According to Google, “Dog Days of Summer” is the hottest period of the year.  You will feel inactive and sluggish. To me “Dog Days of Summer” reminds me of all the amazing memories I have had and will always have with my fur babies.  In my world, I feel at home when the dogs are around. Some people say that “home is where the heart is.”  I like to say, “home is where the dogs are!”  So, “Dog Days of Summer” to me is my days hanging with my fur babies.  But I can’t help to think about our old dog days of the past and my dog Gunner.

Gunner and Doggie Cancer

During my cancer battle, I had three dogs; Gunner, Bruiser, and Moose. Bruiser and Moose are something extra special.  I will have to tell you about the adventures of Bruiser and Moose another time. Today I want to focus on my beloved dog Gunner.

We adopted Gunner one day during the summer when he was 8 months old.  He was what I consider a hand-me-down dog.  To me, a hand-me-down dog was a pet that was passed down, given up by someone, and we adopted him before he went to the pound.  Gunner lived a great dog life.  He went on explorations with me at the park, he had amazing escapades with me at the lake, and his toy of choice would be a ball or a stick (or in his case a large tree branch).  Gunner was everything you wanted in a dog.  He was loving, intelligent, protective, obedient, and he was my buddy. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention he was also a big, 100-pound German Shepherd.  He was a very handsome and regal looking dog.  Because of his breed and his size, he looked intimidating.  But, he was the complete opposite.  He was just a gentle giant.  Sadly, we lost Gunner about two years ago as he had gone up to Doggy Heaven, or as some would say, “crossed the rainbow bridge.”

Gunner always has been and always will be my special buddy. As his buddy, he was everything to me.  He was my friend, my playmate, and my protector from the Boogeyman.  Gunner was also a medical mess.  He had several health issues since he was little that affected him, like having 23 different allergies, skin issues, and   cancer. He was diagnosed with cancer a few years before my cancer diagnosis.  As a child, my dog’s diagnosis was the first time I ever had to face cancer.  This was really the first time I truly learned what the word “cancer” meant.  I learned for the first time the risks of losing something I loved.  His diagnosis was my first real understanding of what dying was all about.  My heart sank at the thought of losing my buddy.

As a family, we decided to make a huge effort that during his cancer battle, we would do everything we could to make sure he enjoyed what was left of his life.  We didn’t want to have an attitude of doom and gloom around him.  We didn’t want to set a tone of “Oh, that poor dog.”  We believed that he would pick up on the sadness.  We wanted to set a household tone of happy and joy partnered with a “Good Dog” vibe.  We jokingly would say at my house, “Let’s not tell Gunner that he has cancer.”  What we meant by that was we will not walk around this household and be sad for him or pity him.  We will walk around this house and treat him the same way we did before he had cancer.  I played with him, I hugged him, and I loved him with all my heart.  I was there with him during his cancer.  I did everything I could to make sure he lived that best dog life.  And you know what, I believed he did.  It was awesome and full of great dog days.  Then one day, to our surprise, Gunner beat his cancer.  Oh, the joy!  We were completely shocked, as was the veterinarian.  He was surviving and thriving.  Gunner even lived several years longer than expected.

 

Gunner was a cancer survivor.  The next chapter for Gunner was him being my buddy during my cancer battle.  He was right by my side the entire time. Just like he was by my side my entire life.  But, Gunner was having a difficult time with my illness.  It was very hard for him when I wasn’t there.  I was in the hospital for days or for a week at a time.  So, I wasn’t home every night.  I found out later, that Gunner would search for hours all over the house every night and day looking for me.  He would lie in front of my bedroom waiting for me to return.  He didn’t sleep very well and he didn’t eat very well.  When I did come home from the hospital he was glued to my side.  He would then sleep better and eat better.  When I was at home from the hospital, my body was too weak to play, but Gunner didn’t care.  He just hung out with me and was my couch potato partner.  Such a loyal companion.  He was a big strong warrior and protector who wouldn’t hurt a fly.  I loved him so much.  We were both resilient cancer fighters.  We were soldiers.  We were buddies.  A few months after my cancer treatment ended, Gunner developed Cervical Myelopathy.  This condition is a spinal cord disease that quickly progresses to paralysis.  In a matter of a few hasty months, Gunner lost his battle.  I miss him.  It’s been two years since Gunner died.

Johnny Cash

Guess what?  On a sunny June day of this summer I got a new puppy.  On his “gotcha day,” he was 8-weeks old and 14 lbs.  He came from an “accidental” and unplanned litter.  Surprisingly enough, he is a pure breed.  Today he is 10-weeks old and 20 pounds. His paws are really big.  He has a lot of growing to do.  He is fun, loving, full of energy, and follows me around like my shadow.  This pooch is always by my side.  His toy of choice is a ball, a stick and likes to chew on anything he can get his paws on (which means he might get in trouble sometimes). We named him Cash, like Johnny Cash, and like his song Men in Black because my dog is an all-black German Shepherd.  I like to think since he walks the line, on the leash that is, that Cash for all these reasons is the perfect name for him.

New Dog Days of Summer

Well, I have my new dog days of this summer.  My new puppy fur baby is going to have the best dog life.  I know that the days ahead will be filled with explorations, escapades, and good dog vibes.  I know that Cash isn’t a replacement for Gunner.  Nothing can take Gunner’s place. But Cash is my new buddy.  I think he is up for the job. I know my heart has room.  I know that Cash will be loving, intelligent, protective, and obedient.  He will be by my side through all my future unknowns.  And I will be there day by day at his side.  This is what the Dog Days of my Summer means to me.  The dog days are looking bright, adventurous, and full of light.

      Cheers to New Dog Days!

 Jessica Meyer

  Positively Jessica

 

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Jessica is a 14-year-old pediatric brain cancer survivor who advocates to end pediatric cancer with a goal to educate and inspire others. Jessica is on a mission to support organizations that help children fight cancer and raise funding to find the cure. Jessica is an ambassador for Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Make-A-Wish Middle TN, and Rally for Kids. Jessica is also the 2015-2016 Tennessee Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Champion Ambassador. Through Jessica's ambassadorship she has been featured in many national fund raising campaigns such as the "Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are," "Band Together," and as Cancer Crusher, an 18-episode Superhero-themed national PSA all for the CMNH organization. Jessica has even recently been featured with other cancer patients in the "Teen Cancer America" campaign with The Band Perry.

Jessica has a passion for public speaking. She is a showcased public speaker at many fundraising events. Recently Jessica was the closing plenary speaker for the American Academy of Pediatrics Hospital Medicine's annual convention in Chicago. Jessica has even received an opportunity to take her message to Washington DC with the CMNH Champion's Media Tour where she met with Senators and the Secretary of Health & Human Services.

Along with Jessica's love of public speaking she has also had her story featured in Hope Magazine, Look Book, and Nashville Lifestyles. Jessica has written for blogs and magazine articles for CMNH, Extra Life, and Make-A-Wish. Jessica is a skilled interviewer and continues to do on camera interviews of celebrities and donors for the organizations Jessica is involved with. Recently Jessica has been traveling as a cast member with the My 2nd Act Survivor Stories from the Stage.

About The Author

Jessica is a 14-year-old pediatric brain cancer survivor who advocates to end pediatric cancer with a goal to educate and inspire others. Jessica is on a mission to support organizations that help children fight cancer and raise funding to find the cure. Jessica is an ambassador for Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Make-A-Wish Middle TN, and Rally for Kids. Jessica is also the 2015-2016 Tennessee Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Champion Ambassador. Through Jessica's ambassadorship she has been featured in many national fund raising campaigns such as the "Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are," "Band Together," and as Cancer Crusher, an 18-episode Superhero-themed national PSA all for the CMNH organization. Jessica has even recently been featured with other cancer patients in the "Teen Cancer America" campaign with The Band Perry. Jessica has a passion for public speaking. She is a showcased public speaker at many fundraising events. Recently Jessica was the closing plenary speaker for the American Academy of Pediatrics Hospital Medicine's annual convention in Chicago. Jessica has even received an opportunity to take her message to Washington DC with the CMNH Champion's Media Tour where she met with Senators and the Secretary of Health & Human Services. Along with Jessica's love of public speaking she has also had her story featured in Hope Magazine, Look Book, and Nashville Lifestyles. Jessica has written for blogs and magazine articles for CMNH, Extra Life, and Make-A-Wish. Jessica is a skilled interviewer and continues to do on camera interviews of celebrities and donors for the organizations Jessica is involved with. Recently Jessica has been traveling as a cast member with the My 2nd Act Survivor Stories from the Stage.

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