Melissa Shelly:

Sharing some beautiful words in regards to the tragedy on Friday in Connecticut.

Originally posted on Slim Paley:

Like everyone else across the country and no doubt caring people around the entire world, my heart is breaking for the families of all the sweet & gentle souls lost in the tragic incident in Connecticut last Friday. When something this unspeakable happens we instinctively search for comfort by looking for answers but come away with nothing. We have so much we want to say, but there are no words. Just our tears, aching hearts and prayers. I pray for the families and entire community of Newtown to find some strength and comfort in the massive outpouring of love we are sending and know they are profoundly not alone their mourning.

May the Universe hear our collective cry for more kindness, acceptance and love amongst us and may we all be listening as well.

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Say NO to pediatric sterilization

Hi folks,

I still haven’t written about Zolton’s very last few days. I can’t at the moment. I’m a wreck. But I am trying to heal the pain with a new puppy, however, finding one is really, really hard!!

I’m trying to do the right thing and get a “rescue” puppy but the rescue-community is dogmatically self-righteous in insisting upon pediatric sterilization. This is horrible for the animal–you are interrupting that angel’s normal hormonal development–and many cancers are linked to it. If you don’t believe me, take a look at some of the research:

http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongTermHealthEffectsOfSpayNeuterInDogs.pdf

I found one boy I really want, named Derby. He’s a Pyrenees mix–possibly with Newfoundland:Image

I simply don’t like that he’s been neutered.

And then I LOVED these Newfie-mixed litter mates. One’s father might have been lab, the other’s Rottie. HAPPY is the one who might have a lab for a daddy, (below), 

Image

And Kenji, Happy’s brother, probably had a Rottie for a daddy.

Image

My issue with these boys (well actually I would only take Happy) is twofold. First and very seriously, they may have been exposed to Parvo which is a deadly virus. The Rescue group has them in quarantine for two weeks (but they really need 21 days). And secondly, she is absolutely 100% adamant  about neutering these boys as soon as they come out of quarantine. I begged…I mean BEGGED for her to give me the latitude to neuter him when it was physically prudent to do so and she flat out refused. REFUSED. No case-by-case assessment here. Just plain, full on, self-righteous dogma. And, hey, it’s her right. They are her dogs. But she wants me to make my decision tonight, before we even know if the dog will make it and that, to me, is unreasonable. Therefore, I am going to pass on the dog.

I think it is important for more of us to pass on these dogs. To not do business with these rescuers and puppy mills that know the facts and continue to operate within their flawed paradigms!

So what do you think? Does Derby look like Zolton when he was a puppy?

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I think so.

Now can I get over the early-neutering thing? 

xx

Zolton Pektor, January 1, 2000 – May 10, 2012

It is, with an extremely heavy heart, that I report that our precious, family dog of over twelve years has moved on to greener pastures, freedom from pain, and forever love.

Will we ever see him again? I choose to believe we will. God loves them more than we do. He created them, by darn, and He knows the relationships we have with our beloved companions.

I have a lot to say about grief and loss. I am still formulating my thoughts and writing that part of the book I am working on with my dear friend and co-author, Marjolein Brugman (http://www.lighterliving.com/). Please do check out her website and buy an Aero Pilates machine while you are at it. The best at-home exercise platform I have ever used. You won’t be sorry.

Stay tuned for more on Grief and Loss as it pertains to Life.

And as a side-note, I will be talking, in future posts, about the perils of pediatric neutering….something that the animal rescue community insists on (and of course spaying and neutering a pet should not even be an option–it’s just dangerous to do to babies) which prevents wonderful people (like me and my friends :) from saving a dog BECAUSE THEY WON’T FLEX ON THIS RULE. Vets and rescuers that know about the perils of pediatric neutering won’t speak up about it. A very political topic in the animal community….and so very charged with vehemence. How can we save animals by adopting from shelters with agreement to have the dog/cat neutered when it is prudently safe to do so???

Love to hear from you.

Melissa xx

Feeling the Blues

I’m sort of through with my meltdown….maybe not entirely however I’m no longer crying.

I actually wrote a heart-felt, deeply personal post about my day, today, Saturday, which started out fine, just fine, and then declined into one of malaise, then malcontent, then anger bordering on rage……..the latter of which was precipitated by a WordPress glitch. I wrote a wonderful post on my iPhone, sitting outside on a chaise lounge next to Zolton, also on a chaise lounge.

Looking blue

It was a bittersweet time. Filled with photo-ops and reflections. And then POOF. It’s gone. Not auto-saved as it was promised to be by those invisible WordPress support people that come to the rescue 6 weeks after the fact.

My boys went to a Phillies game and I was left to my own devices, without much of a plan. I love that! But not today.

I started my day, around 1:30 pm (told you: I’m depressed), after reading a bunch of magazines while drinking coffee in the kitchen in my pajamas. I put on my sneakers and started out to my gym…to lift some weights…since I’ve been very, very weak these last few weeks.

Zolton picked up on the sneaker-part…a wardrobe item I loathe and will never be caught dead in unless I am going to exercise. Sidenote: When I was single if I ever met a guy wearing running shoes with jeans, he was immediately dismissed as geek. But I digress.

So Zolt knows that sneakers equate with movement and if he’s lucky he can redirect that movement from the gym to the road; from the television and weights and treadmill to that of the open road…..trees, weeds, wildlife and maybe another  occasional canine on the loose. These days, he usually gets whatever he wants.

Off we head, up the hill around the corner from our place. He is moving at a reasonable clip. I wonder if he is feeling the sadness I feel….the looming goodbye on the not-so-far-distant  horizon? How can he not? He can’t be feeling well. Cancer originating in the anal gland; moving into the pelvic cavity; lymph nodes; liver; both adrenal glands; both lungs and possibly brain. I’m not sure where the mammoth sized 9.8 cm (4-5 inch) mass which is blocking his femoral artery fits in this equation but it can’t be pretty. In fact, it’s probably going to be a cataclysmic disaster any day now. Hopefully, I won’t be alone.

As we press on, I call the vet-tech who works with the at-home-euthanasia-vet. I need to know when I should be intervening. They tell me that I will know. I’m not too sure. Where is the kindness in watching the sad look on your dog’s face every day?

Just not smiling much anymore…
…but I’m still aware

If it’s not severe pain, it is severe discomfort….perhaps a shared malaise….not too sure about much right now. I just don’t want him sad and uncomfortable and certainly not in pain (and NO! They don’t tell you when they are in pain until that pain is severe….they put up with a lot before they let you know it).

This vet-tech woman is a doll. She has empathy and time. She is listening…..until I lose it. Some jackass on a tractor mowing his dumb lawn is freaking out at me because, in my distraction, in my grief, I didn’t notice Zolt was taking a whiz on his lawn. And when I say “lawn,” this is Bucks County, Pennsylvania. There are farms and estates set way off the roads. There are pebbles and weeds along the road where dogs go to the bathroom. I never once thought of bringing a clean-up bag out here in the country. No one does. So Zolton had to take a pee. And we all know that #2 likely succeeds #1, so LOOK OUT. He throws his arms up. I yell, “…sorry, but he didn’t do anything…and he’s got cancer and dying!” Like that would mean something to such a neanderthal!!! And do you know what this moron says: He calls me a f**king whore!” Yes. That’s right. I actually live within a mile of such a low-life! “You F**king Whore,” he says to me. I’m honestly flabbergasted. So is the woman on the other end of the phone who hears my line of defense. And so, likely, is Zolton, the poor angel that is on steroids and pain meds and feels like shit.

I’m now rattled. I can’t accomplish much this fine day. I can’t focus and get paperwork done. I don’t feel like watching a movie or reading just yet. I want to clean up my desk but I just can’t direct my attention anywhere. I start a DOGBOOK Facebook page for Zolton, The Wonder dog. Friend him. Friend us.

Zolton wants to go out so I decide to join him with a glass of wine and a magazine. We head out to our pool which isn’t really open. I mean, it’s the northeast and it’s only the middle of April. I grab two chaise cushions, one for me, one for Zolt, and I start writing a blog entry on my phone.

I’ve already told you how this ends.

Now I’m crying. I am becoming unglued. I wonder if anyone else can relate? I’d love to hear from you.

Chasing After Heaven’s Dreams–Happy (Belated) Easter

Happy Easter, Everyone,

I just didn’t want to let the sun set on today, Easter Sunday, without a shout-out from the waling wall. :(

We are down in lower Virginia at our summer house on the Chesapeake Bay…..actually, the eastern tip of the Piankatank River such that we have a little surround of land on either side of the river-bay, for which I’m grateful as it serves to protect us (just a bit) from getting hammered when the hurricanes hit…..AND THEY DO. I withstood Ernesto and have never in my life experienced such a radical turn of nature, but that’s a topic for another time.

I love it here in the “red-neck Hamptons!” Peaceful and easy. Only jammies and bathing suits needed. Hairdryers and makeup can stay at home.

View from the water to the house

As just about everyone who knows me knows, I’m in a dark, sad place watching my dog, Zolton, slip away from this earthly existence.

I think a big part of it, for me, is that I know my precious Zolton’s days with me are too few. He loves this house. He’s a water dog–part Newfoundland-part Labrador and this place is paradise. Plus he knows how happy we all are when we are here–a respite away from our busy lives up north.

He was thrilled to arrive, albeit a long, long car ride when he became quite accustomed to traveling there by private jet, only about 25 minutes in the air versus 5 – 7 hours in a car (I have told you that I have withstood some extreme lifestyle changes).

Zolton and George resting on the ride

We had to stop every two hours to let him out to go potty and to give him a good long drink–the steroids are nasty yet I think they are making him more comfortable. Quality of life decisions!

Yet to our great surprise, his spirits picked up the moment we drove in our driveway. Wagging tail took to the air. Head up high. Smile on his grey snout.

In the days to follow, we took our ritualistic walks with our friends and their dogs.

We’d visit friends’ cottages and their dogs and love each other to pieces. We snapped lots of photos and kissed each other a lot.

We even rolled in the dirt and jumped in the water to rinse off. Well, he did; I didn’t.

We watched the moon rise….

And we had cocktails on the deck….it was a little chilly but we snuggled on the double chaise (minus the Hermes towels).

Our friends and their four dogs came to visit!

It really was a beautiful day. It began with a lovely church service and ended with a yummy dinner shared with friends (and even more dogs) such that this post is coming, not on Easter Sunday, as intended, but Monday….Easter Monday.

What strikes me most on this glorious day of hope is why I have so much trouble living in the moment. I mean I was able to forget the pain for a few moments here and there but the weekend was pretty much clouded over with sorrow….at least for me. Once I hear about a grim medical diagnosis, I’m always burying that person-dog (I do it with people, too) rather than being grateful for the very moment embracing me that very second. We were never promised much more than what is in front of us. Why? I wonder can’t I just enjoy the good days. Do other people feel this way, too?

It was just so bittersweet for I know Zolton will never return to his most favorite spot on the Chesapeake Bay. We won’t be returning until the summer and I know I am dealing with an aggressive enemy. I have nearly fallen apart. I’ve lost 6 pounds in 10 days; my hands shake; I can’t paint, write or think straight. I feel pain so deeply; I am more sensitive than most. That being said, I also feel joy, when I feel it, probably more than most. Oddly (given what I have put forth in these blogs), I am pretty much the life of a party. I am the “fun” friend….I am usually upbeat and FILLED with joy….when I am. And when I’m not, I’m morose…like I’ve been in these blog entries. Completely morbid. It’s been a tough two years but I’m ready for the new season in my life when joy is restored.

I’m reminded by the words of Kahlil Gibran on Joy and Sorrow:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

We need to remember that the most sorrowful moments will give way, in good time, to moments that are overflowing with peace, joy and contentment….and maybe even a good dance party! And perhaps there is a purpose to in it all, after all…

Happy Easter Monday, Everyone.
Love,
Melissa

Noah’s Ark

Melissa Shelly:

Not much new to report on this blog so I’m sharing what “life” is throwing at me now…..everyone can relate to the pain in losing a most beloved pet. I welcome any or all comments. xx

Originally posted on The Zolton Chronicles:

I don’t think I was suffering so acutely during the process of watching and waiting while my wonderful father passed. This Zolton mess is close to doing me in and we just started!! A note about Dad: he had emphysema and was dying for years and it was a chronic heartache. This is like the crap hit the fan with one mind-blowing revelation.

My girlfriend, The Cat Doctor in Hellertown, PA, is a brilliant vet though she only deals with cats in her practice. I have never met a smarter nor kinder more compassionate vet. So I faxed her Zolton’s ultrasound report. She corroborated the prognosis but really helped in clarifying much of the grim details.

Zolton in his pool with his pet frog

The big thing which no one spelled out was that there is a 9.8 cm mass in the sacral lymph nodes. That is almost 4 gosh darn inches in diameter! This thing is…

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The Graphic Reality

Originally posted on The Zolton Chronicles:

It all started with a “senior” visit to a new veterinarian almost two weeks ago. It had been 21 months since Zolton’s last visit to a doctor. He had been seen for years–every six months–for every little thing. In fact, I was an alarmist. I did everything I was supposed to do and then some….But then my husband’s business hit an extremely rough patch. Almost everything he created since graduating from business school was lost. Yup, we were one of those families, having been blessed with much, (through very hard work on my husband’s part), that lost almost everything material in the debt crisis. He’s a real estate developer and the losses were huge. We hung in there–continue to do so–but the emotional toll that consumed my poor husband, me and his children has been daunting (not to mention all the employees he had to let go). I’m not complaining…

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My puppy is very sick

Well, sadly my beautiful dog of 12+ years was recently diagnosed with cancer–just about EVERYWHERE in his lovely, large body. I knew something was wrong but I had no idea the extent. I started a new blog, The Zolton Chronicles: The Last Days with my Canine Companion as to document the dying process and the grief that goes along with it. I’m shaking so hard that I can hardly write but I know I need to. As if losing my most wonderful father last year, wasn’t enough, this reality seems to have magnified the severe grief that hasn’t yet assuaged itself. The thought of publicizing the demise of my dog (and me, obviously) kept me from attending to the movie last night; had me spacing out in church today and has pretty much consumed me for the past 10 days. But as I searched the net yesterday, it became very clear that there was no blog, at least one that I could locate, which would shed light on, not only the emotional roller coaster I am about to embark, but sane solutions to dealing with the physicality of the disease–e.g. when to know he is experiencing pain and how to know when to lovingly end that pain. What I did find on the internet, were many, many deeply affected people, crying their hearts out looking for answers and solutions and damn scared to make the decisions of which they were confronted. I’m not trying to sensationalize anything, but rather, I’m trying to find healing for myself in the process of writing….my style is very unfiltered, you will see. I thought you might want to take a look: http://thezoltonchronicles.wordpress.com/ realizing it is very new and not very spiffed up yet (nor will it be) as I’d rather put my energies into research and psychic repair. Perhaps my words will touch you or a friend. If it’s something that resonates, please check back frequently, as it’s bound to evolve daily. It’s my way of icing the cake which was LIFE with a beautiful, lovely, sensitive companion and hopefully offering a tribute to him as well, Zolton (the Wonder Dog) Shelly-Pektor. It’s amazing how derailed I have become and I’m hoping to share plenty of insights as I go on my journey of how to cope with this major life change and how to handle the dog, kindly, lovingly and with utmost sensitivity.

I’m hoping to keep this blog reserved more for my musings on life (and art) yet isn’t it all related?

Can these hands heal?

I’ve always been told that I jump to conclusions (if you read my previous posts you’ll see that I’m often TOLD things quite a bit). Most of the time, I let the people who tell me things about my manner–usually negative–go in one ear and out the other to some degree (though not completely, because I am sensitive). However, today, I don’t give one darn hoot what people say about my overly sensitive ways of reacting. I am intuitive and I’m bracing myself for some bad news.

If you recall my last entry relating the last year of life without my precious father and how he helped me handle my puppy twelve years ago??? (If in doubt, please read “A Year in Heaven). Well that puppy is an elder dog now–a “senior” and he is not doing well.

Last Thursday I took Zolt for a checkup. I’m embarrassed to say that with everything that has gone down in the past year, I’ve been remiss in getting him checked every 12 months. He had lost 15 pounds. I hadn’t even noticed. Now he is a big dog–half Newfoundland-half Lab. Down to 75 pounds from his fighting weight of 90! Now he was always over weight, I reason. But the doctor doesn’t like what she sees. She thinks he looks depressed and she palpates his belly and thinks his liver is possibly enlarged. She also senses something neurological is askew as he is doing something “weird,” she says, “with his head.” I don’t see it and I’m a psychologist.

We do the X-rays which don’t show anything unusual. We do a complete blood profile which shows some elevated numbers (calcium and amylase) though nothing wrong with his liver enzymes (though the enzymes are not amiss until 75% of the organ has been damaged). He has a history of Lyme’s disease which caused early stage renal disease, we were told, many years ago. He has since been on a fancy diet I sent for through the mail. This seems to have kept his disease at bay. The kidney disease seems to have created a further problem, that of high blood pressure, which we have been treating for the past few years. I mean this is a dog who has had issues. He was hit by a car when he was young and we patched him up “good as new.” About six years ago we thought he had cancer as they had found a growth in his abdomen and all medical personnel braced me for the worst (such that I was on-call for an intra-op call to decide if we wanted to put him down or not). Low and behold, he surprised us all, and the problem turned out to be a cyst, blowing the minds of all vets involved in the case. But let me tell you, I prayed and prayed and prayed for this dog–hands on him in the ER the night before his surgery. I even put him on a prayer chain on the internet. Were my prayers answered or was it just my good fortune? I happen to think it was God.

I continued to lay my hands on sick dogs and good things happened. Did God work through my hands? I don’t know. Wouldn’t that be something? Wouldn’t that be a gift from God?

Tomorrow, I take my very best canine companion to Malvern for an ultrasound. I am seeing an internist upon the recommendation of my vet. I’m hoping the weight loss is due, in part, to the fact that we were away for over 10 days and Zolt had no human food to consume which is a considerable chunk of his diet. Plus he seems to hate this new food I switched to in June, I’m noticing (remember, I’m slow to observe certain things–my mind has been riddled with emotional grief all year and I have a child to take care of). Plus it’s over a 2 year span!! And he’s getting old and they lose weight as they age, right?

As for the high calcium….well he eats a heck of a lot of cheese (so much for the “special diet”) thanks to my husband’s lax manner in just about everything that concerns me. All I can say is that I’m NOT READY TO LOSE MY BELOVED DOG!! I mean, I know he’s not going to last forever. I’m just not ready. I’m still sobbing over my father’s death. I sure hope I still have the gift in the hands. I’m claiming it! Or have I blessed other people and their dogs such that my quota is up–up when it’s time for some miracles for me??

One can only keep the faith and remember that the Lyme’s disease from deer tick bites is another bullet in building my case to get back to the city!! And look at my baby, how stylish he would be when walking through Bergdorf’s wagging his tail and knocking over some table on the first floor. How I would love to take him there. Last time I was there, I even asked if they had a size requirement since all the dogs frequenting that place (as well as my hairdresser on Madison) weigh under 2 pounds. They aren’t prejudicial–all dogs are welcome and I am taking him there one of these days. It’s on the bucket list. Plus he’s much better mannered than some of those little dogs taking a tinkle at the Judith Lieber counter. He would hold it–even if it hurt. What a blessing this dog has been….