Saturday, March 10, 2012

Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart

I think it is allowed for me to break my Lenten hiatus from blogging today. This won't be short, I apologize ahead...but when it comes to trying to tell the tale of one very loved family pet, there aren't enough words. We said goodbye to our beloved 'Holden' this morning. She had her fifteenth birthday March 8...she was 15 human years. Holden, Holdie, Holdie Oldie, Holdie O...she had more names than I can remember but she answered to them all. Holden was my rock. She was the true 'family' pet. I always knew when the kids were coming to the door as she would announce their presence with whining, yowling...flat out fussing at me to let her out to greet her children! She had no favorites, she just loved everyone! Truly, dearly and always.
Holden was our black lab/english pointer mix female pup. I remember the day we surprised the kids with her. We had said goodbye to our sweet little Peek-a-Poo, Clementine about six months prior. We grieved Clemmies loss, but it was time for the family to have another fur ball ruling the roost. We went to the Flea Market, this was back when you could still purchase puppies there. We were 'only going to look'. Right, everyone's famous last words when looking at puppies. Of course she 'found' us right away, selected us from all the other people roaming the Flea Market. We watched as she got her second round of puppy shots and then roamed the aisles in search of just the right collar for the newest family member.


We hadn't told any of the children where and what we were doing. It was a drizzly day and since 'we were just looking' we kept silent. I hid Holden, still unnamed at that point inside my shirt and walked in. I think it was maybe two seconds before the two youngest realized what was going on and started letting out shrieks of 'Let Me See, Let Meeee See'! We gathered all five of the kids to introduce the new puppy to the wild and wooly gang she would be joining. Everyone was allowed to put their suggestion in as to her name. Five names...nah make it seven, Steve and I had our own ideas as well. Seven rejections no one could agree on the right one. Finally I said think of something we all love and we can use that as a name. Almost as one voice they said we LOVE Holden Beach. That is where we take our summer vacations. I said well we could call her 'Holden' for our favorite place to vacation. It played well with the entire family and thus our female dog was tagged with what some thought of as a masculine name.


Years came and went. Holden was a sweet puppy, but had her moments of puppiness. We returned from the first vacation when she was really young to half the linoleum tile floor being chewed up. The vet had said she was too young to be boarded and recommended we get a neighbor to puppy sit her at home. Evidently Holden missed us more than the floor. I felt terrible for the neighbor's son that was puppy sitting. He felt so bad, but we knew it was just Holden being Holden. We replaced that floor with ceramic tile and it has remained intact all these years!


Holden was all the boys pal when they wanted to go run. She loved to run when she was young. She also loved to ride in the car. If I would have a hard time getting her back in the house, I'd go out and start the car with the passenger door open. Whump...up she'd jump ready for a ride! Of course wanting to keep her happy with that little trick, I'd usually oblige and we'd take a quick tour of the neighborhood. 


As for Elise, she was her protector and NO ONE got in between Holdie and Elise. All I'd have to say is, 'Watch the kids Holdie' and she knew she was on duty. Elise grew up with Holdie as her protector and as much of life goes...roles reversed and she was always protecting and loving Holdie in return.

As the kids grew and started life on their own their natural inclination was to have dogs of their own. Holden helped raise them all. Buffy was the first pup she helped raise.Buffy is our oldest son and DIL's dog, a black cocker spaniel. Her name has nothing to do with the color of her fur. They were working with a young girl who was competing in the Special Olympics as a swimmer and it was her favorite tv character...Buffy the Vampire slayer. Buffy's home was struck by lightning when she was young. As a result she was terribly sensitive to thunder storms. No one blamed her but we hoped if she was around stable Holden when storms were around she'd be able to calm back down. Sadly all that happened was Holden started getting antsy when the weather was less than sunny. Go figure, right? She and Buff were always great friends. We often boarded them together to make them happier when boarding was required.

Jackson was Holden's next pup she helped raise. Jackson lived here as a pup until right before son #2 married and moved into their own home. Jackson is a chocolate lab and like Holdie as a puppy a real chewer. I think it is the lab in them. We ended up asking our son to do something to protect the kitchen furniture as we could see we'd end up with a coffee table instead of a kitchen table. After he wrapped the  table legs with PVC piping we looked like we planned on taking the table to the Kentucky Derby. Holdie kept Jackson calm and from jumping the gate in the kitchen. Another pup off to a good start as the family pup under Holden's great example.
The next two boys each brought their own pups to the great Holden for tutelage. Brinny is a Shetland Sheepdog...a Sheltie.  I'm not sure if Holden ever figured out why Brin was always wanting to 'herd' her but she went along with it for peace in the family! Zeus and Zooey are the two pugs of the family. I think they knew by the time they came along Holden was the grand dame and never gave her any grief. They have energy off the scale but they knew Holden ruled the roost! Christmas at our house was often as well represented by the pups in the family as the children!
And then there is Beignet. She was supposed to be another of my dogs. Elise came with us to pick out the golden lab/golden retriever mix puppy. She selected and named her and by the time she was ready to move into her own place it was well known Beignet was indeed Elise's pup. Holden was her fur Mom, though. When we brought her home and placed her in the box the first night Holden slept right next to the box and every time Beignet whimpered Holdie was up nosing and licking her back to sleep! Beignet really truly grew up with Holden as her Mom. Holden would give Beignet her kennel...even though Beignet had one of her own...and sleep out on the floor in front of the kennel protecting the dog that grew to be bigger than Holden. Eventually we had to keep them separated. Holden as she aged was diminishing in her rear quarters and Beignet could have fractured unintentionally for sure Holdie's pelvis. The vet recommended we keep them apart. They never lost the love for one another. Last week Beignet was over visiting and I think she knew how fragile Holdie had become, she just carefully walked up to her and gave her another kiss like in the photo below.
 Another thing Holden loved to do when she was younger was retrieve golf balls. Our beloved nephew Sam would hit them over the fence to her. Sam left us six years ago, way to early. I'm hoping he's hitting golf balls to her now. 


Holden always put up with my dressing her up for holidays. She put up with everything.
Lately, as Holdie was starting to slow down my husband and Holden spent weekends in the yard. Holden would do her sniffing in the garden and then just come and rest her weary head in his lap, for some petting and loving. They were companions and comfort for one another after the children left home.
Yesterday I knew the end was at hand. Holdie wasn't able to stand on her own. I had to pick her up and steady her and eventually she just couldn't even stand. All through the night Steve would pick her up and carry her down the stairs and help her stand to relieve herself. This morning she was rejecting all food and starting to bleed. We knew she had fought as long as she could to be our protector and it was now time to protect and love her enough to let her go with comfort and love. Not an easy decision and definitely not without heartache and tears. I told my husband it seems all we do anymore is say goodbye to those we love.
Elise came over for one sweet last goodbye...breaking my heart all over again. Our son Tim came and helped my husband bring her to the vet for her last sleep. I stayed home with Lily, as Lily's Mom is out of town. Holden was beyond being able to walk so one carried and held her in the car while the other drove. They both held her and loved her until she was gone...


So yes, today another piece a huge piece of my heart is gone. Watch over the kids, Holdie....
Miss you, love you forever...
Loves~Loves~Loves~

32 comments:

Holly said...

I'm really sorry to read this post. :(

Sarah Pearson said...

I'm in tears reading this. I'm so so sorry for your family's loss. May she be at peace now.

Shelly said...

Oh, Sush. Tears running down my face now. What a beautiful, amazing dog Holden was. I'm celebrating her life with you. I'm so sorry for you, but hers was truly a life well lived. My thoughts and prayers are with you all in this difficult time.

Odie Langley said...

My friend I am so sorry for your loss. I experienced the same loss with my constant companion Poochie when I was a teen. She looked just like Benji and lived to be 13 years old and did not seem sick but went peacefully in the night. A large piece of Odie went with her.
My daughter Karen in Rockingham just lost her cat, Max who she loved for 17 Years. Max's companion Sassie is still with her but almost as old as Max so she worries about Sassie every day.
Again I am very sorry for your loss & will be remembering you and your family in my prayers. Holden, rest in peace.

Ellie said...

Oh Sush I am so sorry to read this post. I was in tears by the end. Holden sounds like she was a wonderful part of the family.
It is so painful to lose a pet - know that I am thinking of you all. Lots of hugs to you.

Shady Del Knight said...

My heart is breaking for you and your family, dear Sush. I remember you telling us just a couple of weeks ago that Holden was barely hanging on. I am so very sorry. My time is coming, too, with my aging Toto. There's no stopping the advance of time.

Holden picked you and your family out of the crowd and you picked her. You gave her a good home and a great life. You did all you could for as long as you could. God bless Holden. God bless and comfort you and your family.

orchid said...

Dearest Sush,
Oh, I also am in tears reading your post.
Your Holden sure was one of your lovely family.
My sheepdog died 6 years old when I was before 30's. After that my hubby doesn't allow me to have a dog seeing my sorrow, even if I wish to have one.

God bless you and you are in my thoughts, Miyako*

kneesandpaws said...

Dear Sush,
I'm so very sorry to know you are grieving the loss of such a beautiful soul. It hurts so much to go through this and I'm praying for you and your family to be comforted during this time. What a blessing it is to know and love these extraordinary beings. It's just so heartbreaking when we have to let go. Sending love and hugs, and tears too.

Bouncin Barb said...

Oh Sush, I'm so sorry. What a terrific dog you had there and I have no doubt she was greeted by Sam with a golf ball in his mouth saying "I've been waiting for you. Wanna play?" As with every living thing we love, we have to say goodbye but the key is making the best of our time together and you certainly did that with this beautiful pet. Big hugs tonight Sush!

Jilda said...

Holden, passed over the rainbow. Each time you see a rainbow, know she is happy and healthy. So sorry for your loss,
through the years, as we have lost our beloved dogs, tears have flowed through the Watson household. But, I think they all watch over us, just as our loved ones do.

Ina in Alaska said...

So sorry Sush & family. Thank you for sharing Holden's story with us, she was a wonderful family member. I know your hearts hurt but you did the right thing

RIP Holden xoxo

Desiree said...

Dear Sush, Steve and family:

Each of us who has had the good fortune and great privilege to know and love a special and treasured family pet feels for you all in your time of grieving for your beloved Holdie. We know that heart wrenching pain you felt when the time came to say your sad and final farewell. Every time one of us loses a beloved pet, we all feel our own sadness anew and we all reach out in empathy to hold those of us who now face the same deep sadness.

Holdie lived a long and wonderful life and she was allowed to age gracefully, protected by and cherished in her last weeks and days by her precious human family. I have never known of a large breed to live to the age of fifteen. Yet, whether we lose our pets at 10, 12 or 15 years of age, the wrenching is no less. It is never the right time for us to accept that their lifespan has reached its culmination. They always depart this earth far too soon in human years and when they do, they leave a huge, empty space behind.

Holdie is missed by not only her human family but all the pups she helped raise. What a legacy she has left behind! And now, we have all met her, too and we feel her absence across the oceans. Her endearing and brave spirit will live on in all of our hearts, Sue.

This comes with much love and gentle hugs!

Desiree xoxo

Elizabeth Hernandez said...

Sush! I am so sorry for your loss. O know that she will be waiting at rainbow bridge for you. This post just brought huge tears to my eyes. As my girl is coming up on 15 and I know that every day is a gift from God with her. We said goodbye to out boy about five years ago. He was a black lab she is a chocolate lab. They still our hearts and show us the love of unconditional that our Lord and Savior gives us daily. They are here for such a short time. Thank you for sharing your precious Holdie with us today, May the Lord hold and comfort you durning this time of loss and give you the peace that He can only give in Jesus name. Hugs
Blessings

Crystal Pistol said...

Oh Sush! I am so sorry about Holden. She was a beautiful dog. Her coat was so shiney and eyes bright. She was certainly an important part of your family. i'm sad you had to say good-bye. I hope you will be ok. She was blessed to have you to take care of her and love her as you did. You are such a tender, loving person.

Claudia Moser said...

Both me and Peterare crying, we read our post together since we are also worried about Naila, she is 14 and also starting to show aging signs. I am so sorry for your loss, we are close to you even if so far away!

Thisisme. said...

Dear Sush and family . I am in tears as well whilst reading your beautiful post in tribute to your beloved Holden. I loved the photo of Beignet giving her a
Kiss ! I really feel for you and all the family for your heartbreaking loss. I remember you saying that she was just hanging in there, but that doesn't make you feel her loss any less. How wonderful that she looked after all those puppies like that. Sending love and gentle hugs. God bless you and God bless Holden x

lyndylou said...

What a beautiful tribute to Holdie. I know how this feels and it is so very painful. Hugs to you my friend XXX

Life 101 said...

We know first hand how painful it can be to lose a family. Y'all sound like us in that we tend to have pets that live a long time.
She was a beautiful dog and I know you all will miss her dearly.
R

Patsy said...

She was a special part of your family's life. She taught them all to giive and receive love and care for one another. I'm sorry you've lost a family member and link to "when you were one" XOXOXO

Much loved Holden goodbye

yaya said...

Oh my, I'm crying now...I'm so sorry you had to say good-bye to Holden. When we had to put our 15yr.old dog down years ago it was the hardest thing I've ever done. I know she's in Heaven waiting for a great reunion with family one day. Hope you can have a peaceful week and think of all the wonderful memories of Holden with your family. Thank you for sharing this lovely story with us.

Erin H. said...

Such a sweet and heartbreaking post...Holdie was such a good dog! I'll miss her greeting us at the door after a long road trip. :-(

Kathi said...

I am so sorry to hear you had to say goodbye to such a loyal friend and part of the family. Your post title said it all and really spoke to me... Yes pieces of our heart feel torn out don't they? My dachshund is almost 15....and not doing too well either so I understand.... Thinking of you and yours...May you find comfort ...

Sush said...

Thank you to all you dear friends and family. It is with love and kindness like yours are hearts are slowly healing. We'll miss our sweet girl forever but know she truly gave us her all and them some.
Loves~

Pearl said...

Good ol' Holden. What a lovely dog -- and how well you told it, Sush.

Pearl

Carol............. said...

It's so sad to loose a beautiful and faithful pet...and member of ones family. I'm sorry for your loss.

Pat MacKenzie said...

Oh how sad your family must be to lose such a beloved and precious family member. My heart goes out to you Such. Take care. Hugs.

karen said...

Oh Sush - somehow I missed this post. I am in tears and can truly relate to how your heart is hurting. We had a dog a few years ago that was 1/2 black lab and 1/2 golden retriever. Chester. There wasn't a human or animal on earth that that dog didn't love. His only vice was breaking into the house and eating whatever loaf of bread was on the table. The day we had to put him down (same as Holden - couldn't walk anymore) broke my heart. He was a great dog - one I'm looking forward to seeing again one fine day. So sorry for your loss - dogs are such great friends and show such unconditional love for their families. Hope you're feeling better. {{HUGS}}

Laura said...

I am so, so sorry for your loss... I know what a sweet soul like one of a dog is for a family :( We have a tiny chihuahua of only 2 and a half years and, last September, he was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure :(
He seems ok now, we feed him diet food and give him pills but we don't know for how long...
We love him to death and would do anything to save him, so I understand completely what you're going thru :(

RideToFight said...

Such a sad post, but what a wonderful character Holden was. I'm so sorry for you and your family. x

Marsha @Spots and Wrinkles said...

Sush,
What a tender and loving post. Sometimes it is the "losses" that make us who we are, much more than any triumphs ever will.

I cried like a baby when our 15 year old Cocker, Duffy, had to go to sleep.
Be easy with yourself and each other during these next tenderly painful days. Blessings to you - Marsha

Donna said...

Sooo sorry to read this post!! I know that same loss and fear our little Scoobie may not be with us a lot longer too. He is getting old, 12, and having so much trouble walking.

Your story is so touching and it is evident that you loved your buddy so much. He had a good life but it's still hard to say good-bye, isn't it?

Shannon... said...

Heartbroken for your loss...