Wednesday, April 22, 2015

In loving memory, Sydney-Bear Chapek 2002(ish) – 4/22/15

I’m very sad to tell you that today we said our final goodbyes to our sweet little girl Sydney, as she quietly slipped away into doggie heaven. Her tired body has been failing her for some time now, and that decline finally pushed us to make the extremely painful decision to have her put-down. Our vet came to our house so she could pass away in familiar surroundings with her loving family.

She was always such a happy girl, no matter the circumstances. When she was completely paralyzed a few years back (due to a burst disc in her neck) she’d sit there in her little area down at the Ventura surgical center, and whenever anybody came near, her tail would spin like a propeller, whapp-whap-whapping on the floor as she smiled at them, hoping for some attention. After a week in the ICU we brought her home, and over the next several months we rehabilitated her as she learned to control her body all over again…and never was there even a HINT of sadness at her condition, only happiness and gratitude. Her love for us was vast and unconditional. One of the things I will surely miss for the rest of my life will be waking up in the middle of the night with her nose snuggled up into the crook of my neck, her warm breath nothing short of pure love and innocence from an angel placed here on earth to teach us patience, caring and understanding. Among other things, Jeannie will sorely miss taking her weekend naps on the couch with Syd jammed in-between her and the couch, “snug as a bug in a rug”. She was the World Champion of snuggling for sure!

Knowing the time and date of her passing ahead of time is a double-edged sword. On the one hand that knowledge evoked numerous waves of grief these past days. Yet on the other side, knowing this helped us to make it a happy time. The old adage 'I'd give everything for one more minute...well, we were given days, and due to that we have no regrets. We were given the gift of being able to make our last days with her extra-special. 

We ALL had hamburgers on Monday for dinner (Syd LOVES hamburgers!), and I also ran down and got a batch of “cow knees” from the pet store for her and her sisters to chomp on all day Tuesday and Wednesday morning while we were at work. On Tuesday (her farewell ‘dinner’) Jeannie brought home steaks (Syd had TWO). And today I left work at lunch-time and brought home more burgers for us to all enjoy (and Syd had the one leftover steak too...did I mention that she LOVES steak too?) We then went to the park, Syd riding in her FurBaby Flyer wagon enjoying the ride, anxious to get to the park a few more times, where she could smell the bushes and eat all the grass she wants. Then we spent lots of quality time simply sitting in the front yard or inside the house being together.

Every feeding time at our house since Syd's arrival has been a QUITE NOISY affair, as Syd has a "hound" bark (we believe she's a cross between a pit-bull and a basset hound). She has been mostly deaf for some time now, but you touch the dinner bowls and she starts "woo-woo"ing, sounding the dinner bell for the others to come running. Her barking doesn't end until the dinner-bowls are finally placed into the feeding bin and the chow-down commences. In recent weeks due to her declining control of her legs, Syd has been eating on the floor lying down as she can't stand-up long enough to eat at the raised feed-bin...but no matter...did I mention that she LOVES eating? The missing sound of her joyful baying before every meal will be a be a huge source of sadness for us over these next few weeks, until our grief finally turns to smiles at the thought of her.

We take comfort knowing that we gave her the best life we possibly could, even though she gave far more to us than we ever gave to her. Our new puppy Sophie only got to know her for a few months, but we’re grateful for that. It’s funny how in life you move along day to day, never really thinking about how quickly things can change. Over the last few months as her debilitating condition slowly robbed her of motor control of her body, we’ve known that sometime in the near future for her sake we’d have to make this difficult decision. And once the decision was made and the "appointment set", we had to live the last few days knowing that her end was so very near. You like to think your loved ones will always be there, but one of the sad truths of this world is that none of us will live forever, and those of us who choose to have pets are doomed to say farewell to them throughout our lifetime. I’m quite sure none of those goodbyes are easy. I know I’ve prayed and prayed for Sydney over the last several months, and it seemed that after each bad spell she’d miraculously bounce back. Sadly, this time God’s answer was that we need to finally let her go. I can tell you that both Jeannie and I are SO very grateful for the time we've had with our furry little Bear.

I can also tell you that last night was one of the longest of my life. I’m already a light sleeper, but last night sleep was pretty hard to come by, and then I woke up countless times where I’d quietly lay there and watch her sleeping, her nose as usual tucked in between my neck and shoulder, her warm breath both comforting and saddening me, knowing it was to be the last time I'd be blessed in such a way. As I lay there,  I’d lightly caress her, hoping to etch these last few precious memories into my mind forever. And I know Jeannie was feeling the same, as I could hear her sniffling now and then, and off and on thru the night I could see her hands reaching out from under the blankets to hold our beautiful girl one more time.
I know she struggled mightily this past year, yet she never once complained or gave up. I think in her heart she knew that we weren’t ready for her to go, and was content to fight until we finally were. Sydney, please know that Mommy and Daddy love and miss you more than you could possibly know. You're not supposed to have 'favorites' with your kids, but both Jeannie and I have a little extra love in our hearts for Sydney. She has always been a "special needs" child to us, but especially during these last few years since her burst disc, as she needed much more care than the others.

With her passing I’m reminded of a song I hear on the radio by a rock group called "The Script" called 'There’s no good in goodbye'. One of the lines that rings especially true is “you can’t take the ache from heartbreak”. I’m quite sure that every time I hear this song from now on I’ll think of Sydney, and hopefully as time passes I'll stop being sad and can think of the great times we had. She will forever remain in our hearts and minds.

Rest now our sweet baby girl, you’ve done more than your share. We thank you with all our hearts for the time you gave us. 

Goodbye Sydney Bear.


  1. Oh, Matt, I'm so, SO sorry for your loss. When I clicked here today & saw the heading, I told myself to just print & read later as I knew I'd tear up. Well, I printed but couldn't stop myself from reading it, so now have a face of tears.

    Your writing was so eloquent & heartfelt & was a perfect goodbye "letter" to your faithful family member who has gone up to that doggie heaven in the sky. She will miss you & Jeannie too! You both were SUCH good caretakers & I believe she knew how lucky she was. In fact, I doubt doggie heaven could be any better than the life she had with you (well, maybe steak or hamburgers EVERY day).

    I wish there was something I could say that would make the pain go away or at least be less, but there isn't. Just know that she brought ME joy because of YOUR writings about her (& her "sisters") these past 8 years (can you believe it's going on 9 years?!) & I'm thankful.

    Goodbye, Sidney Chapek, you were much loved & will be much missed.

  2. Thanks was a very hard day yesterday...trying to be 'upbeat' and not all sad around her...she deserved to be happy till the end. We had a very nice day...but still deep down (even KNOWING we did the right thing) is that voice that keeps telling me over and over that we killed her...that she didn't need to die. She'd still be at home right now, sleeping on the bed had we not done that. THAT is the part that is tearing me apart...the guilt.

    Even with her broken down body, her mind was fine...and sitting there holding her (knowing she had no idea what was happening) while the Dr. gave the 1st shot (a sedative)...we were both being strong, but I GUARANTEE you we both were on the verge of breaking down. Then as the sedative took hold over the next several minutes, her head came down into our hands, and we sat there like that holding her head, petting and talking to her as the overdose of anesthesia was applied. It took a good 5 minutes as her breathing became shallower and shallower, the Dr. was listening to her heart...she was strong and needed a second half-dose of anesthesia, and finally a few minutes after that she just stopped breathing and that was that. Our baby was gone.

    But we KNOW that she is now unencumbered by her failing body and is running around in nice tall green grass, eating steaks (and hamburgers) and just running up to-and meeting EVERYBODY in Heaven. But I'm still dying inside. Sometime soon (I hope...when my grief subsides) I'll do a "Tribute to Sydney" post, with pictures and stories about all our great times. She deserves that.

    Right now the house feels so empty...her always happy presence no longer there. Breakfast this morning was very sad, as there was no-one to ring the dinner-bell to come's like the babies mosey'd in wondering why...and as I prepared the food it was stone silent (which was crushing). And then there's empty spot on the bed where she should be. I woke up many times last night expecting to have her snuggling me...and I know that won't ever happen again.

    But in time this will turn and we will be thinking of only the good times. It's just a hard fact of life that this is a process everybody goes thru multiple times in their lives, with pets and people...there's just no getting around it, nor any way to make it easier. That's what makes us human. But she had a GREAT life...we made sure of that. That eases the sadness considerably.

  3. Again, so sorry & I'm crying for you. Good that the vet came to your house - I didn't know they did that. SO much better for you, Jeannie & her than at the vet's. (I'm sure I would have bawled anyway). Am looking forward to the Tribute & know you will do her justice.

    How are the other doggies handling it? Was Sydney the oldest? Try to do something special with the other doggies this weekend as it might help with your grief.

    Take care of yourself.

    (Also, I think you may have missed your calling - a pet obituary writer - you had me reminiscing, smiling, sniffling, & bawling all at once!)

  4. Our hearts and prayers to you, Jeanie and the babies. If I was to come back to this world it would be my wish to be one of your very loved fur babies... love you loads. JC, Jim and Hannah

  5. Oh, Matt, I wish that words could comfort as much as is needed. I know that you will be sad for some time, nothing can change that. You took good care of Sydney, and remember that her life was longer (and happy) because of your care. Try to not feel guilty (easy for me to say, I know) because you did finally let her go in a way that saved her from suffering.
    Hugs to you and Jeannie


  6. Thanks for the kind wishes/words Rae/Jackie n Susie....I'm on travel (work) in Colo Springs all week, flew in today (Monday). Jeannie is home w/ the babies...just talked to her...she's still in the dumps...being home without Syd is hard...everywhere you look reminds us of go into the bedroom during the day, she would be sound asleep on the bed (doesn't hear you come in, so she's just lying there like an angel). Dinnertime is very quiet. Syd was SO boisterous...just full of life, even though her body was failing...time will heal us, but we'll never forget. Jeannie will pick up her ashes on Friday (I'm flying home that day) which will trigger another bout of grief for us both I'm sure...childless people seem to (IMO) form deeper attachments to our 'pets'....they are by any measurement our kids, and our love isn't 'split' nor diminished with 2 legged children. I would have gone into a burning building for them (seriously). And sadly, we have two more 'old dogs'...both at least 13. So far, so good w/ them, but as you all know, life changes in an instant. All we can do is life in the moment and relish each day/moment we have, as we don't know when that will change.

    Have a great week everybody!

  7. Hey, Matt - do you have cable where you're staying? If so, check to see if NBC-Sports is 1 of the channels - it will be broadcasting taped coverage of Fleche & LBL late tomorrow (4/29) night.

    And I think Tour of California starts 5/10 (to be broadcast LIVE for the week). Where will you be then?

    I've been watching LeBron & the Cavs sweep the 1st round of the playoffs against the Celtics but on Sunday, one of our main guys - Kevin Love, had his ARM ALMOST TAKEN CLEAN OFF (i.e. was dislocated) & looks to be out for the rest of the playoffs. Can't compare to the loss of a beloved pet, but I've been cranky & mopey since. Whyyy? WHHYYYY? Sigh. At least the hated Bulls lost last night in an upset. Go Bucks!

    Try to have some fun in Colorado Springs. Will you do any mt biking? Watch out for "buffalo". :) :)

  8. Hey Susie....I have come kind of cable/satellite here at the hotel...but don't have NBCS...

    I WAS supposed to be heading right up to Sunnyvale when I get back, but that's now been pushed off till the 18th (unless that changes) so I SHOULD be home when the ToC rolls thru Santa Maria (they will ride right thru on some of my MAIN roads!) I have multiple places in mind to catch I hope my Sunnyvale trip date holds...last year I missed them at home, but if you recall, I DID catch them at the summit of Mt Diablo, AND at the finish line in Sacramento (where I got the awesome shot over the top of people of the finish).

  9. I'm surprised that a hotel's cable doesn't have NBC-SN as I guess I think of that channel as one of the basic sports channels (unlike much-loved & MUCH missed Universal Sports!).

    Anyhoo, NBC changed the broadcast day for those 2 cycling races to TOMORROW 4/30. I printed out their cycling TV Schedule before Paris-Roubaix & it definitely states 4/29. Of course, if the HOCKEY runs long, we won't see it anyway. The 1st show starts at 11:30 PM eastern time. Yep, for the past 2 years, that's how important cycling has been to NBC; basically infomercial &/or burn-off status...

    What I really worry about is what happens after the current TDF contract runs out - will NBC-SN even sign on again? It's bad enough to TRY to be a fan of a sport you can mostly only READ about the results & not watch taped let alone LIVE coverage on TV, but if no more daily Tour on TV, my 31 year old fandom will finally be snuffed out. :(

    Well, my fingers will be crossed that you DO get to see ToC in your home area! I'm already salivating for the pics. :)

    Did you catch my "buffalo" joke? The mascot of the Univ of Colorado IS....? :) :)

  10. Sadly, your 'Buffalo' joke went RIGHT OVER my head...ZOOM!

    I think NBCSports is a 'premium channel..I know to get it on my Direct TV I have to get a crazy high level batch of channels...someday I hope I could just pick the 15 channels (or so) that I actually WANT...and NOT pay for the 18,007 that I do not care for whatsoever. But that would be the death of most of those channels I gather, as so very few would pay for them...(hey...if nobody wants to pay for it, why should I have to when you slip it into my package?) It would be great to ONLY have the channels we want.

  11. Matt, so sorry to read about your baby - we always miss our pets. We have all 4 of our dog's cremains on the mantle and still put their Christmas stockings out.

    While some (lots) of the cycling has been delayed on TV, it's all being shown live on the internet sites for the channels NBC SN and BeIN in particular. And I think BeIN is showing Giro live on TV everyday. This year is the best live coverage I've had in 12 years reporting, but I do wish all of it was on TV instead of internet.

  12. This year is the WORST live coverage for me since before Lance starting winning the Tour. Comcast refuses to offer Universal Sports or BeIN & the piss-poor PATHETIC offerings on NBC-SN are usually broadcast so late at night on the East Coast, one would think it's one of their endless INFOMERCIALS.

    I do not & have never had home internet, CAN'T AFFORD IT while trying to rescue my retirement. However, how many of those gdamn HOOLIGANS in Baltimore who are ransacking malls & throwing rocks & starting fires, supposedly as a "demonstration of their deprived economic status & future" have home internet? Along with the newest smartphone & cable TV package with freakin HBO?

    Just FYI - Baltimore is one of the blackest cities in America - the minority is white. The police & political offices have long been largely black. That I hear the national media trying to make this solely a "RACE ISSUE" chaps my ass.

    Sorry for the political rant, have just felt enraged the past few days watching punks/THUGS/outsiders destroy part of Baltimore/MD. I'm also tired of seeing ALL police in this country being described as power-crazed, racist evildoers instead of people who put their lives on the line every day trying to PROTECT the majority. There are bad apples & even "bushels" of apples everywhere but I think it is VERY ALARMING that over the past few months, all police are being viewed as the enemy.

  13. As predicted, NBC-SN cast aside the 11:30 PROGRAMMED cycling show (Fleche) last night for hockey. According to the onscreen TV guide, the 1:30 AM coverage of Liege was still to be shown but I couldn't stay awake to find out.

    Meanwhile, it seems Astana will be allowed to keep racing all season. And riders are still getting popped for doping &/or new EUROPEAN doping "rings" are being uncovered/investigated. Yep, USADA's 'Wicked Witch Hunt' did SO much for professional cycling - it's made sure that fewer Americans can actually watch the sport on TV. Oh, & has kept Bruyneel out of the sport while all his old time Euro DS/managers keep doing the SAME THING they've always done....

    Did you know that Valverde (y'know from OP & who has NEVER confessed or apologized) won the last 2 Classic races?

    Pat yourself on the freakin back, Tygart.

  14. Clarification - I was speaking not of the people who worked for Johan but his competitors (Lefevere, etc).

  15. Cathy....we picked up Syd's 'cremains' today (a sad moment)...they came in a very nice wood box that is sealed and quite heavy...(lead inside with her....a gold bar?) She is on the mantle, and will remain there for some time...we also got her blanket back (we had her taken away wrapped in it)...apparently in CA they can't have ANYTHING go w/ the the nice blanket our niece got her back when she was paralyzed is still with us, and will remain with her remains. I still can't believe she's gone...up in Colo Springs this week...yesterday morning (Thurs) I was heading down for breakfast at the hotel, and noticed white hairs stuck in my short sleeve (I'd been carrying Syd around a lot the past few weeks as her walking ability declined)...made me sad all over again. She sure was a special little girl to us. I'm quit sure her stocking will come out every year also.

    I just don't get much chance to sit at the computer to try to watch a race...if it's not on TV, I won't be seeing it (thus I can't get too excited about not seeing the races, as I've missed almost all of them in pretty much FOREVER anyway). But all the bad feelings will melt away as soon as le Tour starts! (also, I'm still in good shape to catch some of the ToC).

    And Susie, I'll do my best to have some kind of pics/coverage. Certainly for the one stage that goes thru Santa Maria!