Monday, September 13, 2021

Nala...the bestest girl

 NALA ROSE 2008-2021

At 6 months old Tonka met the doggie love of his life, Ms. Nala Rose. 

The cutest little Australian Shepherd, her and her mom Carol were friends with Steve and his St. Bernard mix named Henry and that is how I met Carol. She was out walking Nala one day and Tonka and I ran into them and discussed setting up playdates. That encounter led to almost 6 years of fun and adventure. Carol, Steve and I were both just looking for a way for these youngsters to burn off energy, but Nala and Tonka became so much more than wrestle buddies. From that day on Tonka and her were the best of friends.  We called them the three amigos and we all met at the playground pretty much everyday for years. If Henry wasn't there then Tonka and Nala would wrestle and play and then would walk her home. 

Henry and Nala

I have been apart of Nala's life since that first encounter and she was so true to her breed. Sweet as could be, she was a whirlwind of fur always on the move and feisty as all get out. She could adapt to playing with any size dog and more than once would pull the 145lb Tonka boy across the field by his ear. If she loved you she would leap straight up to kiss you on the face which if you were not ready for was a bit of a shock. She would then want some love while her wiggle butt wagged in constant motion. She was always rounding all the dogs at the park up and making sure everyone played nice. Spending many a night at my house when Carol traveled or had to work a strange shift she preferred to sleep with CM, but loved to play with me and Tonka's toys.

Always well mannered and happy, her and Tonka were known by everyone within their two neighborhoods. She soon joined Tonka at all the local Appalachian Great Pyrenees events and later became an ambassador for the nonprofit Companion Bridge. The two of them went to dog fairs and walks for the animals as well as the local parks. 

Always in cahoots they once even tried to pull down a tree together. They played tug with anything they could find including items that had been left on the ball field. Carol ended up bringing her sons old hockey socks to the field so they could tug and destroy those.

Once they tried of wrestling, tugging and romping in mud puddles the two would always cuddle up for a rest or to share something yummy.

They walked and played no matter the weather and always had fun with friends.

Everyone and everything loved the Nala girl she was great with dogs and with cats. Always very protective of Tonka, I believe she knew he was blind and kept him away from the fence at the park. She would also put herself between him and any new dog until she knew the dog was OK. Whip smart and always ready for a trip in the car she was the perfect traveling partner for her mom. Over the years she traveled to many different states and even to Disney.

Later when Tonka had to be in wheels she did not miss a beat, she still walked with him and played with him like always. There were lots of times that their friends Duke and Jake would join us.

After Tonka passed Nala still came to play and walk with my boy Isaac. They would play but the relationship was so very different. 

Isaac was more like an annoying little brother as you can see in this picture. Nala is trying to kiss the Big Dog and Isaac is biting her feet.

Always looking pretty in her bandanas and usually sporting bows as well, she was a good sport about allowing us silly humans to dress her up as well. 

In her later years Nala became fascinated with playing fetch. She had certain balls that she really liked and could leap like a deer to catch them in mid air. She would come through the gate to my backyard and immediately grab that ball and want to play. If you were too slow she would bark at you non-stop till you threw it. Even as she got older and started slowing down and not jumping as high she still wanted to play.

It is absolutely heartbreaking to lose our furkids. It is the cost we pay for all that unconditional love and companionship. My friend Carol loved her girl fiercely and had to choose the ultimate act of love and let her baby cross the bridge in August. Nala had a great and happy long life, she could not have asked for a better mom. Time always steals our animals from us and Nala was no exception. Her health had declined and she was ready to go. Her and Tonka and Henry are back running and playing again. I know this with all my heart as Tonka sent me a 4 leaf clover to let me know she had made it to him.  

Thank you so much Carol and Nala for being such a huge part of our lives. It was a pleasure to have known this amazing girl and my honor to have shared so many great times. Hugs to you Carol and although I don't believe time heals all wounds, I do know that one day your memories will start to bring you smiles instead of tears. They are never really truly gone from us and will always be near, until we see them again. 


Monday, May 23, 2016

Time and Still Chasing Ghosts

I still hear him you know....
Usually around 3:30am I wake up and hear him downstairs stirring. He is waiting for me to come and express his bladder and wheelbarrow him with my arms outside to the porch and place him on the big foam bed. He on one side and I on the other, meeting in the middle. Snuggled together drifting back to sleep while I listen to his breathing and feel his heart beating against me. Back to sleep in the screened in porch in the cool night air until the sun rising and the singing of the birds wakes us again.

I still see him from time to time when I look in the rearview mirror. He loved to ride in the truck and stayed close up to the front seats so I could reach back and pet him or give him a cookie. I look back and sometimes catch his big head grinning at me.

I miss him. Time does not heal all wounds and it does not lessen my memories of him.

Three years ago in May he had surgery and was diagnosed with cancer. Chemo tanked him and the cancer tumors that we removed turned out to not be what took him from me. It was that damn tumor in the nose that no one would listen to me about when I said his breathing was off. That evil tumor that was sitting there growing and stealing time away from my son. So no time does not help me and May and June are dark months as they were the beginning of the end.

I should have, I would have, I didn't....
I didn't scream and push and fight for someone to take it serious and quit blowing me off with the "bad allergies" BS. I didn't demand a scope or an MRI until it was too late.

....and that I will have to live with till the end of time.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Friend Returns

It has been quite a stretch of time since I last wrote. I find it hard to come up with the words since my boy left. I even started another blog but just don't seem to make the time to write. Today though is an important day and I must get the words and pictures out.

It is another Friday the 13th (no longer my favorite day) and today Tonka has a very, very good friend going to see him. Many years ago I took my little blind boy on a walk to the park and a beautiful young Saint mix came flying across the field at us. His dad was in the woods looking for him as he had slipped away for a bit of fun. Henry always had a bit of a mischievous streak. He bounded up and he and Tonka were immediately fast friends. His name- Henry and he was T-Mans first neighborhood friend. Henry became our evening wrestle buddy and soon led us to Tonka's best girl Nala. They became the three amigos and romped and ran daily.

They played in the rain, they played in the snow, they played tug, and they played with other dogs but it was always the three of them together.

As they got a little older and Tonka had some issues we didn't go to the park as much and Henry himself injured a leg as big dogs are prone to do. The three remained best buddies though and anytime we would get together at the park it was if time had not moved on. They still played like young pups just not as hard or as long.
Recently Henry was diagnosed with large cell lymphoma and has not been doing so well. His owner being the good human he is and loving his boy to pieces has made the decision to do the right thing by Henry and to let him cross over the bridge. We all got together last night and had a great time. Henry ran with Nala and Isaac, barked at the UPS man, ate a bunch of cookies and hung out with us till it was obvious he was getting tired.
Happy Boy

Where is that Toy


Guys you aren't smiling...


I see you UPS guy

Today Henry is going to see his friend and my heart - the Tonka man. I know they will both run and wrestle and roll all over the place just like they did so many years ago. My heart aches for his dad as I know how much he loves this boy and this is the hardest part of sharing your journey with a furkid. I wish him peace with his decision and comfort in the knowledge that Henry knows how much he is loved and what a great life he enjoyed here on earth. The neighborhood will mourn the loss of such a good boy but the bridge will welcome another perfect angel.
Run free Henry~ until we meet again!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Exactly 6 years ago today a friend and I drove to Richmond, Virginia. We exited 295 on an exit labeled Varina which I have always jokingly called Narnia. If you have ever read the books or seen the movies then you know that Narnia is a magical place and so too is the place off of this particular exit. This is the exit that leads to Appalachian Great Pyrenees Rescue and that day it took me to "get" my magical boy Tonka. A magical boy deserves to come from a magical place.

Today is his "gotcha" day. The day that I "got" him to come home and be with me forever. I just did not know that our forever would be so short.  I still struggle daily with the fact that he is gone but I keep my thoughts and feelings more and more to myself  as I am trying the patience of even my dearest friends with my sadness.

I try to occupy my time with things that I think he would be proud of. I try to stay busy and stay distracted but Tonka is always right there.

See today is his "gotcha" day but the reality is he "got" me and he became my heart and I will never be the same again.

I miss you my Tonk Man.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Goodbye Mr. Bean

Years ago a Pyr with mange came into rescue which is not uncommon. He was a handsome young man and they named him Mr. Bean also known as Beanie. The mange cleared but he developed a lameness issue and it was thought that he perhaps had (DM) which is a progressive disorder. I wrote about Mr. Bean on Myatuk's webpage to ask for help.

Over the years the lameness got worse and Mr. Bean ended up in wheels. Walking Beanie in his wheels was always an adventure because if you didn't pay attention he would take off after deer and go crashing into the woods. It was not uncommon for him to up-end himself blasting over downed trees and stumps.

I loved Bean because like Tonka he personified that "never give up" spirit and in his wheels he was a thing of joy to behold. He was also a big love laying on his blanket in the yard wanting to be fussed over and talked to. He tended to be picky about who he liked but he and I always got along fine.
It was because of Bean that I knew Tonka would be OK when the time came that he finally ended up in wheels. It was also because of him that I had already done some research about lameness before that became an issue with my boy. I owe Mr. Bean for some of my sanity and calmness in dealing with the past 2 years.

On Saturday January 17, 2014 the Journey of Mr. Bean ended here on earth. I imagine he and Tonka are running and playing like two overgrown pups and chasing deer and each other thru the woods with no obstacles in the way.
Rest In Peace Mr. Bean I will see you and my boy at the bridge.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Happy Birthday My Son

Today my boy would have been 6.
It is still incredibly difficult to deal with the fact that he is gone and not coming back. It just so happens that today is the Middleburg Christmas Parade - an event that he loved to participate in. I will go and walk with all the Pyrs in his memory but it will not be the same. I understand that most people do not get my grief and so I have withdrawn and refrain from talking about him except for with a few close friends.

He was so amazing and loving that I wanted to do something in his honor and so I started a non-profit organization with one of his biggest supporters, my friend Gina. Its premise is to help people facing tough decisions about their companion animals by providing support and assisting with major medical costs through donations.

The website is at Companion Bridge and was created to provide a loving and supportive community for people to connect, share and assist one another on behalf of their animals. If you get a moment please check it out and if you can donate a little that would be great. It is my wish that it grow to help everyone that ever needs it even after I am long gone.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed sharing in Tonka's Journey and that we perhaps made you smile or helped you in some way.
Peace and Love Always

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Ebb and Flow... The Journey here on earth ends

AP here:
I have spent a great deal of my life in the water, waiting on waves or wind and they have their own rhythm, their own beat that they march to and it is known as -ebb and flow.
Then ebb is not so fun, peaceful but not so fun, but when wind or water is flowing and you stand up and ride it is an incredible feeling. Happiness!

life on land also follows the same
The situation that Tonka and I are in seems to exaggerate these downs and ups, the ebb and flow. The bad moments, the labored breathing, the nosebleeds and the eye that is being pushed slowly sideways these are the things that suck the tide back and make for a not so enjoyable day.
When things are good though and he is surrounded by his peeps, or enjoying his breakfast, or just loving the cooler weather sleeping on the porch with me, this is the flow. Happiness!

It was my wish that Tonka would get to the bridge in a very peaceful manner, not in a crisis and not when he was stressed. I had made plans to have him pass at the house and my gut kept telling me it was time. The problem was everyone stopping by to see him commented on how great he looked and he was doing and I second guessed my gut. I started to think we had a little more time and his last day was such a great day that I actually called in and refilled his prescriptions.

Tonka's last day was a truly great day, he and I slept outside on the porch from about 4am on and then "watched" the sun come up. I was home for the day and so I got to spend time with him. He had a good breakfast, a buffalo bully stick and some cheese.
I'm up
Back to sleep on Porch with Mom

Back up for Breakfast

Can I have a scone?

No Scone then I'm going back to bed

I like Buffalo

Chomp, Chomp
Caitlin and Noodle came by and that is always a fun time. Tonka and I love Caitlin dearly, she has been such an enormous help during the past year and is a truly amazing person.

I like to drag Caitlin around the yard

It's my buddy Noodle

Love the Noodle
 Noodle is a such a good dog and he and Tonka had fun sniffing and playing with the brick puzzle.

Noddle and I took a nap
I said goodbye to Caitlin

After Caitlin and Noodle left I ran down the road to meet his Aunt Gina. She had picked up a Chinese herbal medicine for me that was supposed to help his nosebleeds. On the way back I also picked up a new refill of his piroxicam. He was doing so well and was so happy it seemed like we were going to have a little more time.

When I got back it looked like a storm was rolling in. Tonka and I love storms so we headed for the porch. 
Mom and I hung on the porch waiting for the storm

Still waiting

No Storm- I'm going to nap
It turned out to be a dud and blew over so when CM got home we took a little walk/roll down the street and back. We ran into some neighbors who of course fussed over him and told him what a good boy and an awesome dog he is so he was very full of himself when we wheeled back into the house.
No storm so took a little walk with AP and CM
He had a good dinner and took all his meds and finished off his nightly frozen PB Kong.

Peanut Butter Kong Time

This is the last picture of my boy.
After his Kong he settled into sleep and in a little bit I stood up to move to the floor to give him some love and noticed the spot of blood under his nose. I lifted his head to reposition the towel and see how bad it was,  he sat up and it just started pouring. CM and I went into full nosebleed stop mode with extra towels, paper towels, tissues and epinephrine but he kept sneezing.. the more he sneezed the worse it got until it was running out both sides and his mouth. The epi was not working, nothing was working so I bundled his head in a towel and while CM got the truck in position I got him belly walked out of the house and around the front. I got the ramp in place and I got him up in the truck and off we headed to the ER. Poor Cathy had to stay behind to clean up what looked like something out of a horror movie. I called his Uncle Mike to let him know where we were heading and I made a quick phone call to the ER to tell them I was coming. Tracy answered and I and I told her I would need help as I didn't have his wheels. At the first red light I send out a request for prayers although somewhere in my head I knew what was coming. At the next few stops I sent some texts to his support peeps to give them a heads up.
When I pulled in the circle at the ER and blew the horn they all came running with the gurney - I got him up and down the ramp and he was still bleeding everywhere. I helped lift him to the gurney and they rushed him in the back. Dr. Fleury who is a great Dr. and wonderful person came out while I was still putting the truck back together. She said something to the fact that she had looked at all his records and that she knew that we were nearing the end of things. She wanted to know if we should just let him go or try to stop the bleeding. I told her to try because this was not how I wanted him to leave I really wanted him at home and not in a crisis.
I parked the truck and entered the lobby where they told me I could wait in a room or not it was up to me. I wanted to be where I could see the ER doors open so I chose the lobby. Tracy gave me a bunch of wipes to clean off the blood that was all over my legs, arms and hands and then I waited. I did not have to wait long Dr. Fleury came out and explained it was a massive bleed and they had given him a sedative to drop his blood pressure and had gotten it slowed with strips soaked in epinephrine stuffed in his nose. The only thing that would stop it was an embolization procedure but that it would only keep re-occurring. The option was to leave him for the night get him stable and bring him home to let him pass at home on the porch or just let him pass over now.
It was with a very heavy heart and some anger that I decided to let him go. THIS WAS NOT WHAT I WANTED FOR HIM.I wanted him home at peace not in a crisis, not suffering in any way.

They put us in a private room and I tried to clean some of the blood off of his big beautiful face. His Aunt Gina sent a text that she was on the way so I lay there and sang to him. He was sedated so I am not sure how much he heard or knew about what was going on. He did pick his head up when she arrived but was not very responsive. I called CM and told her what was happening and since he was so out of it we decided she would finish cleaning the disaster area as she had already talked to him when he was coherent at home waiting for me to get the truck ramp out and together.
Gina and I spent some time with him and then Dr. Fleury came in and we let him go. I laid my head on his heart so I could listen to it beating until it beat no more. My beautiful, beautiful boy with the sweet smile and the heart of gold was gone. On Friday the 13th of September 2013 at 11:30pm the Journey of Tonka ended here on earth and I am sure a new one started for him at the bridge and when we meet again he can tell me all about it.

At this juncture I feel as if the flow is completely gone  there is only the endless pull as if the life has been sucked out of me. I know in time this will lessen but for now I am empty and alone in this.
Thank you for all your kind words, your thoughts, your gifts and your prayers. He was an amazing soul and I thank you for your love and support of him through the years.
Much Love