Crappy Life Lessons


I’ve had to force myself to log onto “Hearing Elmo” and write SOMETHING.


I don’t like for too much time to go by and not be writing. Writing, blogging, and “talking to you” is important to me. I learn from you. I hope we learn from each other.


Saturday, October 1st, on her twelfth birthday, we said goodbye to Chloe, my first assistance dog. She retired in May of 2015. Chloe was diagnosed with Transitional Cell Carcinoma in August of this year.

I’ve started this post 8 times (and yes, I counted). The first couple of drafts were angry and mean. One draft was scary. Others were tearful and frankly? Were so full of random thoughts and words, the grammar itself forbade me from hitting “publish“.

Shame and Blame


On June 14, 2016, little Lane was killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World resorts. Like many who read his story, my first thought was, “Where the heck were his parents, and how in the world does something like this happen?

Erin S., a friend of mine, fairly quickly put me in my place–and rightly so. Why do we immediately judge what we do not know?

  1. We are shocked by something.
  2. We are heart broken.
  3. We look for someone to blame.
  4. … as if that makes it better.

We cannot ever know the “whole story”. We simply are not privy to that. There is a backstory to every tragedy and every loss. Little Lane was killed as the result of an tragic (freak) accident and he cannot be placed back into the arms of those who loved him. Why do we search for who is to blame? Sometimes, folks?

Sometimes life just sucks.


Facebook is a wonderful place; especially for the differently-ABLED community. It is a place where technology levels the communication playing field. I have re-connected and strengthened friendships. I have “met” people in this venue I may never meet face-to-face. Last week, however, I “unfriended” and “blocked” 34 people I didn’t really know. Getting one to two messages a week, led me to believe they were simply out to get a “rise”. Many posted publicly and I exercised my right to DELETE. Haters gonna hate.

I created a public page for Chloe’s last chapter to raise awareness about an organization I love, Fidos For Freedom, Inc. I wanted to share what being a puppy raiser, sponsor, and trainer for service dogs was like. I wanted to share information about the valuable resource (even MINISTRY) of therapy dogs. I wanted to share how one dog changed my life and brought me back into the world of the living after a self-imposed isolation.

When bad things happen, we tend to look for answers or worse-someone to blame. After only reading the public “cliff notes” of Chloe’s life, I was lambasted by people for making the wrong decision.

  1. You should get a third opinion. You could treat this and prolong her life an entire year!
  2. How could you let her live the last month of her life this way?
  3. OMG. It’s just a dog. Surely you have something better to do.

Now these are folks I don’t know and you are open to these kinds of messages when you go “public” with anything. I don’t mind blocking folks who just look for ways to get people riled. I fully trust that those who know me and know my husband Terry, trusted US to make the best and most humane decision for a furry family member. (More than that… a retired partner).


Ah. It’s an election year. It’s getting nasty out there in FaceBook land, isn’t it? Yet those I actually do know, I allow to post whatever they want on FaceBook. I may not click “like”. We may agree. We may disagree. More than anything though I hope we are the kind of “real” friends to agree to disagree… and love each other anyway.

I love Culture of Empathy’s website. I don’t agree with everything they post, but their message is powerful. Empathy is defined as, “identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives”. Empathy does not mean you may fully agree with them.


We can love one another and show kindness and compassion without having to acknowledge that an important connection and relationship is the equivalent of being identical twins. I love my husband and best friend, Terry, but the man is an idiot sometimes (albeit a sweet one). I do not agree with everything he says, believes, or “votes”. Yet, I respect everything he says, believes and votes and fully support him because I love him and he is my friend.

The Bible does not actually use the word “empathy” anywhere, yet it is inferred. It does use the word compassion numerous times. Compassion can be defined as “a feeling of deep sympathy or sorrow for another who is stricken with misfortune, accompanied by the strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” Especially when someone is faced with a critical decision or experiencing heart ache, can I not support them with compassion? How does judgement, argumentative jabs, and insistence they agree with ME, help? It doesn’t. It only shows I lack compassion and kindness.


I’m not perfect. But…

I want to be perfectly committed to being kind, being loving, and making a difference. I may not always agree with you, but if we have the kind of relationship that we can talk about disagreements with respect and kindness, and walk away still close friends? I count myself BLESSED.

Crappy Life Lessons

So a crappy life lesson? Sometimes when grieving and in pain, people are gonna kick you when you are down. Sometimes when important decisions need to be made, folks are going to call into question my own character for an informed and personal choice. I’m gonna love you anyway.

For you see? Love isn’t love if it changes on a whim and because someone disagrees with you. I believe the world would be a better place if our first thought when getting up in the morning was,

“How can I make a difference today? How can I show kindness?” 

Hold me accountable.

Denise Portis

© 2016 Personal Hearing Loss Journal

6 thoughts on “Crappy Life Lessons

  1. I can’t even believe people said things like that to you. Good grief, Denise. I’m glad you blocked them, but I’m sure it still really hurt. Sending you love and comfort, and, hey, how about some pie? 😉 ❤ ❤

  2. When I heard (perhaps from Casey?) that people were actually giving you a difficult time about this I was *mortified*.

    As a vet, I’m a lot more familiar with end of life decisions than I ever expected I would be! People ask me often if it is “the right time” for their pet. And one of the things I end up advising is…when YOU start thinking that your pet’s quality of life is poor, you are probably right. YOU are the one that sees them every day and know them better than anyone else. It is an extremely personal decision between you, your family and your pet. Or in Chloe’s case, partner. I can weigh in or help as questions, but I cannot decide.

    I had friends question me about the treatment decisions and subsequent euthanasia of my cat 18 months ago. Luckily none were rude about it, but people were quietly making judgements.

    One of my favorite quotations is along the lines of: Be kind, everyone you meet is carrying a difficult burden.

    I also like the THINK acronym. Is it True? Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? Kind? Especially when speaking to people online. I find myself making quick judgements, then taking a moment to review and edit before I post. I think if we got back to letter writing or face to face conversations people would be a little more careful in what they say.

    I’m sorry you had to go through all of that in addition to the heartbreak you were already suffering. I think your blog about Chloe was warm, tender, and gave great insight.

  3. Oh Denise, I’m so sorry about Chloe. and I’m so sorry you had to put up with the crap you did from people who just feel they need to say anything that comes to mind without thinking about it.
    I really don’t like Facebook very much. I get my feelings hurt and it’s just not worth it. People just seem to have no filter there. If you wouldn’t say it to someone who is right in front of you why would you write it on Facebook? and if you would say those things in person, well shame on you. (not you personally, I know you wouldn’t be mean)

    You talk about Fidos for Freedom a lot. I would love to find a place like Fidos for Freedom that service my area. I haven’t found any place that is close to me. Do you know of any place that services NC? I’ve been meaning to ask you this for a long time.

    My heart goes out to you about Chloe. My heart still aches for my beloved Sandy, who I lost 6 years ago. She was never just a dog. I do empathize.

  4. I’ve heard good things about:
    Smoky Mountain Service Dogs

    Mike Kitchens
    110 Tooweka Circle
    Tennessee 37774
    Phone: 865 408 3070
    Web: http://www.smokymountainservicedogs...
    Status:Accredited member of ADI
    Assistance Dogs Trained:Service
    Other Information:Mobility Assistance Service Dogs for veterans with disabilities.
    Geographical Area Served:350 mile radius of Knoxville, TN

    and also:

    Eyes Ears Nose and Paws

    Deb Cunningham, Program Director
    P.O. Box 3443
    Chapel Hill
    NC 27515-3443
    Country: United States
    Phone: (919) 408 7292
    Status:Candidate of ADI
    Assistance Dogs Trained:Service
    Other Information:Medical Alert and Diabetic Alert Dogs.
    Geographical Area Served:North Carolina

    Thanks so much for your kind words, Wendy and I’m sorry about Sandy. I don’t know that we ever get completely over it. HUGS

  5. Denise, we lost my retired service dog Vickie several years ago. Our pet sitter found her in bad shape and rushed her to the hospital where the vets believed that she had a brain tumor. We had to make a decision about her from far away: Did we want the vets to keep her alive until we returned or let her go. We decided it would be selfish to keep her alive just so we could say goodbye. It was not an easy decision, as you know. Tears were shed for months after her death. I am very sorry for your loss. Chloe was your partner, your friend, your life. Nobody should judge you or your decision.

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