I wasn’t sure if I could write this today but I know it will make me feel better. Just a few days after Fo died we also lost our sweet, dear Happy girl.
When we first adopted Happy (you can read her story here) at night we put her in the laundry room behind a doggie gate. She cried and cried. She would fall asleep after a while but then she would cry again a few hours later. After a few days of this I finally just told Brett she was going to have to sleep in our room or we’d never get any sleep. I made her a little bed beside my nightstand…and she never cried again. She just wanted to know she was a part of our family and then she just settled in like she’d always been with us.
After that night she adjusted to our schedule right away. She got up with us and went to sleep with us. She actually got up twice. She’d get up with Brett at 5:40am and then with me at 7am. If I ever got up in the middle of the night and took too long in the kitchen she would get up then too. She wanted to be a part of everything. If she had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night we would hear her little feet pitter-patter to the hall rug where she would pause for a minute, and then pitter-patter on to the kitchen where we left a pee-pad for her. We could hear her get a sip of water and then she’d make her way quietly back in the same manner. She always found her way back to her bed in the middle of the night (except for the one time when she got turned around and lost behind the dining room table). When we got home after being out for a while she would start to squeal in delight and also because she couldn’t make her way towards the door as fast as Max could. I would run back and get her and scoop her into my arms and she would be so happy.
She was the most beautiful animal I’ve ever seen. She was like a little snuffleupagus mixed with Yoda and a marsupial. Little kids always called her a kitty cat which made me laugh. I couldn’t ever steal my eyes away from her. I feel such a physical loss of Happy. I must have snuggled her at least 20 times a day and I spoke to her every time I passed by her bed. I carried her out to the bathroom to make it easy on her and carried her back to her bed when I knew she was tired.
Happy died at 11:24pm on August 16. I was right there with her and I tried not to cry so that I wouldn’t distress her. Early the morning before she passed away she looked into my eyes for the longest time….almost like she just wanted me to know that it was okay to let her go.
This is the last video of took of my sweet girl. She wouldn’t eat or leave her bed but she would take small pieces of treats from my fingers. She loved treats more than anything and would even pretend to go out to the bathroom just to get more:
The day before Happy died we had a delivery of rare maples. I’d ordered one for Foshizzle’s grave and then decided to order another on a whim. Sienna asked if I’d ordered two maples because I knew Happy was going to die. Of course I didn’t know, but maybe the universe knew. We didn’t bury her right away. I couldn’t. I laid her on our kitchen counter for most of the day and hugged her more times than I can count. Finally early evening as a family we were able to bury our sweet Happy under an Oregon Sunset Maple. We had her for her sunset year so it ends up being the perfect choice. This maple will be a beautiful yellow and red in the Fall.
I miss her footsteps. I started crying on the steps as I brought groceries in this morning because I knew she wouldn’t be on the other side of the door. My heart physically hurts. I told Brett that I didn’t think I could rescue again anytime soon because this loss was just too painful and he said, “You will, because you won’t have a choice in the matter. Happy found us. Someone else will find us too.” He’s right. We weren’t looking for Happy, but she was looking for us. There are so many things she has changed for us that I can’t even put into words yet, relationships changed, priorities rearranged.
She taught us so much in just a short time…especially how important love is. She just wanted to be near us. We became her family and my days began to revolve around Happy. We had Happy for 251 days. I’ll look for that number now…as a sign from Happy. She always chose joy even up to the very end when she rolled over on the vet’s table for me to rub her upper stomach. What a joy it was to be her family.
It’s strange…we always remarked that Happy never had a smell. She never smelled like a dog or an animal. Sometimes I think she had the faint smell of waffles…but I’d smell her neck deeply and there was nothing. What does that mean? Was she an angel? I don’t think angels would have a smell either…they are so pure and divine.
I left rosemary and lavender on Happy’s grave this morning. And a rainbow rock and a feather from her friend Fo. I search to find meaning in everything and these flowers symbolize remembrance and healing. Max sat for a long time at Happy’s side this morning and wouldn’t come inside. Maybe she was there. I think the dead can visit us and hear us speak to them. The last dream I had about my dad was so real. I was chasing stray dogs and they led me into a house where I found my dad. Then I realized they weren’t stray dogs I’d been chasing but all of our long-since-passed pets. We were in a place that resembled our old house but it was just part of it…like a meeting place that I could make sense of. I asked my dad where he had been and he told me that it was too complicated to understand but not to worry. There was one dog that I didn’t recognize and I told my mom about it later. She asked if it was a sheepdog and I said yes. She told me that she and my dad had owned a large sheepdog when they were first married. I feel certain now that all my beloved pets are in heaven and I will one day see them again.
Thank you to everyone who loved Happy so much. Thank you to everyone who adopts and rescues. We had 251 days with her. That’s longer than we ever thought we had. I think Happy’s last wish would be that we spent more time taking care of the elderly, both animal and human, those who have a lot left to give and we might miss it if we are too busy in this thing we call life.
If you want to see more of Happy all of her posts are linked here and there is of course her Instagram page where all her videos are. I will treasure all of those memories.
Also, there is a cause very near and dear to our heart that we have been raising money for this last year. We have been trying to get donations from every state for our small, rural animal shelter that desperately needs help saving the animals of our county. If anyone would like to donate in Happy’s name here is a link. We would be forever grateful. Thank you.
And if you see the number 251 think of Happy. #251daysofhappy
Liisa Sanchez says
What an inspiration Happy was to so many. We loved reading her stories and following her adventures. 251 Happy days wasn’t enough ❤️
Thank you for sharing her with us. <3
Marcia Parnell says
Again….just purely touching and the way you put Happy’s precious 251 days with you all in words….is simply for me beyond words!!! How blessed each one of you were….including most importantly….Happy… to have each other!!! Your heart must be filled with warmth!!!!❤️
My husband and I are on our way to rescue a young dog we fell in love with a month or so ago (we learned we were approved to adopt him a few nights ago). Just this morning we learned our dear almost 13 year old dachshund girl has an enlarged heart and has to be on medicine. Our vet assured us adding to the family with the new little guy won’t be too much for her. I have been thinking of you and your family this week and we are following along with Brett’s idea that our new rescue found us at just the right time. Thank you for sharing your family and sweet Happy with the world. It is a richer and better place because of your contribution.
Melody A. says
such a precious gift of 251 days. I am so sorry for your loss. I wish you well from Iowa
Shannon Cangey says
So sorry to hear this! I’m sitting here at work with tears. She was so special!
Aww so sorry 🙁 she had the cutiest little scruffy face.
I can’t even begin to tell you how sorry I am for Happy’s loss. She was loved by all of us. Will all miss hearing stories about her. I also have to tell you Ashley that you were one of the kindest, sweetest people I’ve ever known of and I’m so glad that you gave that sweet little dog the happiest 251 days of her life
Rhonda Larson on facebook rhonda larson haytii south dakota says
I have so enjoyed following your story with Happy and your family! I also believe we will see them in heaven and that they are there with our loved ones, but it sure is hard to let them go. Thank you for sharing and take care.
Elaine Vinton says
Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful pictures of Happy. Thank you for opening our hearts with your love and memories of your babies and of your family and art.
Pam Malone says
My heart is smiling and sad at the same time. What a beautiful little dog and what a beautiful life! Animals are truly God’s gift to us. We should always take care of them and show them love. Well done, Ashley, well done. ❤️
I so appreciate your story and hurt over your losses. I’ve wished for a little more time with loved ones. Seven years ago I lost my son. Thankful for all you and your family share and the joy of your health.
Brett’s comment is true. I believe that everything happens for a reason. Happy had wonderful 251 days with you, she was loved and cared. Now she is in another happy place and has given chance to some other dog to come to your life to experience same joy and love she had.
All animals have come to my life when I was least expecting. Our friends found a week old kitten in the trashbin only week or two after our previous cat had died of old age and kidney failure. Kitten was black as our previous cat had been (who was found in the trashbin as well when she was only few weeks old). We took her and now she is sweetest furryball ever and helped not only us but also our another cat to deal with the loss.
My parents in law lost three animals in the house fire and now they have four – two cats and two dogs – three of whom had been abandoned or abused and whom were in disperate need for loving family which they deserved but never had.
But thank you for sharing Happy and her stories, as well as your thoughts with us and I hope that in the future, when you are ready, we will be able to read stories about other furryball.
I am crying as I read this. But feeling such joy that you made Haapys last day such a gift. And happy that you received the blessing right back. You meant for each other and the love doesn’t go no matter how fleeting our time with each other.
Dara Hale says
My love and prayers are with your family.
I have followed you for a very long time now, admiring your work and your beautiful outlook on life and your family (whether two-footed, taloned, or four-pawed) and your willingness to share all of it with anonymous people like me who just enjoy seeing what you do and reading what you have to say about it.
This is the first time I’ve been moved to comment. I have tears streaming down my own face for your loss today. I, too, adopted a senior dog whom God sent at just the time we needed him. I wanted a younger, spunky dog, because we already had an older dog, and God sent me my slow, plodding, almost weary Simon instead. At first, I told the rescue organization no and then I had a dream about him while napping and understood he had to be with me and actually fought to get him back to my home as quickly as possible.
I believe he was an angel. A real angel sent to me in dog form because he walked me through great tragedy and sat with me while I wrapped my arms around his thick neck for hours and often sobbed in his fur, and when I touched him I just knew in a God way that everything would be ok.
Letting him go was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I understood at some level that I no longer needed this angel. God had other places for him to go, but that in no way meant that I was ready to let him go.
And like you, I believe with all my heart that some day I’ll be able to wrap my arms around Simon’s neck again and bury my face in his thick fuzzy scruff and inhale his own waffle scent and we will know how thrilled we are to see each other aagain.
Your tribute to Happy was beautiful. If she’s like my Simon, then she is still with you and will stay just in a new way. In the meantime, we wait and we open our hearts again even though it eventually means pain.
We always have two dogs because I can’t bear the thought of having no one to feed in the morning. So we’re a one-dog family until we have a senior citizen and then we start looking for who God is sending next.
If Simon hadn’t gotten very old, there would have been no Quinn who had all the spunk I can handle for one lifetime and was the perfect dog for the two very little girls we had at he time. If Quinn hadn’t gotten old, there would have been no Andy who needed us more than we probably needed him. And we knew he was too nervous to ever be an only dog, so we broke our own rule about no more than two dogs at a time and when Quinn got very, very old we brought in Kathryn for Andy’s sake, but turns out she’s an angel too. She has to be because she also smells like waffles.
So yes, God will send someone different and in the meantime Happy is happy with Him and we wait for our turn, may it be a long time coming, to hug and pet and hold them one more time.
I wish you peace now.
I cried and cried and then I remembered that the last 251 days of Happy’s life were extraordinary and I then my heart swelled. You are a truly wonderful person.
Dana Gaffney says
I’m so sorry for your pain, thank you for giving her the love and protection she needed and thank you for sharing her with us. As I followed her story I liked your honesty about her needs and your concerns, senior dogs are special and I’m hoping that Happy’s story might lead to other adoptions.
Lindi Turnipseed says
I am SO sorry Happy is gone! I cried reading this. I follow your blog daily and have loved the stories about her. No you can never replace her but you CAN love again and I know there’s another “Happy” out there who needs you! We have 10 dogs and treasure each and every one. My yorkie mix, Seeley Bug, smells like a tater tot…not a dog so I certainly understand!!!!! She goes with me to Wal-Mart, the grocery store, to feed the chickens and sleeps on pillows above my head. She is MY angel! Still crying but pray you will find comfort knowing you will see her again some day in Heaven!
Grandma Sue says
Sometimes it is thru loss that we remember to cherish the present. You not only loved your dear Happy, but you taught your daughter how to respect and care for those among us that need help, whether because of age or illness. Your heart will be taken by another 4 legged friend some day. He or she will not replace Happy but will find a whole new part of your heart that needs filling!
The sadness will pass, after all, isn’t that what Happy would want.
So sad to loose a loving pet. I’m so sorry sweet Happy is gone. Her memory will live on forever. Christine
Jeri R Gale says
The love you and Happy shared has already made the universe a kinder place.
I, too, cried while reading your heartfelt account of Happy and her last day. My goodness how did she manage to find her way into so hearts…and of course the answer is you, Ashley.
I rescued a very sweet doggie years ago. She lived with us for several years and loosing her was one of the hardest things I’ve gone through. Her name, given by the shelter, was Angel. And indeed she was an Angel.
Thank you so much for sharing your Happy Story.
And thank you for reminding us to tend to those elders in our life who still have something to say and stories to tell. And love to give…
Tj Dobbs says
I do think that your Fo went on ahead so happy would not get lost. I love reading you post. I am so sorry for your loss
I am so sorry for the loss of Happy and Fo. I don’t usually comment, but this little cutie touched my heart. I good reminder came to me, while reading your story….be more patient with my mother and love my cat more!!!
Thanks for sharing your blog with the world
Sending you love. Thank you for sharing happy with us!
Pat Schwab says
I am crying – one for happiness that Happy had such a wonderful loving family the last 251 days of her life and just because I am sad for the loss. We had to put our 13 year old dog to sleep the day after Christmas. Our cat got sick and I was feeding her for days with syringe trying to comfort her. It turned out she had a mass and we had to put her to sleep last month. We have a puppy now and all of our animals have been adopted. Hugs
Linda S. says
My heart is breaking and I have a lump in my throat after reading about Happy. I love her sweet little face with her many expressions. Maybe she didn’t want Fo to be alone, and felt she needed to be with her best friend. Mr. Brett is right, somebody else will eventually find you just like Happy did. Thank you for rescuing Happy, and giving her the best 251 days anybody could ever ask for! Happy will never be forgotten.
Sending you 251 ????????????????????????????????loving Happy hearts!
Jennifer Hodges says
I too cannot wait to see all my pets and people in heaven. I have really enjoyed following Happy’s story. I’m doing some crying for you.
Debbie Cheshire, lake city, fl says
Just donated 25 to your organization. Probably should have added a note “in memory of Happy” but neglected to do so. God bless you and yours Ashley! You’ve managed to find true happiness in your new life. You celebrate daily the “real” things that the Lord has given us!,
Rese Davis says
My cat, Spike, died on April 9 of this year. He was 14 years old, and I found him as a stray. I was heartbroken. But just last month I found another stray cat who is now in my home! Brett was right, another will find you! Happy was the luckiest dog in the world to have found you! It is so hard to let them go.
My heart goes out to you and yours. Happy was such a cutie. Thanks for sharing her 251 days with us.
Carolyn R Chase says
We’ve lost pets and people. None of it is easy, especially when the losses come so close together as yours did. Fortunately there is always more room for loving someone, a person or a pet. It doesn’t replace the one lost, but adds to the love in the world. My heart goes out to you.
After a rather rough day today, I was flipping through my Instagram feed and felt a wave of sadness that I’d no longer see Happy’s sweet face pop-up. She never failed to make me smile when I’d see her picture – or better yet a video! This brought me to your blog and I just read your beautiful tribute to Happy. I agree with you, I think she is an angel. I hope you and your family are beginning to heal a little from the loss of Happy and the fabulous Fo. How lucky you were to have had them both in your life. I also just made a donation to PAWS in Happy’s memory. Thank you for sharing her with all of us.
ChrisAnn Goossen says
So sorry for your loss. I know what you mean when you say your heart hurts. We lost our Zady last October to old age. That’s how it felt. I enjoy reading your blog. I found it when I was searching for how to make situpons. I found your post and then your blog. Something intrigued me. I’m an artist, too, but don’t spend much time around other artists. Anyway I subscribed and am very impressed by what seems a total lack of inhibition when it comes to being creative. Also, my husband and I have fallen in love with the Smokies and you live right there in Bryson City. We stayed there on our first trip. Also, it looks like you are into house renovation and fixing up old stuff. We’re on our third (and, I think, final) house renovation. So you and I have more than a few things in common. Stay strong and know that love is worth the pain of loss.
I miss Happy! She was a truly very beautiful little dog! I enjoyed her very pretty pictures, and I love you for have given her the last 251 best days of her life! Speaking for her “thank you MOM, you made me happy! She will be with you…ever!