Not Just a Dog

I didn’t know I would be back in this place so soon. Honestly, I hadn’t really left the grief state yet for Crosby, but yesterday we said goodbye suddenly to our Gracie girl.

I am devastated. She wasn’t just a dog to me. She was my constant, my rock, my comforter. She has been my saving Grace for almost 10 years.

We got Grace just a few months after we got married in 2011. She was our first baby. Tom and I had never had a dog that wasn’t really our parents’ pet. She would have been 11 in December, and our 10 year adoption anniversary would have been in October. She joined us as a newly married couple, and she has been with us for every change since.

Through Army basic training and a deployment.

Through 4 homes, 3 moves, and 3 states.

Through many career changes.

Through our transition to parenthood three times over.

Through road trips, to backyard BBQs, to holidays, to just ordinary days.

Through all the little moments that made up our life over the last decade.

I remember the excitement of bringing her home after we rescued her from the shelter. When I close my eyes, I can still relive the feelings and the nervous chatter we had with her in the car ride home for the first time. We lived in a residence hall at Iowa State at the time. And she really was the best campus dog we could have asked for. She loved the students and they loved her back. She became a mascot of sorts and gave me an access point to build even deeper connections with my students. Some of my fondest memories of our girl were in that little one bedroom apartment on campus.

She was my companion while Tom went to basic training and went through his deployment. She was such a great distraction in those lonely times. She gave me something to smile about and something to be responsible for when I came home without Tom there. She was my everything. There were many days I am not sure I would have made it through without her.

She was such a diva too. She did what she wanted, and we all just lived in her world. She was always lounging, and couldn’t be bothered by most things. She was like a person at times with how she sat, and I swear she gave you hugs.

She did not like to go outside unless it was snowing. She would angry pee on the rug by the front door when it was any type of weather outside. Like how dare I ask her to go outside when it is raining! However, this girl was obsessed with snow. It was like candy coming down from the sky for her.

I will always remember how she greeted people. She would turn her body into a “U” shape and prance around like that.

She thought she was a lap dog, and she would wriggle her way to nestle into you. She loved to snuggle with us in our bed and bury herself in the blankets.

There are just countless memories that I am looking back on. She was my person in dog form. She was our home. I am just sitting here in shock trying to come up with words to give an adequate tribute to everything that she was to our family. I am lost and truly gutted.

With Crosby, we had time to prepare for the lasts with his cancer diagnosis. This time with Grace it was sudden. We knew her time was coming obviously as she was nearly 11 years old which is a substantial life for a boxer. But we didn’t get to ready ourselves enough for the lasts. I am so grateful that I was working from home and Tom was off yesterday because otherwise I would not have been able to hold her as she took her last breath. It was so fast. I just happened to be upstairs with Wally’s afternoon feeding to watch her have a seizure. As we sped to the vet’s, she died in the back of the truck. Unfortunately she had a tumor in her belly that was unseen that had ruptured. There was literally nothing we could do.

After Crosby died, I remember telling Tom that Crosby went first to prepare us for Grace leaving. I knew this tragedy would be a hard hit to us. I was naive to think how excruciating it would actually be. I think Grace knew her time was coming too, and like the Queen that she was, she wanted to go out on her own terms. I think she also wanted to have us to herself for a little while like it was in the beginning. But even going through the emotional toil with Crosby just a couple months ago could not have prepared me this roller coaster of emotions.

We should have known with going through this recently with Crosby, but what you don’t realize hurts more than not knowing they are the lasts, is experiencing the firsts without them. It’s very surreal right now, and there have already been moments in the last 24 hours that I have caught myself calling out her name, looking for her sprawled out on the couch as I walk by, or hearing phantom doggy steps. Having to wake up today without hearing her stretch and yawn in her chair was gut-wrenching.

There is sadness and an emptiness in my bones that is indescribable, but I also am feeling this immense amount of guilt. Guilt that she had been hurting for a while, and we just didn’t know. Guilt that we didn’t ask for more tests on her after Crosby died. Guilt that our kids didn’t get more time. Guilt that there was possibly more that we could do. Guilt over being helpless. Guilt that we didn’t live it up with her these last few days and let her have more table scraps.

Grace was just the best. She just always knew what you needed. She even knew that she was ours before we did.

I know deep down that she had the best life, and that while we had her for the last decade she made our lives exponentially better. And for that I can only say thank you to the best dog I have ever had.

But this hurts. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

Tiny Tragedy

Tiny Tragedy

When you have a dog you are inviting a tiny tragedy into your life.

What I am feeling right now is not what I would define as tiny, but it is definitely a tragedy.

Today we had to say goodbye to our Crosby.

I have experienced grief before.

Grief with the loss of family.

Grief with the loss of friends.

I have even grieved the loss of pets before.

But grief over losing our first dog as adults is un-explainable.

I feel immense guilt pulling me in both directions. One that we didn’t see his suffering sooner, but then feeling remorse that we couldn’t do something to help him live longer or that we made the call to soon.

I mean how do I reconcile that we made an appointment for our dog’s death? This is a different kind of pain when you are the one making the decision. And then having to sit there watching him take his last breaths.

When we found out in January that he had cancer, I think I was in complete denial about the diagnosis and the caution from the vet that he only has 8-12 weeks left. Tom and I both made references how great we would make his last summer. Well here we are exactly 2 months later, now without him.

We got Crosby at a time when our marriage was still fresh, and it was the first time we were living together after Tom’s deployment. 2013 seems like a life time ago. So he has been with us as we have taken many steps as a family with different moves, careers, and expanding our family.

He really was the best dog who has been a constant for us in the great times and worst times.

I am fairly certain he knew before I did when I was pregnant with each kid. He was so cuddly and over protective during all of my pregnancies. I will probably remember this the most behind how patient he was once the kids were out and wreaking havoc in his life.

Crosby loved to chase all the things: cats, squirrels, turtles, chickens, tractors, neighborhood runners, leaves….you name it Crosby was not having it near our yard. He would just run with complete abandon.

He would even bark at things just because Grace was barking without even seeing what they were trying to ward off.

He loved to dig holes EVERY.WHERE. Then he would lay in his creation like he just made himself a king-sized bed.

He loved running into pools of water.

I will remember the first year we had him, he used to basically drag me around on our walks around Ft. Campbell.

I will remember that he did poop tornadoes.

I remember how he use to sprawl out wherever he slept. He hardly ever would cuddle with us, but he would cuddle with Grace.

I will remember that when both George and Daphne transitioned to big kid beds, we would often find Crosby at the end of the bed watching over them in those first few months out of the crib.

I am utterly heartbroken that we will not get to watch the kids grow up more with him. I am grief stricken that Walter and most likely Daphne will not have any memories of him.

This is hard y’all. He truly was the perfect dog for our family. We couldn’t have lucked out anymore with getting this chunk of love. He was such a happy chill dog who loved and protected us fiercely at the same time.

You always know that this day will come, but having to make the call this week to actually send him over the rainbow bridge is one of the hardest things I have had to do.

But watching him struggle to do basic functions, I know that he was just holding on until we were ready. Honestly, as weird as it sounds, when I watched him try for 10 minutes to do one of his poop tornadoes, it hit me so hard that this was the right call.

Although I would argue that you never are truly ready, it was time none the less.

Tom and I are a mess as this is a first for us both. It is a level of sadness and emptiness I cannot describe. Walking back into our home without him is truly awful.

The kids are truly the sweetest little beings. They threw him a party last night. They decorated the house and made him presents and a bone cake to send him off to heaven in style. George also wants a “cardboard” statue of him to keep forever. Daphne did cry when we left with him this morning, which was utterly devastating.

Grace keeps wondering around like she is searching for him. And she has been barking double in his absence today. Only time will tell if her separation anxiety will return.

I know that this week will haunt me for a long time, if not for the rest of my life. Watching him decline so quickly made me feel helpless. And then to lay next to him as he took his last breaths was very harrowing.

However, this is how I want to remember him. So I just need to play this on repeat, and I pray that we were able to recreate heaven on Earth for him.

Crobby Dobby, Crobbers, Crozie…

Crosby, there was so much love for you, but you gave us so much more.

See you on the other side buddy.

Handled BY Grace

And Crosby.

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Our dogs are running a muck right now. We are getting man-handled by them. I guess dog-handled….

I honestly don’t know what their deal is. The last two months they have been going crazy.

Between Tom and I, we really try to get them active whether it is me walking them or Tom spending time with them a little extra in the backyard. And with the weather turning around, they are getting a lot more time outside to get those jitters out.

But seriously, our couch can’t take anymore abuse.

We have lost two couch cushions to our sectional. In their defense, I think they are pawing at it because they are “nesting” to make it more comfortable, and in the process they accidentally rip a hole. And once a hole is made, they see the candy (stuffing) inside that we have been hiding in there and decide to throw a party.

RIP couch cushions.


For the past month, every morning I come down to a pile of poo and a pee spot because Grace couldn’t wait to go. But she also neglected to try to wake us up. Now I get if I was the only one she was trying to persuade to get out of bed to let her small bladder outside (I could sleep through a train going through our bedroom), but Tom is such a light sleeper that he would hear her if she tried. She just doesn’t. She just takes a dump in the corner of our living room, like she is obviously trying to hide it. Mind you Tom also lets them out late so it’s not like she has to wait for hours to go outside. For example, all last week he got home around 2:30 am and would let them out, but inevitably there would be a nice pile waiting for me at 6:30 when I make it downstairs for breakfast. And yet she can make it all 8-10 hours during the day when we are gone with no issues.

Now we have had issues in the past with Grace’s anxiety. Until we had Crosby, she had to stay in a kennel because she tore our house up like she was robbing the place. She was a lot better once Crosby came around, and we only had minor issues crop up every once in a while.


So in the last few weeks when we would also wake up to the bathroom and baby trash tipped over and ripped through, I thought Grace was the culprit.

That is until last week when I was at the dining room table and watched Crosby tip over the downstairs bathroom trash and pull out a poopy diaper to snack on. APPALLED!

I felt bad for getting after Grace for the past couple weeks, because it appears that Crosby has been getting in on that action.

Let me tell you cleaning up ripped up baby diapers is the worst. And not because of the baby poop. Whatever the Pampers Swaddlers is made of makes it look like a thousand little rubbery squishy beads exploded on the floor.

Then it was only confirmed that Crosby was indeed our trash digger when a couple days ago he barfed up a half eaten diaper. And then I walked in on him last night doing it again…


That day I cleaned up some type of bodily function from everyone but Tom before I left for work.


Crosby has also started barking at nonsense at night time. It is like clockwork that once I put the baby down at 7:30, he barks/whimpers at us until we let him out every 5 minutes. And then when you let him out he just stands on the patio barking at the neighbors.

Besides it being spring, there really isn’t anything different that we have been doing that would explain this behavior for the past month. We saw this before Tom started at PD, so his schedule change doesn’t make sense. Honestly I feel that we have been able to get them out more which is usually what works when they get stir crazy.

I know that it must be an attention thing because this behavior is only happening when we are home. They have been perfect when we aren’t home. I just don’t know what to do differently. We give them a lot of attention, but I wonder if they are just now becoming jealous of George. I don’t know if it is now that George is older he doesn’t just lay in a Rock N Play or sit in one spot so they see us giving him more attention by playing with him more. On the plus side though they never take any of his toys or mess with him. They are just taking this anxiety out on the trash. That jealousy is all I can think of, but I don’t know how to help them see they are loved and needed more than we already do.

All I know is, I need some grace and patience do deal with Grace and Crosby right now. I feel like I am cleaning up more after them than I am for George.

They really are spoiled and get a lot of perks around the house. Exhibit A:


Anyone have similar issues? Advice? 

The Furry Ones Are Four!

Today is Grace and Crosby’s birthday!

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Actually, we for sure know it is Grace’s birthday, and since we didn’t know Crosby’s we just said that they are the same day since he is estimated to be the same age.

Here is to 4 years kids!

So what have we done since last year’s birthday?

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  • Grace-73 (Um Grace, when did you get so big?)
  • Crosby-78


  • G-sit, shake, and down. She will not do the down if there are other dogs present or too many people to make it a show. She will do the sit and shake for anyone (and any audience size) as long a treat is involved. Tom can get her to bark at the front door by saying “Who is that?” over and over again.
  • C-sit and shake. He gets really anxious though and is not patient for treats. He will also shake when he thinks he is in trouble.
  • They both can follow directional commands like “go downstairs” or “come out” when you point to where you want them to go.
  • Most of these are all the same as last year. They have learned nothing new…mostly because we are lazy and don’t teach them anything new.

2014-04-14 20.02.09Sleep

  • G-She has been really bad the past few weeks. I don’t think we have had a night in the new house where she hasn’t made a mooky on the kitchen floor. So we usually have a nice surprise in the morning because she doesn’t sleep through the night. She is a huge cuddler. She wants to be all up in your face when she sleeps. And she is like a boulder once she settles in. So you better get comfortable before she nuzzles up to you.
  • C-He is a fantastic sleeper. We never have issues with him. He can snooze through the morning. He will only get up for Tom. He has only recently started cuddling while we are sleeping.

2014-06-07 14.44.15Food

  • They both eat Iams Proactive Health. They are good about sharing bowls and never fight over it.
  • They both will eat anything in the form of table scraps, which has made them ridiculous beggars. It doesn’t help that Tom gives them part of his meal whenever he eats.

2014-04-17 17.56.52House trained

  • G-Her anxiety has been in overdrive since we moved, so she has been having some issues. Hopefully once the holidays are over, we can all settle into a routine.
  • C-We really haven’t seen many issues with him. We think most of the trash pulling we have seen is instigated by Grace, but we can’t be sure that he doesn’t join in.
  • We still don’t leave them in kennels. And just recently, they have been able to stay out of kennels while they stay at the grandparents’ house too!

2014-10-27 08.29.55Bad Habits

  • G-She is a trash digger and a pooper. She could stop that at anytime, and that would be great. She also hates going outside when it is raining. Snow is no problem, that is like candy from heaven. Rain, however, makes her dainty and prissy. We have to lift her and carry her off the porch to go potty when it rains. She also barks at the air moving outside. She apparently found her voice while at Ft.Campbell because she never barked in Iowa.
  • C-He has started barking for no reason at night while we are just hanging out.

2014-10-15 17.01.49Loving

  • G-She is so sweet with George. While she may be a rock as a cuddler, I love that she wants to be close.
  • C-He is just a sweet man who listens so well.

2014-08-24 22.08.23As Siblings

  • They actually do really well together. They play and then clean each other. You will often find them snuggled up together in the most adorable ways.
  • Last spring they had a few scuffles, but they haven’t had any issues together lately.
  • They do like to wrestle around they house and play tag. I think they love the space in our new place and the carpet. It makes it easier to romp around and chase each other.

2014-10-07 11.41.442014-09-30 21.06.24 2014-10-18 19.38.54Toys

  • G-loves anything she can rip (ropes and socks). She also loves balls, kongs, and bones. She is good at going after toys, but not so good at picking them up and bringing them back.
  • C-we have eliminated all toys except nylabones. He is a power chewer. He has even ripped through a Kong, which are supposed to last longer than 2 months. He would chew up a toy into large chunks, and then Grace would come after the chunks and choke on them. So we decided that the best avenue was just to stick with Nylabones.
  • They also think that George’s things are their things.

2014-10-09 19.20.44Year 3 Accomplishments

  • We became a family of five! They are pretty good big siblings!
  • We also moved them to Missouri.

2014-09-27 19.18.46Around other Humans

  • G-She is super shy if she doesn’t know you. However, if she knows you, she is crazy! She turns in a U shape and just bounds around until you love on her. She is so patient and gentle with kids. I can’t wait to see how the relationship with George blossoms.
  • C-He is not shy at all. He will come up to you for a kiss almost immediately! He has been nonchalant with G-man, but he did get George’s first pets the other night.

2014-05-23 11.47.51Around other Animals

  • G-Loves to play with any dog she meets. She also thinks she likes cats, and she will try to find them in Grandpa and Grandma’s house. They are all her BFFs to her and is never shy.
  • C-He does not like other dogs at first. He is super protective and is very skeptical of them at first. So we have to slowly introduce other dogs to him and then he is fine.
  • They both do fine with their cousin Presley, who is a little Chihuahua.

2014-02-18 22.18.37Funny things they do

  • G-she whimpers so pathetically. It’s kind of like a whine/gurgle/dolphin speaking. She is the best behaved dog if you are eating in front of her.
  • C-He takes toys away from Grace. He was also super protective of me when I was pregnant. He loves licking you and cleaning you. When my mom stayed with us, he would lick her hair straight up while she was sleeping.
  • They both love toilet water, which I find disgusting and Tom will purposely leave it up so they can have at it.

2014-05-24 22.56.08To my dear sweet pups, happiest birthday! We love you dearly, and you have made our lives so much better!

2014-07-26 07.31.31 2014-04-27 12.37.20

Puppy Love

Everyone wants to know how Crosby and Grace are reacting to Little G.

Our first response is great and better than expected.

When we left the hospital before George, we brought home his little nursery hat so the dogs could get a whiff of him before we brought him home.

Crosby thought it was a toy and snatched it out of my hands.

Oh boy.

That’s enough to make you nervous.

When we brought him home, they tried smothering him with kisses. Then they didn’t really know what to think.

Who is this new puppy we brought home? And why does he get held all the time?

(I apologize in advance for the poor picture quality. Dogs don’t know how to stay still for a camera.)

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Now they have gotten used to each other for the most part.

The dogs don’t react when George cries.

George doesn’t react when the dogs bark, even right near his head.

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Crosby does not seem interested in George most of the time. He kind of keeps his distance, unless he is trying to sneak in a full head lick. We try to discourage his licking because he is a little rough when he licks us. When he licks George it’s like he is trying to make him a bobble head.

Grace, however, wants to be near George All. The. Time. She loves to dote on him. She never is very far from him and is so sweet with her kisses.

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The other night Tom and I were laying in bed doing our nightly routine of watching the baby monitor for a few (more like 10) minutes to make sure that G is doing ok in his crib before we fall asleep ourselves. We hear this weird noise on the monitor like a scratch, but George wasn’t moving. We scrolled the monitor out a little to see a paw reaching in between the crib bars. We pull it out even more to then see Grace try to GET IN the crib. She had put her paws over the top of the crib like she was going to jump in to cuddle with G. I laughed so hard I could barely breath.

2014-09-09 11.25.27

It is probably my favorite moment since bringing George home.

Once he is in a big boy bed, we are sure Grace will be cuddling with George more than us. (That’s fine with me because that means more space in our bed!)

2014-09-04 20.39.19

Until this last weekend, we didn’t have any issues with the dogs grabbing dirty diapers or George’s toys as their own. Our family was here this weekend, so I think they just got over-excited with all the people and couldn’t control themselves. That is the only time a diaper or toy has been grabbed. In Crosby’s defense, the toy did look like it could pass for a dog toy. George got his first stuffed animal this weekend, and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous that it may become a chew toy in the future. So hopefully they stay away from it!

Grace does try to lick all the spilled milk off the burp clothes and bibs. I will pull one up and find it so wet from her trying to get all the taste off it.

We try to give the dogs intentional attention so they don’t get jealous. And as soon as I am released from the doctor to get back to exercising full force, they will get their daily walks again. I think it does help that I am home all day with them so they do get attention that they weren’t getting before anyway.

George is now three weeks old, and so far they have done really well together. I can’t wait to watch their relationship blossom even more as G gets older.

I just know they are going to be best friends.

Were you best friends with your pets growing up?