She Left Paw Prints on my Heart

This past Thursday on April 30, 2020, Foxy, our beloved Shiba Inu, passed away. Jared and I had the blessing of being her hospice care for the last 38 days of her life. We started fostering her a month after Jared and I started dating in 2013, we don’t know what life looks like without her and she will always hold a very special place in our hearts and relationship. In this post I am going to share a couple memories from each year we had her, as a way to remember her.

We had the joy of loving Foxy from July 2, 2013 to April 30, 2020.

2013

When I first met Foxy, I honestly wanted nothing to do with her. My heart remembered the brokenness of losing our former Shiba and I didn’t want to get attached. We have been laughing remembering this and the fact that I was determined that “I would not become attached to her.” Boy was I wrong about that. Foxy had many health issues from her former owner’s neglect and she was kept in a crate while she recovered. I was also recovering from an injury and would spend time in there “recovering with her.” Also that middle picture above, that is and always will be my FAVORITE picture of her as it showcases her signature “Shiba smile” at its best.

These were the first snuggles caught on camera that year. She was not a cuddly dog until the very end of her life. She was also abused and neglected before we got her so there was a lot of trust building that she needed to do with each of us. Whenever she was really happy she would drop her ears down flat like you can see in the first two photos below.

2014

As she adjusted to us and trusted us we saw a very fun side of her. My family’s home has a traditional mail slot in the front door. This was a daily event for Foxy. She would wake up eagerly and just watch for the mail. When she heard the screen door open she would pounce (you can see her geared up to pounce in the first photo above), bark, and physically bite the mail coming through. Our mail-woman was AWESOME and started dropping a cookie through the slot for her most mail days. Sundays were always a disappointment as there was no mail, so to get her to not be on mail watch one of us would walk around and drop mail through the slot after church. Now the second photo tells a funny story I journaled about as a teen. I had the house to myself and had finished a hard day of training and just wanted some boxed organic Mac and cheese that I had meal-planned for that day as a treat. Long story short after taking her out in the pouring rain, wrestling to dry her off, and then making my food, I got interrupted by a knock at the door and while I was up she snuck up to my food and ate it all. I was very upset and she just grinned like this when I told my family. Finally there was a ledge by the playground and she loved when we would pick her up and let her walk it to head home.

As 2014 continued she was the cutest church dog and was apart of my room renovation for college. I didn’t know that the latter half of my semester would be the start of my whole life changing. That was when I had a near death trauma and had to stop schooling and be recovering for over 10 months. Foxy again is not a cuddly dog, but with my stubbornness and her trust she comforted me in a way I needed so desperately.

2015

2015 did not start well as it started in an ICU, I had surgery, and went through severe memory loss. This was the year I started experiencing joint dislocations and we started down the diagnosis road to EDS. At the end of 2015 I was back in school part time and snuck her into one of the campus Christmas parties.

2015 was also the year that we upgraded our couches and Foxy’s mail watching perch was upgraded. It was also her designated spot. If you were sleeping there she would walk over to be on her perch or loom over you- she was all business until the mail had come.

2016

2016 was quite a year, Jared and I were running OST again and had just been approved for a dance medicine research study. Foxy oversaw lots of paperwork. I still dealt with flares and dislocations and she was there for all of it. I also moved out that year and that picture of her on my bed was our first “sleepover” together since I had moved. Also I hand made that blanket for her and she loved it.

In the latter half of 2016, I had a big moment. As you can see Foxy and I cuddled- for a whole five minutes. Believe me that was a HUGE step and I am so happy that it is documented. I continued to get her every so often for a weekend. That Christmas, I had a nasty dislocation and she was so good at loving on me. Also I love this photo from Christmas Day of Jared and Foxy. She was waiting for the mail… on Christmas so Jared “waited” with her while someone went around and put mail through thee slot so she would be able to relax.

2017

This year held crazy highs and lows. First I want to share the memory from the first photo, Jared and I were hosting some friends and she deliberately walked across everyone to get to me and laid down and fell asleep. This was a miracle. I was the chosen one and was still the only person she would actually sleep next to (also mind you if I breathed wrong or dared to move she would be offended and leave. That was what made this so special because she wasn’t bribed to come up to me and sleep- she got settled all on her own.) Jared was the only one (to this day) that could hold her and “wrestle” with her in ways no one else could. In this photo she was clearly annoyed with Jared for giving her affection. During that year my health got to a place where we needed to move back in with my family which meant more time with her- huge pro. She also really enjoyed the curve my hospital bed had when I kept my knees elevated. That year we also took Foxy out for ice cream. She was super impatient for us to give her the small vanilla we got her, did not want a picture, and attempted to eat Caitie’s cone as you can see.

Now Foxy and I have always been extremely similar. If I was a dog it would be her. Foxy had many health problems and somehow we always seemed to be mirroring one another. The first time I was in a neck brace, she was in a collar. I had sudden procedures, she had emergency surgery. We just understood one another in a way I cannot explain. Then the summer went exceedingly well health wise and I was loving working all the time until my hip dislocated for the first time. This brought on a life style adjustment that changed everything, but Foxy was there through it all.

2018

2018 started with wedding planning and loads of procedures. Foxy was amazing though it all and supported us all the way. I was in the hospital consistently for admissions and had one especially long admission and so we facetimed because we missed one another. She was amazing all the way leading up to our wedding. Something to mention is that although she was technically the family dog, Jared and I always felt like she was “our” dog not “my parents” dog. After we got married, we worked out a “custody agreement” that allowed us to have her for one week a month.

No matter where we lived we always spoiled her rotten with daily 3:00 PB Kongs, lots of treatos (pro tip get training treats that are small and low calorie if you want to give lots of treats without over indulging), and we upgraded her to a very large plush bed with sherpa blankets. We got a bed that would be big enough for a golden retriever service dog, but she didn’t know that, and loved having such a plush, huge bed that she could stretch out in. She always laid in different hilarious, relaxed ways that if I wanted I could easily show 100 different photos all in 100 different positions! For our first Christmas cards we also did an adorable pajama picture.

2019

2019 was such a fun year. She was very supportive after port surgery especially because without bi-weekly hospital admissions we were able to go back to having her for a full week each month, which we hadn’t been able to do for 6 months, we could only do a weekend or so. Maura took the photo so she isn’t in it, but Foxy only ever got along with one other dog and that was Toby, Maura’s dog. They would see each other 2-3 times whenever we had her. We also infinitely tease my parents because Foxy behaves better with us. Always has, and she was a hellion for my parents on the trip up to Maine for our family retreat. My parents asked if we would take her back because she was just terrible in the car and wouldn’t settle down the entire way. I’m not going to even pretend not to brag… within about a half an hour she was asleep and settled the whole way home. So let’s just leave the facts there (lol love you mom and dad!)

That summer was when we started seeing her start to decline. She couldn’t do stairs on her own so Jared figured out a unique way to carry her upstairs to bed. She would always stick her head out like that (even until the last day that we had her the day before she passed.) It was hilarious. Joanne made us a matching headband and bandana set that summer too. We did another Christmas card photo together again, she still loved her flannel pajamas, and LOVED laying down under the Christmas tree. She was going blind so we always made sure to never move her bed or dishes around so she would always know where they were, yet for Christmas she would deliberately lay right in front of the Christmas tree so we moved her bed so she could watch the lights and sleep under the tree. So precious.

2020

This is where it starts to hurt. At the beginning on 2020 she was put on some medication to help her with pain. She was still very happy and the vet wanted us to have her as long as we could without causing her any pain. This was really hard to watch because she was never a cuddly dog. Yet I had spent all 7 years praying to cuddle with her and this was such a precious time.

During the start of quarantine, my family blessed Jared and I with the ability to care for her for the last 38 days of her life. We were her hospice care. She required one of us to be with her all the time and there were more cuddles and kisses than I can count. So many that I would continually cuddle her and think to myself, “Lord help me treasure this. This is the greatest joy to cuddle her, love her, and be with her like this. Don’t let me miss a second of it.” Jared and I loved cuddling her, spoiling her, and loving on her. It was the greatest gift quarantine could have ever give us. We even did a small Easter egg hunt with her- because right up until her last day she could sniff out a white-chocolate Reese’s without fail.

Our Goodbye

On Tuesday night, Foxy was rapidly declining, so I called Maura and asked if in the morning she would be willing to get some photos of the three of us, we did not know that would be her last day. On Wednesday morning (April 29th) she had a seizure, and we immediately called my parents to figure out a plan. While awaiting their call we got these gorgeous photos that we will treasure forever. Not even 15 minutes after we got inside we got the call that they were going to pick her up and bring her to the vet the next day. We were heartbroken. In our final two hours, we cuddled individually and together with her and spoiled her one last time. We were a mess.

In her perfect stubborn way, she left us with perfect final memories. She and Jared always played a game where he would flip her on her back and he would say “put em up!” She would bring her paws up and fight him. As he was cuddling her, he turned her with no intention to say “put em up” and she knocked him right in the throat. It was very fitting that she got the last punch. For me, whenever we used to cuddle (aka basically before 2020 and hospice care) she would settle in a spot where I would be so uncomfortable but wouldn’t dare move or breathe wrong because she would leave. Our last cuddle was spent on the floor and I was so uncomfortable yet she was relaxed, asleep, and totally comfortable. Exactly how it always was. We emotionally gave her a final Reese’s and said our final goodbyes.

That night we missed her so much we facetimed her and she gave us one final “boop” (you can see below) and the next morning, after going to the garden to smell the tulips (her favorite flower,) she passed on. It was so special that she went out to the garden because early on when fostering her, we found that on walks she genuinely would stop to smell flowers. She always spent extra time with tulips, she would be so careful not to step on any of the flowers but just smell them. I had never seen a dog do that before. Knowing that she got to see the spring tulips one more time makes my heart so happy. Her passing was very peaceful and we all were broken but comforted in knowing we loved her so well.

Technically we rescued her, but she rescued me.

She will always leave paw prints on my heart.

We were blessed to have loved her from July 2, 2013- April 30, 2020.

Rest well love bug, you will always be my favorite girl.

4 thoughts on “She Left Paw Prints on my Heart

  1. simplywendi says:

    I am DEEPLY sorry to read that your beloved fur baby has passed to her next adventure. I know how important they are to us, especially those of us living with chronic illness…….they become soul mates. Sending you love and a gentle hug!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Isabel says:

    Such a sweet baby, I’m sorry for your loss ❤ Growing up I never had a pet, then three years ago a family member gifted us with a cat. It was then that I learned how much fuller our lives can be with an animal friend!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s