Tag: Linley Achtenhagen

Unconditional love

Another powerful guest post from Linley.

Last October 11th, I published a guest post that had been sent in by Linley Achtenhagen. The published post was called Life with Luna and was incredibly well-received.

So here’s another guest post from Linley that I have no doubt will be equally well-received.

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Unconditional Love

by Linley Achtenhagen, October 29th, 2017.

Up until January 12, 2017, I had never lost a loved one.  I grew up with three grandparents, one grandpa passing away shortly after I was born, so I was pretty lucky to grow up with three out of four grandparents.  Sure, I had been to funerals for distant relatives I had met once or twice or my friend’s grandparents, and I grieved for them because they were hurting and I hate seeing people hurt.  I, however, had no idea what that pain felt like until one of my best friends passed away in a tragic accident while she was on a family vacation in Mexico.

Abbey Connor, my sweetest, sassiest, most beautiful friend and fellow UW-Whitewater student, taken away far too soon.  Getting the news that she was gone rocked me to the core.  I had just celebrated New Year’s Eve with her a few short weeks ago, and now I was never going to see her again.  How is that possible?  Why would this happen to her?  I had absolutely no idea how to handle this.  Going from losing no one to losing one of my best friends so suddenly was something I was not prepared to deal with but is anyone?  I cried and cried and cried and listened to people tell me it was going to be okay, but those words didn’t mean anything.  Of course, I appreciated the support of my friends and family, but nothing made the pain in my chest go away when I thought of Abbey.  I hurt so much for her family, if I felt this horrible, I couldn’t imagine how her family felt.  The only thing that I found comfort in was the one thing that couldn’t tell me they were sorry and that it was going to be okay, Luna.

There is no doubt in my mind that Luna knew I was hurting.  I am convinced that dogs have a 6th sense and are much more aware of our emotions than we give them credit.  Luna would just lay with me while I cried and her presence alone eased that pain.  My crazy and energetic dog would just sit and let me pet her for as long as I needed to.

Not even a month later, February 11th, our family dog, Will, passed away after a long battle with cancer.   For fellow dog lovers, you know how hard it is to let your furry companions go.  We had Will since he was a puppy, so he grew up with my siblings and me.  He was my four-legged brother and letting him go ripped my healing heart wide open again.  This time, my whole family was hurting, including Will’s sister, Grace.  Will and Grace had never spent a day apart; they slept in their dog crate together, chased chipmunks together, protected my family together, and she just couldn’t understand where he went.  We couldn’t explain to her that he wasn’t coming back and that made the pain that much worse.  The one thing that brought a smile to everyone’s face in the days, weeks, and months to come was Luna.  She would grab her squeaker toy and run up to everyone shaking and squeaking it just begging for someone to play tug with her. She would light up the room and bring a smile, even if only for a second, to our faces. She was helping us cope, and she didn’t realize it.

Two months later, April 13th, my grandma passed away.  I couldn’t believe that I had to deal with another death.  I was still grieving Abbey and Will’s passing, and now I had another death to try and cope with.  My grandma lived in Florida for half of the year, so while we weren’t the closest, she was my grandma, my dad’s mother, and of course, I loved her.  I hurt for my dad as he had to say goodbye to his mom.  I hurt for all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles.  I hurt for my mom and my siblings and I.  We had never lost a grandparent, and now we had to deal with this while still grieving Will’s passing, I still grieving Abbey’s.  It was such an overwhelming and stressful time, and once again the one thing that got me through each day was Luna.  No matter how hard of a day it was, each night when I crawled into bed, Luna would lay right next to me, her head on my chest and just be there.  I cannot put into words what that feeling is like.

John Grogan, author of Marley and Me, (if you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, add it to your list) wrote one of my favorite quotes.  He said, “A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull.  Give him your heart, and he will give you his.”  This quote is undeniably accurate and I saw this proof in the months to come after I lost all of these loved ones.  Luna didn’t care if I didn’t have time to take her for a long walk, or I didn’t want to get out of bed, or I didn’t have the energy to play fetch with her that day, she was there for me and comforted me every moment.  She knew I loved her, and that was enough.  The most comforting part of all of this is that Luna didn’t even know she was doing it.  If more people loved each other like dogs love their humans, this world would be a much better place.

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Linley’s closing sentence is perfect and requires nothing more from me to close today’s post than for me to repeat her words: “If more people loved each other like dogs love their humans, this world would be a much better place.

Life with Luna

Time and time again we see what dogs mean to us.

Not that long ago I received an email out-of-the-blue from Linley Achtenhagen. Linley wanted to tell me, and all of you, what having a dog had meant to her.

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How It All Started

by Linley Achtenhagen

Before I start talking about all of the things I have learned from having a dog, I should probably tell the story of how this crazy journey started.

My sophomore year of college was probably one of the most difficult years I’ve had. I was struggling with anxiety issues and I had just quit basketball, which was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. Why? Well, I had been playing basketball from the time I could walk and the day that I decided I was done was a very difficult, yet relieving day.

Me playing basketball had become unhealthy for me and caused me so much stress and anxiety that it was hurting me more than it was helping me, but that’s a different story.

Anyways, once I was done playing college basketball I felt relieved, but also empty. All I had really ever known was basketball, so now I felt like I wasn’t doing anything with my life other than going to school and studying things that I didn’t care about. I knew that something was missing!

I have always been an animal lover. Growing up we had everything from cats, to dogs, to horses and even a pet bird. Dogs were my favorite though (sorry cat lovers) and I thought, “why not see if there’s a dog that needs a home”.

So I went online and of course, I found, literally, thousands of dogs that needed homes. After months of searching and convincing my parents that I could do this, I adopted Luna.

Luna came from a high-kill shelter in Missouri, meaning that if she wasn’t adopted in a certain time frame she was going to be put to sleep. Lucky for me, Tiny Paws Small Dog Rescue in Milwaukee, Wi transported her and about 10 other dogs from the shelter up to Wisconsin.

Luna was about 15 pounds underweight and for a 40-pound dog that’s dangerously skinny. When I would pet her I could feel every single bone on her body. She was skinny, shy, and had patches of fur missing, yet the trust this animal gave me right from the start was amazing. This animal had gone through only God knows what, and trusted me immediately. It was an eye-opening thing to watch.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say that it was all butterflies and rainbows when I adopted Luna. The first few days I was panicked and thought, “what on earth did I get myself into”. But I knew that I had made a commitment to this dog and I couldn’t give her away. I have always hated change, in fact, it is one of the things that gives me pretty bad anxiety, and I knew that giving Luna back would be the easy way out. Sure enough, in about a week, this dog became my best friend and it’s like we had a mutual understanding that we were in this together.

Since getting Luna I went from not knowing what I wanted to do with my life to declaring my major as entrepreneurship and knowing that one day I want to open my own pet supply store.

I want to share all of the knowledge that I have gained about dogs from having Luna with other pet and dog lovers. I have found that big, franchise pet stores just don’t have the same knowledge that small, local pet stores do. I am also not saying that I know everything there is to know about dogs because I still learn new things every single day. But I want to share everything I have learned with dog owners and help them give their pet the best life possible. I also hope to learn new things from all the people that (hopefully) come in and out of my store every day.

In the posts to come, I will share everything I have learned about life, love, animals, and everything in between from my life with Luna.

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If only all decisions in life were as easy as me wanting to publish Linley’s account of her meeting Luna!

All we now need is a photograph of the happy couple!

Luna being loved by Linley.

May everything go well for you, Linley!