Thank You All


I am writing this in the silence and solitude of the Badlands in South Dakota… I needed it. As she had done every day of her life, Skip left me with another gift as she took her last breath in my arms a month ago.   Her death…She’s forced me to slow down again. To think about the important things in our lives. To cherish life. Though previously planned, we spent 3 weeks on the road without Skip. This journey has allowed me to clear my mind and slow down my thought process… To think about what is important in our short time here. I owe much of that to Skip…

It has been a VERY long month or more… Skip came home from the Vet for her final trip with me, on August 14th. I’ve remained silent since then, as I attempted to gather my thoughts and muster the energy to put my mental wanderings to paper. My absence has NOT been for lack of gratitude for all of the kind words and notes I’ve received since Skips passing. I will always cherish the sympathies extended from each and every one of you… consider this writing my “thank you” for all of your kind words. Most all of you know that Skip was more than “just a dog” to me. She was my family. My friend. My traveling companion. My co-pilot.

Robert Frost is credited with the quote: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” Yet I knew long ago, death is part of life. Life does not go on forever and death cannot be avoided. Not us. Not our pets. Skip taught me that. They don’t live long enough. Our pets.

Another thing I’ve learned in my 63 years, the period from birth to old age is much more brief in dogs than in people. Not nearly long enough for us or our pets we grow to love. I harbor fond memories of Sugar the white German Shepard. Sugar, with whom I shared the same birthday, was credited with countless trophies and ribbons in AKC Obedience trials as I was growing up. Sugar is the dog by which future pets would be measured by me.

There was Tammy, a beautiful traditional German Shepard who also earned her share of awards in AKC Confirmation. She left us when I was very young. Bing, a tireless rabbit-hunting Beagle who like Snoopy, preferred to sleep on top of his dog house my step-dad built from a whiskey barrel. Trooper, a Beagle, who never grew into his oversized ears, was quite clumsy in his rabbit hunting skills, but definitely the family dog. Red, my Irish Setter enjoyed nothing more than a spot in front of the fireplace after a weekend of chasing Pheasants. Skeeter was a bit anti-social. She was a no-nonsense, bird-hunting English Pointer who always amazed my Brittany-owning hunting partners with her performances in the field. Trooper, fairly large for an English Pointer, was far more sociable and less head-strong than her breed is known for. Trooper came down with cancer, Inoperable cancer. We made her comfortable for as long as we could. I vowed after the loss of Trooper: “No more dogs. I can’t handle the pain…”.

Until I met Skip in April, 2005.

The relationship I shared with Skip was special from the day she came into my life. I owned a 1999 Western Star when she was introduced to me. She began her life as a trucking dog, traveling well over a million miles across the US in two different trucks. She has been to the coast of Maine, the Southern tip of Florida, the California/Mexico border, the Northern-most tip of Washington and every state in between. She’s shared blizzards in Wyoming, floods in Illinois,, tornados in Oklahoma, scorching heat in Utah, magnificent sunsets across Montana and indescribable sunrises from coast to coast.

Like most pet owners, books could be written about the experiences Skip and I shared during our twelve years on the road and here at home. Remembering the pleasure of those times, the companionship she provided, makes me feel this prolonged gut wrenching grief I’m enduring, as justified. I deserve to be sad. How how long, I don’t know.

As I came to accept that our time together was growing short, the memories came flooding back. Strolling the beaches in California, her excitement at the sight of cows or horses in the country, hanging out of the window as we cruised this countrys’ Interstate systems. Strolling on the Salt Flats, and watching freighters dock in the New Jersey ports… Like me, Skip endured serious physical issues in her life. Her first major eye surgery in November, 2012. The second, October 2013. A specialist from Iowa State came to Omaha to perform both operations. A diabetic condition that became difficult to control came about not long ago. In the end, between blindness, a heart condition and crippling arthritis, it was time to decide for her… Never in her years with me did I accept anything but the best care for Skip, and it was heart wrenching to accept that nothing could have been changed or done differently in Skips final days. I prayed nightly for nature to take away the decision I was about to make, but in the end, I had to choose…

We are ultimately responsible for our pets care and welfare. It was becoming more and more obvious that Skip could no longer do the things she enjoyed. She couldn’t handle the stairs off of the deck. She could only maneuver around the house by memory and her failing “radar”. She was experiencing more pain than pleasure during our strolls around the yard or the park. She preferred to lay in the front seat of the car on our trips around town instead of hanging out the window with the wind laying back her ears…

The last few months, she’d lay in my lap at three and four in the morning, while tears ran down my cheeks, knowing full well I was going to have to make the life and death decision for Skip. It was obvious that nature was not going to extend any kindness to relieve me of the most difficult decision I had to make with regard to Skip. “Quality of life…” is the term the Vet used during one of our last visits when I was begging the doctor for a miracle. I watched Skip struggling to breathe at night and prayed that we would both be blessed if she’d simply pass quietly before dawn. Choosing euthanasia left me feeling as if I was murdering my closest friend. For months, no matter how much I justified that it was “the right thing to do” there were knots in my stomach and tears in my eyes. I have been drained of emotional energy, and my own daily tasks were becoming impossible as she required hourly attention.

Euthansia is the master of guilt. No matter how certain I was that I was choosing what was best for Skip, I couldn’t convince myself that my decision was what was best.. Is it too early, too premature? Should we try harder? Another drug, additional treatment? She’s only 12 years old… In the end, I made the appointment with the Vets office to put Skip down. The clinic I have used since the beginning… The Vet who has cared for Skip since April 2005… Dr. Simone demanded that she be the one who met up with us on her day off. And I wanted it to be that way. I was appreciative of her commitment to Skip and I… She knew Skips history, she knew my attachment… She knew my concern that Skips final breath be painless and peaceful….

Skip died in my arms as the chemicals took affect… She looked up at me just as the injection began, almost with a thankful, understanding expression… Then, she laid her head across my forearm as she has done for years when we sat in the recliner…. And she took her last breath… “She is gone…” whispered her Vet… “Whatever time you need with her” as she left the room.

I don’t know how much time it will take to accept all of it. Our trip to the west has been much needed to refresh, regroup and to remind myself that in the grand scheme of things, ALL of our lives are short. What matters is what we do with it between life and death. And that includes the pets we love. What THEY have contributed to us between their life an death.

 

Here I am. A month after Skips passing. I’ve missed a lot, I’ve done a lot. Sherry told me the other day that there were over 200 birthday greetings on my Facebook page and I WILL go back to express my appreciation. Meanwhile, I’m back… Partially. A piece of me is missing. And she will be missed…

Thank you all…

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Violet Show 2017


This year, the Omaha African Violet and Gesneriad Society Show and Sale was held at Mulhall’s greenhouse March 11th.  At this event, society members presented their finest floral specimens. A panel of judges awarded ribbons in a number of categories, including “Best in Show”.

Violet Show 2017 Mug
Violet Show 2017 Mug
by
dbuckman

I had a little difficulty getting up close and personal with the violets, and intend an equipment-change before the next visit.

Violet Show 2017 Card
Violet Show 2017 Card
by
dbuckman

Some years ago, I had a client near Exeter, Nebraska who raised violets,.  She sent one home with me. As with most other live indoor plants, the gift didn’t last long in my care! With my prints, cards, postage and other products featuring these violets, YOUR investment will last for years to come!

Thank you again, for listening!

Posted in Blank Greeting Cards | Leave a comment

White Orchids


PPPFFFTTT!   They say growing  orchids is quite easy for home gardeners. AND I read white orchids are one of the types which can be grown if proper care is taken. If they are grown properly, they will play an important role in beautifying a garden or indoor room.  The white orchid stands for innocence, beauty and elegance.  Unfortunately, I have never been successful in growing them.  Instead, I gather my material, like THIS one, at the local floral shows.  This whole orchid project began at the Lauritzen Gardens orchid exhibition .  I am proud to say my submission for First Class US Postage was accepted.  Not only is this piece available on high quality greeting cards, prints and more, but these postage stamps are truly outstanding!

White Orchid Postage
White Orchid Postage
by dbuckman

“>White Orchid Postage

Orchid plants and flowers range in size and shape. Many grow in the understory of tropical forests, producing delicate blooms in a wide array of colors. While some are tiny plants, only a few inches tall, others like the Vanilla orchid grow on towering vines.  We collected A LOT of material for my art work at the recent show.  There will be many more to follow!  These pieces are available at both my Zazzle site AND, my FAA site!

When ordering postage, BE SURE to check the rate of the stamp you desire.  The most common orders are for “First Class Letter”.

White Orchid Elegant Coffee Cups
White Orchid Elegant Coffee Cups
by dbuckman

“>High Quality Coffee Mugs

White Orchid Greeting Cards
White Orchid Greeting Cards
by dbuckman