Sweet Caroline

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I’m writing this post with tears streaming down my cheeks and the biggest knot in my stomach… because sweet Caroline is gone.

She crossed the rainbow bridge on Monday, and devastated is an understatement. She hasn’t been doing well for a couple of years – she’d have a rough week and always seem to pull through – but knowing that it was coming didn’t make it any easier. In some ways, it’s made it even harder and more heartbreaking.

We got Caroline from a Cavalier Kings Charles rescue when Liv was a toddler. We drove to Phoenix, where they had multiple cavaliers running around from the puppy mill in Arkansas that had been shut down, and Caroline was the one Liv had to have. She was the smallest, most timid one, hiding in the corner, shaking.

“Are you sure you want this one?”

“Yes, I want this one.”

We drove her home and gave her lots of snuggles and food. For the first year or so, she remained timid, yet extremely sweet (even while receiving some occasional harassment from Bella). When we adopted Caroline, she was used to doing everything in a crate outside: it’s where she ate, did her business, and also birthed multiple rounds of puppies, as she was a young mama dog for the puppy mill.

When we brought her home, she had never walked on grass.

While she was still recovering from everything she endured, we quickly learned about Caro and her two favorite things: sleep and belly rubs. The girl could snore, too. She had the loudest, most satisfying snores, and it made my heart happy that she was able to fully relax after the horrible first couple of years of her life.

She rode in the wagon with Liv on our daily walks,

and year by year, she came out of her shell, transforming from a scared little thing into a real dog who’d beg for food and wag her tail.

She is the sweetest, most gentle dog I’d ever known.

Even when one of our babies would accidentally grab a handful of her fur, I never once had to think about her biting them. She never bit or growled at anyone. She always had the cutest little smile on her face, and wagged her tail at everyone.

She lived the good life after all she’d endured, spending most of her days in retirement mode, snoozing on the couch and waking up to eat. Every now and again I could convince her to join us for a walk. She walked behind us with the expandable leash slack almost all the way out. She was content to follow at her own pace.

She was also there for us through so many life moments. She’s been an integral part of our family, who has known our babies since they were babies, and has been with us through so many moves, deployments, and major life changes.

Over time, her little heart started to give up on her and while meds helped, her body started to fill with fluid again. When her breathing became more labored, we called the vet again, who saw her on Friday, and said that if it was her dog, she would let her go. We enjoyed one last weekend with Caroline, feeding her all of her favorite foods and giving her lots of pets. On Sunday, we knew we were making the right decision because she slept all day and didn’t want to eat anything; not even chicken or a lick of peanut butter.

While it was heartbreaking, it was an honor to hold her and snuggle her in the same way I said goodbye to Bella: in her favorite spot, here at home, with the comfort of a kind vet who was able to take away her pain.

I held her close one last time, cried into her fur, and thanked her for all of the joy and comfort she’s brought our family.

I know that Bella is up there waiting for her with a comfy bed, and probably a gentle tackle for old times’ sake.

Thank you, friends, for loving our fur babies along with us for all of this time. I know so many of you remember when we first brought Caro home, and have loved her from a distance for these years. I appreciate all of your beautiful and heartfelt comments and messages; they mean more to me more than you know.

xo

Gina

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