This weekend we are being especially nostalgic. August 17th and 18th both hold special places in Alex’s and my hearts for a number of reasons.
Our first day with Aspen, August 17th, 2012.
Last year on August 17th we got to meet our little puppy Aspen. Alex’s mom flew her out from Illinois to come and live with us.
I’m pretty sure Alex fell in love with her the first day we met Aspen.
My little pup Aspen!
August 18th comes with some bittersweet memories. On August 18th, 2004, Alex and I met for the first time when we were moving into our dorm at Iowa State University. While we didn’t start dating for over a month, it really a day that opened the door to the rest of our lives.
Freshman year at Iowa State.
Three years ago today we closed on our first house! We have lived here longer than anywhere in the last 9 years and we are so happy and thankful to be here. Being a homeowner is an enormous responsibility, but we are loving all of the pros and cons that come with the territory.
Our new front door.
And sadly, last year we said goodbye to Alex’s beloved grandfather “Papa” who passed away on August 18th.
We are so thankful that Papa was able to come to our wedding. We have such fond memories of him there.
There are always memories to celebrate and dwell on. This weekend we’re doing just that!
Today would be Aspen’s first birthday! I don’t think that we would have a day much out of the ordinary if she was still alive – I imagine that we would have spent the day at the dog park, taking her on long walks and giving her extra treats and cuddles. But today we will give our little Jackson extra cuddles as we remember our sweet girl Aspen.
Aspen has the best view!
It hasn’t been as hard on us having a new puppy as I expected it to, just with the memories we have of Aspen and how difficult it was to say goodbye to her. We have two framed photos of Aspen hanging above Jackson’s crate so she can watch over the little guy as he grows up. I don’t think we’d be where we are today with Jackson if we hadn’t learned so much from our experiences with Aspen. I am so excited to get to the point with Jackson where we left off with Aspen. She was becoming a mature dog and we were enjoying our time with her so much. I know that Jackson is and will continue to be a welcome member of our family, but we still think of Aspen every day.
Tonight we will have a drink in Aspen’s honor. Right after she died my friend Carrie brought us over a bottle of wine that she found that was made in memory of a wine maker’s late dog. We have saved that bottle and said we’d open it up on Aspen’s birthday. It was so wonderful to have such supportive friends to help us through the loss of our sweet girl.
Here are some of our favorite memories with Aspen:
The first day I met sweet Aspen! I had no idea what I was in for…
Aspen’s first big adventure to Crystal Mountain. Many of my favorite memories of her are from Crystal.
Alex loved to sit on the floor in the mornings and hold Aspen’s bone for her to chew on.
Saturday mornings at the park. We LOVED that Aspen got us out of the house, walking around the neighborhood and it was so much fun to watch her play and learn at the park in our neighborhood.
Aspen’s BFF Emma, my friend Sara’s dog. Emma was born 4 days after Aspen and is celebrating her first birthday this week!
Playing in the snow at Crystal Mountain before Alex and I took a few turns.
She was our little baby.
Aspen spent the Friday before Christmas at Fetch, our neighborhood doggie daycare. I had wanted to get Aspen a Christmas or winter bandana and all of the dogs at Fetch that day got one. We are so thankful to Fetch for so much.
Christmas in Whistler with Aspen was my absolute favorite time with Aspen. She was in love with the snow and spending so much time with our family.
I’m so thankful for the time we had with this sweet girl!
With heavy hearts full of memories, Alex and I laid our sweet Aspen to rest yesterday. One of our favorite things to do with Aspen was to take her up to the mountain where we ski and go for hikes in the snow with her. I never saw her happier than she was when she was bounding through fresh powder, catching snowballs in her mouth or just prancing along on the snowy path. We thought it would be a perfect place to spread her ashes. We walked up the trail where we usually took her on a little hike and we found a beautiful clearing where she now rests in peace. Now, every time we go up to Crystal Mountain, Aspen will be there with us, watching over us.
We made the most of the rest of the day yesterday and had a great time skiing with Carrie and Patrick. There was a bizarre temperature inversion and it was foggy and 35 degrees in Seattle, but it was sunny and 45 degrees at the top of the mountain. It was such a treat to have a spring ski day in the middle of January! The snow was fun to ski in and we came across some new runs and new areas that we had never skied before. It always amazes us how much Crystal Mountain has to offer!
Our week was much less exciting than the last one, which, given the circumstances, I am a-okay with. The main highlight is that we are doing a bit of decorating in our house. We have purchased/ordered several things for the walls to jazz up the rooms a bit, so once everything arrives and is hung, I will post some pictures now that we will finally have some completed spaces in our house. After this week, hopefully our music-themed media room will be decorated and done. Then… onto the dining room. Maybe by the time we sell our house it will be completed!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
We decided to get out of the house and head for the mountains to go have a fun day in the snow with Aspen. Turns out it was just what we needed! We were able to take our minds off of things for a while and just have fun with our sweet pup. She had a blast… you’d never know she was sick.
Here are some photos of our fun-filled day:
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!