Saturday, March 19, 2011

Man's Best Friend!

Where to begin...

We had a good time camping, but that's not what I want to talk about right now. We came home from our family camping trip to disaster! Bitter, devastating, gut-wrenching, DISASTER!!!

We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults.  Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment.  ~George Eliot

Dena and I had been dating for about 10 months when we decided to take a trip to the pet store in Commerce, TX to see what they had. There in the front of the store was a litter of rat terrier puppies. She gave that look and I knew that I wouldn't be able to say no. She wanted the one that was attacking the other puppies, she said that we don't want the ones who are just lying there, we want the active (hyper-active) one!

Bizkit's 1st picture, he was so tiny!
We took home a mostly black, rat terrier puppy who had a little, tan spot above each eye. My favorite band at the time was Limp Bizkit, so what did we name him...Bizkit! He lived with me in my apartment for the remainder of our college days. His favorite thing to do, besides escape the house and make us chase him, was to lay on top of the couch and bark at anyone who dared walk past my apartment. He pretty much went everywhere with us, especially in the beginning when he was small enough to hold in the palm of your hand. He spent a lot of time at my fraternity house and Dena's sorority house (even though he wasn't supposed to be there).

Dena & Bizkit during college

Me & Bizkit during college
It was just the three of us for about two years, then we decided that Bizkit needed someone to play with, so we got Grayvee, another rat terrier. Bizkit & Grayvee probably had the same father, but they couldn't be more different. Bizkit is mostly black while Grayvee is mostly white, Bizkit is hyper-active while Grayvee is laid back and calm, Bizkit gave aggressive, almost biting kisses while Grayvee gives sweet, gentle kisses, Bizkit is the overbearing older brother while Grayvee is the lovable, sweet younger brother.

The boys!
The boys were inside dogs for the first year of our marriage, as we lived in an apartment. They slept in our bed most nights and pretty much ran the house. When we moved back to Tom Bean, they started spending more time outside, but they still expected to be inside for bed! Their adventures outside got them into some trouble. One of them was almost always trying to find a way to escape the fenced-in yard. Grayvee got bit by a copperhead snake one night, but is no worse for the wear. Bizkit got hit by a motorcycle during one of his escape attempts and had an issue after ingesting some flea killer one night, but he was always back to normal after a couple of days.

Bizkit under the covers of the bed!
After moving to our new house we decided that they would spend the majority of their time outdoors. They did NOT like this! They did everything they could to get to come inside. They tore up window screens, they destroyed a doorway, they dug holes, etc. Finally, my dad and I built a fence around our back porch to keep them out and I installed an electric wire around the privacy fence to keep them from escaping. The fence around the back porch worked for about a week when they discovered that they could make it up and over. You see, these dogs can jump over 5 feet!

Bizkit with the broken window screens in the background

Bizkit in one of his favorite places, to top of the couch!
Dogs have given us their absolute all.  We are the center of their universe.  We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.  They serve us in return for scraps.  It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.  ~Roger Caras

Things really changed for Bizkit & Grayvee when we brought Tucker home! They had to get used to spending the majority of the time outside, no matter how much they protested. When they were inside, they were watched very closely to make sure that they didn't hurt Tucker. Grayvee is scared of Tucker and tries to stay as far away as possible. Bizkit wasn't scared of him and would make sure that Tucker stayed as far away as possible. Over the last year and a half, they have gotten used to each other and the dogs ignored Tucker most of the time. The only time they really cared was when Tucker was eating, because he was known to drop them a scrap or two.

That brings us to today, the second worst day in our lives! We came home from our camping trip, unloaded the camper and truck, bathed Tucker and put him down for a nap, and got ourselves cleaned up. Both of us recall hearing at least one of the dogs barking when we got home. I think that I heard both of them, but I can't be sure. After Tucker woke up from his nap, I went to let the dogs in. Grayvee was already at the back door, as usual, then I opened the gate to let in Bizkit...but he wasn't there. I called for him, but he didn't come. I went back into the house to get my shoes because I assumed that I would be chasing him, as he had probably escaped somehow. As I scanned the bottom of the fence for his escape route, something caught my eye, but no, it couldn't be! I screamed and ran back toward the house. As I opened the door, Dena met me and asked what was wrong. I told her and everything is a blur from there. I will spare you the details, but I will say that I wouldn't wish Bizkit's death on anyone. We have an above ground pool in our back yard that still has water in it and that is where we found him.

I removed him from the pool, Dena dried him off, and we held him for a long time. I called my parents and my mom took care of Tucker while my dad and I dug a grave. Our back yard has about 6 inches of dirt and it is pure rock after that, needless to say, it took us a while to dig that hole. Dena sat with Bizkit the whole time. Grayvee would sniff Bizkit then watch us digging, I'm not really sure he knows what to think.

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.  ~Gilda Radner

Bizkit loved toys, especially squeaky ones! He could "de-squeak" a toy in a matter of minutes. No matter how tough we thought a toy would be, Bizkit could surely destroy it in no time at all. Bizkit loved food! That dog would eat anything! Often times we would find him on the table after a meal, cleaning up any left-overs for us. Bizkit loved to run! He escaped so often because he liked to run and run and run. If we would let him run for a little bit, he would usually come back to the house on his own.

He loved toys, especially squeaky ones!

The boys running on a cold day.
It is done! He is gone! He is free to run, eat, and play with toys until his heart's desire is fulfilled.

I know that he lived a long, happy life for a dog. I know that he was getting older and that we probably didn't have a lot longer with him anyway. I know that he was just a pet. It just doesn't seem right. All these thoughts keep going through my head: Was he alive when we got home? If we had went out there when we first got home would he have lived? If I had emptied the pool this wouldn't have happened! If we had taken the dogs camping with us, this wouldn't have happened! Do pets go to heaven? Will we ever be able to have another dog? Is is wrong to feel this way about a dog, a pet??? How will Grayvee be without his buddy?

All we have now are our pictures and memories. Grayvee is sleeping now, but every time there is a sound he looks to the door like he is waiting on Bizkit to bark. Dena and I have cried until we can't cry anymore. It's like a bad dream and all I want to do is wake up and give him a kiss!

Always curious, time for an extreme close-up!
He always like sleeping on clean laundry!
He could sleep in some crazy positions!
Forever Buddies!
The last picture taken of Bizkit, week of March 14, 2011
I'm sure that life will go on! I'm sure that when the day-to-day goings on pick back up, the pain will subside and we will get back to normal. It just doesn't seem like that today. A little piece of our hearts went into that hole today and we will never get it back.

I leave you with this:
Near this spot are deposited the remains of one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the Virtues of Man, without his Vices.  This Praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery if inscribed over human ashes, is but a just tribute to the Memory of Boatswain BIZKIT, a Dog.  ~George Gordon, Lord Byron, "Inscription on the Monument of a Newfoundland Dog"

Bizkit Hamilton, 9/13/01 - 3/19/11
Good Boy! We love you Bizkit!!!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring Break with Surgical Precision

Well, here we are, Spring Break, one of the joys of being a teacher!

The plan for this week was to relax a little bit and then spend several days camping at Lake Texoma...plans change!

Dena has been having chest and side/back pains for several weeks and after seeing the doctor, it was determined that she had gallstones. The only way to fix the gallstones is to remove the gallbladder. She met with a surgeon last week and they scheduled the surgery to remove it for today. This was not how we wanted to spend our Spring Break, but if it makes her feel better then it is worth it!

We checked in at Baylor Regional Hospital of Plano at noon today and her surgery was scheduled for 2:30 pm. The check-in process was not the most pleasant experience! Even though they called us yesterday to let  us know what to expect today, they failed to mention that we would be required to pay for at least 40% of the surgery today. When we checked in, they asked for the money and we were certainly surprised; no money, no surgery...THANK GOD for credit cards!!! I'm not sure when this type of expectation became standard practice for hospitals, but apparently it is very common, we just haven't dealt with anything like this before.

The surgery for removing a gallbladder is done laparoscopically. They don't make a large incision, they make several small ones and use a camera to see what is going on and small tools to perform the surgery. The procedure itself only took about 45 minutes. Dena did great through the surgery and everything went well. The doctor said that her gallbladder was basically useless because of the gallstones and that she would feel like a new person once she was recovered from the surgery. The hardest part of this procedure is dealing with all of the air that they pumped into her chest cavity to be able to use the laparoscope. Getting rid of the gases over the next week or so will cause some pain and discomfort, but she has dealt with it before and she will be fine.

While Dena was in the day surgery area waiting for surgery and while she was in surgery, I got to wrangle a stir-crazy 18 month old. We took toys and videos for the computer, but all he wanted to do was roam the halls. He didn't get a morning nap so he was very tired and this made things worse. Thankfully, there was a very nice man working in the waiting room and he found an empty consultation room with a couch where we could turn down the lights and let him nap. After about an hour of napping, he was ready to go again. He was actually pretty good, about as good as you could expect a toddler to be in that type of situation, but it is not something that I want to try again for a while! It was also helped by the fact that Dena's mother was there with me and then our pastor came too.

They started her surgery at about 3:30 and we were in the car leaving the hospital by 6:00. It is amazing that technology has advanced so much that Dena can have a part of an internal organ removed and go home from the hospital 3 hours later. She was nauseous and very tired after surgery, but she should feel better tomorrow. We made a couple of stops on the way home for some food and some pain medication. Bert and Barbara made a great salad for her and after dinner, she and Tucker were ready for bed. She will need to take it easy for several days, but should be ready for work next week. They actually said that the more she does this week, the easier it would be to get rid of the air in her chest and she would feel better faster.

So, as far as our camping plans go, we will see how she feels tomorrow and if she is up to it, we will head to the lake with the camper on Thursday. I think that she will be fine and she can relax at the lake like she can here. But if she isn't up to it, we will just spend some quality time here at the house.

The other BIG news that we have is that we have a team to participate in the 1st Annual HEART WALK in Corinth, TX! A national heart group, It's My Heart, is teaming up with Lake Dallas High School to put on the event. Our team, called Team HEART BUDZ, will be walking for Tucker and our buddy Ethan. We need people to walk with us and would love for you to join our team, you can do so by clicking here and selecting "Join Our Team"! The weather should be great and you are supporting a GREAT cause, so please come out and show your love for Tucker. If you can't come, but would still like to help, you can make a donation to our team by clicking here! Every dollar helps us reach our team goal of $500. Please honor Tucker by walking or donating and help us help other CHD families!

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Plus 1!

For those of you who know my family, you probably wonder how much bigger we can actually get...well, it seems like we get bigger every day!

Aunt Dena with Beckett
Beckett relaxing
Uncle Trent and Beckett
I told you a few months ago that my brother and sister-in-law were expecting a baby boy. That addition to our family arrived this past Wednesday, March 2nd. Beckett Hayden Hamilton came to us last week, weighing in at 9 lbs. 12 oz with a length of 20 in. We are all very excited about Beck and we are happy that mom and baby are doing great. Beck is a big boy and he likes to eat! As excited as we are, I don't think that anyone's happiness can compare to the big sister, Maddie!!! Amelia and Beckett were discharged from the hospital today and they are all at home tonight...hopefully getting some rest.

Proud big sister, Maddie, and Beckett
The Hamilton Men!
Beckett is following in daddy's footsteps!
We can't wait to go see Beckett again, but we have to get our little man well first. Tucker was sick all day yesterday and we took him to the doctor today. In addition to an upper-respiratory infection, he is dealing with the flu. Needless to say, he is not a happy camper right now and we are ready for a stretch of health for our family! You can read more about the crazy, sick last month for us at

Finally, I want to share with you about a new family that we have been connected to through our friendship with Matt Hammitt. I was introduced, through email, to Alexis and Vince about a month ago. They are a very young, married couple who just found out that they are expecting a daughter, Scarlet, who has HLHS. Because they are young and newly married, this is especially hard for them. I have been in contact with Alexis over the last few weeks and have been trying to show them love and support like we received. They live in Las Vegas, so it is difficult to help a whole lot, but we are trying to be there for them and answer any questions that they have. Alexis went for a check-up with the cardiologist this week and she received some difficult news. The doctor told her that part of Scarlet's hard is not letting enough blood get to her lungs and that she may not survive until birth. I know that God performs miracles every day and I would appreciate if you would begin praying for a miracle in Scarlet's life. I also know, that God has a perfect plan for this family and that it may mean that Scarlet doesn't survive. Please also pray that God will look after and bless this young family, especially if they have to deal with loss.

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