There’s a reason we don’t have a dog.

It’s not because of money, although it totally is. It’s not because of having a four-year-old & one-year-old, although it totally is. It’s not about dog fur and dog puke and poop bags and planning vacations and fear of scratching/biting, although it totally is.

It’s because of this. Don’t read it if you’re feeling tenderhearted. That’s your warning.

This is why we don’t have a dog, mostly. It’s because of the goodbyes we’ve said:

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

And oh yeah – some of this too:

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Sometimes, mostly, I can’t. I just can’t. The goodbyes feel too much like…horrible goodbyes.

So I don’t. Not right now, anyway.

Who knows what I was going to talk about today? I think it was going to be a lighthearted post about college because my last post wasn’t so light. I’m having a tenderhearted week, though. It’s the kind where everything touches me and everything hurts.

Over the weekend, my mom told me a story about a time she hit a squirrel with her car. He/she had an apple in its mouth.

About ten minutes after she told me that, I was nearly hunched over the steering wheel in tears.

This was followed by visiting my Nana at her nursing home and seeing her wheelchair turned to the wall. Maybe she was thinking or reflecting. My mom gently pulled the wheelchair back to turn it around, and my grandmother started at the movement. She doesn’t hear or see very well, so I imagine she has to trust that whoever is behind her is someone she wants to have behind her. It was my mom, my kids and me so I’m thinking this was a win. As is often the case, her mind was crystal clear sharpness.

Then I found out about a massive fire at the next town over that completely destroyed several businesses. One business was my favorite cookie/cake store. I am crushed for me and I am crushed for Scarlet who always asks to go to the cookie store, and I am crushed for the business owners. Destroyed, really. I cannot imagine. And yet, they will rebuild. And I want that for selfish and selfless reasons. And I want to believe that everyone who lost their business was secretly hoping for something shiny and new anyway. And I hope they all get what they dream of, and that insurance covers all of it and more. And then we all eat cookies.

Lots of people in this tender heart tonight. Scarlet feels it too:

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Onto great things this week, though. I wouldn’t wish for my heart to be the opposite of tender. I think that’s hard-hearted. Yikes. I think I’ll just take that one tolerable step above tender. The one that propels you to put one foot in front of the other, and keep dreaming the big dreams.

And laughing the big laughs.

About Tamara

Tamara is a professional photographer, a mama of two, a Lifestyle Blogger/Social Media Influencer/Brand Ambassador, and a nearly professional cookie taster. She has been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. She is a very proud contributor to the book, The Mother Of All Meltdowns, the Stigma Fighters Anthology (volume 1), and The HerStories Project: So Glad They Told Me. She is also a proud Community Lead and a regular contributor to the SoFab Food blog, and the Target Made Me Do It blog. After two cross country moves, due to her intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter, son, dog, cat, and 11 chickens in glorious western Massachusetts.


Tenderheart. — 104 Comments

  1. Oh my. Those doggy photos have me crying. That second one looks like my Kona. I wish we lived closer so that we could cry together, share husky stories, eat cookies and laugh big laughs. Hugs to you.

    • Hugs to you! Big hugs to you. I'm not even experiencing this right now, but I suppose we always are.

      Wish we could share husky stories and cookies on this dreary day!

  2. Oh, I know it is so hard losing a pet. It's heartbreaking when they're just gone. My husband and I adopted a cat a few months after we got married. Our daughter is so attached to him now. I can't even imagine when that day comes and he's not here anymore. Sometimes you just have to, what's the word…simmer? in those tender moments. Ugh, ok, awful wording but I find it makes me appreciate the good in my life.

  3. I couldn't click on that link because I am incredibly tenderhearted when it comes to animals, especially dogs. I absolutely adore dogs. I'm ashamed to admit that most of the time I like dogs more than I like people. OK, maybe I'm not so ashamed to admit that.

    • hahaha, now I have laughed out loud twice from you. I like dogs more than people a lot. I like all animals more than people. I would rather have a Sasquatch Sharknado in my forest than a creepy person.

  4. Totally had a day of reflections a bit today, too. And must admit my post tomorrow isn't as light hearted as I have been the last week, but think I just needed to get it off my chest a bit. But still, your thoughts about your Nana reminded me of when my own was in a nursing home at the end of her own life. She too had trouble seeing and hearing at the end. It was truly hard to see her that way, because growing up she always helped take care of me and was a strong, capable woman. Hated seeing seeing my now like that and truly so sorry that you are now seeing your own like that. Hugs and thinking of you tonight my friend.

    • I hear that so much. My grandmother has always been a warrior. She really still is. It's astounding how spirited she still is, and how hungry. She still eats junk food like it's her business.

  5. Your writing and photos always evoke such emotion! I cry at my steering wheel all the time, over thoughts that float across my mind, things that actually happened or things that I imagine COULD happen.

    • It’s those dang steering wheels, isn’t it! I hear you about the things that only COULD happen too. I can’t handle it! And people like us became parents!

  6. Tamara, one of the things I love about your posts is the way your kind/tender heart always shines through! It is obvious in your writing, your pictures, your comments!!!

  7. You have one of the best hearts that I know and have come to love. I couldn't click on that link even though I wanted to. I've lost a few pets (I consider them family) and we currently have 2 dogs and a kitty that Madison just loves. I couldn't imagine losing them either. Maybe one day you'll have a dog that will last forever.

    • I totally understand about clicking the link and I’m glad I had a warning. It’s a beautiful piece by one of our blogger friends, should you ever feel ready.
      I’d love that – a forever dog.
      Love to you!

  8. Having just got a dog, I am learning the kind of attachment that comes with him. He is our baby. Poor Josh already told me "I will die the day Reggie dies." Not for a long time, I hope kiddo.

  9. Dog lover here… having just found out in July one month before my 30th birthday that I'm in premature menopause & the Hubs (whose 10years my senior) & I will never be able to conceive a child naturally & if we were considering a child in our new marriage adoption would be the only option, sure I am blessed with a gorgeous 9 year old girl but I wanted that option… you just brought all those emotions rushing & I don't know why I'm saying out loud. KUDOS on another excellent post & love S's bath photos! xo.

  10. Okay, this had me sobbing. I adore my dog more than I can say. But mostly it made me cry because our cat died over the weekend. It was just traumatic and I still haven't gotten use to the fact that she's gone. I haven't even told my parents. I just can't face the fact that it's happened yet. The goodbyes are just so hard. –Lisa

  11. We have a four-legged baby who turns 10 next month. Thinking about saying good bye to him reduces me to a blubbering mess. But knowing that we've had so many wonderful, incredible times with him make the inevitable loss more bearable.

    And the bath pics? Just gorgeous!

    Hang in there, Tamara. We all have tenderhearted days and weeks!

    • Thanks, my friend!

      I hear you – knowing they live a certain amount of time and knowing you fill it so wonderfully.. that does help. A lifetime of love. A long lifetime of love. For them.

  12. Yes, that is exactly one of the reasons I don't want a dog! Or a cat. We have a fish, Stripe, and this is so silly, but I'm going to be sad when he dies. He keeps me company when the kids are at school!

  13. I tear up at imaginary situations that haven't even happened (and real ones….and happy/sad/sappy moments in movies and television. Oy). I think when you are a compassionate person, it's hard not to. And definitely better to be tender-hearted than hard-hearted for sure.

    I had a hamster in middle school who had a tumor (my dad, a cancer doctor, diagnosed it), so we put him to sleep so he wouldn't have to suffer. I was heartbroken, and that was just a hamster who I had for about 18 months! I can only imagine what it must be like to lose a dog who has been part of your family for over a decade.

  14. I currently own my first and only pet of my life, a 13 yr old miniature dachshund (my parents were strictly anti-pet people). As much as she drives me crazy sometimes, I don't even want to think about how empty the house is going to feel when she goes to that big doggy playground in the sky. Or how sad my kids will be. Sigh…

  15. My girls and I are also of the tender-hearted variety.. We just seem to damage more easily than the rest if the world. Especially my oldest- we have to choose experiences carefully. But like you, I think in many ways it is an asset… Though a weighty one!

  16. We are doggy (and 1 cat) people. I cannot imagine NOT having them. The loss is tough, and it's always mourned, and you never will forget that part of your family that is missing, but adding a little addition is OK too. My parents lost their two dogs almost back to back and were devastated. I mean DEVASTATED. It took me two years of convincing, but this past Mother's Day I gave her a present….a 4 month old King Charles Cavalier. They are IN LOVE with little Lucy Loo, and she is keeping them young at heart. Maybe now is not the time, but just like my parents, you will know when it is time.

    • That is so sweet. I love King Charles Cavaliers. My mom's neighbor is a well known breeder of them! There was a Sex and the City episode in which Charlotte was heartbroken and a grouchy old woman left her a King Charles Cavalier puppy on her doorstep, after Charlotte had admired it at the park.

  17. I can't read that other post – I have a nine year old dog who is (knock on wood) still in good health, but I dread the day we have to say goodbye. Stay tenderhearted, Tamara – it may be tough to be, but it's what makes you You.

  18. Do you remember Sam, the boy I've posted about? He passed this week and seeing all the goodbyes posted on facebook is just heartbreaking. His funeral is Saturday and I'm praying the kids will behave if I take them.

  19. Oh those dogs are so beautiful! I so know what you mean about attachment. It is protecting yourself from pain that we were not able to do when we were smaller. It is why I do not watch a lot of news as there are so many heart-wrenching stories involving innocent people. I would rather be with the blogs I love….

  20. All I see in those dog photos is a series of regal pups in sort of a hall of fame – they were lucky enough to have shared their lives with you, and they still live on.

    Tamara, your tender heart isn’t easy to navigate with, I know, but you might not realize how many of ours are tethered to it. When the going gets rough, and we lose some faith in humanity and ourselves, there’s this line back to where you are, and it keeps us from drifting too far.

    • Eli, I have to keep going back and forth to jog my brain into writing properly back to this comment. Then I realized – it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just here. It was definitely the words of the day. The words to propel my day, which did not start out well, for various stupid reasons. This brings me back to the not-stupid.

  21. Ah, the pain of pet loss! I hear you, but the joy of having a pet vastly outweighs the grief when they pass. And the passing is no joke. Been there, done that.

    I look at my Cassie, my Abyssinian beauty, and fear for when that day comes. I pray God will give me the strength, yet again, to embrace that struggle. But in the meantime, I revel in the butterball of chatter and demands and personality and sheer fun that she is.

    Stay tenderhearted, my dear. Few things are worse than dealing with those whose hearts are calloused and grizzled. Gimme a tender heart any day!

    • I had to Google "Abyssinian." Wow! So beautiful and Cassie is a fitting name. I'm so glad you're reveling in all of the good. My husband says the benefits FAR outweigh the fears and annoyances. I think he's right. Just too tender sometimes to see it.

  22. I too am very tenderhearted and have been having a similar week. Lots of tears. this post made me cry. the thought of that little squirrel with an apple just seemed so devastating to me. And the thought of all that was lost in those fires…. hopes, dreams, memories. but people are resilient. they will come back… I hope.

  23. I want to get a dog so badly. I’m holding back mostly because of all the OTHER things you mentioned but God yes, the saying good-bye is hardest of all. I’m going to think “better to have loved and lost…” Right? Here’s to the tenderhearted.

  24. Hands down, Stormy was one of the best dogs I’ve ever known. Every time I’ve driven past the cookie shop I’ve meant to stop and taste the awesome you proclaim. And I’m bummed I won’t have the chance to quite some time. Here is to rebuilding…

    • Thank you. She was so amazing. And I’m sad you didn’t get to go to the old Greggory’s but I bet the new one will be spectacular. All it needs is him and his dreams.

  25. I agree! I wouldn't want to stop being tender-hearted either! I've been called sensitive and cry baby but I don't care. You're right! As long as I'm able to get one foot in front of the other and still enjoy life, I'm happy! 🙂

  26. I should have heeded the warning, but no not me! I’m so tender hearted….all the time! I have been since I had my children. I cry over just about everything. A commercial, a song, my hitting a squirrel, a movie, watching my husband sleep every night. Yes, there are tears all the time.

  27. I always think of the good-byes associated with pets, too. I still remember almost every good-bye we had to say to our many childhood pets and how it broke my heart. Every time.

    You want to save your kids from that, you know? But then I see the joy they get from interacting with our pets … and that’s the other side of the coin. And I guess what makes pet ownership worth the sadness of saying good-bye to them.

  28. Oh, I understand about the dog! When Jason and I were first together we had a cat, kitten, Sox. We loved that cat. He thought he was a dog. One day Jason called me at work because Sox had died and he just couldn’t deal with it. I had to go home from work and lift his poor little kitten body into a box and take him to the vet. We never found out why he died. It was 12 years before we got another pet.

    I also understand about hearing things and them just making you go into tears. Even though you may not personally know the person/people involved. But you could know the people. It could be someone like you. It hurts.

    • Oh, poor Sox! I had a foster kitten that got sick suddenly. She didn’t die with me around but it was something I could never have predicted, or saved. A liver shunt was the word, I believe.

  29. we never had a dog ever – just cats, but I shed many tears over a few. But I have one now that I really love so it's cool.

    Great shots in the tub 🙂

  30. I sometimes wish I could be hard hearted too. And then I laugh at myself when I wish that. I wouldn't even know where to begin as that person. I try to trick myself into it at times, but it never works. And Jen's goodbye to Kona, I know. I get it. And I'm still sad for her.

  31. Tender hearted might be the exact way to describe what I’m feeling this week. Thank you for helping name it. I wouldn’t want to be any other way either. I’ve never had a pet and unfortunately we can’t have pets (allergies with the kids) but I can’t imagine saying goodbye to one. The pain of loss is something that I think about and want to shield my kids from but I also know that that’s impossible.

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  33. Aw Tamara, I am so sorry about the fire in your community. It reminds me of all the Sandy devastation of last year, people are so strong to rebuild their businesses. Tender hearted is okay by me, I think it makes you more aware of everything especially your beautiful baby girl.

  34. I remember when I was achild and we had to say goodbye to my dog, I promised I would NEVER have a pet again. The goodbye ws just to hard and I still miss our Martie to this day. I can totally understand Jennifer's grief and your sentiment on why you don't want a dog.

  35. In walks in the a-hole…I had to chuckle about the squirrel. I mean talk about a bad day for that little critter. Kind of makes my day not so bad. Gah, I'm sorry that was totally mean.

    There is nothing wrong with being tender hearted. Tender hearted makes us open not only to ourselves but to others. Empathy is a beautiful thing in this world but we also have to know when to shut the door sometimes and put our feelings first..if that makes any sense.

    I love you for you and pouring your heart out about things we all think of but don't publish. oxo

  36. I've read this post a few times now, but I couldn't find the right words to respond to it. I've felt the same way as you MANY times, like my heart was tender, like I FELT more than others did. Or at least that I couldn't deal with those feelings as well as others could. They were just too big!

    But I agree with what Eli said. I read your words, always words that display your heart so amazingly, whether they be funny or not, like this post. Those words somehow make me feel…like it's not just me, like I'm not alone. I don't know. So. I hope you never stop writing. And I hope you never feel the need to apologize for the heart where all those words come from.

  37. Those goodbyes are tough, but it brings to mind that saying that it is better to have loved and lost, than never have to loved (I don't think that's exactly how it goes) but you get the idea. I can't imagine life without any of our furry friends. They all have such wonderful and distinct personalities and work their way into my heart.

  38. Those dog photos got me all choked up inside. I have an 8 year old shihtzu and never ever want to say goodbye. I have a tenderheart all the time, too. I don't know if I'm super sensitive as I get older but everything makes me wanna cry! Great post. Beautiful pics of Scarlet!

  39. That reason, the goodbyes? That is the reason we don't have pets, too. Because it is just so hard, so sad when we say goodbye. I vowed never again. But I don't know if it will be that way forever. We are slowly talking about maybe one day.

    I know what it like to be tenderhearted – I always say I wear my heart on my sleeve. So I get this. Totally.

  40. I completely agree with you about how hard it is to say goodbye to a beloved pet. I had a couple different dogs growing up and it was so painful to let them go. 🙁 We have a darling Yorkie mix now that is my little baby. He's only 2 1/2, but I'm quickly realizing that I don't know how I will ever say goodbye to him! The bathtub pictures are gorgeous, BTW!

  41. Oh goodness, writing you a comment behind watery eyes and a lumpy throat as usual. No, I wouldn't want to be the opposite of tender-hearted either. And your tender-heartedness is what makes your writing so touching, because you see the small, important details that are so easily overlooked.

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