Friday, January 29, 2010

Wait! Don't press that...

Ok. I didn't actually touch anything, but for some reason the formatting for my posts has change.

Really I didn't do anything. I woke up this morning looked at it and said "That's not right?!"

And I don't like what I am seeing.

No Ma'am, not one bit.

Hehe, give me a day or so while I sort out what exactly just happened and fix it.

Anyone seen my web programming for dummies book?


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The more things change...

...the less likely people are to notice!

I'm joking, but when people see you everyday they aren't inclined to notice change as much.

Case in point.

Yesterday I went to the salon for a haircut. Nothing major just the usual trim to keep it neat and tidy as I grow it out.

Now this is the same woman that I mentioned the other day gave me my first ever makeover. She does both. I'll never forget that day two and a half years ago when I was incredibly nervous and scared.

She put me at ease, taught me so much, and has since become one of my dearest friends. She is almost my big sister. I love the woman to pieces. She was very instrumental getting me to set foot out the door and into the real world. We've gone out together for little GNOs now and again. We just thoroughly enjoy each other company. Plus we have similar senses of humor.

But I digress.

So she was commenting on the fact that my hair is now almost two inches below my ears and really starting to take off. (HRT and Propecia will do that for you.)

But she is seeing, along with myself, quite a bit of new hair coming in. Which is wonderful. Now I wasn't losing a lot, but it was starting to thin a bit. So any recovery is a good sign.

It was during this discussion that she noted that other then the hair I had not changed much.

I looked at her really funny.

"Are you serious?"

She then challenged me on it.

I proceed to grab my drivers license and show it to her.

She was speechless.

"That doesn't even look like the same person!"


"When was this taken?"

"A few months before I first met you."


"Look a little different don't I?"

"I'll say, I am stunned, I really can't believe it has been that long and how different you look. I mean I knew the hair, but your face, everything. WOW!"

She looked at both me and the photo for a minute or more and just shook her head. The fact that I see her about once a month for something obviously masked the changes as they probably were very gradual to her.

We laughed about it, she finished my haircut and we set a date for dinner and a local event in a few weeks.

I'm looking forward to it, and spending some time with one of my favorite people.

Even if she thinks I look the same. ;)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

MAC and Me

So as I mentioned I decided to sit at the MAC store and get a full makeover.

I was curious.

Now I knew what I looked like with makeup. I had discovered a local stylist who works with trans or CD clients.

She has been great, I always asked her questions. Never had her do the same thing twice and learned so much on how to bring a face together. If it wasn't for her help I don't think I would have ever gotten out of the house.

However the makeup she uses, while great, was proprietary. Which made getting a hold of it kinda difficult. Since I had to usually order it through her.

Never mind they discontinued some of the products I was using. :(

So I wasn't impressed with many of the drugstore brands. Their are a few odds and ends I do like but the quality seemed to be lacking and forget foundations.

Well I had heard a lot of great things about MAC. Not only the products but the wonderful MUAs that work there. Plus, well, there are MAC stores everywhere so picking up things would so not be an issue.

So I finally had some time coming up in early December to sit down with one.

I had went ahead of time to ask some questions and find out if I need to schedule something. Since the best location for me was a local upscale mall.

Which I did, I met a wonderful MUA who I will call A. She totally recommended scheduling something as they are a very busy store and walkups for a full makeover are tough to get. She was wonderful cause she understood where I was coming from, my nervousness and totally said she was ok with everything.

So I grabbed a day she would be there during my last week of vacation in early December.

Now I will mention that I was a little nervous about how to appear for this so I did go in boy mode. Fortunately it didn't bother me too much and she did put me in a little nook they had in the back just to make me feel comfortable.

A did ask me if I would ever consider sitting out in the main area. I said if I had different attire on today I would have. She looked at me, smiled, and said "Next time do so, really you won't have an issue and you look great."

We did discuss my trans issues during the session but for the most part it was just about the makeup.

She opened with a few questions about what I usually did for a look. Did I go natural or like color. I told her that it depends on what I am wearing or how I feel that day. She chuckled and said "Typical girl."

So after thinking for a minute while she did a final clean and prep of my face, and considering I was looking to build a new foundation of makeup she looked at me and said "I am going to give you a natural look, one it will give you some great colors to start with, plus if you come back I will give you different looks that will use some of these colors in the overall look." Meaning I wouldn't have to buy a pile of stuff if I liked it.

Basically we are building a collection that would work well from the start and cost less as I added things to change it up.

I told her that sounded great and lets go for it.

Then away she went. It honestly felt longer then what it was, as she did spend time explaining everything to me and stopping to point things out in the mirror to make sure I was understanding what she was doing and why. (I have to thank my original stylist had I not had such a good foundation to work with I would have been too much to absorb all at once.) It really took her only 40 minutes from start to finish. She was kind, sweet, funny, patient, and just down right awesome.

She rocked!

When she was done I was floored, so simply yet so elegant and other then her magical trick on my eyebrows, really easy and simple. When I go back next time I plan on getting her to focus more on how she did that. I get the idea but I feel I am missing something. Not a big deal since there was so much ground covered.

The absolute best part was the face sheet. She actually took the makeup and painted it in artist paper with a face pre-sketched on it. Not to mention patiently wrote down what colors and products were used were. Along with the ideal brush for that location. (She went above and beyond and even listed a good alternate brush that could be used in case I didn't have them all.) But there I had what was done as a point of reference, which helped enormously later rather then trying to recall it all from memory. If I like a look and plan on using myself I will always ask for one of these.

Then came the purchase. From the get go she had told me the session as free, but since I know they work on commission I think they expect you to purchase something. Well its not like I wasn't planning on it, but everything she used was going to be pricey.

Well I didn't need all of it, and some things I could wait on. Didn't need the Foundation, or powder. I skipped the skin cleanser, the mascara and some of the extra brushes. However I was desperate for good brushes and MAC has always been well known for theirs, but not cheap. Lucky for me MAC sells their brushes in kits of 5 around the holidays. When we started adding them up she stopped me and said "If you get two of the kits I can give you 10 brushes for $50 less." This included the 6 I was looking to purchase and included at least 2 more I did want to get but sacrificed for cost. This worked for me, she even told me not to get the costly brush cleaner, buy a travel size bottle of Pantene Pro-V and use that. I'll agree it works great.

I did get the four shadows, contour powder, blush, the lip liner, stick and gloss. I also got the gel eye liner, which I might add I love. Far easier for me then liquid but work so much better then standard crayon liners.

I will switch to their foundation when my current supply runs out. Which will be soon, but I did like it even better then the stuff I have been using. It felt light and comfortable I almost didn't feel like I was wearing any. Plus as I mentioned she could change my entire look using just two difference shadows, liner and gloss. So the fact that she is keeping in mind that the first purchase could hurt a bit. Subsequent ones won't. Plus she did know I really wanted to experience the product and there was a chance I wouldn't like it.

I will admit I did drop a chunk of change but the brushes were over a third of what I spent. Which were sorely needed. Good brushes can make a huge difference.

All in all the experience was tremendous I got a lot of new information and learned some tricks that improved upon what I already knew. I can't wait to go back and learn something more fun, cause she promised she would when I left. The product is great I totally recommend checking them out if you can.

Plus having the face sheet for reference was a huge help. It really helped to remind me what she did and how. After the first few times I totally have it down and it takes little time. I've taken this look out to therapy, the club, shopping and everyone thinks someone else did it for me.

You've seen the results.

And yes I am now officially a MAC girl for life.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lifting the Veil

For some reason I feel compelled to do this. I am not sure why, maybe it has to do with the fact that once again I was out this weekend and heard yet again the following words.

"How do you live as a man?"

I may or may not keep this post up. I don't know. But this small glimpse might be all you get for a while.

This look was what I got by going to a MAC store for the first time. (I was going to talk about it here but I figured that would make a better post on it's own. I will say I have worked with a makeup stylist before. Who gave me a great introduction on how to do a lot, but the trip to MAC was simply amazing.)

This has pretty much become my basic signature look. After practicing it a few times I can pretty much do my whole face in 30 minutes. Including cleaning and prep.

There is no beard cover in this picture. I simply do not need it anymore. All this is, is a light foundation and powder. The eyes are neutral colors with a fun red (this first one I have fallen in love with) on the lips.

The only part of this photo that isn't me is the hair. As I have mentioned I still need to grow my own out more and solve the overall shape of it. I am thankful I still have it at least.

This photo was taken around December 1st.

So without any further ado,

Ok, so I imagine you are all going to think I am crazy, but there is work to be done. Notice the ridge above my brow. I do have a little to big a nose, but I need work on that even if I wasn't transitioning. I've had it struck to many times when I was younger and I am surprised I didn't break it on a couple of those and as long as I can remember I don't breath through it well.

After that it is just my chin and moving the hairline that you cannot see.

With that I feel I should be able to one live a lot more naturally and not have anyone think twice when I am out and about.

Friday, January 22, 2010

You can't fool everyone all of the time.

A long time ago shortly after I graduated HS I met someone who as long been a very important person in my life.

I was working in an office at a media distribution company. I handled support calls for the field reps who managed client's store inventories.

Shortly after I started working in the department the girl on the other side of the cube wall from me introduced herself. She apparently knew someone from a previous department I had worked in while I was a co-op student. This third person mentioned that I was working upstairs and obviously had some good things to say about me.

She introduced herself (I'll call her J) and mention who it was that had mentioned me, while walking out of the office one day. She literally was walking in front of me and whipped around and said you must be <blank>, so and such mentioned you and my name is J.

Well it didn't take long for either of us to start chatting on regular basis. She was after all just over the cube wall and it wasn't a big deal to chat over it, while still getting your work done.

It didn't take us long to become fast friends. We were a lot alike, funny, snarky, friendly, feisty, outgoing(when I let myself), facetious, and sarcastic. But still very much a woman. Though I kept the cute, and girly part to myself.

We went to lunch quite frequently together to get a break from the office.

We used to joke and laugh, talk about relationships, etc. I only worked with her for just over a year but if it was not for her that job would have really sucked.

So even after I left for greener pastures we stayed in touch. After she had a bad breakup with her first love, we started hanging out together. Movies, the mall, dinner, I even became her go to wedding date. Everyone thought we had some fling going on and off. But really we were just good friends. While we totally got along and enjoyed each others company, there just was never any interest beyond being friends. I would even consider her the sister I never had.

She is also one of the few people I could be more of myself around. I still was careful about things, but I was far more relaxed when it was just her and I.

She dated, I dated, I got engaged. She then got engaged. Mine fell apart before the big day hers went forward. Still we talked when we could, finding the occasional day or lunch to meeting to catch up on everything.

I then got engaged again and actually got married. She had a daughter and her marriage fizzled. Sadly it was shortly after this her and I didn't talk much. I think she was angry at the male population in general and I was in the wrong packaging.

I don't begrudge her this at all. One thing she did have was a temper. I hardly, if ever saw it, but it was there and it was tremendous. So I think she just needed her time to let the anger and pain fade.

Plus I had so many things on my plate at times that I really didn't even have time for myself much let alone other people.

Yet at any point, if she called needing an ear, or help I would have always dropped everything and been there for her. Friends like her don't come along every day.

I did see her on and off over the last few years. Usually with me being accompanied. Yet recently I had the chance to see her for lunch one day. Just her and I. We had a great time reminiscing about the old days, discussing current events and just generally enjoying each other company. I honestly don't think I have laughed with a friend or enjoyed their company like that in a long time.

Still I found out later after that she talked to my partner in crime. (Those two have been fairly good friends since meeting.) J made mention of my appearance. This was the first time she had seen me with all my weightloss, longer hair and 6 months of hormones. Since it had been quite some time since I last saw her in person.

To which she made the comment that was relayed to me. "Well he is starting to look kind of gay and honestly I always thought he might be bisexual."

<blink blink>

I was shocked. Truly. I had no idea that anyone for the longest time suspected anything. I do know that people have been wondering about me lately, but then I haven't been doing the best job in the entire world keeping it all under wraps. Mostly it is my appearance changing that triggers anything but I realized that I can't do much about that. It will also get worse when I undergo Facial surgery to correct some of the flaws I do have.

Still knowing who it came from totally surprised me. I mean all these years. The fun times, the sad times and I had no clue she ever thought anything out of the ordinary.

I don't know what will happen when I tell her and I will. She is one friend so near and dear to my heart I am afraid to lose her most of all.

She has always struck me as fairly open minded. So I am hoping for the best.

But it just goes to show how true the statement 'You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.' really is.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Apolitical Blues

In my journey to find information and read other accounts of transition I cover a lot of ground.

I'm a member of a few websites. I ingest news in various forms. Blogs, eArticales, podcasts, etc.

So I encounter a fair number of different types of transgendered individuals out there.

Some I like.

Some I don't.

A few of them I applauded though. There are activists out there that are willing to put themselves out into the public space and strive to create a better world for us.

I get that.

Unfortunately at this point in my life I don't feel comfortable doing that. At least publicly. I will vote and offer what support I can quietly from afar. Maybe the day comes that I can and will. Or at least not be afraid of what my past was.

But that isn't today.

The other thing that astounds me is the amount of bickering within the trans community. Some I agree with some I don't.

What I will say is the there are aspects of the trans community I don't agree with. There are issues that really are messed up. And some people need to get a clue that some of us are not going to see eye to eye with them.

I support those who stand up for their rights but at the same time lets act with some respect and dignity.

There is a line of common decency that is always going to be there at least in our society and our lifetimes. Regardless of gender. If you are going to act like a fool expect to get treated like one.

And I'll stop right there.

This blog as of right now isn't a political trans blog. It is simply about a girl trying to find her way in the world as she always wanted it and the journey that will take place.

So I am really not going to cover the political side of things for the time being. This may or may not change in the future. I may mention some neat information I find from time to time and link it. But I will leave it up to you as to how to interpret what that information is. I will simply try to keep the editorial comment out of it.

Thank you for your support.  ;)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ain't Technology Great?

Sometimes being a geek has its advantages.

I know it isn't typical a girl thing, but I do like technology. While I don't know if I want to be a systems admin for the rest of my life I do enjoy it to a degree.

It suits me since I am naturally inquisitive. I love to learn things. The world is full of amazing things. Both in nature and in science. I had aspirations of being a paleontologist when I was little. I actually find it a bit sad when I meet people who just don't seem to care about learning or exploring the world around them.

Truly it seems to me they are wasting the short time we get to be here without actually living it.

So right now work will remain technology based. I've though about getting involved in media somehow in the future but I have other things to deal with before I go down that road.

Back on topic. I have been working to get a playlist widget on my blog. I had been working with imeem's code for a few weeks in early December when all of a sudden imeem went the way of the do-do when myspace took them over.

Boo! Hiss!

I've never liked Myspace very much. Not to mention I had to wait almost two months to get them back so I knew what was on them.

The upside to this is I discovered the wonderful GrooveShark. Which I like even better. Granted it still has some rough edges it is still a fantastic service.

Also their widget was super easy to setup and use. All I really had to do was play with the size and colors to get it look good with my blog. After that it was one click to add my playlist and insert the code.

So today if you look down on the left sidebar you will see my grooveshark music widget with my transition playlist. So rather then all you wonder full people having to track this list down you simply need to click play. I am so looking forward to sharing my x-man playlist later this year. I have some interesting choices on that but still fun very christmasy.

I do hope you enjoy the current selection and keep an eye out for others that I am sure will come.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Music for your soul

I happened across an interesting post a few weeks back. Another blogger made a post about music as a soundtrack for transition.

I thought this was a great idea and being the music lover that I am I posted a few of the songs I had at the top of my head.

I also listen to some of those listed in the original post that were new or unfamiliar to me.

Also those songs that have lyrics that specifically touch a nerve I have added a link for them to be read. If not the songs general theme or mood is what I feel is important.

So here is my list in no particular order.

Suddenly I See - KT Tunstall (lyrics)
Naked Eye - Luscious Jackson
Mother Mother - Tracy Bonham (lyrics)
Frantic - Metallica (lyrics)
Feel So Free - Ivy (lyrics)
32 Flavors - Ani Difranco (lyrics)
Just a Girl - No Doubt (lyrics)
That is Not My Name - The Ting Tings
Beautiful - Joydrop (lyrics)
Learning to Fly - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (lyrics)
I love Myself Today - Bif Naked
You Don't Know How It Feels - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Right Now - Van Halen (lyrics)
I Don't Need a Man - Pussy Cat Dolls
When I Was A Boy - Dar Williams (lyrics)
Hook Me Up - The Veronicas (lyrics)
Bring Me to Life - Evanescence (lyrics)
Second Chance - Shinedown (lyrics) 

Extraordinary - Liz Phair (lyrics)

Now these songs reflect anything from the difficulty of transitioning. To just feelings of feminine empowerment. Though it seems the latter is hard to find without being to pop or campy. There are some great songs out there by some fantastic female artists, but they seem more slanted toward relationships or love. Sophie B Hawkins - 'Damn I wish I was your lover' or Joss Stone's - 'Fell in love with a Boy' comes to mind.

However there is one more song for that list. Someone asked me if I had a theme song. Something that encompassed all this in general. I thought about this for a while and a song that I used to listen to all the time when I was in high school jumped out at me. I had just recently heard it again. He isn't a favorite artist of mine but I simply loved this song and had forgotten about it. For me it hits home on so many levels.

Freedom 90 - George Michael (lyrics)

Now this list is version 1.0 I am always looking for new music and I even have five unopened CDs sitting on my desk that I haven't even had time to listen too. Not to mention some missing imeem play lists. I'll update this down the road when I have some new material but please feel free to add suggestions.

I do want to thank Rebecca over at The Thang Blog for putting this idea in my head. Her original post can be found here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Glamorous Blog Award

Wow, well it shocks me more and more how many people are now reading my blog. It also appears that someone thinks it is actually a good one too. Since Jerica over at The Girl Inside has felt I deserve the Glamorous Blog Award. I'm flattered and amazed.

Now the spirit of this award is that I pick ten other blogs that I feel are deserving of it. Well I simply cannot do that. It is simply too hard to choose just ten and I also feel that is unfair. So if you write a blog and share your stories with those of us out there. Regardless if they are good, bad or simply you being you. Well by sharing that inspiration on the internet to me is glamorous. So please feel free to accept this award even though you are not on any list.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rage Against the Machine

I know I can't speak for anyone else.

Others may feel or have felt this way.

But right now I am feeling a lot of angst, anger, frustration, irritation, hindrance, disgruntlement, chagrin, and general annoyance at everything.

Well not everything, but most things.

I'm really sick of being him.

The longer I am on hormones the more I chafe at the time I have to spend at him. Wearing guy clothing is feeling like I am crossdressing.

I find myself uncomfortable in them. Like a costume.

*It is then I feel like I am fooling people not the other way around.*

They also make me feel like I am suppressing my personality. As I want to be more outwardly expressive, yet with how I appear I can't.

And I am not talking about going nuts but I like cute, most of my attire is 70% in the cute range.

Appearance is a minor issue.

Cause when I get to cross gender expression I feel right when I let my full personality.

I feel trapped inside a life that isn't mine and I am starting to rail against it.

I can get out to be me, as if that was even enough. I want to be me all the time, 100% of the time.

Not part of the time.

The other thing is I feel that having let myself get to this point, 35 years of living as a man, I still have a lot to undo.

Really, think about it, I have spent 25 years convincing the world that he exists.

Not to mention trying to convince myself that he was me.

To some extent I was successful. I had carved out a life that was rather good and some aspects of it I have enjoyed. But it has never been me.

Know this yet still forced to live it 90% of the time is starting to drag me down and becoming very frustrating.

I am ready to start moving things forward more.

I know there are issues at hand that still have to be dealt with. I am going to have to show some incredible amounts of patience.

The other thing bothering me is the fact that I feel I am going to have to do some fairly strong convincing when I start outing myself. Mostly with family and work.

I just feel they are going to have a hard time seeing it. Even when it is right in front of them.

I am just feeling the pressure to move forward along with the pressure to maintain. It isn't fun and thus I am feeling a little pugnacious lately. More so then usual.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Comfortably Numb

I guess you could say I am feeling better. The anguish and extreme sadness has finally softened to a manageable level. I still feel this emptiness where she used to fill it up. At least I feel my psyche returning to a normal level.

I guess you could say I am functioning again. Finally.

However there are issues here to be dealt with.

I spent a lot of time talking about them last night with my therapist.

Before the holidays we fought.

A lot.


And some of them were down right ugly.

Right into the holidays.

I feel the only reason it stopped was because of the holidays and simply for the fact I think we just wore ourselves out.

I don't feel anything was resolved.

Imagine two armies battling to the point of exhaustion, then both sides retreating to regather and stare at each other for a few days across the battlefield before attacking again.

No one was the winner or loser.

No ground was gained or lost.

There was, however, a lot of carnage and destruction wrought.

Then you have the tragedy that came out of nowhere.

I understand we had to lean on each other. We both cared about her, we both loved her, we both were very distraught over her loss.

I get that, who else was going to understand how you felt. People could feel sympathetic but only the two of us really knew how the other felt.

Since we were feeling it our self.

The impression I get though is that since that happened she has forgotten about what happened before the holidays.

That makes me feel very uncomfortable.

Now that the pain is receding I am once again pulling away. I'll admit I have been prior to everything happening. I don't know exactly what to do with this, but I feel that no matter what happens it isn't going to end well.

So I have been bottling up those emotions so that I can get through this.

Plus with all that was said and done I don't feel right sharing them.

I didn't mind when we lost our dog. I needed it as much as she did. And she was just as good an owner as I was. She deserved the support I gave her.

I don't feel I can do that now.

I also don't feel it is right to use the loss of a loved one to wipe the slate clean, let bygones be bygones or act like nothing else is wrong.

She might think everything is fine.

I still feel as if I am on the other side of the conflict huddled in my foxhole just waiting for the next barrage.

Monday, January 4, 2010


I first want to say thank you for the kind words that were left on my last post.

I am still reeling from the absolute suddenness of it. We simply had no warning.

Having grown up with four dogs and having been old enough to remember saying goodbye to three of them myself. It is never easy, yet in those cases old age and poor health gave you some time to prepare yourself. As much it always hurt you knew in the back of your mind it was coming.

Going from a healthy dog to saying goodbye in less then 36 hours is a shock to the system.

I lost count of the tears I have shed or the locations I have nearly fallen apart. (not good in the middle of a grocery store)

I miss her terribly she was that great of a dog. She never judged.

Where I go from here I don't know. It has been that big of an impact. I do need to take some time. I don't know when I will post again or how often. I just need to let the hurt fade and gather my thoughts clearly again.

I will be back and probably sooner rather then later, but if I am absent for a couple of weeks you know why.

I just need some time.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It goes by too fast

It was almost nine years ago today.

We got a call from the last person we had contacted about it. We were ready to stop looking for a while.

But the lady we talked too had one unclaimed female left in her litter.

There were twelve and she was the runt.

We didn't mind, we asked the breeder to email us some pictures, as we lived six hours away, a day later I got them. There was this little ball of fur with beautiful reddish brown ears almost the color of rust.

We said we take her and suffered the 12 hours round trip in the car two weeks later to pick her up when she was old enough.

She was a tiny little thing with a small mother yet an enormous father.

However being female and the runt how big could she get?

At four months we knew we were in trouble when she was as big as the dog we already had and was all nose and feet.

She finally stopped one hundred pounds later and we got our answer. I could put her front paws on my shoulders and she could look me in the eye standing on her hind legs.

She was just a big solid dog, yet warm, soft and utterly beautiful. One of the prettiest dogs I have ever been around.

She ended up with one of the most beautiful reddish brown coats of thick soft fur on a Golden Retriever I had ever seen.

For her size she was gentle, calm and very easy going. A total sweetheart unless she had reason to be excited and as big a goof as you will ever meet.

She loved people but never attacked you when you came in the door. Simply she would walk up to you check you out or bring you one of her many stuffed toys.

If you pet her, she would just sit there and soak it in hardly ever begging for more.

It marveled me how good she was with the two little girls who live nearby. They would come over and play with a dog that could look them in the eye. Never mind the fact she out weighed them.

But she never once knocked one of them down, she would just follow them around while they held a ball we provided until they threw it for her.

And did she love to retrieve. Not much made her happier then for you to throw something for her and she could bring it back to you.

Unless of course she could do it while swimming.

Her love of water knew no limits, if the water was deep enough for her she wouldn't get out, I would eventually have to put a leash on her and drag her out. She wanted nothing more then for me to throw her floating retrieving toy so she could get wet and bring it back.

She would stay in forever if she could.

I can remember at a local dog park that had a section against a lake with a dock that extended out into it. She was so unsure of how to get into the water until she watched another dog jump in.

She leaped in so ungracefully and with such a resounding flop you couldn't help but laugh, because she made up for it with unbridled fearless enthusiasm once she knew she could do it herself.

She would literally throw herself off.

And she did this every time we took her there.

We even took vacations for both our dogs and made sure we had a lake they could go swimming at. It wasn't a vacation for us if we took them along and didn't have something for them.

Her love of snow was another thing that was a joy to behold. When we would get a good one, four inches or more, she would roll and play in it for hours. She would even sit outside, plopped down in it covered from head to tail. She loved to sit outside with me while I shoveled it and would run and bark when I threw it at her.

Her other passion was terrorizing the squirrels and rabbits at a local park. As often as I was able, most weekends and when I could during the week, I made sure they got there.

And when she was there she was all business, forget people or other dogs, she wanted to catch those critters.

I never saw a dog ever stalk them like she did. She looked like a lion approaching her prey on the plains of Africa. Made all the more comical when you considered how big she was and how small they were. Slowly creeping forward to get closer. Frozen when the squirrel looked up from foraging. Moving again when it looked down.

Until the mad dash to the nearest tree.

I'll never forget the time when she was around a year old when she had charged into a small groove of trees where someone had left peanuts on the ground. Six or seven squirrel oblivious to the large mass of fur that had just burst into their midst.

Her indecision on which way to turn first was the only things that saved me from a mess. I smile to this day when I think about her turning once then twice, then again, unable to make up her mind. By then the squirrels realized what was happening and bolted up the nearest tree.

Leaving my poor dog spinning in circles.

She did however, succeed a few times. Mostly a squirrel just would get tossed once before making a getaway. But when you run right at a frozen dog you get what you deserve when you enter pouncing range.

Then there was the summer we spent nursing her back from blowing out the knee ligaments in one of her hind legs. A fear we always had with having such a large dog, but one year later she was back at the park hunting squirrels like nothing had changed.

And the companionship she showed our other dog, watching the two of them romp and play. Wrestling over a bone, toy, our socks or even a dish towel.

Her intelligence was amazing, I could take her out in the front and she would never wander off our yard unless you went and told her she could follow. She knew when I was supposed to be home and would pace until I got there. She also was always right behind the door whenever we returned from somewhere. She listened so well to anything we told her. She also never begged for food at the table always just laying at your feet.

Though I had to put a child proof latch on the cupboard door that enclosed our garbage since she learned how to open it. Mostly when she was mad at us and felt she needed to make a statement.

And followed me everywhere. When I was home and she could, she was either in the room or just outside the door.

She knew when you were upset and not feeling well. Cuddling if you let her.

Then there were the 6am wake ups for her morning treat and a trip outside. Her large tail thumping against the wall and bed. Her cold nose reaching under the covers to find you.

Her love of kisses, worst still after she had just visited the water bowl. She was one of the sloppiest drinkers I have ever seen. Making those tongues to the face sopping wet.

Our wrestling in the family room. Her nibbles to my nose. Her barking at me to throw a toy or bouncing in circles avoiding my playful swipes at her nose.

The one thing most people don't know was she was a talkative dog when she wanted to be. She barked only when someone was at the door but never once they came in.

She did however talk to me all the time. I could have conversations with her for hours if I wanted too. She would bark, growl, whine when she wanted something or was mad at me. My favorite was either her chewing her growls or when she would roll one in her throat while she had something in her mouth.

She would sound just like Chewbacca from Star Wars when she did that.

She honestly never grew up, always remaining a big puppy at heart.

However it all went by too fast.

Wednesday we where at the park enjoying the brisk weather.

The next morning we were being woken by the sounds of her throwing up.

We withheld food and water for several hours hoping it was just a bug. But as soon as we gave her anything she was throwing it right back up.

Off to the vet we went. She was barely moving. We could see she wasn't right.

The first vet had bad news, ultrasounds showed tumors on her spleen and stomach. Fluid around her heart.

We left her overnight, she we didn't know if we could feed her. They could at least give her an IV. One of the chief vets was in the next day and was also their cardiologist specialist. She did a full workup. She was kind and honest but the news was not good my girl didn't have much time and was still not eating.

Worse yet she was bleeding out internally.

Even if I took her home she wasn't going to be with us much longer and she was still refusing food. If I couldn't feed her I was simply going to starve her while she died.

So it was with very heavy hearts we trekked out to the vet yesterday.

We could tell she was feeling better from the IV she had gotten, but we knew the truth.

We cried, hugged, pet and spent as much time with her as we could one last time.

Then we asked the vet in and gently held her while we watched her go.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I know in my heart it was the right decision.

That however doesn't make it any less painful.

This hole will never be filled by anyone else. I will always remember my big, goofy, lovable, utterly sweet and wonderful dog.

I could never have asked for anything better then what I got with you.

You may be gone, but you will never ever be forgotten and you will always be missed.

Nine years simply went by too fast.