These past couple of weeks have been a little rough, getting used to the loss of my beloved Boston, Adie. It’s still strange not having her here by my side every day, following me from room to room, especially by my bed when I wake up every morning.
This past week, her ashes were returned to us, which I knew would be a little rough, but when I saw they had included a set of her pawprint impressions, I broke down all over again. I had gotten an imprint of her nose before she passed, but I didn’t think to get one of her paws. I didn’t think I even needed one, but it was such a lovely surprise, it makes me smile.
There are several ways I’ve been trying to feel better. I’ve been drawing portraits of her before she was ill, because I knew it’d be hard afterward. I tried drawing her later, but it was difficult, and made me sad, and just didn’t look right. So I went to a different medium, and tried embroidery, stitching this little portrait of her, surrounded by her favorite thing, popcorn.
I loved spending time with all the little pieces of her face. I like that the popcorn ended up looking like little flowers, in a way.
Someone on Instagram sent me a message, saying “maybe you could make one of your Dream Creepers for yourself that looks a little like Adie?” It was a good sign, as I had already been tossing the idea around for a little while. I chose the fabric, something soft (because Dream Creepers make great neck pillows for long trips), and my husband helped me put it all together.
If you look closely, you can even see I added a little something on her snooter: a little foil heart on her nose, sealed in resin. She ALWAYS had something on her snooter from sniffing the floor for crumbs, and people used to laugh at my photos with the same caption over and over again: “Adie, you’ve got something on your snooter.”
I started to realize that those funny moments, the ones that made me smile, were where the healing was. The best memories were the happy ones, and instead of dwelling on how much I missed her, I started remembering all the funny things.
Recently I visited a friend who is a tattoo artist. Annie and I have known each other for awhile, and she knew how special Adie is to me. She drew up the most perfect design of Adie with her favorite thing–popcorn–and added a piece to her snooter. She tattooed it on me, and I was floored at how wonderful it looked (because Annie is an amazing artist). I love it immensely, and I love that I get to carry her little happy face with me wherever I go. Instead of being a super serious portrait, it makes me smile.
Like the time I sculpted a goofy portrait of her, and she was less than impressed…
One of the biggest realizations for me was this portrait I drew. Initially, I wanted to draw her sitting in her “old man” pose, with her little pink belly hanging out, which always made me smile. But it ended up looking sad.
…Until I added a fart. Because my hairy girl could clear a ROOM. You wouldn’t expect something so small would make a smell so obnoxious, but it always made me laugh as I was gasping for air. And it didn’t bother her in the slightest.
So that helped a lot. For some reason, something like that goofy drawing makes me instantly remember the funny side of her, and makes me feel happy. It wasn’t something I expected, but I’m grateful for it, that something so little helped me heal with a smile.
And in a perfect moment of great timing, my husband sent me this image, which happened to be in his Instagram feed DIRECTLY after my post of how a little toot-doodle made me smile again…
And it’s the truth.
I had to say goodbye to my sweet dog this week, and my heart is broken. It’ll get better in time, but it hurts a lot right now. I won’t flood you with every detail of my dog’s life, but I wanted to share the process of my memory bracelet, and how I made a mold of Adie’s snooter.
Adie was 11 years old and had been sick for awhile, and battled both cancer and seizures. And while medication was helping, I didn’t realize my remaining time with her would be as short as it was. In the very end, I held her face and kissed her snooter, but she had had so many seizures that her little body couldn’t handle it. She was already gone before they told me she was gone.
Adie (named “Awesome Dude” after a line from an SNL skit–A.D. for short) was my baby before I had a baby. She was pretty sure SHE was my baby, too….
She was a tiny thing when we first got her, only 2 pounds (and rescued from what I’m pretty sure was a puppy mill), and we brought her home with worms and ear mites, and made her good as new. She grew up around our gentle boxer, Scout, who was so sweet and careful with her, that Adie lived her life assuming she was as BIG as her.
She licked my face constantly, because I loved her doggy-kisses. She followed me EVERYWHERE. She cuddled with me CONSTANTLY. She had to sit by me ALWAYS. And she could clear a room with her toots.
She loved me, and I loved her, and she made me smile. She was a food-junkie, and constantly sniffed our floors looking for any possible scraps of food…which left her inevitably with some random scraps of paper or dirt stuck to her nose. Family would laugh when I’d post a picture with the simple caption–over and over and over again through the years: “Adie, you’ve got something on your snooter.”
I had the feeling she was getting pretty bad. We made an appointment to talk to the vet, hopefully about upping her medicine to help with the seizures. I started thinking of the worst, and what sort of thing I’d want to remember her by.
She didn’t wear her collar at home, so I didn’t have an emotional attachment to it. I’ve seen art made from whiskers or toenails, but that just didn’t seem like my thing. What I was going to miss most of all was kissing her little snooter.
I looked around the internet, and found that there are artists on Etsy that would send you a moldmaking kit, you’d send it back to them with an impression of your dog’s nose, and they’d make a lovely piece of metal jewelry. It’s a beautiful thing, but I wondered, since I have worked with moldmaking and resin, if that would be something I could do myself. I didn’t find much online, so I thought I’d walk you through the process I had of making my own, for those of you who wanted to give it a whirl, or–like me and Adie–whose time was short.
1. First off, I got this Amazing brand mold putty at our local craft store. It’s a nontoxic 2-part quick-curing mold formula. As you can see in the top right of the box, it comes in two tubs. You pinch equal parts of each, and squoosh them together in a ball and mix it until it doesn’t have any streaks in it. You have to work fairly quickly, as it starts setting once it’s completely mixed.
2. Next, I held Adie gently, and quickly pressed the ball up against her nose, making sure to keep her mouth open to breathe. She was tired and lethargic anyway, and didn’t seem to mind much. She just kind of let me hold it there for awhile, and if you press gently (not completely squooshing), you should be able to pull away after awhile with a decent nose print.
3. So here’s a picture of the nose print (minus a few shedded hairs–don’t worry, it didn’t hurt her at ALL and she’s shed WAY more than that in a day–but maybe be more careful if your dog has long hairs). Next up, I set the mold carefully in a messy container (because I knew it would be messy) and poured my resin mix in it, waiting for it to cure (the kind I got takes around 10 minutes).
4. And here’s the little resin cast of Adie’s lovely little snooter. I used my little hand-held dremel sander and shaped the edges into a smooth sort of oval.
5. Next up, I painted it solid black. I didn’t want it to be realistic or anything; this is just an undercoat of acrylic paint, in preparation for the next step.
6. I found this water-based Metallic Lustre by DecoArt in “Iced Espresso” to match the wrist bracelet setting I had found at the craft store, and painted it over the black.
7. Look how pretty! The black undercolor really makes the details pop.
8. Here is the blank bracelet base I found at the craft store. There are several options you can choose…this one is a leather adjustable band with a flat panel to glue things on. I knew I didn’t really want a necklace–I felt like it’d be comforting and easier to give her snooter a kiss if I wanted to, to have it on a bracelet.
It’s glued on with E6000, and I later went back and sealed it in clear resin, to avoid scratching it up (which is what happened the first day I wore it, even though it had been sealed with clear varnish).
And there it is. And two days later, she was gone. And I miss her so much, but I’m so glad I had a chance to do this.
Whatever people need to do to grieve, as long as they’re not hurting anyone else, it’s okay. There’s no “right” way to remember a loved one. For me, having a mold of her little kissable nose around isn’t nearly as good as her real nose, but it helps the hurt a little.
Myla handled it well. We cried a lot about it. She asked if I could make her a bracelet too. (The next day, a kid at school asked if she cut her dogs’s nose off….because kids can be insensitive jerks sometimes.)
So there you go. I miss my sweet Adie. I miss the spot by my bed where she slept. I keep looking down and forgetting she’s not there. It’s weird feeding only one dog instead of two, and the boxer isn’t NEARLY as excited about food as Adie was. It’s strange sitting on the couch and not having her snuggled up against my side.
I miss kissing her little face.
I got so many kind words over on Instagram about losing my sweet Adie. She made people giggle in the IG Story posts I made of her whining while she was waiting for dinner (two hours early). And many people asked me about the process of making the bracelet.
It’s not the same as having her back, but hopefully, if you’ve got a hairy baby, you can make a nose mold too, and have a snooter around to kiss goodbye.
Goodbye, sweet Adie.
Would you like another example of how art saved the day? I will tell you a story.
First off, this is my hairy girl. Her name is Adie, and she’s an old lady. She’s a 10-year old lovable Boston terrier, who unfortunately is beginning to fall apart a bit.
When we first got her, she was weensy. She weighed two pounds and could fit in your hand. She came to us with an ear infection and worms, and had to be medicated, but after some time, she was happy and healthy.
Our other dog, a boxer named Scout, became her adopted big sister, and–despite being three times her size–was VERY gentle with her, and always let her think she was the boss.
Adie loved me from the moment I first held her, and the love was completely mutual. She always has to be near me… she follows me from room to room, and especially now that she’s older and prone to seizures (thankfully, meds keep them at bay), she’s constantly by my side and underfoot wherever I go.
She’s a funny sleeper…
…she sits like an old man…
…and because she’s my little roomba, sniffing around the kitchen, she ALWAYS has something on her snooter.
She’s an absolutely silly, sweet, and stinky girl (in every sense of the word–aside from having a Napoleon complex, she also has extraordinarily pungent gas).
But recently, we were told that a little lump on her nubby tail was cancerous. As a Boston terrier, she barely has a tail ANYway, but now we were told her entire nubby tail needed to be completely removed as soon as possible.
And it’s ironic–my husband just retired from the Army, and suddenly everything breaks down: our AC needed repair, my car tires needed replaced, the dog needs surgery, and one thing after another needed our immediate financial attention. We have some money in savings, but it’s allotted in preparation to get us through his retirement, until the next step of his career. There was no question in my mind that we’d pay for the surgery–both my dogs are family, and if they need it, they need it. But I cringed at our finances taking this kind of hit.
And then my husband half-jokingly suggested I have an art sale. I actually thought it was worth a shot. I have tons of artwork that is just sitting in my house, buried in sketchbooks or folders, waiting to be loved, and if people liked it, maybe I could raise some money for her surgery! I took several pieces out, took photographs of everything, and put it up in my shop. I even decided there were a few of the collaborations from when Myla was age 4 that I was willing to part with (I VERY rarely part with those!).
I made sure that there was nothing I would be sad over losing. I made sure it was all artwork that I love, but I don’t have a deep emotional attachment to. I chose things I thought people might like. When I made my sale stack, there were a couple I decided “nope, I think I need to keep that one.” …It was all for a good cause, and all done with absolute love. I put a post up, and crossed my fingers.
Within a few hours, I was amazed at how many sales we made! The amazing comments that came in, all the wonderful well-wishes, all the kind words from people, it was all so overwhelming in the very best way. Even those who couldn’t buy were happy to share on their own pages to spread the word–something I never expected. We were all smiles over here, let me tell you.
By the end of the evening, with everyone’s amazing support, we made more than enough to pay for Adie’s tail removal! She’s got an appointment for May 1st, and I’ll be sure to update my pages on how she’s doing. Hopefully it’ll be a smooth job, they’ll get all the cancer, and she’ll be better off for it.
So thank you, all of you who helped by buying or sharing! Thank you for all your kind words and thoughts. Art saved the day, and you all made it happen, and I am very grateful for it!
I’ll keep you all posted. Fingers crossed!