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18 Dec 2018

New Ink for Nitro

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized


Our second Christmas without Nitro is drawing near….he is gone from our side, but still very present in my thoughts – so much so, that I got a new tattoo in his honor.

It’s still in the healing phase, so it looks a little ruff yet. Not that I need another permanent reminder of him, but I do love a good tattoo!

The tree is up, full of all our dog’s ornaments – a special reminder of how our lives have been blessed by paws through the years.


yes, our tree hangs on the wall – safe from tiny terrors




some of the ornaments


Such a bittersweet time of year – but I guess every day without him is bittersweet. A memory came up on Facebook the other day showing Kodi opening presents, and Nitro was in the background, watching him.

It still amazes me, the bond I have with him; I’m forever changed because he came into our lives. A cancer diagnosis gave me friends that became family, who could ever have guessed?

And so we move forward with life, a very different life, with tiny terrorists. Kodi continues to do well as he moves towards his 15th year. The tots annoy him at times, and at other times he frolics and plays like they do. I do think they keep him feeling “young”. Grizzly and Tucker are the best of friends and bring much joy to the house. Christmas is pretty much over for us, as we celebrated it a week ago when my sister was home from Arizona. John and I are both working the entire holiday week, but that’s ok. The boys will still open their presents Christmas Eve after work – the paper will be flying! We are very blessed here at the Ehlers’ ranch, and hope all your Christmas miracles come true.


31 Oct 2018

Nitro’s 2nd Birthday in Heaven

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized

This is Nitro’s 2nd birthday without us….he would be 13 years old today.  It feels like he’s been gone forever, or that he never even existed. He’s fading from my memory, and I never thought that would happen. How can a piece of my heart seem so far away? I still think of him dozens of times a day, that hasn’t changed. I still ache for his goofy smile, his hugs, his intense need to always be touching me. That has gone, and will never be again. Who I was when he was with me, will never be again. What’s that old saying – “Tis better to have loved and lost….”, I’m not so sure of that.

Yes, time marches on for everyone. As sad as I am that my Warrior has left my side, we do have new joy in our house. Nitro would have wanted that, I think. (not while he was here, of course, because he hated all dogs except brother Kodi). Our newest addition is Tucker, a Cairn Terrier that just turned 7 months old this week. He and Grizzly have become the best of buds, and play/fight endlessly. They make me laugh every day with their silly puppy antics, while exasperating me at the same time.

Twin Terrors




my trainers, hard at work
Tucker and Kodi


Senior Kodi


Kodi is doing well for a dude that’s 14 1/2 years old.  He still bounces like a puppy when it’s time for a walk, even though his walks are much slower and shorter these days. His days are more relaxed since Tucker came – he’s happy to sit back and watch the tots act like fools. Tucker is getting “the big snip” on Halloween, so I thought it fitting to make these costumes (that the little boys will wear) for the trip to the vet that day:




I think Nitro will be smiling in heaven, when he sees this on his birthday. So that’s how things stand here at the Ehlers’ Ranch….Nitro is no longer by my side, but forever in my heart; and a trio of terrorist’s, er terriers, make me smile every day. Wishing you peace…




So my dear friend Linda wanted to do something special to honor Nitro’s 1 year angelversary….she knows how much I loved that dog, and that I would be sad on this day. I contacted Rene and asked her to design a  bracelet that would embody all that he was – WARRIOR. And as I thought about it, I realized I thought of myself the same way… he made ME a Warrior too! After much trial and error, this is what we came up with. I love it, and will cherish it always! Thank you Linda, for thinking of me and honoring my Warrior… and thank you Rene, for making such a beautiful treasure.



25 Jul 2018

Nitro’s One Year Angelversary

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized



So here we are, at the dreaded one year angelversary….

It seems like just yesterday he was still with us; and at the same time it feels like he’s been gone forever. As I write this, it’s the weekend before the big day. I can’t help but remember where we were a year ago at this time. His mobility was so limited that John had to come home from work both days to help the sitter maneuver him outside. If you recall, we had scheduled, and then cancelled two “appointments” by now. And the “home visit” was looming for the coming Tuesday. His appetite was almost non-existent as well, so we knew his time was drawing near. I could almost argue that we’d waited too long, if not for the gloriously wonderful day that Monday would be. He rallied for one last beautiful day for me – his “Aunt Laurie” stopped over after work to see him, and he was moving about the yard un-assisted, and also ate like he hadn’t in days. I remember once again pondering cancelling “the appointment”.  It amazes me, looking back at that time, that I was able to stay even somewhat sane. I don’t know how I accomplished that, other than that I was  on auto-pilot, one foot in front of the other, dazed.


Glorious Day Before


Brother Bonding with Aunt Laurie, the night before


Morning of….


They say time heals all wounds…I say time “lessens” the wounds. My heart will never be healed from losing him. I still think of him dozens of times every day, from morning to night. I cry less, I ache less, but I mourn him as deeply as I did a year ago. When I think of his goofiness, his smile and his hugs, it can still bring me to my knees. I try to remember the good times, but seem doomed to remember the bad. As I’ve said before, his entire life seems to be measured by those last 3 years. The early years are a blur, and if I didn’t have pictures of them, I’d say they never happened. But, have pictures, I do….


1st day home


1st day home – look at those ears!


they loved each other




But our life is not all grief and sad memories. Nitro saw to that when he sent a tiny white devil our way. Grizzly is so full of life and love, fun and laughter – all the while trying my patience and tormenting brother Kodi. I could not have asked for a better diversion for the loss of my heart dog. All of my dogs have had personality, but this little clown goes above and beyond. It’s  impossible to be sad with his ridiculous antics. And the love he has for me! If there is such a thing as dog reincarnation, then Nitro has surely come back as a tiny white devil.


these two are so alike in so many ways


so innocent


crawled up here by himself


Kodi continues to do well, especially for a senior dog. He’s 14 years old now, dealing with Cushing’s Disease, arthritis, and some hearing loss. With the way Grizz harasses him, I wouldn’t be surprised if he packed his bags and left home. He acts all put-out, but maybe he secretly enjoys the interaction. “Enjoys” might be too strong of a word, but I think Grizzy is keeping him young, and engaged. I think he’s keeping all of us young and engaged – without him, I’d hate to think of how lifeless and listless we’d be.




who you calling a senior?


So far this summer I haven’t seen any cardinals – I’ve heard them, but haven’t seen them. I’m holding out hope I will as the angelversary draws near. I’m also hoping to see his banner on this site – I haven’t seen it in so long, and I’m on here a lot lately.  He doesn’t send me a lot of signs, but every once in a while I’ll see something that I know is from him.


the cardinal that showed up last year, an hour after he left us


The journey nobody wants to take has brought us to this place in our lives.  I couldn’t imagine a life without my Tripawd Family! You threw me a lifeline when I was drowning, comforted and guided me. I’m the person I am today because of you….love you all! Thanks for always being there when I needed you. Wishing you peace and love from the Ehlers’ ranch…..and as always, for you, Nitro, “Be good, Mama loves you”!







17 Jun 2018

4 Years Ago Today…..

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized


first sign of trouble

4 years ago today we began the journey of a lifetime….

I’ll never forget the terror, heartbreak and stress I felt when we began this journey. Time has lessened these emotions, but they are forever burned into my memory. I think it’s good we had no idea what we were up against;  if we had, I don’t know if I would’ve had the courage to proceed. Ignorance is bliss it seems.

the lesion


As it turned out, the agonizing decision to go forward  with the amputation was the least stressful of all that lie ahead. Again, I’m glad we didn’t know what was in store for us. Ignorance IS bliss. I was terrified he wouldn’t make it out of surgery….I was almost afraid  he WOULD. That statement won’t win me any mother-of-the-year awards, but a part of me felt that way. I was so scared to be bringing a 3-legged dog home….how would we manage??? When we went to pick him up the next night, I was almost numb with terror to get that fist glimpse of him when they brought him to us.  I dropped to my knees as he came hopping down that hall, tears running down my face , amazed that he could walk. He was the most beautiful site! I fell in love a thousand times over in that short instant, and we never looked back.


the incision

1st week of amp











I didn’t realize it at the time, but a WARRIOR was standing before me…..



For anyone out there who is considering, or has just begun, this journey I leave you with this…this may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to go through, but it may also be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. Because my dog got cancer, my life has changed forever. I have experienced a love like I never knew could exist, I’ve seen courage like I never dreamed existed. And I met people who were in the same boat as us, and I now  have forever friends because of it.



Virginia 2018


Peace and love from the Ehlers’ ranch



25 Apr 2018

9 Months an Angel

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized

9 months ago today we said one of our hardest good-byes ever…9 months ago today my heart shattered into a million pieces…9 months ago today a beautiful, gentle soul went to heaven.

It still seems surreal that Nitro is gone; sometimes it feels like he was never really here, but just a dream. I think of him every day, several times a day. I still cry when I watch his tribute video. I miss his goofiness, and his Velcro personality; I miss his beautiful, magnificent presence. I miss him following me EVERYWHERE.

Spring has finally arrived in Wisconsin, after a record-breaking snowfall 2 weeks ago. Nitro would have loved both of these things; he loved romping around in the snow, dropping his ball in front of the shovel, only to snatch it away when I went to grab it. He LOVED beautiful sunny days where he would be out in his yard for hours, barking at the neighbors,  watching the birds and squirrels, basking in the warmth.


X marks the spot where I found Grizz, trying to make a break for it over the fence


This fence is 6 feet high


Spring in Wisconsin


It is  a very different atmosphere here these days. Grizzly continues to bring us joy, with his wild, puppy antics. I’ve never seen a dog so full of happiness and love like he is. He is the definition of joie de vivre – exuberant enjoyment of life. As he is a little too full of life for brother Kodi, we’ve been making friends with other, younger, Westies; their playdates are full of fun and laughter.


Loves “Nitro’s” bed


Kodi playing in mud


Cutest Devil Ever


So while we mourn the loss of our magnificent Warrior, we move forward – for what else can we do? I hope Nitro is smiling down on us from Heaven, grinning from ear-to-ear as we move thru life with the Tiny Devil he sent our way. Thank you baby, and always remember: “Be good, mama loves you”

25 Feb 2018

7 Long Months….

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized



7 months ago today we said good-bye to our warrior. 7 long months without him, his smile, his courage, his hugs, his love. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and miss him deeply. Not a day goes by that I don’t shed tears that he is no longer with us. I watch the video tribute I made for him often, always with tears streaming down my face.



Life has gone on, as it always does, whether you want it to or not. I don’t come to this site nearly as much as I used to – or should. I can’t bear to become attached to the new souls that find themselves here, at one of the worst times of their lives, and for this I feel much guilt. The pain of our journey is still too raw; and yet I know that we were one of the “lucky” ones. We had over 3 years with our magnificent boy – so many out there would give anything for what we had. And still, it’s never enough time.





Sometimes it’s hard to think back to those final days/weeks. Watching him grow weaker as age and failing kidneys took over his body; watching as his mobility got worse, and the end crept nearer. Trying not to think what life would be like when he was gone. Trying to be brave for him, trying to live each day to the fullest, while my heart shattered a little more with each passing moment. He was a once-in-a-lifetime dog, who changed everything. Without him, I would never have met some of the most special people in my life; I would never know how heartbreak, courage, faith, strength, and love would lead me on a journey like no other. I am a different, and hopefully better person, than I’d have been without him.



I know in my heart that he sent a tiny white terror my way, to help me heal, to smile and laugh, and to love again when I didn’t think it possible. And I know he watches over me, and is happy that I am ok.





“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard” <3 <3 <3

8 Jan 2018

Video Tribute to Warrior Nitro

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized


Several 1years ago I heard this song and knew I wanted to use it as background music for a video tribute to Nitro’s life. The words really hit home, and I cry whenever I hear it…. but it is so fitting of our love for him. I hope you enjoy this small glimpse of our life together.


Two things hit home when I viewed the finished product…..most of the pictures/memories depict his life after amputation, and he always had something in his mouth. I was troubled at first that I seem to define him only as a tripawd, but then I realized that  that is what made us so close.  That journey that no one wants to take, bonded us deeply, till the end of time. Until we meet again, “be good, mama loves you!”

25 Dec 2017

5 Months an Angel, First Christmas at The Bridge

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized


Merry Christmas in heaven, baby. It’s our first Christmas without you, and mama misses you every day! We said good-bye to you 5 months ago today; it seems like yesterday, and it seems like a lifetime ago. Where did the time go? Last Christmas you were doing fantastic, rockin’ life on 3 legs. You always loved the snow, loved chasing your ball, dropping it in front of the shovel, just to snatch it away when I reached for it. I always worried about you when it was icy and slippery, but you totally knew what it meant when we said “careful” and “easy”; you took great care not to slip, or go too fast. You were such a bright boy!



As the new year dawned, we started to take pro-active measures for you decreasing kidney function, and did your first  IV fluid therapy in January. You sailed through this too – it helped that everyone at the vet clinic treated you like the rock star you were. This first session would benefit you for several months, although diapers would become a way of life for you from then on. Even that didn’t phase you…you accepted them with no problem, and looked so cute in the designer wraps we found. Through it all, you had your dignity; never complaining, just enjoying and embracing all that life threw at you. You were the epitome of “LIVING IN THE NOW”, and “BE MORE DOG”. We learned so much from you!


never complained


As Winter turned to Spring, your kidneys were declining more, and arthritis started to slow you down. Being a Triapwd for almost 3 years was taking a toll on your aging body. We started doing  IV fluid therapy every 4 weeks – with still no complaining from you. You gracefully and joyfully did everything we asked of you, and more. I was planning the  trip to visit my Tripawd family over Memorial Day Weekend, and was SO scared to leave you. I knew daddy would take good care of you, but I was worried; I knew your health was declining, and wasn’t sure how much longer you’d be in your earthly clothes. But, being the trouper you were, you held on for me to make the trip. I think deep down, you knew this was important for me and let me know it was OK to be away from you for the long weekend.


Always touching me





Spring turned to Summer, and we knew it was only a matter of time before you had to leave us. We celebrated your 3 year ampuversary on June 17, 2017. We were so amazed by that milestone! When this journey started, never in our wildest dreams did we think we’d see that day. Little by little, we felt you starting to slip away from us, and prayed SO HARD that you would let us know when it was time. You’d fought so hard, for so long…..we knew you were getting tired, but knew you didn’t want to leave us. That day came on July 25, 2017; a beautiful, clear, sunny, perfect day. Your beloved vet came to our house so we could say good-bye in the yard you loved so much. As we laid by you on your pillow, with brother Kodi near, you placed your trust in us one last time. Daddy and I were right there, holding you, hugging you, telling you we loved you – and that everything was going to be ok. My heart broke in a million pieces that morning….<3<3<3. About an hour after you’d left us, I looked up to see a cardinal in my flower bush – I knew right then and there that you’d made it to the Bridge. You were telling me YOU WERE OK!


Morning of…



Mom, I made it!


Shadow Box Memorial of Nitro


Here we are, 5 months later. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you, and miss you. A new little bundle of energy and joy has come to live with us….I feel in my heart, he was sent here by you. You knew we needed someone special to bring joy back into our lives, after the pain and heartbreak of losing you. You did real good, baby! Grizzly loves us with his entire tiny body; he’s infuriating, and funny, and exasperating, and loving all at the same time. We don’t know what we’d do without him, THANK YOU! I hope all is well at the Bridge; you must have so many friends there. If you can, from time to time, let us know you’re happy, and still think of us. WE LOVE YOU, SWEET BOY

Tiny bundle of love


2 Peas in a Pod

Wishing you peace and love this holiday season ~ the Ehlers’ Ranch

7 Dec 2017

Magic Revealed!

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, as promised, there is magic in the air at the Ehlers’ ranch! Today is super special for me on the latest part of my journey with Nitro.

Not long after we started on this journey, less than a year into it I think, I saw an article on this site that Rene had written. It was about a company that took your loved one’s ashes, fur, and also human hair if wanted, and created a diamond out of it….Heart in Diamond is the name. When I read about it, I told John that one day I was going to do this, and that it would be pricey, and that I didn’t care – I was giving him a head’s up. He said “whatever”….my husband is chatty that way.

So our journey continued, as most of you know, for over 3 years. Always, in the back of my mind, was this living tribute to my heart dog; a double-edged sword if you will, as in order to have this would mean I no longer had him by my side. Then came the day  my world was shattered, and we said good-bye. I started the process in earnest the day I got his ashes home. I connected with a rep from this company – a lovey British woman named Clare, who lives in Georgia. By this time I knew what size stone, color of diamond, and setting of ring I wanted, so we set it in motion. I placed my order on August 19, 2017 and received the finished product today, December 7, 2017.  The diamond consists of Nitro’s ashes and fur, and my hair…we are forever joined. Without further ado, I give you pictures of our living bond:


what the stone looked like after the growth phase, cut and polished. the picture doesn’t do the color justice


my first glimpse of my ring


on my finger forever

I don’t think its fully sunk in yet, my feelings for what this represents and means to me. I am over-the-moon ecstatic over how beautiful it is, and that my heart dog lives on. I leave you with a virtual Christmas card, for all my Tripawd family…..I am truly blessed.


as always, wishing you peace and love from the Ehlers’ ranch