Hippoi Athanatoi

In the Wake of a Loss, a Return

It has been a while since I wrote anything here. Over 3.5 years, in fact. I’ve posted plenty to Otherworldly, but nothing about dogs, horses, books, mu*ing or life in general. For some of it, I’ve used Facebook instead. For the rest, I’ve had the occasional urge to post but found myself frustrated by the need to redesign and restructure the site. The site just ended up being an awkward reminder of the fact that I wasn’t able to muster the energy to work on it properly. I keep having things get only partially finished because of my depression and then I get even more depressed because I have half-finished things lying around.

But sometimes things happen that make me care less about my little obsessions and hang-ups. On January 1st this year, our beloved Breeze passed away at only 6.5 years of age. Out of the blue he started suffering seizures on the 31st of December and the next day we learned that he had a large brain tumour and that nothing could be done for him.

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My heart is still in pieces and I miss his beautiful face and his large, comforting presence every moment of every day. He was not an easy dog but he was a wonderful dog.

I have lost four dogs before Breeze. I don’t imagine anyone is actually good at handling losses, but I am definitely very, very bad at it. Losing our first dog, Fritte, to a sudden heart attack when I was 15 was so traumatising that I regularly dreamt of him for many, many years afterwards. He’d suddenly show up in various scenarios in my dreams and it would always feel as if we’d just misplaced him for a while. But he would always disappear again as well. Before him, I had lost my first guinea pig. That time, I had locked myself in the bathroom to cry and scream and bang my head against the floor. Loss is change and I have never been able to handle change.

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Fritte was not a purebred Boxer, his mother was a Boxer and his father was half-Boxer, half a type of hunting dog. His personality was all Boxer, though.

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Our first purebred Boxer, Ozzy, lived to be almost 12 and while it was hard to let him go, we had been expecting it for some months and we had a wonderful last summer together with him. The thing that pained me the most about Ozzy was that it took me years before I was able to really bond with him because of the trauma of losing Fritte. And he was just the sweetest and kindest dog you can imagine.

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After Ozzy came Lillen, who was almost a year old when he came to us. He was an odd duck for sure, more of a house cat than a boxer as he found the big outdoors rather scary at times. But oh so sweet and quite clever too. He was only six when he started suffering some kind of neurological issue. We were never able to find out what it was, but it may also have been a tumour.

Then my dark beauty, Ringo. He was supposed to be the first dog I would train and compete with, but his nerves made him a difficult dog. If he got too excited, he could spin out of control, and no one in the family had enough experience with that kind of dog. But it had just started getting better when he started limping and a tumour was found on his leg. We fought against his cancer for over a year, the tumour was not very malignant and it was not spreading, but it was locally invasive and kept coming back.

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Almost as soon as we learned of Ringo’s illness, I decided that I wanted to try and get another puppy so we would not be left without a dog. I knew that getting one from a really good breeder could mean a long wait. But in 2014, our beautiful, wonderful Breeze joined Ringo in our household. They had some six months together and it was wonderful to see.

I knew then I wanted to have two dogs at the same time again, but Breeze turned out to be quite a handful as well. We were also very active training and showing him, and so it took until he was 4.5 before he got the best present ever: Winter.

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Winter is turning two in 10 days. He’s lovely, but a very different dog than Breeze and I am struggling right now with feeling as if I am out of touch with him, as if I only ever thought of “Breeze and Winter”, never of just “Winter”.

And all of this is why I am writing here again. After Breeze’s sudden passing, I was hit by a sharp deepening of my depression (after months of feeling really good, perhaps the best I ever had felt) but also by a need to DO something. I wrote several posts on Facebook, I looked through hundreds of old photos of our previous dogs and I felt very strongly that I needed to get around to creating pages for each of our dogs. One thing led to another and I started reworking the site, merging all the different blogs and simplifying the structure. Its not quite done still, but it is getting there and now I do have someplace for all of my ramblings once again. As a bonus, I have now refamiliarized myself with ExpressionEngine and with the website design, allowing me to also tackle some of the necessary changes to Westeros.org. My depression is making it hard to get out of bed and to get out of the house, but having some very specific projects to work on is helping me get through the days.

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