Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tutu's and Dog Hair: Roo for Team Carlin

It is nearly impossible to get dog hair out of a tutu.

(That will make more sense in a little while)

My love of animals has allowed me to experience so many wonderful things and make incredible new friends.  So when one of those incredible new friends told me about a special young lady she knew of, I knew what I wanted to do.  Kate, a talented artist and creative genius extraordinaire at Farmhouse 38, is someone I met through blogging but has become an amazing friend.  She has been a big supporter of Roo, has helped out with several projects, and always loves to read about and see pictures of the fun Roo has with the children at school.  

Travel = Naps for Roo
It’s no surprise that our conversations often include stories about our animals, but this conversation was much different.  Kate told me about a family that she knows that lives in Kentucky who are also big animal lovers.  Rick, Wendy, Harper and Carlin; four people who are also going through a very difficult journey.  I asked Kate to pass my information on to Wendy in hopes that I could do something for them, and soon arrangements had been made.  We were going on a road trip!

But it wasn't the bluegrass's of Kentucky we were making our destination.  Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and their Family Pet Center would be where we would meet our fellow animal lovers and spend some time with them.  The weather was perfectly sunny and warm.  The visiting area had both an outdoor and indoor area provided; we couldn't pass up this chance to sit outside in the shade and get some fresh air!  We sat and waited patiently while the Child Life Specialists went up to tend to their requirements that would bring the family down to see us.  Roo laid down on his mat, knowing that soon he’d have company,trying to look nonchalant.  This is no easy feat for a 75 lb male collie...wearing a ladybug print.  (Again, I’ll get to that in a bit)

Roo the lovebug

Harper reading as Carlin
provided Roo's refreshments
Soon the door opened and lead out by the hospital representatives were Rick, Wendy, Grandma, and two little girls.  Harper, the oldest daughter, walked closely to her mom and peeked around at us shyly.  Carlin, the youngest daughter, walked boldly out into the visiting area in her purple frilly dress, purple hat and hospital mask.  As soon as they caught sight of Roo in his tutu, smiles lit up everyone’s faces!  Introductions were made and soon we all had settled in for our visit.  Harper sat down next to us and began to read a story about a mama dog and her puppies.  Carlin sat down with me and began to feed Roo his baby carrot treats.  As Harper’s voice carried across the visiting area, sounding out the words to the book she’d told us she’d been practicing just for our visit, Carlin’s tiny voice could be heard in the pauses in between.  “More carrots?  Another carrot?”  My therapy dog had found his nirvana: one child telling him a story while another child fills his belly full of snacks!

Carlin getting ready to feed Roo another carrot.
(photo by Wendy)
Roo had brought goodies for the girls.  Some flower leis and bracelets, shiny spirals to hang from the ceiling, a stamp set and a sticker mosaic kit were some things we had picked out to help brighten their time spent in the hospital room.  A bundle of blank bookmarks to personalize and lots of stickers to decorate with were to help encourage their love of reading.  Roo wanted Carlin to have a special reminder of his visit with her, so she was given a stuffed Roo dog that she could cuddle with any time she wanted.  The stuffed animal couldn't do tricks or eat carrots like Roo but, as Harper so wisely pointed out, it wouldn't get stinky carrot breath either!  Hugs were shared all around as our visit came to a close and we made a promise to come back again when she was ready for another visit.  Roo made the trip home a tired, but very happy dog.

Here is the point in time where I will explain the tutu, but unfortunately it’s also when a very ugly word comes into play: cancer.  Beautiful, sweet, tiny Carlin was diagnosed in the fall of 2013 with ETANTR (embryonal tumor with abundant neuropil and true rosettes).  This type of cancer is very rare, very aggressive, and is mainly seen in children below the age of 4. Carlin has undergone surgery and is currently being treated with rounds of chemo. In the weeks to come she will start radiation therapy.  When we visited with this little sweetheart, she had been at the hospital for two months; away from her home, from her animals, from her family life.  She could only be outside her room for a limited time and under very specific conditions.  To watch her spend time outside, with her loving family, and with a therapy dog was incredible.  I’m so thankful we were given that opportunity.

Carlin is a fighter, though she may love the pretty things in life.  That’s why the motto on her website is so fitting: Tutu Tough!  It’s girly, yet so powerful - just like her spirit!  I encourage you all to visit Carlin’s website to learn more about this amazing family and the journey they are on to help their daughter fight brain cancer.  While you are there, you’ll learn a little more about ETANTR, how you can help support Carlin's treatment, and how to get your own Team Carlin Tutu Tough gear!  Roo even wore a tutu (ladybug print was fitting for Roo the lovebug) on our visit to show his support and be #tututough!  Let’s make a statement and join him! Some of my favorite people did and just look at the fabulous fashion statement it made. Tutu Power Rules!

Will, Olivia, Meredith, Evie & Roo...come on guys!
Let's not be so formal.  Loosen up!  Get Silly!

Alright guys!  That's great!  Definitely #tututough!

Ok, maybe a little TOO SILLY!  Let's bring it back down a notch!

Perfect!  Thank you my tutu cuties!

Roo rocking his tutu

If you would like to send a card or letter in support and well wishes to Carlin and her family, please send mail to:
Carlin Beasley
3333 Burnet Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45229-3026

I’m proud to be on Team Carlin and honored to have met her family.  Spending time with them has shown me how someone can be facing immense challenges, but still be a positive and loving person.  I urge you to open your eyes to that in your own life.  The next time you open your mouth to gripe about your child’s behavior, or whine about their sports schedule, or any of the trivial parenting matters we see complaints about so much across social media, just stop and think.  Your child is with you, healthy and active.  Your child isn't facing odds grievous enough to make the strongest of grownups break down.  Your child is acting like a child, frustrating as it may be from time to time.  Take a deep breath and deal with things accordingly instead of shaming them on Facebook or blowing the situation out of proportion.  Then, take a quiet moment to appreciate the time you have been given with your child.  Our time with them is so precious and ever changing in this life.  And as they say, nothing is ever guaranteed to us.  Make your time with them count.  I know the amazing people on Team Carlin are doing what they can to make the best of every moment.

Rick, Wendy, Harper, Carlin and Roo;
so much love in such a small space!

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