Each day was a gift…

My life changed in 2009. I brought the most adorable, beautiful, and feisty puppy home. Little did I know that 4 lbs. of cuteness could hold so much attitude. I’ve documented Georgia’s life so much over the years. Her chronic illnesses multiplied until we were dealing with 11 chronic issues by end. Yes, I said the end. I lost my beautiful Georgia Grace on 4/7/2020. Just 12 days shy of her 11th birthday. In addition to battling syringomyelia, arthritis, hip displasia, chronic dry eye, chronic skin issues, interdigital cysts, heart disease, diabetes, blindness, deafness, and pancreatitis, the emergency vets found a mass on Georgia’s bladder. They were unsure if it was a kidney stone or a cancerous tumor. Blood work indicated she had a massive infection (most likely a UTI), and was in kidney failure. After almost 11 years of battling her medical demons back to give her a happy life, I knew I could no longer hold back her suffering. I made the toughest decision you ever have to make as a pet parent. I let her go.

Georgia Grace was a miracle in many ways. She wasn’t supposed to live almost 11 years. She was a lemon. Bred by a back yard breeder who didn’t understand the health issues that came from poor breeding standards. I, didn’t know enough about that at the time, either. Being a “lemon” myself with chronic illnesses, I approached all of Georgia’s issues with, “how can I fix this?” Granted, I never “fixed” much, rather I created a life that provided her with as much comfort as we could achieve through medical treatments. Georgia took 17 or 18 pills a day (honestly, I lost count), acupuncture, laser treatments, and CBD to manage her diseases and pain levels. My life revolved around her needs. I kept her on a pretty strict schedule due to her diabetes and medications. I work 5 jobs to pay for everything. Even as my body rebelled, I would look at Georgia’s face and see her determination and desire to live….and I kept going day after day.

I admit, my caring for Georgia was not mentally healthy. She was a drain on my wallet, my health and my sanity (at times). She was my perfectly imperfect counterpart and I regret not one decision I ever made to provide her with the best care I could manage. She was worth every moment, penny, and tear. The joy she brought to my life is immeasurable. She made me mom, author, and an advocate for chronically ill pets.

Georgia was featured in multiple books, newspaper articles, and even the national news. I shared her story to help others and to bring awareness to Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed diseases. When Georgia was first diagnosed, I felt so very alone and scared. I didn’t want anyone else to feel like that, so I made sure to share her story. Her book was purchased around the world (nine countries that I know of) and during the course of the night, I’ve gotten messages from Greece, Canada, Australia, France, Uganda, England, and New Zealand. My heart, although broken, is beyond full at the love being shown to me now.

How do I say goodbye to my perfectly imperfect dog? Not easily. I literally feel like my heart has shattered. I woke up in the morning having no idea it would be our last together. I wish I would have taken her on a stroller walk or held her a little bit longer. I wish I could have made her kidneys and bladder better. I wish, as we all do, that our pets could life forever. So here is my goodbye….no, rather, my see you later, because I know we will meet again some day. So now I will write your obituary Georgia, so that everyone can know the just how amazing you were.

The life and times of Georgia Grace Conway:

Georgia Grace was born Nellie, in Schuylkill County, PA on 4/19/2009. She was a tricolor Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Georgia was one of there sisters born to Mickey and Natasha. She was supposed to be a petitie 18-20 lb. dog, but her love of all things food let her bulk up to 40 lbs. brick house at one point. Georgia was sadly the only dog of a vegetarian. So she always took it upon herself to knock on neighbor’s doors as they were cooking savory meat. She was known to invite herself to many a BBQ and had been observed to push a chair up to a table to access some food herself. She even had her beloved neighbor Sharon cook her steaks and deliver them to her front door on occassion.

Do you mind if I help myself to some hot dogs?

Georgia was the product of poor breeding. She ended up with several breed diseases and congenital issues over the years, but her warrior spirit always shone through. When most dogs would cry and shake at the vet, Georgia would run toward the entrance and bulldoze her way into the exam rooms. She loved to be the center of attention even if it involved probing and prodding from her veterinarians. If a vet tech ddn’t pay attention to her well enough, she would let them know immediately. Exams only took place after strategic belly rubs were given and determined to be acceptable. A huge thank you to Georgia’s vets, Dr. Daniel Silverberg, Dr. Leslee Feaster, Dr. Simon Dennis, and Dr. Cynthia Graves for putting up with my neurotic worries and helping me to give her one hell of a life. Most especially, thank you to Leslee Feaster for coming to the hospital at night so I could hold Georgia as she crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and vet tech Michelle Saling for staying late with us. During the COVID-19 crisis, many vet hospitals aren’t allowing owners to enter the building. Dr. Feaster’s kindness is beyond kind and provided me and Georgia with tremendous comfort.

Georgia was a fashionista. She began posing for photos as a way to win contests to offset her medical bills. She never won much, but did manage to buy her mom a lovely coach purse a few years back. Georgia wore each costume with pride and loved attending the Philadelphia Mutt Strut each year, in which she won both the talent and costume competitions twice. During her senior years, Georgia became a therapy dog, and she adored visiting her mom’s students. She had a natural knack for being calm, cool and collected at all times. Georgia never balked at thunder, fireworks, or loud noises. So working with kids who screamed or had unexpected movements never phased her. She would just wait them out, and before we left, every child in the room, even the ones who were initially afraid, would have pet her. Georgia recently attended an author visit with her mom at an elementary school. Almost 300 kids lined up to pet her and her beaming smile melted everyone’s heart.

Georgia was a well traveled dog. She loved vacationing at the Jersey shore. Her favorite parts of the trip occurred when she would see the ice cream shop on 96th street in Stone Harbor. Her eyes would widen and she would bark at the people in line to encourage them to move along more quickly. She still holds a grudge that her mother wouldn’t let her eat a seagull on the beach. Manners were not Georgia’s strong suit. She also loved going to Cavapalooza and Cavalier meetups. Georgia was a great copilot and loved snoozing in her car seat as her mom chauffered her to various events.

Georgia was preceded in death by her feline sisters Lola (her protector) and Isabella (her tormentor). She is survived by her feline brothers Milo and Jaxson who will miss her tremendously. She is also survived by the best dog grandparents of all time. Georgia always guarded the oven as her meat- eating Grammy cooked dinner. Easter and Thanksgiving were her favorites and she always perched herself next to her grammy for snuggles and belly rubs after chowing down on MEAT. Georgia spent many a day sitting by her Grandpop’s side as he dropped crumbs on the floor while snacking. They also spent hours watching ‘cowboy’ movies where Georgia would bark at the cows and horses until they ran off the screen. After checking to make sure they weren’t behind the TV, her Grandpop would reward her with an “Atta girl, Georgie” which delighted her almost as much as his dropped crumbs.

Georgia is also survived by Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lovers from around the world. Her life story, “Making Lemonade with Georgia Grace” brought her mini fame with world wide friends. The support of her friends in the Cavalier world, helped Georgia and her mom emotionally and financially over the last few years when her medical costs skyrocketed to equal her mom’s mortgage payments. Their kindness and support will never be forgotten.

Finally, Georgia is survived by her devoted, loving, and devestated mother, Kelly. She was her baby girl, best friend, and biggest inspiration. Georgia faced each challenge with nothing but a fighting spirit. Her mom is going to miss her naughty ways that included opening the Chewy boxes before mom could get to them, stealing food when ever possible, knocking on the neighbor’s doors to complain when she wouldn’t get a snack, snoring so loud that she rattled the walls, and just simply being the best dog that ever lived. She was her mommy’s hero.

To honor Georgia’s memory, please consider donating to Nonni’s Fund, a 501c3 non-profit, to help other Cavalier King Charles Spaniels get the medical care that they need. Go to Paypal.com @  nonnisfund2@gmail.com.

Thank you for loving my girl. Thank you for encouraging me to share her with all of you. Most especially, thank you God for making Georgia Grace mine.

Rest in peace my beautiful girl. I will miss you until the day I die. Each day with you was a gift.

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Kelly holds masters degrees in both Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology. She works full-time as a speech-language pathologist in both a public school setting and as an adjunct faculty member at a university, in Philadelphia, PA. She specializes in both autism and augmentative/alternative communication and took her skills to Uganda, Africa to start a special needs program for disabled children living in an orphanage in 2011. Kelly began experiencing symptoms of autoimmune arthritis in 1984 (while in her teens) but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis until 2001. Her first diagnosis was Sjogren’s syndrome. Eventually her diagnosis was changed to sero-negative RA and now Polyarticular Spondlyoarthropathy. She also manages thyroid disease (resulting from Graves Disease), fibromyalgia, renin-deficient hypertension, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis (DSAP) on a daily basis. Kelly connected with other autoimmune arthritis patients via social media in 2008. She began volunteering with the “Buckle Me UP! Movement”, which evolved into the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) beginning in 2009. Then became a cofounder of IFAA in 2013. She has represented the ACR on Capitol Hill as an Advocate for Arthritis, was a finalist in Wego Health’s Health Activist Hero awards in 2014, and speaks at various healthcare conferences as a patient advocate in the Philadelphia area.

14 thoughts on “Each day was a gift…

  1. Beautifully written, Kelly! I am sorry I didn’t get to meet Georgia, but I sure loved her. Thinking of you at this difficult and sad time.
    Marie

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  2. Beautifully written , I must say I ugly cried through the whole thing. I never had the privilege to meet Miss Georgia Grace but felt I knew her and always wanted to hear more. You were the epitome of the best fur Mom there could be. She is/was the best thing for you. Prayers for the knowledge of being the best you could manage and know that. Love you Kelly! We are here for you when you feel you want to talk.

    Deb Constien

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    1. Oh sweet Georgia how we will miss you! Make sure to hang out with Ikie while you wait for mom. He was one of your diabetic Facebook pup friends. Kelly Inam sure Georgia will be watching over you and her siblings. Love to you! 💔

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  3. Beautifully written piece on a beautiful life. Georgia Grace was wonderful and will forever be missed. Thank you for sharing her with us and for sharing this beautiful read too. Take care.

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  4. Kelly, I never met you or Georgia Grace in person, but I feel I know you both so very well through our mutual love of the sweetest breed on earth our CKCS! And we share in not only their loyalty, love & gentleness but in their diseases too! Georgia Grace has gone down in Cavalier history as ALL that a “perfect” Cavalier King Charles Spaniel should be! Yes, she was “perfect”! In your eyes and in the eyes of all who were blessed to know & meet her! Thank you Kelly for sharing the most fascinating life of your very special & perfect girl, Georgia Grace! She and you will NEVER be forgotten! She made our breed Proud! God Bless you at this very sad time and always!

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  5. I entirely understand your devotion to your beautiful dog and the grief that you must be going through. I lost my own dog in the last few years and still think of him every day. Thank you for this lovely post.

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  6. Oh Kelly… I cried reading this and looking at your beautiful photos. Georgia looks so much like my Robbie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with the same colourings, who sadly we had to let go 8 years ago. It still hurts, I still miss him. But he also got an unfair amount of suffering heaped upon him, starting with diabetes, arthritis, looking his vision.. it was awful. What you and Georgia have done in raising awareness (and not many furbabies can say they’ve been featured in one book let alone several!) is so valuable. I’m just so sorry, because it hurts and I know there’s nothing I can really say to make this any easier whatsoever. Hold dear to those memories, Georgia had the best home full of love with you and that’s precious, that’s what she will have felt every day of her life since being with you  ♥
    Caz xxxxx

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  7. I am so sorry to hear about your loss, Kelly. From all your posts I could really tell you loved her to death, and worked so hard to give her a good life. You were the perfect mum to her, too. Sending hugs.

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