Our Pups are Apart of Our Blended Family, Too


My life is becoming quite poetic. Experiences from my past – confusing, and even heartbreaking, at the time – are exceptionally relevant now and cherished for the wisdom they provide. As a blended family, we did not just blend our three daughters in the beginning, we blended our pups, too. Donald came into my life with his daughter (12 at the time) and Cooper; a six-month-old chocolate Labrador. I brought my two daughters (10 and 4 at the time) and Duke; a six-year-old grey Miniature Schnauzer. We married a year later, and everyone was a year older when we forged one home.

Donald and I both decided to get our pups for the same reason, five years apart: Single parents of one child and wanting the child to have a companion in our home. As our families grew, the dogs had their fair share of territorial pissing (literally), toy and shoe destroying, and ultimately falling head over heels in love with everyone and each other.

Most families with pups love their dog as another family member. We sure do. In our first blended home, our two pups had a few adventurous outings (aka, running off). One day, Duke decided to give it a whirl on his own. Pulling from a former Facebook post, enjoy this lil snippet of how his timing to sneak off just couldn’t have sucked more but taught me I was born to blend this very family:

25 May 2017

Tuesday evening brought a Momma test… My husband & I are raising four strong daughters… In one moment, I was needed by all of them.

Standing in my bathroom with three of them, [my oldest] one was needing to genuinely talk to me. As I was trying to give her my ear & advice, [our third] was moaning, sick on the porcelain queen, & almost in tears; [the baby] was crying through her usually calm bath because she was overdue to [nurse]; and, my husband walked in to whisper in my ear – despite him driving through our neighborhood in the rain, trudging through our home’s perimeter in his rain slicker, & hollering to no avail – he could not find [my first born’s] puppy of nine years.

Of course he actually said all that with a shake of his head, no, & a whisper of “can’t find him.”

Stoicism is not usually my strong suit… but I put forth a valiant effort… I did end up crying – a lot – with our daughter over her lost pup. Once three of the four were getting the nestling into bed underway after the pup had been found, the upset belly had calmed, the need to talk will remain for quite some time due to the experience, & nursing was underway (again)… I let the tears fall… a lot of ’em. I even let myself throw grace out the window, cuss a bit, & literally throw something. You have to let it out sooner to avoid that sort of private tantrum… but, I hadn’t had the opportunity.

The hardest part of being a Momma is watching your babies hurt. That night, throw in the minor details of me recovering from a major surgery (emergency c-section), caring for a month old (today) infant, & being the sickest I have been in quite some time with freaking mastitis… well… I was just reminded that evening what I am capable of.

That moment times 100…

How? I let myself cry when the time is right. That experience enabled me to handle, like water off my back, the disappointing phone call I received around a quarter to nine the next morning… the phone call I knew would come since mid-August last year. My instincts never lie… People should catch on to this truth & listen. 😉 God has a plan for me. I think I am actually just getting started on my best years. #ishouldstartablog #timetodoandstoptalking #raisingstrongdaughters #mommabear

When this post popped up on my Facebook memories today, I literally laughed out loud when I saw the hashtags #ishouldstartablog and #timetodoandstoptalking. There is nothing like swallowing your fears and giving it a whirl; a real whirl. Seeing this post today also reminded me of the day we lost Duke to puppy heaven six months ago, today. See the poeticism in my life…

It was heart-wrenching. I do not even know who I was in those moments. We arrived home from being out of town to find him in the midst of passing or already passed and his body reacting to the passing. I knew as soon as I walked into our home. I looked at our oldest and said, “oh God. I don’t want to look.” She said, “what?” I said, “that smell. It smells like death. I think it’s Duke.” I came around the corner and saw his listless body. I became a child. I ran to my first born’s door and literally placed my hand on the knob, my head and other hand on the door, and started bawling. My husband assessed the situation. I dialed our vet; I couldn’t speak. I had to pass the phone off. We rushed him to the nearest pet emergency room. My oldest passed him to me in the vehicle. I held him. I cried a lot. I said cheesy phrases like, “poor lil fella.” and “hang in there buddy.” I could hear myself, and I felt and sounded like a child. I was devastated. We ran in and passed him off. We knew in our hearts he was gone. The smell told us. They broke the fatal news to us. They brought us to a back room for us to say our goodbyes. My two girls were with their Dad (his Thanksgiving vacation). My husband called him and broke the news. He put Marina & Maycee on speakerphone, and Donald, our oldest, and I broke the news to them. We tried to see if we could FaceTime them, the connection wouldn’t work. They were stuck in traffic over an hour away and could not make it the hospital to say goodbye. It was an awful experience. The hospital was so kind allowing us all the time we needed in that back room.

The hospital gave us his footprint mold and collar. To soften the heartache, we chose to have him cremated. We chose to have them place his ashes in a carved wooden box as well as some in a charm for Marina to wear around her neck on a necklace on days she needed him close. When the girls arrived home Sunday evening after our eldest’s 16th birthday celebration, we took care in showing the footprint, where we moved his kennel, why we rid the bedding, and where his bowls still sit to this day. Then, we all needed to laugh. So, we laughed and joked about my reaction. We laughed so hard at my “poor lil fella,” and “hang in there buddy,” and we cried some more. Our other pup was the saddest dog I have ever seen. Cooper carried Duke’s toy around for weeks. He never touched that toy prior. It was as if he was saying, “where is my buddy?” He was a sad dog for months. We all naturally looked for Duke for quite some time or anticipated him to come running for us when we walked in. Some days, I still hear his collar chiming.

We know Duke passed a happy dog. Our dog sitters were just there that morning and played fetch with him, loved on him, and cared for him. There is no doubt in our mind it was just his time to cross the rainbow bridge. And, the experience was laced with another Godwink smiling upon our family. This Facebook post really sheds light on the Godwink:

16 December 2017

John Wayne The “Duke” Word, Feb 2008 – Nov 2017. Three weeks ago, today, our Dukers crossed the rainbow bridge. He was especially picked for my Marina, her 4th birthday present, & her absolute best friend. With every addition to our family, he shared Marina well. The love this boy brought to our home is indescribable, & the pain in his loss was just as much. I firmly believe he knew his purpose was for my Marina. She wrote the most eloquent words Thanksgiving evening, & perhaps I am romanticizing his passing, but it seems he knew he had served his purpose. These are her words,

“Let’s think now…

If you could presume, the unearthly heaven above, The arc of forgiveness, that seems to be a little bit bigger than our dreams. O lord I can say that I pray at night and during the alternate days, therefor the faith restores. O lord for you are the creator of heaven and earth, I can feel it in your hands as you mold me into a figure of thought; a figure of life. You are the almighty savior of us all. You have told the sun to shine, taught it to share the sky with the moon and stars. You have shown the grass how to grow, and coached the wind to talk with the flowers. My God you sent your only son to fetch our hostile sins, only for him to sacrifice himself on the cross. Lord I’m trying to make a path to get closer to you. I grow more devoted to you each day. You are always there for me, the thought of what you are and what you’ve done awards me hope and gravitates me to being better in life. So I thank you… for everything.”


I’ll let him win you over with these pics:

To elaborate on the Godwink of his passing, I’ll pull from a comment I had placed on that Facebook post:

When I chose to get Duke for Marina, it was just her & me in our lil 3rd story apartment of a gated community. I wanted her to have a friend, every day. God winks on our lives often. Even in Duke’s passing. You see, Duke passed on [our oldest]’s 16th Birthday. [My two girls] were not home. I praise God they were not. It was one of the toughest moments of my life. I don’t even know the person I became in those few hours. Honestly, [my oldest] & Donald were my strength in his passing, decisions to make in those moments, & how to handle situations for [my two girls]. On this side of the events, three weeks later, it is just poetic Duke moved on on the day [our oldest], [my first born’s] big sister, turned 16… it feels it was his way of saying, “I know you are in good hands,” with all the additions in our family. 💙💗

See, poetic. Even six months later, to the date, at no plan of mine… my life is poetic and full of Godwinks. Maybe I am just romanticizing all these coincidences, but I have always been a hopeless romantic.


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  1. I know exactly how you feel and I’m so glad you wrote this story. Blending animals comes with more love to give but can be heartbreaking. Nothing can replace your baby puppy, but time will heal our hearts. I lost my baby but still have one more and two bonus dogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our dogs definitely became ours. The loss of Duke was felt by every single member of our family. Luckily, there is no need for the title of bonus for our dogs because no one is offended on us sharing our pups (lol, but so true!). The kids even accepted the sharing in the love for our dogs. We know who they were originally bought for, but let’s face it, the parents take on the duty, which grows the special love between animal & caretaker. ❤️


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