Yesterday was Frac's birthday. He was typically excited for his day of revelry. He had been hoping for a compound bow or a recurve bow, and if not that, maybe I'd purchase that submachine pellet gun he had been eyeing at the store. You know the one. The one where you can launch a steady stream of white plastic pellets at your sister's arse for 30 seconds before your mother comes out and threatens to break the gun but only after putting a cap in your arse with it.

He didn't get any of that. He got a watch. Don't look at me like that. Punctuality is important. I could have gotten him socks and underwear but I'm not completely heartless.

Frac's birthday is always a tough birthday for our family to get through because it will always be the reminder of what was to come in just five days. Frac's birthday was the last thing we celebrated and shared as a whole family. Five days later life ended for Frac's little brother and none of us has ever quite recovered.

That was the last photo we took of Shale. It was the night of Frac's birthday, the boys were high on attention and birthday cake and goofing off and when I saw the giant shadow on the picture I tossed the photo into the trash. Days later I dug it out because I couldn't bear to lose one single more piece of my dead son.

This time of year is always rough on us. It's compounded and worsened by the fact that when we adopted Jumby, his birthday is Oct 21. The day Shale died.

Six months after Shale died, my kids were floundering, my mental health was deteriorating, and my husband had left the building (literally) to start working out of town in an effort to cope with his grief.

I didn't know what to do. I could barely breathe. But I couldn't sit for one more day and watch my children slide further into the pit of despair I was trapped in, so I went out and I got a dog.

He wasn't the dog I wanted. The one I wanted was brown and white and barked a lot but the women who was giving me the dog, having heard my story, my loss, handed me this runt who never barked and said, "Trust me. He's the one you want."

And so I grudgingly took home this puppy who was the wrong colour and looked kinda weird and wondered what the hell I was doing.

I named him Nixon. And I wrote my very first blog post about him here. 

It turned out that strange lady knew what she was doing. Nixon was exactly the glue I needed to keep my heart together and he helped heal Fric and Frac who were only 8 and 9.

We were inseparable, him and I. He was never more than five feet from me wherever I was, and he'd bite anyone but me if they tried moving him away from me.

He was my warrior spirit and my protector. He listened to me talk softly about the son I lost and he let my wipe my tears on his fur and he always slept next to me, pushing his weight against mine so that I would never feel alone in the darkest parts of the night.

He let me abuse him for blog fodder and dress him up for amusement and he never even sighed when I brought out the iPhone and told him to smile.

 He hogged the monstrously large oversized couch whenever he could, he sat like a grumpy old man and he was always on the one rug he wasn't allowed to be on. Whenever I chastised him he would look up at me with those big brown eyes and say, "What? You love it and you know it."

He would burrow his dirty body into the mountain of warm laundry, fresh out of the dryer and he liked baby carrots better than any dog treat.

When he slept he snored so loudly you could hear him across the house and when he farted his silent little 'Poof' bombs, he could clear a room. Which he did. Nightly. With great glee.

Nixon was more than the family dog. He was the embodiment for all the love that we had for a son, a sibling we lost and we didn't know what to do with it. So we transferred all that love and attention onto a DOG.

He was our four legged brother, my doggy son. He saved me from myself when my child died.

He was the best dog ever.

Yesterday, just before lunch, I noticed he was missing. Nixon doesn't go missing, because he was too much of a pansy to leave the yard. He never strayed far from me. Ever.

A panicked search ensued, where I found myself cursing our property, because how the hell was I supposed to find my dog if he was injured on a land so vast. Needle meet haystack.

My husband, and all our neighbours continued the search long after I called it quits.

A mother always knows.

I knew.

Nixon could have one leg and been on his death bed and he would come to me when I called. We were inseparable.

Nixon love bombed me. So gross. And yet I miss it so much.

My husband eventually came in, and between the tears streaming down his face, he told me he couldn't find Nixon. Some of the other neighbours reported seeing a big feral black dog traveling with a coyote. The duo had been terrorizing my neighbours yards for the past couple of days.

He didn't find Nixon. But the Rottweiller helped him find a very large pool of blood. They followed the trail until it disappeared but with that amount of blood it was clear what had happened.

I spent the afternoon worrying my dog was out there slowly dying a torturous death on the afternoon of his brother's 15th birthday.

How do I tell my son our dog died on his birthday?

Nixon was found, later that night due to the generosity of a friend, and a kindness I will never be able to repay. There isn't much left of him, but enough that I can give him the goodbyes he's earned.

I can't give back my son his birthday. I can't erase all the pain that seems to swirl around this date. I don't know how to make it better for any of my kids, most particularly Frac.

I can't stop the flow of my kids tears.

I can't bring Nixon back.

He deserved better and it will haunt me for a long time that he didn't get it.

My children deserve better. It will haunt me forever that I can never seem to give it to them.

I miss my dog.

And my kid.

Rest in peace Nixon. You will be sorely missed.

Nixon, a.k.a Snickerdoodles, Fartmonster, Snixon.

April 1, 1996 - October 15, 2012

World's Greatest Dog. Forever.