Happy new year.

2014, you don’t mess around.


I began the new year in Key Largo, amongst family. We were in town for a cousin’s wedding. Rev remained in Orlando with my Dad. Mini vacation. She’s spoiled rotten anyway, but with dad, oh, all bets are off. That dog gets anything and everything she wants. (And thank goodness… should be no other way. Mmmm.)

Toby, our eleven year old Lab, had been sick for a few weeks. He had three separate seizures mid-December and had been on medication since. My Dad made the decision to let him go on Saturday morning.

As I dropped Rev off at the house last Monday, I wondered if Toby would be there when I came home a week later. So I found him at the back of the field in a hard sleep, his head buried in the tall grass. Gently I woke him up; gently I started moving his head from under the blades. He protested. I stopped. He buried his head in the grass again. Then, deep breaths. Deep, deep breaths. Wow.


The vet suspects Toby suffered brain damage from the seizures. Probably. But in that moment, I got chills. He connected himself to the earth, to the growth and the dirt and the power of life. There is no doubt in my mind.

Toby was my first agility dog. That sentence sends my head spinning in many different directions. To be untangled at another time. Not now. Toby was my Dad’s Rev, if that helps to bring light to their relationship. This will not be easy. Nor should it be. But while the aching is strong in my heart… to imagine my father’s pain brings me to tears instantly, as I know the scenario I have to create in my mind to feel that pain, and it is one that will also eventually play out.


While at the wedding reception Saturday night I was texted an apology message for his passing before I knew of it. My phone was tucked away into a room where we were storing the cameras. I happened to see the message in the perfect moment. I happened to have the freedom to fall to the bed in tears. My Mom happened to walk in three minutes later and was able to hold me. She later, quietly, shared the news. One by one — sometimes by group — family members tackled me with hugs. Oh, a family is a beautiful thing.

2014, you don’t mess around.

We wrapped up 2013 well. I didn’t give the year a word at the beginning, and I’m not sure I have one to end it with, either. It was a great year, pretty solidly divided into a first and second half for me, personally. Good things, all around. Lots of expansion, particularly in the second half. I wish I had the strength to write more on this now.

Stretching, here lies my focus for 2014. I look forward to stretching tall and wide this year — physically, emotionally. Big smiles over this. Big adventures around the corner, always.

2014: Stretch

I am grateful for that dog. So grateful, it hurts. Also, I cut all of my hair off. Also, I ride roller coasters now. Watch out, world.

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  1. Heather Kaluza says

    So, so sorry to hear about Toby. He had been on my mind since I first heard about his seizures, Derby’s dad had 3 seizures a few days after. There is nothing worse than watching dog’s you love grow old and there is nothing you can do about it. Ok, I can’t even think about it anymore….hugs <3

  2. Rayanne C says

    I am so sorry for your loss. My first dog I got at age 5 was a Lab and they’re just the best. His name was Blackie and I did ‘backyard’ agility with him when he was getting older. I loved the sport so much I got another Lab puppy to train, Magnum, who’s now 6 and I have him along with two Labs, one being his son. Magnum is the first dog I ever competed with and put titles on, but Blackie holds a special place in my heart as my first dog. He was my best friend and the one that turned me into a dog nerd. You never forget your first one. I’m sorry again for your loss, and I wish you and Rev all the best, and I hope you have a great new year.

  3. Sherry Moore says

    In the past 15 years, I’ve lost 8 dogs. Each loss has taken a piece of my heart. They give us so much, they help us grow, they teach us peace. I never know the right thing to say when someone experiences the loss of a loved one, nothing really makes me feel better when I’ve lost a bestie, it does help me to know others care and understand. Sincere sympathy.

  4. Mama Pug says

    I loved your piece on Toby. I haave been so sad for his loss and for your Dad who is devestated. I know you will miss him too. I remember your beginning into agility with Toby. I smile when I remember Toby’s lackluster (to put it mildly) in the sport. Who would have dreamed it would lead to such joy for you and Rev.
    I love you,

  5. Sally says

    To describe your dad’s relationship with Toby as “Toby was my Dad’s Rev” says it all! On the bright side…..Toby was your dad’s Rev- it’s cool for both of them that they had that relationship! So sorry for your loss but thrilled for Toby that he had a wonderful life and is now at peace.

  6. laura reder says

    Video very inspiring to me.Thank-you for reminding me that even when everything around is falling apart,I still have the health and the love of my dog

  7. Loretta says

    Sending you lots of happiness and all the love I can. What an amazing video and I totally understand how you feel…losing Ace was tough….those “first” dogs are special…hugs

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