Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ode to Ode

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~ Ode ~
I am so very sad to report that our dog, Ode (Odie), passed away on March 15, 2011.

It has been a couple of weeks, but I have been going through photos trying to find any great photos that I can of Ode to bring back memories. I found SO many to share on here, but I didn't want it to be such a long posting, so here are a few photos of us with Ode.

I will probably share more photos throughout the next couple of months so we have lots of memories of him on here.
So that is why it took me so long to get a posting on here, I have been going through photos.
I took this photo above back in October 2010.

I do warn anyone reading this that I use this blog for journaling, so I have written a lot of personal feelings and some special experiences about our special dog that others might not be as interested in as I am. But I love Ode and I want Aaron Jr to know how I felt when Ode passed away. It has been tougher for me than I ever imagined that it would be. So bear with me. :)

Our first family photo taken with Aaron Jr AND Ode in it.
Aaron Jr was three months old. March 2006
Ode was / is a part of our family. He was very much a part of our lives and we love him.

I took this photo in March of 2005. Aaron certainly did consider Ode to be just like a child of his. They were the best of friends. Ode was a loyal friend and companion to Aaron for almost the whole second half of Aaron's life. I love this photo of Aaron holding Ode on his lap like a child. Its the only time I ever saw him hold Ode like this. It was funny.

These photos are both 'family photos' in a round about way.
In the photo on the left, I was pregnant with Aaron Jr. It was taken at the end of September 2005, two months before Aaron Jr was born.
In the photo on the right, we built that snowman and pretended that the snowman Aaron / Daddy. It was taken in January 2009, a little more than a year after Aaron passed away.

Me, Aaron Jr, and Ode at Aaron's gravesite on the day that they brought the headstone and put it in. A year after Aaron died. Ode loved to wander when we took him out there. He loved to wander everywhere he went. He was a roamer.

I included this photo because this is Steve and Sue, Aaron's parents. Ode lived at their house for many years. When Aaron lived at home, then when Aaron was gone for the two years on his mission to Brasil, then when Aaron was a single college student and couldn't have Ode in his apartments...

We finally got to bring Ode to live with us when we bought our home in Lehi back in January 2004. Aaron was so happy to have Ode living with us, Ode was so happy to be with Aaron, and I was really happy to have Ode living with us as well. Ode was a part of the family. After Aaron passed away, we still had Ode in Lehi with us... until we had to sell our home at the end of 2009 (sad day).

So, back Ode went with Steve and Sue because we couldn't have a dog where we were living. We have had the privilege of 'dog sitting' when they went out of town... and we would visit Ode often... but we sure missed having him living with us. But Steve and Sue took great care of him and I know they love Ode and loved having him there. And Ode sure loved them. They are heart broken as well. Thank you Steve and Sue. So much.

Ode and Me.
I sure love Ode. I always felt safe when Aaron was out of town as long as Ode was at home with me. He was so obedient and he was loyal and he was aware of any noises that were out of the ordinary. His ears peaked and he would bark anytime he felt there was someone around that should be there.

After Aaron passed away, I thought I would be so scared to be at our house without Aaron there. I was blessed though, because with Ode there, I felt safe. I am sure it also had to do with the fact that Heavenly Father was helping us to feel peace and safety. But Ode sure helped in that process and I sure miss him.

Ode has been around for Aaron Jr's whole life. Ode has been Aaron Jr's best pal for his entire 5 years. Aaron Jr has always called Ode his best friend. Anytime Aaron Jr was sneak out of the house and I couldn't find him, I knew that it meant he was following Ode around our neighborhood and roaming with Ode. It still made me nervous, but I felt better knowing he was with Ode.

Ode was a loyal friend to both of my Aarons.

Our last family photo, taken just two days before he passed away. Sue got a great shot with this one. I sure love this photo. You can see how swollen Ode's right leg and paw is compared to the other one. He was just so old and was in so much pain.

After Aaron passed away, I was just sure that Ode would not be very far behind him. Anytime Aaron went out of town, Ode would mope around and he wouldn't want to eat until Aaron got back. He was just so sad that his friend was not there. So, when Aaron passed away, I was sure that Ode would die of a broken heart. Or at least would starve because I didn't think he would eat much. I have no idea if Ode truly knew what had happened and why Aaron was gone. In my opinion, Ode was just never the same after Aaron passed away. He had a sadness about him. Like the rest of us who love Aaron, Ode was affected.

Even though I assumed Ode would go soon after Aaron, he didn't. He still lived for three years and three and a half months after that. I am so grateful for the time we got to have with Ode after Aaron died.

Aaron raised Ode from a pup, so Ode was another living reminder and connection that we had to Aaron.

As Ode got older, it became more and more difficult for him to climb stairs. We could tell he was in pain and figured it was arthritis. The past year or so, he has gotten progressively worse and his breathing became more and more labored. None of us could imagine making the decision to have him put to sleep, so I prayed a lot in the past few months that Heavenly Father would take Ode home so that he was not in pain.

A few months ago, I told Aaron Jr that Ode was really old and he would not be around forever and that dogs die when they get really old. It was at that point that Aaron Jr started praying EVERY night that Ode would not die. He would either pray that Ode would not die or that Ode would not go to heaven, which to Aaron Jr is the same thing as dying. He would pray one of those two things every night.

So, a couple of weeks ago, Sue and Steve had everyone over to dinner so that we could all see Ode in case anything happened. That is when that last family photo was taken of us. I could tell he was not doing well and knew it was going to be soon. The next night after that, Sue called me to tell me that she didn't think Ode would make it through the night. She said that they were considering having a vet come to their house the next morning to put him to sleep if he even makes it through the night and they wondered what I thought about it. It was hard for any of us to make that decision, but I knew that it was what was best. We all did. He couldn't really even stand up anymore and breathing seemed difficult for him.

So, late that night, Aaron Jr and I went to their house and I sat next to Ode on the floor, petting him, and just sobbing for an hour and a half... and here I go again. Wow. It was a precious hour and a half that I will treasure. I cannot imagine what people go through watching a loved one with an illness as they get weaker and weaker and then they pass away... because it was sure tough with our dog. So it breaks my heart that anyone has to go through that with someone they love.

Anyhow, I asked Sue to call me in the morning and that I wanted to be there when it happened... but she misunderstood me and thought that I wanted her to call me after it happened. So, the next morning, Sue called me to let me know that it was over and that the vet had just left. It was early in the morning, so she had woken me up, and at first, I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me because I had missed seeing Ode one more time that morning before he was gone. I knew it was a total misunderstanding and as we talked on the phone and as I woke up more, I suddenly realized that when she called, I had been having a pretty amazing dream. A dream that I would not have had if Sue had called me to have me come up there to see Ode before the vet came. At that point, I realized that it was a trade off. I so badly wanted to be there with Ode as he passed away, BUT, if I had been there with Ode, I would not have had the dream...

The dream: I don't remember where we were in the dream. It seems like our surroundings were not familiar. But in the dream, Ode was laying down resting like he had been the night before as I was sitting there petting him. In the dream, someone said a prayer that Heavenly Father would take Ode home. As soon as the prayer ended, Ode's spirit stood up from his body and his spirit ran as fast as he could towards heaven. Home. The dream went on to other things that I cannot remember, but not for very long... because only a few minutes later, Sue called and woke me up to tell me that it was over and that Ode was gone.

This may seem kinda cheesy to some, but to me, it was a tender mercy for me to have this dream since I was not there with Ode at the time he passed away. I am grateful to have had this dream. To see his spirit running like I have seen Ode run so many times before when he was young and healthy... it was such a JOY to see. It seemed so real.

I told Sue that Aaron Jr and I would be right up and we went up there to be with Ode before he was buried. When we got there, Sue offered us a spot on the floor next to Ode so we could pet him. So Aaron Jr and I sat down next to him and pet him for a while. Aaron Jr went out to help Steve and also Aaron's brother Steve dig a hole for Ode in the back yard. Aaron's brother had come out with his daughter that morning as well. We were all so sad. I could not stop crying. Ode had lived for 15 or 16 years and I could not believe that he was gone. That he wouldn't be here to play fetch with anymore.

Once the hole was ready, we wrapped him in a blanket that Aaron had in his truck and also another heavier blanket, then we carried him out and lowered him into the grave. Ode is buried next to a pine tree that was planted for Aaron after he passed away. It is a perfect spot for him to be.

I never knew how much it would affect me when Ode passed away. I knew I would be sad and that I would miss him, and I knew it would be even more difficult after Aaron passed away because Ode was a connection to Aaron for us... but I had no idea my heart would break as much as it has. I have had dogs that I loved before in my life, but I never ever had them long enough to watch them die... I now realize the loss one can feel by losing a pet. A friend. My heart broke again when Ode passed away and I am missing him. A lot. But I know he is happier now, so it is a blessing for him to be free from pain.

I am not sure what Aaron Jr comprehends about it. He still talks about Ode coming out of the dirt to play with him sometime, but I think he is understanding more each day that Ode is gone.

A couple of prayers of Aaron Jr's lately have gone like this:

...bless we can talk to ode up in the sky and he can hear us.
...bless Jesus can put his spirit back in Ode and he can be alive again and we can dig in the hole.

This was one of our conversations:
Aaron Jr: Ode didn't smile at me.
Me: When?
Aaron Jr: When Jesus took his spirit to heaven.

And now... here is one of my all time favorite photos that I have ever taken. I took this of Aaron and Ode on a trip we took with my family up through the Canadian Rockies back in June of 2004. I believe we were still on the U.S. side at this point at a lake called Lake McDonald up in Montana. It was a beautiful morning... and when I snapped this photo, I just knew I had captured one of my favorite shots ever.

Aaron and Ode were the best of friends. Aaron would have done anything for Ode and Ode would have done anything for Aaron. I remember when Aaron would be out in his shop in the backyard working on furniture... even into the wee hours of the morning... and so many times Ode would sit and wait patiently right outside of the open shop door until Aaron was ready to come in for the night. When Aaron would need a little break, he would grab a piece of scrap wood and go out and throw it to Ode over and over while Ode fetched it and brought it back to him.

Another thing about Ode that I loved was this...
Aaron drove a Ford F-250 Powerstroke Diesel pickup truck and we could always tell when Aaron was almost home from work because Ode could hear the truck and feel the vibrations of it coming down the street before we could, so Ode would run to the door leading from the kitchen our to the garage while wagging his tail all excited, then Aaron Jr would follow, and then we would hear the truck coming down the street. I loved that about Ode. I would usually be cooking dinner right there, so then I would open the kitchen door out to the garage just in time for Aaron to use the garage door opener to open the big garage door and Ode and Aaron Jr would run out to greet him when he got home. I loved watching that.

Wow, I miss those days. Normal everyday days. Sometimes I forget how normal life felt back then. The beautiful and JOYful normal. Oh, how I wish I could have those days back.

~ It is JOYful to picture Aaron and Ode in heaven doing the same thing they are doing in this photo... just walking together in the beauty of their surroundings. ~

I sure love and miss them both. So much.

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Mindy said...

I always cry when we lose our dogs, and I've shed tears for Ode too. He was a faithful friend to you and Aaron Jr. after he couldn't be with Aaron anymore. What a great dog. I'm sorry for your loss!

Momza said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Ode. Dogs are here on this journey with us for companionship -- they certainly have a noble place in the eternities.
We've spent many days and hours at Lake McDonald at Glacier Park, as my MIL lives just there at Columbia Falls, MT. It is like a little piece of heaven, isn't it?
I am sure Aaron Jr will love this post as he grows up.
Your tribute is beautiful.

Kristi said...

so sad.
I remember the night of Aaron's surprise party. Aaron was so worried about losing his dear canine friend.
I did find the stuffed animal Ode in your room. We will send it with whoever comes up next.

Allred Mom said...

I'm so sorry about another loss in your life. Ode sounds like a wonderful friend and family member. Great memories and pictures to cherish of him, and what a reunion he and Aaron are having!

Janeal said...

What a tender tribute, it touched my heart. And what beautiful pictures of Ode and your family, every one of them. I'm sure there is a special place in heaven for beloved pets like Ode.

partypatt said...

Your post was so touching. Thank you for sharing your love for Ode. He was a good dog. I love the dream you had, and I believe you were privileged to see Ode enter Heaven! Imagine the fun he and Aaron are having there right now! Best of everything to you, Leslie. I feel like I know you.

April said...

I love this post. We all loved Ode and it is so sad that he is gone. He was like a piece of Aaron... having Ode here felt like a little piece of Aaron, so he is dearly missed!
I loved all the pictures you posted. I've never seen the one of Aaron holding ode like a child... SO funny! That pic reminded me of a time when Aaron shared his ice cream cone with Ode. He could take a lick, then let Ode take a lick! So gross!
What Aaron Jr. said about Ode not smiling at him now that his spirit was gone is so sweet. Just shows how close those children are to the spirit... and that they understand more than we sometimes think. So sweet.
Love you and miss you!

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Ode, Leslie. I can only imagine how sad you are feeling.



Ashlie said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Ode passing. What a long and wonderful life he lived though! Our family dog passed away two Marches ago at the age of 14 and I think I still feel his spirit with us sometimes. I'm certain your pup is grateful for the life he had with you and your family. I hope you have comfort during this time, we love you.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry that you lost Ode. This post made me cry. I know you wrote every word from your heart. It was beautiful. Sweetly beautiful.
I lost my black dog a year ago. in was in March, but I have blocked the date out of my mind. She was 18. I can somewhat relate to your heart in the loss of Ode. Ode's loss has such a far deeper meaning than just loosing a pet, though. The dream was a reminder that it is better there than here. Wrap your heart around it. Hugs to you, Leslie.

Seivert/Webb Family said...

..Beautiful. I would have to agree that your "dream" was a perfect tender mercy for you. It will be 6yrs since my Dad's sudden passing this week, and yesterday there were TWO song's sung on "Music and the Spoken Word" and I felt the same....

The road is long, and tough, and I believe we do the best we can, some day's better than other's. My Dad's beloved dog disappeared 3 mo's before my Dad died, my Mom never stopped wondering, and wishing that he "Harley" would return, it was tough to have both gone within such a short time.

God bless Leslie,