Maddie and the Year of Wading Through Sh*t

Maddie Juno

Despite getting married very young, I never want anyone to think that I’m someone who acts rashly. On the contrary, sometimes I’m so painstakingly careful about making big decisions that I can be frustrating to be around. I think about my options, talk through the decision with friends, make risk/reward tables in my mind, and then when all that’s done, I brood about things for all of eternity. Finally, once I find myself spending literally every second of every day thinking about the thing I’m about to do, I act.

In the technical sense, I guess you could say I’m risk averse. But only for big things with real consequences. I wear sunscreen and don’t usually do more than five or ten miles over the speed limit, but I’m also not afraid of rejection, embarrassment, or karaoke.

Luckily, I married someone who operates this way too. I guess it’s a result of having fallen in love during an extremely tumultuous time in our respective lives. When Michael and I met, I was still dealing with the way my sister’s death was affecting my family, which at the time included my parents’ divorce. Meanwhile, Michael was in college watching from afar while his father struggled with mental health issues and while his own parents were also divorcing.

All this is to say, Michael and I take our time and make well-informed decisions. And we do it to keep our walls from ever falling down around us. We’ve seen what can happen when they do and know the dark place that relationships can go when faced with the unexpected. But don’t be confused. We’re not naive. We know we can’t prepare for everything. We just want to feel like we’ve done what we can to steel ourselves against life’s variables. The big stuff. You know, The Hard Stuff (TM).

Which is how, six months after getting married, Michael and I found ourselves driving the five hours north to Syracuse to adopt a dog. Once again, we felt we’d prepared ourselves appropriately. We had planned and researched for nearly three years before finally settling on the right breed for our lifestyle, making sure we had enough free time in our lives to devote to walks and playtime, and even waiting to get her until after the wedding so that we could give her the most stable home possible.

Which brings me here. To tell you how it all fell apart.

Michael Juno

What we hadn’t planned for was that our dog might have crippling health issues. Now this can be devastating on its own, but our dog is also person sized. And this person-sized dog had health issues of the digestive order, which meant that for nine months (which was how long it took to find the magical cocktail of antibiotics to cure her) she couldn’t hold her bowels for more than two hours. Which, in case you’re wondering, sucks.

At first we were hopeful. We figured it was a bug or stress or something else short term and so we shifted a few things around in our schedule to make sure we could accommodate her needs. I’d get up in the middle of the night if Michael stayed up late and took her out before bed. Since I worked an hour and a half away from home, Michael would come home in the middle of the day to let her out on his lunch break. It wasn’t perfect and we were definitely feeling taxed, but it was a band-aid we’d put on a wound that would heal itself in time.

Until it didn’t.

Somewhere around month five, we broke. Our band-aid fell off and the wound was raw underneath. We were now pouring all of the energy that existed outside of work and bills and sleep into the dog and had become shadows of ourselves. We didn’t sleep more than four hours at a time, we ate takeout every night, and fought constantly. We had no energy for sex, which I took as the sign that our marriage was doomed, and so I engaged in pointless fighting about the fact that we weren’t having sex, which just repeated the stupid cycle.

Michael Juno Sleeping

Needless to say. We. Were. Not. Prepared. And what made matters worse (to my risk-averse self) was that all I could see was how this situation could play out in the future. Sleep deprivation has a way of making worst-case scenarios seem inevitable, so I became convinced that the situation would be hopeless if we ever came up against something like this again. I mean, what if one of our parents became seriously ill? If we couldn’t even pull ourselves together to take care of a dog, how could we ever sustain a marriage with a seriously ill family member? Because of what my parents went through when my sister passed away, I had no hope that we’d ever survive a sick child. Wasn’t our dog trouble just a foreshadowing of our future failure to withstand hardship?

Well, yes. But only if we let it.

Because the truth is, despite what we were enduring with the dog, there were still outside forces consuming tons of our energy that we refused to let go of to save ourselves. I was commuting ungodly hours to a job that left me feeling empty inside. We were living in a fancy(ish) apartment complex that was completely unsympathetic to our situation. And Michael was stuck alone at home most of the time, just wading through the sh*t. Literally. On top of that, we were just so consumed by how much things sucked for ourselves, that we didn’t really stop and think about how much it sucked for the other person.

And that’s when things began to turn. As the pressure in our relationship built and built and built, slowly we began to realize that the other things we were working so hard to maintain (bad jobs, horrible apartment, etc.) were not nearly as important as the relationship we’d been neglecting. (Lightbulb, right? But it’s harder to get here than you think.) After every horrible night of four a.m. wake-up calls, I was surprised to learn that the thing I really regretted was having to go to work the next morning and put the last ounce of energy I had left into something I simply didn’t care about.

Before I knew it, I was telling Michael that I’d rather spend every day at home with him in our poop-covered apartment than endure another day on the train to the city for the sake of…what? I didn’t even know. What I did know was that he mattered more and we mattered more than whatever else was eating up my time and energy.

Juno Lick

So we started to fix it. I found a job closer to home while Michael found us a better apartment. We put each other first and let the rest fall into place. As we shed unnecessary burdens, we pieced our lives together in such a way that the dog situation became manageable. Even if she wasn’t cured, our environment and our lifestyle were now conducive to our relationship in a way that allowed us to focus on ourselves again. Sure, it wasn’t what we’d planned for, but I didn’t commit to a plan in my vows. I committed to my partner and to making it work.

Despite how things seemed to fall apart, I’m amazed at how quickly our lives made a turn for the better when we began focusing our energy inward towards each other rather than outward towards life’s unknowns. It’s been almost a year and a half since our dog got better, and things are so drastically different now from the day we got her that I’d have laughed at you if you told me this is where I’d be right now. In just that short period of time I’ve started and grown my own my photography business, prompting Michael to begin his own job search, which eventually landed us in the beautiful state of California and made way for me joining the APW staff. None of which would have happened if we hadn’t been forced, if somewhat abruptly, to change our priorities.

Fat Juno

Which I think is the very point of enduring The Hard Stuff. It can pull us apart, of course. But it also forces us to strip away our distractions and focus on the relationship, so that the next time the sh*t hits the fan (ha!), as I know it will, we can face it with reinforced strength. Meaning that just because we had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year doesn’t signify that we won’t be able to handle something worse if it comes our way. On the contrary, it means that we did handle it, we can handle it, and we will handle it. Together.

Photos of the day we brought Juno home, and us now, from Maddie’s personal collection

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  • I love this post. The dog pictures help! :) just kidding (a little bit). We are currently dealing with our own dog issues, and I am regularly impressed by how much strain it really can put on a marriage. It’s not “just a dog” anymore than your roof caving in is “just a roof.” It’s kind of a big deal. And this is a really excellent point: “On top of that, we were just so consumed by how much things sucked for ourselves, that we didn’t really stop and think about how much it sucked for the other person.” Ah, if we could always remember to just pause and reflect on that (and we often do! just not always), all of it would be easier. Thanks for sharing this!

    • It’s so true – adopting a dog has actually felt like a really big deal for us as a couple, more than I thought it would. Finding the balance of caring for her and caring for ourselves, and working out how to share the workload, has been tough. But the experience of loving something jointly for the first time, having something that we both care equally about, has been joyful.

      • I was thinking the same thing the whole time… Our “special snowflake” beagle is prone to upper respiratory infections, and even right now I’m sitting here with half my mind at home wondering if I should have stayed home and rushed him to the vet today. Again.

        At the same time, there’s no doubt in our mind that he’s worth it, and the necessary changes are worth it, and WE’RE worth it as a baby family. Thank you for sharing, Maddie. Juno is GORGEOUS. Give her huge kisses from us. :)

      • It really is amazing how adopting an animal affects your relationship and how going through difficult times with that animal (sickness, grief of loss, etc) can throw your relationship & world of its axis. This is a great reminder to think of not only our own difficulties and grief, but to remember our partner has those feelings in some way, shape or form too. Lovely post Maddie. And your dog is freaking adorable!

  • Maggie P.

    “…but I didn’t commit to a plan in my vows. I committed to my partner and to making it work” – Exactly!…I need to write this down somewhere. I’m a bit too much of a planner and I’m afraid of myself on that one. Great post!

    • i was *just* about to post the EXACT same reply. i love this line. well said and very important words for any couple.

      • Hahaha, me too. I’m forwarding this post, with that line as the subject, to my husband.

  • Amy March

    I did not know dogs came in that size!

    • Great Danes are even taller if you can believe it. You truly do not realize how big these giant sized breed dogs are until you see them in person. The English Mastiff is one of the heftiest of all the dog breeds other than a newfoundland(who legitmately look like bears) and I know one that is over 200lbs.

      And the crazy dog lady will now shut up.

      • Maddie

        True! Juno’s dad was 235lb and growing! She’s now a healthy 175lb, which is just…crazy, right?

      • Crazy Dog Ladies are HAWT. ;)

      • Caroline

        Newfoundlands are huge. We had one when I was a teen (he’s still around, but lives with my mom, so isn’t really mine anymore), and when he lays down he is literally as long as a picnic table from nose to tail. He’s a small Newfie at about 150, but man does he look like a small bear. A small bear who doesn’t need to do more than raise his chin slightly to reach the counters…

        • Edelweiss

          But also – the sweetest of dogs. I had a Newfie growing up – she was a huge teddy bear. Huge Bear- one of my friends ran away from her and climbed a tree the first time she saw it! Teddy – she used to pull me around in water and have me hold onto her tail and she always sensed when I was upset and would try to crawl in my lap.

      • Maggie P.

        I love person-sized dogs. Newfies DO look like bears and that’s why I love them! Don’t you want a friendly loyal pet bear??? I do. Alas, living in the Looziana heat would be miserable for most of the large breeds (though a Dane would probably be fine) – I think I’m going to have to stick to something smaller, though.

  • maura

    your dog is HUGE! person sized indeed!

    • My family owned a Shetland pony that (I’m pretty sure) was smaller than Maddie’s dog.

  • I misread Meg’s description I thought you were wading through your -own- shit. Then I was like, ‘phew, it’s dog shit’. Then I thought, ‘hang on, my shit’s nicer than dog shit, just by virtue of being mine…’. So I’m not sure what’s worse.

    But I am sure glad that your dog is better, and that you weathered the storm and made it to California to join the APW staff! It wouldn’t be the same without you.

  • Juno is my favourite internet dog for certain. I’m amazed even more by how much you guys clearly still adore her in spite of having to wade through her poo for so long- because that kind of thing can really take a tole on pet/human relationships, not just the human ones.

    Go you guys for making it through. xx

    • WHAT. Lauren, I am going to pretend I didn’t read this. WHAT ABOUT SMIDGEN?


      • Smidgen is totally a real life dog to me. She and I have hung out – I’ve photographed her even!

    • Maddie

      It is sometimes obnoxious how much we adore her.

  • Junooo! man. We’ve suffered a few bouts of digestive problems with Brady, but they’re always just little bouts, not 9 straight months of it.. I can’t even imagine! The way you guys turned it around is really admirable, and I always love a reminder to think about how much it sucks for the other person.

    also, you have the best earrings.

  • Jess

    Oh man, I feel this so much. When we adopted our dog (four years ago this week!) we were told that his previous family was giving him up because of allergy issues. I assumed that meant someone in the family was allergic to him. Turns out, it’s our pup who is allergic to EVERYTHING.

    Allergy issues don’t sound like a big deal, until you find out that a) there is barely anything your dog can eat, and b) your dog is allergic to GRASS, so you need to wipe him down every time he comes inside during certain times of year or his paws will erupt with bloody sores. We’ve spent so much money (that we honestly didn’t have!), time and energy over the past few years taking care of our guy.

    Last year was rough – my husband was unemployed. We went on a camping trip – the only kind of weekend getaway we could afford ($20 for the weekend in a local state park? check). We brought the dog with us, and he had an absolute blast all weekend. But, when I came home from work monday? I found a dog that lost most of the hair around his muzzle and eyes (yes, in a span of 12 hours), and our carpet was covered in blood from where he had rubbed and itched himself raw. Heartbreaking.

    Just like you guys, we powered through. And its worth it. We have honestly learned so much about how we work together to take care of a living being (turns out, we make a good team). Lessons like that will come in handy when the time comes for kids (waaaay down the road). In the meantime? Here’s a picture of our dapper guy from our wedding this past summer: (photo from the lovely, talented and amazing Michelle Arlotta).

    • Maddie

      Holy sh*t that sounds difficult. Kudos to you for finding a way to make it work for you. Also, your dog is ADORABLE. So, clearly worth it. :)

      But allergies, right? What a f*cking pain in the arse.

  • Maddie as a shelter volunteer I say 10 thousand thank you’s for not giving up on anything through all of this. Dealing with a dog with some problems can easily take its toll on your life, especially when missing sleep becomes involved. I am so glad it worked out for you and your husband…and ofcourse Juno because let’s face it, it takes a special couple to deal with mastiff poop everywhere constantly.

    Did you ever get an official diagnosis other than sh*t stormitis.

    • Maddie

      Nope! No diagnosis, just a treatment plan that she’ll be on f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Our vet is still stumped to this day.

  • Kristina

    I moved in with my fellow and we got engaged right around the time that my geriatric dog started having trouble holding her pee all night (4 o’clock wake-ups — I hear you Maddie), and also unexplained anxiety (maybe just old brain issues) that make her whimper in the night. She’s my sweet baby who’s been with me forever and so I live with it. But I have been constantly amazed at my guy, who gets up with her about half the time, remembers her medication, installed a dog door for her, bought a baby gate to keep her in a smaller area at night (less anxiety that way), and keeps loving me and her even though we’re all exhausted. It’s been hard but I am more sure than ever that I’m marrying the right person — one who will get up with me when I’m an old lady too. Great post, APW.

  • Oh man, puppy health problems are so tough. Kudos to you guys for sticking it out (and figuring out how to improve your situation overall)!

  • Claire

    This whole post is so wise and so beautifully written, but this part especially just made me catch my breath:

    “Sure, it wasn’t what we’d planned for, but I didn’t commit to a plan in my vows. I committed to my partner and to making it work.”

    So true.

    And what a gorgeous dog!

  • Lia

    Maddie, I can’t even imagine how hard that must’ve been — my fiance and I just got our first puppy a month ago, and it has been pretty taxing on our relationship. We thought we were prepared, but neither of us have ever had a dog, let alone a puppy before, so while you can read all the puppy books you want, nothing really ‘prepares’ you for the madness that is having a puppy until it’s in your house, peeing/pooping on your floor, and playbiting the crap out of you. Absolutely exhausting! We’re taking it one day at a time, she’s almost 15 weeks now and mellowing out just a bit. The bright side (besides the cute pup) is that this has shown me how we can work as a team under stress, especially since we’d like to have a couple kiddos someday. Glad that you guys got through your year of sh*t, and thanks again for the post.

  • mimi

    Juno is adorable! I have a St. Bernard (Lucy), who, while small for a St. Bernard, is also person-sized (if she gets all the way up on her hind legs, she’s over 6 feet tall). She’s always been pretty healthy, so I’ve been fortunate. After coming home to one major accident in the house a couple years ago….I can only imagine what you guys went through. Glad she’s well now!

  • This: “Sure, it wasn’t what we’d planned for, but I didn’t commit to a plan in my vows. I committed to my partner and to making it work.” I love this. You say it so perfectly. My wife and I have been married for a year and a half, and in that time, we’ve waded through unemployment, deaths in our family, a flood, mental health issues and four unexpected roommates (one at a time, at least) after crises in our family. It definitely wasn’t what we thought our first years of marriage would look like. And yet- we’ve gotten through it. So thank you for this. It is exactly, exactly right.

  • LOOK AT DA PUPPY!!!!!!

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  • kmc

    This is such a perfect post! I’m another recent-pup owner and have been surprised by the effect she’s had on our relationship. The first month was hard, the second slightly easier and, until last week, we thought we’d figured it all out.

    Now we’re facing another twist in the road involving time, money and energy (our sweet and stubborn 80-lb rescue dog needs some behavioral work for socializing. She loves playing with other dogs…she just views “playing” as running into them at full force and not reading their social cues back).

    But after the second week we got her, I remarked to my husband how easy it was to spend each night operating as co-dog owners and not husband and wife. We have to take time and energy to focus on each other, too. Thanks so much for writing this post and reminding me of it…

  • It’s quite surprising how terrifying pet health problems can be.

    Because it’s just the dog, right? Except it’s the dog that you’ve spent months/years/etc loving/caring/sharing your time with. And seeing him in pain that they can’t tell you about hurts a lot, because you’ve internally made it your job to take care of his world. The last thing you want is to let the creature you’ve taken into your heart and home suffer and not have a clear way to fix things for him.

  • Agh! The things that pet ownership can teach you! We had a health scare with Sprocket (he had an accident involving our truck and his tail…bad news for a while…) and in the end it was so wonderfully re-enforcing on what was important. Dogs are so good at bringing people together.

  • Dealing with a seriously ill pet is SO HARD.

    My fiance (although he was just my boyfriend then) and I spent 6 months caring for our cat, who had a terminal heart condition and needed medication every 12 hours. It was really hard, both to adjust our schedules to manage her care and to watch her slow decline, knowing there was nothing we could do to help her but make her comfortable and let her go when the time came.

    But going through that process was one of the (many) reasons I decided my fiance was The Dude For Me. That process helped me realize how deeply we support each other and how powerful our relationship is when we work together on something important. We miss our kitty… but we learned a lot from her.

  • Marie

    Great post Maddie! Juno’s such a beautiful dog, I’m glad she’s feeling better!

    Adopting a dog was one of the first things my fiance and I did after moving in together, but it was something we had talked about for a long time. I felt like we did our research and found a dog that worked for our lifestyle, but even with all of that, the stress of the first couple weeks really tested things. Our timing was also not great, we adopted our pup the day my fiance submitted his thesis, the next day hurricane Irene dumped rain all day making going for a walk no fun for any of us, we discovered the dog came home with some fleas from the rescue and had to race to treat him and protect the cat, and then about a week later there was a thesis defense to contend with. I made myself sick with stress and lost a significant amount of weight, prompting a visit to the campus health center where they decided I was probably pregnant, which was absurd but once someone puts the idea in your head…stress city until the test results came back. It was all just stress, plus exercise from taking the pup out all the time so he won’t be bored.

    “Sure, it wasn’t what we’d planned for, but I didn’t commit to a plan in my vows. I committed to my partner and to making it work.” I’m going to be keeping this and your example in mind in the next couple of months! Thanks again for sharing your story!

  • Beth

    Thank you so much for this post, Maddie. My now-fiance and I were not engaged when we got our puppy, and it was such a tremendous learning experience for us, both as independent adults and as a team. We have been very lucky, so this was really the first time that we were confronted with the need to make decisions that were in the best interest of someone/ something other than ourselves. I had been extremely frustrated with the initial few weeks of puppy-motherhood, which I had not been adequately emotionally prepared for, until my fiance pointed out that I had always been the one to tell him that together, we could do anything (from our favorite DMB song). It hit me like a bolt of lightening– this wasn’t about the puppy peeing on the carpet, it was that from here on out in our lives together, I needed to view both struggles and successes in terms of “us” and “we”, not “I” or “me.” I am happy to report that we continued to grow stronger and more committed to caring for our little Jinx and for each other. I really appreciate this post b/c I sometimes feel silly explaining to people how having a puppy helped us to grow so much in our relationship; thanks Maddie and APW for “getting it!” And congrats on Juno’s recovery!

  • Katie in VT

    Maddie! I’m a fairly infrequent APW reader/visitor these days — new job! back in VT! — but I am so glad I stopped by today. I’m sending warm fuzzies to you, Michael and Juno: You guys are an amazing family. In news from our end of the country, Colin and I are adding a puppy to the mix in exactly 17 days. While this sort of story terrifies me a wee bit as a pet-owner-to-be, it’s also a wonderful reminder of why the hard stuff is worth it. I, like another reader, especially loved this: “I didn’t commit to a plan in my vows. I committed to my partner.” Yes! A million times, yes.

    -xo from Katie, Colin and the cows

    • Maddie

      Ha, I love that she who owns the herd of cattle is calling herself a pet-owner-to-be. <3.

      But seriously, congratulations to you and Colin! You guys will be amazing pet parents. Promise.

  • You guuuuuuuys! All these comments are so awesome, you’re killing me. At the risk of sounding like the “Crazy Dog Lady,” I haven’t posted about all the worries of our boy’s health issues (vaccine allergies to the max, among others). And it gets… kinda lonely. But WOW.

    First, you were there though the wedding, and now it’s transitioned to “through life.” APW just rocks my face off. *tear*

  • Martha

    A) Juno is adorable. Big dogs are the best – slobber and all.
    B) You’re making lovely points here. It can be very hard to see through all the sh*t to the underlying truth, but you both appear to have managed admirably. Thanks for the reminders!
    C) One of our two pups just got diagnosed with heartworms, and he will have to be still and quiet for 6 weeks in order to avoid cardiac arrest (!!!!). This is the dog that lies down for 30 seconds and calls it a nap. We’re not sure how we’re going to enforce this, but we’ll figure it out. It helps that my husband is amazing and our jobs flexible. :)

    • em_perk

      I’m totally late on this but one of my three pups was diagnosed with heartworms about seven months ago, the most energetic and crazy of the three of course (1.5 yr old pit-boxer mix), and the one that was my baby before I married my husband and his two dogs. We found a crate to be very helpful in keeping her still, but she was already crate trained. She still HATED having to be chill but we made it through. It’s scary and tough, but you’ll get through it and I’m sure your baby will be ok too!

  • Juno!!!!!!!!!

    Ahem. Thank you, Maddie, for this beautiful articulation about putting your relationship first. I don’t think we hear enough in our culture about the importance of prioritizing in that way that amounts to more than lip service, so rock on, lady.

    Also, y’all, I’ve seen Maddie at karaoke – she’s not joking about the fearlessness!

  • It’s so funny to me how innocent looking, adorable creatures (puppies, in this case) can wreak such havoc! We adopted a puppy about two and half years ago who turned out to have several health issues- one of which was her inability to keep pee inside of her and not on the couch. or the floor. or her crate. It turned out that we were able to find a relatively easy fix for that, but I can’t even imagine substituting poop for all that pee I cleaned up. Oh, and she threw up all the time, too. So I guess I can imagine it, somewhat ;) That one was tougher, but 2 years in we figured out she was allergic to gluten (Roomba is oh-so-trendy in her allergies). I wish we had been able to skip 2 years of vomit, but, like you I think, I’m just glad to be on the other side, marriage intact. And not have to wake up at 2am and 4am to take her out!

  • My late dog Wrigley (a 75 pound boxer mix) passed a few years ago of lymphoma which, in the last few months, progressed into his GI tract with similar results to what Juno went through. That was a very, very long few months, and Boy and I had just moved in together at that point. (Thankfully, we were inhabiting a condo that was about to get renovated and sold when we moved out, so ruining the carpets was not a concern.) That whole time… his decline and eventual passing – was The Hardest Thing I’d ever done. BUT. It was also that whole experience that convinced me deep inside that it was okay to be vulnerable with Boy, and we would be okay when more Hard Things came up down the road. Definitely took a lot of exhaustion and sadness and anger and sexlessness for us to get there, though, too.

  • I really liked this part:
    “Before I knew it, I was telling Michael that I’d rather spend every day at home with him in our poop-covered apartment than endure another day on the train to the city for the sake of…what? I didn’t even know. What I did know was that he mattered more and we mattered more than whatever else was eating up my time and energy.”

    I like how you guys thought outside the box and prioritized what was most important and found a way to work out those most important things and threw the other stuff overboard. And to think that it led to such positive and creative new adventures for you too… What a wonderful thing to come out of overcoming a huge challenge! So glad things are going so much better now.

  • bec

    True: “Sleep deprivation has a way of making worst-case scenarios seem inevitable.” Obvious, but I so needed to hear that right now. Thank you!!

    • Rowany

      Amen, we just realized that the adage “don’t go to bed angry” is silly if this means you’re staying up until 3 am to resolve things. I prefer the How I Met Your Mother Rule, “Nothing good happens after 2 am.”

      • Karen

        Absolutely the truth! Not everything has to be hashed out ad nauseum. Besides, everything looks and feels better after getting some sleep.

  • Amazing! During “the hard stuff” things are hard to see clearly, but after? After you know if you can make it through that hard stuff then other hard stuff will be overcome too.

  • Juno is adorable and I’m very happy to read that she is now fine.And even happier to read that what you went through made you stronger and led you to living a life that you are happier with. That is really great.

    From my own life experience, the “hard stuff” seems to be thrown at me to force me into life changes I wouldn’t have made otherwise. I have come to see it as life’s way of telling me “I tried it the nice way, but you were too stubborn to LISTEN” (which doesn’t prevent me from going through periods of “why oh why?!”before accepting that the Universe may be trying to tell me something!). I read once that Chinese people believe that “crisis”means “opportunity” (Zen?). I like to think it is true.

    • Maddie

      Yes, this, EXACTLY.

  • Carrie

    Puppy! She is so gorgeous and you guys are so awesome for sticking it out and taking care of her. It’s amazing the things our pets can do for us even though they’re not trying.

    My senior dog lost (most of) her hearing earlier last year which was tough on me because I realized she was getting older. Then she started getting sick and we couldn’t figure out why. At my shower, my vet tech friend suggested Misty take tramadol which started to help and then it didn’t. A lot of vet visits and tests totaling at least a mortgage or two, it looked like she was not much longer for this life. This was about a week before the wedding. A few days before the wedding, she was getting worse. My boss sent me home early because I was hysterical and terrified that I was always making the wrong the decision and I didn’t want her to suffer but I didnt want to give up on her either. Coming home from work after being sent home, I wrecked my car but thankfully no one was hurt. Misty was staying with my folks at the beach where we were getting married, so she was part of the festivities and I got to spend time with her. I told my parents that if they had to make a tough decision while we were on our honeymoon that they had my blessing. I didn’t want my girl to suffer needlessly.

    They didn’t have to make a tough call while we were gone. Misty’s feet got better (condition related to her liver issues). She went off the pain patches. She put weight back on. She walked a little more everyday. This started in May 2011. That silly dog is fat and happy at home right now. She helped me get out the big ugly cries before the wedding. She showed me a lot that’s hard to put into words. And she is still here, part of our big married family.

    Pets are amazing. One of my favorite sayings remains, I hope to be the person my dog thinks I am.

  • JoAnna

    Oh how I relate! We adopted a smaller dog (definitely not human size), he was a rescue. They “said” he has a tummy issue and has to be on prescription food. Ok, no biggie, except he was so sick. We had to take him out every 2 hours, he pooped every two hours. When if first started he lost 4 pounds in 2 days (he was only 24 pounds at the time), so we had to increase his food consumption to try and keep some food in him. The vet could find no issues/solutions so we started messing around with the “prescription” food. We kicked it to the curb and started making his food from scratch. We think he has a protein losing disorder, but haven’t finalized the testing because we stabilized him with food. Turns out his body was not tolerant of carrots, chicken, rice, wheat, corn, a long list of foods that can be found in dog food…So pounds and pounds of quinoa, pork and all kinds of veggies we have a healthy dog and a healthier relationship for us because we really leaned on each other and learned how to work through a really sh*tty situation ;)

    Kudos for wading through the poo!

  • TP

    I have to take a moment to recommend to everyone getting pet insurance. My cat unexpectedly got pancreatitus (who even knew pets could get that?), and my boyfriend and I would have been freaking out about the cost. Luckily, we only had to stress out about him getting better (which he did)! Most plans we researched don’t cover routine care, like vaccines and spay/neuter, but those are expenses you can plan for. Insurance is great for the unexpected and extremely costly.

  • Rowany

    Love, love love this post (and the pictures!). As a risk-averse, karaoking planner I have been known to catastrophisize from time to time, and I think sitting back and realizing that regardless of the worst-case-scenario I want to stay together, has helped me calm down a bit.

    On another note, I have 2 cats that together weigh less than 20 lbs, so this was much easier for us, but have all of you with dogs with allergies/digestive problems considered raw food diets (or at least as a supplement)? Reading about what goes into commercial pet food, especially dry food, I’ve found that most of it has no or harmful nutritional value, and might contribute to allergies and digestive problems, and later on (at least for cats) to urinary tract problems. We use Aunt Jeni’s cat food which has been pretty economical for us, but there are several recipes for making homemade raw food that can make more financial sense for the huge dogs that many of you have. Disclaimer: I am not a vet. On the other hand (and any vets here, feel free to dispute this if you know this to not be true), I’ve read that commercial pet companies fund the nutrition education program in many vet schools, so I’m not sure if I trust them to be unbiased in this regard. I don’t think the kind of attention that pushed pharmaceutical companies out of medical school classrooms has turned to veterinary schools quite yet. Hope this helps!

  • Clearly, Juno is adorable & worth any hardships! I’m so glad she is healthy & you’re getting plenty of rest again :-) I came into my relationship with a senior dog & a senior cat. It touched my heart how much my then-boyfriend, who never had a pet before, came to love them & how much they adored him. & when he went above & beyond to care for them in their final days, I knew he was a keeper. Now we’re married & our family includes our sweet beagle/basset hound. We recently experienced a huge loss & our furry bud kept us smiling & laughing & hoping for better days every step of the way.

  • Liz

    JUNO! <3

    Your last paragraph sums it all up. So I'd like to just "Exactly" that, please.

  • Jessica

    Oh my gravy your dog is huge! But adorable. I am such a huge dog fan. Your post was wonderful and had me crying, possibly because I feel like we are in almost the same situation (minus the dog). So it spoke to me and I Found myself nodding along with you.

    Plus I am such a huge dog person that I pretty much cry every time something is wrong with one or one is sick.

    But anyways I’m so glad everything worked out for you guys (and your huge puppy dog) and that you are happy. A very uplifting but real post. Thank you.

  • LBD

    OMG do I ever hear you sister! I could have WRITTEN this post. We made the not-so-wise decision to adopt a puppy a month and a half before our wedding. Honestly, the stress of wedding planning quickly paled in comparison to the stress of dealing with our puppy’s issues. Ultimately finding a sitter and getting him settled was the most stressful part of the wedding. Our pup was separated from his mom too young because she was hit by a car, and we had no idea of the kinds of behavioral issues that could cause. They don’t learn doggie body language as well, they don’t have as much initial bite inhibition training from mom, and they don’t have the beginnings of potty training from mom that makes crate-training easier, namely, you don’t poop/pee where you sleep. He was a mess. I broke down more times than I can count, and in my darkest hours thought there was no way I could keep him and stay sane. And, then, at around six months, he also developed terrible digestive problems. Two or three months straight of constant diarrhea, trying to find the magical blend of food and supplements that would make things solid. Not being able to go out for more than a couple hours for fear of returning to a sh*tpocalypse. Hosing down the crate at 4AM. Losing sleep, losing our minds. Bawling on the couch with my husband trying to talk me down. On top of that he’s a boxer, and super-high energy, so he began taking up almost an entirety of our lives, leaving little time for us, and for other things we enjoy.

    Luckily his vet is our next-door neighbor, so out of her generosity she didn’t charge us for a lot of the over-the-fence help she gave us.

    Thanks to some wonderful trainers he has undergone amazing strides in his behavior, and the digestive stuff has settled down. He’s starting to mirror something like a normal 10-month-old boxer, and we are starting to feel like we’re getting our lives back. He still struggles with reliability in the crate, but we can get away with an evening out now, which is amazing. We too have grown a lot through this experience. We are reconnecting as our lives normalize, and I am able to really enjoy our dog, when before because of all the stress he caused, it was very difficult to do that. Also, I am not a patient person, never have been, and man, I have gained a newfound fount of patience I’ve never ever had before. I also feel damn proud of us, and for all the work we put into our dude to get him where he is.

    I am also the queen of Amazon pet product reviews now, hahaha.

  • Juno is adorable As a puppy mom myself (first pet ever), I almost cried in the waiting room of my doctor’s office while reading this piece. So happy to hear you all are thriving.

  • Suzanna

    I hear you on the “going straight to worst-case scenario” thing. My fiance spoils our dogs–IT MUST MEAN HE WILL SPOIL OUR (at this point imaginary) KIDS AND WE’LL END UP PLAYING GOOD COP/BAD COP FOREVER! Dooooooooom!

  • I LOVE Juno, and I love the picture of you two together – look at those pretty paws.

  • YAY. I mean, “That’s sucks… but I’m glad you are willing to talk about it…”


    Your dog is beautiful! And I’m really glad that you are both learning to deal with it, accommodate it as she is part of your famdamnily, and not just dump her on someone else.

    Do you listen to Joy Kills Sorrow? Look, I am a lady that references wisdom and words in lyrics, and I thought of this when thinking about how you (and I!) cautiously consider every aspect in your/our approaches to life: “I move so carefully slow, because I don’t know where I should go. And I’m holding on tight to my soul.”

    Meh. I may be off.

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