cause worry or was  not asking for sympathy.  But Joyful Paws and part of my mission is to continue to educate others about IVDD and hopefully help others, and most importantly, save lives.  So I felt it important to share where Joie is at.  There can never be too much education out there about IVDD.

The neurosurgeon is really wonderful and with Dodgerslist help, I feel like I’ve got all the bases covered to help Joie.  I’ll keep you updated.