Sunday, July 22, 2012

Closing a chapter in life can be tough...

We all have from time to time those events that while not physically difficult, are mentally tough and take some getting use to it.  Yesterday was one of those times as I dismantled the kennel for our dog Daisy, who passed away about three weeks ago.  The kennel has just sat empty during that time, and with high likelihood of not getting another dog, it was time to take it down.  There were lots of memories with each part and a side story to boot. We had grown very accustomed as a family of driving into our back driveway and having Daisy there to greet us and welcome us home.  It has been pretty quiet there the last few weeks and pretty clear that while relieved from this earthly pain, she was not coming back.  Thus the need to close that chapter.
Daisy's kennel had a tarp roof (along with a "night light"
which I had already removed)
We had purchased her kennel from Lowe's and while we had looked at more expensive versions, this was something we could afford.  We purchased the roof package, which worked well until the first heavy snow storm and one morning came out to find it had collapsed.  In an effort to re-establish it, I grabbed some old boards, nailed them together with my pneumatic nail gun and planned on building something better, with the idea that this would be temporary.  It only stayed the same for another eight years!  In hindsight, I would have never purchased their roof version but built something out of wood at a fraction of the cost and frankly is a much stronger alternative.
Daisy had this thing for chewing!
Daisy had this thing for chewing, on nearly everything!  We once bought her this really nice comfy padded bed only to come out and find an hour later, she had chewed the thing apart.  She was not discriminating and chewed nearly everything, including the "temporary support" of her roof!  The amazing part, is the board was on the outside of her kennel wall and somehow she chewed on it through the fence!
Daisy's dog house that we found on sale and
was her home the entire time
I had numerous conversations with Daisy that eating her own home, was really not in her best interest and she should be much more selective.

When we moved to our current home, I secured the services of a friend in the construction business, DeLynn Kirkham.  Their business did a lot of concrete restoration and re-profiling decks in parking structures.  It was their business to not have water sitting in one place for a long period of time and it proved to be the case with Daisy's kennel.  Whenever we washed it, or the weather left water on the floor, it would drain off quickly and slopped outward in all directions.  One of the best investments we could have made. 

As I dismantled the wall sections and placed them in a place in our yard for storage, I ran into lots of little things that reminded me of our time with Daisy.  I was very grateful for the experience our family shared and without an exception, everyone of us, as we passed the newly cleaned up area, remarked of how different it felt to not have her there.

Empty concrete pad, awaiting a new use...
We've had a few discussions of what to do with the site, but we'll have to wait for the right time financially.  In the mean time, it just will not be the same.  While not in pristine condition, we still do have a usable kennel that I've decided to not sell, just yet.  However if there is a family, who are just starting out with a dog, and just happened to need a kennel that could provide a good home, I think we would like that and would make you a great deal.  It would even be OK, if it were just temporary.  After all, our temporary stuff lasted eight years....

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Heart Challenge Results Announced - I Win Most Improved!

Adding Sugar equivalent to over-all weight loss, I contributed 43 lbs to it!
What I never would have thought I could obtain, and certainly not in 100 days, Intermountain Medical Center announced Thursday night at a special dinner, that I won the most improved award for the challenge involving local elected officials in Salt Lake County.  Prize comes with $1,000 for my city, and more importantly, my health.  An emotional accomplishment for me, because like anything that plagues a person, eating excessively and not caring for yourself becomes an addiction of sorts and breaking yourself of it, not a simple task.  However the feel of self-esteem that accompanies it, is frankly, very rewarding.

The task is obviously not really over, in fact maybe even more difficult in the weeks and months ahead, but I don't want to go back.  Gaining my physical freedom and finding satisfaction in exercising and strengthening my body has had many benefits, I didn't ever imagine.  While I use to work out as part of conditioning during my basketball days, it was more like sentenced torture!  Doing it for myself and improving my condition has been one of the most rewarding things I've done.  My family, and particular Cathy, have been incredible in this effort and I have no idea how I would have accomplished it without them.

Other elected officials from Salt Lake County who participated - Each were so genuine in their efforts
and frankly their support of me
 I like statistics, so here are a few for you that indicate my progress.  Official weight loss, 43 lbs, 7" off my waist.  Lowering of my BMI, 4%, much lower blood pressure, increased oxygen capacity for my blood, improved cholesterol levels and improved blood sugar levels.  On top of it, I have better mobility, improved stamina and a lot of pants that fall off my waist if I loosen my belt, which I've had to drill additional holes to make it work. 
Meagan Kine, Michelle Barker and Kary Woodruff were great to work with me 
My quote that they included in my plaque for participation says it all, "I think for myself, I feel like I have a new lease on life.  I am heading in the right direction for the first time in a decade or more."  Thanks everyone for your support!

Deseret News Article

Monday, July 2, 2012

Farewell Daisy, We will miss you!

Daisy as a new puppy, before coming home to us!
Earlier last week, we were concerned about the increasing weight loss by our dog, Daisy (see prior blog).  Daisy had been on a Veterinarian supervised diet, but was losing more weight than we thought she should.  Daisy also started having a difficult time keeping her food down, and so we took her into the Vet, when alternative food didn't appear to be working.  We were shocked and saddened to find out that Daisy had some kind of cancer, probably liver, and her prognosis would not be good.  The Vet gave us some medicines to help her to be able to eat.  We quickly realized that she not only would not get better, but she would not stay in this interim stage very long. We would need to make some decisions earlier than later.  Not wanting Daisy to suffer any more than she needed to suffer, we made an appointment with the Vet to have her put to rest today. However Sunday morning, she was considerably worse and finally last night, she passed away.

Jessica and Sarah play with Daisy, just prior to bringing her home
Our emotions are tender and our tears are many.  Daisy became a very important part of our family and for nine years, provided some wonderful teaching opportunities and enjoyment as we interacted on a day to day basis.  Originally, when we got her, I personally was a little scared or uneasy around dogs.  My growing up years of raising a dog was not a stellar memory and I was not sure how to truly raise a dog correctly.  However we felt it was important for our oldest daughter Jessica not to have the same fears or concerns and of course, "She promised to take care of everything in caring for Daisy".  While Jessica, and later Sarah, did a lot, there were many days of reminding them of their responsibilities.  Nevertheless, I always loved to come home and see one of them walking down the street with Daisy by their side as they were walking her or to see them out in the back yard playing with Daisy.  They were priceless moments.

Jessica on "Obedience Graduation Day" at Petsmart
I was also determined to try and amend for my mistakes in caring for an earlier dog as a child, and it was always important for me to see her cared for correctly.  Due to allergies and some other issues, Daisy lived outside in a nice kennel area that we had built and we tried to make her comfortable during any of the weather extremes.  I had a tradition each night before going to bed in giving her a treat, just before calling it a night.  In fact many a night, I did my political whining to Daisy, who was always sympathetic and intent in listening to me, just up to the point I gave her a treat!  She always watched over our place and our girls. One time, when Sarah was young, we heard a very different bark from her, and when Cathy went to investigate, found Sarah leaving our yard unattended.  I was glad that the night before she passed away, I was able to give her one last treat and say good bye.

Grandma Nielsen says hi to Daisy on a visit
 We would have on more than one occassion a guest, who at the end of stay, would admit that they gave Daisy a treat themselves. Needless to say, she was well liked by nearly every visitor.

Daisy was also our motivation for walking many a days.  She was a big dog who needed regular exercise, and while the girls had their regular assignments to walk her, I often found a lot of peace in taking her myself.
Family Christmas Photo with Santa & Daisy
  I just could never get her to do her business in one place and at one time.  We had that discussion numerous times, but to no avail.  Frankly, I think it was her way of civil disobedience and for her to make a statement to me.

Our neighbors have always been kind to Daisy and patient with us.  Their complaints during some barking spells were almost never made and their children often appeared over the fence to say hello to Daisy.  Our thanks to the Orme Family, who recently moved but lived next to us for many years and to Denny & Linda McKone who live across the street.  It was not uncommon when the McKones brought their neighbor Christmas gift to us, to also find something in it for Daisy.  I always knew that when the girls were out walking her, that Denny had his eye on them as they went past his home.
Sarah & Daisy at
Parley's Historic Nature Park
on a City Council visit

While Daisy's final days have been tough emotionally, we also have had some sweet moments.  As Jessica's work and schooling have become full time, her care has transitioned to Sarah.  These two have built a wonderful bond together and it was Sarah who could get Daisy to eat and it was Sarah who sat with Daisy for hours on the grass in her final moments to comfort Daisy, and make sure Daisy knew we loved her. Yesterday we just let Daisy lie out on the lawn and rest in the shade.  It offered us some sweet and tender moments with Daisy.

Sarah playing with Daisy, one
last time
 While we struggled with what and how to take care of Daisy when she did pass, we finally settled on the fact we wanted her here at our home.  I could tell Sunday evening around 10 p.m. that whe would not likely make it to our appointment with the Vet this morning, so I went out and started digging her final resting place.  I checked on Daisy once during the process and stroked her head and told her it was ok for her to go.  A few minutes later, Cathy and Sarah came up to me and told me she had passed away. 

Our thanks to Paul and Heidi Fullmer, our neighbors and friends, who came over and helped us take care of Daisy.  We placed her ball (seen in the adjoining picture) with her and I put one of my old gloves in her grave.  Daisy had this interesting  habit of stealing my work gloves off the back porch and burying them in the yard.  I went through a lot of pairs of gloves and Cathy still finds them when she works in the flowers. It's only fitting that her final resting place is a patch of daisies. 

We love you Daisy and want you to know how grateful we are that you were part of our family.