Because I am heartbroken and trying to make sense of the last week, I am writing this, about Martin. My little man. My sweet boy. My 12 years old black Chihuahua mutt with an energy to no end and a strong heart. He was a gentleman who loved a good routine. He changed my life and open my heart to what a second chance really means. This blog post is a mix of memories, our routine details and Instagram posts.
Who he was & his life with us
as much as my broken heart can remember for now
Because of trips and work I didn't spend the full (almost) 2 years with him. I regret this so much. I should have been with him all the time and showered him with love and joy EVERY second. I understand that we didn't know our time with him would be so short, and we did the best that we could. But I don't care, I regret all the missed moments, kisses, smiles and adventures. But here some of the parts I remember.
It all started August 4, 2018. When I found myself at a shelter in East Valley, Los Angeles. At the end of the volunteer class I wonder into the shelter and spotted an older dog. He was a black small Chihuahua mutt. He looked like a messed up version of my dog Wednesday. He was in a room with the other older dogs. They were all barking. There were maybe 12 of them. He wasn’t barking and seemed so little and confused in the middle of all the commotion. I asked about him.
August 4, 2018
As we departed the shelter for my house. Los Angeles, CA
Here’s the deal. Today after years of wanting to do it but being seriously to scare of not being able to handle it, I volunteer my skill as a photographer and took pictures of shelter animals to help get them adopted. (end of the part where you find out im such a good person). As I was leaving I saw an old messed up version of Wednesday. Asked for his story and turn out he was 10 years old, blind in 1 eye, skin and major dental issues. He was rescued a week ago after what they assume was a life on the street. They were trying to get him adopted but he also was on the kill list due to his medical condition and age. So I adopted him.
He will require medical attention and a lot of training but he is mellow and stop shaking the minute he meet my yard. This is not the best idea for my family nor my wallet, but my head and heart sure feel great about it. So, inter web, meet Martin Kilkenny. Better pictures to come as soon as he stop sniffling his new surroundings.
August 4, 2018 at 3:28PM
This is him as the lady was telling me about him.
She told me that he was found walking on the sidewalk a week ago and looked like he lived on the street. Although I am not sure a dog his size would survive 10 years on the street, it was clear that he never had proper care.
My heart went to him right away. I called Kevin and ask if I could rescue him. He said yes. I then called my dog walker, Julia to see if she would allowed to help him with my other dog for no extra cost. Because she agreed that he needed a good life, she said “of course”. This mattered because with all cost about to double, I needed to make sure I can afford it. After a quick math I went back inside, told the lady I would adopt him. To be clear, I probably would still take him, he was mine little boy the minute I saw him. Regardless, money where given, papers signed, medical exam and more papers. After all of this me and him where in my car leaving for his new home and his new life, our new life.
August 5, 2018
Second day at home with us.
Martin Kilkenny. He is now rocking at walking with a leash and smile a lot more. The cats are kind of okay with him but Wednesday will need more time. He only has 1 working eye but he still look very curious. Or maybe he just look curious because he only see with 1 eye. He is super mellow and once we get him potty train, I think he will fit in just fine. Blood test tomorrow night, so let’s hope all is good so we can get him fix and pull out the dental disease. Overall, saving his life was a great decision. #adoptdontshop
Saving him was still the best decision of my life, however now I am fill with regrets for not looking into ALL possibilities of health issues earlier on. I look at his smile and wish I would have taken all the extra steps to make sure all was going to be okay for him and to allow us to have a longer life with him.
From the moment he got home I remember him being pretty happy. He loved to eat. We brought him to the backyard and he seem to simply enjoy the grass, pee, smile and came back in. Not much of an outdoorsy kind of guy. We realize pretty fast that we wasn’t potty train but no surprise there. We taught him to go to the door and that when you potty outside you get a frozen green bean. We never yell or said no to him if he peed in the house. We understood that he was never taught. We brought him out every time, let him pee and give him a green bean as we came back in. It wasn’t too long before he understood. However he never barked to tell us that he was at the door, so we bought our little man some diaper wraps just in case we missed it. It worked.
Couple days in we also realize that he did understand walk on a leash. But after a couple more days, he got it. And LOVE it. He was always smiling, trying to walk next to Wednesday, which was not a fan of him. He would look at us, smile and keep walking. We would drive to show him other, better neighborhood. Today, as I am trying to remember all memories with him, I wish we would have seen more. But we did the beach, the park, Signal Hill and our favorite neighborhood often. But overall, I think he only loved to walk with us. Actually, I think the routine is what he loved the most.
For the first 3 months or so, we kept him in his crate while we were at work, but Julia, our dog walker would come and let him out. After a while, I started to feel that it wasn’t fair to him, so we let him roam the house. He really only slept in his bed in the living room anyway while we were away. Again though, today, I regret the time he spend in his crate during the day. I thought it was safer for him, but I should have not done this. While he slept most of the day, it was more happiness for him to be free in the house. The crate still seem to feel safe to him, so he slept in there every night. It was his bed.
September 2, 2018
Long Beach, CA
Update on Martin: He is eating like he never eat before. His coat is coming back slowly. He his recovering from his neuter surgery well. His favorite thing is walks. He is learning that he is safe with us and relax more often. Still potty training him but because he is deaf it takes longer to praise him when he potty outside. Less accidents in the house but still doesn’t know how to ask for the door. He likes his crate a little more. No more urinary tract infection. Blood test clear. Heartworms clear. The other 3 girls are warming up to him. And Wednesday even tried to play with him this morning for the first time. All and all, he is doing great. Still blind in 1 eye but there is nothing I can do about that. Oh and he wakes up at 5:50 AM on the dot every fucking morning. So no need to have an alarm anymore. So we save tons of money on that. #adoptdontshop
His routine then was to wake up at 5:30- 6AM. Sit in his crate and make little sad noise to let us know he was awake. Eat. Walk. Julia would visit at noon. We would be back at 5PM. Eat. Walk. Playtime and relax time with us in the living room. Bed by 9:30PM. He would fall asleep in the living room with us, we would wake him up to let him go potty and put him in his bed. He would growl but eventually wake up. He hated to be waking up. After the bedtime potty it was time for peanut butter kong in his crate, he loved that part.
Sometime he would wake up before 5:30AM and was so excited to be up and about, knowing food was coming. He was so easy. So happy.
We took him to new places for walks and at first he didn’t know that car didn't have to mean vet. Once he realize that car was fun time, he was up for anything. We would come out of the house, he would pee on the same lamp post in front of our driveway and looked up at us to see what is next. If we picked him up for the car he would sometime growl at us, but that stopped as he started to trust us more. He eventually was all smile and cuddle.
I would sit with him, rub the top of his ears and stare at his eyes. Telling him how much I love him. Just giving him so much love. When I pee he liked to come in the bathroom, sit next to me and let me pet the side of his face. He would then run out of the bathroom all excited, stop, turned around and come back in. He would do this the whole time. He became so sweet toward me and Kevin. With others it took longer, but again, I assume he live a hard life and didn’t know love and trust. So he was use to defend himself. And that was always okay with me. Sad but I understood. You had to gain his trust, and that is only fair.
He would walk around the house with his little wrap diaper, taking nap or following us everywhere. If Kevin was cooking, Martin was next to him the whole time hoping for scraps to come down. I was so afraid of him eating anything bad, that Kevin would be so careful and I doubt he ever got something off the floor. But he still stayed next to him. After each meals, we would lick the floor. You can see little circle traces on the floor as his tongue made the round.
If Kevin was the one to wake up with him, he would eventually come by the bed and wake me up. Waking up to him always, always brought a smile to my face. Even super early in the morning. He was so happy to see me and start a new day. I love waking up to him. I never once resented how early it was or how hard it could get. Spending time with his love and smile is all I needed.
He would make me laugh. Bring me so much comfort to know that he had a second chance at a life filled with love & security. He made everything better. Both Kevin and I would trade anything for a chance to be his parents again.
Fall 2018 -
One day I saw that he had some bloody stool. So to the emergency we went. The first one was so busy we waited for 8 hours before someone saw us. The whole time he was sleeping on my shoulder. We would go outside, pee, more blood, but still no doctor. When they finally saw him, they said it was a bad stomach aches. I went back home with some meds and super pissed. The next day he was worst. We rushed him to another ER and they saw him right away. They did x-rays and found that he had gas in his intestinal walls. They had to keep him overnight. I was a wreck. But the next day he was much better and we took him home. They told us that since he probably never had a great diet, that the food we give him now was too rich for him. So we change for a bland type diet. Kind of boring but he loved it. I added mash carrots often in hope to help his eye and give him more vitamins. He love it all. We follow up 2 weeks later and he seem to be out of the wood.
November 4, 2018
Long Beach, CA
Last weekend was scary for Martin’s health. But after today’s vet visit, he is getting better. This is 2 of my babies on the walk this morning. They are happy. Happy Sunday to all and to all a good day. #adoptdontshop
Another Post from
November 4, 2018
Long Beach, CA
Fun fact about Martin. This is his good eye. When I sat him in his car seat, to see outside he faces back. So he is sitting looking backward, it makes me laugh every time. Here we are, all 3 of us facing front and him facing back. Such an original. #adoptdontshop
This didn't last. Eventually he got it right and faced up front with us. He would look at Wednesday on his right side and smile. He loved open window the most. Both of them in their respective car seats, smiling, as we drove to fancy neighborhood for nice walks, is something I will miss dearly.
December 25, 2018
Our first Christmas & Christmas card with him
His tail was cramp for some reason and it would move with such joy everytime it was time he was running, seeing us, or just being excited for meals and treats. And he smelled like chocolate. I don't know why and believe me he never got any, but his head was a mix of baby smell and chocolate.
His teeth on the other hand was bad. He came to us with dental disease and it was always something we were planning on doing once he was strong enough. We never got the chance to make that better for him.
April 6, 2019
Long Beach, CA
Walking my babies this morning, Kevin said “stop, I want to take this picture, you look French as fuck.” So proud of the photographer he is turning out to be. #frenchie #dogs #longbeachcalifornia ..... picture by Kevin.
While we walked him he looked so happy and intrigued that I am afraid he never got any walks before us.
April 14, 2019
Long Beach, CA
4 of my favorite things..... We are returning Dave broken. Sorry, thank you for coming. We love you.
I included this post because I want to have ALL moments that Martin did with us. And for Dave to meet him means a lot to Kevin and I. I would have love for Martin and Buddy to meet. Because our time with Martin was so short I got sad that not that maybe people in our lives met him. So to realize that Dave, who means the world to Kevin and I, has indeed met him brought a smile to those last days.
The walks at first where normal, he loved them. He would smell, smile and try to catch up to Wednesday and walk by her. He would look up to us to make sure we were right there with him. At some point he slowed down, and probably wasn't up for long walks, so we would hold him and he smiled and look around. Enjoy the breeze and the smells. Kevin would hold him in a sitting position and rub his belly as we walk. That was his favorite, he smiled so big. It is one of my favorite memory of him.
August 11, 2019
Signal Hill, CA
Early walk with my babies. #Dogs
I remember that morning, Kevin was on tour and it was the weekend. I decided to take them both to Signal Hill for a nice walk. There is always a breeze there and as I put them on the ledge to take pictures, Martin looked like the breeze and the full view made him so curious. I love those pictures from that morning. Just me and them. They looked so happy and content. All they needed was me and a little adventure.
One of my top favorite memory, is just him and me by the open window. I would pick him up and we would look outside together. I would pet him and he would enjoy the breeze with all of the smells that would make his nose twitched. He seem so happy and content, in my arms like that. His vision was not the best but once in a while, he would move his head because a car drove by or some people walked by. Toward the end that seem to be the only thing that brought comfort to his belly ache. This is actually how we were when he fell asleep for the last time. This is where I now sit and cry. I miss him.
This picture is NOT of his last time, I did not document this. This was sometime in 2019.
November 30, 2019
Long Beach, CA
This is the season. Martin first time at the Christmas tree lot so all he cared about was the ground. Wednesday knows the tradition so she was more intrigue by the dog peeing a on tree. It's cool he work there.
I don't remember why we skipped this tradition the year before. I am glad he got to experienced it with us. His curiosity seem to be triggered on all levels. The pine smell, the other people with dogs, us walking next to him. I think we even let him pick the tree. He peed on one of them and we took this as a sign of him choosing this tree.
December 24, 2019
Long Beach, CA
How to have a holiday stress free part 2: Skip the card and send a digital version instead. I love making Christmas cards. Every year, the shoot, the editing, the choosing of the paper and the sending. But this year, I have to skip it. Other things are making my head explode. So from The Kilkenny Band to your family, I wish you a wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas and happy birthday to me. The printed cards will return next year. Be safe and merry and please donate to animals shelters or anything that can use your help. Maybe spread the love all year long also.
In January, 2020, after my back surgery, my mom came and stayed with us. He loved her. He follow her everywhere and would stay by her as she knit and took care of me. I am so grateful for being able to work from home the last 4 months and for my medical leave in January for a month. I didn't knew it but it would give me precious time with him. Time that was running out
Wednesday never seem to liked him, although I think she is sad now. She only saw him as competition. For food & our attention. But when he looked up to her as we walk, she looked very proud to be showing him how to do things. Like how to walk like a lady and a gentleman.
As he was getting older he seem to have some "old man moments". He would fix something on and look lost. Once he smelled us he was okay and would keep moving. He would be so excited to go potty because of the green beans he was getting after, that he would go too fast down the back stairs to the yard and miss the last one. Falling on his belly. That is when we decided to hold him to go down the stairs. Twice, I was holding him and he jump out of my arms and fell from 1 or 3 steps to the cement ground. I picked him up right away and he was okay. We followed up with an Xray to make sure. But those 2 memories are hurting me. Did it cause some trauma to his liver or something else? Did he make him think I was trying to hurt him? To see him loving us and trusting us more and more everyday is the biggest warmth my heart could feel. But if those 2 incidents cause him to think I would hurt him.... I really only wanted him to have experience no pain at all with us.
April 26, 2020
Signal Hill, CA
Realize it's been a minute since I share update of Martin. He is doing great. His last good eye is declining but since we keep a good routine, he knows where to go at all times of the day. He is now very affectionate and I can tell he is finally feeling safe with us. I didn't think I could love another dog like I love Wednesday but I love him as much. He is my baby boy and he bring so much love and laugh to my days. He is a older gentlemen and a scholar. If you have room in your life, please adopt an older shelter dog, to see the impact you can make on their lives fills my heart every time I look at him. #doglife #adoptdontshop
Spring 2020 –
We started having more blood tests and follow ups. Can’t even recall what started it all. He was coughing a lot at some points, learned that it might be chronic bronchitis, so we got an inhaler and gave it to him twice a day. Not sure if it helped but sometimes it look like that it did. He had some darker spots in his stools so we did stool samples. Some blood was found, probably due to some GI issues or reaction to steroids he had for bronchitis. I stopped this right away. Slowly his poop came back. Some days were better, but we follow up constantly and it wasn't a concern for the vet that follow him.
You might think it is strange to write about this, and it is, but since Kevin and I want to have it all documented, the stools were a big deal. Everyday, every poop we would examine closely and keep tab on it in order to monitor his progress. Here is him pooping. Like I said, documenting everything. When he peed he had an original pose. He would keep all legs down but move the front ones a little, bend the back ones slightly and move his belly a little lower. It is hard to explain but it looked like a superhero pose and I am putting it here to remember how he did pee in a very powerful stance. Like he really meant it. After each potty he would turn toward us fast and run so happily knowing there was a green bean waiting for him.
At some of these follow up I was also told that he had a little bullet in his throat. Nothing that was hurting him and it was best not to touch it since it was not causing issues. But the idea of my little boy being shot at made me so angry and sad and now those images are hunting me. People suck.
As the weeks get going we had more follow ups and less good news. But every time I asked my vet “is his quality of life still good? / he is dying?” and the answer were always, “he is not dying, he has a strong heart and his quality of life is still very good. We can manage all of this and we will get him better”. Three weeks ago or so, it seem that his blood test results were not going in the right direction. I should have known but I didn’t. After all the constant bad news from the vet, I never once taught he was on his last mile. I know we would make it thru with him healthy so we can have more years together.
May 2, 2020
Park Estate, CA
Because Martin gets tired soon these days, we pick him up half way thru our walks. Kevin hold him like a baby. And today he turned his head and smile at me. Made me laugh and I love him so. I thought the internet would like it too. #dogs
I had no idea that this would happen to be the last post with my little man. Enjoy every fucking second with the one who love, it goes too fast. I love this picture of him because he really was looking at me, telling me "look mama, I am right here..." That moment warm my heart.
The last months were scheduled around his medicine. Since I work from home I was able to take care of him for most part of the day. Those moments are the ones making my heart ache now. My days feel empty. I know I mention his routine above, but I am still including the last couple of months because I need to have it all documented.
He would wake up at 5:30AM, we would pick him up to go down the stairs, he would go to the bathroom and would come back in. Get his first medicine with peanut butter. Wait a hour before food. That hour he would be glue to us. Thinking every move means food. Once he realize it was food time, he would run and do little jump of happiness as we get their food ready. Once he was done with his bowl, he would go to Wednesday's and lick her bowl clean. After that he would lick the floor for any crumbles that he might have forgotten. Once the floor was clean, it was time for some drops and his inhaler. After that he would lay down in his bed in the living room. Wait for us to be ready and go for a walk.
On weekdays, we would then come back home and either go to work in my office or in the living room on the weekends. He would sleep in his bed until 12:30, I would then let him out to pee, and back to sleep until around 2PM. From 2PM to 3:30PM he would walk around the house. Check up on me, nap and come back to my office. If I moved out of my chair, he was ready. He assume it was diner. At 3:30PM I would give him attention, play with him and sometime let him out to potty. 4PM it was another round of medicine with peanut butter & eye drop. 5PM it was diner time. Same routine as breakfast. Lick the floor. After that I would say "come on you guys, it's relaxing time". I would make myself some tea and sit on the couch and read or watch the news. I would often sit on the floor and just pet him as he relaxed with me.
Once Kevin got back home we would go for a walk. He would spend the rest of the night walking around, looking at us, playing with us etc. By 9:30PM it was bedtime. We would let him out to potty and I would say "ok you guys, it's bedtime". He loved that part because it was peanut butter kong time. I would fill the kongs and they would run following me to the bedroom. Put him in his crate with a kong. He would soon be sleeping, often snoring. That was pretty much his days. Some weekends days we had adventures at the park but this was his routine. Super boring to read I know, but I want to remember it all.
This bring us to last week. A week ago today (I am writing this on Saturday, August 1, 2020).
Saturday July 25, 2020, 8AM –
Since we were told that the new medicine we started a day ago would help with gallbladder stones can cause a rupture we had to be on the lookout for vomiting, lethargy and diarrhea. After breakfast as we were getting them ready to go for a nice walk, he vomited a little. Probably just bile but I got nervous. So we rushed him to the ER. They did an ultrasound right away and didn’t see any liquid so no rupture had happened. But the doctor told us that the liver results were too high and that she wanted to keep him for 24-48 hrs. I said no (and I am now so glad I did). We would monitor him closely at home but I am not leaving him here. I already regret the 6 hrs he spend there, scare and being poke at. He seem fine at home. Still pacing so we knew he was uncomfortable but he was home and eating like crazy. He was safe.
Monday July 27, 2020, 8AM-
We follow up with our vet after the ER situation to get his opinion and to make sure he could have the gallbladder surgery. As far as he know, he could. But his blood clothing time was not great so we decided to give him medicine to help with this and wait a week to make sure there is no issue during/ after surgery. Kevin and I talked that night. We of course where nervous about the surgery and the waiting now. We didn’t want a rupture to happen. But we trusted our vet and followed directions.
--- This next part was written at the time it is mention , I am keeping it as is ---
Tuesday July 28, 2020, 10PM-
I am writing this as Martin is sleeping comfortable in his bed. This will be his last night with us. My heart is breaking.
After months of his health slowly going down, we discover stones in his gallbladder. He wasn’t going to pass them naturally as they are calcified. A surgery to remove it all was scheduled for tomorrow but after the last checkup we find out his blood was not coagulating fast enough and decided to wait and get him stronger first. The last couple of days he declined fast. Constantly being uncomfortable but still eating and being himself. Just restless. This morning the vet did an emergency ultrasound to make sure the gallbladder hasn’t rupture. He was more restless and panting. He told us that the surgery was no longer a safe option and ask if we wanted to put him thru more stress. He said after all we did that he most likely will not get better and that the next months would just bring more pain to him. He said it was time to let him go. Brought him home to think about it and hope he gets better with some meds and pain reliever. A hour later he seem the same energy but wasn’t able to walk. His back legs seem to be a little stiff.
We stayed home and hold him all day. We kept him comfortable and gave him all the love. He slept on me while I rub his little paws. Snore and looked so comfortable. We even took him for a walk where Kevin hold him and he just smile and looked around. He love the bedtime routine so we tried it, peanut butter kong in his bed. After 15 minutes he was sleeping and snoring.
Tomorrow the vet is coming to our house and will put him to sleep while I hold him and tell him how much I love him. I am writing this because I need to let it out. He had a hard life for 10 years and I was hoping to give him longer years of love and security. August 4 would have been 2 years that we got him. That little man deserve so much better. I am glad we were able to provide the best for him in his last years. But he deserved so much longer.
This is the last picture I have of him. He smiled a lot on the last days. He also seem a lot more uncomfortable and his panting was bad, but he seem to enjoy every minute of us and smile at us a lot. As hard as this is, I am trying to remind myself that we let him go to sleep just before the pain started. I need to think that he was days away but that it wasn't in pain yet.
Thursday July 30, 2020, 10 AM -
We put him to sleep yesterday (July 29, 2020) in the afternoon at 4PM and I now can’t understand what happen. How did we went from a plan to get him all better to him being gone? My house feel empty, my heart hurts. I walk around the house not knowing what to do. The walk last night with Wednesday was so sad. No little man slowing us down. I want to hug him, give him more years of happiness and love. I don’t know how to wrap my head around this. Did he knew he was love? Did he feel me holding him when he took his last breath? Did I try all that I could? I’m pissed that Monday I was going about my day knowing we had to work on his health with surgery that was scaring me, but had no idea he would be gone by mid week. How can he die at only 12? We won’t even have it for the 2 years mark. It went too fast, I had more adventures to share with him. He deserved more. I don’t know how to cope.
He loved to eat, even on his last day. He loved green beans. He knew the routine. He would come near me and let me pet him side head. He was running and jumping as he run. He loved to play when he knew food was in the horizon. He would always be next to Kevin as he cook. He was so easy. Such a little man. I want to write all about him but can’t think of anything. Where is he now? Will I hold him again? It’s too fast.
Thursday July 30, 2020, 4:30PM –
He left us 24 hours ago now. I am so broken. I can’t sit still and yet doesn’t want to do anything. I cry and I wonder endlessly around my house. So I decided to maybe instead to write about him.
I need to write the last part about his health because I am trying to wrap my head around what happen. But you should know, his health was NOT what made him. The stress was nothing compare to the love and joy he brought to us. We wanted the best for him, and was really thinking we had years with him. Looking back I now regret all the vet appointments and medicine that he hated because at end it only brought stress to him. But I also understand that I was trying to get him all good and to grow old (er) with us. I have so much regret. Did I do enough? Can one of the medicine cause the fucking stones? How did I miss this? Will I see him again? Does he know how much we loved him? Did he suffer during his time with us? I want to make sure it was nothing but love and comfort. I also hope his life before was not bad, just not the best. That little man deserve to have a perfect life for the full 12 years, and I am having a hard time with not knowing what was the first 10. But I am trying to focus on the time we had with him. How happy and loved we made him feel. How he changed our lives. I will never forget him. I hope I get to hug him again. He was a special little man and our time together will forever be engraved in my heart. I just wish we had more time. Martin, I am so proud to be your mom. I love you.
Good night my little butt, we will always love you.
Thank you for all that you gave us.
In closing, I also wanted to share this website I found today about a couple who rescue and help fostering older dogs. I know how challenging, expensive, yet rewarding it can be. So I am donating in honor of Martin and would encourage you to check it out. See if you can help. Because older dogs often get surrender if not abandoned and they deserve so much better. The Mr. Mo Project. at: http://www.mrmoproject.com/