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December, 2021:

Undeniable Recap of 2021

We didn’t do it gracefully, but we survived 2021. Holy f^¢king sh*t it’s been a roller coaster of a year. Here are some of the highlights.

Lucy is such a happy dog!

Lucy Jane Carter

On April 28, 2021, I got a call from the president of the Arizona Basset Hound Rescue asking if I’d take in a foster. A 3-year-old basset was found wandering by herself in Tempe – no tag or microchip. As I loaded this hound into my car a few hours later I thought, “Here’s to another 10-year commitment.” I named her Lucy Jane.

Lucy Jane came into my life exactly when I needed her. I’d survived a car accident and sustained a concussion only a few weeks earlier. When I noticed her mellow loving temperament, I registered her as my emotional support dog. We’ve barely been apart since then. She goes to work with me every day, and we even turn my trip to Cleveland for Content Marketing World into a road trip so she could come with me. She’s brought so much love into my life.

Faith wearing Rosie’s sweater. She was so little!

Faith Helen Carter

The reason why I could take in a foster in April, was because Faith, the basset hound I adopted at the end of December 2020, only lived 36 days. For those 36 days, my life was focused on giving this little girl the best life I could. Rescued from a breeder in Tijuana, Faith came with a host of medical issues, including renal failure. On February 1st, after rushing her to the ER for what would be the last time, I accepted that my job was to give this little basset a soft place to land and surround her with love for her final days.

We did it!

5K Ocean Swim with the Jews

Thanks to the pandemic, I’ve been training for my first full Ironman race since the fall of 2019. My race was cancelled in 2020 and 2021. (Hopefully third time’s a charm in 2022.) I still flew to New York to do the 5K ocean swim. My original plan was to do this 3.1-mile swim so that a 2.4-mile swim on race day would be easy in comparison.

For context, my coach, David Roher, and his friend and my teammate, Shlomo, swim in the ocean at least once a week all summer, and several friends periodically join them, all of whom happen to be Jewish. It was important to me that I could hold my own with this group, not just as part of my training, but also because I didn’t want to be the weakling who couldn’t keep up.

It turned out, I had nothing to worry about. My training paid off, and I held my own just fine with the “Jewish Swim Team” as I lovingly called them. Coach David swam behind me, just to my left, and I when I periodically drifted out to sea, he grabbed my foot and pulled me back on course. (Swimming in a straight line isn’t my strength.)

Cow hugging with Moothias – he’s such a sweetheart.

Volunteering at Aimee’s Farm Animal Sanctuary

I changed my work schedule at the end of 2021. Now on Monday mornings, when everyone else is heading back to work after the weekend, I head out to Aimee’s Farm Animal Sanctuary. This sanctuary is home to over 100 cows, goats, sheep, chickens, and other animals, many of which have special needs. A lot of the time, my job there involves scooping poop and laying out fresh straw, but it also includes spreading love, petting the animals, and singing to them.

JK and I decided that we’re in a boy band called Boy Band.

Hugging my Friends

As I went through my jar of happy memories while I worked on this Undeniable Recap for this year, I noted that a lot of them were notes about hugging various friends. Between the pandemic and busy lives, I don’t get to see my friends as much as I’d like, so when we do get to meet in person, it’s so wonderful to have that moment where we get to hug.

We drove out of our way to stand on the corner in Winslow, AZ.

Firsts in 2021

Rushing a pet to the ER; Having a pet hospitalized over night

Cooking with a BBQ

Using a composting service

Staying at a Getaway Cabin (I hope they create an outpost in Arizona.)

Hosting a law graduate for a bar exam

Getting Experience Points on Sigler in Place

Getting a concussion as an adult

Washing my car using a drive through car wash

Biking at South Mountain on Silent Sunday

Sights: Standing on the Corner in Winslow, AZ; Singing at Knight Rise in Scottsdale, AZ; Fearless Girl in New York, NY; Captain Janeway Statue in Bloomington, IN; Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX

We really drove out of our way to visit the Future Birthplace of Captain Janeway.

Lessons Learned (or Re-learned) in 2021

I’m a better person when I have a dog.

Do not perform home surgery on yourself.

Time is our most precious resource.

Make time for self-care before you’re forced into it.

If you answer the phone with, “It’s done. There’s blood everywhere,” the cops may show up at your front door.

Dairy Queen has pup cups.

Hooman and Hound – I love this dog.

In Memoriam

Hoomans: Ron Flavin, Joanne Rogers, Ethan Pleshe, Jane Murdock, Beverly Cleary, Carolyn Lange, Jason Wright, Michael Berch, Stephen Sondheim, Paul Saviano, James W. Trumpy, and Betty White

Critter Friends: Jager Martin, NASA Shankman, Athena Takaha, Jasmine Guerrero, Wooliam Takaha, Violet Takaha, Rambo Inman, Pearl Takaha, Bart Isaacson-Ortmeyer, and Bunny Reilly

Losing Faith

I never doubted that I was doing the right thing when I drove over 10 hours round trip to adopt a seven-year-old basset hound on December 30, 2020. The moment I saw Faith’s photo, I knew she was my dog.

Five days after her adoption, I rushed Faith to the animal hospital in renal failure. Until then, no one had realized how sick she was.

Adoption Day!

During her first hospitalization, the vet determined that Faith would need to be on prescription food for the rest of her life.

Ok, I thought. I can do that.

About a week later, she had to be hospitalized again. During that stay, the vet determined she would need to be on subcutaneous fluids every night for the rest of her life.

Ok, I thought. I can do that too.

They had to bring me into the hospital so the tech could teach me how to put the needle in her back between her shoulder blades. As I sat on the floor with Faith with one of her vets sitting on the floor across the room from us, we discussed her medical conditions. He had been employed at the hospital for about six months, but because of COVID, I was the first pet parent he’d spoken to in person.

Every day while Faith was hospitalized, I called the hospital at 4:30am to ask how she was doing as I drank my morning coffee. I knew the vet would call after morning rounds, but I didn’t want to wait to hear how my baby was doing. When the staff mentioned in passing that she liked the fleece blanket, I went to Target and bought her four. I wanted her to be surrounded by loving softness.

One of her fleeces, “purple blanket,” even came with us to the office every day. At the end of each day, I’d scoop up Faith’s 33-pound body and carry her to the car. At night, I administered her subcutaneous fluids. Each of her beds had one of her heavy fleece blankets, and I hung a hook on the wall above each one for the fluid bag. After she was done with her fluids, I covered her with a light fleece and the heating pad to keep her warm as her body absorbed the room temperature fluid.

Faith in her nest of fleece blankets.

I was prepared to do whatever she needed.

I wasn’t prepared to say goodbye so soon.

On January 31, 2021, as I was about to climb into bed, I noticed that Faith was breathing somewhat rapidly. I called the hospital and they said to bring her in. As I pulled into the parking lot, I was met by three techs. Two of them loaded Faith onto a stretcher and whisked her inside, and one handed me a clipboard with a consent form. I climbed into the back seat and tried to sleep, knowing it would be a while before the vet called with an update. Close to midnight, my phone rang. Not only were Faith’s kidney numbers worse than ever, she also had pneumonia. Her little body was failing.

The vet offered to put her down that night, but I declined. “Faith will die at home,” I said.

Faith was so small, she could fit on the office chair with me.

Faith and I went to the office on Faith’s last full day. I invited the legal assistant who adored Faith to come pet her before we left for the day. She was busy and said something like, “I’ll see her next time.”

With tears welling in my eyes I responded, “There isn’t going to be a next time.”

That night, Faith and I cuddled on the couch with purple blanket and watched “The Devil Wears Prada.” The next morning, Dr. Katherine Campabadal came to the house and helped little Faith over the Rainbow Bridge. Just like with Rosie, I stayed at Faith’s side through to the end, and then kept her home for a few hours until I was ready to take our final photos before taking her to the pet mortuary.

Faith Helen Carter (December 15, 2013 – February 3, 2021)

Faith died on February 3, 2021, only 36 days after her adoption. I didn’t know it when I adopted her, but my job was to give her a soft place to land and surround her with love for her final days.