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adventures of Manni the wonderdog

December is when winter came to stay.

It’s winter once more and I have always, passionately, hated this season. Nothing good has ever come of it and I don’t think I’m made for it at all.

But here I am. 12 months on. I guess it’s one of those dates where I should write something, right?

  • Three years ago today I made the decision to take one of my dog’s legs.
  • Two years ago today I desperately celebrated that said dog was still with me and not in too much pain.
  • One year ago today we got the first snow of the season and as happens in winter things died.

Manni died, big parts of me died, all the flowers in my yard died, happiness died, empathy died, light died. I kept feeding the birds in my yard so they wouldn’t die on me too.

The birds survived and their offspring brought sound back to my garden, my flowers came back eventually, too -spring does that, I heard.

Happiness and empathy pop in occasionally to see how I’ve been but they don’t usually stay for coffee. I should probably tend to them more.

Little rays of sunshine try to bring a little light, one of them has a name and has warmed me up some.

Manni is still dead though and that’s a part of myself that I will never get back.  He was an asshole, up there with the best of them. He was independent, opinionated, pig-headed, very physical and a danger to himself and others, a show-off and a loudmouth. He would do anything to have his way.

Which means he was exactly like me. I saw myself in him all the time and even when I was at my wit’s end with him again and in absolute exasperation once more I was smiling on the inside because I knew exactly what he was doing because I would have done the same thing.

Manni would also have gone to the death for his friends, he was extremely quick-witted and clever and all the smart-ass thinking-games we got him only kept him occupied for a while. He was an over-achiever in all dog classes we ever took and people would comment on how extremely well-behaved he was -until the class let out, I opened the door and the dog took off not to be seen again for 20 minutes. Manni could have given lessons on exuberance -not that he would have wanted to. He knew of the importance of physical and mental exertion and he didn’t handle being bored well. In the last six months of his life it became so hard on both of us to fulfil these needs but sometimes it’s enough to bring your noses to the same level and literally smell the roses together.

During his last months Manni became more dependent, he didn’t just tolerate physical contact more he initiated it and had to be touching me most of the time.  He also came to me for protection. While before I would always say that his ego was five times the size of his body and I never had to be scared anywhere, even in the dark, it was now I that protected both of us and Manni came to seek shelter between my legs. Even before the last diagnosis this should have given me pause because it was so unlike him. Looking back today there are many things I wish I had done differently. Not everything, because I do think I did a pretty good job of researching, trying, not outwardly giving up, and also of trying to make every day an adventure for my adventurous soul. I know that guilt is part of the grief process I only  thought I’d be over that after 12 months. However, I am still hoping I didn’t put him through too much, didn’t let the pain go on for too long, didn’t make that original decision for my own sake.

My life has changed so much in the last 12 months that, when I pause to look around me, Manni wouldn’t fit in it anymore but maybe that is why I decided on this path: it gives me less time to look around. I sometimes sit on my windowsill, taking a drag on my cigarette and I feel my eyes fill up. I have come to realize that I use Manni as an excuse a lot to let myself fall into a little bout of deep sadness. What I mean is that something happens during the day that makes me unhappy and I use memories of Manni to let myself fall deeper into the hole of the day. I realize how unfair this is to him and I will try harder to stop doing that. Sometimes, however, I have been able to “conjure” him. When this happens he comes running toward me, on all four of course because that’s how he was always meant to be. He comes to say hi and then eventually he takes off running. When I am on the train now the rails take us through many a field and I always picture Manni in those open spaces – he would have loved that so much. That’s the one good thing about winter maybe: it’s always dark so I don’t have to look at those fields as much anymore.

I took the day off today although I am not really sure why. The better to stare at the patch of dirt that we put the urn into, wondering if it has dissolved yet and if his ashes are part of the ground now? None of it matters, really. I will just clamber on in my life, as we do, trying to make myself appreciate all the little rays of sunshine and striving to tend to happiness and empathy and sometimes to stop and smell the roses by myself. When I am not busy doing that I miss Manni.


  1. dobemom

    Very poignant post, very understandable and familiar too. 12 months is only a heartbeat in the grand scheme of such a great love story. Sadly, I think we are forever doomed to feel this way, maybe not to the extent you feel today, but I think it will always be with us a little. That’s the drawback of having a Warrior in your life – I know this, because I had a Warrior too. At least when you picture Manni in your mind’s eye, he is running free on 4 legs….when I remember Nitro, he is always on 3.

    I think the second-guessing ourselves will never stop – that’s not who we are. To this day I replay decisions and actions over and over in my head, but for what? There are too many things we will never know.

    Having loved a Warrior is both a blessing and a curse…and I think neither one of us would have it any other way. Hugs to you dear friend, until we’re together again and can hug in person. Smile, just a little, when you think of our boys romping somewhere in the universe, breathtaking and whole.

    Paula and Warrior Angel Nitro

  2. jerry

    Tina, I think that if Manni and Wyatt could have met, they would have either killed each other or been each other’s best friends, because their personalities sound so identical. Maybe that’s why you and Wyatt bonded that day in Virginia, you totally understood him. No doubt it was years of practice with Manni.

    You beautifully described what it’s like to continue living, while the memories of a once-in-a-lifetime dog follow you through the seasons. Sometimes they are haunting, like when we second guess ourselves, and sometimes those memories make us smile, like when you see Manni running through a field. They dodge in and out of our life, and if we embrace the good and the not so good as you are doing, they all add up to help us become that person our dog thinks we are.

    Thilo is a lucky dawg to have such a wise momma.

  3. admin

    This is just beautiful, and so much of it hits home. We may need to cut and paste some of it on that day when a certain asshole leaves us…

  4. Codie Rae

    Tina, you summed it up so eloquently. It just takes a long, long time for a heart broken into tiny pieces to heal. I just passed the 13th anniversary of my heart dog’s death and my eyes can still fill with tears at her loss, abruptly, with a memory. The first anniversary was nearly as bad as the day she died so I too understand your feelings. As you mentioned, all we can do is keep looking for, and allowing ourselves to fully experience, the light and the good in our lives, while we bear the dark times with as much equanimity as possible.
    Martha and the OP

  5. Michelle

    Very eloquently said. Everyone here has mentioned certain points and their part in their grief. Just passing 5 years in August and still have days where I miss Sassy terribly and break down crying. I still yearn to feel her velvet ears again. I know she is with my other dogs playing til I get there but dang sure do miss that big snuggle baby.

    I think we always 2nd guess those decisions we made. We make the best ones we can at the time . I know you had measurements and would have never let Manni go too long.

    Michelle & Angel Sassy

  6. benny55

    Read the replies Tina, over and over. Do you realize how you touched a piece of everyone’s heart in so many different ways and on so many different levels? ❤ You spoke from your heart. You gave your heart words and a voice.

    And you sure did give Manni a voice! O MD! That boy must be so proud of every single adjective you used as you described EXACTLY, EXACTLY who he is😎 You “got him” and he “got you”. You understood him and let him be Manni.

    There is something I want to share my Vet said to me one time. We were discussing the situation my dog was in and how to proceed with what was in his best interest. Regarding the situation, I said I didn’t want to be selfish and do “this” for me….. She said of course you wwnt him with you as long as possible…. that’s not selfish….that’s just love. I don’t know why, but that just resonates with me in a way that empowers me to throw away any “guilt” feelings along those lines. I know, easier said than done sometimes.

    And I loved every single picture and how you intertwined them as you drew from remembrances of his personality and STRONG character!! I loce the one of him standing up on his hind legs….what was that about?

    It tool courage form you to write from such a deep and hurting and beautiful place in your heart, but somehow, I feel like the words flowed effortlessly. You were so connected to Manni with every single word. I feel like he was guiding you; He truly was speaking through you….,and just as beautifully and with pure unhindered thoughts, you through him.

    THANK you for sharing this special boy with us. You jave really “done him proud”. We are all so incredibly moved and so deeply touched by this special Heart Dog named Manni, and his special Heart Human named Tina.💖

    Surrounding you with all the GLORIOUS memories of Manni….especially when he would take off and not come when you called him😎

    Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

  7. linda8115

    Crying here. Your words took me back to 19 years ago and the loss of my ❤️ Dog Jake. That would be Jake #1 for those of you who know my story. You and Manni have a way of touching my soul. As Martha says just remembering brings tears still all this time later. Today I took my new collie puppy to the bank I work at so the girls could meet him. The one friend I had worked with for over 35 years and had been with me the Christmas Eve I lost my Jake remarked how very much this puppy looks like my Jake did. Made me cry. In May you and I shall have a toast to your Manni and my Jake. And we will cry. And hopefully after that these two will send us some healing cause I haven’t gotten there yet on my own. Love you my friend!

  8. teri

    So beautiful, Tina, thank you. And I’m crying too. I can’t believe it’s been a year but I say that every time anyone posts at an angelversary. I love that you and Manni were so the same being, even if it’s that much more shattering when they leave us. I still second guess so many decisions myself although I’m starting to ease up.
    I too want to know the backstory of him standing up on his back two legs! Quite the show!
    I with there were words of comfort I could give you but they don’t exist. There is no comfort for these things.
    Wishing you peace and warm snuggles from Mr. Thilo.
    Teri, the Roxinator and Angel Isa

  9. Nina R Hettema

    Hi Tina,
    You wrote to me when my dog Connor died, think I may have written to you too, maybe once or twice. It’s kind of blurred, the past couple of years have been so full of grief that my mind has compensated and blunted much of them. Words are so inadequate. What I wanted to tell you is, I am so moved by your words, by their power, and also moved to find someone who gets it, really gets it; who felt, feels about her dog the way I felt, feel about mine. I am 2 1/4 years past that day when the whole world may as well have ended. And I have made it, I’m doing okay, and although I am not convinced that I will ever again know the happiness of the past, I’m not ruling it out. They may be gone but their love remains. Trite but true! So please hang in there. I hope you and the little lost soul from the woods in Portugal are doing okay. More than okay. Love and Blessings.
    P.S. Someone pointed out to me that the word “depression” contains the phrase “I press on”. Good to remember.

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