So I Joined AARP. Shut Up.


“What do you mean, Patrick? Old people are the greatest! They’re full of wisdom and experience!” – SpongeBob SquarePants

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Call it target marketing.

A few weeks ago, I was reading a story online about something I can’t remember but none of that is important. Near the bottom of the page was an ad for AARP and while I’m usually pretty good at ignoring ads (read: they’ve never prompted me to purchase a damn thing ever), I decided it to give it a click and see what it was all about.

I thought I’d go a little in-depth with what they had to offer and see if it was worth my time. About 20 minutes later, I was reaching for my wallet to join at the low, low introductory rate of $12 for the year.

And here’s what I’ve discovered so far.

Anyone can join AARP these days. It was once restricted to ages 55 and up but that’s no longer the case.

I get a 15% senior discount at Denny’s when I flash my membership card which, two weeks later, I have yet to receive in physical form. Thankfully, it can be added to your Apple Wallet via the app so it’s cool. But for my birthday this week, my meal will be free since Denny’s still does that Grand Slam birthday promotion. It will be a good way to start my day when I do what I have planned. You didn’t hear anything. Shhh.

I took a hearing test, a whopping $8 value but free of charge to AARP members, and to no one’s surprise I discovered I’m a little hard of hearing, mostly in the right ear. It was a little sketchy though since the test was done over the phone where I had to listen to the sound a voice recite a set of three numbers over white noise that got louder each sequence. Then I had to enter said numbers – or at least what I thought I heard – with the keypad. I guess seeing Elton John last week didn’t help matters (but seriously, it was Elton Fucking John and he was spectacular).

There are discounts a-plenty: travel, health, auto insurance, hotels, etc. And oh yeah, cellular plans for Jitterbug. Because I’m so fucking old that I need to use a flip phone to call the police and let them know about the damn neighbor kids messing up my lawn.

But honestly, the discounts were all pretty disappointing. I’ve got good health insurance for me and the family so we’re covered there. I tried an auto insurance quote and it wasn’t much cheaper than what we pay with AAA which offers many more benefits. For travel and entertainment, my company has a corporate site where we can buy movie or concert tickets, book hotel rooms, reserve a rental car, etc. at substantial corporate discounts. What AARP offers doesn’t even come close to these rates.

There are also financial planning services offered but again, the job offers the same thing. So as of now, about the only thing this will be good/used for is the 15% discount at Denny’s and as often as we go there, it’s not even worth keeping.

Maybe when I leave my job and retire (HA!) I’ll get back into this whole AARP thing but until then, it’s a no from me and won’t be renewing. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and OOH SHINY NEW BIKE!

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It’s new. It was cheap. I rode it home in the rain and it’s better than anything you can get a big box store for the same price of $199 (original retail was $489). I still like to ride and since Ann’s old bike was absconded by some putz at the office, I can take my old one to work and use it instead of the left-out-in-the-rain bikeshare bikes that often need repairing.

50 might be approaching but I’m not slowing down much.

Well, except maybe when I see a Denny’s.

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Yoga Kicked My Ass


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One of the many benefits that my employer offers is free twice-weekly yoga classes. Over Christmas break I decided that, after almost three years on the job, I would start to take these classes.

Once we returned to work after our break, I made a trip down to Ross and bought the last yoga mat they had to reinforce my commitment – a whole $15 for that mat – to taking these classes.

Last night was the first class. Last night was also my last class.

To put it simply, it kicked my ass. I mean, really. And it’s when you take a yoga class that you realize you’re not in the shape that you thought you were.

Granted I had never taken any classes outside of what’s offered on Wii Fit and some other fitness game I have on Xbox, so there was some familiarity with it but not a full understanding.

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And from those games I knew the poses everybody knows: warrior, downward-facing dog, and the chair pose. But also, I would do these in the privacy of the den with nobody around and I got used to it, even if I sucked at it.

Taking yoga with people is a different thing entirely. For one, breathing plays a big part in yoga if not the main part. When you’re with a class of people in a small, quiet room listening to new age music and meditation bowls bonging, no matter how hard you’re trying to concentrate on your own breathing, you hear everyone else gasping for air and your focus – well, mine at least – gets lost. And for what it’s worth, I liked it better doing it alone.

Then there’s the flexibility issue. In a word, I’m not. I can easily walk/jog (75/25 I’d estimate) a half-marathon distance, go for a day of hiking without much water or ride 25 miles on the bike at any given time because I’ve conditioned my body and strengthened it for doing those things. Yoga isn’t any of those so it would take some getting used to and even so, I doubt I’d gain the flexibility of others.

The after effects of yoga didn’t sit well with me either. Years ago, Ann got me a massage for my birthday and while it was indeed relaxing, the release of the toxins messed me up by way of a headache and severe sinus issues that lasted for days. Last night I came home to the same symptoms plus I looked like I was hit by a Mack truck. Thankfully all these symptoms went away by morning.

On the plus side: I slept so good but parts of my body are still sore today.

Finally, the class ran really long. I guess for free this shouldn’t be a legitimate complaint but when I’m off at 6 pm and don’t end up getting home until 8 pm, it not only makes for a long day in general but it also bites into a big chunk of family time. And with things being the way they are lately, I don’t need to be around them less.

So I came, I tried, and I didn’t like. I’ll keep my gym membership and not try not to think about that $15 investment not being the best one I’ve made recently.

Unless the cats decide it would make a good bed.

Of Mice and Mental States


I’m not the one to keep resolutions because frankly, I never make them. My motto is “Commit, don’t resolve” because to me a resolution sounds like a one-time deal that, once accomplished, holds no promise for the future. You did it and it’s over. Boom.

Whereas a commitment means you’re in it for the long haul. And when I make up my mind to do something, I commit myself to it.

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The nifty little notebook you see here has become my companion over the last year. I’ve been taking it to Ann’s doctor appointments, Anthony’s high school orientation, and using it to jot down notes whenever I needed to. And in December, I started to compile a list of things I was planning on doing in 2019. The whole new year, new me thing looked like a really good idea.

And it was going fine – until shit hit the fan. Now working on that list is the last thing on my mind. But for shits and giggles, let’s see what it said and how realistic these goals were in the first place or if I plan to pick them up again.

1. Health: weight loss, Buddhism, meditation. From the start of the year up until this weekend, I had lost 3.6 pounds. Then the weekend came and as I stressed out about the baby-daddy bullshit in Texas, I pretty much ate my way through it with only one day at the gym, and it wasn’t even a long day there. I haven’t picked up any books, digital or otherwise, on Buddhism and haven’t meditated. Just not in the right state of mind although I could probably use both. I am, however, going to start taking advantage of the office’s free, twice-weekly yoga classes this week. After being there three years I might as well give it a shot.

2. Following through: getting caught up on bills, cleaning. This is one area that we could definitely use some help with and we have all but one bill under control. Much like sports teams, this is a “rebuilding year” for us and we don’t plan bringing home the hardware; we just want to make it to the finish line in better shape than the start and be ready for the following season after learning from our mistakes. For lack of a better term, you could call this “adulting.” As for cleaning? It’s happened in small bunches.

3. Reading in general. No, no, no. I’m not quite sure who got a hold of my notebook and wrote this one in there because if there’s one thing I simply cannot do for an extended period of time, it’s read. I usually fall asleep when I do and considering I’m stuck in front of a monitor all day proofreading fine print and whatnot, reading on my own free time is the last thing I want to do for fun.

4. Less Facebook. I seem to say this one quite a bit and it almost never works out. My goal was to post less and use it only as a resource for news and other things of interest I follow. Even then it’s a rabbit hole. It’s still a possibility – I can keep to myself rather well, unlike others who feel the urge to post every. single. thing that they do, no matter how mundane or stupid.

5. Learn Spanish. Yet another thing I have tried to accomplish in the past but like reading, bores me to tears. I end up putting the tablet down and having nightmares about the Duolingo owl pecking my eyes out. Granted my comprehension of Spanish is limited to reading and listening and I’m pretty good at both. But speaking? Ay, dios mío.

6. Creativity: writing, drawing, etc. I’ve actually taken action on this one and bought myself a new sketch pad and ink pens. Whether it continues is anybody’s guess.

Again, I had planned on doing all of these things before that fucking letter arrived. Having to go through this bullshit has not been fun for either my wallet, my family or my mental health, and all I’ve been wanting to do at night is put on my earbuds, listen to white noise and fall asleep. Despite the fact that this case is obviously does not involve me directly, I hate having to deal with it and just want it to all go away hopefully without having to spend any more money on my attorney.

I mean, how would you feel? This isn’t a parking ticket; this is some serious shit. I’m pissed, annoyed, and defeated. And while I know it will be worked out in the end, I won’t be truly happy or satisfied until it is.

But until that happens, I just want to find a hole to hide in and not be bothered.

(Note that I really am annoyed with all this. Therefore, language here might be on the blue side until matters are finally worked out but until then, buckle up. Sorry about that.)

Oh Baby


Life. Man, what a crazy thing it can be.

If I had gone to a psychic last year and they told me that in the first week of 2019, I would be calling a lawyer in Texas for representation in a paternity/child support case against me, I would have a) laughed my ass off and b) told them they are full of it.

Yesterday I was doing just that. I. Am. Not. Kidding.

But first a little background.

Cue up instrumental version of “Summer Samba (So Nice)

On October 12, 2018, literally just three days after Ann’s nephrectomy, there was a knock on my door. I walked to the door and answered to some guy standing there with a folder bursting with papers.

“David Moreno?” he asked.

“Yeah, that’s me.”

He identified himself as a Los Angeles County process server who was there to serve me with papers for a case in Texas – a child support case. Where do I even start with this?

“Nope. Wrong guy,” I told him. I have never been to Texas. I have no business dealings in Texas, no owned property, absolutely nothing to tie me to the Lone Star State. And I sure as eff don’t have any other children let alone Texas children. I may know some people there but they are pretty distant and that’s about it. The closest I’ve ever been to Texas may have been when I flew over it en route to Arkansas in 1993 while working for Walmart.

He was confused. He had the right address, the right name and the same birthday as me but ah, the photo he had of his intended recipient was definitely not me.

“Look at that guy. Does he look like me? Come on, now. I’m much better looking than that dude anyhow.” He laughed.

After deciding I wasn’t the guy he was looking for, I told him to take a picture of me and my CDL for whomever – his boss or the attorneys – so that they knew I was not the deadbeat dad. I also took a picture of his process server ID for my own good because he wouldn’t let me look at the paperwork because, technically, they didn’t pertain to me. (I’d later find out that that was a smart, smart move on my behalf.)

Once convinced, he went on his merry way without leaving me any information. Then I had to go back in the house to Ann what the hell just happened.

“Umm…you have some major explaining to do, mister,” she joked. Not bad for a woman who had three organs removed three days prior. And after we got a good laugh out of it, we simply forgot any of it happened.

That was until January 8, 2019 when this letter came in the mail.

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Yeeeaaaaaahhh. Shit just got real serious.

I had no idea what this was or what to do next. Fortunately, an old schoolmate is an attorney here in California so I contacted him about this. He gave me some invaluable information and advice on what actions to take in order to clear this up, the first of which was to contact the Texas Attorney General’s office and see what they say.

That’s exactly what I did. They were of absolutely no help. To back up this claim, they wanted me to fax my photo and other information over the Locate Department which I can only assume with that name is the department responsible for tracking down these idiots and gathering their information. I wouldn’t know. I’m not a loser and am not familiar enough with law enforcement at this level or child support proceedings.

“Wait. You want me to fax these things?” I said in a phone call to one of the clerks. “No really, a fax? That’s antiquated technology and this is a matter of identifying someone based on the image they send you. You serio — a FAX?”

But they insisted. I was livid and refused.

And I had every right to be angry. Failure to pay child support is a big honking deal that could lead to wage garnishment, driver’s license suspension, and even jail time. And if I didn’t clear this up or failed to appear by the hearing date of January 23, this would make me “father by default” and start the wage garnishment process – up to 20% of my total paycheck. In short, I did not need to get fucked around with this.

“No no no. I’m not doing that. I want you to give me an email of someone there who will handle this and I want it now.”

The clerk put me on hold – this was only one of many calls I made to the AG’s office on Tuesday – so she could get the address for me. She returned and provided me with it.

She sounded old, like working-there-since-The-Alamo old. And if there’s one thing I know about old people, it’s that most of them are technologically illiterate. So when she gave me the email address, I had her repeat it to me so that I could confirm it.

I then wrote up a few things, scanned the documents they wanted, attached them all to an email and sent them to whomever this address belongs to.

“It’s going to bounce back to me. It’s going to bounce back to me.”

Five minutes later I get the “Undeliverable mail” notification. I wanted to punch something. Of course now had no choice but to fax everything from Ann’s office.

But before that, I had to start looking up family law attorneys in Texas. For fuck’s sake, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH MY LIFE RIGHT NOW?

I called a few and one that was eager to take the case. The cost for just the consultation: $500. Errr, I don’t have that so thank you, goodbye. I realize I needed an attorney but I just couldn’t afford this. I didn’t even want to know what his hourly rate was.

In between calling people and getting things ready, Ann and I discussed this and were both in a shambles. When something like this is thrust upon you and you have no idea on how to handle it but know what the ramifications are, it is just overwhelming. Then there’s the two-week time frame in which I needed to get all of this done. It was all too much and I honestly thought I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown at one point last night.

But I pulled myself together and did what I needed to do. The last thing we did that night was go to Ann’s office to fax the forms over to the AG’s office. After that, I told her I needed to make a stop at the am/pm for some of their crappy, not-good-for-you hamburgers because when stressed, horrible food comforts me. Excessive amounts of horrible food I might add, and the cheeseburger and chicken sandwich did the trick.

This morning the calls continued. One the calls was to a prepaid legal service my employer offers but they couldn’t help me Tuesday because they needed to verify my eligibility. Today they did just that and after explaining my situation, emailed me a list of attorneys in both California and Texas.

Most of them were busy and one was a flat-out sassy, fresh-off-the-Bar hotshot bitch of a person. I hung up once she sassed me. This is not how you handle potential clients, lady. Your Yelp rating is gonna suck.

After calling nearly half of them, I finally got a guy who was the most down-to-earth of them all. He was familiar with cases like mine, been practicing since the mid-80s, and just a good guy to talk to. Before I even agreed to anything, he was on the computer looking up the case for more information. My search was over.

He told me what he needed to do and gave me his price. From the previous calls I had made, he was the most inexpensive of them all but I still couldn’t pay him until Friday. I made him aware and he was okay with that but once I paid him, the ball would get rolling.(Because this is an ongoing case, I’m not expanding on our conversation.)

Now here’s where things get even more funky. Once I realized what was going on, I immediately thought I was the victim of identity theft. They had my SSN, address, and date of birth so it sure seemed like that was the case. So I went to Credit Karma to check for any recent activity, namely those which could be suspicious.

There was nothing unusual. I was aware of all of the activity in my name and there was nothing in Texas.

Taking all of that as well as the level of incompetence at the AG’s office into consideration, I can only come to the conclusion that this was a clerical error. If they have a database of people named David Moreno and you have some yahoo college intern who has worked too many hours, too eager to please or hasn’t had their morning cup of coffee, the chances of them grabbing the wrong info from a row of an Excel chart (if they are using an Excel database) are exponentially greater. Why else would they have my SSN, address, and DOB but a picture of some other guy, right? I don’t know for sure but it seems that way.

Besides, my attorney (that still sounds weird) said that the middle initial of the guy on the court papers is C. Mine is A. Ruh-roh, Raggy!

And if that’s the case I’ve had to miss a day of work, been stressed out, sought legal representation, drove to Ann’s office to fax documents, and overall have had just a shitty few days because some fool entered the wrong information for the case. I’m going to see what my attorney says and if confirmed, ask if there’s any way I can get some kind of recourse for a mistake they made. It shouldn’t have gone this far and they’ve made my life hell so paying me back for their stupidity seems like the right thing to do.

I will keep you posted on any new developments because it’s not quite over yet. And note that this is the truncated version of what happened.

So. How was your day?

Good Boy


Warning: this may be a really long post with lots of pictures

When Anthony was about two years old, the topic of getting him a dog/puppy came about. Admittedly, as the father of a toddler, I was hesitant to go through with it because Anthony was still so little and vulnerable. We had decided that if we did get a dog, it would be after he turned three years old.

Shortly after his third birthday in 2007, I got a message from Ann – it was a picture message that cost me money since back then we weren’t yet on a unlimited data plan. So I flipped open my phone (dating myself, no doubt) to see a picture of a tiny black puppy at the shelter, sitting calmly behind bars. At least that’s what I could make of it since camera technology in phones was poor at the time.

I looked at it and sighed. My reply: “No.”

But the family had other plans. Anthony was so excited about this little guy that it was almost impossible to say no, so that weekend we went to the shelter so that I could look at him to see how he interacted with all of us.

He went by the name of Arliss and while I don’t remember the story of how he ended up there, it didn’t matter at this point. He was a delightful little pup that was full of piss and vinegar and who, despite being mixed with the often misunderstood pit bull, couldn’t have behaved better.

He had us where he wanted us. So I put our name on the list to reserve him and a week later, we brought Arliss to his new forever home where Anthony had already been preparing for his arrival by getting him a comfy bed and chew toys.

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This was, after all, his new best friend and if there’s anything a little boy needs, it’s a dog that they can grow up with and remember forever. After a long day of playing and running around with his boy, Arliss fell asleep in my arms that evening. Welcome to the family, little guy.

My trepidation was gone as Arliss was anything but aggressive. If anything, he was just a big, dopey goofball of a puppy that loved and protected all of us as he got older.

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He also loved all of Anthony’s friends and again, was never aggressive toward any of them. He knew that if they were friends of Anthony, he didn’t need to do anything but be that little rapscallion he always was.

And oh, was he ever a rapscallion. Whenever Ann planted flowers in the backyard, Arliss would dig them up – then sleep in the dirt. Sometimes he would bypass digging them up and just lay right on top of them. He destroyed a brand new bed a day after we bought it. We could never leave food around the house because his nose would find it and his mouth would follow and one year for Christmas, we made the mistake of leaving Anthony’s gingerbread house on the kitchen table and came home to this.

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He ate one wall and was working on the base (see that hole?). And to top it off, he failed obedience class.

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But none of that mattered. Arliss was family and we loved him no matter what.

And he loved us back, even when we made him do ridiculous things.

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Like when Anthony thought it would be funny to dress him in one of his old shirts.

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Or when he got a little too close to the action in the kitchen when we were making cookies.

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He made us laugh and smile but most importantly, he loved his boy more than anyone else.

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He was always there for him to brighten his day no matter what.

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Laurel and Hardy. Hall and Oates. Anthony and Arliss – all the same.

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As most dogs do, Arliss started to slow down as he got older but still had that twinkle in his eye as if he was ready to cause some trouble. He would still play for a little bit but nowhere near his old self.

Then just a few days ago, I had noticed that he really wasn’t himself. His eating habits changed dramatically and he was having trouble keeping his food down. He was also lethargic and having trouble getting up. Anthony tried to take him for a short walk in the hopes of boosting his appetite but it didn’t work.

I gathered the family and told them that he wasn’t doing well. I could feel his pain and it wasn’t going to get better. As much as it pained us to do it, I told them they need to talk to him and let him know we all love him very much and to possibly say goodbye. Anthony couldn’t find the words or quite understand that his buddy could be gone very soon.

We tried to walk him the next day. When he stumbled I knew something had to be done and unfortunately, I knew what that was going to be.

Anthony called his grandparents over to have them say goodbye because, like a good boy, he also loved when they visited. They came over right away and Anthony’s grandfather accompanied us to the vet.

Anthony took this picture on the way. It would be the last one any of us would take of Arliss.

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Upon examination, the vet told us of some of the options available. Scans, testing, blood work, the whole nine yards. In the end, it would have just prolonged his pain because he was in bad shape mostly because of his age. I left the decision with Anthony and he agreed: his best friend had to be put down.

The vet left us in the exam room while we said our final goodbyes. I can’t even tell you how difficult it was for me and Anthony to do this. While strong, Anthony chose not to be in the room when the euthanasia was administered and I’m glad he wasn’t. He didn’t need to see that.

Stumbling for one last time, Arliss was laid down and given the anesthesia. He slowly fell asleep as I stroked his hind leg and told him we all loved him. By the second dose, the vet checked his lungs and confirmed he has stopped breathing and offered her condolences.

I lost it. I couldn’t take it. I had put pets to sleep in the past but knowing the connection between Arliss and Anthony really made this one hurt like no other. The vet left me with Arliss once he was gone and I talked to and pet him, telling him he was always a good boy and we were never disappointed in him. I thanked him for being so good to Anthony and being by his side as he grew. I kissed his head, said goodbye for the last time, and left the room.

I immediately gave Anthony a hug and told him Arliss is no longer suffering or in pain. He’s free and happy and deserves to be. He sobbed as we hugged.

The family spent the night talking about everything that had just happened and by no means was it over.

For one, I had told Ann that Arliss had hung around long enough to see her fight cancer and be deemed cancer-free. During her recovery, he was always by her side except in the evening when he would want to sleep on the patio so as not to disturb us by having to go outside and relieve himself. Not really taking that into consideration, Ann started to sob and felt guilty in not thanking him for his help.

Then I felt something and froze. When this happens, I’m almost in a trance-like state and it kind of freaks out Ann. She asked what it was.

“He’s here,” I said. “Talk to him.”

She continued to talk about him in past tense.

“No. Tell him, Ann. He’s right there.” Arliss was beautiful, as shiny and new as he was when he was a puppy, and once again full of piss and vinegar. His stub – he had no tail – wagging uncontrollably.

She thanked him for everything.

Here he is cheering her up during her recovery. Once she was ready to return to work, he resumed sleeping inside.

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This has also affected the cats. The night we put Arliss down, Steve laid across from the spot where Arliss used to sleep and stared at it. And when I pick Steve up, I can almost see the sadness in his eyes – they are watery, as if he wants to cry.

Then there’s Monte who has not been in our bedroom for a few years and we have no idea why. We’ve tried to take him in there to sleep but he immediately runs out. But at about 2:30 am and with me having trouble sleeping, I heard Monte walk down the hall and stop at the doorway of the bedroom. He then meowed a few times, jumped on the bed, and laid on my chest and rubbed my chin with his, purring the whole time. I have been taking this especially hard, more so than the family, and Monte knew it. He purred and rubbed but got a bit too heavy for me, so I rolled over and held him in my arms until I fell asleep. It was about 4:30 am when I remember him leaving the room and went right back to sleep.

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There have been telltale signs that Arliss is still here. Feeling is presence is one thing but we’ve also heard things and last night while I bed discussing things with Ann, I had gotten a strong whiff of his dog food. We had already thrown all of it away and the windows were closed. Anthony has heard him scratching and while writing this, I heard him let out a deep breath as he often did while sleeping. He hasn’t left.

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Being an empath can really drain you.

In 12 short years, Arliss watched his little boy go from preschool to high school. We couldn’t have made a better choice for him and while the family is showing signs of recovering, I can’t quite get there just yet and still having a hard time coming to grips with all of this.

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To say that Arliss was a great dog would be an understatement. He was the best dog anyone could ever have and I sometimes wonder why we got so lucky to end up with him. He was fun, loyal, and loved all of us to the bittersweet end.

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From the time he came home to the moment he left us, his love was unconditional.

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(This is one my favorite pictures of Arliss. I caught him mid-sneeze on Christmas.)

Thank you for being Anthony’s best friend and dealing with all of his nonsense, even the time he put a pair of his underwear on you. He will miss you more than you will ever know.

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Us stupid humans are simply not worthy of having such love bestowed upon us. We are mongers of war, harborers of hate, worshipers of money and destroyers of the environment.

And all a dog wants is to be loved. It’s just so unfair.

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In many cases, people are often quick to fill the void of a lost pet by adopting another. That’s not going to be case with Arliss. Anthony has already told us there’s no point in any of that. Arliss was his dog and he did his job for all of us. There simply will never be another dog in his life. Arliss was the only one he ever needed.

Arliss will be cremated and I will be giving his ashes to Anthony. We plan on making a memorial for him once we get them because that’s the least we can do for someone who brought so much joy and happiness into our lives.

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And while he may be physically gone, I still feel his presence in the house and have told Ann that he doesn’t want to leave.

“He’s still watching us,” she said. “He doesn’t have to leave.”

She’s right, and I don’t want him to leave – ever.

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He always was, and always will be, a good boy.

Rest in peace, Arliss. You were the best and we love you.

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