Life update May 2022

Lily Blossom

Hello friends. 👋🏼😊 It has been a minute since we have offered an official update, so how about we do that now. Overall our pack is healthy, happy and safely staying close to home these days. We are grateful for our life together and really don’t have any complaints. #Blessed #Lucky

Since Rufus’ passing, nearly a year ago, we really struggled to find our new normal. The girls have received lots of attention these last 10 months, but the girls are very different than Rufus and so our routine and habits have had to changed.

Emily Sue

Emily Sue. Emily will turn 11 this November. Yay! Despite being a few pounds overweight, she seems very content with her life. She remains healthy. She had zero extractions this February during her annual anesthetic cleaning. We have changed her diet to a prescription low-fat dry kibble to help offset the weight gain. Paws crossed; we hope it helps. Only time will tell.

Lily Blossom. Lily will be 9 this July, and unfortunately she is slowly going completely blind. She’s bumps into things a little more often, and occasionally gets stuck in unfamiliar environments. It can be heartbreaking to witness, but she doesn’t seem to be having a pity party about it. Dachshunds appear to be very resilient and a model for their human counterparts on how to keep moving forward in the face of adversity. Lily did have an abscessed tooth removed in March after being cleared by her cardiologist for the cleaning. Despite being an expensive sassy sausage hound, Lily seems to be maintaining a good weight at 9/10 pounds.

The biggest contrast between our girls and Rufus: their lifestyle. Rufus was a very active dog; he was always interested in the next adventure. He enjoyed walks around the neighborhood, rides in the car, frolics on the beach, hikes in nature and monthly visits to the dog parks. The girls do not show much interest in regular outings. Our sweet shy girls often remember me of very affectionate and loyal lazy cats. 😂👍🏽

We hosted a monthly meetup earlier this year, and the girls seemed very indifferent to mixing and mingling. Rufus loved our meetups and was a group ambassador; greeting every human and hound that came our way. The girls stayed close and seemed to show little to no interest in others.

I think the outings can be a little stressful for Lily so we get it. She thrives in the familiar. As long as she is being carried or stowed safely in her dog bag, she’s very happy to be out with us. When we do take Emily for short walks, I usually carry Lily while Emily saunters from one smell to the next. Whereas Rufus would race to the door anytime we would leave the house, begging to tag along, the girls do not. They’re great about offering us a very warm and loud welcome home when we return, but have little interest in putting on their harnesses and going with us.

Lily and Emily

Next Chapter. Many have asked if we plan to get another dachshund, and I’d like to believe we will because three was good number for us, but… now doesn’t feel right. I continue to morun Rufus; it gets more bearable daily but… it’s still a challenge for me. Additionally, I believe we owe it to the girls to shower them with all of our attention and love. We don’t know how Lily’s heart murmur and blindness will progress in the years ahead, and I really want to help Emily lose her extra weight. Maybe we’ll revisit the matter of acquiring another dog in 2023/2024. Two is our number for now. But we remain open to whatever the universe provides.

Instagram: In April 2022; our instagram account was hacked. Boo! We had the account for 10 full years, and naturally we had curated a beautiful collection of memories. To lose them all was devastating. Many of them were obviously of Rufus. 🥰✌🏼🌈 The photos are not lost forever, I have backups spread across multiple hard drives and iCloud, and I do hope to recreate a new and improved IG account celebrating the past and present. If you want follow along, please do! Our new IG handle is @MrJohnnyOrtezTibbels. All are welcome.

We also have a TikTok at the same handle name, but have only posted one video. Follow along there as well, and perhaps we’ll create more TikTok content too! Our Twitter handle (since 2009) remains @jortez. And our DOGS Facebook page continues to be You’re welcome to tune in on whatever social media platform you like best. The content will vary slightly from each site, and in the absence of an official entry here, I’ll do intermediate updates on social media. So for the very latest and greatest follow us and get your daily dose of dachshund delight! We’ll be showcasing Emily, Lily, Rufus and friends of yesteryear and today.

I believe y’all are now all caught up and current. Remember your comments are always welcome here and on our socials. We enjoy hearing from you so please don’t be shy. Update us on you and yours now!!! Love ya!

Affectionately yours,
Emily, Lily and their humans. 😘

#Dachshund #DachshundDude #DachshundDad #LifeUpdate

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Lily is going blind

Lily Blossom November 2021

The hits keep coming. 2021, has brought our family some highs, and some extreme lows. Our shy and nervous nelly Lily Blossom is most certainly going blind. Here is what the Veterinary Eye Clinic said exactly:

Lily Blossom’s recent vision loss is due to sudden acquired retinal degeneration. Ophthalmic examination revealed that Lily Blossom had markedly reduced vision responses in both eyes. She still had some light perception and shadow vision, but minimal functional vision. Pupillary light responses were present but decreased. No anatomical changes were noted in either eye. Electroretinography revealed that Lily Blossom had a marked decrease in photoreceptor function in both eyes. These findings confirmed that her vision loss was not secondary to a central lesion but due to sudden retinal degeneration.

Vision loss occurs due to loss of function and death of the photoreceptor cells in the retina that capture light. The cause of the disease is unknown. Unfortunately, the loss of vision is permanent in most patients. The disease is not painful. Lily Blossom’s increased appetite and weight gain is also part of this disease. 

Our sweet Lily Blossom turned 8 this year, and if we’re being perfectly honest and transparent, we’re upset by the news. We’re sad. We’re nervous. We’re scared. I worry if we’ll be successfully able to meet the new challenges ahead of us. Above of all, we just want continue to give Lily a wonderful and extraordinary life, and pray we have the skill set and resources to do so.

Lily Blossom November 2021

Thankfully, I have known and photographed many special needs dachshunds (blind and paralyzed) over the years, and luckily the precious pooches that I’ve known, despite their physical limitation, remain cheerful and jolly.

If there’s a singular silver lining; it’s Emily Sue. About three years ago, we got word from Emily’s rescue organization that one of Emily’s littermates was going blind. Worried that perhaps it was heredity, we wanted to have Emily checked. We started with our regular vet, and he was unable to offer anything conclusive, and instead recommended the aforementioned eye clinic. At the time, we were consumed Rufus’ constant care and delayed our visit. And then there was a global pandemic. Boo.

Finally, after all of this time, we made our trip to the canine eye doctor. Emily seemingly has some advanced cloudiness in her eyes, but the doctor confirmed her vision is perfect for her age. She turns 10 this month. Yay!

Okay friends, this is where we need your help. What can you tell us!? In the comments here or on social media, please share your favorite resources, websites, etc. that can help ease Lily’s transition from sight to blindness (for both her humans and our hounds). It’s heartbreaking for me, because I imagine it’s hard to have one’s world just gradually go dark (permanently) — but perhaps that me applying our human standards and expectations. Maybe Lily’s canine perspective is different. Only time will tell. Wish us luck, and your continued love and support is appreciated (probably now more than ever).

Love ya!

#DachshundsPerspective #DachshundPhotographer #Doxierazzie #AdventuresofDachshunds #FamilyFun #Dachshunds #Doxies #DoxiesDads #DachshundDudes #DistinctivelyDachshund #HappyHounds #TailWaggin #WienerDogs #HotDogs #BarkingDogs #CuteCanines #AdventuresWithDachshunds #PoshPups #PamperedPooches #IHeartHounds #SmallDogBigPersonality 

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Happy Saturday October 30th!

The year was 2004. My then fiance and I had just wrapped principle photography on a motion picture in NYC, and we were finally back home in our bed in LA resting and recharging after a very hectic six weeks. This was our first Saturday when we didn’t have to be somewhere or do something. We woke up that morning, and after 17 months of consideration, we decided today was the day we get a dachshund!

We went down the block to our neighborhood Starbucks and grabbed a newspaper. Yes. A newspaper. Remember those friends? We found two breeders in the greater LA area selling puppies. At the time we were naive about dog breeders and rescues.

Needless to say, we drove a little over an hour to some suburb that I was not familiar with, and met three darling dachshund puppies. The first two handsome hounds were 8 weeks old. They were precious, but one of them pooped on me. I wasn’t mad though, and as we were considering them, the kind people informed us that there was one other pup available from another litter. He was 10 weeks old and the last one from said litter. They called him Little Napoleon, because it was clear he was primed to be a top alpha dog.

This dog walked in from the barn, and wasn’t carried like the other two. He pranced in with an erect and wagging tail. He came over to me immediately with confidence and gave such a warm welcome. He then seem to excuse himself and proceed to checkout the rest of the room before coming back to me. At 10 weeks old, he seemed fearless to me. I could tell immediately he had a big personality. And I loved that.

During the car ride home, I held this puppy in my lap. For over an hour he just slept, snuggled closed to me, and by the time we got home, I was in love. I believe when we finally arrived home, this dog and I were bonded. And this was the beginning of a beautiful canine love affair for me. The dog was Rufus, my red smooth miniature dachshund.

Since 2004, October 30th has only fallen on a Saturday one other time (2010). Today, on this Saturday, October 30th, it has been 17 wonderful years of Rufus for me and my family. 🥳

At the beginning of the month, I was reviewing all the upcoming birthdays, anniversaries and holidays with my spouse at home in our living room. October is the start of the holiday season for my family. In October we celebrate my spouse’s birthday, our wedding anniversary and the anniversary of getting Rufus and Halloween. I was sitting there itemizing these important dates out loud, and when I naturally got to October 30th, I just lost it. I started crying realizing this, normally a time of celebration and cheer, would be a somber one for me (this year).

In the last 17 years, I loved dressing Rufus in many different dog costumes and sharing them online; we even entered and won a few contests over the years. Most notably we got to meet Cesar Millan. Gosh. There are so many wonderful memories together.

I know this first holiday season without Rufus (in the physical) will be filled with many mixed emotions. Ugly crying to big smiles of gratitude.

After much resistance, I finally, with the help of my spouse and nephew, found the courage do Halloween photo shoot. Normally, I dress up the dogs, but this year we did it a little different, which seemed fitting since it’s a year unlike others.

Enjoy the photos friends. Emily Sue and Lily Blossom were stellar models like usual, and I remain grateful for them during this continued grieving process. And in this time of pain and healing, I’m reminded of this one friend who told me that she waited 18 years between her first dachshund dying and getting her second. When she told me this story many years ago, I remember thinking to myself, wow that’s a long time to mourn. Today, I completely understand what she meant and what she must have experienced.

Thanks for being there for us friends. Have a happy and safe Halloweenie.

Love ya!

#HappyHalloweenie #RufusForever #SaturdayOctoberThirtieth #DachshundsPerspective #DachshundPhotographer #Doxierazzie #AdventuresofDachshunds #FamilyFun #Dachshunds #Doxies #DoxiesDads #DachshundDudes #DistinctivelyDachshund #HappyHounds #TailWaggin #WienerDogs #HotDogs #BarkingDogs #CuteCanines #AdventuresWithDachshunds #PoshPups #PamperedPooches #IHeartHounds #SmallDogBigPersonality 

Halloweenie 2021
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Rufus through the lens of others

Welcome to another #ThrowbackTuesday #RememberingRufus.

Regal Rufus by Seth Casteel

As an amateur dachshund enthusiast turned professional dachshund photographer, I loved to photograph Rufus. As you can probably imagine, I photographed him a lot in 17 years, and he was my inspiration to graduate from a simple compact point-and-shoot camera to my first DSLR. I estimate that I have amassed over a 1 million photos of Rufus, and my collection of pictures (even the early raw out of focus ones) bring me so much pride and joy today.

However, for this post I want to pay homage to all of the many other professional photographers that did me and my family the honor and snapped some sweet keepsakes of our regal Rufus and us.

Normally, I reserve this space to highlight my own original work with the breed, but today I’m thrilled to share with you some of the precious portraits others have taken. And to encourage you all, to please invest in getting your own professional images, at least once or twice, with the photographer of your choice. You’ll be grateful you did. Promise. Sometimes, it is just nice to see what others capture; to see our precious pups through their lens.

Enjoy the photos friends. Looking at them all together here makes my heart sing. May they also make you smile. Love ya! 🥰✌🏼🌈

Photos by: Gregg Segal, Seth Casteel, Robyn Davis, Eric Raptosh, Andy Stolarek, and Grace Chon. 🥰🥰🥰❤️❤️❤️

#DachshundsPerspective #DachshundPhotographer #Doxierazzie #AdventuresofDachshunds #FamilyFun #Dachshunds #Doxies #DoxiesDads #DachshundDudes #DistinctivelyDachshund #HappyHounds #TailWaggin #WienerDogs #HotDogs #BarkingDogs #CuteCanines #AdventuresWithDachshunds #PoshPups #PamperedPooches #IHeartHounds #SmallDogBigPersonality 

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Remembering Rufus Tuesday

Rufus at Joshua Tree 2017

A popular pop cultural social-media trend is Throwback Thursday. I think it started around 2013; according to the internet, and as of late has been less trendy as more people are doing Flashback Friday. I’m a fan of both, but why not celebrate Throwback Tuesday!? Thursday is generally a high traffic social media day which is why Thursday was originally picked, but… I want to propose #ThrowbackTuesday, #RememberingRufus. 🥰✌🏼

Tuesday is the day of the week that we said goodbye to Rufus, and today is 10 weeks since he left us. And for anyone keeping track, I finally stopped crying everyday. The Monday after, what would have been his 17th birthday, the tears just inexplicably dried up. I still get emotionally triggered by the weirdest things, but I’m glad to be more emotionally stable. I feel like I’m truly transitioning from the deep grief and pain of his loss to the daily celebration of a beautiful life well lived. Thank you friends for all your support and encouragement during this terribly difficult time.

Going forward we plan to celebrate Rufus each Tuesday. We want to create new memories with the girls, and are actively doing so. I have taken all my love and showered it on them; one might say it has been a deluge of love for our lady hounds. But of course, not one day has passed that I don’t think of my best boy Rufus, and having a designated day for his remembrance works nicely. I think the serve grief and pain I was experiencing 24 days isn’t gone, but has simply moved from the foreground to the back; giving me space to accept and practice our new normal.

Today’s Remembering Rufus takes us back to 2017; when we visited Joshua Tree for the day. Rufus had such a good time this day. We all did. The sights. The smells. The bonding. #ProofIsInThePictures friends.

Please feel free to share your favorite memories of Rufus in the comments here or on social media. Love ya!!!

Stay safe.

#RufusForever #RufusStrong #LoveYouRufus #DachshundPerspective #DachshundPhotographer #Doxierazzie #AdventuresofDachshunds #FamilyFun #Dachshunds #Doxies #DoxiesDads #DachshundDudes #DistinctivelyDachshund #HappyHounds #TailWaggin #WienerDogs #HotDogs #BarkingDogs #CuteCanines #AdventuresWithDachshunds #PoshPups #PamperedPooches #IHeartHounds #SmallDogBigPersonality

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Then there was two

Emily Sue & Lily Blossom

Our new normal. Tuesday is 8 weeks since Rufus gained his wings and left this plain. If you’re not already following us on social media, please do, and if you are, then you already know this Monday our Lily had to visit the vet because she had some blood in her stool.

To be completely honest, as I’ve shared previously, it has been difficult accepting this new normal. And, I have been uninspired to photograph anything canine related. My dachshund fine art photography originated with Rufus, and with his passing, it’s been tough to resume my passion.

Lily Blossom getting healthy.

Luckily Lily is going to be fine and we don’t think it’s anything serious. However, the scare awoke something in me. I remember thinking to myself, I don’t want my sadness for Rufus’ passing to prevent me from enjoying what I still have. And 56 days later, I took my first photo excursion with my girls.

The experience without Rufus was a little odd at first, but I genuinely loved making new memories, having new adventures and bonding with our sweet girls. And they made me proud today continuing the tradition I started with Rufus 17 years ago.

I suspect Rufus will be part of my days for as long as I’m here. Every time I look at our bed, grab fresh laundry or take a photo of a dachshund, Rufus will be there with me. And I think he’d want me to keep taking photos and celebrate each day as the gift it is.

So, how did our girls do? Super hound models of world? Let us know friends.

Thanks for the continued love and support friends. 🥰✌🏼🌈

Emily Sue & Lily Blossom being super hound models.

#RufusForever #RufusStrong #LoveYouRufus #DachshundPerspective #DachshundPhotographer #Doxierazzie #AdventuresofDachshunds #FamilyFun #Dachshunds #Doxies #DoxiesDads #DachshundDudes #DistinctivelyDachshund #HappyHounds #TailWaggin #WienerDogs #HotDogs #BarkingDogs #CuteCanines #AdventuresWithDachshunds #PoshPups #PamperedPooches #IHeartHounds #SmallDogBigPersonality

Emily Sue & Lily Blossom 🥰✌🏼

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6 week update

Rufus returns to us. 🥰✌🏼

I have dreaded writing this update. Whoever said it gets easier with time, must not have loved and lost a dachshund, because although it has been 6 long weeks and counting, it still hurts like it was just yesterday that we said goodbye to our best canine companion, Rufus.

I have been reluctant to share publicly, because when I share here with all of you, it makes it real for me. And to be real, I’m shattered by the loss of my loyal four-legged friend.

If I’m being completely honest with you all, I have cried more than I haven’t these last 44 days. A good run for me is probably a solid two days without the waterworks, but finding two consecutive dry days this last month and a half, is pretty rare.

Worse of all, I never know what will cause the tears; one moment I’ll be fine and then the next I’m an unrecognizable blubbering mess. Sometimes it’ll be a lyric in a song or seeing another dog in an adjacent vehicle with his head hanging out the window or someone saying his name, and without warning there it is again, my eyes swell with water and tears fall down my face. I always wondered if there was a physiological limit to how much one can cry, and if there’s a limit, I certainly haven’t found it yet.

Telling our neighbors on our walks one by one has been hard on me. I often try to defer to my spouse to do the talking, while I busy myself with the girls and avoid eye contact. Visiting my favorite eateries is another struggle, and having the waitress ask, “aren’t you the dachshund guy?! Where’s your dachshund?!” Those are particularly difficult moments for me.

In addition to the when and why, I also never know where I’ll cry. It’d be wonderful if I could do it in the comfort and convenience of my home, my bedroom or my bathroom. But instead, it happens in the car many times, as onlookers wonder what’s wrong with me. But, as I look over at the passenger seat; it feels so empty and lonely without my spirited sidekick riding shotgun. I finally got the Jeep cleaned a few weeks ago, a task that was overdue, and it was heartbreaking watching them vacuum up all the Rufus hair.

Rufus, my perpetual passenger.

I inquired about seeing a grief counselor, but when I had to answer the initial questions one must do before being assigned a call back from a counselor, I felt silly and bad about myself. Here we are still fighting to survive a global pandemic, and I’m living a very privileged life mourning my posh and pampered pooch who lived an exceptionally good life. I know there’s no reason to be embarrassed, but when they asked me questions about being depressed and if I want to do harm to myself or others, I just felt fraudulent. Like I might be taking time, attention and resources from others who might have a greater need.

I do remain productive. Maybe not as productive as I would like to be right now, but I do continue to move forward. Some simple chores are harder than others. Doing laundry and making the bed are terribly tough for me these days. Taking out warm laundry from the dryer without my handsome hound to enjoy it, seems a lot less inviting. He lived for the sound of the dryer opening, and always met me in the bedroom to help me fold, or more accurately keep me from folding. The same is true with making the bed; doing so without Rufus feels pretty pointless many days. Rufus had impeccable timing, and right after I made the bed and was putting the final pillow on it, Rufus would come climbing up the stairs just in time to lay on our king bed, as though I had made the bed specifically and entirely for him. It made me smile most days, and today it just makes me sad. It looks unfinished, even when it’s completely made, with no dog lying on top of it.

Rufus loved warm laundry.

Not to be all dome and gloom, I am happy to report that I am strengthening my bond with our sweet girls, and I am planning some fun future excursions with them. I think some new adventures and making new memories will be good for all of us, but I’m not in a hurry. I think the mourning process for me is going to be slow.

My spouse and I acknowledge that I’m simply sad. Not depressed. Not destructive. Not a danger to myself or others. I’m just really sad. I’m sad that my friend is gone. I feel him with me many days and I see the world through a very Rufus filter. I cling to my photos and videos, but it’s not the same, and I miss him terribly. Can you relate friends?! Does it get easier with time? How much time I wonder.

Cella Designs’ Dachshund Pendent with MRK locket and necklace.

Two main life lessons Rufus taught me were 1) Be happy. and 2) Live in the moment. Rufus was one of the happiest dogs, I ever met. His tail was constantly wagging and whether we were staying home and cuddling or out and about on another adventure; Rufus was always happy no matter where we were or what we were doing — especially if we were together. He also never dwelled on the past or worried about the future, and lived for each day. Each day was a gift and a celebration. When Rufus was sick for 4 and a half years, his happiness never waned. He was such a wonderful mentor to me, and I will continue to do my best to embody these Rufus life lessons. Especially as his birthday approaches. This Saturday, August 21st would have been his 17th birthday, and I suspect the day will be filled with many emotions and tears for me.

Wish us luck friends. I look forward to a public return at a to-be-determined Rufus memorial meetup, just as soon as we’re up for it. Stay tuned friends, and thank you for the continued love and support. 🥰✌🏼

Lily, Emily & Milo. Our new normal.
Emily Sue.

#RufusForever #RufusStrong #LoveYouRufus #DoxieTombstone #DachshundsPerspective #DachshundPhotographer #Doxierazzie #AdventuresofDachshunds #FamilyFun #Dachshunds #Doxies #DoxiesDads #DachshundDudes #DistinctivelyDachshund #HappyHounds #TailWaggin #WienerDogs #HotDogs #BarkingDogs #CuteCanines #AdventuresWithDachshunds #PoshPups #PamperedPooches #IHeartHounds #SmallDogBigPersonality

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Doxie Tombstone

Our first event without Rufus.

Doxie Tombstone Group Shot

To be honest, I was not really looking forward to Sunday. I originally had hoped Rufus would be there, and the fact that he’s not kind of sucks.

Nonetheless, I gather myself and honor my commitments and obligations. And, I’m happy that I did. Seeing dachshund people in real life and receiving your condolences in person was exactly what I needed. I didn’t even cry yesterday. Thank you!

Lily was my cute canine companion for the day, and she was an all-star. She was very content and comfortable in her BK Atelier bag, while dad worked.

By my rough count, we had 18 families (packs) and 29 dogs. Yay!!! Always a good time with a pack or pooches and their people.

Okay friends here are the Doxie Tombstone portraits. Hope you’re ready for some cuteness overall.

Hopefully everyone caught on us the news. We were the very last segment of the 6 o’clock news on Channel 7 (in Southern California). If not please visit DOGS’ FB page OR our IG.

To claim your high res digital negatives, ideally for printing and saving, email me at johnny AT johnnyortez DOT com. If you’ve already paid, let me know. Otherwise, payment can be accepted via PayPal, Apple Pay, Zelle, Venmo or good old fashion check.

A suggested $20 donation gets yours + the group shot. AND if you make a donation of $50 or larger, our good friend Mike Szymanski has agreed to mail you his two books. What a bargain! Yay!

We’ll get back to our regular dog park, off-leash meetups next month (August). So stay tuned for what’s next. Seeing our dachshund friends regularly is good for the soul for both hounds and humans.

Love ya! xo

Mike & Johnny with Dora and Lily
Group shot 2.

#DachshundsPerspective #DachshundPhotographer #Doxierazzie #AdventuresofDachshunds #FamilyFun #Dachshunds #Doxies #DoxiesDads #DachshundDudes #DistinctivelyDachshund #HappyHounds #TailWaggin #WienerDogs #HotDogs #BarkingDogs #CuteCanines #AdventuresWithDachshunds #PoshPups #PamperedPooches #IHeartHounds #SmallDogBigPersonality

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Rufus (August 2004 – July 2021)

It’s 3 am on Tuesday morning, and I’m exhausted. I haven’t been to bed. Monday night bleeds into early Tuesday morning. And I’m emotionally, mentally, and physically spent. The house is still and quiet. Finally. Rufus had fluids coming out of every orifice; excessive slobber from his nose and mouth — which the vet said could mean excessive abdomen pain, large puddles of pee and a peppering of loose poo. 

I can tell Rufus feels bad; he looks ashamed that he continues to be betrayed by his little frail body. He tries to make it to the door, but always seems to fall a little short. He simply can’t control himself, and we ache for him. Watching him like this is heartbreaking. I still see glimpses of the dog I know, but his appearances are much rarer than I’d prefer. 

As the second and final load of laundry is set to dry; all towels from project Rufus cleanup, we’re forced to have that conservation we’ve dreaded. 

The conversation

For us, we knew we were down to the last few days; maybe a week, if we were lucky and determined. We just survived an exhausting weekend. We initially were optimistic that when we removed the catheter, he’d miraculously do better. Looking back, I’m confused what we were thinking; did we believe the removal of the catheter was going to be something magical and his health instantly improved?! Naïve. Wishful.

Monday evening was a rude awakening; the reality that we have an old, aging, and ailing dog was coming into clear focus. 

Talking with my spouse, we fast forwarded to the days ahead and concluded that the next several days would probably look a lot like tonight. And we had to ask ourselves is that something Rufus wants? Is that something we want? I had to check my personal vanity and ego. I wanted Rufus to make one more road trip with us; I wanted Rufus to celebrate his 17th birthday this August, I wanted Rufus to stay with us a little longer. But is that what is best for Rufus? I think we all know where we landed.

D day, July 6, 2021

For the third consecutive day I slept on the floor next to Rufus in the master bedroom while my spouse and two girls (Emily & Lily) slept on the bed. I just wanted to be near him, and he seemed more comfortable on his posh, soft blanket floor level than on the high bed above.

Rufus slept through the night; or at least from 2 am through 7 am. He didn’t wake up once. In the last few weeks, he had been sleeping harder and more sound than normal. I found myself checking periodically to make sure he was still with us.

Part of last night’s late-night decision was I wanted to say goodbye early morning. Rufus was generally more alert and aware in the mornings, and I wanted us to end on a good note before he vomited or soiled himself. I also worried, if I waited too long, I’d lose my courage to do what was right for Rufus.

I have been with this being since he was 10 weeks old, and now after nearly 17 years (16 years and 11 months) it was time take our last drive together.

Rufus and I first bonded on our drive home as puppy, and now he sits on my lap one last time. I breathe deeply as I try to breathe him in. I want to remember everything I can about my boy. His smell. His soft coat. That look of recognition in his eyes. All the little details that make up our Rufus, I strive to commit them to memory.

Years earlier, I expressed what I wanted for Rufus when the time came. I wanted to be there. I wanted our girls to be there (Emily & Lily) and I wanted him to be surrounded by love. It was my last gift to him.

Rufus was my first dog as an adult. He was a series of firsts for me, and this last act of love and compassion was a first for me. I can read about euthanasia online, but I must experience it to have a complete understanding of it. I learn by doing. And I can tell you friends it was a beautiful and peaceful transition. Rufus all on his own came to me and rested his head on my leg for his last breath, and I’m so grateful to have been there for him.

Rufus’ harness, leash, bag, & collar are retired.

Day 1, July 7, 2021

The morning after.

It’s a new and strange and unfamiliar day for me. I feel like, what I imagine, an amputee might feel like (according to all the movies I’ve watched); a part of me is missing. I can still feel where he is supposed to be. Rufus always slept on my right side, and we laid skin to fur. His warm body touching me was a great comfort; his presence was my security blanket.

My right leg still feels him. But I can’t see him. He’s truly gone. My little four-legged, furry shadow. I feel lost. Unsure how to act without my tether keeping me grounded to our regular routine. There’s a void. And sadness washes over me like big oceanic waves; each one knocks me over, takes away my breathe and bathes me in bittersweet memories of my lost friend. I do feel lighter; unweighted. Instead of feeling free, I feel like I might just float away. I have a newfound liberation, I don’t want. The morning after has been the hardest. What a rude awakening, waking up to this new reality. I don’t want it. 

Day 2; new normal

For the last 2 years, perhaps 3, I would wake up every 5 hours to let Rufus outside to pee. This practice helped to curtail accidents. My body is trained. I still wake up, but now I just lie there in bed wide awake and confused what to do now. 

Rufus’ last gifts. 

One of the great gifts Rufus has left my spouse and me, is the bond of love, grief and loss. To experience the pain together has been fortifying. It’s beautiful, and I’m grateful for the experience. It’s something he and I can share, and I’m thankful I’m taking this journey with him. Rufus is famous for bringing people together, and none were more important or influenced by him than us.

Life goes on

In the grand scheme of things, we didn’t plan it this way, but I’m grateful we had a work trip to distract us. Coming home and leaving immediately for Arizona was good fortune. It didn’t stop the pain or grieving, but it was good to be busy.

Taking our first road trip without Rufus was tough. He loved road tripping. We have so many fond memories in the car together listening to Fleetwood Mac, and when a familiar song would come on our playlist, tears would often flow.

I’m normally a guy that tries to hide my feelings from the world. But this process has had me embrace the tears publicly and privately. Not only did I love Rufus, but I also really liked him. I enjoyed him being part of my everyday life these last 17 years. In all the years we were together, Rufus and I were never separated for more than two weeks at a time; ever. His absence leaves a great void in my life.

Mourning Period?

I wonder how long I will mourn. As I’ve said, loving and caring for Rufus provided me with a series of firsts. He’s the first dog I’ve loved and lost so I’m in uncharted waters. Some days I feel like a blubbering mess unable to function, and other days I feel more productive. I suspect it’ll get easier with time, but I do believe the next year will be tough as I now experience a series of firsts sans Rufus. His birthday next month. Our first Monthly Meetup without him. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas. More road trips and travels.

But it’s not just the big holidays. I miss our daily routine. Driving together to get lunch or dinner to go. He was my ride and die buddy, constant sidekick, perpetual passenger, and now running simple errands seem less inviting. I’m a little depressed, and I can only hope tomorrow will be easier.

On my iPhone my featured memories often include highlights of Rufus and our many adventures together. They’re beautiful to see and I often smile big at his memory, and in truth I also get a little sad at the same time. Sad that there will no more memories to be made.

Saturday, July 10th, Day 4 of our life without Rufus (in the physical) — is my first day not crying. I note the milestone because I felt it was significant. And I remember thinking briefly, perhaps I’m making progress. I felt good, but it was naturally short lived. The tears return, and I do my best to embrace them while trying to be productive.

July 14; eight days later driving home

Anticipation. Returning home with no Rufus. We’re going home. After eight nights away, it’s time to return and face the music (or more accurately the silence).

The first night sleeping in our bed without Rufus was tough. But bearable. I think I already had that experience of him not being there that first morning after. So, I feel confident I might not cry today.

Waking up and racing out the door to run a quick errand, because I’m often running late, I get to the garage door and look down and around and see no one. And the tears come like a waterfall.

Rufus and the girls are very different. The girls always offer a very loud and warm welcome when we return from an outing; but Rufus always walked me to the door in the hopes that he might get to go with me. His absence today was gut wrenching. A total sucker punch.

Even now, I’m in bed writing and being with my feelings and the girls are content snuggled with each other on the couch. I’m alone in here and they’re together in there. For me. There simply will never be another Rufus. The connection we had was special, unique, and unparalleled. 

The hardest days for me to date have been… 

1) Tuesday, July 6th saying goodbye
2) Wednesday, July 7th the first morning
3) Thursday, July 15th our first morning / day home without Rufus here.

Final thoughts

I don’t know what the future holds. I am blessed and luckier than many in lots of ways. I’m so grateful to have known and loved Rufus. I’m sad for all the people who will never know him like we did, but he’ll live on forever in our pictures and memories. And I plan to celebrate him every day for the rest of my life. I don’t plan to remove any photos or put him in drawer. Nope. I will look at each photo of him with great love and appreciation for the rest of my days and remember a friendship that was life changing.

Rufus’ last photo ever. 🥰

The girls

Emily and Lily are doing well. Emily had a clear and visible recognition and reaction to Rufus’ passing. I’m grateful she was there to say goodbye to her friend. Lily appeared to be present and aware, but also a little distant.

I want the girls to be who they are; whatever is true to their nature and personality. They are not Rufus, and I don’t expect them to act like him (not now nor ever). I’m eager to see how our lives change without Rufus (our little Napoleon, dictator alpha, pack leader). Rufus was the pack boss, and without his influence, I’m curious how things will change around here.

I noticed this morning, Emily, Lily, and Milo were all piled on the couch cuddling together. In Rufus’ absence there is more space for everyone to occupy. The girls have been a considerable comfort.  

Thank you

Thank you, friends, for all your comments and personal shares. To know Rufus touched your lives as much as he did ours, is a precious, priceless testament to a life well lived and a dog well loved. His presence and personality in this world were so much bigger than his little 11-pound body. And now he’s leaves an indelible mark in our hearts, minds, and souls.

We will continue to celebrate him and his pack till our end days. So, stay tuned. I’m sure this won’t be the last entry about Rufus and his legacy.

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BK Atelier, Modern Dachshund Carriers

Who’s the cute canine in the carrier? Lily? Emily? Rufus? Why all three, silly.

It’s should come as no surprise, to anyone who really knows us, that our pack of style hounds and their humans enjoy a really well made fashionable dog carrier. We travel often with our pack of pooches, and with three in tow, it’s sometimes easier to carry one or all, then allow them to walk. #DontStepOnMyDogsPlease

We have been fans and supporters of the BK Atelier dog carrier brand since 2012, and we got our first bag in 2014; after Milo and his human recommended it. We had our first bag from February 2014 through July 2019; five years and five months. We loved it so much it that it only made sense to get another when the time came. The improvements and enhancements the brand has made in the years since 2012/2014, are amazing and only strengthened our love the brand.

We’re taking our first post(ish)-pandemic work/vacation this July, and we’re looking forward to the family road trip. In preparation we have acquired two new dog carriers so that each posh pup has his and her own. #ProofIsInThePictures

Lily is now the proud pooch of the Karli in Luxe Midnight. This bag is ideal for small pups, like our little nervous nelly Lily.

Emily now calls Mia (in Midnight matte, size large) her special transport. *** Thank you Sandy Tibbels for the early birthday gift. *** This bag is great for larger and taller pooches. Emily is the biggest of our three.

And our regal old man Rufus continues to calls the Nat tote in champagne his. This bag is less structured, but very roomy for Rufus.

As the world begins to reopen and we start to move across the country again (and eventually the world) and we take our canine companions with us, consider BK Atelier. We remain unofficial brand ambassadors and fans of their products.

This is not a paid ad, and our family has bought and paid for all of our dog carriers. Our endorsement comes from us freely and directly. We have gone through many different carriers in the last 17 years, some brands are now defunct, and we understand the struggle to secure a safe and stylish dog bag that properly fits our long-bodied and short-legged sassy sausage dogs. These carriers are Rufus, Emily and Lily approved.

To learn more about the brand visit their website. Our only note is to read the dimensions carefully to ensure you get the right size for your wonderful wiener dog; all sales are final. No refunds or exchanges.

Product note: the bag charms are sold separately. The two 101 Dalmatians charms for Emily and Lily, are from Coach; Rufus’ cancer charm is from DVF. How will you personalize your bag?!

Share your favorite canine carrier with us on our Facebook Page; DOGS.

#DachshundsPerspective #DachshundPhotographer #Doxierazzie #AdventuresofDachshunds #FamilyFun #Dachshunds #Doxies #DoxiesDads #DachshundDudes #DistinctivelyDachshund #HappyHounds #TailWaggin #WienerDogs #HotDogs #BarkingDogs #CuteCanines #AdventuresWithDachshunds #PoshPups #PamperedPooches #IHeartHounds #SmallDogBigPersonality 

Instagram: @jorteztibbels, follow us!

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