Sunday, September 21, 2008

I remember....

... a dog named O'Malley...

Has it really been a year since we lost our handsome boy?


After we lost Malley, I used my computer to put together a little "Memories of O'Malley" book, and actually ended up giving copies to the girls and my dad & sister for Christmas last year.
(click on any photos to enlarge)

It's filled with photos and memories of a very special dog... (I'll share a few of the pages of the book here as I tell you how we came to adopt our Mr. O'Malley)


Back in March of 2000, we finally felt ready to adopt another dog after having lost our beloved little Sooshi (photo in sidebar) a couple of months earlier. I originally said, "Never again," because the pain of losing Sooshi had been so great.


But as so often happens in these cases, the heart-wrenching grief eventually makes way for the sweet and happy memories... And although there will never be another Sooshi, our hearts healed enough to entertain the thoughts of adopting another dog...


Back in 2000 we had 3 cats and our girls were younger, so we needed to find a dog who loved kids and who loved (or at least accepted) kitties!


We did an on-line search and found two dogs who sounded like they'd be ideal. One was a 7 year old lab/shepherd mix (Mr. O'Malley), and one was an 8 year old terrier mix (Ms. Gizmo)...


Decisions, decisions.... Do we get the big dog or the little one? Family meeting time... No consensus... Then the girls said, "Let's get both!"... And so it was...


We first visited Mr. O'Malley's shelter that Friday afternoon in March of 2000. The staff told us Malley was a great dog and that he'd been there for six months (poor baby - October through March - the absolute coldest months here in New England)... I asked why they thought he hadn't been adopted yet and they said it was because of his age. They have a huge turnaround and lots of younger dogs, so at age 7, Malley just kept getting passed by...


We stopped in front of his cage and he came bounding up to the chain link gate, soooo excited that someone was visiting his pen... He couldn't stop kissing the girls' hands through the gate. It was clearly love at first sight for two girls and one dog... Any possible doubts I'd had about how he would be with the girls (or any other kids who came to the house) were immediately dispelled....


We had found our boy, and he had found his forever home...


I'm not certain of the circumstances that led to Mr. O'Malley ending up in a shelter, but I am so grateful that we found him. He was a one-in-a-million dog who filled our little cottage with joy with his ever present dog-smile and sweet disposition...


But a year ago, when Malley was 14 years old, we had to make the toughest decision a pet owner ever has to make... The dog who once lived to eat had now lost his appetite for food, and was having a hard time even keeping food down... A battery of tests told us that nothing could be done, so we made his final appointment for the following day... Someday we will meet again, of that I'm certain... Until then, we miss you every day, our sweet boy... and we love you always...


"I think God will have prepared everything for our perfect happiness. If it takes my dog being there (in Heaven), I believe he'll be there." ~Rev. Billy Graham
Let me just end by saying that there are so many benefits to adopting a shelter or pound dog (or cat)... I swear, they know and appreciate the homes they are given, and will reward you day in and day out for the remainder of their lives for rescuing them... I have a link on my sidebar to a few adoption sites in case any of you are currently looking for the next furry "love of your life"!!


...Recommended Reading...

I know many of you have seen the following book on my sidebar. My daughter, Amanda, bought this book a couple of months after Malley was put to sleep. She passed it along to me to read, and I have to tell you, between Anna Quindlen's insightful, beautiful writing and my daughter's handwritten notes and underlining of certain passages that she especially related to, it was quite an emotional read...

The first time I attempted to read it, I was at the hairdressers... Very bad decision... With tears streaming down my face, I decided that I might be better off reading it at home... After all, I didn't want my poor hairdresser to think a poor cut or color was the cause of the floodworks... A customer who is sitting in a chair crying is probably not the best type of advertising!

Anna Quindlen has absolutely captured the essence of what every dog owner must eventually face...

... but it is far from being a sad book.... And while the book will, at times, bring tears to even the most stoic of readers, it is really a celebration of Beau's life... I even found myself laughing aloud while reading of some of Beau's antics... And while Ms. Quindlen writes specifically about her Beau, he most certainly represents "every man's dog" as you will find yourself relating to the very words she uses and feelings she describes when talking about the special bond between a dog and its human... The title in itself - Good Dog. Stay. - speaks volumes. Absolutely a must read book...

...Recommended Viewing...
And last, but most definitely not least...
Just as Anna Quindlen's book is a must read, if you have never seen it before, you must watch Jimmy Stewart reading a poem that he wrote about his dog (also named Beau). Jimmy Stewart has always been one of my favorite actors, and to listen and watch him reading this poem... well, there just aren't words... Johnny Carson couldn't even contain his emotions by the end of the poem, so you might want to run and get a tissue before watching...
(Click photo above to view video)
"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." (Unknown)
Many thanks to all of you who actually took the time to read through this rambling tribute to a dog named O'Malley...
Comment Update: Thank you to everyone who has left such kind comments and who have shared the stories of your own furry family members... I have so enjoyed reading them... And Joanne, I will do a post on how to make a computerized "memory" book like this one. It's a very easy process!
Donna

20 comments:

Joanne Kennedy said...

Oh I am sitting here crying like a baby right now. I couldn't even watch the video. There is no way I could read that book. I would be to upset.

It breaks my heart to hear about the loss of a beloved dog or cat.

Your book is wonderful. Where did you find out how to do that? I would love to do one too.

Hugs,
Joanne

Connie said...

What a sweet post and tribute to your beloved dog, sweetpea. I know when our dog was put down hubs cried and cried for days. He misses him but I told him he can get another one when HE can take the dog to be put down, not me ever again! He hasn't mentioned it since. I know how hard it is, honey. ;-)
Smooches and big hugs,
Connie

Susan Hickam said...

Loved your post today-but now my nose is running and I'm wiping tears on my shirt! At my feet I have two dogs and a cat in the chair next to me. Last spring I adopted a 6 yr old choclate lab from the shelter after losing my dog last fall_she was 13 and 1/2 and I called her the dog of my life. It took 6 months before I could get another one and now I have two(the other one is a friend's dog officially but I suspect he may be mine permanently). Take care.

Nola @ AlamoNorth said...

What a lovely, heartfelt post! I am so glad when I see people adopting instead of buying; especially adopting older pets! I could write a book about the most perfect cat, Miss Zelda, I had the honor of living with for 14 years, and she was already 6 yrs old when she adopted me!
I remember seeing Jimmy Stewart read the poem about Beau; it was a tearjerker, coming straight from the heart!

Anonymous said...

Donna, I don't even own a dog and I have tears in my eyes. My dear late Aunt Mina and Uncle Waydell always had dogs and I loved those dogs. They (4-5 dogs)were always were so full of love. They have all transitioned but I still feel the love that they gave me as a young girl. As I sit here reading your heart melting words, I feel your love and your pain. It is never easy to lose the everyday love and affection that you receive from your pet. Thanks for taking me back down memory lane.

(By the way, I came here via The Romantic Home - you left a comment for Cindy and your blog name sounded interesting so I clicked.)

ElleX from Charlotte, NC

Brenda Kula said...

I too adopted an older shelter dog back in 2000. Best dog I ever had. He was seven years old, and kept getting passed by. I lost my dear Pepper March 2006, and my best girl friend in May. I have his ashes in their special engraved box here in the room where I spend most of my time. I held and rocked him as he died. I will never forget that emotional time. And now I'm crying again! Loved your tribute. I love Anna Quinlan. I created a memorial garden in my yard for Pepper, with a custom-designed steel sign from www.gardendeva.com. No, I don't know this woman, but she has a wonderful place where she makes steel sculptures in Tulsa. I go to this garden with my memories, and it helps.
Brenda

pedalpower said...

I'm crying reading this...we lost a precious dog last year...and gained another. Your book is beautiful...such a wonderful idea. I'll have to read the other book. But I'll have to read it at home too.

suzeeez said...

I also have had the same heart ache of losing a dog ... and a cat that were both like my children . I had my boy poodle "Spunky" for 17 years & "Sammy" , my big old siamese cat for 18 years . They added so much joy to my life and both times were like losing a child , especially since I've never had children . I said ...."never again!". I was not going to let my heart hurt like that again. And now .....I'm the mother to a 8lb. female poodle I adopted named "Minnie" & an a 20 lb. poodle mix boy I got so that Minnie could have a brother . His name is Java . I love them to pieces,they make me laugh each and every day . Minnie is 12 , Java boy is 6 . They are my children .
Sue

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Donna,
What a wonderful post of your sweet O'Malley! I never thought of making a memory book like you did, it's very nice. Our pets become such a special part of our families, it's so hard to let them go. You've done such a sweet tribute!
Stop by, I'm having my 100th post giveaway!!
Hugs, Sherry

Kathy said...

Just stopping in to wish you:

Happy 1st Day of Autumn!

M.L. @ The House of Whimsy said...

What a sweet and poignant post. Everyone who has been through it knows exactly what you mean. Our precious boy was named Chester. : )
M.L.

Linda's Blue Gate said...

Well... I just don't have the words to tell you how much your post about that dear Mr. O'Malley touches me.... you would see that if you could see and hear my tears..... and that Jimmy Stewart poem.... that memory book is such a treasure.... the heart NEVER stops hurting for our beloved Molly Chopsticks and our handsome Rocky....geezzzz I can't stop crying...
Linda

Rue said...

Donna.... you broke my heart. My mom could never put an animal to sleep alone and as a result I've been doing it since I was a teenager. I think the hardest thing I've ever had to do was hold my horse Chester's head while he died.

I believe all our departed animals are in Heaven waiting for us :)

(((hugs)))
rue

KarenHarveyCox said...

What a wonderful dog, you were blessed to have him. When we had to put our Twinkles to sleep, I thought my heart would break. I remember my girls brought their mattresses in our bedroom and we all slept together that night. Somehow, it helped. One year later we adopted two dogs and they have given us so much joy. I still miss Twinks, but I suspect she is up there in heaven with my grandmother. I am so glad that you shared his story and your photos. Karen

Life on Bonnie Lane said...

What a sweet dog and what a wonderful way to remember him! I couldn't go watch the Jimmy Stewart video because I know I'd be bawling like a baby! I loved this tribute to your darling furchild!

Kady

nwalker said...

Well I just had a good cry over a dog I never knew! Now that I've had a good cleansing, I must say that was the sweetest tribute I've ever read. Thanks for sharing but I'm going to need to see something really funny to get happy again.
Nancy

Thrifty Miss Priss said...

Oh I'm such a dog freak and I loved this post. So sweet that your daughter gave you the book with little notes.....I've always loved that poem by Jimmy Stewart....long before the internet I remember seeing that.....My sister just put her two elderly dogs down a month apart...That book will be in her Christmas Stocking for sure!

Ann said...

I am crying like an idiot. I'm so sorry you lost your baby. I am very happy he had you though. My animals are my life, I have lots of them. When I loose one a part of me goes too, I'm not sure how much more I can loose but yet life is miserable without them. Putting them down is never ever easy but yet we can't let them suffer.

All of ours are adopted too. We just got a little kitten last week. That makes 3 rescues. I'll be catching up to Jill soon.

I love the book you made for your sweet boy. I don't think I could do that, I can't even look at photos of the ones I lost. It is beautiful.

Elizabeth said...

The unconditional love of our pets is one ofthe greatest gifts in the world. Thank you for sharing O'Malley and your memories, as well as the great idea of the book. Have you read Marley & Me? It doesn't get sad until the end. It's being made into a movie w/ Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson.

Sandy said...

Donna! What a wonderful tribute to your beloved boy O'Malley. Our pets brings us so much unconditional love. I love the story of O'Malley. I recently discovered your blog and became a follower. There is so much wonderful reading here! I've got to get to bed soon, but I'll be back to read all the stories about your beloved adopted fur babies. I have stones in my garden to honor my last 2 beloved pets that we lost. They have their names on the stones along with paw prints and a little sentiment about them. While gardening, I look at the stones and my heart feels happy with fond memories of them. I now have 2 little shih tzus and they are getting older 9 and 10 years old. Time goes by so quickly and our pets lives are over way too sooon.