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Summer of Lincoln 2.0 is almost over. The end is close. Of summer, that is. The end of summer just means the beginning of fall, and that’s one of my favorite seasons. If I’m being honest, every time I get to experience anything new, I’m going to celebrate. There were some who predicted I wouldn’t be around to see last autumn, let alone this one.

I’ve been busy making memories…swimming, boating, running, playing and generally making everyone smile and want to rub my belly. My Mom says that memories are the currency of the mind; that there’s nothing at all more valuable. Some day, maybe even soon, only memory will prove that I lived. I want to make sure the proof not only memorializes me, but also brings joy to the one remembering. Since I can’t talk, that’s the best way to show everyone how much I love them. I want people to laugh out loud when they think of me!

So, I’m getting my last few warm swims in. My Dad swam with me today. He races me to the ball, but he lets me win every single time. That’s okay, though. I know he does it because he loves me so much and he wants to spend some extra time together.

Plus, we’re a little overrun with girls around here since my Mom brought home a new “foster” dog. Ha! Good one, Mom. If it’s a foster dog, you have to give it back at some point, and I DO NOT see that happening.  Even my Dad said, “Foster dog…that old gag”. It’s like my Mom doesn’t know we’re on to her, or something. It’s all good though. Jasmine is pretty funny and she likes to play. I’m smart enough to realize that I can’t begrudge her place in our house, since that was me eight years ago. If my Mom wasn’t a rescuer, I wouldn’t be here either.

Here’s a video of Jasmine if you want to see my new “foster” sister. 

I’m trying to keep this one short. I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m doing great and that I look forward to tomorrow every single day. I’m not going to waste a single second since I have to be out there making happy memories for everyone.

My Mom says I’ve made her rich already. She says she’s got a full savings account of mind currency thanks to me, but I’m not taking any chances. No wasted time here.

To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.
~Thomas Campbell

It’s summer again, and I always tend to reflect a little bit more when life is so super great. Usually I hardly remember my first people…the ones who brought me to the shelter, but every now and then I think it’s good to remember where you’ve been.

There really is no greater rejection than to be dumped at the pound with the strong recommendation that you be euthanized. It’s sort of strange that I’m thankful for that awful day, but if they wouldn’t have thrown me away like trash, I wouldn’t have ended up where I am.  It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it, how something so awful can bring about something so great. There’s a lesson in there, people. Pay attention. Seriously, when you live through lots of bad things, it makes you truly appreciate when thing are good.

There really just isn’t any point in dwelling on the past. I learned that a long time ago. Considering all that has happened to me, I pretty much have to let it go. Honestly, having a brain tumor, then a craniotomy, then a TPLO, then another TPLO, and then an amputation of the leg with one of the TPLOs is a pretty big string of bad luck.

I’m all about looking forward, though. If you let it, all of the bad stuff will crush you and make you forget about the possibilities tomorrow holds. Bad things can get so heavy, and I need to save my strength for living, not holding onto the weight of the past.

My Mom says she envies how short my memory is. Truth be told though, it’s not that I don’t remember…I remember it all. I remember being afraid. I remember that a broom isn’t always used for sweeping. I remember the shelter. I remember being given a second chance. I remember learning to trust. I remember all of my surgeries. See, I haven’t forgotten; it’s just that I refuse to let the ugly parts of my past ruin the beauty and possibility of any of my tomorrows. (P.S. Mom, I also remember that you and Dad ditched us for two weeks in June to take a vacation…prime Summer of Lincoln time, I’m just sayin’.)

The way I look at it, there’s no sense barking and howling about the things you can’t change. Same with all of the unhappy things I had to go through. It wasn’t an easy journey, but look where it brought me. Early on I decided to just let all of the negative memories float away, like a balloon in a good wind, that way they don’t have any power over me. My heart is in the future.

I am weightless. All of the good in my life is like helium. I float. I swim. I love. I live. Every day.

My life is beautiful.

 

Do not waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

In loving memory of Cooper, the mighty warrior, who battled with courage and dignity until the end  – where ever you are, may you continue to be the absolute king of the AMBF. Reign on Cooper.

Written by Lincoln’s Mom:

A couple of weekends ago, while at the cabin on a beautiful morning, I grabbed my coffee, my dogs, and my camera, and headed down to the dock. I brought a book, too, but it’s always hard to concentrate. The sheer beauty of the surroundings and the constant lake flurry is distracting. The book was quickly discarded while I watched the duck and geese parents shepherd their babies hither and yon, and the boats with the fishers and the boats with wake-boarders, or the ospreys, or the eagles, or…well, you get my point.

Truth be told, though, the real distraction was Lincoln. He’s getting gray. His muzzle and face are turning white. I wonder how this crept up on me. Certainly the whiteness didn’t appear over night.  For a moment, I was panicked.

MY DOG IS GETTING OLD.

Then it hit me….I shouldn’t view this as something bad. I should celebrate. This is Lincoln, the dog who was beaten and abused, who has been cut up and lost body parts, who has had brain surgery and knee surgery and chemotherapy. Lincoln, the dog who has not only accepted, but embraced his new reality time after time after time. Lincoln, who runs and smiles and swims like there is no tomorrow.   He reminds me of this quote by Voltaire, “Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”

LINCOLN IS GETTING OLD.

I never thought this day would come, I guess. I now realize that deep down, in the awful and dark places inside of me, I never believed that Lincoln’s hair had any chance at all to turn white. I didn’t have any real hope that I would get to see him age. It didn’t matter to me, though. I accepted long ago, probably in the brain tumor days, that he would likely not live out his life in a normal way. He will be ten this year. He is a giant dog. He has had more health issues than any creature should ever have to endure.

I think that’s why it came as such a surprise. I just never expected it, as awesome as it is. I didn’t plan for it, or look for it. It just happened. Seemingly overnight.

MY DOG IS GETTING OLD.

He has the heart of a lion, and the courage of a warrior. He is just as you would expect a golden retriever to be. He has no ulterior motives and he carries no grudges. His memory is short. I envy that.

Even as I write this I’m especially aware of how awful this sounds. I’m horrified to be talking about Lincoln growing old when so many others are not given that chance. I think of brothers lost and the legion of canine companions taken from us far too soon. I remember too well the tragedy and the ragged, despairing grief that thrives on it, the very worst of parasites.

And so I say again, my dog, my amazing, brave, resilient, irrepressible dog is getting old. I say it with reverence and with respect and sorrow for those, both human and canine, who were not allowed this same chance. I thank those who lead the way down the path I will surely find myself on, either sooner or later. Their journey is mine from which to learn. I won’t squander the lessons.

Lincoln has overcome more adversity than I could ever recognize. I finally understand, however, that when it comes to him, I will only be appreciative for what we have, and let go of what we have lost. He certainly has, and I owe him that. If he can do it, I can too.

Lincoln is getting old. His fur is growing white. I am grateful beyond words.

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.  ~Epictetus

——– In loving memory of Catie Caitlin, who was with us largely, but not nearly long enough. May her beautiful spirit live far longer than her body. ————-

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in. Unfortunately, I’m dependant upon my Mom’s opposible  thumbs to type, and she had a bit of a run in with a knife, and hasn’t been able to type for me. In fact, she is typing this one handed, so it seems that I should be able to assure you that this will be short, but, ahem….I think you all know my Mom by now.  Brevity isn’t her strong suit…especially when it comes to talking about me. You remember the video, right? Totally. Embarassing.

My Mom told me this saying the other day, she says it reminds her of me;  “There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart”  ~Celia Thaxter.  If she means that I’m grateful, she’s right. If there ever was a blessed dog, it’s surely me, even with all of my medical issues (by way of reminder – brain tumor, TPLO #1, TPLO #2, Osteosarcoma/Amputation, re-growth of brain tumor). It’s been interesting, to say the least.

Anyway, we’re back at the cabin starting my second summer as a tripawd.  None of us ever expected I would still be around, but here I am. My Mom and Dad insisted we just take things one day at a time, and I have to give them credit because we are all super happy. Even Quinlay has turned out to be a perfect fit. I didn’t expect to, but I do like her (she is in love with me, FYI, but who can blame her, right?).

So today was just like a normal day except that it was almost 70 degrees, which my Mom says means that MY SUMMER 2.0 has officially started. Whoooooohoooo.  You all know what I did first thing, right? If you are betting that I snuck down to the lake while my Mom was distracted with mowing the grass, then you are a WINNER!! Of course I got busted pretty quick because she still worries about me being in the water alone, but it was pretty great while it lasted.

 I should mention that I got to swim like four different times today, plus we went to the winery and my Mom rediscovered her happy place. Shocker, right? All this time I thought I was enough 3 legged red to keep her happy. Turns out that today, Tildio Profundo was the red that made her relax. We all know that when my Dad and I take her to Tildio, she seems to remember that, for now at least, we are all together and healthy and happy.

After the winery I got to swim one more time. As you’ll see, Quinlay jumped in front of the camera and interrupted my photo-op. Somebody needs to remind her that I’m generally the center of attention. I’m not sure what she was thinking, but she does tend to get right up in my Mom’s grill. She can be a pretty big attention whore, if I’m being honest, but she is pretty sweet, I must admit.

 

So, here we go again. I’m ready for another great summer with my Dad and Mom, and family and friends, and dogs and sun and swimming. It’s everything I ever dreamed of and it’s more than I ever imagined it could possibly be. I never stopped believing that this summer would happen. I never gave up hope.

It’s like this saying my Mom told me, ‘When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” ‘~Author Unknown

 

I was getting dropped off at the vet to have yet another body part removed. I never did find out what happened to my skull when they cut it out. I heard my Mom ask for it, but the doctor just laughed at her. She was serious, but he didn’t seem to think so. Anyway, it’s gone.

So is my leg. We didn’t get that back either. Not so much as the metal plates from my TPLO. She really wanted those.

Good riddance, I suppose. By the time they hacked it off, it was mostly giving me grief anyway. First the knee surgery, then the cancer. If I’m being honest, I really don’t miss it.

Anyway, my Mom made this video of me to commemorate the past twelve months. In case you forgot, when this whole chapter started, my Dad said we we were going to go to our cabin every moment possible to celebrate the Summer of Lincoln. He would have never believed that summer would slide into fall which turned into winter which has now pretty much melted into spring.  We just keep taking things one day at a time.  My Mom has lots of quotes to keep my spirits up.  One of them is by Mary Anne Radmacher and my Mom says it reminds her of me… “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

One year ago today everything seemed really grim. Today seems pretty great. It turns out that we are all a lot stronger than we ever thought possible. We’ve learned that strength can be found in many places.

I’m still here and I’m still fighting. My Mom told me this saying once, and even though some may say Dr. Seuss isn’t really a philosopher, we like his message as much as any of those other writers – he said, “I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”

As long as I walk (or hop) this earth, I’m going to keep wagging and keep swimming, but most of all, I’m going to keep on swinging. My Mom says I just don’t have any quit in me. She’s right, I hope.

Also, I apologize for how long the video is. My Mom gets pretty carried away when it comes to showing me off.

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