We lost Brownie today
But in looking back on our life with her
I smile at the things she taught us
Brownie was a stray
One day as we were driving home from school
We saw her running down the street
She was wearing a vest from a dog kennel
We opened the door to our car
And without hesitation, she jumped right in
We drove to the kennel she had escaped from
But no one was there
No person that is
There were 20 or more animals inside though crying out for help
We made a few phone calls
And it was discovered that this business was virtually abandoned
The owners rarely took care of the dogs there
And we still do not understand how the dogs had been left there by their owners
We only know that they had been abandoned
No food or water
And clear signs of abuse
Since Brownie escaped, all the other dogs were rescued as well
And when we took one look into her deep brown eyes
We knew she would become a part of our family
From day one, she had health issues
A large tumor on her forearm was the first thing we dealt with
She fought cancer multiple times over the past 4 years
She often had colds!
It seemed if something could go wrong…it did
Finally she succumbed to a neurological disease that was incurable
As she began to lose the use of her back legs
She had to find ways to compensate
We knew the time was coming when we would have to say goodbye
And that day came today
None of us wanted to let go
But instead of sadness
I choose to remember the things she taught me
1. Rescue Yourself
Brownie could have stayed behind in that kennel with the rest of the dogs when they were abandoned.
She could have waited for the calvary to arrive.
But if she had done that–she might never have made it out.
Instead she took initiative.
She rescued herself.
And you know what??
Sometimes that’s exactly what we have to do.
How many times in my life have I wanted to just sit down and wait for Prince Charming to arrive?
How many times have I hoped and prayed that someone else would sail in and fix my life?
Brownie didn’t wait.
She orchestrated her own escape.
And she ran through the streets until she found help.
Her courage to escape her own bad situation brought help back to the other animals left behind.
Not only did she rescue herself—she rescued her friends.
I know we’d all like to wait for the miracle to come to us.
But sometimes, we have to BE the miracle.
Sometimes we have to be our own hero.
We may not believe we have it in us.
But Brownie took that leap of faith
And when she did—she found help.
That’s what we have to do in this journey.
Take that first step out in faith and just start walking.
In time, help will come.
But sometimes, it takes us making the first move.
2. Treat Yourself
Brownie would play hard.
She loved to be outside.
She loved to lay in the sun and she loved to play ball.
But when it was time to come inside and rest, she didn’t settle for just laying on the cold, hard floor.
She always insisted on the best blanket in the house.
Even it was YOURS.
I can’t even tell you how many times I would lay down in the recliner with a blanket
Only to find it slowly slipping away from me.
She would sit below me and inch by inch the blanket would begin to pull away.
I would yank it back up. And she’d manage to yank it back down!
Eventually the struggle would end with her finally getting it from me
OR (more often) with me surrendering!
And there she would be snuggled with MY blanket!!
I’d have to get up and find another one!
Brownie knew what she wanted.
She knew she had played hard that day and now she deserved a break.
And when it was time to rest, she was going to treat herself.
Not with FOOD.
Not with a biscuit.
But with something else—Like MY blanket!
Brownie lived with a lot of pain due to her numerous health issues.
She fought the pain but she also made herself comfortable when she could.
As any severely obese person knows—pain comes on a constant basis.
Living as a 400 plus pound person brought me DAILY pain.
One thing I learned to do was to try and make myself as comfortable as I could when possible.
Life was already painful enough—why not treat yourself when you can?
From Brownie I learned the luxury of a good pair of bedroom slippers.
I had never really worn them before but when you have a really great pair of bedroom slippers—you feel a little luxurious.
So I would buy them–and she would carry them off.
I have more single slippers in my closet than any one woman should.
Eventually I learned that slippers meant sharing.
She got one and I got the other!
But at the end of the day, we both learned that pain may come but you can treat yourself
You can treat yourself (not with food) but in the best way you know how whenever possible.
We deserve it!
3. Modify Yourself
How many times as a 400 pound person did I say I could not exercise?
Because it was impossible for me to walk across the room without losing my breath
Because I knew the workout was out of my league?
So I gave up before I even started
Brownie had numerous physical issues in her life.
At the end, she suffered from a neurological condition that eventually made her lose the use of her back legs.
Sometimes they would work and sometimes they would not.
Near the end, she had almost no use of them at all.
When Brownie found it hard to walk, she scooted.
Often when she would start walking back into the house, her leg would just take her in another direction altogether!
I can’t tell you how many times I saw her walking in only to find herself turned around.
Sometimes she would decide to just go with it!
Sure she was heading in the house but her leg took her in another direction.
So she said…Why not??
I will just find something down this route that interests me instead!
Other times, she would fall down and rest for a few minutes before getting back up and trying again.
If Brownie couldn’t walk, she scooted.
She modified the situation to fit her ability.
And that’s what we have to do.
I couldn’t walk a mile at 417 pounds.
I couldn’t even walk 5 minutes.
So what did I do?
I started with 30 seconds.
30 Seconds at a time
I modified it
And that’s what I continue to do with everything in this journey
Because we can’t let the things we are INCAPABLE of doing—keep us from the things we ARE capable of doing
And if we end up going in some direction we didn’t intend on—then like Brownie—we find a stick or a ball on that route and make the most of it!!
4. Love Yourself
When we found Brownie she had a big tumor
Her nose was all scarred and roughed up from where she had apparently been digging for food at one point as a stray
I also found my own body scarred and abused from my desperate search for food
Just as her search for food led to scars, so my search for more food led to the scars of obesity
A very visible and obvious signature to the world that something was “wrong”
Anyone who has faced obesity knows it is something we publicly wear
Something we can’t hide
And it can make us feel ugly
Brownie had scars she wore too
Scars all over her nose
Scars from where the tumors were removed
But in spite of that, she loved herself anyway
Even as her health deteriorated, she continued to roll in the grass
Bark at the dogs next door
Lay on the most comfortable blanket in the house
And stare at us with that look of ….”I still got it!!”
This is what we MUST do as well.
No matter your age.
No matter your size.
No matter your scars.
You are worth it
It may be a sad day
But in the sadness, we must be reminded of what we learned
Because that is what we take with us
Those are the things that never die
Thanks for the Life Lessons, Brownie!!!
We will miss you.