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Wordless Wednesday – Retroactive Pennies

Since I just came up with the pennies idea to track Lilly’s survival, I decided to go retro — retroactive, that is. I went to the bank and got rolls and rolls of pennies so that I had 1 penny for every day since Lilly received that fateful rabies vaccine on January 23, 2012, that royally screwed up her brain and spinal cord. Today marks Day 394 of Lilly’s survival. Howz that for positive thinking?

best dog blog, champion of my heart, vase full of pennies


Several of our Champion of My Heart Facebook Fans suggested I read a book by a Denver author called The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer: Lessons on Living and Dying from My Canine Brothers (by Doug Koktavy).

He chronicles the loss of BOTH his labs — one to kidney disease and the other to bone cancer, and the book includes several really good ideas for coping with the preemptive grief and care-taking fatigue that plagues dog lovers in a life / death battle.

I read / skimmed / sobbed through the entire book in one sitting, but here are a few ideas I found helpful:

  • Guilt is living in the past.
  • Fear is living in the future.
  • You can have hope without expectation.

A life-long hockey player, Doug even fashioned a “penalty box” for the con artists (the diseases) hell bent on robbing him of joy TODAY. Whenever he felt the disease overshadowing the joy of having his two Lab boys at his side, Doug would essentially Trash Talk the diseases back into the penalty box.

I figure, I could get pretty good at Trash Talking the inflammation in Lilly’s body. Don’t you think?


Oh, and I’ve started adding heart-shaped beads and such to our Champion of My Heart Pinterest Board – Dog Memorial Ideas because I think I might like a pretty memento of Lilly ~~ maybe a black-and-white heart necklace, if I can find one I adore.


Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Donna - February 21, 2013

I think the penny jar is a great idea! And thanks for telling me about Beezer and Boomer…I’ve just added it to my ever lengthening wish list!
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Doug Koktavy - February 20, 2013

Thank you so much for taking the time to read The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer. I’m honored to share my story during most special time with Lilly.

I found an abundance of books about grieving the death (past tense) of a beloved companion animal, but nothing on “during the illness.” So I decided to write a book to help others in this time period.

The condition is known as “Anticipatory Grief” which is pulling a future loss into today. Symptoms include fear, guilt, anger, depression, sleep and eating disorders. Anticipatory Grief is very real.

Caregivers are particularly susceptible. We have our normal lives and then a 24/7 ICU dropped on us without permission. Others go about their lives while the caregiver notices daily declines, despite best efforts to the contrary.

Fortunately, there is a solution. I turned the worst period of my life into the richest period of my life (with the help of my dogs). The best part of our humanity comes forward when we recognize the gifts of assisting a beloved soul on this final Journey from this life to the next.

Hard? You betcha! It was also the most important thing I’ve ever done and the most human I’ve ever been. Wouldn’t change a thing even if I could.

Ultimately, the Journey is about finding peace in change. A topic many humans struggle with. What better laboratory than the short life of a companion animal?

Beezer and Boomer never got better from their illnesses, but I sure got better from mine. And I didn’t even know I was sick!

My best wishes,

Doug Koktavy
Author: The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer
Doug Koktavy recently posted..testing newsletter postMy Profile

    Roxanne Hawn - February 20, 2013

    Thanks, Doug. Right now, I don’t feel improved in any way (heading into year #5 with everyone in my life sick and/or dying). I just feel worried and exhausted, but I keep plugging away on all fronts. I do feel some peace here and there, so that’s something.

Jen - February 20, 2013

I wondered if you should’ve started counting earlier, but this isn’t my show, so I didn’t want to say anything. It does look a lot more optimistic now!
Jen recently posted..Wordless Wednesday February 20 2013My Profile

    Roxanne Hawn - February 20, 2013

    Ha! Jen, you make me laugh. You’re always welcome to say what you think here. And, yes, those few pennies looked kind of sad … that’s why I made the decision pretty fast to boost our total by looking back to day 1.

Ingrid King - February 20, 2013

I love that you decided to do this! Thoughts and prayers continue to go out to you.
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LInda Martin - February 20, 2013

I love your idea!

I loved the bracelet I purchased from the woman who runs these two FB pages: or this one:

Her name is LeeLit Pilcevich-Pope. I’m sure she would be receptive to making something special for you.

She makes high quality and spectacular designed bracelets where a portion of the proceeds are donated to Panda Paws Rescue Foundation located in Vancouver, Washington.

Eileen - February 20, 2013

I’m so pleased you are filling up that vase, it looks so much more hopeful now and I hope it overflows.

When you look for a black and white heart necklace, you’ll know you’ve found the perfect one as it’ll make you cry. I adore my amber pendant.

Sending my love x
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    Roxanne Hawn - February 20, 2013

    Yay for hope! If you have time, post your pendant picture on our FB page so that I can see it.

      Eileen - February 21, 2013

      My pendant was a gift for my 60th birthday, so was very special. I posted a photo on my blog if you’d like to see it. You can also see Amber’s photo in the side bar too x
      Eileen recently posted..Skulls and bonesMy Profile

        Roxanne Hawn - February 21, 2013

        It’s beautiful, Eileen. I have an amber bracelet that we bought in Mexico eons ago. Amber is VERY cool.

Hilary - February 20, 2013

Thanks for writing this and letting us know what you’re doing–I’m going to get that book based on your recommendation. I think you’re wise to deal with preemtive grief now (I haven’t done that yet and didn’t with Friz, which was a mistake), and planning some nice things for the future. My heart and love are with you and Lilly girl.

    Roxanne Hawn - February 20, 2013

    Hilary ~ This time it’s so different. When Penelope had kidney disease, I really didn’t worry much. She lived 3 1/2 years after diagnosis, and things weren’t really “bad” until the last 6 months or so. And, since she was pretty old by then, it just seemed “easier.” Now, with Cody, we only had 10 days from diagnosis to death, but I was still so GRATEFUL to have that time to say goodbye and to adjust to the news.

Sam - February 20, 2013

I do like the pennies idea, and it looks so much more optimistic now with all of those in there!
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    Roxanne Hawn - February 20, 2013

    I’m trying for optimism, but it isn’t easy. My heart just aches. I feel dizzy a lot, etc.

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