Monday, August 20, 2012

Long Walks in Heaven

A few weeks ago, my beloved dog, Stormi, passed away. He was a black Labrador retriever, 12 years old when he died. 

We got him as a puppy shortly after the passing of both my mother and the dog we had.  I always thought that my mother would have loved him as she had a special place in her hearts for black labs after she became very attached to our black lab, Echo, we had growing up. I’m sure she was looking down and enjoying watching us and I’m sure that she, Echo and Stormi have found each other in heaven and also my father who loved him, waiting for the day we will all be together again.

Stormi was kind and loving.  He didn’t know how big he was, thinking he was a small lap dog, my LAPrador I’d call him. He’d love to climb into your lap, sometimes it was only the front end that made it. He was a people person and was always nearby, usually sitting somewhere in the way, like the middle of the kitchen floor or in the hallway or outside the bathroom, waiting to trip you up.  He’d whine if you were outside and he was in.  He loved to give you big, slobbery kisses and hugs and sometimes would nibble your nose.  I don’t know why, but he loved to nibble noses.

Stormi loved our other animals, and he pretty much let them walk all over him.  When he had a treat and the other dog stole it, he never tried to get it back.  I don’t think he ever growled at anyone or anything in his life.  He loved playing with the grey cat, Smoki, especially when they were both young.  Stormi would chase Smoki around the house.  We always knew when Stormi caught Smoki because his hair was slobbered up in a funky mohawk from Stormi's kisses. In later years the chasing stopped and they became good friends. 

Stormi loved to play and go on walks, the latter became a routine after he tore his cruciate ligament in his knee several years ago and had to have surgery and 2 plates put in his leg.  We first had to walk him with a sling to prevent pressure on the leg so that it would heal.  Once he was allowed to put pressure on it he wasn’t allowed to run.  We couldn’t let him go in the back yard without a leash on because he loved to run.  He and the dog next door, Max, would run back and forth along the fence separating the yards.  So we leashed him.  Then we were given instructions to walk him and keep on increasing the distance.  This is when we started taking him on daily walks, it became a routine and something he loved to do, so much so that he went for a walk his last morning on earth even though he really wasn’t up for it.

Stormi is gone, but not his hair, he shed so much that we will forever be finding it. We used to be constantly sweeping it up.  Sometimes after sweeping we’d have a whole other dog made of hair.  This was even with furmanating him. There’s a brush called the furmanator, it works well, but Stormi had so much hair.

Shortly before he passed, Stormi had been slowing down, his vision failed, he was bumping into things, he was still his loving self, but we knew his time was short.  We prepared our kids, who are grown, for the inevitable. 

I had to go on a week-long trip for work, I hated leaving him, and I hoped he was still with us when I returned.  The day I was to return home I got a call that Stormi had lost much of his energy, but he was still doing ok.  By the time I returned home, though, he was barely moving but enthusiastically wagged his tail when he saw me.  We immediately took him to the emergency vet.  By this time he wasn’t moving at all.  The vet suspected he had lymphoma, a type of cancer, because his all his lymph nodes were swollen as were his eyes. I don’t believe he would have survived much longer and attempting any treatment would have been cruel.  We did the kindest thing we could and we put him to sleep.  I stayed with him petting him and talking to him as he passed. 

As we have done with all our departed pets, we had him cremated.  A little side note, my father had wanted to be cremated and when he passed we complied with his wishes.  We were deciding on what type of container.  We didn’t want an urn or box that screamed “dead person here” so we opted for a plain wooden box.

There is a wonderful pet crematory that all the vets in the area use and we have used before.  What I didn’t know is that they had improved the service they provided.  Their service was excellent.  Our pets had Included was been returned to us in a lovely, heavy duty cardboard box, with a card, very nice.  I was absolutely shocked at what was returned to us, shocked in a good way.  Stormi was returned to us in a beautifully finished cedar box with a name plaque.  They also sent a mold of his paw print, a card and wild flower seeds to plant in his memory.  Never before had I seen anything like this.  It was wonderful. The only problem is now Stormi is in a better box than my father! I think dad’s ok with that though, he loved Stormi.

There is an empty place in our house, but Stormi will always have a special place in our hearts.  We miss him now, but we’ll see him, and all our loved ones, again.  Until then, Stormi and my mom and dad are taking long walks in heaven.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Curosity Lands on Mars, America Celebrates It Together, With the World, Via Twitter

Watching the Curiosity Rover land last night, via Curiosity Cam on Ustream, reminded me of when I watched the United States moon landing.  This time, however, I was able to celebrate it with people around America and the world via twitter.

What is Curiosity? Here 'Actor William Shatner narrates this thrilling video about NASA's Curiosity rover, from its entry and descent through the Martian atmosphere to its landing and exploration of the Red Planet in NASA's hardest planetary science mission to date.'

NASA Employs Curiosity by Paul-Gregory Matuszak, @pavelgregory on twitter, explains the Curiosity mission
full article here.
At 1:32 am ET, Curiosity landed in the Gale crater on Mars, just as planned. A few minutes later Curiosity began sending pictures:

The world watched and shared it together via twitter:

My favorite:

 Yes, I was excited:

Later this week Curiosity's Mastcam will be active and bigger, better, color pictures will be sent.  You can follow @MarsCuriosity on twitter and via Ustream Curiosity Cam updates.