Thursday, September 13, 2012

"BE NOT AFRAID." Princess's story...

It's been a crazy week around here.  But at least it ended well.  I think my anxiety attack days are finally over.  I think after hearing "be not afraid" on Thursday 9/13/2012, I can finally start to heal after the senseless death of my dog, Princess, in February, 2012.  I've never been able to write about losing Princess, it's been too painful, until now.  I haven't written much of ANYTHING since she's died.  It was truly like losing a member of my family.

Tuesday, 9/11/2012
On 9/11 we had to call 911.  Because on a bright and sunny day, out of nowhere, our neighbors giant tree fell into our yard, driveway, and garage roof downing live power lines.  Everyone wanted to run outside and survey the damage and I was inside having another panic attack.  Those are firemen in my yard on 9/11 with our landlord.

Wednesday, 9/12/2012
Another bright and sunny day and we had to call 911 again. The landlord had a tree removal company at our house removing the tree.  One of the workers was putting branches into the chipper and collapsed hitting his head on the concrete.  He was unconscious, bleeding from the mouth, having some sort of seizure.  I pray he's O.K..  Please say a prayer for him too.  This was the scene outside my house on 9/12/2012.  I was inside having another anxiety attack.

Stuff like this has been happening all around me for months.  It has seemed like a black cloud of negative energy has been following me.  I felt surrounded by it.  So, after the ambulance left, I poured salt around my entire house, driveway and yard like I had seen them do on some T.V. show called Paranormal Activity or Ghost Hunters or something like that.  I realized how irrational I was being when I saw all the neighbors peeking out their blinds at me but I figured it couldn't hurt.  I repeated, "this is a house of light and love" like I had seen them do on the show as I sprinkled it.

As I was pouring the salt, I thought to myself, when did all of this start?  When did I start having panic/anxiety attacks all the time?  I know I felt this way this summer in Colorado too, but I told myself I had good reasons for that.  There were mountainous roads and bears in Colorado.  I'm from Chicago, I'm use to flat roads and Chicago Bears, that's it.

I finally admitted to myself I've been a wreck since February.  Since the senseless death of Princess.  Princess was my 7 year old black Labrador who died February 19, 2012 after eating tainted dog treats from China.

Princess was mama's baby.  She never left my side, literally, and slept in my bed at my feet.  She was a canine Lucy Ricardo, always getting into trouble.  I was forever trying to cover for her.  I've written 2 stories in my blog about her "I don't have time to blog about Princess, my bad dog" ( and "What can Bev/Lucy Ricardo and Princess damage in 1 hour" (;postID=5613576845160284227;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=36;src=postname)

In January, 2012, Princess started acting as if she had been poisoned   She was throwing up several times a day and her eating and bathroom habits were 1/4 of what they use to be.  We took her to our vet.  Our yellow lab Angel was fine.  We went over the differences in their eating habits.  THERE WAS ONLY 1 DIFFERENCE.  The Waggin Train Chicken Jerky Treats that Angel wouldn't touch.  Angel is part Beagle and a VERY finicky eater.  She smelled them and turned her nose up at them, she wouldn't touch them.  So Princess happily ate both packs the week before.  I told the vet, "maybe she had too many jerky treats."  She was so swollen in her mid-section.  Maybe the rawhide had made a big ball in her stomach or something.  He said he didn't think so.  The vet took an x-ray and blood tests. There weren't any tumors.  She was getting laxatives, I.V.'s of antibiotics, pain meds and fluids from Jan. 24-27th.    He said her blood work came back and her kidney and liver levels were extremely elevated.  Her organs were shutting down and he recommended we put her to sleep. He said there was nothing more he could do for her. We took her home instead.

Our yellow lab Angel was so happy to see her.  Princess was extremely bloated but was still loving, was still eating and still going to the bathroom in small amounts and was still happy to go on very short walks.  I couldn't put her down seeing her still happy, even though she was obviously still very ill.  Then she took a turn for the worse and we had to put her to sleep on February 19, 2012.  R.I.P. Princess.

Princess and Angel

Months after Princess died, I saw a T.V. news story about a local suburban Chicago man who was heartbroken over the poisoning of his dog from Waggin Train Chicken Jerky treats from China.  They went on to say that over 2,000 pets have been sicken and/or died from tainted treats from China.  They said the FDA won't remove them from the shelves because they're no threat to humans.


My vet never mentioned those exact treats I told him Princess had eaten too many of were under investigation, or that I wasn't the only one who's dog died after eating them.

When I saw this news story I KNEW that was what had happened to Princess as well.  Because it has always stuck in my mind as the only difference in my 2 dogs diets and to never buy Waggin Train treats again.  These poisoned treats are still on the shelf today and I had to watch a good dog suffer and die because of them.

Princess had, in a sense, been murdered.  
Yep, that's when these anxiety/panic attacks started.

Back to Wednesday night, 9/12/2012
Later that night, after the tree was removed and I had poured salt around my entire house (probably scaring my neighbors) my 18 year old son wanted to go out.  I was sure he'd be jumped, hit by a car, train, something.  My husband said I was being irrational again, panicking over nothing again.  I was even crying, trying to get Michael to feel guilty and stay home. Lorens said I needed to calm down, Michael was 18 after all.  It didn't matter to me.  I was always afraid, worried about something bad happening to someone I loved all the time, ever since Princess died.

I didn't know how to get rid of this anxiety.  It told him I hate it too.  I can't seem to relax anymore, ever.  I'm from Chicago, I'm not use to being afraid of anything and now I'm afraid of everything.  He hugged me (and he motioned to Michael behind my back to quickly leave while he's calming mom down) and told me it would be O.K.  He told me he's not going to let anything bad happen to any of us.  I felt like a big baby but couldn't help it.  That night I didn't sleep well. I tossed and turned.  I hated feeling helpless and afraid.

"BE NOT AFRAID".......Thursday, 9/13/2012
When I woke up, I knew I had many dreams and tried to remember them.  They were so intense.  I knew many were about Princess although I couldn't remember them exactly, they seemed hidden somewhere in my mind's fog. 

Then I forgot all about it and started my day.  Lorens went out to get some coffee.  When he came back inside he said, "Did you know there's a black lab in our driveway?"   I ran outside.  There, at the edge of my driveway, near some salt, pacing back and forth was a scared, lost, female black lab.  I got on my knees and called to her.  She ran right up into my arms, kissing me as if she knew I would help her.  I was holding her collar, thanking God she had tags.  Lorens ran inside to get a leash.  I saw that her name was Molly.  I said "Well hello Molly, it's O.K., you're a good girl." Lorens put the leash on her and called the phone number on her collar and left a message.

I was still on the ground, she was leaning against me, looking up at me and then licking my face, nuzzling my neck just like Princess.  I was smiling and laughing with her like I had done with Princess everyday, she was tickling me like Princess used to do.  I had forgotten the joy that comes from a dog that showers you with love.  Angel is old, thinks she is human and wants to be left alone unless it's time for a walk or to eat.  She was never a lap dog like Princess. 

I felt so comforted holding Molly in my lap.  Suddenly, the words "BE NOT AFRAID" ran through my mind, loudly, as if someone spoke the words to me, startling me for a second and I froze and I held my breath.  But Molly continued licking me, nuzzling me, hugging me and I felt calm and comforted all over again.  

A police car happened to drive by at that exact moment and Lorens flagged him down (3 days in a row now the police are at my house.  I'm sure the nosy neighbors are all locking their doors twice by now.)  He helped Molly into the back of his patrol car.  He said he was taking her to the local vet to check for a microchip.  

The whole thing was all over in a matter of 5 minutes.  We went back inside our house.  I was smiling, more relaxed than I had felt in months.  Then I remembered hearing "be not afraid".  I was thinking, that was freaky!  I wasn't afraid of Molly, just the opposite, she was so sweet.  But I heard the words, "be not afraid".  I had no idea why I heard those words. So I told my husband, "The weirdest thing just happened outside.  I know you're going to laugh, but when I was hugging Molly, trying to keep her calm, the words "be not afraid" ran through my mind, loudly, as if someone were saying it to me."  My husband said, "Wow Bev.  See, you were just saying last night how you're afraid of something at all times since Princess died and you don't know how to get it to stop.  Someones trying to tell you it's all going to be O.K., stop, relax."

I had forgotten saying that to myself yesterday as I sprinkled the salt.  I had forgotten all about that conversation/me crying with him last night when our son wanted to go out.  I had forgotten all about my dreams of Princess just hours earlier.  Until that moment, I had forgotten all of that. I hadn't even had my morning coffee yet.

Now, in that moment, it all made sense to me.

Because here it was, the day after I finally admitted the loss of Princess has rocked me to the core and I'm constantly afraid something bad will happen to those I love.  And 12 hours later there's a black lab in my arms, licking my face and I heard the words "be not afraid"?  I don't think it was a coincidence.  I think Molly was sent here to comfort me.

Molly did have a microchip.  Her owner called me to tell me thank you.  They had our number because Lorens had left that message.  She couldn't stop thanking me.  She has no idea how Molly had gotten out, that never happens.  I told her, "No, thank you, don't be mad at Molly, your dog was a gift sent to me."  And then I told her about Princess.  She said she has those same treats in her house and would never feed them to her dog again, she had no idea.  I told her Princess would have been 8 years old at the end of the month.  She said Molly will also be 8 at the end of this month.  She lives in the same town as me and said I could visit Molly anytime.

So weird that I heard those words spoken like that.  I was thinking, who talks like that?  Is that some famous saying?  So I Googled "be not afraid" and what came up were several references in the bible.  Something I don't read.  It gave me chills.   I don't even consider myself religious, more spiritual.  But I heard those words spoken to me, I really did.  I don't know who, maybe one of my loved ones spirits, but someone was trying to let me know, "be not afraid."  Someone needed me to know that I'm NOT surrounded by negative energy, I'm STILL surrounded by light & love, and to BE NOT AFRAID.  And for the first time in months, I am not afraid. 

UPDATE: About a month after I wrote this story, on October 27th 2012, I opened my heart and home to a shelter puppy we named Scout.  She was rescued from a kill shelter in Oklahoma and needed me.  I wasn't afraid to put my heart out there again.  That wouldn't have happened had I not finally stopped being afraid to love another dog again.  I think that was the meaning of hearing "BE NOT AFRAID".  When I was signing her adoption papers I saw she was born on 2/20/2012, the day after Princess died.  Read about her in my next story "Scout" Benyamin.


PURINA ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY: We are voluntarily withdrawing all Waggin’ Train dog treats sold in the US until further notice. While the products are safe to feed as directed, we’re taking action after learning this week that the NY State Department of Agriculture and Markets found trace amounts of antibiotic residue in samples of our products. While there is no health or pet safety risk and these findings aren’t linked to the FDA’s ongoing investigation of pet jerky products, we’re voluntarily withdrawing our products nationally. No other Purina treats or pet foods are affected. For more information, call us at 800-982-0704 or go to