A Farewell to Chip – and an Ode to squeaky toys, Victoria’s Secret panties, and mailmen

Tonight I said goodbye to my 13 pound sidekick, Chip.

549030_3858533946216_68071865_nI adopted Chip from a Minnesota rescue in 2008 when I lived there, when he was 5 or 6 years old (nobody really knows).  He was my first dog…and for that alone he will always have a super special place in my heart. We’ve had a good run throughout the years. He’s tested my patience but has brought me tremendous joy. His family had given up on him, and he moved from foster family to foster family (I think he was in 5 or 6 different homes by the time I adopted him). Chip was a mini me on 4 legs: Loud, energetic, independent, bossy, and…unique. And, a snuggler when nobody was looking. :)

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Chip in 2008 when I adopted him.

The downside to being a pet owner is that our pets’ lives are not long enough. Chip began having health  problems last winter.  I thought I was going to lose him more than once. He proved to be resilient, and I’ve tried to accommodate him to the best of my abilities. When he was diagnosed with kidney disease earlier this year, many people reassured me that pets can live many years even with this. So I decided I’d just spoil the heck out of him for the remainder of his life, no matter how long that might be.

IMG_0943In the past 5 or 6 weeks and even more so in the past few days, his health had really taken a turn for the worse.  His breathing became labored and he panted often. He was unable to walk, or if he did he often fell down. He was disoriented and had severe incontinence where he’d have accidents as often as every hour. I was waking up every 2-3 hours with him as he needed to go outside, and earlier today when I left for 2 hours he had soiled his kennel and was laying sprawled out in his mess, unable to get up and move around it. So many times the term “quality of life” have resonated in my mind – not only Chip’s, but mine too.

This morning I got to bed at 6AM because he kept me up. I slept with my light on because he has cataracts, and I didn’t want him bumping into his water bowl or worse – falling face forward into it, while I was sleeping.  He’d hover over his water bowl for as long as 30 minutes, and by today was refusing even canned food, when in the past he loved all food. And as I continued to make my decision to have him humanely put down, he vomited – which might have been one more sign to me that it was time to put Chip out of his misery.

I researched a lot about pet euthanasia and tried to educate myself about the subject. More importantly, I tried to find articles that would tell me what the signs were that it was okay to humanely end his life. The answer is that there is no right answer. Maybe your pet will let you know and maybe he won’t.  All I know is that after many, many tears over the past year and a half, and not sleeping for the past 5-6 weeks because of his incontinence (and trust me I tried it all – puppy pads, diapers, getting up with him), I had to think not only about Chip’s quality of life but also mine.  My once spunky dog who peed on my leg out of spite because I was ignoring him, didn’t even know who I was anymore because he was so disoriented. He was going through the motions, whereas before he loved to destroy squeaky toys within minutes, dance on his hind legs for treats, and snarl at mailmen.

After watching Chip suffer and deteriorate these past few days, I made an appointment with my vet to have him checked out. But in my mind, I knew what I was going to do. I snuggled with him for a good hour – just him and me, him laying on my chest, before I took him to his appointment. It was just weird as I drove there how peaceful everything felt. Chip, despite his labored breathing, was calm in my lap. The sky was a beautiful mixture of blues and purples, and through my tears, I felt a sense of peace inside. I was making the right decision.

20140414_193257My vet examined him and confirmed that Chip had fluid in his lungs again. She offered options to get the fluid out, but at that moment I knew I had to have the tough talk with her. I had never spoken of euthanasia with her before, and prior to entering the clinic was afraid she’d think it was a hasty decision if I decided to go through with it…when in actuality euthanasia had been on my mind many, many times and I had read a lot of articles on it. Sure I could put him on meds to get the fluid out, but what would happen in 3 weeks if they filled up again (which was the case before)? He might be 11, 12 or even 13 years old, and at what point does a pet owner say enough is enough?

I have to thank my vet clinic – Broderick Animal Clinic – for their kindness and compassion. My vet said that Chip could have been experiencing a slew of problems and we could treat his issues based on symptoms, but without further testing it would be tough. Some people have asked before, “What monetary amount is the point where you say is enough for a pet?” For me personally, it’s not a set amount of money but the combination of finances, timing in life, his age, his quality of life, and my quality of life. I couldn’t justify a $1,500 MRI to diagnose problems for a 11 or 12 year old dog with kidney disease…because that could be just the start of many trips and many bills.This was my third trip to the vet in 5 weeks.

My vet supported my decision to humanely end his life. I opted to stay in the room. I petted his head while the vet and technician kindly put Chip out of his suffering. She let me know that I was being selfless in my action.

Animal lovers and pet owners can relate; non-animal lovers would never understand my feelings or why I’d be so affected or blog about my dog. I’ll never understand some people’s sentiments towards certain hobbies, or things, but I respect that they are important to them.

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IMG_7461 Chip modeling an awful girly sweater I knitted while holed up in the frigid Minnesota weather.

8V1A0617 My little shadow. Everywhere I went, Chip went – until his legs couldn’t keep up.

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IMG_7525 copy with texture webMay you experience a forever of mailmen and delivery guys to growl at, squeaky toys to destroy within minutes, and the biggest, baddest closet full of Victoria’s Secret panties to sneak into and destroy. In fact, the more expensive, the better, Chip-a-rooni.

I love you to the moon and back, Chip. You’ve taught me a lot.  You showed your shy, sometimes scared brother Woody the ropes to become a confident dog. First it was you and me buddy…then the 3 of us…and now just Woody and me. We miss you already so much; the void in my life and heart will never be able to be fully described.

I hope you breathe and walk easily now without pain. You are the reason I’ve volunteered hundreds of hours for animal rescue. And in leaving this earth you have made room for another animal to be saved…when the time is right.

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Alex + Alex | Iowa Wedding

These lovebirds have been dating since they were in junior high. Talk about a testament of true love, even from a young age!

Simply stated – Alex and Alexandra are awesome. They are both go-getters in their careers but have such laid-back and extremely pleasant personalities. I really enjoyed getting to know this couple and their families, and I thank you for allowing me to be a part of their day.

Their big day was a sweltering one…I believe it was 98 degrees outside! These two (and their awesome wedding party and families) were true sports and never complained.

I wish you two all the joy and happiness in the world!

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Megann + Paul | Iowa Wedding

I’m seriously going to sound like a broken record every time I blog about the awesome couples I’ve photographed…but my clients are THE BEST! I am so lucky to have the most awesome clients. Ever.

Megann and Paul. Ahhh they are just so great. The first thing you notice is her big, beautiful smile…and she seems to always be smiling. Then you notice her big, beautiful eyes…she’s gorgeous and has the sweet personality to go with!

And Paul is a very intelligent, level headed guy who smiles easily and goes with the flow. These two just work and the love they have for each other is sooo apparent. Which makes ME one lucky photographer. :)

It was a beautiful wedding day, with a super fun wedding party. Thank you again for allowing me to share your big day with you. I wish you two so much happiness in the world.

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Angela + Marcus |Engagement

Marcus and Angela are getting married…next week…in Florida!

I’ve known these two for a long time, and I am excited for them and their future together. Marcus is a very ambitious and savvy businessman, and Angela is his sweet-but-sassy sidekick who balances him out. They suit each other well, and I wish them the happiest wedding day and happily thereafter.

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Heather + Armando – Destination Wedding (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico)

I’ve been lucky to have Armando as a friend for many years. I used to force him to go on coffee breaks (that’s what I tell people anyways) when we worked at Wells Fargo together years ago. And throughout the years he’s proven to be one of the nicest, most sincere, and generous guys ever. I’ve also happened to fall in love with his entire family – they are all pretty darn good people. When Armando moved to Chicago, many of us were pretty bummed (but happy for him of course).

Sometimes I wondered when Mando would meet his perfect match because he is such an amazing person. So when I heard about this Heather girl, I liked what I heard! I adore her, and couldn’t be happier that he has met someone who compliments him well! Heather is a teeny, tiny, beautiful woman who also happens to be one of the most sincere women I’ve ever met in my life. I honestly don’t think she has a mean bone in her body. And when I met Heather’s family, I quickly figured out where she gets it from.

I’ve always said that Heather and Armando are a power couple – good looking, intelligent, successful, kind, and two of the most considerate people ever.

Many of us waited patiently for him to propose (um like years, lol) and when it finally happened, we were all stoked. And when I was asked to photograph their destination wedding in Mexico, I practically jumped in the air. Wooo hoo!!! Gee I guess I’ll photograph a wedding in Puerto Vallarta. :)

It was such a beautiful weekend. So many of their fun friends and family made the trip from all over the world to witness this awesome couple’s big day. I wish Heather and Mando a lifetime of happiness…and I can’t wait for the day when they make the cutest babies ever.  :)

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Kirstie + Anthony | Iowa wedding

Kirstie and Anthony are two of the sweetest people ever, and I was so happy to be able to capture their big day. What a good looking couple that works well together!

One thing I love about Kirstie: she is uber organized! Anthony is just a laid back, lovable guy and I am so excited for these two’s future together.

On their big day we got lucky by getting great weather…and then it started snowing during their reception! We took full advantage of it and went outside for a few photos in the snow…what a beautiful day to remember!

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Ashley + Todd |Engagement

I met Todd in college…and what can I say, who doesn’t love this guy! He’s so easy going, and Ashley is his perfect complement with her laid-back and sweet nature.

They’re having a destination wedding, but I got to be their engagement photographer and get to also be at their reception in Iowa this summer.

Congrats you two! :)

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Jenny + Mikey Engagement

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jenny for many years, as we met in college! She is super fun, spunky, and keeps it real. When she contacted me about photographing hers and John’s wedding in Minneapolis, I was stoked! They really are the perfect pair – they are both adventurous and laugh easily…especially around each other.

Wedding blog to follow, but first here are some of my favorites from their engagement session in Minneapolis. :)

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8V1A4932 These two are seriously the biggest goofs and I love them for it.

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Pets are Forever

I adopted my dog Chip  from a rescue group 5 1/2 years ago. He was recently diagnosed with kidney disease. Although this is fairly common in older animals, it was, and still is, tough for me to absorb. He may be around for months or maybe even years (no one will know), but I was told that his kidneys will fail at some point.  :( I’ve had several ups and downs with this little guy in the past year, thinking on two occasions that I was going to lose him. As cliché as it sounds, it truly is remarkable how resilient animals can be.

Under the advice of my veterinarian, I’ve switched him to a prescription diet, and I will need to keep a close eye on him. He is pretty happy, but he does need to urinate more often. This means I am woken up every 2-3 hours to let him outside.

This morning was no exception. For some reason today I couldn’t fall back asleep when woken up at 4 AM, so I decided to grab my camera and document some of “my life.” Chip is my boy, and I want to remember the good and the bad. No matter how much time I have left with him, I’m going to document it. Whether it’s a child or pet, I believe that everyone needs to keep snapping photos (even on a phone) to cherish those memories.

I am a firm believer that animals are forever pets. Although situations arise that require the rehoming of a pet (and ultimately may be best), I believe that many of the reasons people give up animals are not legitimate reasons. I’ve sacrificed a lot to keep Chip. I’ve worked with him through his many issues. This doesn’t warrant a huge pat on the back, but helps me make my point that it is my duty. I made the decision to bring him into my life and I am responsible for him.

And in return, Chip has taught me patience, brought me tremendous joy, and been the inspiration for me to volunteer hundreds of hours to help other animals find homes.

I love you to the moon and back (and I love my other dog Woody too but he knows that).

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8V1A0492 Once a very spunky and feisty dog who resisted whenever I picked him up, Chip now allows me to hold him a little and give him kisses. :)

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8V1A0484Can’t forget about my other dog, Woody, who is a big snuggler. He came into my home as a very shy and scared dog. Initially, when my hand came anywhere near Woody, he would cower even if I was 5 feet away from him. Chip has showed him the ropes and helped him become the confident little guy he is now. These days, my hand stretched out towards Woody results in an automatic roll over for a belly rub.

The funniest sight is when I take these two on walks. Chip lifts his leg on something, and Woody patiently waits behind him (single file line) until he is done before marking the same tree or object.

8V1A0583 Chip has had cataracts for a couple of years now; so when it is dark out I help guide him as he has pretty cloudy vision.  :)

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8V1A0563 Animals with kidney disease are always thirsty, so I make sure to have plenty of fresh water around the house.

8V1A0471 Good morning from Woodrow! Burrowing under warm blankets makes for a tough life.

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8V1A0617Chip has always been my little shadow, following me wherever I go.

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8V1A0565“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”  — Roger Caras

Jenna + Logan | Glen Oaks Wedding

I’m really late in posting this, but better late than never, right? :)

Ahhh – Jenna and Logan. What can I say. What an incredible couple. I truly could gush on and on and about how spectacular they are, as well as how amazing and warm and welcoming their families are…but I’ll spare everyone except to say that I’m honored and proud to have been chosen to  capture their big day and I am incredibly happy to have met them.

I wish you a LIFETIME of happiness as you both deserve it. Cheers to 2 beautiful people, inside and out! JENNA1

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IMGL4947The family was incredibly thoughtful and gifted these Betsey Johnson earrings to me. Of course I loved them!

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