I've started this post about 1.3 million times. Every time I start it, I just can't. So I don't. I'm going to be stronger this year, so here it goes.

Last year when I was in Mexico (which may be part of the reason for the lack of posting those pictures and stories), I was able to keep in contact with my parents and pup by FaceTime since we all got iPhones. It was great. I was so happy to see his face. Especially since he wasn't doing well without me. Before I left, I took him to the vet to see if he was ok because he was acting funny. Vet said some titers were a little high but still normal and everything else was ok. I left for Mexico thinking my baby boy was just fine. But he wasn't.

While I was gone, my parents took him back twice. They thought he wasn't eating because I was gone, but he was used to their house so that made no sense. Then maybe something was wrong with his stomach. Maybe he was in pain. Still no answers.

When I got back, I took him in again. They re-did the blood test and it turned out that he had advanced kidney disease and it was rapidly shutting down his kidneys. He had about 20% effectiveness by then and I was heartbroken. Absolutely smashed. This boy that I didn't even want, but turns out I needed, this boy who helped heal my mom, me, my dad, and everyone he met, was sick. I just couldn't.

We decided to do treatment for a time and see how he responded to it. He did, but not as well as we would have liked. So on March 9, 2013, I took my best friend in for the hardest choice I ever made. He went peacefully and surrounded by we who loved him.

I think I cried for three straight weeks. I couldn't sleep, because he was always there to keep me warm and safe. I stopped walking, so I gained weight. I was just unhappy. I never realized how lonely I felt until there wasn't a happy face to greet me when I got home. My cats are awesome, but they're not snuggly (Tigger was - boy, do I miss that cat!) and they don't really care when I'm home, just so long as I feed them.

This went for about a month and I just couldn't take it. I looked and looked to see who I could see on the Paws and Prayers website and I found my new little man. Eons ago I had watched The Matrix (and loved it!) and decided that I wanted a dog named Neo someday. Just so happens that they had a litter they named after Matrix characters. And one was named Neo. Kismet? I think so.

Neo is a St. Bernard/Red Tick (English) Coonhound mix. He's big, awkward, crazy, and the love of my life. I never set out to replace Raj, but to replace that hole he left in my life. Neo is very little like Raj, except he loves. All. The. Time. He is happy and waggy. He is sweet and crazy. He is my boy and I love him. I'm back to walks almost daily (we've even started running again!) and I sleep. Oh, how I sleep.

Neo at Howl-o-ween in his Neo costume.
I never thought of myself as a dog person but now after having the best dog in the world, I can't imagine my life and my home without one. They bring such joy and comfort.

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