More Than Pets
My first experience with Tiny Tags was when my first dog passed, and I was devastated. Phineas was a special dog, his presence was more that a pet - he was my constant companion, my rock, and a living memory of my younger sister, Courtney. Courtney passed suddenly at the young age of 20. She was unique - while we were all athletes in the family, she found her calling in the ring, showing dogs. She brought the Flat Coated Retriever breed into our family, and Maverick lived as our family pet when she passed. When Courtney passed, she had $1,000 in her savings account which my parents split between my older sister and I. I held onto that check for years until I cashed it in for my deposit on my first Flat Coated Retriever, Phineas Maverick. I honored my sister’s legacy by investing in my Phin. Phin was my shadow during his 8.5 years on earth - and I leaned on him heavily as I navigated through my divorce. He helped me find a new purpose, and he even joined the local running club in my area, some would say Phin was our mascot. He eventually got a sister and a new dad (more to come on that) and was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer - which took his front limb but not his life. He was a trooper - amputation and chemo - but taught me that in the face of adversity, you’ll surely stumble, but pick yourself up, brush it off, and move on with grace. He passed a year later upon the return of the cancer, and I lost my best friend.
Remember that sister and a dad? Well, Phin and I met them both at the running club. Andrew had just moved to the area from Michigan with his golden retriever, Izzy. I never thought I would find love again after divorce, and honestly I was ok with that - I learned how to be happy on my own. Fast forward, we learned that we had similar backgrounds, midwesterners that move to the east coast, previously married, etc. We combined our families, and once Phin passed, Izzy was our foundation. About a year after Phin passed, we decided to get a buddy for Izzy. That’s when Ollie came into our lives - a California Flat Coated Retriever. Izzy hated him initially, and while she wouldn’t admit it, I believe he grew on her. We got him just prior to the pandemic, eloped in VT with the pups, and bought a house on a lake in Maine. That is where Ollie and Izzy bonded - swimming, tug of war - their own dog paradise. Izzy passed at 13 that first summer, suddenly, of a cancer that was inoperable. The house was again empty.
Enter Frankie. We’ve always been a two dog household, so we were quick to find a partner in crime for Ollie. Frankie was 16 weeks when we got him. As Frankie grew up, he became bigger than Ollie in both personality and physical stature. Frankie’s favorite time was in the morning. As soon as the alarm went off, he would jump on top of me (if not already lying on top of me) and proceed to aggressively kiss me, paw at me, and nuzzle me. Little did I know, those would be my favorite times with Frankie. Then, a year after we got him, he got pneumonia. It all seemed to be under control and cleared just before Thanksgiving. Until the Monday after Thanksgiving - he did his morning routine with me, ate, and went to daycare. That afternoon I was rushing him to the emergency vet, and he was admitted with septic pneumonia. We were devastated, the odds of survival were low, and while he fought in ICU for over a week and a half, we got the dreaded call one Friday night that he passed. My heart was broken in all places with his loss, the suddenness of his loss, at his young age, brought me back to the loss of my sister. Now, we have a quiet household- Frankie’s presence was so prevalent and chaotic (in a good way) - that it just hits harder than any loss before.
After Frankie’s loss, I decided that it was time to update my Tiny Tags necklace that my husband gave me after losing Phin. I needed to memorialize Izzy and Frankie as well, so I engraved all three names on the Skinny Bar Necklace, so I always have them close to my heart.
- Caitlin Sweeney