Quitting is not me. However, I have learned over the years that simplifying my life is the only way I will find time for what's important. I am not good at juggling multiple things. We were involved in dog rescue, therapy dogs, fostering dogs, I had five to six dogs here all at once, Tanker's epilepsy was challenging, Wes was working a lot, I have had numerous medical issues, and our marriage was feeling the stress.
I love to help others. It's in my blood. It's what I do. I volunteered at the animal shelter in elementary and middle school. I volunteered at the hospital all through high school. I was President of the Key Club my senior year of high school. I was President of Campus Crusade for Christ my freshman year of college. Wes and I both volunteered with Search and Rescue when we lived in Spokane, Washington. We have been involved in some sort of animal rescue our entire ten years of marriage. We trained Topher and Tanker to be therapy dogs and volunteered at least once a week for a long time. We volunteered with Delta Society to evaluate dogs testing to become therapy dogs. We've fostered dogs. We've fostered cats. We've helped a rabbit or two. We save pitiful bettas from Wal-Mart. We always put volunteer work first.
I became overwhelmed. Wes became overwhelmed. I faced criticism for standing up for what I believed in. I, essentially at that point, gave up. Tanker was attacked three times by foster dogs. I gave up fostering to keep him safe. We gave up our therapy dog commitments. We gave up doing fundraisers. I stopped standing up for what I believed in. I moved away from religion. I focused on my family. What's left when all volunteer commitments are gone? Wes, my dogs, cats, and fish.
All of a sudden my life became simple. I focused my love and life on the things that mattered most. Wes and I bought a camper. We started taking short trips here and there just to get away and de-stress. Our love grew. We turned our frowns around. We understood life. We focused on what mattered most. We then experienced peace, love, and joy like we never had before.
Wes on the day we bought our camper
Because my brother loved camping, we dedicated our camper to him.
Wes, the dogs, and I on Bald Knob in Canaan Valley, West Virginia
Hiking in the rain in Canaan Valley, West Virginia
A family photo in Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania
A picture of the dogs in Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania. Tango is of course not paying attention.
Hiking in Pennsylvania
Prince William Park, Virginia
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
Hiking the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Canaan Valley, West Virginia
|Blackwater Falls, West Virginia|
|Blackwater Falls, West Virginia|
|Hiking Canaan Valley, West Virginia|
|Our campsite at Canaan Valley Resort, West Virginia|
|Wes trying to get cell phone reception in West Virginia|
|We saw plenty of bears in Shenandoah National Park. The dogs always smelled them long before we saw them.|
|Endless Caverns, Virginia|
|Hiking the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park|
|The Wiggles getting wiggly in Pennsylvania|
We are thankful that last summer was focused on family. The dogs had a blast camping and hiking. We enjoyed making memories. We grew together as a family.
Last summer was our last summer together with Tanker. His epilepsy continued to get worse and worse until he went to the Rainbow Bridge on June 9th this year. Wes was at the NCO Academy in Florida. I was spending that time with my parents. Tanker was on six seizure meds and he continued having seizures daily. He could barely walk. He let me know it was time. Tanker passed away on a Sunday morning with his tennis ball. Tanker loved tennis balls.
|Tanker with his tennis ball before he went to the Rainbow Bridge|
|He held his ball in his mouth for a few minutes before laying his head down. He really loved his tennis ball.|
|Tanker's hair and paw print|
The outpouring of love I received from people was astounding. I received cards, messages, pictures, and posts from others. It made me realize how loved Tanker was.
The morning after Tanker died, I received a sign from him that he was okay. A beautiful alarm sounded on my tablet at 9:30 when Tanker usually got a couple of his meds. His picture popped up as my wallpaper.
I had a strong urge to adopt another dog in Tanker's memory. I wanted a border collie like him. I wanted an older dog that was harder to find a home for, like Tanker. I found Shania. Shania had been trained to walk by her previous owner in a wheelchair and get into a car with a wheelchair lift. She reminded me of Tanker in so many way. Topher and Tango went and met her. It was an instant bond. It was like they always knew each other. I kept her name Shania because she knew it so well, but I added the name Tankerbelle in memory of Tanker.
|Shania was in foster care for an entire year before I found her and adopted her.|
|The day I adopted Shania Tankerbelle|
|Even the cats warmed up to Shania quickly, but they were a bit curious before coming out from under the bed.|
|Our first walk together|
We had Tanker cremated. The dogs came with me to pick up his remains. We planted a tree at my parents house in his and Blondie's memory.
|Topher, Tango, Shania Tankerbelle, and I picking up Tanker's ashes at the emergency vet|
|The bag Tanker came in|
|Blondie and Tanker's memorial tree|
|I ordered pendants for us to always keep a Blondie and Tanker with us|
Wes finally came home after almost seven weeks of being gone. He met Shania Tankerbelle for the first time and it was an instant hit. She loves him and he loves her. She will end up a daddy's girl.
|Topher singing his love song to Wes|
We are finally back home and life is getting settled. I want to start blogging again. Life is short and memories are easily forgotten. I love my family. My husband is my life. My animals are my passion. I want to remember it all. I don't know yet if I will stay with Blogger or move to something different. I may just open a new blog as we close this last chapter and open a new one. Until then we will continue smiling, choose to see the sunshine through the clouds, and planning our next camping adventures.