Grieving Death While Living Life

Remembering Our “Little One” Britney

Britney Jack RussellIt’s been just over a week since our little furry one made her way to Doggie Heaven, or the Rainbow Bridge, as many refer to it. It’s still very, very hard to believe she has gone and left us behind to remember her joyful life, celebrate the time and cherish the 13 years/3 days we had with our special one. It took me forever to even say the word cancer much less share the truth that my own little dog was battling it. For someone who lives their life openly on the web, I was for once quiet. It seemed if I didn’t say anything about it then it wasn’t true fact. I was in denial. My silence didn’t change one thing.

Our Family

We got Britney about 6 weeks into her glorious life from our dear friend Ellen in Yucca Valley. Jacques had Barney before we met and getting Britney together only strengthened our relationship and built our family strong. After a series of training sessions at Ellen’s, Britney along with her new older brother Barney was ready to go and be our great lifeline for years to come. Both Jack Russells. Both amazing! Britney was actually what is known as “show quality” meaning we could have shown her in competitive dog shows if we chose. We did not. Just knowing she was the Tea was good enough for me. My little showgirl. Yes ma’am!

Jack Russells

Each summer it was pool time for the kids where they’d splash, get splashed and take in every minute of sunshine they could with their daddies. If the blue neoprene float was in the water, it was on! The kids knew this and while Barney would wait with tail wagging at the edge of the steps, Britney would prance on in and place herself on the top step in the water and pose for a minute as she waited while cooling off. They could never get enough of the water!

Jack Russells

She always seemed to know that she would never miss out on something. Each summer we had this special time with the kids. They loved it and were able to get that winter weight off while burning through their daily energy. Each house we shared together with the dogs we made sure they knew which way the steps were so if someone fell in they knew which was to swim to safety. It happened and they did, thankfully!

Britney Jack Russell

We lucked out with our little ones because they loved each other from the beginning and never fought. Ah, there may have been a moment or two during the years when one would go in in someone else’s food or toy and then we may have a growl but it was when they were laying together and keeping warm in the winter chill that we loved most. Having two incredible dogs to share our lives with has been something we will never forget nor take for granted. Barney will be 15 next month, still active, playing and jumping on the couch. It’s mind-blowing to believe. He is our rock now. As he takes a relaxing sigh underneath my feet, I do as well. It’s hard to write these words.

Britney Jack Russell

Britney was always the vocal one. She’d chase the birds from the wire above while clearing any stray cats from strutting around our yard. If there were animals or cartoons on television she immediately tuned in and dismissed them with her bark. We kept the remote control nearby and that’s not a joke. As one can imagine it has become much quieter around here. There are some places and dog beds that Barney won’t bother. Those were her places. They loved each other so much! I often selfishly enjoyed watching them when they didn’t notice me watching. That was my pure pleasure. They have been our joy for so long that the process of loss has become from moment to moment.

Jack Russells

We feel what we feel and do whatever we feel like doing at any given time. If I want to lay in the floor and cuddle with Mister B then I do. If I walk by and want to hold one of her stuffed animals she loved or stand where she would perch in observation, I do. I stare out into the yard and wait for her to come around the corner. It’s weird and sad. Grief is processed and handled differently by each one of us. Even though Barney seems alright it’s hard to tell what he feels while we are at work and he is now here home alone. Even though he sleeps a lot during the day, they both would while we were out, I’m know that he misses her greatly. We all do. They shared so much together it would be unfathomable for him not to. It’s heartbreaking.

Jack Russells

But we must go on living even though we are dealing with dying. Again, it’s a moment to moment experience. Luckily I’m able to stop in every during work so he has someone around every so often. We three are making it work as well as we can. Barney now gets double love which he really enjoys and deserves. The journey has brought my husband and I to an even stronger level of connection since we had never experienced great loss together to this extreme before. We have no plans on having another dog anytime soon. We’ve discussed it and it’s not it our near future.

Britney Jack Russell

Her illness came on very sudden and we reacted how we saw fit given the time and place of where we were. Up until last summer all we had to deal with regarding the dogs’ health was very little. We lucked out in that aspect. We had both of them fixed at at early age because we knew we didn’t want to breed them. It calmed them both down considerably but afterwards she truly became Daddy’s Little Girl. I’m sure Jacques has similar stories. She mellowed immediately. I’ll never forget this hilarious moment into our first few years with Britney. We were watching television, I look over and she had mounted a pillow on the couch and was giving it hell! I told her, “Well, gal?! You’re a Top, now?” It was priceless. She looked at me as to say, “What?!”

Jack Russells

Britney had a few skin growths on her leg needing removal which called for her first round of wearing the plastic cone to prevent her from bothering it healing. That stirred everything up in her system, it seemed. The healing lasted two weeks or so. Then as soon as the cone came off she had a mass growth under her lip come out which had to be removed and sutured. Round two of the cone wearing begins. Our poor little girl. It makes me sad to relive these thoughts. The loss has been devastating to us. With this we became inventive for finding ways out of the house for her to go pee, etc. since she couldn’t get out the doggie door. It was a production!

Britney Jack Russell

During this we had ointments, meds and whatnot to use on her while she healed. Then that time passed. We removed the cone and sutures out. Within a week or two after that, her lymph node in her neck exploded. I say “exploded” but I mean it got rather big very sudden, and hard. We got her back into VCA Animal Hospital on Ramon where the doctor told us she would need to go see a specialist because it was out of their hands. We were crushed.

I’ll be completely honest in saying that a majority of the time we sat with her at the doctors, I was in a daze. With her in my lap, stepping outside myself I asked me, “Who are they taking about?! Not my dog!” It was undeniably some of the most tragic news we had heard to date. It took us forever to get into the Desert Veterinarian Specialists office in Palm Desert because of scheduling. Of course, I’ve given then abbreviated version of the story but I want to get the story out in honor of Britney and some of it is incredibly private we must keep it to ourselves. They, and everyone we dealt with at VCA, were amazing and compassionate. Everyone was doing what they could do for our little one.

The last week before she passed was damn rough. Her balance was blown as she seemed to either be lethargic falling asleep standing up or her equilibrium was wacky. Her appetite became non-existent as her desire for water decreased. She was acting incredibly strange doing things she normally wouldn’t do. It was breaking our hearts. She had begun a regimen of chemotherapy that wasn’t seeming to work as her spirit slowly simply diminished. So many details, so many tears. I just can’t.

Our Family

Blessedly she made the decision for us because we were having to sooner than we had expected. After two days of critical hospital visits and repair treatments, we got her back home where she belonged and that where we shared our final moments with her. During the night after we all went to bed, Britney went in peace.

Incredible appreciation and thanks for the wonderful care and treatment from our Medical Resources: VCA Animal Hospital, Dr. Dieringer, Dr. Koons, Dr. Turek and Staff; Desert Veterinarian Specialists, Dr. Macy and Staff. And of course to those who have reached out during this time. Britney was greatly loved, incredibly privileged and worshiped by anyone who met her. We celebrate her here today and forever.

Britney Jack Russell

Our “Little One” Britney

03/16/01 – 03/19/14

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