Saturday, June 20, 2015

{Mocha, Coco and Hershey~fly free my angels}

Have you ever had one of those moments - where your heart is in your throat, your hands shake and tremble- your head feels light- and you feel like at any moment you may just throw up?? 
If so- then you know what I go through at least 5 times a day right now. 
Our family lost three precious members earlier this year- and we are still trying to figure 
out when it gets easier.  

Our dogs - all 3 have brought such joy and happiness- so many memories- I tried to post as many pictures as I could- but I literally have hundreds.
I don't want to be super long winded and type on and on- mostly because I just emotionally can't go there right now. After loosing Mocha in March- I felt that I needed to blog about him, but I just couldn't - then after Coco in April- I felt it still - and still couldn't - and then after Hershey in May- I knew I had to. 
So - it's taken me a while to gather my thoughts and feelings- and get a place were 
I could even get through this.

Mocha was a Christmas gift to me- the first year brandon and I dated- I found an add in the greensboro paper for chocolate lab puppies. I wanted one SO bad! Brandon agreed to get me one- we had just started dating in August- so I know he must have loved me right? So - we went to look the puppies- and Mocha was the only one who came to me. I bent down- and he walked right over to me and rubbed all over my hands and ankles- and that was it- he was mine. In a few weeks he came home- and a few weeks later I was in a very bad car wreck. I had met a car in my lane and jerked my car off the road to avoid a head on collision- which resulted in my car flipping several times and landing in a tree- with me in the passenger floor board.  I hurt my back seriously and was on bedrest for over a month. Mocha was my bed buddy- he spent every minute in bed with me. And the next years of our life together were just great. We were inseparable. 

Right before Brandon and I got married- one of my girlfriends knew someone who had a female chocolate lab that needed to be rehomed. So - we took her- and she went to live with brandon- and that is how Miss Coco came into our lives. Coco was a rebellious soul from the start- she was a gypsy - free spirited chick. She and Brandon were best buds-and once we were married- we all four just had a happy little life together. Everyone knew- we had two chocolate labs- Mocha and Coco.
We bought a new home in the fall of 2002- and in the spring of 2003- Coco delivered eleven healthy puppies. I helped her deliver all 11 in a small pool in our house. My mom was there also- and even had to go buy milk and a small bottle because Coco struggled to nurse all the babies. Hershey was the first puppy born and he was also the biggest. I knew I wanted to keep one of their babies so that I would have a piece of them left after their passing. Coco had to be fixed shortly after having the babies due to a severe uterus infection. We got to bottle feed eleven hungry puppies for a while. Super fun. :) 
So- that is how our little group came to be- Mocha, Coco and Hershey - they were the loves of our life. We had Kayleigh in  December 2005- then Kegan in May  2008- my mom passed away in August 2008- we sold our home in February 2010 and moved with my dad- we moved into our new home on July 4 2010- and things started to settle back down a bit. But - we were noticing that Hershey had started to bump into things when the room was not bright. He had fallen al the way down the stairs in our house - and that is when i knew something was wrong. over the course of the next year- he fully lost his sight. He was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called PRA- you can read more about that here

But - Hershey had memorized the layout of our home, so he continued to live a normal, happy life.
In January 2014- Mocha had an episode where he just could not get up- and I was told by the vet then- that he was fading- he was an old man and even though all his test were normal- i needed to prepare myself because he did not have much time left. 
We had also noticed Coco had started to leak urine- she would leak on her dog bed or wherever she was laying- but as long as she was awake it was not an issue. Over the course of the next year- both dogs went down hill - Mocha lost ALOT of weight- his back legs became very weak and would shake uncontrollably.  His spine shown through his skin and his muscle tone deterriorated. 
Coco went from leaking urine to soaking her bed- and even dribbling urine down her legs while she was standing. 

March 28 2015- Mocha had several vomiting episodes that morning- he would not drink water- he would not eat- he literally threw up more than I even knew possible for a dog to throw up. His abdomen was swollen HUGE and he would cry if you touched his abdomen at all. I knew- I looked him in his eyes and I knew. So - we took the kids to my granny's- and we took him to the emergency vet in Greensboro- Happy Tails { }
I sat in the floor with him- and held him- the vet did her assessment and told me she felt he had a cancerous tumor growing in his abdomen.  I signed the papers- giving them permission to put him to sleep- and I held him in my arms and cried my heart out as he died. I will never forget that moment- a piece of my heart left that room right along with his soul. I had to walk out and leave his body laying there and I felt the need for the longest time to go back and pick him up. Like he was just in boarding or having vet work done- and he needed me to come get him. I can't explain it really~

S0- then it was April- and we still had Coco and Hershey- I had watched coco get worse and worse. I had cleaned her beds - and washed the urine out over and over. I had watched her little body continue to disappear. 

April 30 2015~ That day I was working in the yard- and she was out there with me- I picked her bed up to  move it and it was sickening. Once again- I looked her in the eyes and I knew. I had contemplated her being put to sleep for over a year- I had diapered her through the winter so that she could sleep inside and be comfortable. But- it was time- I just could not watch her live like that any longer.  So- I loaded her up- and we went back to the same vet- 30 days after letting Mocha go. I took er to Starbucks and got her a cake pop, the to Krispy Kreme and got a hot doughnut- and then went through the same exact process in the same exact room- I sat with her in the floor- and held her- she went to easily and peaceful. Her body was done- she was tired and weak.  And once again- another piece of my heart was gone. Brandon was working- so I took her by myself and almost did not make it trying to drive back home.
SO then it was May~ there was just Hershey left now.  Hershey knew something had changed- so everywhere I went he went to. To get gas- to drop the kids to school- pick up food- even to Washington DC for me to shoot a newborn up there- he went.  We went to he beach mothers day weekend- experienced out first tropical storm- and also what would be Hershey's last vacation. I noticed when we cam back from the beach that his abdomen looked swollen- but I had started feeding  him more and I also had him on a whole food diet to try and help control his seizures which had started in Jan 2015. When his seizures began - he underwent a lot of blood work and testing and we were told due to his age- he almost certainly had a brain tumor and the only way to confirm that was a cat scan which was $3000. He was started on seizure meds and basically- he was in palliative care at that point- and everyday with him was a blessing. I did baby him- I did do extra for him because he had been dealt a rough hand- already being blind and then having seizures and a brain tumor. I watched him on more than one occasion collapse and bust his head into the cabinets or the floor- once he hit so hard he busted his mouth and was laying in a pool of blood by the time I got to him. I was terrified to leave him- I was so scared I would come home to him dead. 
May 28 2015- We had a normal day- I took the kids to school - Hershey had seemed fine all day- but his stomach was HUGE. I had tried some laxatives the day before- because had seemed constipated and he had not drank but just a bit of water over the past few days. That evening when brandon came home- I told him I wanted to have Herhsey seen - for what i thought would be constipation from his new whole food diet. I took him to the same vet- and within the next hour my biggest nightmare came to life. I was told he needed X-rays to be sure of what was going on- the X-rays looked cloudy and we could see a growth on the front of his stomach - which was pushing everything near it out of its place. The cloudiness was fluid- his abdomen was full of fluid- the vet did a needle biopsy and drew a huge needle full of the fluid out- and told me that this was typically caused by cancer. And once again- I knew- my boy, my sweet baby boy- who already had so many bricks stacked against him-was going to die tonight. 
The vet told me- that he needed to be euthanized tonight - that he was a very sick boy- and that I could take all the time I needed with him but he needed relief soon.
So I called brandon and got him to come out there- in that hour - I took Hershey outside and we sat in the grass and walked-I told him he was going to heaven- and that he would see his mom and dad and his nanny {my mom} and that he would be able to see again- and that they would care for him until I could get there and I cried and cried and screamed!!! and cried- WHY!!!!! and HOW!!!! how in the hell was i supposed to do this?? how?? 
brandon got there and we took him in- and for the last time- I signed the papers giving the permission to put him to sleep. Its gut wrenching- I really have no words other than that. I sat in the floor- in the same room - same exact spot- and I tried to hold him but he wanted to sit- after the first injection he relaxed completely- and i snuggled him to my chest- he was so asleep- he was snoring! so loud- just like he had done so many times before- the vet gave him the second  injection and within a minute he was gone. 
The vet said- his heart has stopped- and I swear to you I wanted mine to stop to. I honestly don't remember much after that. My whole being was numb- I wanted to die- I wanted to just disappear. 
It was like being in an altered state- like watching this on a movie screen from afar- I just left, checked out and went blank. Brandon drove us home- I cried all the way- came home drank Benadryl and lay in the tub and sobbed.
I had all three dogs cremated.  I want all three buried with me when the time comes. 

The next day- my face and eyes were so swollen and dark- I went to a place internally that I have never been. I just didn't care- I did all my daily routines and chores- but I lived in a zombie like state.
The days and weeks since-  have gotten better. Our house is SO quiet and still. Being home alone is almost unbearable. I find myself still driving- and forgetting where i was going because my mind is still so numb from all of this.  I can be listening to a conversation and just blank out- and not even hear what is being said- I am still so far away- Emotionally. 
I don't know what or when or how at this point.
 I just know we had many many years of wonderful and I wouldn't trade them for the world. 
My heart will always hurt when I think of them- there will always be scars there. 
I know people feel that I am distant right now- and I am. I really have no want to interact with anyone- I want to be left alone and let my insides heal. I want to find my way back to me- and to a life that is complete. 
I know God will continue to heal me and our family. Thank you all who have prayed for us- or left kind words. We need it more than you know~

"When I close my eyes I see you, no matter where I am." 

Coco~ 14 years old~ I took these the morning of her death

Hershey ~11 years old~ I took these the same day - I had no idea that just 30 days later I would be facing his death as well 

Mother and son~ Mocha and Coco had 11 puppies- I delivered them all in a pool in our house. Hershey was the first born- and the largest of them all. This was the last day on earth these two spent together. 

I had both of the boys bowtie collars made. Southern boys at their finest. 

oh how they all three loved to sunbathe. They would lay in front of our sliding glass doors for hours. 

This was a really bad day for Hershey~ Kay had a father/daughter dance to go to- so we were taking pictures for that and I had brandon snap these of me with him. Hershey had multiple severe seizures this afternoon- he had also thrown up and was asking all over. You see here he is clung to my chest. I fought so hard to save my boy. 

The kids alternated nights with the dogs- they shared them. There was always a dog in our bed!

He loved riding with his mommy. Anywhere I could take them - they went. 

This was their last snow- in Jan 2015. 

Sweet memories- I am so grateful that our kids got to grow up with them. 

This was the morning Mocha had to be euthanized. You can see he had no interest in Kay- he and I both knew in our hearts  that it was time. 

Ocracoke Island- Lighthouse Jan 2015

Holding Mocha like a baby- this was in Jan 2015- he was so frail- just a little old man. Always my baby though. 

Herhsey would sit and stare out of the window all the time. Even though he was blind - it was like he could still see. This is one of my favorite images of him. 

Christmas 2007- Kegan was in my belly here :) 

This was in 2009- before Hersh lost his eyesight. 

June 2010- during construction of our house. These 3 were already making the house their home. 

Our first camping trip- Bryson City NC 

The light of my heart- I will ever accept that these boys are gone. 

almost 16 years we spent together- since I was 17 years old. My best and most loyal friend. 

If I was in the tub- this was my view. ALWAYS!!

With mom on the beach in Wilmington. 

On the riverwalk in Wilmington. 

I had left- and Brandon took this picture of Mocha. He laid there watching up the road waiting for me to come home.  
all three at the vet for shots- this was always a crazy chaotic time. 

My Mocha

Begging for Kegan's Apple. All 3 LOVED apples. 

Mowing with mommy

July 4th at Myrtle Beach

Hershey was my snuggle bug. He cared nothing about laying anywhere else except in my lap. 

This boy loved laying in front of a fire 

our final beach trip with Mocha- Fall 2014

Cruising in Ocean Lakes 

Hershey with Dog-Dog {Kegan's favorite lovey}

The great peanut butter thief. Ha- he may have been blind but his nose more than compensated. 

 my final moments with Mocha. I have not washed that shirt I had on. My heart and head are still stuck in that room. Nothing can ever take pain like this away. 

April 2015- it's just these two left 

April 28 2015- Coco'a last day on earth. I took her to Starbucks for a cake pop- and krispy kreme for a doughnut. She was so ready to go though- after her injection she rolled her head back and looked me in the eyes- I closed her eye lids and she took two breaths and she was gone. Her little body was so tired and weak. 

I can not thank Darla Allred enough for this portrait of Mocha. Here is Mocha's urn- paw prints- collar and his gorgeous memorial portrait. Darla is currently painting Coco and then Hershey. It has been a huge closure for me. 

One of our last mornings in bed. 

riding with Kay and I -helping Papa get up hay. 

I took this the morning he was put to sleep. I didn't know at the time- this would be the last picture I ever took of him in our house. 

Waiting for Brandon to get to the emergency vet so that I would not be alone when he was put to sleep.

Our last moments together. 

I made this video to remember our last moments together. I have never been closer to having a nervous breakdown in my life. 

Mocha celebrated 15 at the beach. 

Always always always in my heart.