The bond you have with your Heart Dog is incredibly special. You have a unique connection that has perhaps, at times, made you wonder "What’s up with this?" This special bond you share is very normal - it simply means your fur baby is your canine soulmate (aka. "Heart Dog") Now you are ready to show your Heart Dog off to the world!
Here are 3 easy ways to let the world know you are a proud Heart Dog parent.
A few years ago Maverick was attacked by another dog while we were out for one of our usual walks. All he wanted to do was say hello - being his usual friendly self - and the dog went postal! This incident was a huge shocker to say the least! Luckily, Maverick was not physically harmed but he was shaken up, and so was I. Big time. That day made me realize I need to toughen up and make it clear that no one messes with my Heart Dog. So I found this sweater and wear it often in pride when we go out for walks. No further incidents have happened since then and I like to think the sweater definitely has something to do with it ;o)
Other than my awesome "Don't-Mess-With-Me" sweater, what I would really love to get is a Heart Dog specific t-shirt. Hmm...the ideas are beginning to formulate on how I can make this happen but if you know of a place that already makes them, I would love to hear about it!
We have all seen bumper stickers, signs, and various memorabilia from dog owners proudly displaying their beloved canine. My favourite signs are gifts from my brother – he tends to score an A+ in holiday gift giving. Anyone who knows me well knows any dog-related gift (specifically sheltie) is a surefire way to put a smile on my face and make my house feel even more like a home.
A newer option, thanks to my awesomely talented mom, Shirley, are cross-stitch tissue boxes. She has just started making them so they aren’t officially up for grabs yet but if you’d love one, please email me (email@example.com) or comment to this blog and I’ll put you on the wait list. She also makes full-size boxes with a full profile picture of many dog breeds. I love seeing the one of a sheltie that looks just like Maverick every time I walk past it in my hallway.
Write About It
As I’m sure you know, this is my favourite way to brag about my Heart Dog, Maverick. You can read all about him here. Writing a Tribute for your Heart Dog is very cathartic. Whether your Heart Dog has passed away recently, a long time ago, or fortunately is still with you, it feels great to share with the world all the things you love about him or her. You can read some recent Tribute stories to see what it’s all about – Pebbles, Oliver, and Wynston have been our most recent Tribute posts.
To make it as easy as pie, I created a form so you can easily fill out your responses, hit send, and I’ll take it from there. No need to worry about grammar or spelling or making it “sound good”. I love writing and editing and will spruce it up for you. All that matters is that you share your heart felt Heart Dog story and tell us what makes your canine soulmate so special. Then you can sit back and enjoy seeing your Heart Dog be a star!
How do you show off your Heart Dog? Am I missing some great ideas? Please comment and share below.
Last week, on my birthday, I shared my unexpected decision to hold off on getting a new puppy. I thought I was ready but realized I wasn’t. Ever since, I’ve had whimsical thoughts of those endearing fluffy sheltie puppies but my thoughts always turn back to one particular sheltie – Maverick.
Overall, grief has been an unexpected roller coaster. Some days are not so bad, other days it hits me like a freight train. Sometimes it’s just moments brought on from seeing his picture or noticing the quiet void of him not being around. Grief truly can be gut wrenching and soul shifting.
As I was cleaning out my fridge the other day, I realized it’s time to make a confession. You’ll understand the refrigerator connection in just a moment.
The day Maverick’s home based euthanasia was performed, I contemplated cloning him. Seriously.
I honestly don’t even recall how the idea got planted in my mind. All I recall is being unable to picture my life without him. Yet the irony was that he was suffering so much that all I wanted to do was put an end to his distress, knowing full well what this meant. I actually had to move his euthanasia up a day because I knew going on even one more day would only be for my benefit, not his. Unfortunately, having him rest in my lap while petting him on his final day, was not in the cards for us. By the last few days, he could hardly walk and would squeal in protest when held. Maybe had I been able to accept letting him go sooner, a final lap day could have been the case, but admittedly denial over losing my first dog, my Heart Dog, led to actions and decisions that in retrospect were futile.
This is how the cloning conundrum began. During his final afternoon, I couldn’t hold him, I couldn’t take him somewhere he loved for final moments of togetherness. There really wasn’t much I could do – he was either zonked out on pain meds or up and pacing frantically as I or a trusted friend followed him to make sure he didn’t hurt himself. Instead of directing my grief towards acceptance, I began to conjure up a way to one day have him with me again in a literal way – by cloning him.
Once the idea sparked in my head it grew like a wild fire. I starting looking up places that “clone dogs”. One thing led to another, and I found a company that claims with certain DNA samples, they could clone Maverick. For the price tag of tens of thousands of dollars. In fact, with the proper DNA samples and sizeable bank account, it can be done right now and I found documented cases online where this has already been done. For those without the current financial ability, DNA samples can be collected and stored in a cryogenic lab in hopes that one day it will be more affordable.
In my grief-stricken, heart-broken state of mind, this idea sounded like the next best thing to a genie in a bottle offering to snap his fingers and cure Maverick’s brain tumor and let him live forever.
The problem, however, was how little time we had left. Collecting the samples was no simple task. This led to multiple phone calls to my family vet asking a million questions about the procedure to collect the samples along with calls to the cryogenic lab asking about shipping procedures. All this happened while Maverick was sleeping and we were waiting for the vet to come for his euthanasia procedure.
I learned soon enough that collecting the full spectrum of DNA samples is not exactly a “painless” procedure. To collect a tissue sample requires essentially what was explained to me as taking a hole-puncher to the skin. Um yeah, no. The idea was immediately off the table. I would not cause my Heart Dog any more pain or discomfort for a far-fetched impulsive idea.
However, I also learned that a simple blood and hair sample alone could one day be enough to complete the cloning procedure once technology has caught up. In my mind, that seemed reasonable so long as the blood sample could be taken and not cause Maverick any discomfort.
If you are not familiar with the euthanasia procedure, it’s a two-step process. The vet first gives an injection that essentially puts them into a super relaxed state of sleep (I understand it to be similar to what the dentist gives you if they are pulling a tooth out and you float off into la-la land) and the second step is the injection that stops the heart. After the first step, I asked the vet to take a blood sample.
Looking back, it felt awkward and callous to be taking his blood, during his final moment of life. But it was my flicker of hope that “maybe” I could have him with me again that propelled the decision forward and prevented me from saying “stop!” Would I do it again? No, I wouldn’t. My only hope is that Maverick really didn’t notice and if he did have any sense of what was going on, that he would forgive my vain attempt. Similar to my new puppy delusion, there is no way to replace your Heart Dog. That is why they are your Heart Dog.
To loop this back to my refrigerator revelation, I had to store Maverick’s blood sample in a cold place while contemplating if I would ship it to the cryogenic storage unit. I came to my senses not long after and decided against sending it, but I am yet to dispose of the blood samples. They are still sitting in a cup in the back of my fridge. It must sound nuts that I can’t let them go but I think it’s because I first need to share my confession and give myself a bit more time to accept he is gone and there is nothing that can ever change that.
I’ve always heard that grief affects everyone in different ways and now I truly understand what that means. No matter how someone responds to the loss of their Heart Dog – whether it be with a crazy cloning idea like I had or other behavior that is out of character – let them be. Offer support and empathy and let them draw their own conclusions over what is the best course of action. I’m lucky that my friends and loved ones were supportive of my canine cloning idea because if they hadn’t been, then no doubt, I would have felt even worse. At the time, the cloning idea helped me distract my grief so it served a purpose although I wish I had the fortitude to spend Maverick’s last hours simply sitting beside him as he slept soaking in everything about him.
This all being said, I pose no judgement on the families that have decided canine cloning is the right decision for them. I am just thankful I was able to come to the right conclusion, for me.
Have you ever considered canine cloning or would you? Or did you cope with your grief in a way that was unusual and perhaps not understood by others?
Pebbles is a spunky Pomeranian Shitzu mix owned and loved by Amy Jevtic of Beamsville, Ontario. Pebbles sadly passed away this past summer - she will be forever loved and missed by all those she knew. Although I never met her, I had the pleasure of hearing her trademark bark & growl whenever I went to Amy's for aesthetic services. Thank you Amy for sharing your Heart Dog Tribute and helping reassure all Heart Dog moms/dads out there that they are not alone when dealing with the grief of their canine soulmate.
Almost 12 years ago I fell in love with my Pebbles. I was so excited when I brought her home only weighing 1.5 lbs. She was full of love and energy! The first year was training year, but as time went on she settled in to my routine. Eventually I started to work from home which was great for Pebbles. It was so nice to be home with her! She loved it too! She was my sidekick, my best friend really, and she never left my side through tough times I went through personally. She knew when I went through my separation from my first marriage. She literally kissed my tears away. I noticed she really knew when her mommy was sad. She helped me get through a very difficult time in my life and I will always be grateful for that! Over the years our bond just grew and grew.
This past March she was diagnosed with Cushing's Disease. I was devastated! I chose to medicate her and she needed constant blood work, but the vet bill wasn't an issue. I only wanted her to be as healthy as she could be considering she was over 11 years old. But as time went on she wasn't getting better, her breathing was getting worse. She was having breathing fits every day. I knew she was not herself as her health problems were taking over. It was unbearable to see her struggle to breath on a daily basis. I knew deep down there was another underlying issue. My vet said she may be full of cancer. He offered to dig deeper to find out what else is going on with her but whatever he found, chances are he wouldn't be able to treat her.
So I made the decision to say goodbye. I just couldn't put her through anymore suffering. With her breathing problems, I couldn't walk her and it was so bad she couldn't even go outside to pee as the heat affected her so badly. I felt it wasn't fair to her, since she loved to go outside. Friends told me I did a selfless act but my goodness it was the toughest decision of my life. Having to say goodbye to my best friend was devastating. Many thoughts of guilt were all I thought of in the beginning. How could I have done what I did?! Was it the right time? Maybe I should of waited!? I cried for weeks. I missed her so very much. We had our daily routine together; I was lost without her and struggled to know how I was going to go on without her.
I must say my husband, family and friends were all so understanding. They just let me cry and gave comfort to me. Not long after she was gone, Jodi told me about what a Heart Dog is. When she was telling me about it all I could do was think Pebbles was definitely my Heart Dog! It really has brought comfort knowing I'm not the only one who has suffered such a loss. I will say time does heal the heart, as it has only been 11 weeks since I said goodbye and each day gets a little bit easier. Yet not a day goes by where I don't think of her. I did make a special spot on my dresser for Pebbles ashes, my Heart Dog. Each morning I visit my special spot for her. I tell her how much I love and miss her so. I allow myself to grieve and cry when I needed to. So to all the Heart Dog moms and dads, please know you're not the only one missing your fur baby! And it's ok to grieve in which ever way you need!
Whenever I went away and would come home, she was just so happy to see me!! Jumping and barking for hugs and kisses!
She had three special dog friends that were my moms. Mocha and her had a very special bond. Pebbles would do whatever Mocha did! Also, she loved Tassie and Dolly. Mocha and Tassie are in heaven as well.
Pebbles always let herself known when a client came to the house - she would bark then growl at the same time...lol!
Do you share a special bond with your Heart Dog that you would like to share? If so, please complete our Tribute Template and be featured on Heart Dog Tribute!
The day Maverick passed away on July 14, 2016, was the saddest day of my life. It truly felt like a piece of my heart was being pulled from my chest. A constant ache in the deepest part of my soul set in that day and took permanent residency.
Soon after, I contacted Maverick’s breeder letting her know the news and inquiring about Maverick’s lineage. In my mind, the idea of my next sheltie being related to Maverick was my surefire ticket to feeling the same connection with another dog.
I found out Maverick’s breeder was no longer in business but her dogs were passed along to another breeder and even more, Maverick’s grand neice was having puppies! A flutter of hope immediately rose in the pit of my stomach that a fluffy new sheltie puppy may help lift the cloud of grief that had been hovering overhead with no hint of relief.
The thing that excited me the most about having another sheltie from the same lineage as Maverick is a greater likelihood of similar temperament. Maverick was so un-sheltie like in many ways. His spunky, outgoing nature appeared to me as one-of-a-kind yet as it turns out, all of the shelties from Maverick’s line were described the same way. It felt like fate.
A litter of three pups were born on July 31, 2016. Since then, the breeder has been fantastic sending photos and keeping me informed of the puppy’s health. Of the three, she is keeping one (a female) and offering the two remaining males to companion homes. One of the boys, is tri-coloured (just like Maverick).
The pictures of the puppies have been too cute for words. I’m talking jaw dropping, heart-melting, ooo-ing and ahh-ing type cute. My excitement to meet them reminded me of how I felt as a kid on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa to arrive.
Yesterday I met the puppies and boy oh boy were they incredible! All of the breeder's shelties were fantastic. Their personalities shone “Maverick” without a shadow of doubt.
Yet something unexpected happened. As much as I loved visiting the puppies, something just didn’t feel quite right. I realized I was going there hoping for a “love at first sight” moment or sign from one of the two fluffy puppies that he was meant to be mine (similar to Maverick humping my leg when I first met him and he wouldn’t leave me alone – lol!). But nothing out of the ordinary happened. It then dawned on me that I was using the notion of a new puppy as a coping strategy to help deal with my continued heartache about Maverick, my Heart Dog.
Both puppies were perfect, but they weren’t Maverick and it was never realistic to expect they would. It would not be fair to the puppy to have a mom who deep down is hoping and waiting for that “Maverick” feeling and unintentionally comparing them. Once this dawned on me, I took a deep breath and let reality sink in that I am not yet ready for a new puppy. Rushing into puppyhood after the recent loss of my Heart Dog would only continue to shadow my grief that clearly has not yet be healed. I need more time to accept he is gone and deal with my emotions before I'm ready to shift gears into the joy of raising a new sheltie puppy.
The most ironic part is that today is my birthday. I’ve had so many wonderful happy birthday’s and nice gifts from my friends and family. Yet, the only thing I truly want is the one thing that I can never have – to see Maverick trot upstairs behind me, push his nose on the bedroom door to pounce his way in, and give me his classic “feed me!” bark.
What I received from Maverick instead is the most important birthday gift of all - the realization that more time is needed to heal from losing him and that I am OK how things are now. Marti & I bond more every day and when the time really is right to welcome a new canine to our pack, I will know it. Today is just not that day.
How did you know when you were ready for your next dog after your Heart Dog passed away?
How can this blog help you?
This website and blog originated from the experience of learning to let go of my beloved Heart Dog, Maverick. By sharing my story and offering the opportunity for you to share yours, I hope we can all truly celebrate their lives. pay tribute, and heal from the loss of our one true canine companion. I hope this website will also raise awareness of the meaning of a Heart Dog because it is a concept that is not largely understood.