Motherhood

Top Reasons RVing with Kiddos Rocks!

My RV Cowboys

I had long dreamed of an RV adventure and it remained at the top of my Bucket List. We typically do an annual vacation to the Black Hills but Hubby had suggested we head to Yellowstone. Imagine my joy when he agreed to renting an RV.

Leaving the hotel…final day living out of and hauling luggage

As RV and really any sort of camper virgins, there were some worries but  really this trip has been a dream and here is why:

1. Kitchen and snack drawer on wheels. No one likes a hangry kiddo or adult for that matter. Eating out with kids while pleasant in my imagination usually involves waiting too long to decide to eat, then suffering through the finding of a restaurant and “The Wait”. I really am trying to raise decent human beings but whether it is 30 seconds or 30 minutes until the hangry kids get their food that time is usually among the most stressful of my life with desperate distractions of crackers, color crayons, or people watching. The joy of just pulling over for a snack or meal without worry of destroying someone else’s dinner plans…amazing! One afternoon we had broccoli cheese soup and sandwiches while watching a fox catch mice. Best lunch entertainment around.

2. Immediate bathroom access. The reality hit when I passed a long line of poor full-bladdered people. Do you know how much time is spent finding a rest room, standing impatiently in line, and peeing…. a lot. And one of mine is still in diapers so that is hit or miss if their is a changing area.

3. Keeping a routine.  When staying at single hotel it isn’t so bad but the packing, unpacking, and new sleeping arrangements of hotel room hoping made for some stress in the past. Not in an RV. Unpack once and enjoy a routine of consistency.

4. No need to pack a 72 pound diaper bag anticipating the variety of weather patterns you may encounter and then potential for dirt and spills! Especially in Yellowstone where the weather is variable, it has proved invaluable to have all our clothes within arms reach.

Big Windows. Big Views. Happy Kid. 

 

 

5. Travel entertainment. The kids stayed buckled but bigger windows and a table to sit by meant more opportunity for wildlife viewing and table top activities. RVs mean lots of room to spread out and enjoy some travel games, coloring, and activities.

 

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Completing his Junior Ranger Booklet as we saw wildlife

6. See more. Do more. Especially for a big park like Yellowstone this allowed us to go with less concern of keeping within distance of our hotel. If the kiddos were needing a break we simply pulled over and often enjoyed a great view or short hike for the kiddo still in good spirits.  A cranky kiddo at the museum meant one of us headed out to the RV for a quick nap while the other continued to get some sights in. Historically, with a hotel experience that meant heading back to rest and re-coop, then loosing any motivation to venture out again. With a hotel, we usually  planned a single big daily outing to factor in grumpy or down time.

 

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A suctioned shower container made a great binoculars holder. They were in ready reach and didn’t get lost.

 

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More shower containers held cows, crayons, fruit snacks, and whatever needed to be in easy reach of the kiddos.


CONS

 

1. The biggest con is the RV parks and camping arrangements.  I haven’t had “neighbors” or lived in a “town” in a while.  Due to our shorter notice and Yellowstone’s popularity, the reservable camp sites were full. The RV parks are quite nice but still leave you feeling a little too close to your neighbors and very suburb-y.  I soon realized I can never move back to town with the manicured postage stamp shaped yards and neighbors within view.

My kiddos are semi-feral, free range sorts who spend most days semi-dressed, with no concern of their decibel level, and more awareness of staying out of the corral than a street. So it was a bit of a lesson for my country bumpkins! But riding their bikes on actual paved roads proved novel and fun.

The exception was the Cody WY KOA. While “neighborly” there was some breathing room and it didn’t feel so rectangle lot suburb. Plus there was a ton for the kids to do, including a pool and giant jump thing, so they loved it.
2.  Another con… hot showers. The RV water heater was a waste of propane and only served to heat the water to just above chilled! After our community shower episode where I probably mooned a nice retired couple while struggling to keep the kiddos from reverting to their feral naked states, I thought kiddo camper showers were the answer. Nope!

3. Safety. In my research, many argued traveling with kids in a RV was unsafe due to non-secured items and seat belt arrangements. We had an initial strawberry fiasco where a carton of strawberries shot out of the unsecured refrigerator when the refrigerator wasn’t properly latched on take-off.

Overall, our maiden RV voyage was a wild success and may have sparked the “bug”. The kids loved it and small home living wasn’t all that bad.

Motherhood, Ranch Life

“Do We Farm in Heaven?”

IMG_6819panoramicThe Kiddo was riding in front of me on the 4-wheeler as we journeyed to the sheep pasture to check the newly turned out flock and to ensure their water tank was sufficiently filled. We had awoke before 6am to the sound of noisy cows escaping to green grass and the promise of bull romance. The hubby had left early that morning to help at a friend’s branding and my brain was smarming with what needed to be done for the day without him and hoping the boys would be agreeable after such an early and out-of-routine start.

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As we pulled up to the gait, the Kiddo who has fully embraced the persona of an old western cowboy with his plaid snapped shirt, denim, and boots turned his little head back, tips his dusty black cowboy hat and asks, “Do we farm in heaven?”. He goes on to say, “The grass is tall and shiny. The sky is blue and the sun is shining. The sheep are sooo happy!”

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It was one of the those mom moments when your little person says something so profound that you stop in your tracks. I am a bit of an emotional gal anyway so it doesn’t take much to bring a mist to my eyes and his observation did just that. Here was this little guy so in tune with the wonder and beauty around him and recognizing the wonderful blessing this moment and day was. I sometimes think God gave me these little beings to remind me of the extraordinary within the ordinary and to teach me to embrace the blessings amongst the chaos.

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The Kiddo asks things like “Was today a good day?” and the only requirement for a good day is that we spent the day as a family or he got to ride his bike an extra hour before bedtime…those simple joys I have so lost in the to-do list of life. The other day he declared it “The Best Day Ever” with as much enthusiasm as I reserved for my wedding day or the day my kid was born. I don’t know when we loose that childhood enthusiasm, where the simple joys really make the day “The Best Day Ever”. In adulthood, we strive for mammoth moments that make us take note of a day well lived.

“The Farm” as it has long been called (though now we don’t farm a single acre, just livestock and hay) can be this monstrosity of to-dos, where there is never enough time in the day and where time and nature always seem to get the upper hand. There have been times I resented where we live, with the commute, and the aging farmstead that called for more time and money to restore it then we had to give.

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The truth is “The Farm” has become our heaven, the place my kids run free to explore and discover, to learn to appreciate the extraordinary amongst the ordinary, to seek reverence for the land and animals we care for. I am glad for this little escape, where I can appreciate the simple joys of quiet evenings spent with my kiddos and menagerie, and see the beauty of the light hitting the farm yard buildings, or feel alive in a sea of green grass blowing in the breeze.

Where is your “Heaven on Earth”? Maybe it isn’t a grand location but a favorite chair to rest and relax or the porch where evenings are spent watching the kids in the backyard.

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Motherhood, Pet Care, Uncategorized

Observations on the Raising of Puppies and Kids

DSC_9607pHaving kiddos brings its own kind of crazy to life. Add a puppy and it is borderline insanity!

Pregnant woman go into a nesting stage where they want to love and care for another creature and at around 6 months pregnant the urge is strong but there will be no baby for months. It seems the next best thing to love and cradle is a puppy or kitten. I myself grew up with a dog, Bud, that was just 8 weeks older than I. My mother thought “Well I will be home anyway. I might as well get a puppy to housebreak, train, and love while I have the baby.” Now as a parent the story sounds like a disastrous bomb waiting to go off and not the makings of a beautiful friendship between the family dog and a household of daughters.

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First family photo with “Bud” and “Skeeter” 1982

 

For many families the cute and cuddly puppy grows older, more boisterous and reckless. Keeping a tiny helpless infant alive while surviving on minimal sleep is hard and so the puppy child may get forgotten and the  training and direction promised isn’t given priority. The 6 month old formerly adorable puddle of wrinkles Lab is now a wild maniac teenager and becomes too much. Puppies as future parent trainers often fail.

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This is a big “Dog Bite Prevention” NO! Dogs as furniture is not recommended.

 

So when we thought of getting a puppy we looked at pros and cons. Our first dog, Brody, was a surrogate child. I didn’t say that then but now that I have human children it was pretty obvious. When my human children arrived I had to pick the camera back up afraid of the shame if they discovered the “dog child” had more baby books of pictures then they would have.

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Our first family photo with “Brody” 2006
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“Brody” the First Born Parent Trainer

 

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We added a human first born to the mix in 2012
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“The Pack” but no puppies

 

 

 

 

This new puppy would not be just our baby but a member of this new family unit that has been created since our last puppy.  We realized that this puppy would be the dog of childhood memories. We all remember our childhood dog and they are always PERFECT….never chewed or barked, as well trained as Lassie, and saved us from our certain destruction in childhood.  The connection to this new puppy would be different…not a surrogate but an addition.

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“Ripp”

 

We are about a month or so in and having a toddler and puppy at the same time is for fools I tell you. As if your hands aren’t full enough keeping a rambunctious and daring toddler from certain self-destruction, now you give him a side kick in crime.

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I have learned that puppies and kiddos can thrive on some common principles though:

  1. Feed them well. But here is the kicker…both Sidekick Puppy and Toddler love dog food and cat food is a delicacy for unrestrained gluttony. Forget those silly baby fruit-flavored puffs. If they made a complete baby kibble or adult kibble for that matter I’d buy it by the case. We have to keep the food locked from both pets and toddler. More than once both little creatures have shared the after breath of those disgusting faux bacon treats. Excuse me while I dry heave after doing a mouth sweep of kibble from Toddler and disgusting cow placenta jerky from Puppy!
  2. Consistency is key. Rules are rules until well the young ones look cute and you are tired and weak. Then rules are broken and you vow to be stronger next time. It is good to have a partner that will start to see the cracking and intervene so that consistency remains.
  3. Life is stimulating and sometimes you just need a time out or a nap. Both puppies and toddlers get cranky without!
  4. The best toy is the one you can’t have or that wasn’t even meant to be a toy in the first place. I just throw some boxes around the house and the cats and toddler love them. I bought that $30 Sophia the Giraffe teething toy because that is what good mothers do in today’s society. Guess what…Kongs rule in our house.
  5. Imitation is a step in learning. But it gets tricky when the toddler mimics the dog. The other night toddler brought a toy in mouth and requested a game of fetch. But there is hope that by watching older brother pee in the toilet and older dogs pee outside there may be a spark of discovery for toddler and puppy.
  6. What is mine is mine and yours is mine too. Sharing is hard. The other night toddler was sleeping with pacifier in mouth (and yes I was that mom that vowed no pacifiers at this age, ever, ever and then I decided sleep and peaceful living was more important than this pacifier war.) and puppy just stole it in one swoop. So lesson is: if puppy has a toy don’t steal and if child has a toy don’t steal. Teeth and/or tears could be consequences.
  7. Showing love can be a bit rough for the littles. Bite inhibition and hand inhibition training are real. Toddler please note pets don’t love hugs, especially if there is risk of a head popping off and Puppy please note we people don’t like your mouth on our flesh.

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I think it is a start of a beautiful friendship and I hope that in the years to follow we look back with fond memories of their childhood dog. But for today I will just take a deep breath and vow to keep on teaching, guiding, and preventing mayhem and destruction.

“Got to go…Toddler is using the dog food bin as a tasty sensory bin and Puppy is torturing the cats.”

Anyone else crazy like me raising a puppy and a baby? How is your adventure going?

Motherhood, Ranch Life

Party Like a Pioneer

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The Evoniuk Brothers General Store

We love a party and better yet if it is a themed party! So in the spirit of the homesteaders, we thru a Pioneer Party to celebrate the kiddo’s 5th birthday. Friends and family obliged and dug out their pioneer garb to celebrate.

Brad’s great-great grandfather homesteaded our ranch in the late 1800s after his arrival from the Ukraine. We currently live in the fourth home to be built on the homestead and grow much of the same crops and livestock today that were first produced here. By walking the same ground Brad’s family did before, there is a reverence for the land and an importance in carrying on the story and traditions of the generations before us.

 

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The Kiddo designed his own cake

 

 

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Frankly, by living here it sometimes feels like we still live in the pioneer era. I joke they have internet in the jungle and on top a remote mountain but we still don’t have internet on the ranch. I use my cell phone service and we ration “data” just like the pioneers of days before rationed sugar or flour. Neighbors actually live miles away and when something goes down in the ‘neighborhood’ like a fire or downed power line there is a “party line” of phone calls to half the county.

Gorham was a small town just north of the ranch. It was in its heyday around 1937 when 5 families and 5 businesses made up the town, including the Gorham Store and Post Office. The store operated until 1972 when the post office was lost and eventually Gorham became a ghost town. The store building now sits with shelves full just like it did decades ago at the Dickinson Museum Center. So of course our pioneer party needed a General Store. The kiddos were “paid” for doing pioneer work and could use their pennies to “shop” at our General Store.

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The first activity was making butter.  You just need cream and some mason jars, patience, and strong arms. The kiddos tired after about 2 shakes so the adults took over but at least there was work was rewarded with homemade fresh butter for the Easter bread and homemade bread made by the Grandmas.

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The kiddos then headed outside to collect eggs. The weather was not so agreeable but unlike finding anything lost within the house, they made short order of finding all the eggs.

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“Collecting Eggs”

 

The next activity was to be handwashing clothes on a washboard. The weather didn’t cooperate and having wet kiddos didn’t seem like such a great idea so that was tabled for another day. Another activity they had planned for was hunting for wild game but the wind and rain kept the party pretty much indoors.

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Each kiddo received a handmade pioneer journal. We also made spinner toys… I practiced and finally got the hang of it a day later. We used about 36″ of string and some cut wood with two holes drilled in the center. Large buttons would have worked well too. The kiddos weren’t as enamored…honestly there is probably an app for this now days.

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Each person receive a “quilt square” (Oriental Trading purchase) and worked together to make a quilt. I was actually surprised how popular this activity was.

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Making their Friendship Quilt

 

We still have an Outhouse but due to weather we allowed everyone to use the indoor plumbing…just kidding. We have had indoor plumbing and electricity for a few decades now but the Outhouse still sits in the yard.

It was great to celebrate a traditional meal with family and friends…ham, scalloped potatoes, corn, homemade breads.

The Kiddo so wanted a hay ride so Brad put a rack together and we tested it out. In typical North Dakota style we experience all four seasons in the 30 minute hay ride…snow, sleet, rain, sun, and rainbows. Everyone was a trooper and we cuddled up under the quilts. Our “farm safari” took us thru the pastures to see the new calves. One thing I didn’t prepare for was the cow that choose to pee next to the trailer with 40mph wind gusts. Cows are large creatures and produce a fair bit of urine. It was a urine shower but worth a good laugh and a memory for sure.

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The All-Seasons Hay Ride

 

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Thanks to all the family and friends that were able to join us to celebrate! It was a great day!

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Motherhood, Ranch Life

Kids and Cows

 

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I have “Sunday Syndrome”. I am not sure it is a real condition but I am definitely afflicted. The day starts with lazy smiles and lingering conversation over coffee but by afternoon my stomach tightens, my mood sours, and I start to panic about the to-do list that is still a mile long. The weekend is ending. By night, I am usually pissy, thinking about Monday. Mondays guarantee to be busy at work, with most conversations starting with my pet has had “X” for the past 3 days…

So in search of life’s purpose and happiness I rethought how I would respond to today. I have been addicted to Ted Talks, as they quickly fill the empty minutes of drive time. There are some pretty brilliant people with some great thoughts on happiness and so I thought “What do I have to gain?” if I started implementing some of these ideas.

The suggestions range from “staying in the moment” to “choosing positivity”. One Ted Talk speaker, Shawn Anchor laid out some happiness exercises I decided to try. Real exercise is actually one so today we went outside- fresh air and sunshine usually brightens my mood. Exercise #2: The Doubler…You take the positive and write down and share the details of your experience…. so here you go… our Sunday.

“Cows and Kids”

Calving is at its peak so much of the day was spent with the cattle. Jacob and Brad play a game of “who will calve first” or “who will calve next”. Brad has the clear advantage and predicts with much accuracy and Jacob just chooses his favorite cow, the lone horned red. Jacob did predict twins last night and so shockingly the morning started with “TWINS”. With much ado, one of the twins was adopted by a poor gentle first calve heifer that lost her premie calf. With some tranquilization and careful suggestion, we are hoping it is a start of a beautiful relationship. Meet adoptive momma:

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The boys drug around some toys as we checked cows and found opportunity to do some driving as we waited on the hubby or while watching gates. The boys love the hubby’s old toys and I love their sounds, imagination, and chubby fingers finessing the truck’ s movements.

 

We welcomed a lot of babies today. They literally hit the ground ready to stand and suckle and are pretty self-sufficient.

 

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Jacob was assigned the important task of helping write ear tags…on the back of the tag. Each new calf is assigned a tag color and number based on the owner and his mother. Male calves receive their new bling in the right ear and the female calves in the left. While the boys know anatomy far to well…just ask… they also love to quickly declare if the calf in view is a boy or girl. Some have names. Most don’t.

Jacob has a pretty solid “Ranch Kid Education” and Caleb is following suite. As we started Pre-K education, we’d show Jacob an apple in a picture book and enthusiastically ask “What color?” A blank stare followed. But ear tags excited him and he quickly learned the colors and what each color meant.

Calves are largely “hands off” due to protective mommas with body-crushing skulls so when the opportunity to cuddle comes available I take advantage. Meet adoptee:

So tonight, while the to-do list remains disturbingly untouched and the dirt-coated kiddos literally collapsed where they sat, I reflect on a day well spent…with cows and kids.

Motherhood, Ranch Life

The Pioneer Community: The Power of Connection

 

Pioneer home

/credit: ND State Historical Society photo collection/

Pioneer life has this romantic allure of adventure and discovery in a simpler time without the complexities of email, Facebook, or Iphones.  The pioneers that came west had ambition, fortitude, and hope for a life better than the one they knew. There is a Ukranian Catholic cemetary just north of our place and some of the graves have images of these pioneer men and women, their faces hardened by the struggles of a life of hard work and loss, with successes measured in a home built and bushels harvested. These images bring a realism to my understanding of the families and persons that came before.

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Jacob and I have found interest in the pioneer era, where you harvested and hunted your food, made your own soap, and didn’t cook from a box. How 21st century and first world of me to look at soap making as this fascinating new hobby while a hundred years ago the homemaker likely burgrengingly mixed lye and wood ashes to make a soap suitable to wash the field dirt and grime from her family. No convenient Tide Pods for those ladies!

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In our 21st century the word “busy” has become synonymous with success. “How have you been?” “BUSY!”. A productive day is no longer defined by simply living and surviving, harvesting and hunting. Backyard chickens, Farm to Table restaurants, and glamping are common topics which seem to highlight our need to connect to a simpler time gone by. There seems this draw to homesteading, to reconnecting with the land and nature, to quiet this busy 21st century world our brain processes.

I read Jacob the book “Going West” as it told the story of a family heading west in search of more, of  a homestead of their own. How that resonates even today…. to make our own way, develop our own “homestead” of success and acknowledgement. The journey unfolds and tells of the mother leaving behind cherished possessions with just the necessities and a single sentimental piece. There was a loneliness in the story. How interesting that even decades later we still struggle with the universal theme of loneliness. Yet today we are connected by Facebook, Skype, Facetime, etc. and no longer by handshakes, quiet presence, and story-telling gathered round.

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/credit: State Historical Society, Columbia/

The story continues and the lonliness is healed by the new life of a spring garden and emerging crops and the visits of new neighbors. The family creates a community. Community and connection heals the lonely. As I started 2017, the word that arouse in me was “connection”. I want connection, to create community with my family, friends, neighbors, and clients. I hear stories of colleagues struggling to balance it all with family, careers, keeping a home as do I and hear the cry of “I am all alone!” in this struggle. They seek connection as do I and find it in a community online with those that are in this journey.

Maybe the allure of the pioneer time is for that life of connection to the Earth, the animals and plants, to the community and family around us. They didn’t necessarily know what was on the other side of the world yet those pioneers probably knew who lived down the road.  For Jacob and I the allure is likely in that connection. To have found and be connected to your family, tribe, your village, your community.

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Dirt roads lead me home because those dirt roads lead me to my village, my tribe. I am striving for connection, to improve and strengthen my relationships to my children, husband, family, and friends. How blessed to have found these persons for my life. Do I have the answers of how to do that without conflict or pain…no. But I am trying, learning, becoming resourced. I do know we can’t go it alone…we need our village, our tribe, our community. Just as the pioneers arrived on the empty prairies in search of happiness and finding it in community and family, maybe we too need to turn to family, friends, and community.

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“If we know where we came from, we may better know where to go. If we know who we came from, we may better understand who we are”.

-Lessons from the Prairie

Life as a Veterinarian, Motherhood, Pet Care

Death Comes, Grief Follows

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As a veterinarian, I help clients say goodbye to beloved pets nearly every day. There are those geriatric pets whose age or disease has finally got the best of them. I say things like “They enjoyed a wonderful and long life.” “When we open our hearts to know their love, so do we open our hearts to the heartache of their departure” “It is our final gift to give to relieve their suffering.”

Then there are the tragic unexpected losses where you just try to hold them up while emotions of disbelief, guilt, rage, anger, among others wash over them. Perhaps they want comfort to know their pet went quickly and without pain. You assure them it isn’t fair, that it was chance or poor luck.

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I have been awash in loss this past year. Expected loss of dogs from cancer and heart failure to the sudden losses due to tragedy or an undiscovered disease. I don’t know if one is better or worse than the other. With the terminal pets I felt waves of anticipatory grief. As much as I held on to the idea of “enjoying every day given” where there was joy in that day there was fear that this day was the end, that I didn’t know that moment would come and couldn’t control the end. Here I sat a veterinarian and I couldn’t save my own.

With each client I felt the need to take away the pain of grief and put in on my own back to bear so as to reliever their own suffering. I put myself in their shoes and felt my own losses, either those that had happened or those yet to come. I couldn’t go on in that way as a veterinarian helping. Instead I started thinking of grief as blanket and it was my job to hold a space for them, to wrap a blanket of understanding and support around them. I could share the grief but I could not shoulder it.  My quote of choice became: “Grief is the final act of love we have to give to those we have loved. Where there is great grief there as great love.” And then loss hit again today….and a wave of anger and grief once washed over me knocking me over.

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Maxx was a miracle, a PITA butthead, bully, and I loved to hate him. He would even spend time on kitty Prozac for his inappropriate marking behavior.

It was a typical afternoon at the clinic, when an older gentleman brought in an overly friendly overweight tabby cat with a thick red collar. Just 20 minutes after his exam and vaccines that tabby showed up at our strip-mall veterinary clinic doorstep in respiratory distress and vomiting blood. His owner couldn’t be found and we feared the worse. We couldn’t wait any longer and so radiographs revealed the problem- he had a diaphragmatic hernia…basically his diaphragm had torn and his abdominal contents including stomach and liver were in his chest threatening his life.

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The owner was located and couldn’t commit to the necessary surgery to save his life. Maxx had jumped out the car window on their departure. He could have ran under a car or to another business location but he seemed to beg for help by coming back to our doorstep. Maxx seemed a survivor and was owed the chance to prove it. I had him signed over and swore to do the best I could.

His breathing during surgery was provided by manual ventilation by a technician. Each breath provided by the careful squeezing of the reservoir bag, passing oxygen and anesthetic gases thru the tube in his trachea to inflate his lungs.  The diaphragm tear was found and I saw his beating heart and removed what didn’t belong in his chest. I sutured his thin torn diaphragm back together. And he survived…and recovered…and I couldn’t let him go so he became mine.

Maxx was really the worst…overly loving but on his terms, a food loving fatty I feared would become diabetic, a bully to the outdoor cats, and destroyer of my belonging with his potent urination. But I loved him.

So when he was gone for more than a day I feared the worse. Brad searched and found him…and since I had been texting for updates I got the call…and all the grief came back. I couldn’t handle another loss…just weeks after our beloved dog and months after other pets. I was pissed…I have clients that bring their cats in once a lifetime at the age of 18. I did everything for this cat. I saved his life…he beat the odds so why the hell now!

Nature is a cruel bitch! As I see the pastures come alive I know she brings life and beauty and she takes it away in one moment. Maxx had been attacked and the evidence suggested by a coyote. His wounds not survivable. I was fearful I won’t be able to find the answers I always need but when I saw him it wasn’t him…he was gone and this worthless body left behind.

And I said all the things I share to others…”You saved him. He had a great life. He loved the outdoors (He was strictly indoors initially but seemed to hate it and needed more. His first adventure outdoors I swept him up from under a bush after spending the entire 10 minutes he was outdoors convince he was acquiring feline leukemia virus). I don’t understand nature…I have the training to diagnosis, prescribe, and treat but in the end nature wins…she always does…whether it be when it seems right after a long full life or in tragedy we can’t understand.

I hold gratitude I have my family, children, and loved ones…that perhaps “He was just a cat. That she was just a dog.”. But my heart hurts and so once again death comes and grief follows.

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