This is the love story as told to me by Michael McIntyre, Dad of Stanley the mixed breed (Lab, Collie, Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, Poodle, and American Eskimo) from Springfield, Missouri.
Tell me about the first time you met Stanley, when and where was it? How did you feel and what made you feel that way?
Stanley had a big sister, named Callie, also a rescue who looked a lot like Stanley, so much so that some people would get them mixed up with each other. One day, we brought Callie to PetSmart, just to pick up some food or toys. That day a local rescue had brought a litter of eight puppies to the store, hoping to get them adopted. Like pretty much everyone else, I went to see the puppies. They were in a wire enclosure so you could reach in and grab one. When I walked up, all eight were looking the opposite way of me, as someone else was leaning over petting them. But one of the eight turned right around, looked at me, and ran right at me, jumping up hoping I would pick him up. When I did, he covered me in kisses. In reality, Stanley picked me out. It was love at first sight for both of us! I grew up in a house with dogs, and since I got married we have always had rescue dogs. I’m a crazy dog person, who has passionately loved every dog I have ever been blessed with! But from that first moment, Stanley was different. Stanley is that once in a lifetime soul mate. We had a connection like I’ve never had with any other dog. I do believe there was a deep spiritual connection! We adopted him on the spot, and from then on, Stanley and I were connected at the hip, heart, and soul!
Thinking back, how would you describe Stanley’s personality as a puppy? And as an adult?
Stanley taught me so much! He always had a zest for life. Honestly, every day was an exciting and new experience for him. He simply exuded love. If you had a heartbeat, that’s all Stanley needed to love on you! Dogs and animals were his friends. Stanley was born in St. Louis and lived there until we moved to Springfield when he was twelve. Very near our new home is a horse ranch that Stanley loved to go visit. He just adored sticking his nose through the fence to feel and smell the horses. Stanley went blind when he was eleven years old, but that never stopped him---it did not even slow him down! He lived to go for walks; it was a part of his upbeat, joyful, and energetic personality. For most of his life, Stanley battled massive health issues. At two years old, he almost died from a terrible pancreatitis attack, and for the rest of his life battling a severe case of chronic pancreatitis, which in time poisoned his liver and kidneys. We were so in-tune with each other that I knew when an attack was coming. It got to the point where his vets no longer even questioned me because they knew I was right. As he got older he began to suffer from arthritis, and as I said, blindness. I took him to two different canine ophthalmologists because I refused to take, “Nothing can be done “as an answer. But both specialists confirmed the original diagnosis, that because of his other health issues, he was not a candidate for the surgery to correct the blindness. But even that could not get Stanley down! Nothing got him down, he always exuded such joy. He was loved by everyone who knew him. In fact, when we went to our vet’s office, they would announce over loudspeaker, “Stanley is here!” and everyone would come out to greet him.
And now how would Stanley describe your personality, Michael?
He would tell you that his Dad gloried in him! All the very best things in life, we did together. Regular walks helped him with pancreatitis, so we went for a three-mile walk in the morning, and another in the evening; no matter what the weather was like. He had such energy that when we got home from the walks, he wanted to play games with me. Stanley loved to play, hide, and seek! I would close him in a room and go hide, then my wife would open the door and he would tear around the house until he found me; even when he became blind. When he found me, he’d jump into my arms and we would just love on each other. Stanley would describe me as, “My best buddy who loved to have fun with me.”
What did you learn from Stanley?
I learned so much! Every day is a gift, so pay attention to all the marvelous and beautiful things that each new day brings. Even though we did them twice a day, every day, going for a walk was always like Christmas morning for him! He had this delightful, “Dad check this out” spirit. He taught me to look for beauty in every day. Life wasn’t fair to Stanley, the pancreatitis was painful, but he always overcame it, and always had fun. Stanley taught me about kindness. After he went blind, dogs were often very aggressive with him. Once he was so violently attacked by another dog, that he had to be hospitalized; but even then, he never fought back. He was so very kind and giving, he taught me a better way to interact with others.
What are the top three things you always want to remember about Stanley?
1. The oneness we shared, that deep incredible connection. We always knew what the other was thinking. The Bible talks about two becoming one, this was Stanley and me.
2. The complete and total joy he brought me.
3. His constant joy for life and the love he always gave to everybody.
When did Stanley earn his wings?
June 18, 2020
When did you join Paws?
It was right after Stanley passed.
Do you remember how you found Paws?
The Paws site and your book were recommended to me by a friend.
What has or is helping you get to the other side of grief? What advice would you share with someone who recently started grieving?
Your Paws community has helped me the most. I have found that society for the most part doesn’t want to give permission to grieve the loss of a pet, so you must walk this journey alone. That is a lonely place to be. It is enormously healing to find that in this wonderful community you are given validation for what you are going through and the support you need. I can talk about Stanley in the group, which is good because I need to talk about him. My advice is to share your hurts on this journey with this community. It is a fair, healing place that allows you to walk through the journey, and people will walk with you. You Pam and many others have given me enormous strength.
Where are you now in your grief?
I don’t know. I still openly grieve every day, but I can’t break down in front of others, I can’t bring it to work. So I find a private place to weep. There are so many things that I thought I loved to do but have discovered that in reality I loved to do them with Stanley, and now they don’t bring me that same joy.
I know in my heart that Stanley doesn’t want me to hurt the way I do. I know he wants me to celebrate life as he did, and I want to do that for him.
Using your spiritual and intuitive mind,
If I could get a message to Stanley from you, what would you want to say? What would you want to let Stanley know?
That nothing will ever change the fact that he has always been and will always be my best friend. I would want to thank him for teaching me that I can love everything and everyone. I believe God loves the entire world, not just human beings, and I believe that I will be with Stanley again. And I can’t wait!
And if I could get a message from you to Stanley what would you like to know?
I would like to know what’s going on now. I would love to hear from him that he’s whole. Is he feeling for me the way he used to feel? Is he rejoicing like he used to? I always took care of him and loved him fiercely; is he still getting that kind of care? I want to know if he is happy, whole, and looking forward to being with me again.
Is there anything else you would like to share with you Paws Pack about Stanley?
I want to thank the Pack for loving him so much. Thank you for loving him the way you do; it is so healing that my beautiful boy is still being loved and celebrated.