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Our Ace

Its true.  I truly believe shelter dogs know you saved them.  The love and loyalty starts from day one….

After my divorce my girls were hell bent on getting me a “ big dog” for protection.  We had our shi tzu Minnie Mouse who spent the majority of her time curled up in her tiger print dog bed sleeping, so yes, maybe having a larger dog would be a deterrent and a good security measure for a home full of girls.  Soon we brought our guy home!  I remember that evening so vividly.

When our dude got to our home he wanted to be where the people were.  He never wanted “ me time.”  He explored the house, the yard, and constantly wanted to be pet.  He was so adorable.  Reminded me of Scooby-doo!  Awkwardly long legs, clumsy, excited, eager to please.  He was exactly what I needed.  Such a breath of fresh air.  Our home was smiling again. Soon it was time for bed and the first night with our pal Ace was so incredibly sweet.

Delaney, my youngest, decided Ace would sleep in her room.  She made a little space for him at the foot of her bed.  They looked so cute in her bed.  Ace wagged his tail as he was falling to sleep.  I kissed my babies goodnight and went to my room to sleep.  That day was a good day!  We all needed that for sure!  I woke up in the morning to check on our new pup.  Like Delaney recently said, “ this was how it started.”  Our Ace made his way up to put his head on her pillow and cuddled up closely to Laney.  We wouldnt have it any other way…

I am not sure exactly when the transition started, but Ace Ventura started sleeping with me.  He was bigger and my bed became HIS!  We would sleep “ back to back” if I moved, he moved.  He had to touch me in some way during the night to sleep.  I grew use to waking up to his head on my pillow and  his snoring.  He was my buddy.  He was my companion.   Ace was my confidant.  He was there for me when I was in a good place or struggling in the bad. He was my first taste of unconditional love.

Unconditional love.  Mothers have the  innate capability of love with no conditions.  It’s in us.  But yet, as an adult I’ve never experienced being loved unconditionally.  Being loved  by any man from the age of high school and even in my 50’s always had conditions attached.  I truly didn’t realize this until I went back to counseling.  With my dog Ace , well, he was always happy to see me even if I was working too much, going away weekends for waterpolo tournaments, or days of depression and not being able to get out of bed.  He welcomed me with big tail wags when I returned home and slept next to me when I felt like a failure.  I literally would speak to him like a dang person.

You see.  Im a Mom.  When married our agreement was for me to be a stay-at-home Mom while their dad worked as a professional athlete. We lived everywhere in the minor leagues and at times I’d have small jobs to make extra money.  Eventually the ex had a small stint in the big leagues but it ended abruptly.  I went back to school to get a degree but after my bachelors degree I needed a Masters and that halted because real life hit us and we needed $.  Eventually things worked out and i was able to substitute teach a few days a week and be home with the girls.  Why do I bring this up?  Because my role was mom, wife, and “ part time” employee.  When I divorced I wasnt a skilled career woman.  I was a Mom.  I was scared because I barely paid the bills each month.  I was in real estate because it gave me the flexibility to be home when I needed to and to be at my kids practices and games.  I was doing it all yet felt like my head was barely above water.  I wanted to be present and be there for my girls.  My Ace was there when I would cry in bed trying to figure out where life was taking me.  Everyone would say “” youre badass, you can do this.”  I only heard past put downs in my head about “where would you be if it wasnt for me” or that I was dumb.  Over the years of hearing that I had no real confidence in myself.  I was a hell of an actress.  Just petting Ace calmed my soul and spirit.  He saved me…damn, Ace saved me many times and I’m grateful to be here!  One thing we loved together was the ocean.

Watching Ace at the beach is probably the dog version of myself.  I would take him off his leash and he would run to the edge of the waves but not too far in.  If we were at dog beach he would run, chase a wave, and play with other dogs.  He would always run back to where I was to check in just like a child would.  If I was swimming in the waves he would sit on my towel and whine like a worried Mom.  Then it happened!  As I was gaining my courage and strength to tackle the world he gained the courage to paddle out to where I was swimming.  I dove under a wave and when I came up on the other side here was Ace!  He paddled out to say hi!  I remember that moment vividly!  We swam back in and celebrated with a drink of water and playing chase with a tennis ball I would throw into the water.  He loved the ocean more and more each time I walked him there.

Ace was my shoulder to lean on when I lost my home, when my best friend was murdered, and he was there when  people showed thier true colors.  I am grateful that I was able to show him the beach, waves, and sunsets….both of us deserved the healing powers of the sand and sea.  To feel complete freedom once our feet hit the sand.  Things went in a different direction when Covid hit.

Covid times brought even more uncertainty.  Real estate was in the toilet, my other PT job were losing investors, and the restrictions on all of us were something we’ve never experienced before in our lifetime.  So much alone time.  Ace and I were  buds during this time for sure and after 2 weeks of isolation I was headed to Arizona for the birth of the twins.  So excited to see my grandbabies!  At that time I dropped Ace at my parents where he quickly became my Dads best friend.

Dilemma… my Dad loved Ace almost as much as me.  He made it quite clear that Ace “needed a big yard to run in” and he was happy.  What really was occurring is Ace filled a void for my Dad.  Ace remained with my parents to keep them company.  It was awful for me not to have him but my Dad needed him more than I did. Ace was special since day 1.  Delaney recently sent a photo of Ace which basically explained his purpose here.  “There’s a reason Ace  has an upside down heart on his tongue, he has so much love to give.”  Ace gave out so much love and you can’t help loving him back.  He was light when the world seemed dark…

Dark times were definitely part of Covid yet he made anyone smile when Ace was there.  My Dad was so attached to Ace that when I mentioned taking him home to the beach my Dad would say ,”He’s fine here.”  Even after my Mom was accidentally knocked over by him and broke her hip I went to bring him home.  My Dad said “it was an accident, its not his fault, if you take him I’ll take you out of the will.”  So, my Ace became a “ timeshare “ dog.    I visited him and had sleepovers here and there.  His temporary home was with my Dad.  His real home was the beach and my heart.  Then I got the call before my knee surgery.

Yep!  My body is breaking down here and there.  I tore my meniscus on each side of my right knee and I needed surgery.  Right before my surgery I brought Ace in to the vet because he was having leg issues.  After his exam he was put on strong anti inflammatory medicine and pain pills.  He was to rest his legs just like I was suppose to do too.  He remained on my parents couch and I was on my couch.  We rehabilitated seperately.  Part way through my rehab I got the call.  “I think Ace had a stroke or something, he wont get off the floor.”  Greig and I headed to RC to bring him home.  My parents could not lift him or nurse him back to health.  Ace did this one other time and he needed to stay off his legs and rest, let the inflammation pass.  But, after the visit to the vet earlier I remembered he said his knees were bone on bone, atrophy, and his front legs were breaking down by over compensating for the back legs.  Thank God for Greig.

We arrived at my parents and my baby was lying by the back porch french doors.  On better days he would be pushing the metal doors open and he would run up the hill, past the pool, through the grove, and back down.  Ace ruled the Pierce home.  When someone would come to visit he would welcome you with a big nudge, a tail whack, and then run out the door to patrol the yard.  He had a special place to sleep on the couch, and at night he would sleep next to my dads side of the bed.  Today was different.  No greeting at the door.  Just a wagging tail and a whine.  Greig picked up my precious dog, put him on the van bed, I kissed my parents, and I limped out to the van and laid with him for the drive home.  I had hope like other times before that he needed rest, to be nursed, and the beach.  He knew he was going home and he actually smiled.  I made up a soft bed and Greig carried him in to rest. I had no idea what would be ahead for us but Greig and I would help him together.  If he recovers, hooray!  If it turned, we would make his last days on earth HIS.  After a couple days I knew it would be the latter…my heart was breaking.

Ace was comfortable and surrounded by love.  We tried to get him to stand, or even sit, but that didn’t work.  He hadn’t gone to the bathroom in days, not even on his blankets.  We borrowed a wagon from a neighbor and took him to grass hoping he’d go to the restroom.  While in the wagon he was agitated then relaxed.  I know he was wondering WTF?  When we walked this path together he knew we would normally walk to dog beach and run.  Instead Greig held this massive dog up in hopes he would go potty.  When he relaxed and laid down he finally peed!  For well over a minute!  Poor dude! We pulled him back home and laid him down on his spot with me right next to him.  His mind was still so alive, eyes clear, tail wagging.  Yet his body has given up.  I looked at my boyfriend and asked him to bring us to his favorite beach tomorrow.  If he was going to try and get up, the beach and waves would invite him to play!  I had hope but I did tell my kids the severity of his condition so they could say thier goodbyes…

All of my daughters had a special relationship with Ace.  Watching them love up on Ace for the last time was heart wrenching.  He was a big part of thier lives during a hard transition in our lives.  He was a constant.  Ace was always there.  He loved them so much and all thier friends.  The tears were flowing.  But, I still had hope.  Maybe tomorrow he would feel the sand, see the waves, and try to get those legs moving.

Tomorrow came!  Greig packed up the necessities and we drove down PCH to his spot.  When we opened the door we were greeted by a huge poop! Bahahaha!  He relaxed and let it loose!  Greig put him in the wagon and he pulled him to his spot.  Tail wagging and whining.  Blanket spread , I sat down, and Greig lifted Ace next to me.  He was so excited!  Whining, little barks, tail beating the sand!  He was trying but his legs were failing him.  He stopped making noise and just soaked the world around him in.  He watched other dogs run,  the waves tumble, and he pushed himself off the blanket to feel the sand.  He just absorbed his beautiful beach for well over an hour.  I never stopped petting and loving up on him.  Many times our eyes connected and he would lick my hand or my face.  Tears definitely flowed because I knew my time spent on the beach with Ace would be our last time together here.  My time with him was my therapy too.  Giving him his time at the beach before he leaves me was something I had to do because we spent many happy days together there!  I know I’m preparing my heart to let my best friend go….

Greig loaded my Ace back in the wagon and we headed back home.  Ace was exhausted.  He slept for many hours yet had a few accidents.  The night was rough.  He was in pain.  Early in the morning after cleaning him up again and waking Greig up to lift him my house was quiet.  It was just Ace and I.  He lifted his head to me and I held his face in my hands.  His eyes were different today.  His tail barely wagged.  He was tired.  Done.  He was giving me permission to let him go.  He knew.  I knew.  Ace knew I was not alone…

Ace has always been the man of the house.  The man in my life.  He protected me and as mentioned earlier he truly saved my life.  I’ve had dark thoughts and that dog lifted me up out of some exceptionally dark times.  He spent the majority of his last days with me and Greig who gave him love, support, and kindness.  I never expected anyone to be with me when I made the drive to send my beloved dog over the rainbow.  It was the 3 of us until Ace’s last breath in which was comfortable and peaceful…

Ace.  You may have thought we saved you from the shelter but you saved me.  You are forever a part of me…

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