I Love FaceBook Pet Pages

I Love Facebook Pet Pages

Today, I am stepping out of the role of business owner and stepping into the role of human being. One of the ways I relax is playing around on Facebook.  I am obsessed with cute pet pages.  I follow a wide assortment of them. Most are puppy mill survivors and 2nd up are pages from dogs that have been rescued via some other rescue organization.

I don’t remember how I first came across National Mill Dog Rescue (NMDR), but am so glad I did.  Reading those stories and seeing those pictures ignited my passion for the plight of dogs kept for the purpose of breeding.  I had no idea of the awful conditions the breeder dogs were kept in.  Nor did I realize the role the Amish play in this despicable “puppy farming” practice.  National Mill Dog Rescue has an extensive Facebook page that provides education on all aspects.

Anyone who spends much time on Facebook or any other social media pages is sure to know there are lots of heartbreaking stories. When the topic is pets, emotions can often be quite intense.  Sometimes the humans behind the pet pages become quite involved in drama. When that happens, I just have to back away.  Those are the times I’m not so certain that I love Facebook Pet Pages.

Happily, there are numerous wonderful Facebook Pet Pages that have found the just right combination of keeping it real, providing education and also spreading joy.  In fact there are so many positive FaceBook pet pages that we would be here all night if I blogged about all of them.

Tonight I want to focus on two such pages that are experiencing hard times and could use our financial help and prayers.

 How They Are Linked

Harley is a puppy mill survivor who was adopted by Dan and Rudi Taylor.  Dan and Rudi own two small businesses in Berthoud, Colorado. Dan and Rudi do an incredible amount of volunteer work rescuing dogs on behalf of NMDR. Harley’s Facebook page is an inspiration.  Dan and Rudi’s love  for Harley and his fursibs is tangible. I learned from Harley that mill dogs live in wire cages and never get out.  The puppy mill owners hose down the cages with firehoses to clean the cages without taking the breeder dogs out.  That’s how Harley lost an eye.

Harley10425009_286121284845511_2360213608895270664_n

In addition to their rescue work, Dan and Rudi foster a lot of dogs for NMDR.  Sunshine was one of those dogs. Sunshine was adopted by a lovely family in Michigan and is now known as Princess Ava Bisou.  Ava has a sister named Mia Bryant Beddard. Mia and Ava bring joy and laughter to thousands of people every day.  Their humans have big hearts and do a great deal to raise awareness about the plight of senior dogs that are dumped and about puppy mill breeder dogs. Their humans are the epitome of family.  Their daddy is self employed in a small business he owns.

Princess Ava Bisou

Princess Ava Bisou

 

 

Mia Bryant Beddard

Mia Bryant Beddard

 

Why I Feel Connected

  • First of all because they are both such genuinely nice families.
  • They have “spoken” to me for quite a long time.
  • I am a retired social worker and know that these are the kind of people our world needs more of.
  • Both these families are small business owners.
  • I grew up in a farm family.  You can’t get more small family owned business than that.  My paternal grandfather set out the first apple orchard in Lincoln County, NC.  My father and uncle followed in my grandfather’s footsteps. I remember the lean years.
  • My husband’s maternal grandfather was a self employed plumber.  Again, small business. My husband’s parents started and operated a small independent finance company.  Billy also remembers the lean years.

OK, so those are the purely simple reasons.  But it gets much more personal than that.  I am a cancer survivor.  When you read the story about Mia and Princess Ava’s humans you will see the connection.  And, on July 4, 2000 my beloved Daddy took his own life.  When you read the story about Dan and Rudi’s oldest daughter you will understand.

Friends of Dan and Rudi have set up a YouCaring Fund for their son in law and grandchildren. I have set up a YouCaring Fund for Ava and Mia’s humans.  I urge you to visit the links and give prayerful consideration to helping these two families in their times of need.  I also ask for prayers for God’s healing grace, mercy and peace for these two families.  Thank you for your consideration.

Helping Princess Ava Bisou and Mia Bryant Beddard

Here is what I had to say about Princess Ava and Mia’s humans.

help-princess-ava-mia-s-daddy-with-cancer-surgery-bills

Ava and Mia do so much for others and now they are in need. I love this family for so many reasons: 1. They are always positive. 2. They consistently advocate for adoption of seniors and eradication of puppy mills. 3. They don’t get caught up in FaceBook pet page drama. 4. They are kind. 5. They share information appropriately. 6. They value family.

As many of you know, their Daddy is self- employed. Their Mommy is a long time cancer survivor. And recently their Daddy had very serious surgery for cancer. While he is recovering and unable to work they have no income. I have been given permission to post and ask for support if you are able and so moved. If you are able to help you may make a contribution to their YouCaring Fund.

No, I don’t know them personally. However, I am a retired social worker and have “just a little bit” of experience in assessing character. Princess Ava and Mia bring me enormous joy every day with their posts. I still have such fond memories of their Olympics a few years ago. Watching Ava run down the snow tunnel was so exciting and I watched it over and over. Princess Ava Bisou has 6,292 followers. Mia Bryant Beddard has 4037 followers. I know that many of us follow them both, but that is still a heap of people. Imagine how much difference we can make in their lives with just a tiny bit of effort in their time of need. For instance if every one of us (conservatively 6, 292 people) each gave just $1.00 there would be $6, 292.00. Or if we each gave $5.00 there would be $31,460. OMD OMD, OMD!!! Or as Princess Ava Bisou says, Wow Wee, yippee skippee.

Do the math any way you want, but please consider helping them out. I know there is no tax deduction for this, but seriously, how many of us will miss $5.00 next week? Thanks for any consideration for helping this precious family in their time of need. Sincerely, Beth Leatherman Harwell

Helping the Family of Harley’s Human Sister

Harley’s human sister (Rudi and Dan’s oldest daughter) lost her life to depression.  Here is how a friend of the family described Samantha.

A NOTE OF GRATITUDE FROM HARLEY’S FAMILY

My name is Mary and I am a friend of Harley’s family. They’ve asked me to let you know they are keenly aware of the outpouring of love and support from Harley’s friends over the loss of their daughter Samantha. Your thoughts, prayers and kind expressions of sympathy mean more to them than you can imagine.

Suffice it to say, this is a time of immense and unbearable sadness for the Taylor family. Samantha suffered with depression her entire life and, during the last 3 years, also suffered with a crippling illness called Dystonia. In spite of these difficulties, she fought hard to enjoy her life and make every birthday, holiday and Christmas count for her children … and let them know they were loved beyond measure.

Sam touched so many lives in such amazing ways. Always there for those in need, she created fundraisers for people she didn’t even know, took people into her home when floods swept through the area, and had great compassion for the homeless. She always kept food, water and other supplies in her car to distribute at a moment’s notice. Sam was creative, funny, and just plain amazing. She loved her children and family more than anything … and, of course, she loved her dogs. In fact, when she adopted her beloved dog Lolo last year, she went to the shelter and asked for the most unadoptable dog they had. Out came a 14-year-old Husky mix who had been discarded by the only family she’d ever known … and she became a cherished member of Sam’s family.

Many of you have asked how you can help. A fundraiser has been established to help Sam’s children in the days and months ahead. Her husband, Aaron, is a self-employed carpenter who has already been facing challenges during these difficult economic times. If you so desire, please click on this link and contribute what you are able … no amount is too small:

 Finally, I know the question remains, “How is Harley doing through all of this?” Harley is doing great and the vet was pleased with his test results, including the biopsy that was done 10 days ago … so all is well. He is surrounded by family and enveloped in love, as are Olive, Riley, Cricket, and Stella. There is no shortage of laps and love.

Sam is missed terribly and has left an indescribable hole in the lives of all who knew and loved her. On behalf of the entire Taylor family, thank you from the bottoms of their hearts. You are a true blessing to them during this unspeakable time. heart emoticon

 


You see folks, it’s about a lot more than the fact that I love Facebook Pet Pages.  It’s about life & love. Please help Princess Ava Bisou , Mia Bryant Beddard  & Harley

Dealing with Pet Death

Pet Death

Oh what a topic, but unfortunately pet death is a necessary topic.  We know that our pets will live a short life span compared to that of humans. Losing our beloved Beau was very difficult, but we would not trade anything for the 8 years we had with him.

Beau enjoying his bucket list

Beau enjoying his bucket list


On April 26, I had the opportunity to combine my hospice social work interests with my pet sitting interests and attend the first Asheville Angel Pet Conference. Beth Marchitelli, DVM addressed how to assess quality of life in companion animals. Dr. Marchitelli also discussed companion animal hospice care and home euthanasia.   

Nancy Kay, DVM discussed the need for us as pet parents to advocate for our pets with our veterinarians.  She also taught us what happens in the euthanasia process and options to consider. I was so impressed with Dr. Kay that I purchased her book, Speaking for Spot. Dr. Kay has an informative blog which you can visit at www.speakingforspot.com/blog.  In a recent article she discussed medical questions to ask a prospective pet sitter. We heartily recommend that you visit her blog.

When we said good-bye to Beau last year we were fortunate to have the services of Lap of Love.  We said good-bye in the back yard under Beau’s favorite tree (which now is Daisy Mae’s favorite tree) next to his wading pool.  Then we loaded his body in the garden cart and towed him with the garden tractor to his grave in our woods.  We did not think we could have tolerated having to carry him out of the vet’s office and we knew we wanted to bury him at home.

Beau the Snow Dog in his prime

Beau the Snow Dog in his prime


As difficult as that was, we were totally unprepared for how deep the grief would be.  At times I felt as if the grief over Beau was just as strong as the grief over the death of my parents.  Mark Neville, M.Div, a hospice chaplain, put that into perspective as he talked about the disenfranchised grief of pet loss.  Leigh Meriweather, the organizer of the conference presented the value of honoring our pets in healing grief.  She offers supportive services for all aspects of your pet’s life including honoring memorial ceremonies, grief healing sessions and honoring wraps. Learn more at her web site: www.honoringourpets.com and on her facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/PetHonoring.

As professional pet sitters we know that some of you have aging pets and we hope this information will be helpful to you as you prepare for your canine or feline family member to transition to the Rainbow Bridge. 

Pet Death and Grief

Beau the Snow Dog in his prime

Beau the Snow Dog in his prime

Dealing with Pet Death and Grief

 

Losing a beloved pet is so very hard. We are sharing some general tips along with a bit of our journey in hopes that our experiences will be helpful to you.

As a licensed clinical social worker in a local hospice agency I know that everyone’s grief journey is personal and individual. What is right for you may not be right for me. The beauty of the journey is that we each get to make our own choices.

We had no idea how hard it is until last May when our precious Beau was diagnosed with lymphoma. He was just two days short of his 8th birthday when he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge and we had just under two weeks to adjust to the idea. By the time he was diagnosed he was pretty far along. When he vomited every meal for two days it was time to take him to our vet.

The initial impression was that he either had a “dietary indiscretion”, pancreatitis or something wrong with his liver. We were given pain meds and prednisone and strongly encouraged to take him to the specialty vet clinic for an ultrasound. We followed up the next day. When the vet told us that Beau had lymphoma I almost fell to the floor. A co-worker’s Golden Retriever had died from lymphoma less than a year earlier and I knew instantly what was going to happen. They told us that dogs can go into remission from lymphoma with chemo and that chemo is not as difficult on a dog as it is on a human. The goal is remission, not cure. We chose to manage the remainder of Beau’s days with comfort directed care. For us that was the right decision. We would have felt selfish to put Beau through any amount of discomfort. For others, we know the decision to treat is the right one. Neither of us can stand in judgment on the other.

While at the specialty clinic I went into the ladies room and sobbed as quietly as I could. That night we invited Beau up on the bed with us. As I tried to go to sleep my mind and heart kept going to the sadness until once again my body was wracked with sobs. I sobbed so hard and so loud that Beau got off the bed never to get on it again.

We strongly advocated for all the comfort measures possible for Beau and felt that we had done for him the best we could do. I dropped out of training for my first half marathon to spend more time with him. We took him on car rides, to our favorite restaurant, for one last hike at Lake Norman State Park and on lots of hikes in our woods. We took video and still pictures of him. And we told him endlessly how much we loved him.

Beau at the restaurant at the lake

Beau at the restaurant at the lake

He declined much more quickly than we had anticipated. It was torture watching him try to poop and not be able to. We called the vet and learned that canned pumpkin helps with constipation.  So we fed him canned pumpkin. Next he lost his appetite (he was a large Brittany who weighed 50 pounds and loved to eat). We tried everything except standing on our heads to get him to eat. We did learn that he liked cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt. Who knew??? But what he ate at one meal was untouchable at the next meal. We bought very expensive highly palatable canned dog food and sometimes he ate it and sometimes he did not. We cooked veggies and sometimes he ate them and sometimes he did not. Once again we called the vet; this time about his poor appetite. The vet recommended that we back off on his pain meds. But when we did that he just shook from the pain.

Meanwhile I had been researching cures for cancer in dogs along with searching for vets who made home visits for the purpose of euthanasia. We did not want to go to the vet’s office to “put him down.”   While I researched these items Billy dug the grave in our woods. On Beau’s final night with us I looked into his eyes and told him what a good boy he had always been. I told him how much we loved his desire and need to run and be independent. And I told him we would not let him suffer anymore. I told him that I would talk to his Daddy the next day and we would let him go.

Beau's last day

Beau’s last day

On Beau’s last day with us he went on a hike with his Daddy and brother Luke in the woods. We had called the vet (we chose Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice for Beau) and made an appointment. We let Luke wait inside the house and we went outside where Beau was hanging out under his favorite tree next to his wading pool. That is where we said goodbye to him. We were there holding his paw, stroking his head and telling him how much we loved him during his final moments on this earth. We let Luke come out to say goodbye and let Luke watch us wheel Beau in our wheelbarrow to his grave. We laid him to rest with a blankie, a tennis ball and a dog cookie (three of his favorite things). As always Beau was good for a laugh. We had a large tarp under him and used that to lift his body from the wheelbarrow into the grave. As we slipped the tarp out from under him he rolled over and over into the grave. Only our thunder-chasing Beau could do something like that. We covered him with landscape cloth because Daddy could not stand to throw dirt on his face. Together we shoveled the earth over him and piled rocks to mark the grave. It is odd, I am not a grave visitor. But I visit Beau’s grave frequently.

At several points during this process I found myself feeling guilty for feeling his loss so intensely……..maybe more so than even when my parents died. Now don’t get me wrong. I grieved mightily for both my parents, but never did cry. In searching for answers to these strange feelings I discovered other writings that suggested it is not abnormal to grieve so intensely about our pets. After all, they love us unconditionally and never do anything to hurt us intentionally. We tell them things we might not tell humans. They bring laughter to our lives every day. I felt better with those explanations.

Fortunately the intensity did not last nearly as long as my grief over my parents and my healing journey has been peaceful and strong. I still miss Beau every day and know there will never be another dog like him. I visit his grave whenever I want, look at his picture daily and stroke his fur and collar whenever I want.  I talk about him with my husband and Luke.  And I tell our two new rescues Daisy and Trooper all about him.  Poor dogs; they probably have a complex after hearing so much about Beau!!  These are the things that have worked for us.  We hope the tips listed below will be of help to you on your grief journey.

1.  Talk to your pet and tell him how much you love him
2.  Tell your pet goodbye
3.  Keep your pet’s remains in an urn or bury her body where you can visit
4.  Keep a picture and other mementos (we have a clay paw print, a swatch of his fur, his      picture and his collar)
5.  Talk to and with others who have lost a beloved pet
6.  Go on regular walks where you and your fur-baby used to walk
7.  Consider adopting another pet in his honor (we adopted Daisy Mae and now are fostering Trooper with a plan to adopt him)
8.  Volunteer to walk dogs at your local shelter
9.  Volunteer for a pet rescue organization
10. Advocate with your state and federal representatives for the elimination of puppy mills and the elimination of breed specific bans
11. Advocate for the end of gas chambers for dogs and cats in local shelters
12. Contribute to funds for low-cost spay and neuter programs to end pet over-population
13. Advocate for the end of lab experiments on dogs
14. Our favorite one is to start a pet related business. Our loss led us to this one and now we get to play with numerous cats and dogs on a regular basis. Now that is a win-win situation!

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