One Foot in Front of the Other: Ceiba Soul’s 3rd Gotcha Day

Ceiba SkypeA photo from our [first ever!] Skype session earlier this morning.

Bita Boy,

Happy Gotcha Day, my love.

You don’t know how much I miss you. I get envious of other people bathing their dogs. I love how you turn into a wild scrap of joy after your baths and then you gallop and run like the wind everywhere. It’s one of the funniest things that I’ve ever seen. I love seeing you that happy. One time your Uncle Mau told me something like, “He’s such a happy dog, and that’s thanks to you.” That’s one of the best compliments that I’ve ever received. Also, your Uncle Mau takes good care of you — he recently wrote me just to recommend some probiotics for you, because he thinks that they might really help you. (And I’m going to look into it!) You are loved, Ceiba Soul.

Lately I’ve been listening to a song called “One Foot” by a band called Walk The Moon. They have that song called “Shut Up and Dance.” You’ve probably heard me play it and then seen me twirl, jump around, and fall all over the room. You know me, bun. Anyway, this song, it makes me think of you and me, the distance that we have to deal with, how we’re doing life right now, and how we’re going to be okay and we’re going to be together again… even if it’s not happening as soon as I had hoped.

The lyrics say:

Cross my heart, hope to die
Taking this one step at a time
I got your back if you got mine
One foot in front of the other
All that we have is each other
One foot in front of the other

When I first heard it, I thought that it said, “I got your back and you’ve got mine.” Because there’s no “if” with us. You’ve always been my for sure true blue. When I knew that I had to bring you home, I knew. It wasn’t so much a decision as my heart informing me. Hey, Gia, this dog? He’s yours. And by the same token, you’re his. Take him now or regret it forever. He’s one in a million, I promise. And oh yes you are.

I also like how there’s a part in the song that says:

Oh, our heart’s a mess
But it’s our only defense
To brave the wilderness

I like the idea of you having your heart and me having mine and us growing a new shared heart that is its own little entity. But that’s also what I worry about with us being so far away from each other, you know. How to take care of that heart when I’m sitting behind a computer screen or just using a cellphone. It’s really tough.

Not a soul in the road
Not a star in the sky
It’s a desert in my heart
And I know where to hide

Sometimes it is lonely inside of me, Bita Boy. And that loneliness always has a welcome mat ready for you, and you always know how to curl up just right and light me up. You’re the fire glowing&growing right under my heart, keeping it nice and warm. I just need to figure out how to take better care of you and your heart and the heart that we share.

Last time when I was in Costa Rica with you, I wrote this-stream-of-thought poemthing:

Ceiba: extra lung, chunk of heart, seems dangerous you can run around on legs letting my love wild, I want you to be free but am always scared to lose a part of me — you.

It’s true, baby.  I’d be lying if I said that I’m not a little scared about everything that is ahead of us. But we’ll be okay. One foot (and paw) in front of the other.

Te amo, bebito. 

All my love, forever & always,
Your Gia

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Going the Distance: My Bita Boy Blues

[After a little over 5 months apart, Ceiba and I got to spend two and a half weeks together. Saying goodbye was not fun.]

Costa Rica  February 18th, 2018

I’m rushing around my house, throwing things together before I have to leave for the airport. Ceiba is lying down on our bed, still sleepy. This is earlier than we usually wake up.

At some point, I take a break to go be with Bita for a few moments. I gently curl around him and he moves toward me, rests against me. Sometimes we pretzel yoga ourselves around each other, but this time, we’re just simple, soft, soaking up the last of it.

I’ve been obsessed with Fall Out Boy for months (or should I say, fobsessed), and right now I have their music playing, weaving through the air all around us, shaking up my sadness. Patrick Stump sings, “I want to scream ‘I love you’ from the top of my lungs, but I’m afraid that someone else will hear me.”

This is currently most accurate in a very literal way, because all I want to do is shout out my love, and I can’t, because 1) that would scare Ceiba and 2) that would scare any humans who may overhear me hollering at 5 something in the morning.

So instead, I just say it, and then we breathe together.


A little later, in the kitchen, it’s time for the final goodbye. I dread this moment. I hate it. I want to kick it away, wash it down the sink, put it through a shredder, stomp it to nothing. But I can’t.

I kneel down on the ground so that we’re at the same level. “I love you,” I say once again, stroking Ceiba. I breathe in the scent of his fur, which I always wish that I could bottle because it calms me down better than any essential oil. I don’t cry. I won’t cry.

“I promise this is the last time.” How can I leave him, how can I leave this love? Never again, I vow fiercely. This is the last time. I will move mountains, I will unpour oceans, I will do anything. Just a few more months and then our forever starts until as long as our forever lasts. I won’t cry.

He buries his head against my chest and I keep petting him, kiss the top of his head, feel his soft, plush fur, massage the areas around his ears. “You’re my world,” I say. I’m not fully crying, but my heart aches and my eyes are swimming. I don’t want to get too emotional, because I know how sensitive Ceiba can be. So I won’t cry.

(Honestly, sometimes I think he’s like the dog version of me and I’m like the human version of him. We’re very similar, just in our species specific ways.)

I have to leash him up for a few moments while I go downstairs into the garage and then outside. He stands there watching me as I walk away. I can’t look back because I can’t bear it, because the hurt is thrumming through me, ripping at my rib cage, because the sadness is burning up into my throat. I start walking down the stairs. Now he can’t see me anymore, either.

I’m finally in the garage, heading towards the car, when I hear him bark, once, and I think, if my heart could shout out, that’s what it would sound like.

On the plane, I cry.

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Happy Independence Day, Costa Rica!

I love you with my whole soul and we are going to miss you so much. Thank you for your green green green and your rain rain rain and at least half the world’s animals (including a boa constrictor on our front door). You brought me countless incredible, unbelievable adventures. (As my grandpa would say, “You can’t make this stuff up.”) You taught me how to be brave, how to run wild, how to love like a sunset on fire. You gave me Ceiba.

Now I have millions of memories and the kind of stories that I’ll tell my children one day. You grew me well and raised me right. I hope that I can make you proud and one day give back to you even a fraction of what you’ve given me. No matter where in the world I am, I love you, and you will always have a massive chunk of my homegrown heart. Te amo.

“May we all get to grow up in
our red, white, and blue little town…

May we all do a little bit better than the first time,
learn a little something from the worst times,
get a little stronger from the hurt times.

May we all get to have a chance to ride the fast one,
walk away wiser when we crashed one,
keep hoping that the best one is the last one.

Yeah, you learn to fly
and if you can’t,
then you just free fall.

May we all.”

Florida Georgia Line

forest 1forest 2

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Heads Costa Rica, Tails California: Part 1

*The title of this post is taken from a Jo Dee Messina song, although in my case, as you shall soon see, California is definitely not the “somewhere greener, somewhere warmer” option. 😉

shineA very accurate representation of how he shines and lights me right up.

Well, folks, I have some big news.

The way I told everyone went like this: “Ceiba and I are moving to California.”

That was back in May/June/July. I had visited California in May for about a week and a half, and at some point, I had a big (and very unexpected) revelation. I realized that I needed to move back to California as soon as possible. In my next blog post, I’ll write more about how this all came about, clarify some points, and mention additional plans for the future.

I had actually been living and studying in California from the summer of 2011 until the end of 2014, but I ended up moving back to Costa Rica. Although I am originally “from” the United States, my family moved to Costa Rica for the first time when I was about 5 years old, and although I have lived in other countries as well, I have spent the majority of my life in Costa Rica. It feels like home to me.

But sometimes you need to leave home to further develop in new ways, explore life, and gain access to certain opportunities. I had a lot of really important and life-changing experiences last time I lived in California, but ultimately, I needed to go back to Costa Rica (“Who says you can’t go home?”, right?). This time is different though. This is the real deal… we’re in it to win it, and I’m going to be here for awhile.

Oh, yes… I’m already in California. I arrived on August 26th. Unfortunately, my darling dog is still in Costa Rica, though I plan to bring him here in early to mid 2018. I wish very much that it could be sooner, but unfortunately that’s not going to be possible. Thankfully I’ll be able to spend some time with him in January and February.

I started school three weeks ago (it’s great to be back; I have always loved and appreciated my college campus). I’m finishing up the studies needed to get my Associate’s Degree. I’ll be majoring in Psychology, but I will also be receiving Associate’s Degrees in the Natural Sciences, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Spanish, and the Humanities.

Then I’m going to get my Bachelor’s Degree. (And continue my education after that! Thankfully I love school and the academic environment.) My Bachelor’s will be in an animal-related major (such as Animal Biology or Animal Science), with an emphasis in Animal Behavior.

I’m also interested in learning more about the Karen Pryor Academy and Pat Miller’s Intern Academies or Apprentice Programs. I know that sometimes people mention Animal Behavior College, but I honestly haven’t heard very good things about it, and it’s not on my list.

I’d also like to learn more about Jean Donaldson’s Academy for Dog Trainers, but although it’s a lengthy, in-depth program that generally takes two years to complete, it’s solely online. Because of that (and possibly other reasons), I don’t think that it’s the right choice for me… although the 28 page syllabus thrills me, of course. If anyone has any feedback about the aforementioned options (or others), please do let me know!

This move been a great, much-needed change and an important step in the right direction. That being said, I do miss my boy so much, and I can’t wait to be back with him again… January, hurry up!

spoon“Hey, baby, I’m missin’ you like crazy…”
Us the Duo

baby ball

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About That Photobucket Fiasco…

You may have heard about the huge Photobucket drama that happened recently. I had started writing out a whole rant that I was going to post here, but I’m still too frustrated and flummoxed at the moment, to be honest. (Especially because I’ve been using Photobucket for at least twelve years, since I myself was just a twelve-year-old kid.)

For right now, let’s just say that my blog has been overtaken and destroyed by those miserable black and grey “3rd Party Hosting” images. Today I started to slowly rebuild from the ruins. It’s going to take awhile because my Photobucket account randomly won’t let me access certain pictures that are saved in my library.

I’d like to believe that this is just a glitch (that many folks have had to deal with), rather than Photobucket purposefully being evil and waiting for us to fork over the $399 in desperation… but like to believe is the key phrase here and, as Fall Out Boy would say, “The best part of ‘believe’ is the ‘lie.'” But sorry, Photobucket — as Fall Out Boy would also say, “The best of us can find happiness in misery,” and you’re not getting a rusty penny from me, ever.

Also, I just read an article that mentioned an interview with Photobucket’s chief executive, John Corpus. There’s a part that says:

“Was the customer backlash expected?

Corpus paused. For 12 seconds.

‘No,’ he finally said.”

If you have to pause for twelve seconds before answering a simple question… then perhaps there’s something amiss?

Also, here’s Ceiba being beautiful (and saving the day, as always).

Mi amor

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A Billion Baths (Just kidding… only FIVE.)

Two weeks ago, don Ubaldo and I bathed all five dogs.

Bath Day 2
After Ceiba’s bath… “Gia, why. WHY.” Sorry, bun.

Bath Day 2
“Don’t ‘bun’ me.”

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Rain Freeman, Hamstar Extraordinaire

Adorable hamster-sized cabin made by the almighty Mau, and fancy photos by the magical Miss Mari. ❤ All modeling done by Rain Freeman. And yes, it’s exhausting to be that cute.



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