Love Life . Love Animals

recently i found a lump on my beautiful girl Tichka and in that split second my stomach knotted up, my eyes teared up and my heart felt as if it weighed a thousand pounds.  not that i know at that point whether the lump is friend or foe, but the possibility of it being a threat to my beloved ripped me apart. it really got me thinking…and forced me to face the harsh reality that she won’t be with me forever!

that alone is the most heartbreaking reality that every single one of us animal lovers will have to deal with one day.

it’s amazing how much our animal companions fill our lives with pure love and absolute joy. why they have to leave us so soon is the most unfair part of life’s journey.

my dogs and cats make up my immediate family and they are my life. having them around makes me feel whole and reminds me that i have so much love to give. needless to say, i get that love back times four…and enough comic relief to keep me in a constant state of laughter.

i know there are people out there who would say, “…but it’s only an animal.”  to any animal lover, those are fightin’ words. as for me, i truly feel sorry for those people. they have not experienced the unconditional love that you receive when you let an animal into your heart. they are definitely missing out on one of life’s great joys.

to quote my beautiful and talented friend, Anouk, “Life without an animal to love is life without sunshine. Love life. Love animals.”

she couldn’t be more right.

my happiest moments are when i am walking with my dogs somewhere in nature on a beautiful day. i feel so alive, so free and also so incredibly inspired. take away all the distractions and hussle and bussle of the city and just breathe the fresh air with my dogs. i love to watch them run, jump, play, chase, explore and just be. the simplicity of it all makes me smile and i feel that overwhelming kind of joy that makes my heart want to burst out of my chest.

it is that honest connection, that unspoken bond that i love to capture in my sessions. they are with us for too short of a time, but they make our lives richer.

Tichka, who is the perfect reflection of me, will be nine years young in the spring. she has so much puppy spirit left in her and i believe in my heart that she will live a long, healthy and happy life. i am positive of that.


13 comments on “Love Life . Love Animals”

  1. Ren says:

    The animal story I like to share most is one of my favourites simply because it involves one of my birds. I think it often surprises even cat and dog lovers that there are smaller animals that can express love (or at least, what I perceive to be love; as much as something so small /can/ love).

    I used to work at a pet store (definitely one of the most depressing jobs I’ve ever held). I was working in the back room when I heard a noise. I looked down at one of the quarantine cages on the ground and the baby budgie I had isolated in it (underweight and issues flying properly) was clinging to the side of the cage where I was standing. This intrigued me because none of the budgies there were hand tame whatsoever. So, normally I wouldn’t pay attention to one. I definitely wouldn’t have done what I /did/ do, which was open the door to the cage, but when I did, she flew out and landed on my knee. This is still my only experience with having a pet choose me instead of me choosing it.

    So, she came home with me. Leaving her at the store was basically a death sentence, because the unfortunate reality is that they wouldn’t pay for vet care for a $20 budgie. I brought her to the vet myself and was told that she likely had a disease that prevented her from properly digesting her food and that between that and her already being severely underweight, she was basically hanging by a thread and not expected to live much longer. I opted to try and save her anyway.

    I named her Eclipse because the lunar eclipse was the same evening I brought her home. I had her for exactly one month: February 20th to March 20th. In that time, she was life-enriching. She was rarely inside of her cage when I was home. She liked being close to me — probably to get warm, as she was constantly cold from her lack of weight, but I like to think she had a higher understanding of what I was trying to do for her. She lay in my hand sometimes, or tangled herself up in my hair at the back of my neck. And she’d stay there grinding her beak (this is a sign of a bird being content) for hours.

    Eclipse was smart, too. She regularly “houdini’d” her way out of her cage for three weeks before I figured out how she was doing it. When she did this, I usually ended up finding her on the window sill peacefully looking outside. It was almost other-worldly. It seemed like she was thinking about the great beyond.

    Despite the medication, she was gone as suddenly as she’d arrived. When I stood up after burying her in my parents’ garden, a mourning dove startled me by flying out of one of the trees nearby. Logic may argue that it was just a coincidence, but I’m taking it as a sign that she is finally at peace.

    Eclipse died almost three years ago, and I still feel profoundly affected by her presence in my life. Just goes to show that it doesn’t matter how long your pet is with you, they can still leave long-lasting impressions!


  2. Carol Haynes says:

    Love ths post, Marcia and so so true. I can honestly say that I am a different person today because of Kiley. She makes me enjoy the simple things in life-an early morning walk where it feels like it is just the two of us alone in the world. The fact that I will see her little head in the window when I come home from work, waiting patiently for me. Her unconditional love and loyalty. The pure comedy that only she can provide.



  3. What a beautiful post. I had a dog growing up. Her name was Lucy. We got her when I was six, and she was very much a part of our family. She was such a friendly dog. She never growled at anyone, and only barked at the mailman! 🙂

    She lived to be about 12 years old I think. She had a lot of German Shepperd in her, and I hear it’s quite common for their hips to go when they are older. That’s what happened to her. I’ll never forget the day I came home and Lucy couldn’t get up to get out of the way of the entrance. We made her comfortable for the night and my dad took her to vet the next day.

    I hadn’t thought about that in a long time, until now. She was a good companion. I miss her, even 20 years later.

  4. Eileen Ross says:

    First off – I love the picture of Molly and I that you included – she is my little mooshy dog! 🙂

    Molly is 2 months shy of 15 years old, and I got her when she was 10 weeks old – an adorable little fluffball that stole my heart – it was love at first sight! All these years later we read each other and interact like an old married couple, and when she’s feeling especially cranky due to her age I call her Bea Arthur.
    The best thing about Molly is her tongue that sticks out nearly always. She didn’t get all of her adult teeth, so the tongue isn’t kept entirely inside her mouth. When she’s sleeping it gets all dried and bent, so I shove it back in her mouth and she wakes up and gives me a look like, ‘do you mind???’.

    She’s kind of like living with a small, hairy grandmother…now if I could only teach her canasta…

  5. Shannon Hutchinson says:

    I totally agree. Kiyah is a 5 year old Am. Staff that is like my child. We are so bonded, I cannot imagine life without her. As soon as she started growing up it occurred to me that she wouldn’t be around forever, and I panicked. I guess we have to grab life by the horns and cherish every moment we have with them. We now have 3 dogs and a little girl on the way; I have no doubt that she will love Kiyah, Mister and Liberty just as much as we do. I am so glad that they will be around to help her grow into an amazing person.
    You are right Marcia, people who think “they are only animals” deserve our pity. They will never know the true joy that comes from developing a relationship with an animal, and that is honestly sad.
    Side note: As I’m typing this I am sitting at my desk with teary eyes. Not having my dogs anymore evokes a physical response in me that I cannot even explain. I’m not sure what I would do if I wasn’t tripping over them in the kitchen, or fighting them for the covers…sniffle.

  6. Kathy says:

    I got my my dog Mac in October 2005, the same year my younger brother tragically died. My brother had a huge capacity for love particularly his dogs over the years. In memory of my brother I got Mac whose middle name “Taylor” is in honor of my brother.

    Mac is an english golden retriever and the love of my life. He has brought such joy to my life, I love to watch him play, sleep, especially the sweet dreams he has where I imagine he is playing with other dogs as he twitches, his tail thumps and the cutest little “woofs” come out. He has been there with an abundance of unconditional love to give, not just for me but for all the people in his life. I am often told by friends and family what a “sweet boy” he is, and he is. I have often thought he would make a great therapy dog, as his capacity to love others is endless.

    I recently lost my job, and he was and continues to be my source of comfort, providing laughs, hugs and love as a go through this transition. I dread the day he will no longer be in my life and treasure every moment I have with him. My big Mac is perfect! 🙂

  7. Lori says:

    mine is there for love and to give love all the time… Her smile helps me relax, and she is a wonderful part of our family- what would I do without my Toonie???

  8. Courtney says:

    I do not know what I would do without my two dogs. I have had my older dog Blue since I was five. He is now eleven years old and my best friend. When I was younger he put up with every little phase that I put him through. I once decided that he was i dire need of booties, and another when I thought that a backpack on a dog was the best thing ever. He grew up with me and he shelters me like he’s my older brother. No matter where I am in the house, if I get hurt, he is there to comfort me. He has done so much for me and really helped me as a person. I love Blue so much and I hope he stays around for a long time.

    My favourite story about Blue happened about a month ago. My dad and I were playing with our one year old husky, Jasper, and Blue was point blank refusing to play, we don’t know why but he was being really moody. Then all of a sudden, he jumped up and put his from paws on the coffee table and stole the ball off of it. This amazed me because he is a black lab and quite up there, so his hips aren’t in the best of shape. He then proceeded to throw the ball for himself and go chase it. He would not let anybody touch the ball, especially not jasper. My dad and I laughed so hard, all he wanted was his little blue ball.

    Blue is very neurotic, and he hates getting his feet wet. One day my family and I were swimming in the pool, and as always, we were throwing the ball for Blue and waiting fro him to finish his victory lap around the yard. When we got the ball back, we threw it again and it landed on the grass. The grass was a little bit wet from the dew but as always Blue went chasing after it like a two year old pup. But, as soon as he got to the grass, he stopped dead. He went to the other side of the yard to the stepping stones we have and walked down them to get as close to the ball as he could. Then he tentatively stepped onto the grass to get the ball and retraced his footsteps back to minimize wetness. When he finally brought the ball back, he was so proud.

    These are all things that I would miss so much about Blue is I didnt have him, I honestly wouldnt know what to do is my best friend died…


  9. Sarah Parker says:

    Love the photo of me and Denver. And while he is no doubt my little man and I can’t imagine life without him, I thought I’d talk about Cleo, my cat, since she’s often ends up as second fiddle.

    I got Cleo from the Humane Society when she was approx. 8 months old (she’s now 7 years old). She literally called out to me and tapped me on the shoulder as I checked out all the cats in the cages. I took one look at her large, soulful yellow eyes and I was hooked.

    Cleo was a bit skiddish around people at first, but she always stayed close to me. I called her my shadow – everywhere I went at home, there she was next to me. If I was on the couch, she was on the couch. And if I had a bowl of popcorn with me, she’d stealthily creep onto the back of the couch.. and then out of no where I’d see this paw reach across my shoulder and swipe a few pieces out of the bowl!

    This changed once I brought Denver, my Lab, home. She would hide upstairs in fear of this new thing that was taking over her house and I always felt bad for it. But no matter what, every night she’d leap into bed and curl up next to me. Sometimes she sleeps on the pillow next to me, sometimes right next to me and sometimes on me.. but she’s always there. It’s the one dog-free zone in the house and I can’t imagine going to sleep without her. Any man who comes into my life has to know that Cleo has dibs on the bed!

  10. Firstly, I hope Tichka’s lump turns out to be nothing to worry about 🙂 Secondly, beautiful photos 🙂

    My rescue dogs are my sunshine. We lost one of our dogs last summer, to cancer, and it has broken my heart. I don’t know how I’d be getting through it without our other dogs (and my dear husband).

    For a long while I have reminded myself that our dogs will not be with us for ever. It’s very sad to think about, but it makes me appreciate our time with them even more and stops me worrying about the “small stuff”.

    Who cares if one is excited and pulls a bit on the way to the fields; who cares if they run muddy footprints through the sitting room; who cares if my near 12 year old is still agile and cheeky enough to nick a bit of food (actually it made me rather glad!). My near 12 year old also taught our youngest to stand on their back legs to reach the low-hanging apples from the tree in the garden this autumn. It was a very proud moment for me .

    I make sure we spend lots of time together, having fun and snuggles. Along with my hubby, they are my best friends and they’re a lot more perfect than I am 🙂

    Our dogs are all rescues and we’ve adopted from a young puppy through to 12-13 year “oldies”. All wonderful experiences. With the oldies you learn to very much appreciate every moment too.

    I know I will never look back and think “I wish I hadn’t spent so much time with my dogs” and I don’t ever want to regret that I didn’t spend more.

    As for those who say they’re “just a pet” it reminds me of Just A Dog which you may already have read, by Richard A. Biby. It makes me cry each time I read it and ends “So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog”, just smile, because they “just don’t understand.”


  11. Jessica S says:

    I hope you get positive news back from your vet about Tichka’s lump.

    I’ve got a fanastic dude here at home with me named Cain, my German sheppard. His story is similar to that of a lot of pets who are taken my people who have high hopes and little knowledge what it takes to raise and train a large, energetic, (extremely) intelligent animal. most of his day was spent in the “room under the stairs” or in their postage-stamp backyard alone. Cain was rarely, if ever, walked. He looked like a stray with old ratty hair unbrushed, long nails, ribs poking out, old too-tight collar rubbing out the hair around his neck, and bursting with energy that made his owners nervous. “He’s unpredictable and hyper, and he may bite” was what I was told when I dog-sat him. It was an intimidating intro.

    Ten minutes together told me another story altogether. He was dying for someone to pay attention to him and once I made the effort he was over the moon! I brushed out all the old dead hair, clipped his nails, walked him everywhere, played in the backyard till he nearly dropped, and began training simple voice commands. In a week they came home from vacation, and after sometime I was told Cain would go to the SPCA because he bit his owner “and she just can’t deal with him anymore”.

    In no time I was calling and asking of the owners would wait long enough for me to find a place to live that accepted dogs, and surveying friends who might want to share a house with me and my new pooch! It also prompted me to move in with my boyfriend. Three and a half years later Cain is a favourite at our apartment, running daily, and Rob and I are getting married! Cain was our impetus, and keeps us grounded every day. He can do over 20 tricks and is the joy of everyone he encounters, and he has never bit another living soul. At 7 he’s in perfect health, and I’ll do everything in my power to keep him that way for as long as I can.

  12. i love my 3 boys and my only girl Sienna

    i keep saying i have 4 sibes and an aussie because i did until a month ago
    Unfortunately I had to lay my boy Storm to rest last month.
    He would have been 14 next month.
    He and his brother were born 366 days apart and we miss him alot.
    He was so sweet and gentle and those memories of his wonderful life and love stay with me in my heart.

    His younger brother Riley was born with a dead front rt leg
    Despite problems with his spine starting in 2007 – he does not let this effect his spirit or effort.
    I named him wanting to ensure “the life of Riley.”
    The night he was born there were alot of complications – and during the time elapsed I found out that some of the dogs at the boarding kennel were strays and would be killed if not placed
    I believe the problems with his birth was fate – he was the messenger – as I started the rescue then and there with those very dogs in need at that kennel – and that was 13 years ago Feb 13/98.
    Several thousand pound animals have been saved since.
    He is their Guardian Angel.

    Sienna is their older sister. She hates the camera. She loved Storm so much she could not even go to the groomer with out him. She checks on her younger brother Riley like a momma 🙂

    Blaze is my rescued sibe – i took him in from people after he had been in pound repeatedly for running at large(he was under a year old and not fixed or trained)
    They got him as payment for a tow truck ride.
    I believe he was smart for running away – he certainly wasn’t properly cared for there.

    Reese is my youngest boy – I took him and his brother and mother from a kill shelter in Ohio in August 2009.
    Something had gone very wrong in their young lives because by the time we got them they would freeze in place like a statue and act invisible – sadly they were seperated in the pound and Reese killed one of his teeth and took the fur off parts of his leg trying to get back with his family.
    After we got them and allowed them 4 more weeks together here in 1 foster home – when he was estimated to be 12 weeks old – I took him to my house to see if he would like to join my family.
    Turns out he loved my boys and Sienna and they gave him some confidence.
    He now comes on the couch to sit with me – big accomplishment!

    I had my first dog Tiki from when I was 8-21 and only lasted 10 months without a dog. I had Jake and Calvary – my babies parents and I also had three wonderful cats that i took in between 1987-1992, that all lived to be at least 17.

    They are irreplaceable.

    I am grateful for the memories and happy I have photos as well.

    The time is too short – but they live on in our hearts forever.

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