Feather and Lauren on the cross-country loop (no more corn!)

Lauren and I took Feather and Mickey, respectively, out to do the five-mile loop today.  It was post rain shower and more humid (if that is possible) than normal.  And it was hot.  We started with a little trot to see how Mickey was doing today.  He did his now-normal three hard coughs and that was it.  I don’t want to be too optimistic but I think he is doing pretty well!  We continued around doing some fast trots, really asking the horses to extend and some walking.  It was nice as always to be out. 

As we finished up the loop and headed home, I noticed that Feather was actually breathing harder and sweating more than Mickey was.  What that tells me is that Mickey is really doing okay.  And Feather needs way more conditioning work to get her ramped up for the fall show season.  We can continue to work Mickey and maybe extend his workouts as long as he continues to do well.  Feather needs to do the horse equivalent of some wind-sprints and distance work.

BrownDog is better today with her foot noticeably less swollen.  Richie and Linda stopped by the house and she was happy to see her visitors!

I hear Mariah and Snow had great show weekends as well.  Thanks for continuing to ride along.

Mickey and his Lady Love

Did I mention how yesterday when we approaching the farm with Feather in the trailer, I put down my window so I could listen for Mickey?  Lauren honked the horn, his head came up in the pasture and he hightailed it to the front of the barn, all the while trumpeting for his Feather!  She was responding back to him from the trailer but without his extreme level of glee. 

As we got her unloaded, he paced like a stallion along the fenceline, strutting his stuff for his long-lost love (okay, its been two weeks!).  When Lauren walked Feather through the pasture gate, Mickey actually reared to his full height, no doubt in some manly attempt to impress her.  Feather just kept walking calmly along.  She was happy to be home, I am sure, but not crazy ecstatic like he was.  She trotted boldly out to the pasture and he romped right alongside.  I guess there is always one that loves more in any relationship and in this case it is clearly Mick.

When it came time to put them in their stalls for the night, Feather was a little confused.  Mickey had been moved to Leo’s old stall and she was looking for the big gelding.  Wary, because he always tried to bite at her when she entered her stall.  But instead it was just Mickey and if he could have been smiling, he would.

Feather’s First Horse Show

Lauren went to Dev’s to pick up Feather yesterday.  She took Feather and one of Dev’s client’s horses to Katy, Texas for the horse show.  First off, Feather loaded first try which was a great way to start off the day.  When they got to Katy, Feather was noticeably less stressed than she had been on previous trailer trips.

Lauren got Feather settled in and then saddled her for her first ride in huge, covered arena.  I am pretty sure Feather has never been in such a space before.  She definitely looked things over, but was not overly spooky or frightened way.  Lauren did well enough with her on the flat, that Dev decided to add some jumps.  It was a little rocky to start as they got their rhythm going, but quickly, Feather was jumping well in the new ring.

Lauren called me at work and I could hear that little hitch in her voice when she is trying not to cry.  She was overwhelmed with emotion, good emotion, great emotion, that this grey mare was doing so well for her.  Lauren was receiving compliments from other riders and people whose opinions were important to her.  We both knew it was just a start, but it was a good one for both of them.

Dev decided the mare could do two over-fence classes and then the one flat class.  Feather is not in shape yet to do anymore than that and we did not want to tire her or potentially hurt her. 

We left the house about 5:30 am today to make the trip north to the equestrian center.  It wasn’t long until the much-anticipated debut in the ring took place.  I just could not get over how pretty Feather looked.  For the show, the horses are washed, brushed and clipped.  They wear their best saddle pad, show bridle and saddle.  I guess I had not stepped back to see how pretty she has become or how grown up.  Her shoulders are sturdy and square.  Her weight is good and she has started to gain some mature muscle mass.  Plus I think she is just cute!

Looking every bit a show horse

Their first round was a little choppy.  There are a lot of details to master and Feather is not there yet.  But since her first full round of jumps was yesterday, no one was more thrilled than I to see her easily and gracefully clear each jump.  Absolutely, we have work to do but she was amazing for a first time jumper.  The division was aptly named, “Green as Grass” and she certainly was.  Her second round was not as good, Dev and Lauren blame me because I standing in the viewing area and Feather came around to the jump near me and tried to cut out (running from Granny, Feather?) but the good part was, Lauren easily brought her back around and she jumped without a further look in my direction.

There were a lot of horses to see today and it was after noon before we got into the ring for the flat class.  Certainly, Feather has never done this before and there was a lot that could have gone wrong.  There were 13 horses in the ring with her.  All young and green as she is.  Yet, she walked, trotted and cantered (correctly) as the judge asked.  The flat class was over ten minutes long (that’s long) and Feather did get a little fussy, throwing her head a bit and showing her impatience for it all to be over.  The last thing the judge asked is for the horses to line up, with their backs to the judge.  All I could think of was, whoa, we never practiced this before.  But she went and stood shoulder to shoulder with some pretty fine horses.

In the end, while we did not earn a ribbon for the jumping effort, Lauren and Flagmount’s Irish Freedom (her show name) were seventh in the flat class.  I was a pretty proud mama, carrying Feather’s very first ribbon back to Lauren. 

I think we really might have a nice horse and am so excited to see how far we can go with her.  What a wonderful, wonderful feeling to see her mature and grow like this.  Oh, and it was pretty terrific to see my daughter back in the saddle and excited about this young mare.  I am thankful for many things.

Saturday at the Vet

BrownDog bitten multiple times by a snake

Last Saturday saw my family coping with the horrible, brutal injury to Amber and Ryan’s Irish Wolfhound that resulted in his death.

This Saturday, with Lauren and I tired and worn out from the trip and drama last weekend followed by an extremely busy week and a couple of long horse show days, we really had not paid enough attention to our own dogs.  When we got home this afternoon, we let everyone outside but did not stop to spend any time with the dogs.

While we were over at the barn getting Feather settled back in, we heard the dogs barking frantically but thought it was about a cat, raccoon or possum that they had discovered in the old garage.  We never thought snake-which is pretty stupid considering Lauren has killed two here this summer.

When we went to get the dogs inside, BrownDog was not walking on her paw and it was hugely swollen.  It almost looked like it had been caught in a trap because the puncture wounds were so large.  I tried to clean it up, felt the heat in the leg and knew it was going to be another Saturday (after hours) at the vet.

Thankfully, Wharton Vet could see us right away.  It didn’t take long for Dr. Schmid to confirm it was a snake bite-multiple snake bites.  We were lucky to get treatment started quickly and BrownDog should be fine if infection does not set in.  She got anti-inflammatory shots, antibiotic shots. pain shots and something else I do not remember.  She is pretty quiet right now and resting.

I could do without a Saturday at the vet next week for my family or I.

Horse Chronicles

Yesterday, Lauren went up to Dev’s where Feather continues in training. It would be nice if Lauren got to spend more time with her trainer but as it is a 200 mile round-trip the lessons tend to be few and far between.  We do catch up during horse show weeks when Dev and Lauren spend several days at a time working together.

Winter 2008-First time to Dev’s with Mickey

Dev has a way with horses.  The first time we took Mickey there, nearly five years ago, he changed the way Mickey and Lauren worked together.  Mickey immediately was more collected and had a better way of going.  Lauren and Mickey both had the skills but didn’t know how to put it all together.

Feather had her time at Sarah’s where she learned skills for “on-the-ground”, trailer loading, fly spraying, clipping and bathing.  At Dev’s, while continuing to work on these things, Feather is getting to be a better horse “under saddle”.  That means flat work, at the walk, trot and canter and learning to jump.  Everything that is done right now should pay off down the road in a horse that can negotiate the ins and outs of a jump course successfully.  I did not get to go see the progress made by Dev, not yet, but Lauren is singing like a newly converted religious fanatic.  Feather had a  good start under saddle and we give major credit to Melissa and Dee for making that happen.  She is smart and intuitive and seems to be able to process what we, humans, are asking of her into the right decisions.

Lauren was thrilled at the progress made over fences.  We will take her to the show at Katy Equestrian Center this weekend and see how it goes.  If she settles in easily we will let her go in the ring for her first class  over fences (jumping).  Although not physically a specimen for the perfection demanded in the hunter ring, we will start there so as not to rush her.  When you start as a jumper, it is about going fast, and there are many things this mare needs to learn about a jump course before we ask her for speed.  In the end, that will be her kingdom.  If Feather is anxious and spooky, then maybe we will just get her in the ring for a flat class (no jumping) and try the jumps next show.  I think it is good Lauren has this terrific mare to focus on with Mickey still out on sick leave.

Speaking of Mickey, I rode him last night.  Lauren was off at Blake’s and it seemed like a nice evening for a ride.  What I didn’t count on was the five-mile hay road trek was a lot slower last night when we only walked and trotted it.  Mickey did cough some but seemed happy to be out and didn’t seem like he was struggling to breathe.  I enjoyed the golden light coming across the land, watching the tractors still working at dusk and getting a close look at the cotton which is almost ready for picking in the back pasture.  I was actually marveling at the cotton thinking who figured out you could take these white puffs and make them into clothing and other items?  It is amazing to me.

Leo with his new friend at his new home

I got an update today from Leo’s new family.  They sent several pictures.  I thought this one was telling because they saved the image as “pretty boy”.  While I still miss him and tears still come unexpectedly to my eyes, I am happy he is loved, safe and content at his new home.  They promised to get a picture of him in the pond soon.

Kid is still refusing to go out with Mickey.  He is steadfast in his refusal to accompany out to the pasture, the horse who has bullied him for so long.  Although, I have to tell you as Mick and I left the property last night for our ride, Kid did, briefly, stick his head out from behind the barn and neigh at us.  I am pretty sure he was calling to me and not Mick!

Back in Texas

Mickey-photo courtesy of Linda Potter-Potter Photography

Lauren and I got home Sunday afternoon after a bittersweet visit to Denver.  I will go back in just a few weeks to bring my mother home.  I am always apprehensive when returning home.  We had heard little from Richard who was staying at our house but you never know what you will find.  One time we returned from a cruise to find our beloved Yorkshire Terrier had just up and died.  I actually think my house sitters were more horrified than we were.  Nothing like being entrusted to care for animals and having them die on your watch.

But we got home to an oddly quiet place.  It was hot so the cats were hidden away in their secret cat cool places.  The dogs, usually out of sorts when we return, were happy to see us but not in that crazy “I have been lacking attention” sort of way.  Just the normal, nice to see you greeting.  Muffy, our reluctant, shy dog who usually is stunted by a change in routine, was exceptionally well-balanced and social.  I can only attribute this to Richard spending great quality time with all of them.

The barn was quiet as well with only Kid and Mickey in residence.  Mickey was trying to make Kid go out to the pasture with him and Kid was having nothing to do with him.  Kid told Mickey that five years of bad behavior cannot be made up with a couple of days of being nice.  Mickey had been tormenting Kid since we moved to Wharton, but with all the other horses gone, he was lonely and looking for a pasture mate.  Kid stuck to his guns and stayed at the barn with Mickey going to the pasture alone.

On Sunday, we gave Mickey his second treatment of three designed to make him well again.  Monday Lauren rode him lightly.  She asked him for a walk and then did some trotting.  When Mickey only coughed a few times, they did a couple of times around the arena at a canter.  Mickey did not cough at the canter and did not seem to be having any breathing difficulties.  So, keep your fingers crossed that he does well with the continued treatment.  He gets his final shot in two weeks (day 21).  Then it will be “wait and see” until day 45 when he will be scoped again.  Lauren is already wanting to hatch a plan to show him in the Southwest Showdown on September 20th.  I think that is way too aggressive but we will see how he continues to do.

Dev tells us Feather, away for training with him,  is doing well.  She was a little nervous the first few days but now is jumping courses and working hard.  Lauren is concerned that Dev is not dressing her in pink, her favorite color, when he rides, but I cannot confirm or deny that at this juncture.  Lauren will travel to Dev’s tomorrow for a lesson on Feather and bring her to her first horse show on Friday-even if it is just to get the feel of the show environment.

I haven’t heard from Leo’s new family and would like to, but feel no news is good news.  I picture him standing regally in the pond (if you can stand regally in a pond) and hope he loves his new mare friend.

The status quo is always welcomed on our little farm.  Thank you to all of you who let us know you were touched and saddened by Miller’s passing.

Big Birthdays Celebrations

Money, Religion or Alcohol-Lexi Choses

Sometime between when Lauren was a baby 19 years ago and now, first birthday parties took on a whole new dimension.  From my own family to co-workers and glimpses on Facebook, first birthday parties are quite the event.

I had gone to Denver with Lauren, Ally and her girls to work on getting my mother’s things organized and to attend the birthday party of my Denver grandchildren, Riley-turning three and Lexi turning one.  I had not attended the Denver parties in the past and Jordyn’s party was pretty much just family and close friends.

I was surprised to learn 40 people were invited.  I was impressed at how my daughter’s had organized the food and activities. Ryan had worked hard to set up the new play area and make the sprawling back yard look great.

I think everyone enjoyed the party and I am also sure there were at least 40 people who actually attended.  Probably my favorite moment of day was when one-year old Lexi was placed in her high chair.  Amber explained the Wisniewski tradition that was meant to determine a child’s path in life.  On Lexi’s high chair tray was placed three objects;  a silver dollar, a shot glass and a rosary.  Immediately after they are set down, the child picks one object and this is supposed to dictate their interest in life.  Apparently, although I was not there to see it, Riley, at one, had picked the rosary. He is to follow a spiritual path.

Amber presented Lexi with the coin, the shot glass and cross.  Lexi, quickly and single-mindedly chose the silver dollar.  Well, I cannot fault her judgement.  After picking the silver dollar she quickly tried to place it in the shot glass.  I did not want to be the one interpreting the meaning of that but it does provide several interesting scenarios

  • A bar maid paid for the drinks?
  • She will put all her money into alcohol?
  • She thought it was the newest puzzle presented by her parents?
  • She just liked shiny things and was attracted by the silver and the glass?

Whatever, it was a fun and interactive game with the birthday girl.  Whatever has changed to make these baby’s birthdays such celebrations is great in my book.  I hope I get to be in Denver next year for the replay.

For Some Happy News-the Story of Snowbaby Go!

Snowboy at the rescue-the first time-you can still see his black spots through his white coat.

Been a few dark days with death and loss so what better to bring back the right tone then a story.  Today’s story is the story of Snowney the White Pony, AKA Snowbaby Go, AKA Snowboy.  Some of you out there know that there was a time when he was called Oreo-Double Stuff in his youth for reasons obvious above.  He was the pony of a girl at Sienna Stables.  My father, quite a horseman in his own right, would never have bought a pony for my sister and I.  Too mean, he’d had said.  And Snow (Oreo) was no different.  In his early days he went out of his way to dump, stop, buck or just lie down in an effort to dislodge his rider and quit working.

His first young rider loved him but her mother was wise enough to know that there were better horses for her daughter to ride.  Ones that would not be so determined to send her daughter to the ground.  And so this adorable white pony went to the horse rescue.  I got a call about him and knew he would work somewhere, for someone in the Whipple Tree Farm stable.  I remember Dianne telling Snowboy that first night that life was going to be a little less fun and not as glamorous at this new barn.  He was going to be expected to work for a living. And his shenanigans would have to stop.

First, why Snowboy as a name?  As a child, my father made sure I learned about great horses and great horseman.  I loved the book-Snowman-the Cinderella Horse.  He was a rescued plow horse that took on the biggest jumping shows in the world and won. He was owned by Harry DeLeyer(yes, the same DeLeyer family from here in Houston) and was further immortalized in a recent book called “The Eighty Dollar Champion”.

So, I had loved Snowman but this was a white PONY-so obviously, this pony had to be Snowboy, not Snowman.  Made perfect sense to me.  Later we came up with the name “Snowbaby Go” as a show name, one which was unique and yet classic.  I don’t think we actually got to name any of the other horses we had, we just went along with whatever they were called but Snowboy got a barn name, a show name (Snowbaby Go) and later a love name from my granddaughter, Snowney the White Pony.

Snowboy was originally used as a lesson horse at Whipple Tree and in the course of a few months, most of the teenaged riders there, Caitlyn, Lauren, Rachel, Cara, Stefani and Desi (to name a few) had fallen off of him.  He wasn’t necessarily mean, just crafty.  If you weren’t paying attention, he would catch you unaware and off you would go. (Which, by the way, totally reinforced my dad’s original opinion.)

Not too long after we got Snow, I got a call from the rescue that a beautiful, big, bay quarter horse had come in.  He was a seasoned show veteran and quite a solid hunter.  I asked if I could trade Snow for the new horse Mac (I had actually paid more for Snow than they were asking for Mac-because of Mac’s older age).  A deal was struck and back to the rescue Snow went.  I will note that as much I as I was loved for bringing Mac to Desi (his new half owner) I was hated by the girls that had come to love Snow including my own daughter Lauren.  There were a lot of tears when Snow left.  I would have never done so if I would have known what would happen to Snow in his next home but then Desi, Elizabeth, Mary Lou and others would have never known the wonderful horse that Mac is either.  So… you make the best decision you can.

Jordyn at two-years of age riding her “Snowney” with cat along for the ride

It was not easy to place Snow the second time around.  I was the big “English” client and Snow was a jumping pony.  Most of the rescue’s clients were western people and this pony did not match their interest.  Finally, a woman adopted Snow and he went to live with several other horses.  It wasn’t Sienna Stables or Whipple Tree Farm but it should have been okay.

It was not. Sarah, our rescue friend and recent trainer of Feather, saw Snow emaciated (which was quite a change from his Oreo-Double Stuff persona) standing in a pasture of dried up weeds.  There were dead horses in this pasture and obviously it had been a long time since food and water had been on the menu here.  I got a call asking if I would take the pony back.  I quickly agreed and Snow came back to Whipple Tree Farm. Before Snow could settle in for a good meal, get his feet fixed or be rested, the Brazoria County Sheriff called with claims that I had stolen the pony.  Once he heard the story, he sided with us, but the legal owner of Snow was charging Grand Theft Pony and I had to give him back. The sheriff came to get Snow in an open top trailer.  If I thought I had been hated for the first time I let Snow go- it was nothing compared to this time when he rode away in the horrible trailer to go to the ASPCA. Snow would stay at the humane society until the court case was decided.  I got a call a few weeks later that his previous owner had been convicted of multiple counts of animal cruelty for allowing some of the horses to die and others (like Snow) to be starved.  I was told that Snow would be up for adoption. 

This time except for telling a few friends, Kathy, Dianne and Rebecca, no one knew Snow might be coming home, not even Lauren.  Rebecca agreed to go pick up Snow in her trailer.  Kathy  helped with the adoption fees and off we went to get Snow.  Lauren was left in the Saturday morning lesson with Dianne.  As we pulled into the barn, Snow was not visible over the high sides of the trailer.  Dianne asked the riders, “Oh my goodness, is that Snowboy?”  Stefani, always polite and now a student at Texas A&M, replied “you better freaking not say that-you know he is gone forever!” but Dianne persisted, “Yes, I think it is Snowboy!”  Stefani was jumping a course at the time and literally leaped off mid-canter to run to the trailer.  Lauren and the other girls were right behind her.  Rebecca and I pulled the trailer up and Snow was greeted by crying, screaming girls. I vowed that day that Snow would never go away again.  No matter what, he was mine for life.

The next day, probably three hundred pounds lighter than he is today with torn up feet Snow went reserve champion for a girl in the Beginner Division.  He won ribbons for Lauren that day as well.

Lauren and Snow at rated show-look at those knees!

Since then Snow has gained weight (he is the best scavenger around-no doubt due to his days of starvation), he has won year-end awards for Lauren in Pony classes, and he has turned in respectable rounds at a rated show in the pony division.  He has moved with us to Wharton and he has become my first granddaughter’s first love.  As Jordyn was able to get down to ride less and less he went to Freeman Ranch and has guided many over their first fences.  Right now, he and his current rider, Isabel are sitting at the top of their division in the Greater Houston Hunter Jumper Association.

Isabel guiding Snow to anther win

It works out nicely because Isabel brings Snow to the horse shows and my Jordyn gets to ride him in the Leadline classes.  It seems that for now, Snow is safe, well fed and happy.  One day soon, Isabel will be ready to move up to bigger horses and Jordyn will be ready to show her pony all by herself. 

But one thing is certain, Snow will always have a place to call home and never be hungry again.

More Hard Decisions

Miller resting on the stair landing-may he rest now in peace.

When you love an animal, a horse, a dog or a cat you immediately open your heart to hurt-because that animal is not (under normal circumstances) going to out live you. The promise of love is the promise is sorrow.  And so it goes.

My son-in-law Ryan was a little child with a big heart condition that necessitated numerous difficult heart surgeries.  I can’t imagine the frightened state his dear mother (and father) must have lived with-never knowing if their child would grow old at all.  There were many rough years.  I do not know if it was because of this delicate balance of Ryan’s life- if it influenced if there were pets in their house or not, but Ryan never had a dog or cat growing up.

In what is my belief only, I am surmising this from limited facts, I think once it became clear that Ryan had a shot at being well, he ran at life full throttle.  He became an adept snow skier.  He took the bumps and hits on the soccer field.  He took chances.  He had looked at death and now he was living life.  Or maybe a little, sick boy grew into a strong, tough man-I do not know.  But the Ryan I first met, who was dating my daughter Amber in 2005, was a joy. 

He wanted to get a dog.  I loved getting dogs.  He wanted a big dog and they had talked of Great Danes.  I told him if you want a big dog in Colorado, get an Irish Wolfhound.  Bigger than the Dane with more coat and better able to withstand the Colorado winters, the Wolfhound was big, majestic and gentle.  In my version of go big or go home, I talked Ryan into the attributes of Wolfhound. 

Now, normally even if you wanted a Wolfhound, they were not so easy to come by.  But that spring weekend of 2005, there was an ad in the Denver Post for Irish Wolfhound puppies.  Amber, Ryan and I drove to mountains to a small breeder to see her pups.  Ryan fell in love with brindle with a white tip on his tail.  He was constantly causing the most trouble and Ryan applauded that.  Although this was Ryan’s first time to see the breed, I think it was love at first sight.  The male puppy was purchased and named Miller.

Although less than six months old, this puppy was already 45 pounds.  And he grew fast.  Amber was living in small apartment at the time with a cocker spaniel of her own.  Miller joined the group.

There are countless pictures of Miller and Ryan-their first hike, the first time in the deep snow, the first mountain lake, and many just from the park in town.  Miller came to my home in Sugar Land that first summer.  After that long distance trips were a little difficult due to his huge size.  Full grown, he was almost seven feet from his nose to end of tail and almost 150 pounds.

And there were ups and downs, as any new dog owner would have, cushions eaten, dry wall chewed, the bannister used as a teething toy, oh, yes, all the stuff normal pups do but done by what was quickly becoming a huge dog.  Ryan did a good job in training him.  When they are that big, they must obey.  Still I remember Amber being concerned about walking a dog that was quickly starting to outweigh her in the slippery snow the winter of her first pregnancy. 

I remember their first home together had a big picture window in front.  When the UPS man came up the walk, what a terrifying picture he saw and heard.  The bark of an Irish Wolfhound comes from deep in his chest and resonates on the way out.  WOOF-never sounded like this before.

Amber found that Miller instinctively knew when Ryan would be out-of-town and changed his habits from house dog to guard dog in Ryan’s absence.  He would patrol the hallways, ever alert for intruders or dangers.  With Ryan traveling for work, it eased my mind to know Miller was on the job.  But make no mistake about it-Miller for all the love he might have for Amber was Ryan’s dog.  First and foremost.

When Ryan came through the door, Miller was overjoyed and gave Ryan his special love and attention.  I think that Ryan could not have picked better or found a more special “first dog” than Miller.

This weekend was the time to celebrate the first birthday of their child, Lexi and the third birthday of their child, Riley.  Lauren and I were taking Riley and Jordyn to the park so the bouncy house Amber had ordered for the party would be a big surprise to them when we returned.

If I am grateful for anything, I am grateful Riley and Jo did not see what happened shortly after we left.  With Amber, Ally, Ryan and the babies busy out back setting up for the party, the bouncy house woman arrived and rang the door bell.  Miller from his perch at the top of stairs came hurtling down in full guard mode.  In his hurried path down the stairs, Miller, a dog not known for his grace and agility, took a bad turn.

In horror, Amber and Ryan gazed upon an obvious compound fracture of Miller’s leg with blood pouring from the site.  No more needs to be said.  Somehow, Ryan carried the huge agonized dog to the bed of his truck while Amber sped them off to the vet.  They left him for x-rays and waited to hear a prognosis.

With 40 people scheduled to attend a party mere hours away, the vet called and described a spiral fracture, compound in nature.  Surgery was a possibility but with Miller already seven-years old, and not an ideal candidate under the best of circumstances, it was ruled out.  So was amputation of the leg, another suggestion by the vet.  This big guy had issues maneuvering around on four legs much less three.  Also, the pain and adaptation time would be nuts.  There really was no decision to make.  Still we sobbed as Amber told the vet, they would be there in a few minutes to be with him as he left our world.

I understand and have discussed at length that there are humans dying every day.  Horrible deaths.  I mourn those as well.  But these animals, they steal our hearts and then they break them and while not equating a human death to an animal death, I know the brutal pain of their loss.

And the loss of your first dog, is one of the hardest.  The pain is the sharpest, I think it comes upon you unexpectedly.  I know men who have never cried, sob relentlessly when faced with the death of their “best-friend”.    I do not understand why these things happen as they do.  This horrible ending on such a wonderful day of birthday joy.  I have cried so hard, so many times this weekend.  But to my son-in-law, Ryan, I can only say, you hurt so bad because you loved so deeply.  And in the end, we cannot be afraid of the love even knowing the pain that will come with the end.

Ryan, hold tight to the memories of your big man running through the snow and along the mountain paths.  Give thanks for the time you had.  We will miss you dear Miller.