“Just standing, sometimes, is a sign of strength.” – Pastor Steven Furtick
These were some of the opening words of the most recent sermon of the series How To Be Brave at our church. I think it no coincidence that the timing of this series is unfolding at a time that I most need to be brave. A time where every bit of me just wants to climb back into bed right now to hug Frank’s blanket and go to sleep to escape my thoughts of his passing and now absence in our home. It is taking every bit of strength that I can muster to stand. To be brave and stand.
On October 26th, 2009, a stray dog wandered into our lives. We were driving home from photographing an engagement session when we spotted him running loose…dangerously close to I-277. He was such a fast runner that it was a miracle we were even able to chase him down and get him into our car. He had a tattered yellow rope around his neck, signifying that he had broken free from wherever he had come from. After he was vaccinated at our local vet, we brought him into our home.
(picture below is in the parking lot of our vet…just hours after we found him).
He was absolutely filthy, had fleas like you wouldn’t believe, wasn’t neutered and peed all over everything. On top of that, you could see his ribs, he was so malnourished. We spent the better half of the next day calling shelter after shelter after shelter. No availability…anywhere. I think I fell in love that next day when I looked up from my phone to see him belly up, snoring on our couch. Who knows if he had ever experienced such a thing as a couch before.
We would soon learn that Frank was sick. Very sick with heartworms and would need treatment if he was to survive….very expensive treatment. Especially for a dog that wasn’t even ours. We researched vets and took him to the one that offered the cheapest treatment; Indianland Animal Hospital. Such kind and loving people working there.
After getting him well, it became my personal mission to find him a permanent home. We tried and tried and tried and tried some more. Finally, about 5 months into the process, someone wanted him. At that point, there was no way anyone was taking our Frank from us.
He was ours and we were his.
This past March, Frank was diagnosed with heart disease. With medication, he lived more than 6 months. A little before 5am on Monday, Frank’s battle with his disease was over.
Losing Frank has been one of the hardest things I think I’ve gone through. It might sound dramatic to many, as to many, he was just a dog. But he wasn’t just a dog or just a pet to me. Through the past five years this dog has become my friend….one of my best friends. And he was a true member of our family. He’s been there with us through a lot…through the best of times and the worst.
Dealing with this grief has been incredibly overwhelming and difficult for me. Everything in our house reminds me of him….when I look at the full garbage can in my office, I think of how he had developed a bad habit of pulling pieces of paper out and chewing them up. I look over at his dog bed that we had planned to keep for the other dogs…it has his shape permanently indented in it. When I wake in the morning, I look down to the floor where he often slept to see the space empty. When I sit at my desk, I remember him coming next me nudging my elbow to give him a cuddle. I look over to the light coming in through the sliding glass door and picture him there basking in the sun. And I think about how sometimes, I would take a few minutes to get down there on the ground with him and lie next to him. Yes, he was a dog, but he was part of my everyday life and I loved him deeply.
I think a friend of ours said it perfectly when she expressed her condolences in the instagram post that I put out on Monday:
“Love you, Frank. Rest easy knowing you did what God sent you to do down here so well.”
We are so grateful that Frank was brought into our lives and that we got to love him and receive love from him for five years. His purpose…surely, it was fulfilled.
* The opening image of this post and all images shown below were photographed back in July by Megan of Lime Green Photography. Megan – looking at these again now that Frank has passed has me even more overwhelmed with gratitude. These images are priceless to our family. Thank you so much.
And finally, I’ll sign off with this….a video that Geoff made for our family to remember our sweet Frank.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us through this. Your love has been felt. Greatly.
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Oh Cheyenne and Geoff, I am so very sorry for your loss. I remember when you found Frank. It has been so awesome to see him with your family these past 5 years. I will miss seeing photos of Frank. Hugs and prayers for you and your kids. <3
Gosh Cheyenne, I looked you up to ask you a question about Liz&Max’s cake photos and found this post. My heart breaks for I am one of those like yourself, who loves pets as true family members…because they are just that…family members. Giulio (husband) and I don’t discriminate in race, creed, sex or species. Love is Love…Love never fails (i know, it’s not mine…thank God for Paul)….we give our hearts freely to them and they give us everything.
I lost my Martin at 11 years of age this past February and I still miss him every second. He was my sweetheart….there will not be another like him. I have 2 others whom I love fiercely as well. They are Truly God’s gifts to us…and I surely treasure them. You are in my thoughts and heart…a beautiful tribute to a handsome and sweet fella for sure.
Tears. Tears. Tears. I’m incredibly honored that you asked me to capture the last few days of his life. Watching your video reminded me again how important it is to capture everyday happenings in our lives, as this life is just too short. Frank was wholeheartedly loved by y’all, and I know he loved you just as much. Praying for peace over your family these next couple of weeks.
Schultzes, I don’t know you, nor have I ever wrote on someone’s blog before, but I feel so touched, and heartbroken, by your post, your clear and overflowing love for your little guy and this story.
I lost my dog of seven years three months ago, I know it may sound silly but he was like my brother, just a bit furrier and a little smellier! It happened so quick and I had never really felt anything close to that pain before (thankfully)
I am so so sorry for the loss of your little guy, it looks like you have given him the most amazing home and family. Nothing can ever quite prepare you for this, their loss is devastating and gosh it sucks so much hearing those phantom jingles of the collar and calling out their name forgetting they aren’t around.
Something that really helped me through those first rubbish days and weeks is this story http://imgfave.com/view/1809218 I really hope it makes you smile even if for a second! They really are angels sent from Heaven.
It gets better I promise, he will always remain in your memory until you meet him again when you’re welcomed home, greeted with a waggy tail and a sloppy kiss I’m sure. Xoxo
Cheyenne and Geoff, I am so incredibly sorry for your loss! Michael and I feel the same exact way about our Bella she is not a pet but a member of our family and if I’m being honest she is our very best friend. I cannot imagine the heartbreak and grief you are feeling at this moment but please know you are in our prayers. Frank was so lucky to have such a loving home and I’m sure you feel just as lucky to have had such a wonderful, loving and loyal companion.
omgosh, I almost didn’t click this link bc I knew it would make me so sad 🙁
I know what you guys are going through and sometimes you just gotta be sad – and that’s okay. It took me months to get over losing my Gus-Gus.
I love those photos, and I especially love that last frame Megan snapped – such the perfect family photo! I know you guys will cherish them forever.
And I refuse to watch that video 😉
Started with sad tears but ended with happy ones, what a priceless video to have forever <3 We are praying for you so much.
Oh wow, you have me crying. There is nothing like a dog’s love. So sorry for your loss but so thankful that he found a good home. Sounds like you each helped the other.
Cheyenne – I don’t know you and I didn’t know Frank, but I do know what it is like to loose a pet you love. I saw this quote recently and thought of you…
“A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. He taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things-a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.” John Grogan, “Marley & Me”
Feel better, you made Frank’s life better and I’m sure he loved you dearly and appreciated your love more than you’ll ever know. xo
what an amazing life you gave to Frank and he returned the favor by being a great doggy to you all! so sorry for your loss, friends xo