Goodbye Aspen

Last night we said goodbye to our sweet puppy, Aspen. It all came so fast, but watching her condition progress so quickly and see her as we did yesterday, we knew that we couldn’t allow her to continue on with her life and experience severe kidney failure, which was imminent. It was the most difficult decision I have ever been faced with, but we wanted Aspen to go peacefully and without enduring any unnecessary pain.

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Aspen and I got off to a pretty rocky start. The first six weeks of our co-existence together were really tough. I had never had a dog before, let alone a puppy, and was completely unprepared for what having a puppy means. Both of us were trying to figure out each other and we were competing for Alex’s #1 girl. Thankfully I won. Once I got to know Aspen a bit better and understand her personality and her quirks things only went up from there. This challenging time in our relationship taught me patience, among other things. I learned so much from Aspen and we shared so many good times and wonderful memories together.

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We know that it is rare to lose a puppy at such an early age, but we are devastated at the loss of her and of our investment in her lives with us. Our days really revolved around Aspen, we planned our Saturday ski days around her, our weekends at home were organized around her schedule, and our free time was consumed in spending time with her. Before we got Aspen we talked about how we wanted to train her. We decided that her training would be positive reinforcement. We ultimately put her through one and a half puppy classes and hours upon hours of training at home and at the park to cement that training. We wanted Aspen to have a safe place to run around outside, so we spent the better half of the summer completely renovating our backyard and building a fence for her. We did our research on puppy food and ended up getting a top-of-the-line kibble and canned food for her that contained wholesome ingredients instead of chemicals and by-products. The last couple of months have given us a glimpse into what Aspen could have been as a mature dog. Now, we are dealing with the loss of our investment in her future. We will never get to see what could have been.

After we got home last night Alex said that he was glad that of all of the puppies in Aspen’s litter that we were the ones to get her, even though she was the first to go. Aspen has never really been completely healthy in her life with us, but we are confident that we did everything we could to provide the best care for her. We are so thankful that we were able to provide the necessary level of care for Aspen from start to finish.

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I will miss Aspen so much. I never thought I’d become so fond of her as I have over the last 4 months or so, and I never imagined that saying goodbye would be this agonizing. She will always be a part of our family. Every time I walk past the kitchen I still expect her to be sitting there wagging her tail with her Garfield toy in her mouth. It will take some time to deal with her loss, but I know it will get easier.

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our sweet Aspen.


A Turn for the Worse

I want to thank our friends and family for being so supportive this week. It is comforting to know that we have so many people who care so much about us and about our sweet puppy. To some, a dog is a dog, but to us, our dog is a part of our family. She means so much to us!

This morning, Aspen woke up and was acting like a crazy puppy. Alex took her for a fantastic walk and she came back and ate breakfast. Then it was like a switch flipped and she became extremely lethargic and has been ever since. She had a short burst of aggressive energy around lunch and ate a bit, but now is back to sleep. Clearly, she is not doing well.

We have a vet appointment this afternoon with her regular veterinarian and have put a call in to another vet for a second opinion. Aspen proves to be a mystery dog, but we are seeing today that she is not doing well. Alex and I are preparing to make some difficult decisions in the interest of our puppy. For now, we are so thankful for the four months we have had with Aspen, but we are just so heartbroken that it doesn’t look like the cards are stacked in our favor for her to grow old with us.

In other news, my grandmother has been in ICU for the last few days with a bleak outlook. She has been given her last rights by a priest and our family who is near has begun to say their good byes. I’m not sure how much longer she has, but she is one spirited, tough cookie, and I will miss her dearly.

It’s times like these when it’s incredible to see my family coming together to support one another. Again, I so appreciate the support and kind words of encouragement. Thank you for helping Alex and me through this tough time.

Highlights from 2012

As we are reflecting on the past and working to resolve some things in our future, I thought I’d put together a collection of some of our years’ memories. We made some wonderful new friendships and turned several acquaintances into incredible friendships. Thankfully, 2012 was a pretty good year for us.

The winter months were mostly spent skiing and wedding planning. That was about all we had time to do this winter. We had record snowfall at our mountains, so it was a great year for us to enjoy. Alex spent a weekend in Vegas for his bachelor party, while I was thrown a bridal shower in Seattle.Iphone 259 Iphone 304

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April brought our wonderful and amazing wedding. We will forever remember that day and how special it was to spend time with our family and friends in such a magical place. The timing of the snow beginning to fall and accumulate throughout our ceremony was something I know I will never forget.


The beginning of summer was mainly spent re-doing our backyard. We tore out and re-built two retaining walls, leveled off our backyard with new soil, planted grass seed, oh, and built a fence. The premise of this project was for our dog. We also took a week off to go back to the Midwest and bask in the glorious heat with our family and friends.

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August was one of the highlights of 2012 for us. We took a stand up paddleboard lesson for one week’s date night, another week we headed for the mountains and dined atop Crystal Mountain at the Summit House, we toured the Olympic Peninsula and welcomed our new puppy to our household. We also said good bye to Alex’s incredible grandfather.

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Fall ended up being a whirlwind. If you’ve ever had a puppy, you understand.



The holidays came and went in a flash. We spent a lot of quality time with Alex’s parents and extended family. We were able to go back to Illinois for Thanksgiving to be with the Allen clan, then Alex’s parents came out to the Pacific Northwest for an incredible Christmas trip to Whistler, British Columbia. We closed out the year with some great friends. Here’s hoping that 2013 is a good one!

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Back to the Drawing Board

We heard back from the vet and Aspen’s Addison’s Disease came back negative, so we can rule that one out. Alex and I are feeling a bit like we’re back to the drawing board. We have accepted that there is something wrong with Aspen, likely her kidneys, but she has been acting like a wild and starved puppy. She’s eating and drinking like a normal dog, she’s got a ton of energy and just wants to play! It’s hard for us to see that anything is so severely wrong with her because she seems just fine.

I guess for now we will just wait to learn more at our meeting with the specialist on Thursday. We have continued to do some independent research on kidneys, kidney dysplasia and a whole host of other possibilities and just haven’t come up with anything consistent or concrete.

This week has been a roller coaster. It makes me stop to think of all of the positive things I have in my life, namely our family and friends who are being so supportive with all that is going on in our lives. Thank you for keeping Aspen and my family in your thoughts. Even though this has been a very difficult week, we still have a lot to be thankful for. Still, though, I sure hope we can find our way back up soon!

A Glimmer of Hope

Here is our latest update on Aspen:

Last night we received a phone call from the emergency vet. Before Aspen had left their care on Saturday they ran a screening for Addison’s Disease, mostly to rule it out as a possibility. Addison’s is another kidney disease that is basically like kidney diabetes, so it’s not really a great thing, but it is treatable and would allow Aspen to live out her full life. The screening came back that there is a possibility that Aspen may have Addison’s. Further testing will confirm the diagnosis. We will learn the results this afternoon.

The reason we are thinking there is a strong possibility that Addison’s could be Aspen’s actual diagnosis is because of the symptoms. Aspen fits the Addison’s symptoms to a “T” and it just feels right. We were scratching our heads after talking with the breeder who we got Aspen from who had never even heard of kidney dyspliasia, which is a genetic disease. Also, upon doing some independent research of Addison’s, one thing it says is that often times dogs will go on an IV to lower their BUN (kidney value) and seem to make a miraculous recovery. Since Aspen has been home, she has been back to her same old crazy self. She’s wild, rambunctious, chases the cats, steals socks from the laundry, runs around the house, smiles, and most importantly, she’s eating like a champ!

Another “filling in the blanks” if you’re wondering – her original diagnosis of kidney dysplasia cannot be confirmed 100% without a kidney biopsy, which is very invasive, so we are not planning on going through with that.

We are trying not to get our hopes up on this one, but we’re thinking optimistically! Once we learn more from the vet, we’ll continue to keep you updated.

2013 So Far

I was asked yesterday how our new year is going so far. I hadn’t quite thought about it until then, but my answer was that it has been a bit rough so far. Unfortunately, it only has gotten rougher.

For the last few weeks we have been having some various health issues with our puppy, Aspen, and after she spent 24 hours in emergency care, we learned that she has kidney dysplasia. This basically means that her kidneys have lesions on them that prevent them from working completely. Her kidney function is about 25% right now. We are uncertain what the long-term prognosis is, but we are optimistic that we will be able to manage her disease with a strict diet.

The vet sent us home with the only kidney-specific dog food they had and Alex and I were disgusted by it, so we plan on returning it. This dog food did not contain a single food ingredient – it was all chemicals. We did some research about a holistic or homemade kidney diet for Aspen and found that the best bet is very low phosphorus, a moderate to low amount of high-fat proteins and a lot of water. We’ve found an extremely helpful website that has a table with a variety of foods and their phosphorus, protein and fat breakdowns that we will use to manage the household food we will give her. The website also gave unbelievably helpful comparisons of food we can purchase for her. We’ve decided on Grandma Lucy’s holistic dehydrated food which will give her a complete and balanced diet within the kidney-specific guidelines. Thankfully it’s available at our local pet store and is reasonably priced.

All of our other research has been pretty scattered, which is a bit unsettling for the long-run, but we’re still holding out hope for our sweet pup. We will be meeting with a specialist on Thursday, so we are anxious to come up with an official game plan for her long-term care needs and kidney management.

Aspen is home with us now and is hungry, alert, active and sweet as ever. Regardless of what we learn in our next appointment we will be enjoying our sweet girl and monitoring her health very closely. We will use this site to keep you updated with Aspen’s condition, but I don’t think we’ll have much more to report until after our appointment on Thursday. Now, I’m going back to play with Aspen!

Our new blog!

Hello friends and family!

Alex and I have decided to start a blog to keep you all up-to-date with what’s happening in our busy lives. The idea spurred from my dad suggesting a blog to keep up with our new puppy, so hopefully the pictures we provided in the interim served that purpose, but now, here is our blog!

We plan to write about trips we take, funny pet stories, what’s going on with us and share some photos and maybe even some of the recipes from successes that come out of my kitchen. Alex and I will both share the role of writing, but Alex owns the site the design and back-end stuff.

We hope you enjoy our blog! Happy reading 🙂