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Jackie Boy • Update

I just wanted to take a moment today to say thank you. So many of you continue to send your love and support, prayers, well wishes for Jackie Boy. All of the Facebook comments/likes, texts, calls, voicemails, cards… it’s so very appreciated! We’re so grateful to have such incredible friends and family to give us strength during such a difficult time. I wanted to chime in on the blog today and give an update since my last post about the unfortunate news of Jackson. I included some photos too that I snapped with my iPhone 🙂

That night after hearing the news was a quiet one… lots of snuggling and feeling grateful for all the time we’ve had with him and hopeful for having a little more time. The following night we had him tag along on fun errands with us — one thing on his bucket list was to go somewhere new so he went with us to Home Depot for the first time. Ryan wasn’t too sure if they were pet friendly but my motto is “it’s better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission”, LOL. I know Home Depot doesn’t sound too exciting but he had a blast roaming the aisles and all the employees were loving on him. The following night was a Friday (it couldn’t come soon enough!). We had my parents over for dinner and Rachael (my sis-in-law) and our sweet nephew were in town so they joined us too! Ryan cooked a delicious steak dinner (he’s a grill master!). We cooked Jax his very own steak — he has had scraps from us in the past after dinner but not an entire steak all for himself… he was in love! The following night we had dinner out with all of our neighbors — roughly 30 of us got together and walked to a new restaurant in town, Tarrants. It was a much needed night of laughter!! We had the after-party at our house (of course!) and Jax loved fetching toys and dancing with everyone until 2AM 🙂

A week after hearing the news, we dropped Jax off at my parents house to head to Mexico for a destination wedding (my first destination wedding to attend and photograph!). As much as I didn’t want to leave him I knew he was in good hands — Mom and Dad spoiled him tons! It was a much needed time for Ryan and I to have a change of scenery and clear our heads. The wedding was incredible! While we were there we’d FaceTime back home to check-in on our boy. I knew even if he was getting worse that Mom wouldn’t tell me. We were gone for 5 days and I came home on a late Sunday night excited to snuggle my Jackie Boy! When I got in my car and left the airport I called Mom to get the real story on how Jax did while we were away. She mentioned that one of the nights he didn’t eat his dinner… this definitely concerned me because Jax never misses a meal, ever. He has always been a dog to try anything, always sits at your feet and begs when you’re eating, and never skipped out on a chance to scarf down food. I got home to find him sleeping on our sofa in the family room — Dad had dropped him off earlier that evening and had the lights on and music playing for him. He was happy to see me but I could immediately notice that he looked different. I put a bowl of food down and he just stared at me… I fell to the floor and cried. I knew this was a turning point with his illness. He could tell I was upset and slowly began to eat his food anyway. I think we set the bar high with that delicious steak dinner the week before and now he’s bored with his Pedigree dog food… don’t worry Jax, I would be too after having the same meal for almost 9 years.

We received the sweetest care package from the Bishop family!!! Filled with my favorite candies, dog books and movies, and a heartwarming note.
Y’all are the best!! We’ve recently watched “All Dogs Go to Heaven” and the candy is already gone!

LOTS of snuggling going on at the Shumate house these days…

Home Depot visit and a sweet card from our neighbors 🙂

The next morning we headed for the grocery store! Our pantry and fridge were empty from us being out of town and I knew I needed to get creative with meals so Jax would eat. On our way we stopped at a place where I knew he would find delicious… McDonalds! It was on his bucket list to have a cheeseburger from McDonalds. I ordered two boy kid’s meals. I should’ve ordered them plain because he wasn’t too excited about the pickles and onions but he gobbled up the meat and cheese! I headed for the grocery store and picked up some rice, lots of chicken, and some Caesars wet dog food (meant for small dogs but has lots of flavor). I was happy to see that he would eat one scoop of his dog food with a can of Caesars (chicken and steak flavored!) mixed in. He ate that for about a week before he became bored of that too.

THANK YOU Betsy for your generous gift card!

Last weekend was Valentine’s Day. I got Jax a stuffed animal to play with — another one to add to the basket! Ryan and I headed to DC for the night because I had a sunrise shoot that following morning (the coldest shoot I’ve ever done but so in love with the sweet images). I wanted to bring Jax along but the hotel was going to charge $150 as a pet fee… so, off to grandparents house he went (thanks again Mom and Dad!!).

This past Monday was Jackson’s 9th birthday!! Was so glad that he has stayed strong for this long and we could celebrate another birthday with him. The snow started coming down mid-afternoon. He got SO much birthday love on Facebook!! I bought a birthday balloon and tied it to his collar. We enjoyed a walk around the neighborhood in the snow and spent the evening relaxing at home with a fire. As the snow fell we sang him “Happy Birthday” and brought him a plain glazed donut topped off with a candle. His first time trying a donut and he loved it. I bought some handprint ornaments (love Amazon!) and we had fun decorating it with Jax paw — especially love that they are foam-like ornaments so they won’t break when Ryan takes the ornaments off the tree 🙂

Richmond got roughly 7 inches of snow that night. Schools were closed and we were most certainly snowed in. I got up early that morning to take some photos of our house in the snow. Jax had fun walking around and even played some with his buddy next door, Duke. I think the cold air irritates him and his breathing after a while so I was sure not to keep him outside for too long. His appetite is still not that great. Right now, all he seems to love eating are the baked chickens from Martins (I bought two the night before the snow storm came and he’s gobbled them up!). We are trying to mix in rice and some of his dog food with the chicken so he can get more carbs in his system. We recently introduced him to ravioli 🙂

It’s now been 25 days since Jackson was diagnosed with cancer. Jax has had his ups and down, good days and not-so-good days, we’ve laughed a lot, and cried a lot. We’ve spent a lot of time at home just keeping him in his routine, keeping him comfortable. Aside from him being a little more mellow (and a little high-maintenance with his appetite), he’s still my shadow and follows me around the house, he still sleeps by my feet when I’m editing on my laptop, still wags his tail, and still barks when the delivery guy comes to the door… all of which (and more!) makes me smile. I only wish it was springtime outside so we could take more advantage of our time left together to walk around the park, go swimming in the river, and play in the grass — right now, it’s too cold!! Only 28 more days until Spring!!

This coming weekend I don’t have any sessions booked and I’m looking forward to having some un-plugged time with family and friends. We are having some record cold weather in Richmond this weekend (right now it’s 6º outside!!) so it’s a perfect time to stay warm at home and snuggle up! Guess what?!… this coming Monday I’m going to be on the other side of the camera lens for a change! My family did a favor for a fellow photographer friend last Fall and as a thank you she’s offered to do a portrait session — thank you Riette. I thought it would be great timing to have a fun session with Ryan and Jax to get some updated lifestyle photographs taken of us. We plan to go down to Pony Pasture along the James River — I’ve gone there all my life and have taken Jax to play and swim there for many years! It will certainly be a special time to walk along the snowy trails and I know Riette will do an amazing job in capturing all the joy Jax brings to our hearts. Can’t wait to share images from our session 🙂

He’s certainly been a trooper through all of this. He has stayed strong which has helped me try to cope with all of this… but at this point I don’t want him to keep going if he’s in pain. Every night before we go to bed and each time we leave the house we give him a good snuggle and tell him he’s a good boy. They say you’ll know when it’s time because they’ll let you know… I dread that day. We know what signs to look for and continue to monitor his behavior. This week I have finalized on what his plan is for when that time comes. Having a plan has helped me mentally prepare for it all so it’s hopefully not so overwhelming and chaotic when it does happen. I have our vet (and two backup vets) on stand-by for doing an in-home visit so he can be relaxed and comfortable on his dog bed surrounded by love when he drifts to his final rest. It’s been a rough 25 days but this whole experience has taught me so much and reminds me everyday to appreciate life and what truly matters. I’m thankful that it’s brought Ryan and I closer as it’s been an emotional roller coaster for the both of us. I’m so very grateful for this precious time we have left with Jax and will most certainly be there for him through the end of all this. I’ll be right by his side just as he’s been there for me all this time. Thank you for all your continued loving support and prayers — they are appreciated more than you know.



Read more > Rest in Peace Jackie Boy

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