Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “Animals”

There Will Never Be Another


If you have ever owned a pet before, then I am sure that you will echo this statement, “the best ever,” in describing your fur family member.  And there is no doubt in my proclamation for my friend that is shown above.  A great family friend to both of my daughters, and just so lovable to anyone who wanted to pet him.  He was described by many as “they happy golden” because of his constant smile and wagging tail.

Like many, I am a sucker when it comes to animal movies, especially when they involve dogs.  Growing up, we had Old Yeller, Benji, Cujo, okay, maybe that last one was not meant for the kids.  But in the last few years, we were hit with several tearjerkers about the joys and sorrows of sharing your life with a fur friend.

And that is exactly the order that I watched them.  A Dog’s Purpose.  The Art Of Racing In The Rain.  A Dog’s Journey.

A Dog’s Purpose dealt with the hopes that maybe we might be reunited with our fur friend, long before meeting at the Rainbow Bridge (also known as Heaven).  The dog, nicknamed “boss dog,” goes through various reincarnations all with the hopes of being reunited with his original owner.  The catch?  His owner thinks that he will never see his friend again.  What an awesome thought.

I said goodbye to my best friend nearly six years ago.  He lived nearly 15 years, almost unheard of for a golden retriever.  But as I said, his nickname was “the happy golden,” and allowing him to be “just a dog” gave me the best decade and a half of my life second to my daughters being adopted.  I have so many memories with him.  In the end, he let me know it was time.

But in A Dog’s Purpose, how would “boss dog” get his original owner to recognize him, especially if he came back as a different animal, breed, or even gender?  I have found myself wondering that exact thing.  Just as in the movie, there was just something about the dog, in his fourth or fifth reincarnation, I honestly forget, something that would make his original human family, realize it was actually him.  Could Pollo do that to me as well?  What were some of the things that he did, that no matter who he would come back as, would be the sign, that it was definitely him?

A Dog’s Journey was a continuation of the story, but now “boss dog’s” purpose was a bit different.  Sorry, no spoiler alert, but the ending could not have been more perfect.  Yes, I do hope I do not have to wait until that day at the Rainbow Bridge to be reunited with him.

Then came The Art Of Racing in The Rain.  While the other two movies gave me hopes that some day I would see my fur friend again, The Art gave me a whole appreciation for the relationship that I had with him while he was alive.  Again, I will not give anything away about the movie, perhaps the best “dog” movie I have seen.  But the dog, narrating the movie with Kevin Costner’s gruff voice was perfect, gave the dog a human quality about him throughout the movie.  The pooch had feelings, concern, empathy, all the feelings that we have as humans.  And just as we have these emotions for each other as humans, to see it portrayed through a dog made me look back at my own life with Pollo.

I could narrate Pollo’s life story from puppy to the end.  From his first swim to the infamous “humpy bear”, a stuffed toy that was the only thing he would hump, thankfully.  But just as my daughters, Pollo witnessed many of the difficult times in my life.  And if Pollo would narrate his story, along with all the trips we took, walks we enjoyed, and bringing in two small humans into his life, he would also be able to express what he was thinking and feeling when it came to emergencies with me.

In 2008, I had to have emergency open heart surgery for a quickly approaching fatal condition.  Pollo and I had never been apart from each other, but I spent nearly a week recovering from the surgery.  One of my biggest fears, was that I would walk through my front door, and get the normal excited jump and pounce greeting from my 105 pound golden.  Instead, while his tail was wagging, and he had his patented smile, he stayed on all fours and just approached my side, leaning up against me.  For the next several days, he would spend his time either laying next me while I sat on the couch, or his favorite position, sitting in front of me, with his head resting on my knee, staring at me.  Looking back, I wonder what he could have been thinking.  According to the movie, he certainly could have been.

In 2012, I was rolled out of my home, in the early hours of the morning, on an ambulance stretcher, again, with another fatal possible situation.  There was another couple days away from Pollo in the hospital, and as he was now approximately thirteen, unable to jump himself, but the tail and his smile was there when I came in through the door.  What could have been going through that night I was taken out of the house?  Or when I came back.  There should be an answer according to the movie.

But in the Fall of 2013, Pollo let me know it was time.  It was something that I had asked him to do.  I was too selfish to let him go.  And as long as his tail wagged, and he had his smile, I was not letting him go.  It was definitely one of the harder moments of my life.  And though my daughters constantly let me know that I need to have another dog, some day, I have told them that I am not sure how.  If I were, I would need to make sure it was not going to be subject to be compared to Pollo.  It was going to be its own being.  But if I believe in A Dog’s Purpose, would it be its own?  What if it could be Pollo coming back to me?  How would I know?  How would I even have the chance, if I do not take that chance?

Until that time comes, if it comes, I have so many memories, photos, stories of my friend.  And as long as Hollywood keeps coming out with movies about dogs and giving them the human qualities like my fur friend had, who knows?

I still miss you my friend.

“Paul’s Heart” – 50,000 Views Strong!!!


Typically, people dread Mondays.  While I do not dread them, Mondays are not my favorite day of the week.  HOWEVER, today is a great Monday!  As the counter states, “Paul’s Heart” has had over 50,000 views officially this past weekend.  Among some of the other stats that I have completely not remembered, I have published 764 posts (765 including this one).  There are 252 more posts in draft form, and hundreds that are just prompts.  And then there are more than a dozen published stories and articles that I have share on this site.  So many readers have either commented or written me with questions, situations, seeking advice, or simply just to say, “yeah, I totally get that.”

Just some of the topics that I cover regularly:

  • cancer and survivorship
  • adoption
  • parenting
  • healthcare
  • discrimination
  • parental alienation
  • education
  • bullying

I am driven by the expression, “those who cannot do, teach.”  Because I am a cancer survivor, I cannot donate blood or organs.  Because of cancer treatments, I discovered the world of adoption.  I have taken on discrimination and won.  I do not tolerate bullying at all.

But my one goal with “Paul’s Heart” has not been met yet.  Actually writing a book.  I have begun the process many times, each with a different concept or approach.  The only conclusion that I can reach as to why, is that I have not experienced yet, that one key moment that will either be the beginning, the focus, or the conclusion of such an endeavor.

In the meantime, I will keep writing about things I cannot do, but can help.  I will continue to be a voice for those that do not have the ability or confidence.  I will research and find answers, point in directions where to find answers.

I will also keep looking for, and printing guest stories from you, the readers.

From the bottom of my most grateful heart, thank you to all of you who have read, shared, and appreciated “Paul’s Heart” over the years.

Paul

Summer Vacation – A Learning Experience


As a kid, who did not love Summer vacation?  But as an adult, I love it so much more.  I have always been the type of person who enjoys watching others’ happiness, more than my own.  And now that I get to witness things as a father, through my daughters’ eyes, yes, I love every chance I get to spend with my daughters.

My daughters love the reality television show, Big Brother.  By default, that means when they visit me during the Summer, I am stuck watching the show with them.  It is unavoidable because I live in a one-room apartment.  A similar situation if you will to the living arrangements on Big Brother, more than a dozen people, trapped in a contained studio house, for over 90 days, with someone being kicked out of the house every week.  Every move is watched.  Every word is heard.  Trapped.

Ok, so our situation is not identical per se, but, the three of us are staying in the same room, for 49 days, but no one is being evicted.  Ok, we get to leave the apartment and do things.  Ok, there is no backstabbing and lying to get favors.  But there is one thing that our situations do have in common, learning about each other.

I have spent most of my cancer survivorship, proving to everyone, that I will be fine.  At the same time, I have spent all of my time, convincing everyone that the many issues I face as a result of my treatments thirty years ago, are very real.  They are not once and done episodes, but a progression of situations, monitored, waiting to have no choice but to be dealt with some day, hopefully before it is too late (read “CABG – Not Just A Green Leafy Vegetable and you will see what I mean).

My daughters were 3 and 5 when my body let me know, that while I may have beaten cancer, it came at a price.  And there would be several more episodes in the upcoming years.  But I have always been of the mindset, to let my kids be kids, let them deal with childish things.  And as I realized how much happier off they were just to know “Daddy was okay,” I used this mentality when it came to family, friends, and co-workers.  By doing so, I did myself a disservice, as well as perhaps other cancer survivors as well.  I figured, if I could keep all the issues hidden that I have to deal with, then I would not have to worry about anyone worrying about me.  The unrealistic part of that is, anytime a crisis would come up, there would be worry.  But then that would be followed up with “get over it already, you are better”, or worse, “just faking it.”

It is ten years now since my daughters saw me hooked up to all kinds of machines, recovering from open heart surgery, and having witnessed many of the other events.  Already during this visit, questions are beginning to come up.  Because of the warmer climate here, many of my scars are exposed, and these lead to questions.  Both daughters were never there when I went through my cancer, though are very proud of me for having made it all these years.  But as they grasp that the fact that many of the things that I deal with health-wise are because of my treatments, they now understand, my body will never get better, only worse.

They know that I have good days, and they have certainly seen my bad days.  They know the issues that I deal with are very real.  But that is not what are visits are about.  Yes, they are learning about me, and I am learning about them.  And I have so much more to teach them.  I take them to visit preserves, complete computer courses that may benefit them in their future, and another first, helped my oldest apply for her first job.  And we still do workbook exercises to prepare them for the new school year, though I have now pared the work down to a specific course that either may have struggled with in school (they each had one).

But there is still so much more for us to do together.  And I cherish every moment I have with them.  And I know that they are enjoying the time with me.  I know that they care about me.  They want to do what they can to keep me around a lot longer, whether it be a better diet, or exercise (we have a nightly walk routine after just 3 days).

They know that in just a few years, our roles may change with each other as I will have to give them responsibilities, as far as things they definitely need to know, and perhaps, prepare for.  They will become my legal guardians and our roles will switch.  If I am faced with the difficult situation of being incapacitated as I have with past events, they will be the ones that will need to carry out my wishes should decisions need to be made.

In the meantime, like I said, I want to let my kids, be kids.  But at least they know, just because I do not show it, does not mean that I am not dealing with some serious health issues.

And just as my children are learning, just because you see this, but do not see something obvious with the person getting out of the vehicle, does not mean that they do not have a health issue that they are dealing with.  But if you feel that you are justified in criticizing anyone anyway?  Feel right on free to trade places with us.

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