Tuesday, December 15, 2009

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Some of my posts are written mostly with my kids in mind- to document things for them....so they know about their parents' life together. More on this later, but the following is such a post. It's long.....so read at your own risk.
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Today is December 15th, my first dog, Carlie's, birthday. She was born on December 15, 1999. She died on June 16, 2007.
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One day I was out for a walk with a friend. We were on a remote country road and we met up with a lady walking this beautiful, HUGE, black Great Dane. From the minute I saw this dog, I knew that I would have one. His blocky head and floppy ears and clunky demeanor made him adorable. I called Joe on my way home from that walk, and I told him about the dog I had seen and how I fell in love with him. From that moment on I was constantly researching and daydreaming about having a Great Dane.
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This time period was a lot of fun for Joe and I. We were single (though engaged), working hard during the day to be successful career-wise, and having lots and lots of fun at night and on the weekends. I look back on those years so fondly....I would not change the lifestyle I had in my twenties for anything.
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Around the time when I saw the Great Dane, Joe and I were looking to buy a house. In November of 1999 we found one that was perfect for us....a two bedroom post and beam cape on a great piece of land in a small town. After the agreement was made to buy, we packed up everything we owned, which all fit into a UHaul and drove it to the closing. We laughed about how we would be in trouble if the deal fell through. I still remember the pride and fullness we both felt after closing on our house. We both worked hard, and we were starting our life together. It was one of the best days of my life, and one of the best feelings of my life.
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Joe and I unpacked our UHaul by ourselves and moved everything into our new house. Just the two of us.
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Of course after we moved in I was constantly talking about getting a dog. But I was also busy settling in, working during the day and unpacking, organizing, decorating, cleaning and living in our new house in my free time.
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Little did I know, in that first month after we moved into the house, Joe was busy researching dog breeders and locating new litters of black Great Danes so that he could give me one as a Christmas present. It's not an easy task to find a good breeder of a giant size dog, where temperament is so important, along with many other health factors, AND on top of that find one that will have a litter of black pups in a certain time period. But Joe did it.
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For me.
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So fast-forward a few weeks....Joe and I had plans to get out of work early and go and do something, I think go Christmas shopping, one day. The plan was that I would meet him at his work and we'd leave from there. Joe got into my Durango, holding a box.
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"What's that?" I asked.
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"We need to go and drop this off somewhere first....in Massachusetts" he said.
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Um. Okay." (Thinking WHAT?! Is he crazy, we're driving an hour away when we're supposed to be going Christmas shopping??!!). I moved over to the passenger seat so he could drive wherever it was that he needed to go.
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As time wore on, I realized that something was up. The box was tossed in the back and obviously not the reason for our mid-day excursion. We kept driving and driving and driving. I kept asking him where we were going and he kept telling me "You'll see". I was intrigued, but at the same time getting impatient as the hours passed by, seriously thinking...whoah...this better be good.
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FOUR HOURS LATER we were in Connecticut, pulling up to a house with a visible wire fence around the back. From my seat I could see dog after dog.....Great Dane after Great Dane!!!
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We went in the house and met a new week-old litter of puppies. They were the cutest puppies I had ever seen! Along with the pups, seven of the breeder's own Great Danes roamed the house. I was in serious dog heaven. The only downfall...we were just visiting. The little guys were too small to take away from their mama. So we left empty handed.
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We visited the litter two more times before we could take a dog home. The breeder's house was near Foxwoods Casino and we would make a weekend of it....visit the dogs and then stay at Foxwoods. Those were great times.
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Finally the day came when we were able to pick our puppy and take her home. From the first moment I knelt down at the breeder's house, Carlie came over to me and was persistent that she wanted to go home with us. I held her on my lap the whole 4+ hour ride home. Carlie was the sweetest puppy ever, and she grew up to be the best dog ever. Joe and I loved her. We were both out the door for work by 7:45am and not back home until 6pm, so we felt terrible for leaving her so long during the day. We hired a dog walker to walk her twice a day! She grew fast, from 13 pounds when we brought her home to about 120 pounds as an adult. We taught Carlie never to jump on anyone and she was really good about it. The only person she jumped on was Joe...and that's only when she was invited. He would look at her and tap his chest and up she would go. They looked at each other eye to eye....and danced. Luke and Alyssa thought is was so funny when daddy and Carlie danced.
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Before I had kids, Carlie was my baby. She slept with me until Joe came to bed and only got off the bed under protest (and I was sad to see her go!) I couldn't imagine loving anyone or anything more (other than Joe of course). I secretly wondered if I would love my kids as much as I loved my dog- okay maybe that wasn't a big secret- I think that I said that out loud a few times.
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When I started staying home with Luke, Carlie and I spent lots and lots of time together. When Joe came home she would meet him at the door every night, and often she was the first "hello" that Joe gave when he came in the door ("Hi Carlie Marlie!"). She was always gentle with both kids, and I never worried about anything other than her sheer size in hurting them. She put up with a lot of stuff from Alyssa when she was a toddler.... crawling on her, pulling her ears and poking her eyes. Carlie took it all in stride. She never made an aggressive move toward her.
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The average age of a Dane is 8 years. Her health deteriorated in the last year as did her quality of life. Joe and I went back and forth about what we should do and finally ended up deciding we had to have her put to sleep. I cancelled the appointment several times before we actually went through with it. We both cried a lot that day....in the animal hospital, before, after and for days after. Joe missed Carlie a lot. He missed her being at the door greeting him when he got home. He missed her riding to camp with him on Friday nights. It was hard.
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I sat my kids down when we came home from the vet that day and told them that Carlie had died. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever imagine that one month and 11 days later I would be sitting them down again to tell them that their father died.
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We had Carlie cremated and we received her ashes early in July. They were in a wooden box in our bedroom. We were planning to have a little ceremony with the kids and bury the box in the yard. That didn't happen.
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Carlie's ashes are in Joe's grave with him. They are together. I can't say I get much comfort from that....I guess maybe a tiny bit.
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Carlie was a great, great dog. Early on I started calling her my baboon....my Carlie baboon. I have no idea why except that's what rolled off my tongue when I looked at her. Her "real" full name on her AKC registration is "Carlie Isis Piper Vegas". Isis, Piper and Vegas are all names that I wanted to name her and Joe didn't like. I got them in there anyway ;-)
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She was truly a gentle giant and a wonderful member of our family. She never learned to fetch (she would run after the ball and NEVER bring it back!) and she had her quirks as well. She drove me crazy sometimes when she would follow me around constantly throughout any given day. She was a BIG DOG to be at your feet all day.
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She didn't steal food or beg- with a couple exceptions- she liked Annie's noodles and chocolate chip cookies. Since she never was interested in people food I was not careful about leaving it where she could get it. One time I was making cookies and she stole some off the island where they were cooling. I thought it was funny. The kids dropped food on the floor all the time as toddlers do and she would leave it there. But the cookies brought out the devil in her.
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What makes Carlie even more special to me is how I received her, as a gift from my husband. Through his hard work and searching he gave me exactly what I wanted. He was good to me. And Carlie was good to all of us.
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4 comments:

Katie said...

I love this post. Carlie was the best and one of my favorite girls of all time. She was special for sure. Such a gentle, sweet dog.

xoxo

Katie said...

Oh, and how could I forget~

When Derek and I housesat her because you two were on your honeymoon in Hawaii and she ate large amounts of pine needles and was vomiting bile and Derek and I were absolutely panicked?!?
Or the time we were getting chased by a bat in your house and Carlie (the big guard dog) was hiding behind me? And pushed me in front of it when it came flying towards us?!? :)
Or when we hiked Blue Job and she was a model canine citizen.

Wow, is it weird that I really loved your dog as much as I did?

AndreaRenee said...

So sweet...

JoAnn said...

This one time, at mom and dad's house(in belmont) i took carlie out with me for a smoke. i threw a snowball for her, completely forgetting I WAS HOLDING A LEASH. the snowball went too far, she went after it, pulling me off my feet, face first into the snow. (i was afraid of robin killing me, so i kept a death grip on the leash) I managed to roll over onto my back in the 40 feet of snow we had that year, just in time for carlie to come barreling back stand over me and not let me get up. like two paws on each side of me, big old droolie lips in my face. i think she was laughing her ass off at me. i think i had to throw another snowball or something to get her off me. she...wouldn't..move. she was the best dog ever. don't tell jack i said that.