Monday, July 16, 2012

What I Haven't Told You...

I wanted to take a moment to address something that I’ve been hearing a lot during the last month or so.  While I have greatly appreciated all the kind comments and praises that I’ve received for going to such great lengths to save Lexie’s vision, and eventually her life, I feel that if everyone knew exactly what Lexie, Jocie, Sam and I have been through together, they wouldn’t think that I was just being a good pet owner, they’d understand that there simply was no other option when it came to saving my Lou.  Therefore, for the sake of painting a more complete picture, I have decided to share an important part of our past.  (I haven’t shared this story before now because, well, it’s kind of a downer, and I also didn’t want people to think that I was just pulling out all the stops to gain sympathy, especially when I had to ask for donations a few weeks ago). 

My girls and I experienced a horrible tragedy in August of 2009, when my husband of 7 years, Chris (whom I had been with for 14 years), chose to take his own life.   He made this decision after a long struggle with alcoholism and failing physical and mental health (pancreatitis and possibly early schizophrenia, although he was never officially diagnosed).  Chris and I had always planned to have children someday, but until we felt the time was right, Jocie, Sam, and Lexie were our children. (It was actually Chris who insisted that we adopt Lexie, despite my reservations about owning three dogs at the time, because he wanted to have a least one dog he was confident would protect me whenever he was away.)  

It’s impossible for me to give a Cliff’s Notes version about everything that happened leading up to Chris’ suicide because it was (to put it very mildly) a giant, complicated, five-year-long mess.   The bottom line is that his gradual, almost unnoticeable at first, downward spiral of mental illness took a sudden plunge in the last few months before his death.  At one point, after we had eventually separated, he had uncharacteristically threatened to shoot me, shoot the dogs, and then shoot himself.  For this reason, when he showed up at my house on that warm, summer night almost three years ago, I initially struggled when he tried to push his way through the front door because my first instinct was to protect the girls.  However, when the towel he was carrying fell to the ground and revealed that he was holding a gun, I knew I just had to get away from him as quickly as possible.  To this day, I still wonder if he had actually come to the house that night with the intention of shooting me and the girls, as well as himself.  I guess I’ll never know, but I will be forever thankful that he let me go and allowed all three of our girls run out of the house before he took his own life in the living room.

Needless to say, it was an extremely traumatic experience for all of us.  Jocie became reclusive, Sam lost almost all the fur off her back, and Lexie wouldn’t let me out of her sight for the month or so that we stayed at my Dad’s afterwards.  Finally, after I was unable to find a new place to live that would allow me to keep all three dogs, I made the very difficult decision to move back into my house.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to survive in that house, which was so full of wonderful, horrible, and now tragic memories, but the night we moved back in I knew I had made the right decision for my girls, as I hadn’t seen them so relaxed or happy in a very long time.   

Jocie, Sam, and Lexie all comforted me with their unconditional love during that very difficult grieving period, but it was Lexie who actually motivated me to keep moving forward.   It was hard for me to stay sad or depressed for too long when inevitably Lou would bring me one of her stuffed animals and try to entice me off the couch for a game of chase.  It was also hard to feel lonely when Lexie would always insist on laying her head in my lap every time I watched TV, talked on the phone, worked on my laptop, etc.  She even helped me run the household, so to speak, by making sure that I and her sisters stuck to a strict feeding and bathroom schedule (her internal clock is pretty impressive).   In fact, watching all three of my girls fall so easily back into their daily routines and carry on with their lives, thanks to Miss Lexie always cracking the proverbial whip, greatly inspired me to pick up the pieces of my own life and move on.

The bottom line is that Lexie is the one who deserves all the praise for saving me.  She helped me survive when I needed her most, and so I will never do anything less than the same for her.


  1. Wow, thank you for telling your story, even though I really don't think anyone ever questioned your motives or why you are tirelessly working to save your girl - you are such a devoted mommy! I can't even begin to imagine what you have gone through, and I hope you never have to deal with anything like that again. Our lives have also been touched by suicide (my husband's best friend of 20 years and my son's friend, who was 15), and while I know it's a touchy subject, I've come to realize it's a very selfish solution to often temporary problems (sorry if I offend anyone). Again, thanks for your honesty, and my family will continue to keep you and your babies in our prayers!

    1. Teresa,

      Thank you very much. Although, I just want to be clear that I didn't share this story because I thought people were questioning my motives. I just felt like Lexie deserves as much praise and recognition for saving me as I have been receiving for saving her.

      As for your thoughts about suicide, I personally was not offended. In fact, I thought it was very well put. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my post. :)

  2. Teresa, thank you for keeping my beautiful daughter in your prayers. I'm very proud of her for baring her sole. This was an experience that no mother wants to see their daughter go through. I loved Chris as if he was mine...I loved him for the way he allowed my daughter to bloom into the beautiful, talented young lady she became - he made her strong and independent and when the time came that he felt she could take care of herself _ he let her go.....he will always be loved by those who knew him. Thankfully,
    Courtney has a wonderful group of friends who have always been there for her - and the most important, beautiful friend - and - little brother, Zach, has been there for her every step of the way - God blessed me, Im so proud of these guys!!! But, I really have to pay tribute to Justin who is Courtney's rock; who has been there to give her the love and support and understanding that she has needed throughout this ordeal - thank you Justn!

  3. It takes a lot to go through what you did, and carry on as you have, and then tell us about it in such a public venue. I was sorry to read this story, because things like this shouldn't happen to anybody, and happen far too frequently. Your story is a testament to the wonderful help that dogs are to us, and the power that they have to help us. Especially your magical Doberman!

  4. Dear Courtney, I have been a fan of Pablo and Ramsey from the beginning, and I have been following your posts daily. I'm at my desk at work right now, and I have the biggest lump in my throat, and blinking back tears. I understand the love you have for Lexie and how much she loves you back. I also have a fur baby, Sofie, that is precious to me. Dogs are the most perfect creatures on earth, and they love unconditionally. You have been through so much and, from what I read, it has made you stronger. All the people in your world, both two legged and four, are lucky to have you there. Lexie will make it through just fine, I know that. I wish I could give her a kiss and hug, but you can do it for me, please.
    I wish the best for all of you and hope your future is happy and healthy. You deserve it, you are a wonderful young woman.