If Grandpa is in doggie heaven, then that’s where I want to go!

I am in the midst of one of my most difficult challenges. I’m spending the time I have left with my mom in her hospice room as she moves back and forth between this existence and the next. When she’s awake she’s not the person I’ve known and loved all these many years but a stranger that needs my concern and care. She’s become a child again, unable to care for herself in any form or fashion, and she needs me now more than she has probably ever needed anyone. I am an only child, so I am the only one to bear witness or to understand. As she goes to what appears to be her unconscious state she talks to people that I can’t see but that I know. They’re family members that have gone before. But what I found interesting was yesterday as she visited with those that were hidden from my sight she was especially glad to see Dolly. When she came back to consciousness she kept asking for Dolly, but I have no knowledge of who Dolly might be, so I asked and she responded it’s my dog. Then I remembered the stories from long ago that she had a dog, a cat and a rabbit that all slept together. I asked if she’d spoken to my grandpa and she pointed to the corner and said “he’s sitting right there.” I know he’s here to help her home, and since he was the animal lover in the family it doesn’t surprise me that he brought Dolly along. Grandpa was the funniest. My grandma wasn’t the animal lover he was and was not at all pleased on the day he invited the squirrel into the house for a couple of nuts. She freaked out, which freaked the squirrel out, and the next thing we knew the squirrel was running up and down her draperies and we like to never got it out the door. To say she was displeased is an understatement. My grandpa was my first experience with death and dying, and I took it hard. He went to spirit when I was 16 and I cried myself to sleep every night for that first year. I didn’t experience death again until my beloved dog died. I had been taught that animals had no souls and I was devastated that something that I loved and that loved me so would be lost to me for eternity, so I prayed and prayed to God for a sign that she was all right. As clear as if he was sitting there in the room with me I saw my grandpa holding my dog in his lap and she looked up at his face and licked his cheek, just as she had done to me a thousand times before, and I knew in that instant that she was fine and in my grandpa’s loving arms. I knew that everything I had been taught was wrong, and God was indeed a good and loving God that loved all his creation equally. I was so happy that I shared my vision with my grandma. She told me I must be mistaken in what I saw because animals went to animal heaven so I said grandma, I have some bad news then, grandpa is spending eternity in animal heaven. And if that’s how heaven is sectioned off, I know that’s where he’d prefer to be, and I’ll be joining him there. But I know it’s my grandma that was surprised upon her arrival to see a wondrous, beautiful sight of everyone she’d known before, both human and not. I’ll bet that squirrel even had a little wink for her. So as I sit here, bearing witness in the most difficult task I will ever be called upon to do, it gives me comfort to know that soon my mom will be welcomed into the loving arms of my grandpa and grandma, her brother, my dad, and all her beloved animals, while those of us that love her are left here on this side to wait until it’s our turn to cross the horizon of the limit of our sight and be welcomed into the arms of Eternal Love. What a glorious day that will be, and a just reward for all these moments of great sacrifice while bearing witness to the suffering and the loss of love along the way while maintaining faith soon it will be our turn to be welcomed by those whose hand we hold today.

Never forget, it is only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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Some sacrifices hit too close to home for comfort.

Over the years I’ve written about soldiers, the sacrifice they make for our country, and the animals they love. My posts have always been taken from news stories I’ve read that have touched my heart in a way that I felt the need to share. Today I get to share from a different viewpoint. I know this soldier intimately. He is my son. He has made the Army his career and is not the young, energetic fighting machine you typically think of when you visualize a soldier about to be deployed into an Arabic country. He’s soon to be 41 years old, married with an 18 year old son, a 6 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. You can see by those numbers alone there are very real reasons why his presence is required here. But I’m not going to speak about that sacrifice as real and huge as it may be. It’s made by so many of our men and women today, yet when I hear talk radio/TV telling us what we need to do to be in this to win it I don’t ever hear them telling anyone in their listening audience to suggest their children enlist and make the ultimate sacrifice because apparently it’s good enough for those of us that are already doing it for them because those consequences are just too great and no one wants to think about that. But back to the matter at hand, and that’s the animals that will be left without this presence in their lives for a year. It’s devastating for children to lose the influence of their father (or mother) for a year when they go to fight for our freedom, but when that parent returns there will be a life time to make up for that lost year. The lives of our beloved pets are miniature lifetimes in the bigger scope of space and time. You remove one year of love from their frame of reference and it’s equal to taking ten years from you or I. It’s huge. Every day, on his way home from work, my son calls me. And every day, when he hits the door his beloved dog Spartacus greets him, and I hear “Spartacus, kiss-kiss-kiss-kiss-kiss-kiss-kiss-kiss” with a smile and a joy in his voice that I know comes from the love and acceptance that you only receive from your beloved. He’s stationed in what I consider the “hot” zone of the US, close to Washington DC, and there is more drama and angst there than any base he’s been associated with in the past. Add the pressures of raising a family, having an upside down mortgage from trying to live the American dream at a base where you’re no longer assigned, the day-to-day financial worries we all face, leaving behind his wife and children for a year, then no longer having the daily love and acceptance of the one that is always there for you, your beloved dog. It makes me sad beyond words, as much for Josh as for Spartacus. Valerie and the kids will be able to facetime on the I-pad with him, a sorry second but so much better than anything available to soldiers in the past, but the animals will miss those loving arms that hold them, taking as much as they give back. It’s a two way street, we give as much as we get in this relationship we have with our four-legged buddies, and they need us as much as we need them. There is no way to explain to Sparty what’s about ready to take place, so the rest of us will have to hug him and love him and do our best to give him the kisses he’ll be missing from his daddy, but it won’t be the same. There are ties that bind, heart to heart, soul to soul, and every second we are together has meaning. I am sorry for every soldier that gives up that love for us. I appreciate their sacrifice, and today I want them all to know, I am grateful. I couldn’t do it myself. There are some things I can’t be without. I don’t know how I’ll be without Josh for an entire year. I was without him for three years when he served in Korea. I was without his twin brother when he served in Kosovo. We come from a family that believes in service to our country and have served in every war since the Revolutionary War, but I’m old and I’m tired. I put my blinders on and don’t think about it, until days like today when I take them off and allow it to be so I can share it with you. My tears are for me, and for Sparty. We’ll miss you Josh. More than there are words, our hearts are sad that you’re not home with us, where you belong. Kisses.

Never forget, it’s only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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It’s always about the love.

I found an article on Today.com that melted my heart, and I believe it will do the same for yours. If you wonder why I am so passionate about animals, this will explain it. It is about the love. From my heart to yours, enjoy:

Roxy

Roxy

All moms worry about their sons. Amanda Granados worried more. The Los Angeles mother watched her young son Joey struggle in uncommon ways. In kindergarten, he got suspended from school six times for behavior he couldn’t control. Sitting still was torture for him, and sometimes he couldn’t resist hitting himself. His diagnosis at age 7 with Asperger syndrome, a disorder on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, rocked Granados’ world. Even more challenging was Joey’s loathing of physical contact. Granados wanted to hug, kiss and cuddle her son, but she never could. Years went by, and it seemed she never would. Then, a few months ago, a new friend entered Joey’s life. This friend, named Roxy, had fur, four legs, a tail and a goofy disposition, and she made Joey so happy that he did something unthinkable: He gave his mom a big, spontaneous kiss on the cheek. “I get emotional thinking about it,” Granados told TODAY.com. “For all those years, he wouldn’t hold my hand, he wouldn’t hug me — it was all part of the autism — but this dog has taught him how to give and show affection. He holds my hand now! He hugs me! The first time I got a kiss on the cheek was when Roxy came home.” Joey, now 14, said his new dog has made everything easier for him. “I didn’t have too many friends growing up, but then we got Roxy and I’ve been able to make friends ever since,” Joey said. “At home, I’ve been able to hold my mom’s hand, kiss her, hug her and do a lot of things that I hadn’t been able to do growing up. “She’s opened up my heart.” A little more than a year ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released estimates showing that one in 68 U.S. children has an autism diagnosis. Autism is nearly five times more common among boys than girls; one in 42 boys has it. “Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen a 100 percent increase of autism,” said Lisa Goring, an executive vice president with the advocacy organization Autism Speaks. Goring said one reason for the spike is growing awareness of the developmental disorder, which is resulting in more people being diagnosed. But that alone doesn’t explain the startling rise. “We know there’s a genetic component, but there’s also an environmental trigger,” Goring said. “We don’t know what that environmental trigger is.” No two autism cases are quite the same. Joey, for example, is a math whiz who can solve complex puzzles in minutes and recite a book from memory after reading it once. His mother knows Joey will be able to drive a car, hold down a job and live on his own someday. “Learning is the easiest thing for him — it’s the social situations that are difficult,” said Granados, 36, a single mother of three boys. “He has a hard time reading social cues or facial expressions, and there’s awkwardness around making friends. Before Roxy, he wouldn’t even play or get along with his two little brothers.” A photo on the Internet led Joey to his new best friend. Joey had been asking his mom for a dog, and she saw that the Best Friends Pet Adoption & Spay/Neuter Center in Los Angeles was planning an event where a shelter dog could be adopted for $10. “We were looking through pictures online, and Roxy’s picture made us fall in love with her,” Granados recalled. Granados and Joey arrived at Best Friends at 7 a.m. on the big day. Within minutes, sparks flew. “As soon as Roxy met Joey, she totally ignored me and his mother,” said adoptions specialist Denise Landaverde. “Amanda was happily surprised to see Roxy go straight to Joey and watch them play together. It just sealed the deal for her.” Roxy is a soft gray pit bull with floppy ears and a playful personality. Granados confessed that she was nervous at first because she had heard bad things about pit bulls. But Roxy’s immediate connection with Joey made her melt. “She is literally his best friend,” Granados said. “He can be in the foulest mood, and she comes along and it’s like a light. She doesn’t care about his differences — there’s no judgment with her — she just loves him.” Joey agreed. “If I’ve been having a bad day, Roxy can hear a tone in my voice,” he said. “She runs up to me to give me a giant hug and lick me to death and do almost anything she can to make me happy.” Research about the effects of companion animals on kids with autism is limited, but heartening. A 2014 study revealed that pet dogs can give children with autism much-needed companionship and help them learn responsibility. And a 2013 study showed children with autism were more likely to talk, laugh, make eye contact and show other positive social behaviors in the presence of guinea pigs than in the presence of toys. Still, dogs are not a cure-all, cautioned Dr. Rolanda Maxim, director of developmental pediatrics at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Maxim started a dog therapy clinic to help children with autism, and she’s seen it do wonders for kids — with some caveats. “It won’t work if the child is very aggressive to animals, does not like dogs or is afraid of or allergic to dogs,” Maxim noted. “Special connections can happen, but the child needs the opportunity to meet and choose the dog, and the dog also has to like the child.” That’s precisely what happened between Joey and Roxy — and Joey’s mom has a theory about why. “Kids with autism are looked at differently and misunderstood, and so are pit bulls,” Granados said. “I think that’s why they’ve bonded!” Joey said he’s just grateful to have Roxy in his life: “It’s amazing to have a friend like this.”

And never forget its only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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Quality of Life decisions are the most difficult of times.

I have a friend that is going through the most difficult of times that I personally have suffered through. The days I speak of are the days when you look at your beloved pet and attempt to make the determination is it time to help them across the Rainbow Bridge to end the suffering of this lifetime. It’s difficult because they can’t speak to us directly so we depend on their cues to lead us, and just when you think you know the answer they have an exceptional day and it throws your thinking back to what am I doing because the loss of their presence in our lives is so huge there is no comfort for the pain. My friend shared with me a chart he found on the LapOfLove.com website, a pet hospice site where they have a chart that allows you to assess your pet’s behaviors on an ongoing basis so you can make an informed determination. Below you will find the criteria written in that chart, and if you visit this page you can find the printable chart for your use when the day arrives that you are in need of its services: http://www.lapoflove.com/Pet_Quality_of_Life_Scale.pdf

The directions for using the chart are as follows: Use the key factors of quality of life below to help assess your pet’s condition. Use a Daily Diary to keep track of your pet’s progress. Fill in the appropriate number for each category and then add the numbers from each category for that day. The maximum score is 12 and you can determine your own scale. You can even add categories that pertain to your pet’s particular situation. For example, ‘Respiratory Rate’ if your pet suffers from heart failure or lung cancer. You can give half or quarter points if appropriate.

Mobility
2 Good Mobility – No difficulty getting around, enjoys walks and going outside
1 Poor Mobility – Difficulty getting up, hard to get in position to eliminate, short walks only
0 B are Minimum Mobility – Needs assistance, pain medication/anti-inflammatory medications do not help.
Nutrition
2 Good Appetite
1 Poor Appetite – Hand feeding, needs enticing
0 No Appetite
Hydration
2 Adequate Intake
1 Poor Intake/ or increased in some patients with particular diseases
0 Requires Clysis (subcutaneous fluids)
Interaction/Attitude
2 Interacts normally with family and other pets
1 Some interaction with family and other pets
0 Hides in the closet or under the bed
Elimination
2 Normal urination and/or defecation
1 Reduced/Irregular urination and/or defecation
0 None
Favorite Things
2 Normal favorite activities, hobbies, etc
1 Decrease in doing their favorite things
0 No interest in their favorite things

The recommendations are as follow. If your charting averages a daily scale of between 12 – 9, everything is okay. If your daily charting averages between 6 – 8, then your beloved requires Veterinary intervention. If your daily charting is equal to or less than 5 on a daily basis, then it’s time to consider humane tranquilization and euthanasia.

There is nothing easy about this time of life, but this chart gives you the tools you need to make a decision where you won’t spend the rest of your days second guessing yourself and wondering those three words that bring so much pain when you’re already suffering; shoulda, woulda, coulda. Knowing you’ve done the best you can for your beloved during their time of need will remove the guilt after it’s too late. It’s comfort during the time when there simply is no comfort to be found.

Never forget, it’s only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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Microchipping keeps families together but requires your due diligence.

Today I was blessed to witness the miracle of a microchip in action. I stopped in the Shelter for a visit, not something I do often because the faces of the animals that have no one to love them except for the loving arms of the volunteers is almost too much for my heart to handle. They ask to be taken home and loved unconditionally, and I have to tell them I’m not there to be their forever but only to offer them my love for a moment, and it breaks my heart to walk out and hear their cries. So like the weenie I am I hide out in the office, where a phone call came in from a police officer in Northern Illinois. He had a husky/malamute dog in his possession with one brown and one blue eye, a really good dog, that had a microchip registered to our shelter in Southern Illinois. We dutifully took his name, phone number, and microchip information and got about looking up the chip. It seems that at a microchip event we held the owner of this beautiful animal came by, had his dog chipped, but never sent the information in to have the name changed from us as the original purchasers of the chips to his personal information. Fortunately for him, we’d made note of who he was, and thankfully for him this is still a small town, because the phone number we had for him was a cell number and it was no longer a good number, so we were strike one on locating this dog’s beloved owner. So next thought, let’s check facebook, and there he is. Thank God for social media. Not only does facebook show his photo, but it has pictures of him and his dog, and it’s obvious they’re the best of friends so now we’re really motivated to get these two back in each others arms again because any time you have a guy that takes a selfie of him and his brown eyed/blue eyed dog, well you know he’s got my vote in the winner category. Seems he’s taken a job and moved up north to work as a prison guard and the dog went with him, but somehow the dog has done a houdini and escaped. I know how this works because I used to have a husky that got out of every fence we built until we finally had an 8 foot fence with an invisible fence inside of it that held him, but until then he took regular rides in police cars and we would get the call that we could find him happily chained in front of the police station of the town where we lived, chewing on the rawhide the “arresting” cop would buy for him because he was such a good boy. Apparently this husky/malamute was just the same because the policeman that called the shelter just kept talking about what a good dog he was and it was deja vu for me all over again. They are special animals that steal your heart but they have rambling feet that love to travel and meet good folks along the way, but it’s a dangerous world out there and you just can’t be too careful with your beloved. But back to this story. We were able to contact a local facebook friend of the owner that knew his step-mom and got his new phone number, so we made the call to give him the information to reunite the two. Everyone we spoke to knew he would be beside himself as soon as he knew his baby was missing, so he would be grateful beyond words his microchip worked in getting his beloved returned. But there’s a lesson here. We’re not all this fortunate to have a facebook friend that can get a number to reunite us with our beloved when we don’t take care of the business at hand of changing over the information once we get our beloveds microchipped. Microchips are powerful tools that insure the lost are found and we’ll never have to suffer the pain of being alone and wondering where are they, a special suffering I’ve been through and wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. So if your beloved is microchipped, get out the information and make sure your contact information with the microchip company is up to date. It does no good if your microchip leads the finder to someone that is not you. Let this be your lesson. Allow his pain to be your only suffering. This story has a happy ending. Not all stories like this do because not every has friends in this small town. Today was a special day and I was blessed to be part of it just so I could share it with you. I am the luckiest, don’t you think?

Never forget, it’s only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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