August 1, 2012

Meet Norman. (and an ode to sweet Nicky)

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I guess now is as good a time as any to talk a little more about Nicky. The name “Nicky” might not even really ring a bell with you if you haven’t been reading long, or maybe even if you have, but he was our family dachshund who died the same day Edd did, a little over four months ago. I’ve never been able or willing to talk about it because A) I didn’t want talk of Nicky’s passing on to eclipse the news about Edd or seem somehow as important, and B) because it’s just too damn depressing. But today, I think I’m ready to say a little more about Nicky, because I have really happy things to report, too—like the addition of Norman into our lives. :)

I didn’t elaborate about Nicky much in this post, the day after Edd passed. I just said that he went on to be with Edd on the same day. But the truth of the matter is that we chose, in our grief-induced partial numbness and stupor, to go to the vet just hours after Edd died and put Nicky to sleep. I’m still not really sure whether or not it was the right decision, but it was the decision that we made.

Nicky was very, very old and very sick. He was almost completely deaf, had a terrible skin disease of some sort, had lost his continence at the end there (i.e. he was peeing inside constantly, in his bed, etc) and was losing weight despite eating plenty. He was on his way out, and we knew for months that the merciful thing would be to put him to sleep. However, with Edd’s condition being what it was at the end, my mom, understandably, didn’t want to confuse him or sadden him further by putting the dog down. Those two were inseparable. A man and his dog. There really is no sweeter bond. We learned later that Nicky probably had cancer too—a big sign of it is when a dog is eating lots but still losing weight (or so said our vet).

So on that Tuesday, March 27th, when Edd took his last breaths here on this earth, we cried. Sobbed. Held each other. Kissed his face and hands. Said goodbye. Felt surreal. But I think the pain of that day was just the beginning. I think your body has some sort of built-in numbness mechanism, to protect you from feeling everything all at once. It’s in the days and weeks and months that follow when that mechanism lets up, little by little, and you feel the real, lasting sadness that losing someone brings.

My point is, as crazy as it may sound to even think of putting your dog to sleep the same day your spouse/father/friend dies, it just seemed like the right choice at the time. My mom had been suffering a different kind of disease for months and months, the kind the caretaker has to suffer. And she desperately, desperately needed a break. She needed to take care of herself instead of everyone and everything else. People would be coming in and out of the house constantly in the days that followed, and cleaning up the constant messes of an old, sick dog were just an added and unnecessary stress. So I, personally, was all for putting Nicky down. My first dog. The dog I wanted so badly at age 11, that I searched the newspaper ads for daily, to find the perfect one at the perfect price. Nicky—the faithful friend. The part of our family, for 15 years!

Later that afternoon we took him in. I drove separately from my mom and sister, because I had to get home to my own dogs afterwards. It had been a long day. We got to the vet’s office, and I held Nicky, in his little sweater. He trembled and shivered most of the time, but he stilled for a while there as I held him. Warm. Safe. Happy. That was the thing—he was still so happy! You would hardly know that he was suffering. Dogs are amazing like that. The vet came in and explained the process to us. She gave us a little more time. And what we were doing started to really sink in with me. I started to panic. The vet came back, and the process began. It was quicker than you could imagine. One moment lying there—trusting us—breathing. And the next moment, not.

That’s about when I lost it. I suddenly became convinced in my own mind that we had done the wrong thing—snuffing out this life, that we loved, seemed so wrong, and of course so irreversible. I practically ran out of the office, leaving my mom and sister there with little lifeless Nicky, and I cried—no—screamed, the whole way home, and for what seemed like hours in my bed after that. Edd, and now Nicky. I think the numbness lifted for a while there, that evening. I felt it all. No words can describe it.

In the months that followed, I’ve come to terms with what we did, and I even think it was probably the right thing, if there is a right thing in situations such as these. Sometimes maybe it’s better to rip the band aid off all at once, you know? I am now able to look back on the wonderful life that little dog had. He was one lucky pup, and we gave him the best life a dog could have. I’m convinced that he and Edd are together now, wherever good souls go.

And so that brings us to Norman.

Norman is my mom’s new weenie/basset hound rescue, and he is completely amazing. First reason being that his name is Norman. I mean, hi, that’s the best name ever? The rest of the reasons include that he is incredibly sweet, terribly silly, has concerningly out-turned but still very cute front paws, and is the best little companion anyone could ask for. Just what my mom needs, I think.

Norman absolutely loves LOVE. He melts when you touch him. Turns into jello when you hold him. And he also barks and howls like a hound dog—it’s the funniest thing, coming from a dog that looks mostly like a dachshund except for the extra long ears, fluffier-than-normal tail, and funny, out-turned feet. Bottom line: he’s AWESOME. Such a new little bright spot in our lives.

Everything living in this life has to die. That is the circle of it. Edd and Nicky’s time here came to a close, and we will always, always miss them. But I am happy for little Normans, who are just beginning. I have a feeling he will be a star.

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In loving memory of Nicky…

Nicky

68 comments:

  1. It sounds like you did the right thing, it's always painful putting a pet to sleep but when they're suffering it's almost more cruel to keep them going. The quality of life just isn't there in the end, but I'm sure he knew how much you loved him :)

    On a happier note, Norman is ADORABLE! x

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  2. I've been anticipating this post! I couldn't wait to hear about little Norm-man!! He's adorable! I'm glad that you opened up and shared about both Edd and Nicky today though. And I think you should know that I think your Mom looks fantastic!!

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  3. Oh, I'm crying now. We will have to put our dog down soon, and I can't even imagine what it will feel like. I'm terrified already. I've always heard the best way to heal your broken heart over a lost dog is to get a new one! Norman is adorable and will bring so much joy to your mom for sure!

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  4. OH tears! So sad and so sweet all at the same time.

    I think Norman is fabulous - he's very Normanish. I mean he just looks like a Norman! I love that dog and I haven't even met him.

    I have to ask....have you been smelling his feet? (o;

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  5. first i cried, then i smiled.
    hearing about nicky brought back memories of having to put my bulldog to sleep. i truly understand what you went through. and still go through.
    but then i smiled, because as a mommy to 2 bassets, yes, norman has those basset legs and i love them!

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  6. Here come the tears! I can't even imagine how you felt that day... Excuse me while I go hug my dog for hours <3

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  7. oh gosh, you've had a rough couple of months. I can't imagine losing a pet..and making that choice..but I know the day will come. (Why do they have such short lifespans???)

    I hope Norman is able to bring your mom some needed joy!

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  8. Norman is so handsome - and such a Norman!

    Losing a pet, in even the best of situations, is difficult. But, I think you are right - Nicky is up there with Edd having a grand old time!

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  9. aww such a touching post, jenni. i'm sure norman will bring a new kind of joy into your lives, most especially your mom's. it makes my heart smile to see your mom smiling <3 :-)

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  10. Tears! Norman is precious, and that is a great name. Dogs are such sweet, sweet friends.

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  11. Ugh... I almost starting crying reading your post... I can't imagine what will happen to us if we ever have to put one of our kitties down. It's probably a little easier to let them die naturally than it is to make the choice of putting them down. However, when there is no quality of life left... =( Sometimes we have to make a decision.

    The new puppy Norman is super cute. Our boy kitty is named Norman. He's a crank cat so the name seems to suit him well as I always felt it was an old cranky man name. LOL. The other kitty is Contessa. =)

    xoxo

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  12. Oh man...crying! Such a beautifully written post but so sad. I'm glad that your mom has such a sweet little new pup to love on and to love her back :)

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  13. I think the right decision was made. It is horrible to watch an animal suffer and they can't tell you. But it still hurts. It will always hurt. They become our family. This whole post is making my eyes water.

    But I am so happy that your mother now has beautiful Norman. He looks like an amazing dog. And seriously if he loves Love, he sounds like the smartest dog to me!

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  14. this is so lovely. we put our yellow lab, Snickers, down in Sept 08 - he was 13 years old and was terribly sick at the end. we just rescued Charlie, a black lab puppy, a few weeks ago, and while I already can't remember life without Charlie I also thank Snickers every day for teaching us how to love unconditionally. I think they would have been friends, if they could have been.

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  15. I can't even tell you how much I'm crying right now as I write this. My heart...oh goodness. You know my soft spot for for weenies (as I have one of the cutest in the world :)) and this story is so heartbreaking and heart-filling all in the same sweet breath. I don't know how I'd ever be able to do what you did, but I'm POSITIVE it was the right thing. An animal suffering in any capacity, especially after a long and happy life, is reason enough to let them go. I hope you don't feel any guilt or regret for what you did that day. I'm sure that Nicky was ready...and now he and Edd are in a much happier place, without pain or suffering. That photo of Nicky at the end...did me in. You really know how to compose an amazing post and bring a dog-lover to tears!

    And can I just tell you how ADORABLE Norman is?! Be still my heart! I want to grab him through this computer screen and just squeeze his face! Also makes me miss my Tucker-dog. Weenies are the greatest companions! Your mom is definitely in wonderful, loving company!

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  16. Such a touching post I remember reading about that day that last pic of Nicky i melt!!! Soo beautiful and sweet!! Edd & Nicky God Bless them. They are in heaven watching over all of you. Norman id a cutie pie and i know your mom is soo happy for her new little buddy xo

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  17. Thank you for sharing about this Jen. I have experienced the same self-doubt when I have had the courage and love to choose to lose my best friend so that I could set them free from the body that trapped their spirit in its limitations.

    The dogs that I have loved that lost their ability to "hold it" suffered humiliation when this occurred. Poor Nook could not look at us. He was a noble dog and he seemed so ashamed. It was the same with Caleigh. They so want to honor the code of the pack and it is merciful for us to let them go when they suffer.

    In fact, it is an heroic act to those who love their pets as we do. Enjoy Norman! Our dogs are God's wonderful gifts to us all. (Maisy is snoring under my desk at work as I type this). Thanks again for sharing, Jen. Love you.

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  18. Why yes, I DID cry through this whole post. I had a dog - a Dachsund! - stolen and while that's totally a different thing altogether - the pain was still excruciationg.

    I love your writing, Jenni. Your feelings are conveyed so well. Thank you for sharing the sweet pictures of lil Norman - I love him already! :)

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  19. it's always so hard to make that choice, but i think you made the right one to end Nicky's suffering.

    and could Norman be any cuter?? he is so adorable! and your mom is one pretty lady!

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  20. Norman is a cute little fella :) Glad he is bringing your family so much happiness!

    Rest in peace, Nicky. You were lucky to have been part of such a loving family!

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  21. I feel like crying :( You absolutely did the right thing by putting Nicky to sleep and you were so brave to be able to go through it. It was also one of the best ideas to adopt anoter puppy, he will cheer you up, but still, you'll never forget Nicky.
    ps: If Norman wants to spend some time in Paris, France, I'd be moooore than excited :)

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  22. sobbing at my desk at work.
    this was so beautiful jenni...you absolutely did the right thing. it was so hard to put down my first dog, but you can just tell. they've had enough. they love you enough to bear what is ailing them until you love them enough to let them go in peace.

    dogs are here on earth to teach people how to love.

    and it sounds like nicky gave you all some great lessons :)

    much love to you and gracie and cooper and baby norman!

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  23. also, i just had to share with some my fellow dog lovers, your writing is just beautiful.

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  24. you guys absolutely made the right decision concerning Nicky - obviously it was painful and sad and soul-crushing, but hopefully now that it's four months later you can look back and see that it was a good choice. I'm sure Nicky was miserable by the end - to keep him arrested in that state of misery and deterioration for much longer would have been mean to the poor dog. plus, there's something poetic and sweet about the fact that Edd and his dog both passed on the same day. they went to find their new happiness together.

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  25. Such a strong, honest, touching and wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your emotional process with us!

    And Norman in wonderful!! I am sure he is so grateful to have been rescued by such giving people. :)

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  26. My God, I cried when you wrote about putting Nicky down. I went through this relatively recently, and that's the thing! My dog was just so damn happy, too! That's what made it the most heartbreaking.

    That said, I think there's something sadly sweet about Edd and Nicky dying the same day. Inseparable in life and in death.

    I hope Norman lives a long happy life! :)

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  27. I absolutely love and feel you in this post. I honestly felt connected with Nicky as you spoke of him. I did shed a few tears, but i cannot help but to smile and gleam when looking at photos of Norman. My mother has a mini-dachshund and I cannot get enough of him when I am home. They bring so much joy and love to any family. Beautiful blog post.

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  28. This is such a beautifully written post Jenni. I am always astounded at how well you express yourself in your writing.

    We had to make a similar choice with our family pup not too long ago. Not at all in the situation your family had to make it in, but it was tough. You have to just believe they're better off. And definitely where "good souls go". I think Nicky would appreciate getting to rest with Edd. And the same goes for Edd.

    I hope Norman can bring some peace to you and your family. I know you've been through so much. He seems like the perfect little guy to bring you all smiles and laughter!

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  29. This is a very brave post and I thank you for sharing your story with us! I'm sure Norman will bring much happiness to your family as Nicky did!

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  30. annnd im crying. I am such a dog fanatic (like you) and so i felt every word here. and Norman..omg could that name be ANY more perfect for him!?! honestly i just wanted to nuzzle his funny little face. I am obsessed with him.

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  31. You've got to do what you've got to do. If it was right for you and your family at the time (especially your mom), then it was definitely a good choice. Edd didn't have to lose Nicky before he died and he didn't have to be in Heaven too long before Nicky joined him there.

    Norman is so cute!

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  32. I had to take our dog to be put down (by myself) when I was 17. It was such a hard thing to do, her lying on the table trusting..just like you said. :(

    And I used to work in an animal hospital years ago and would see how hard it was for families who do the right thing when the dog is beyond sick. Its hard but keep knowing it was for the best, for all involved.

    Norman is adorable with those floppy ears!
    Emily at Amazing Grapes

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  33. Aw. I couldn't even get to the point after you were holding her and she was trusting you before I burst into tears.

    It's an extremely sad thing to do. My puppy (she's 17 now) is getting ill. It seems just like Nicky was ill. She is losing weight and peeing and even pooping every where. It's extremely sad because she is still so incredibly happy.

    The vets say there's nothing wrong with her except she has a spinal issue.. which keeps her from walking... which keeps her from using those muscles (why she's losing weight). She can't even walk really well anymore.

    It's super sad. I know we'll have to put her down soon, but I know I'm not strong enough to do that. I'll have to wait at home.

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  34. I'm right there with everyone else that commented about crying. I sure did, too. We had to put down our family dog a few years ago & it was so hard. But there comes to a point where you have to do what's best for your pet & our was suffering from so many different illnesses, it almost wasn't fair to keep her alive when she was in so much pain.

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  35. when we put our family dog down, it was by far the hardest decision we ever had to make. he was 15 and really sick and even if he recovered his quality of life would never be the same. its so hard to do but knowing he went to heaven with your step dad hopefully gave you a little comfort.

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  36. jenni, you always seem to tug at my heart strings. i nearly cried reading this. i know how you feel (well, almost).. i was with my dad when we had to put our Brady boy, a schnauzer, down after 12 years with us (maybe longer...?).. i remember getting to the vet, looking at brady who was smiling, and my dad who was crying- he just couldn't do it, even though he knew we had to. and brady smiling? man... my dad felt so guilty. SO GUILTY. but i knew we had to do it- brady was not walking, didn't like to be touched, only responded to my dad, etc. So the nurse came in, we handed brady to her, and we just left- because neither one of us is good with seeing death (we have just seen too much of it, really)... ugh, and now i'm crying....

    sorry to blow up your comment like that, i just can understand the feeling.. but i cant even imagine doing this after edd's passing.

    and your mom? i don't know much about her, but i love her. i can see where you get your strength, poise, and loving nature from. next time you see her, give her a hug for me.. just because (:

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  37. My icy heart just sobbed its way through this. I think your family absolutely made the right choice. Why is it that so often the most difficult choices align with what's best?

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  38. I think Norman is adorable! And dogs make the best companions. I'm sure he will do wonders for your mom. Then fill those little holes that even humans can't seem to crawl into. I think sense dogs can't talk, God made them capable of reading souls.

    We put our 18 year old dog Holly down when I was 19. She was only 3 months younger than me and we had her from a pup. I grew up with her and she was the best friend a girl could have! There are just such precious, precious little things.

    Congrats on Norman!

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  39. This broke my heart, Jenni. Nicky... what a handsome little man he was. And I think you're right. Our bodies definitely do something to protect us in a way, because it isn't until the weeks and months afterwards that you start to fully comprehend what is going on...

    NORMAN!!! OH EM GEE. I seriously want to hold him. He looks incredible!! I want! (BTW my dad's name is Norman. He's probably one of the sweetest men you'd ever meet. Gentle, calm, and so full of love. It definitely fits that kind of being, I think. We're going to go see ParaNorman together when it comes out!)

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  40. i remember putting our first cat down and it was awful, i just wanted here to be there always.

    and i love the name norman and his ears, and his little outurned feet. basically i think he is the cutest thing ever.

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  41. You gave Nicky the greatest gift. He will be forever grateful that you put an end to his suffering. I put my 15 year old Golden down two years ago and it still hurts thinking about it but I know it was the right decision. It's a bittersweet thing to put a dog to sleep but it's amazing that we can offer that for them. Don't want to start any debates but I wish we had that option for us!

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  42. This post just brought me to tears! Due to both sadness and happiness!

    When I was about 13 we had to put down our beloved rottweiler, Sal. She had rocky mountain fever and was just miserable and in so much pain, you could see it in her eyes. Today I know it was the right thing we did, but it took a long time to realize that (especially as a teenager). I'm thankful that 99% of the memories I have of Sal are happy ones.

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  43. It sounds like you did the right thing. My in-laws had a dachshund that was in congestive heart failure and we ended up putting him down. He loved to chase balls and run around with the younger dogs and he just couldn't do that anymore. The vet told us he could probably live another month or so, but we just knew it wasn't right.

    Edd and Nicky are in a better place together now.

    Welcome Norman, I'm so glad he's fitting in so well with your family.

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  44. hahahah norman looks awesome! he and Ernie would be good friends

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  45. And now, like everyone else, I am crying at my desk!

    I had a dachshund growing up and we had to eventually put her down for some back/hip issues. It was the worst. I love the idea that Edd and Nicki are hanging out together, I am sure they are having the best time.

    Now that we have a basset, I can assure you that your mom (and you) have the best of both worlds (well besides your babies :) ). Norman does look like a shrunken basset, turned out feet and all. He will be the greatest companion to her and bring her lots of smiles and laughs.
    And that name, you can't get much better than that!

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  46. Great blog, Jenni. It's nice you took the time to remember Nicky. He looked like a loving dog.

    I'm excited to read more of your posts.

    Ava

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  47. This post brought tears to my eyes, as hard as it was it sounds like you all made the right choice. I'll never forget one weekend in middle school when I came home after being at my Dad's house for the weekend to find out our dog that we'd had since I was born had to be put down while I was gone. I was devastated I never got to say goodbye. Our animals take up such a big place in our hearts it can be hard to let go. So happy your Mama has Norman now, what a blessing he must be!

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  48. oh goodness. what an awful choice to have to make. i think you paid him homage in this post though. and thankfully, he doesn't have to suffer anymore.

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  49. Our pets are little time capsules. They're a constant through so much of life and their absence makes everything feel off for a while.

    All of that to say - rest in sweet peace, dear Nicky.

    And,

    Norman has bewitched me, body and soul.

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  50. I just wanna squeeze the POOP outta little Norman. He's just adorbs.

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  51. I cried reading this. :( Beautifully written, my friend. Love you. xo

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  52. My heart honestly broke during that entire post. Like many others who read that, I'm in tears and need to go hug my dogs (one who is a dacshund /basset hound/ lab /retreiver mix). BRB

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  53. When we had to put our beloved dog to sleep your Mom was a comfort via her posting comments. She also shared her fear that Nicky's time was growing short. I can't imagine having to lose the love of your life and the pet that guarded your life in one day. Very sweetly written, Jenni...and your Mom's blog sent me to this post today.
    Hoping Norman brings sunshine, love and happiness to all of you!

    Hugs~

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  54. Sweetest post Jenni. I love your openness and how you poured out a little bit of the feelings you have been dealing with. Love you girl and you are an inspiration.

    Welcome little Norman! :)

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  55. Wow, such a sad yet sweet story. I love the photos. Hope your mom finds comfort with her new little companion. He is very adorable.

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  56. how sad but sweet that you put Nicky to sleep the same day you lost Edd. Rocky, our doberman/lab mix, passed away on the 1 year anniversary of our dad's unexpected death. it was heart-wrenching yet incredibly sweet...as if he just couldn't go on any longer without his best friend.

    i'm so glad your mom got a new pup! he is adorable & clearly the perfect addition to your family. :)

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  57. oh my god, i love him. I cried reading your words today. I guess I haven't caught up on my blogs in such a long time and reading that edd had passed broke my heart. For him, for your mom, for you, my heart breaks a little.

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  58. ugh. this post made me tear up. i had a dog once upon a time, and he too suffered a painful death, and we had to choose to put him to sleep. it was the hardest decision we've ever had to make as a family, and it still hurts to think about. what a hard time you must have gone through losing Edd and Nicky at the same time, I can't even imagine the grief. Just picture them together sitting side by side, the way they would have wanted it...there really is no better ending then that <3

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  59. I've never had to put a pet to sleep, but I can only sympathize with your family and how painful it is. I hope your mom is doing well and my late condolence for the lose of your step-father.

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  60. Last May my family dog - the sweetest springer spaniel that I had grown up with - was put down because she had throat cancer. I remember quietly having one last cuddle with her before the vet came... and then just sobbing my heart out on the drive to work that morning. It's heartbreaking and it's a difficult choice but I absolutely think you and your family did the right thing that day.

    Thank you for sharing this, Jenni. And Norman is ridiculously adorable :)

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  61. So sad. We have a saying where i come from. Translated to english it's something like "the more i know people, the more i like animals" and i really feel that sometimes. I think you made the right decision. It wouldn't be fair to keep him alive and suffering and you did what was best for him. That took courage and love!

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  62. Wow. There aren't words. I'm so happy you were blessed for so long with Edd and Nicky, and now have this wonderful new little one in your life. Sometimes just because something is hard doesn't mean it is the wrong decision, it often just means that its an emotional choice to make and none of the options are good (or sometimes both are good, but not in this circumstance). Spring comes after the winter and, to me, this seems like your spring.

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  63. Beautiful post. Tears were shed with this one.

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  64. I found your blog a week ago and have fallen in love with it. This post made me cry (I still am!) - My childhood dachshund Samson died two years ago on my birthday. He lit up my life for 17 years, through the horrible middle school years and too cool high school years and never changed his tune when I moved out and only visited. Dachshunds have the best personalities. My parents now have Andy and Joey (who looks identical to Norman BTW). Joey is the proud boss of my English Mastiff Lucy when she visits Nanny and Poppy's. Thank you for sharing and for the chance to think about my sweet Samson.

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    1. Hi Shannon! Thanks so much for this very sweet comment... it totally made me tear up, and I read it to my mom, too. Samson is definitely up in heaven, playing with Nicky. :)

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