10 Realizations You Have When Your Pet Is Dying

10 Realizations You Have When Your Pet Is Dying

You never thought this day would actually come.

This past week, I found myself saying goodbye to my first and only dog of almost 15 years. I was only 7 years old when my family and I picked him out as a puppy--I can't even remember a time without him around. He was a chocolate brown Bichon, Shih Tzu, and Toy Poodle mix with cream spotting. He was playful, happy, and full of energy.

Now, over a decade later, he has lived a long and fulfilling life. His quality of life has deteriorated drastically due to tumors, cataracts, and a bad hip. Within the last year, he's grown almost completely deaf. Recently, he hasn't been able to control his bladder, jump up on the couch, or run around freely. You'll even find him whimpering in pain while he sleeps. It was obvious for us all to see it was time to let him go. As I've worked through the heartache of saying goodbye to one of my best friends, I realized some things along the way.

1. You have to allow yourself to mourn.

Grief is the final gift of love. Some need time to let themselves be sad. Some will just deny everything that's happening. Others experience the five stages of grief. I've learned there's no "right" or "wrong" way to grieve. Everyone handles death differently and that's okay. I found myself to be entirely heartbroken--more than I ever thought I would be.

2. You'll wish you were more patient with them when they didn't understand.

Too many times I found myself frustrated and annoyed when he would whimper at my feet. What do you want? I just let you outside. You have food and water. What do you want? I never considered that, you know, maybe he just wanted to be loved and have my attention for a minute.

3. You'll wish you never took their presence for granted.

For years, he was always just there. That's just how it was. He would hear the door open and sprint to greet you like it was the best part of his entire day (honestly, it probably was) and I would just say hello and keep going with my day. When I walked in the door to my mother's house to say goodbye last week, it was different. He wasn't there to greet me. He couldn't hear the door open. He couldn't get up the stairs by himself.

4. You'll think about the unconditional love they gave you--even when you didn't deserve it.

Every single day. His love for me, my siblings, and my parents never wavered. He was fiercely loyal and loved each of us unconditionally.

5. They'll have more of an impact on you than you thought possible.

I can't even remember all the memories I've had with him over the last 15 years. He was there for all the good and all the bad. Dogs gift you with patience, commitment, loyalty, and friendship. They touch you in ways you don't necessarily notice when you're just taking their existence for granted.

6. You'll realize they're irreplaceable.

He was my first (and only) puppy and he'll never have that taken away from him. He'll always be with me in my heart.

7. You'll wish you took more photos of them.

Because one day you might find yourself writing an article about your puppy dying and realize you don't have any pictures of him. Take pictures when they're being playful, when they're just being plain cute, and even when they're sleeping. You'll want them for the memories.

8. You never thought this day would actually come.

Obviously you know that dogs can't live forever. Anyone could tell you that. You just never think that today will actually be the day you're forced to say your goodbyes. You couldn't even fathom this day for years. Now, it's staring at you square in the face.

9. It really is for the best no matter how much it hurts.

No matter how heartbroken you are, you'll be able to see how much more they hurt than you. At the end of a dogs life, they live each and every day of their life hurting. They deserve more than that. They deserve to be freed from the pain they've come to know all too well.

10. He knows, too.

Dogs are smart. They know and understand more than we give them credit for. All we can do is keep them close to our heart and cherish the time we had with them--all while hoping they enjoyed their time with us, too.

Cover Image Credit: Katelyn Rademacher

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Just Because I'm From Hawaii, Does Not Mean I'm Hawaiian

My residency is not my race.

Let me start off with a few things about myself. I am a first generation American who is primarily Filipino, Spanish and Hungarian. With that said, I am a woman of color, who frankly, looks all white. I was born and raised on the North Shore of O'ahu, but currently live in the mainland.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about Hawai'i, because I'm sure you don't know much about it since it's only given like, a paragraph of recognition in our history books. The Ancient Hawaiians traveled by canoe for thousands of miles using only the stars to navigate and found themselves in the Hawaiian Islands. They settled and their culture spread throughout the mountains and shores.
In 1778, Captain Cook "discovered" the islands, despite the thriving population residing there (he can be compared to Christopher Columbus). In the 1830s, the Sugar Industry was introduced, bringing a diverse range of immigrants from China, the Philippines, Japan and many other countries to work on the plantations, creating the diverse and ethnic population that makes up the islands today. In the 1890s, Queen Lili'uokalani (lily-oo-oh-kah-lah-nee) was imprisoned in an upstairs bedroom of her palace and soon after, the monarchy was overthrown. Hawai'i became a state in the 1950s.

With all of that said, we can now discuss an issue that I have realized needs to be addressed.

Since I moved to the mainland, I have had many encounters where people assure me that I am Hawaiian, despite my rebuttals that I am definitely not. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Them: "So you're from Hawaii, are you Native Hawaiian?"

Me: "Oh no, I'm Filipino, Hungarian and Spanish."

Them: "No, I mean, were you born and raised there?"

Me: "Yeah, but I'm not Hawaiian."

Them: "Yeah you are. It's the same thing."

No, it is most definitely not the same thing. If you were in Japan and saw a white person or any person not of Japanese descent, would you ask if they were Japanese simply because they lived there?
No, you wouldn't because you should know that residency does not equate descent. Sure, you might be curious and ask, but if they told you they weren't Japanese, you wouldn't try to convince them that they are. As I mentioned, Hawaii's population is made up of a ton of immigrants, and just because someone's family may have been there for generations, they are still not Hawaiian unless they actually have Hawaiian blood.

Not only do people assume that I am Hawaiian simply because I am from there, but they will continuously say that I look Hawaiian even if they have no idea what someone of Hawaiian descent looks like. Hawaiians are people of color, as are many of those who reside in the islands. However, as I previously mentioned, I do not look like a person of color even though I am, so why would you associate me, a seemingly full white person, to be Hawaiian? It makes no sense.

There are many things wrong with choosing to misidentify an individual or a group of people.
One, is that by you convincing yourself that I am something that I am not, you are diminishing who I am, and how I identify myself.
Second, you are creating an illusion based upon your own desires of who Hawaiians as a people are.
Third, by using me specifically, you are whitewashing the image of an entire race. I could go on, but there is not enough time in the world to name them all.

Their culture has been reduced to leis, aloha shirts, surfing, and tiki torches. Aloha has become a household word used by people who have no understanding of what Aloha truly means. Girls go as hula dancers in an effort to show skin on Halloween without any second thought. Please stop. We cannot continue to misidentify, appropriate and basically erase Hawaiian culture, just as has been done to the Native Americans.

Hawaiians have already been stripped of their land. I will not allow them to be stripped of their identity as well.

Cover Image Credit: TourMaui

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You May Want To Rethink Your Aesthetic Succulents

Why these plants may not be right for you.


Succulents are in right now. All over Instagram, you can see pictures of the colorful and varied plants in all sorts of containers. They are incredibly popular for dorm rooms especially and marketed as such. Whether you want your dorm room to be #goals or you're chasing an aesthetic you like, it can seem rather tempting to just buy a few cacti or succulents and stick them in a mason jar. They are so cute and cheap after all. However, what most people do not know is these plants can be rather tricky to take care of. We all have a friend who kills every plant unlucky enough to fall into their care, even the cactus which is considered to be virtually indestructible. It isn't because they are incapable or have the opposite of a green thumb, rather, they lack an understanding of plant care.

Succulents are plants with fleshy leaves. They are made to retain water in arid conditions. Many people believe this to mean they need next to no water. Which, in a sense, is true, but it also makes them incredibly sensitive to too much or too little water. Additionally, they're commonly sold in closed containers like jars, meaning they do not have a drainage hole. This is important because if the water cannot drain out, it sits in the container with the plant and rots the roots. The plant is then unable to sustain itself and will die. It is very hard to revive a plant once the rot has set in.

A succulent in a teacup looks amazing but is just not practical. Often, the pictures that blow up on Instagram show plants that will not survive very long. Another thing people fail to take into consideration is sunlight. Too little sun and these fickle little plants lose their leaves, too much and they get sunburn. If you happen to live in a dorm, it is best to consider which way your windows face before investing in these plants. As well as consider how much effort you are willing and able to put into it. Knowing which species of succulent is helpful because a quick google search can tell you how much water and sun they require.

Succulents are not for everyone, but I don't mean to make it sound like these plants are impossible to take care of. With a little research and upkeep, it is possible to select a plant that will fit your room. Watching a plant thrive and grow in the right conditions can be rewarding. Watching a plant wither away is disappointing at best and upsetting at worst. Healthy plants make for better pictures. There are many other indoor plants available that do not require such careful care. Many department and home improvement stores will actually have the care requirements on the plant. You just have to check the tag before you buy. At the end of the day, if you want a decoration I would recommend fake succulents. They are much more low maintenance.

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