Today I lost a very good friend. Her name was Bluey and she taught me three things:
- Life is precious
- Time is precious
- Everyone has a lesson to share
Bluey was my dog and she changed my life. She was with me for the last 8 years and today she died from congestive heart failure. This post will serve as a tribute to her memory.
She passed away at approximately 3:20pm Saturday April 23rd, 2011.
You can read the other posts on her symptoms, the medications and I’ll do another post on how she died Saturday afternoon. This post is to remember her for the amazing dog she was and how she changed lives, including mine.
There is something truly indescribeable about how a dog can make you feel. As if you are the most special person in the world to them. Every time they see you, it’s a reason to celebrate in their eyes. I spent some time watching the SPCAi videos of Baghdad Pups where soldiers worked to arrange to bring home dogs they had befriended in Iraq and those stories illustrate the amazing bond between humans and dogs.
Important note: I’ve decided to tell the life of Bluey and myself through a series of photos I’ve taken over the last 8 years with Bluey because I had the amazing opportunity to see the Charlotte Salomon’s, “Life? or Theatre?” exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum on Friday and it blew my mind that a 20 something woman made a series of 1,300 images over one and a half years about her life and then ended up dying at Auschwitz a few years later. One thing I’ve learned in losing Bluey is that time and life are precious and I will tell my story along with Bluey’s here. Please enjoy.
Cause Of Death: Congestive Heart Failure
AKC Reg No.: TN91957202
Name: Regalaire’s Blue Jeans
Color: Blue & Tan
Bluey died from congestive heart failure. 4 months after being diagnosed, she stopped breathing Saturday afternoon April 23rd, 2011. I was there and petted her as she passed on although I initially panicked and tried to do CPR until I realized that I wouldn’t be bringing her back for anything that could be fixed. Her heart was bad and dying quietly (I hoped she had been sleeping when it started) isn’t a bad way to go.
Her health went downhill quickly and during this last week, her eyes became dull and seemed to say, “Hey Mom, I’m tired”. I could sense this time was different as well. Her circulation was very bad with her tongue being blue nearly all the time, her limbs were cold and stiff and she wasn’t eating.
I made this video six days before Bluey passed away and had a chance to tell her how much she meant to me:
I loved Bluey so very much for all the love she showed me and the lessons I learned. She helped me come out of my shell and certainly gave me a reason to get out of the house at least twice a day (with cats, you don’t have to leave home for potty breaks!) and that morphed into me eventually enjoying socializing with others. Bless her little heart and I know she’ll be looking down from heaven.
Bluey: The Early Years
Bluey was born to a breeder who loved small dogs, especially Chihuahuas. The line had good results in the show ring and the dogs were healthy, beautiful and had great temperaments. Bluey was purchased by a breeder in Florida to pair up with one of her dogs. Away she went to a new city, a new kennel and a new life. Bluey was introduced to her new “romantic interest” but she didn’t end up with pups. The breeder, feeling a bit frustrated by hopeful, kept Bluey around to try again but making little Bluey’s wasn’t in her future. A friend of this breeder knew someone who wanted to give a small dog a good home (that was me!) so they reached out and offered to place Bluey as a pet with a spay contract. The breeder agreed and Bluey was soon on her way to Chicago to meet her new owner.
Now back then, Bluey wasn’t such a looker. She spent most of her time in a crate sort of staring at a wall in the kennel. Her fur was thin and she was really shy. Noises and people made her tremble.
This is a photo of Bluey from 2001 when she was just two years old:
and here again you’ll notice her fur being pretty scraggly:
Gizmo Look Alike
The first thing you noticed about Bluey were her big, furry ears. She’s been compared to a Gizmo, a gentle Mogwai from the movie Gremlins, mistaken for a cat and several other dog breeds.
and I won’t deny there are similarities from this 2005 photo:
Bluey Comes Home
Now when Jen brought Bluey up to Chicago to meet, I had initially got this photo by email:
Now I had never heard of a “long haired” Chihuahua so I assumed that the dog on the right was the one Jen was talking about but noooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo, it was the strange looking thing on the left! Gulp. I agreed to take Bluey based on my friendship with Jen and trusted that Jen knew what she was doing, pairing us up. This was my first dog and although I wasn’t sure of everything a dog owner needed to do, I was ready to take on the task. She’d been moved to consider adopting an adult dog after meeting one of Jen’s rescues who went by the name of “Tongue-Tongue” because her tongue stuck out of her mouth.
Tongue-Tongue had been pulled from a puppy mill after several years of producing litters back to back and without proper medical care. Unfortunately, her medical problems worsened and she had to be put down. I looked for over 9 months trying to find another small poodle who needed a home when Jen suggested I consider a Chihuahua. I didn’t very much care for Chihuahuas. When I was little and still lived in New York City with my parents, some neighbors had moved out and left behind their Chihuahua. My mom named the dog Vinnie. Vinnie wasn’t very nice and would nip at people. He also would hide under the bed and growl. Again though, I put her faith in the friendship and Jen and I had. She assured me if it didn’t work out, she would take Bluey back.
Bluey wasn’t sure what to think of this new place in Minnesota:
and neither was Adria’s cat, Turtle:
but…Bluey’s first couple of day’s were interesting and she slowly began to explore.
This was turning out to be sorta fun after all and Bluey thought back to her life in the kennel…
“Hooray!”, Bluey seemed to say. That first time out on grass was amazing. Why hadn’t she done this before? She continued to race and roll and chew on all the little, green blades until she was completely exhausted. The sun felt good on her fur and she was happy.
Life was good.
I set about to researching dog ownership. Just like with technology, I always wanted to find out the best practices and do things well.
It turned out Bluey was a bit behind for a 3 year old dog and didn’t know how to do a lot of “dog” things like:
- Walk on a leash
- Be 100% potty trained
- Go up and down the stairs
- Play with other dogs
- Do tricks
It looked like I would have to start from scratch. My goal of getting an adult dog was to give an animal a home, know their final temperament and have some of the doggy homework done for me. Not the case with Bluey. She trembled all the time and would freeze when she got scared. She didn’t have a good appetite and seemed to of just lived in a crate or sat on someones lap, robbing her of the chance to execute independent thought. I took it upon myself to train Bluey to think for herself and get master dog etiquette 101.
I experimented with different rewards and treats and found out Bluey loved bread!
So began the lifelong journey for both Bluey and Adria of helping Bluey become a dog and Adria a dog owner.
They studied together:
until they were both on the same page and built a relationship based on trust. I made several videos of Bluey’s dog tricks. This one is from 2010 after we moved to San Francisco:
Ruff Look Transformed
When I got Bluey, she wasn’t looking so hot. After a vet visit and pulling a few teeth, I set to work to improve Bluey’s health and appearance.
By 2007, Bluey looked like a whole new dog going from this:
and with some of this
Bluey became this!
The boots in this photo were purchased in 2004 and Bluey had those same boots until she died. They’re called Muttluks and were the kind given to the dogs who helped with the 9/11 rescue efforts. They had leather bottoms, were lined on the inside and had reflective straps.
Bluey and Adria were both transforming. As Adria aspired to help Bluey be happy, healthy and confident, those same values became more strongly reflected in Adria’s own life and her awareness of these parallels grew…and became more important to her.
This transformation for Bluey was made possible by incorportating the following schedule:
- Giving Bluey structured training and reinforcement
- Better quality dog food (switching from Nutro to Solid Gold)
- Daily eye wiping with witch hazel
- Weekly brushing
- Monthly teeth cleaning
- Giving Bluey a bath every 3 months
- Learning to clip and groom a dog
- Plus lots of love!
I would say she was 100% potty trained by 2008 meaning 1 or less accidents per year. She was a small dog so at 4lbs, moving to a new place was confusing but she finally understood inside vs outside: cave vs potty.
Bluey Tags Along For Technology Consulting
I enjoyed Bluey’s company. It was comforting to have Bluey around and she always wanted to snuggle and be near me. In 2006, I quit “working for the man” and began consulting. I decided I could no longer sell my soul and that I had a special message of technology empowerment to deliver AND that wasn’t going to happen working for someone else. I finally realized people started companies so they could run them the way they wanted. They didn’t want your advice on how to run their company. It was time to start my own. The entire time, Bluey wasn’t far away during this time of building, growth and discovery:
She would patiently wait for me to finish whatever I was doing and just look on with those big eyes without judgement.
Bluey Tags Along
While I also loved my cat, Turtle who I’ve had since I was 17 years old, having a dog that you could take for a walk or for a ride in the car was something new!
Bluey would get sooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo excited when I would get ready to leave. Here little tail would wag (Bluey’s, not Adria’s), and she would seem to say with her eyes, “Hey! Take me along! I want to come too!”.
At first, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to bring a dog on-site to visit a client, especially without asking first. What if they had an allergy or hated dogs? Eventually, Bluey’s uber cuteness and persistance won.
I would bring Bluey but leave her in the car (on moderate days!) with the windows cracked and check on her often. If everything went well during the visit, I would ask if they liked dog and I would bring her in. This was always a nice way to end a visit to a client! Eventually, this turned into Bluey replacing the laptop and then coming along on initial visits for new client meetings! Everyone just loved Bluey! I soon realized if someone didn’t like Bluey, they probably wouldn’t be a good match for technology services.
Bluey and I lugged home big ole rack mount servers to troubleshoot
Some of the client work I did took Bluey and I to interesting places like data centers, The Ronald McDonald House, Starbucks and even Apple stores.
We went on site after hours to do backend network upgrades at the Apple store and it was sure nice leaving at 2:30am and having Bluey snuggled up in my lap as I drove home.
Yeah and I would goof off and pose Bluey with tech equipment! Actually, the managers at 2 Apple stores said dogs are welcome it’s just usually that the stores are in malls that have restrictions about animals so if you’re going into a stand alone Apple store, bring yer dog along!
and we got even to meet real life wolves in Ely, MN! Now even though Bluey and this wolf both look like statues, Bluey was barking up a storm this wolf was like, “huh? Is that a snack?”
and Bluey was there every step of the way:
Traveling had always unsettled me with being in a new city and not knowing my way around. Using a smartphone with built in GPS, Foursquare, Yelp app for the iPhone, Twitter and having Bluey along led to me not giving travel much of a second thought when before I would pore over travel itineraries, transportation routes and review the addresses of my hotel and the conference frequently.
I was going to move to San Francisco and leave Minneapolis. I was born in NYC but my mom moved to the Twin Cities in 1984 when I was 6 years old and I’d lived there ever since. With my new found confidence for traveling, I felt read to make a life change. While this was quite a big deal for me, knowing I had Bluey there made all the difference. In fact, I came across an article about how to take your dog with you when you traveled and I set to work on getting that taken care of so not only could I bring Bluey to San Francisco for the move, I could take her along when I traveled.
Finding a Place to Live In San Francisco
Now I had to make sure I could find a place to live that would allow me to bring my animals along.
I had Bluey and Turtle checked out by the vet. Most airlines require a recent health screen from your vet. Vaccinations are another story so check well before you fly!
How do you tell your dog you’re going to have to leave her behind while you find a place to live?
Goodbye Bluey! I left for San Francisco April 13th, 2010 to find a place to live. Bluey stayed with Jacque but I was able to take Turtle with me as my generous co-worker Kate who lived in Burlingame would cat-sit until I found a place.
Everywhere I went in San Francisco, people had dogs. I was missing Bluey something fierce.
I was developing a case of serious dog envy…
Bluey Arrives in San Francisco!
I found a place within my 5 week window and made plans to reunite with Bluey! I flew back in May. That was May 8th, 2010. Here’s Jacque Bona and Bluey at the Mall of America. Since it was close to the airport, we hung out, talked and had a meal together. Wow, it’s been a long, long time…I miss you Jacque.
The next day I didn’t want to waste any time so the first thing we do is spend time visiting the park together!
Here’s Bluey in South Park in early May 2010. South Park is a big deal in the tech world because a ton of big name companies have started or currently operate from including Wired Magazine, PCWorld, MacWorld, Twitter, Technorati, MySpace, Xoom, Slideshare, GetSatisfaction, VideoEgg, Engine Yard, Vertical Response, etc .
Since her birthday was May 11th, 1999 she would be just about 11 years old in this photo…
Later, we found this place closer to the water in SOMA near King Street and 4th thanks to directions from a nice stranger.
Dogs are welcome at Safeway so I brought Bluey along for a grocery trip. I’d missed her so much in just one month!
I told Bluey and Turtle we were home…
Turtle was happy as well.
Bluey’s Transportation Options In SF
Bluey loved to travel. I’d sold my car when I moved to San Francisco so our new modus operandi was the public transit system of San Francisco which included the BART and MUNI
Eventually I got up the nerve to try a Zipcar
and we did a lot of walking. Sometimes Bluey was so tired I’d have to put her on top of whatever I was carrying.
But I’d usually have a bag to tote her around in
Sometimes we took the Caltrain south. Mostly for tech events
and for airline travel, there were 2 or 3 choices since both the cat and dog needed a bag to come out to SF.
And traveled this little dog did! I wasn’t sure how she would do on a plane until I returned to pick her up in Minnesota from my client and amazing friend Jacque. Bluey did great! She didn’t freak out and slept most of the time. Eventually, it became no big deal to bring Bluey along and each time I traveled with her, I felt more confident and secure.
In 2010 Bluey visited:
- New York City, NY – BlogHer
- Birmingham, AL – Wordcamp Birmingham
- Boulder, CO – Genome and Bio Banking Conference
- Seattle, WA – Gnomedex
- Miami, FL – Blogalicious
- and Las Vegas, NV – Blogworld
and this year Bluey came with me to Austin, TX for SXSW even though I was fearful her condition would worsen, she was stable the entire time, much to my relief. These were all for conferences I was speaking at or attending. We like to joke since Bluey had a blog, http://blueythedog.com and a Twitter account @blueythedog, that she’d been to more blogging conferences than most bloggers!
Blue in Miami
and with this photo, I just realized that Bluey had a damn good life!!!!!
Bluey in NYC
Things Bluey Loved
McDonalds – This is one of the few things that would actually make her whine! Bluey last had MickyD’s was January 31st, 2011. I checked the photo date for the photo where she’s in my lap with the bag so I hope she remembered the taste of the french fries and the cheeseburger she liked so much…
Being at the park (I was going to take her this weekend to Delores Park one last time…)
I’ll fill this section in more over time but I want to capture some of the more interesting, expressive and comical faces Bluey made
The, “I need that now!” Face - Usually you were eating something and she just had to have it. This was also a face she made when she felt like she was in danger and wanted to be picked up. Pretty rare face as she was mostly a quiet better and she had never been attacked by another dog (just that darn cat!)
Not Everything Was Unicorns And Candy Canes
Bluey was attacked by my friend’s cat and required several weeks of wearing a cast. She came out just fine though thanks to the amazing vets at Midway Animal Hospital in St. Paul, MN!
Speaking of pets, Turtle the cat was a bit sad that I was gone so much or that Bluey would seemingly get more of the attention:
so she would snuggle up to my electronics to be close to me (or so goes my logic)
I made time for just me and Turtle. I would get her catnip and toys and set aside special time for us:
Sometimes I did silly things with Bluey because she would let me, unlike the cat. One time I painted her toenails by carefully wrapping saran wrap around and then pulling just her doggy toenails through. Not worth the effort folks!
and the hats
Hey! I have a hat too!
the rubber chicken pose
Bluey the Gnome (A Minneapolis joke thing around the lakes)
and my roommate in San Francisco gave me crap for getting Bluey her first dress last year so I asked him what I should have her wear instead and that’s why you see Bluey in this Phillies Jersey!
Everyone Loved Bluey
Bluey was magnetic. If she were even partially visible with her head peeking out, people would be drawn to her. Pet her, scratch her, hold her. People couldn’t get enough of Bluey. And Bluey liked it as well for many years! She would happily walk up to strangers when they clucked. Coffee shops would welcome her. Life was good.
Do you have a photo you took with Bluey? email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll post it.
Let’s Help Other Dogs
Talking with my friend Afrobella, she suggested that I put a call to action in this post asking my readers to help other animals get homes where they can be loved. I have a soft spot for adult dogs because there’s always so much focus on puppies.
What do you guys and gals think?
What would be a good animal rescue place to endorse on Bluey’s behalf?
Bluey was an amazing dog. She did so many things and had experiences that most people don’t even have. I truly feel she was happy and enjoyed her life until the end. I am so grateful that God blessed me with Bluey because my life certainly was made better and I had opportunities put before me that just wouldn’t of come to be without her. I didn’t expect to lose her so soon, especially not after moving to San Francisco which I felt was both a blessing and that I gave up everything I knew to come here.
This blog post is now almost 250 images and there’s certainly enough here for an entire book on the life of Bluey The Dog. Wow. I’d like a book about Bluey and how she inspired so many people and put smiles on the faces of friends and strangers of all ages.