Hartley, My Heart.

11 Feb
My Heart.

My Heart.

I have loved animals all of my life. I always loved my family dogs, I loved horses and horseback riding as a kid and I always wanted to work with dogs when I grew up. Everything I thought I knew about loving dogs all changed when I saw Hartley’s face on Petfinder in February of 2009. I knew I HAD to have this dog. I was 21 years old and living on my own. This was going to be MY first dog. I filled out my adoption papers 20 minutes before someone else tried to adopt him. It was meant to be.
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Hartley was a 12 week old Lab-Mix puppy. My vet declared right away that he was probably a Pitbull-mix. That was fine with me, I’d been in love with Pitbulls for the past 5 or so years. No wonder I fell so hard for his picture.

So Snuggly.

So Snuggly.

Hartley and I instantly fell in love. I was 21 and had a pretty busy lifestyle so I simply brought Hartley with me. Everywhere. Hartley came to friends houses with me, Hartley came to my parents houses with me (even though he wasn’t invited). Hartley came grocery shopping with me or to school with me if I had a short day. He loved being in the car and I loved that I could walk him during my breaks. Hartley and I spent our time camping, at the cabin, or hiking. I was so much more active than I’d ever been before. We even played outside at night which would have scared me before.

Can I come with?

Can I come with?

Before I had Hartley I used to have terrible sleeping problems. I was always scared at night and I could never just FALL ASLEEP. When Hartley was about 7 months old I stopped making him sleep in his crate and let him sleep in bed with me. Every night he slept in the crook of my legs with his head on my legs. Suddenly I wasn’t afraid anymore. I listened to, and felt, him breathing and I fell asleep.

My life changed when I brought little Hartley home. I loved that I was responsible for his life. I loved coming home after work because that was Hartley and Chelsea time. I loved that he made me active and I loved that, with Hartley, winter was fun. I couldn’t just sit indoors anymore.. Hartley needed to be exercised. I learned that if I bundled up, playing in the snow was actually fun.
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My dad was always so amazed by Hartley’s attachment to me. He used to say that Hartley orbited around me. Even off leash he rarely went more than 50 yards from me. He would chase me on the four-wheeler no matter where I went.

Me and My Baby

Me and My Baby

This was the first time in my life that I had experienced THIS kind of love and devotion. He was my whole life, my whole heart and soul. Nothing made me happier than Hartley did. And he also made me fall in love with Pitbulls even more. The love and devotion that this little Pitbull gave me was more than I ever could have dreamed of. He was my best friend and the love of my life.
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One year after I brought little Hartley home and into my life he got really sick. He was throwing up and very lethargic. It turned out that he had ingested rope from a rope toy, and the next day he died in surgery. His intestines were completely shredded and there was nothing they could do to save him. He was in so much more pain than I ever knew. The night before he died he didn’t act like he was in pain. He just wanted to be with me. I didn’t even say goodbye. I was so relieved that he was going in to surgery because I was convinced it would help him. I didn’t get to say goodbye until after he had died. He would have done anything for me and I completely failed him.

Hartley died 3 years ago and I still can’t believe he’s gone. His death wrecked me. I still can’t think about the last couple of days that I had with him without crying.

I love Mylo and Chase with all of my heart but Hartley will always be MY HEART. Hartley changed my life and opened my eyes to real undying devotion. He gave me my strong passion for dogs and gave me an unwavering commitment to Pitbulls.

I’m now overly cautious with my dogs, and I worry ALL the time. I don’t want to ever go through that pain again. Saying goodbye to his lifeless body was the worst moment of my entire life. But, I am thankful that I had one year with Hartley, my angel, and I will always have unwavering affection for the dogs in my life, because Hartley would want me to.

I thank Hartley for showing me what is important in life. He died three years ago yesterday, so this post is for him.
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Harltey, I hope you’re having fun over the rainbow bridge. I miss you every day. I’m sorry we didn’t get more time together, but thank you for sending me Mylo and Chase and all of my fosters to bring me some comfort, and some more love.

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9 Responses to “Hartley, My Heart.”

  1. Emily Miller February 11, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    Absolutely love this post Chelsea! He was truly an amazing dog and will forever he in our hearts! Love you!

  2. Marcela February 11, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    I am sorry for your loss. Harltey was a very handsome boy. I don’t blame you for being over cautious with your dogs because of what happened with Harltey. When I got my first dog, Casey, I did get him a rope toy, but because he would poop it and get scared as it was coming out of his body I stopped giving it to him. I am glad that beautiful dog showed you the amazing capacity they have to love us. They are amazing. Every single one of them.

    • pittiesforyourthoughts February 12, 2013 at 11:51 am #

      Thank you! Hartley appreciates the compliments I’m sure 🙂 I’m glad you stopped giving him rope toys if he was eating it! I never knew how harmful it could be. I still allow mine to play with rope toys if they are being closely monitored.. but I make sure that they are playing tug, not shredding it. He really showed me how amazing the human-dog bond is. I’ll always be thankful for that!

      • Marcela February 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

        I am careful with anything I give Alex. She loves nylabones. We just have to be vigilant about what they eat and play with.

  3. My Two Pitties February 11, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

    Hartley was such a beautiful dog, it sounded like you had an amazing bond. So sad that he went so soon. It must have been devastating. I got my first dog when I was around that age also and she was so special to me, I don’t think I’ll ever have that bond with another dog again as much as I love and adore my dogs now.

    • pittiesforyourthoughts February 12, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      Thank you, he was beautiful! I think that bond we share with our first dog will always be something to be remembered.

  4. CrazyExhaustion (@CrazyExhaustion) February 18, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

    Oh my, the tears. I can’t stop crying! You just didn’t have enough time with him 😦 Okay, note to self: do not read your blog with raging PMS. Hugs!

  5. dailyspro February 20, 2013 at 8:02 am #

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I know how you feel. When epic dogs like this come into our lives, we can’t be anything but broken when they leave. Take peace that you gave him the best year that you could, and he obviously loved every minute of it 🙂

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