postheadericon It Has Been a Week Since I Lost Al


It has been a week since my beloved Al died and I just cannot believe he will never be home again.  I walk this large house aimlessly, I go through his things smelling every shirt to catch his scent, I sit where he sat in the living room, I sit in his place at the table, I try to find him in every corner.  I cannot hear his voice; I cannot see him walk in the door; I cannot find him and yet he is everywhere.  His little Spangle goes from room to room, she looks dejected as she cannot find him either and is so confused; we are now sisters in grief.

He always did the grocery shopping because he thought I always spent too much money; true that.  I am out of everything and yet I cannot make myself go to the store.  Last night after going to the pharmacy to stop his prescriptions being automatically refilled, I went to Bob Evans and sat at the booth where we last sat.  I looked at a couple across the aisle and knew that I would never again be part of a couple again.  I walked out with such a heavy heart and cried all the way home.  I am a strong woman and I am functioning enough to pay bills and do the dog and household chores.  Some of my dogs are at the farm with my niece and nephew and will come home after I judge this weekend.  Judging and any showing I do will be a special challenge as was always here so I could leave.  I think of the most stupid things like who will take me to the airport and pick my up; who will make the salads at dinner; who will make my morning tea; who will read the paper to me and make me watch CNN or the awful Judge Judy whom he watched daily; who will hold me when I need to be held; who will put me first and love me unconditionally as I love him. Who be the other half that makes the whole?

I have known for a long time that I would lose Al; he has battled one kind of cancer or another for nearly twenty years.  Yet, now I just cannot believe that he is gone,  I can now empathize with every woman who has found herself or will find herself in the position that I am now in.  I never understood the depth of the loss of one’s spouse before and now sadly I do. 


postheadericon Arrangements for Al’s Memorial Service

I have had so many emails concerning plans for Al’s Memorial Celebration from those in our area.  I had intended to have just a very private family service, but some of our friends said they would like to attend.  There is absolutely no reason for anyone to feel obligated to attend as Al and I would not expect it. Even so,  I thought I would post the arrangements:

Just finished arrangements for Al’s Memorial Service, no viewing. St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Sunbury, Ohio. 7 PM, Thursday August 19, 2010.  Light Refreshments in social hall after. 

Al was not Catholic, but I am very Catholic. Father Sizemore, pastor of St. John Neumann, has graciously given the privilege to me of having Al’s Service in the Sanctuary of my church.  I am very grateful.  Father Shalk from my childhood church has been a friend to both Al and me.  When we were talking about Al he remarked that “Al was Al” and truer words were never spoken.

Donna Riess who has a very special Rattlebridge ruby girl, just sent a lovely email to me with words I have printed below.  I am so thankful for all the emails and cards in memory of my Al.  Thank you.

Donna’s words:

The day I picked up Lucy from you, I noticed something that I very rarely
see.  It was a look that passed between you and Al.  The look said it
all; there was understanding as though you could read each others minds,
there was respect, there was playfulness, there was devotion, there was
love…. Not everyone gets the chance to find that perfect soul mate.

postheadericon An Empty House

It seems that I will be using this blog to describe stages in the grief process.  One minute I seem to be okay and then I rage and sob and call to him not to leave me.  Silly I know, but his presence is everywhere and I miss him so much.  When I came home from the hospital I ran to his pillow and his undershirts just to catch his scent. After he died, I held him for a couple of hours with my nose in the crook of his neck to catch his essence as I had done so many times in our marriage.  I think back at all the things I could have done better, paid more attention to his needs while being so caught up in my career and dogs. Al suffered from one type of cancer or another for twenty years.   He was determined to live for me.  He endured chemo for me.  Once one has cancer, one waits for its reoccurrence despite chemo, surgery, radiation.  If I were to get cancer, I would do nothing because I could not live knowing it could strike again and again.  He did it for me.

He was not a man to accept softness or babying.  I wanted to baby him, but instead I just made sure he was doing what he needed to stay well except for this last chemo when I failed to keep his nutrition where it should be as he would eat little but fruit. I nagged and prodded and threatened but nothing could make him eat; I am told it would not have mattered anyway. He was just losing ground.He knew he was dying; he knew it was time but it was not time for me.  It would never be time for me.

Tonight a friend and I listened to music to be played at his memorial service.  He loved Bach; listening to his favorite pieces without him was almost more than I could bear.  He often said that he could believe in God because of music, especially the genius of Bach.  I listened to the Celtic Women CD’s.  He was so interested in the Celts, read everything he could about them and perfected whole monologues of legend and lore. He was interested in so many things with his fine mind and scientific bent.  He was so brilliant and capable.  I just cannot believe how empty this house is and how empty my heart.

So many memories, so many tears . . .


postheadericon VERY SAD NEWS: Albert Beery Snyder: 7/20/29-7/22/2010

My wonderful, beloved husband Al died yesterday from complications of liver cancer. He was in the hospital since July 9, six days in intensive care and then in the supportive hospital hospice. His pain was beyond belief but I advocated for him in my usual pushy Brooklyn way to keep him comfortable and he was kept comfortable.   I told his oncologist that while he may be a good doctor he had the bedside manner of a “toad.”  He was in an excellent hospital which tended to his every need with me ready to do battle if his needs were not met.

He never recovered from his chemo embolization on May 17th.  I was with Al every second of his struggle to live. He tried so very hard not to leave me, but finally asked me to “let him go. Please let me go. I want to leave this earth. I hate this world.” He went through stages of anger which is a normal part of the process of leaving. For 26 years I have prayed that Al would accept Jesus Christ.  As he lay dying, I prayed so hard as I talked to him and held him for so many hours whispering in his ear how much God loved him and was embracing him. In the end, he released the anger and accepted the Lord. I do not how I will live without him, but I know by the peaceful soft and calm look on his face that he saw his future with God and was at peace.  My prayers were answered and I thank God with every breath I have. 

I cannot bear the thought of not touching him again, kissing his dear lips, and bantering back and forth.  He was my rock, my solace, my foundation, my hero.  His character was that of integrity, ethics, loyalty, honesty and a work ethic that was amazing.  I have not done finances in 26 years.  I was 39 when I married and my idea of balancing the checkbook was to change banks every four months. I have not touched a checkbook since he found out about my balancing act. I have not put oil in my vans in 26 years.

I had already bred a couple of my girls, but doubt if I will be be equipped to show for a long while, so the puppies will go to wonderful homes as pets.  I know God has plans for me but right now I mourn and will mourn it seems like forever right now.  I loved Al and he loved me. What more can be said. Rest in peace, my darling “Albie.”  I love you forever and so look forward to being with you again, seeing you basking in the light.       kissing              

              We loved each other, what more can be said?                          



Our Wedding106_0814 His 80th Birthday with his brothers, sister, daughter, grandchildren and me 


al and bill 2

Al and his beloved brother Bill, two peas in a pod!


                                                                 befuddled as usual

My Beloved Al

postheadericon My Al Is Not Doing Well

My first and only husband of 26 years, Albert Berry Snyder, will be 81 tomorrow and will probably be going into hospice on his birthday. He has never recovered from the chemo directly into his liver on May 17th, growing weaker and weaker.  He has been in the hospital almost two weeks now with acute pancreatitis; a pancreatic cyst; an infected lesion in his liver: a kidney stone which backed up urine causing an infection of his blood; and extremely poor nutrition from not being able to eat well after the chemo. We knew none of this, just thought the chemo had him down as the other times he had chemo to his liver.  He will not be put on life support and has chosen not to be given any nutrition as he is ready to die. He has been in horrible pain while in ICU for five or six days, mostly from the kidney stone which finally passed into his bladder and from the acute pancreatitis.  He simply cannot take anymore for as he said to me “I can’t go on. I cannot do this another night. Let me go. Let me go please.”  Please pray the his passing is peaceful and free from pain.  I love Al beyond reason. He has been my rock and my support.  Without him, there would be no Rattlebridge and he let me have all the credit.  Without him there may be no Rattlebridge in the future as I do not see how I can go on without him.  Please pray for my Al!

postheadericon Please say a prayer for Al

Please say a prayer for Al who is in intensive care tonight. He is in very bad shape from his latest round of chemo.

postheadericon CATCHING UP: JULY 8, 2010

I am off to up state New York tomorrow to judge two shows.  I will be visiting with several friends

who are coming to the show to see me with their Rattlebridge dogs. I can’t wait to see them.

I will also be glad to see fellow judges and dog show friends.  I have not been to dog shows

on a regular basis due to Al’ health.  Our friend Angie  who helps with our dogs and our friend

Sara who has two of my dogs who live with her, both hopefully pregnant:  Rattlebridge

Bounce in Her Step (daughter of my Bounce from frozen semen) and Rattlebridge

Mary Cassata (daughter of my Renoir from frozen semen).  I am happy to be having summer puppies,

but I will tell you this: if Senate Bill 95 passes, I will not probably be breeding dogs at least in Ohio.

Our Governor Strickland made a pact with the devil with HSUS and the Farm Bureau in an attempt

to keep HSUS from getting enough signatures to get their version of our newly passed farm bill on the

November ballot.  Part of the deal was that Strickland will back SB95 which is being pushed by the

animal rights zealots in Ohio and is being fought by sane people who do not want government control

with the ridiculous requirements in the bill for animal care.  I totally agree we need to fight the

substandard breeders, mostly the Amish, in our state. The standard of care can be inhumane to

downright cruel.

As soon as I begin writing about legislation and animal rights, I lose track of my original subject.  So—as

soon as I land in Columbus from New York on Monday Angie will meet me at the airport with another

packed suitcase so I can repack and take off to Las Vegas to catch up with two of my friends from the

last school that I served as principal who are attending a kindergarten convention.  I should not be going;

I don’t want to leave Al but he is covered and money is tight which has never stopped me to Al’s worry

perpetual worry.

I simply need to get away. Al has not bounced back from his latest chemo; I am worried sick.  He has stayed

bed for the last three weeks with no energy. After he was home after his last chemo which consists of a

cocktail infused directly into his liver through the femoral artery, he had a huge reaction to the antibiotic

Cipro causing him to go into scary hallucinations and dementia which got worse by the day until I hauled him

kicking and screaming into the emergency room. They admitted him and kept him for four days as Cipro can

cause dementia in the elderly. Of course I was the bad guy because I would not turn the televisions and radio

off because they were off when he insisted they were blaring.  His mind is back to normal.

I just wrote an article for “The Royal Spaniels” magazine about priorities changing; I did not expect any feedback

from Cavalier people and got none.  I feature it below. It talks about how we all get so caught up in the dog show

game, myself leading the pack, that we do not always pay attention to the human side of life. I have known dog

people who have taken a second mortgage out on their house or robbed their children’s’ college funds

order to finance a dog’s career to attempt to get to the coveted number in competition Cavalier in the country.  I

know how proud one can be of a dog that does that well; we have had three number one in competition Cavaliers in this

country and one in Canada. Was it sweet, yes, but oh so fleeting. As I say below, at the end of the day it is the dogs

that count, not the wins.


Meredith Johnson-Snyder

Rattlebridge Cavaliers

In the last six months since Al has come out of remission and into aggressive liver cancer, my world and priorities have tilted. I find myself unable to wrap my once driven head around much of anything; I just cannot get myself together to finish articles, to keep up the good fight against anti breeding legislation, or to even embark on my spring planting frenzy. My energy level has pummeled, my goals have gone on vacation, and the normal activity of keeping up in the Cavalier and dog worlds has diminished. Facing cancer in one’s spouse takes center stage and normalcy goes on a back burner. My priorities have definitely changed and for the better right now.

Breeding, raising, and showing dogs can become a passion for those who do it with the right intention to improve the breed or at least to do no harm.

“Doing dogs” can become an obsession, an addiction, and a way of life. I am as guilty as anyone for missing family birthdays, sports events, awards ceremonies, graduations and weddings if one collided with a big specialty or judging assignment. My brothers, sister, and stepchildren and their families have never understood that they really needed to ask about my judging schedule or nationals in order to be graced with my presence; after all a judging contract is usually signed a at least a year in advance!!! The judging panel for a specialty or national may be made in heaven for one’s certain dog. Chasing the next BIS or National BISS can become the “holy grail” and the priority.

I have known those who did not make mortgage or car payment in order to pay entries, a handler to take a dog out, and/or advertising for said dog’s campaign. I have seen dogs become more of a priority than children. Thank God I have never gone quite that far probably because I never had children! I admit that priorities became pretty twisted when dog show weekends took top billing all too often in my life.

How absurd it all is, but then I am not alone in the dog world for having skewed priorities. When I asked a judge friend once what his religion was, he replied “the church of dog shows.” How many Sunday Masses or Holy Days of Obligation did I miss going to shows, whelping litters, or just begging off. Balancing my career and my dog show adventures was always a challenge and I retired earlier than I should have in order to be free to pursue my dream of showing and judging without the restrictions of a full time job—a job I would now love to do again if I wasn’t too damned old to do more than act as a substitute principal!

Why am I going on about all this? I am going on about “all this” because my priorities have drastically changed with age and with my husband’s cancer. I just wish I had had the good sense to change my priorities before nieces and nephews and step grandchildren had grown up without me realizing it, before so much money was spent on “doing dogs” and not enough saved or given to charities, before I had spent so much time away from Al who always supported me in my dog activities even when emitting terribly long sighs when doing the check book!

Was the drive to have beautiful champions, best in show dogs, performance and therapy dogs, and Register of Merits worth it? Yes, in a way, as dreams were fulfilled, goals met, and friendships made. It is wonderful to be able to look back at the journey of fulfilling dreams of wonderful Cavaliers. When I go back in my mind’s eye, the memories of my dogs will keep me softly even if all the ribbons and trophies will not keep me warm. However, all of those memories include Al who was my rock, my balance, my “curmudgeon” driving me crazy with his down to earth attitude when I just wanted to fly and he would be so damned cautionary that I would accuse him of always trying to put a damper on things. He should have put much more of a damper on me!!!

There comes a time in one’s life when the “footloose and fancy free” mentality of the young or middle aged comes into perspective. I think of my friend Anne Thaeder who rather put her life on hold to be her mother’s companion and then caretaker; she did so with joy and love. I hope that I am doing the same with my Al as gracefully as Annie and so many others finding themselves in the same situation do. My husband increasingly needs me in the “ups and downs” of chemo and if not total remission then just as much quality time as chemo and the Lord give to us. I have never been a very patient person, but am now learning patience. I have never really had to deny myself what I wished to do as an adult; Lord knows Al never denied me. Now he comes first in everything and I want to spend all my time with him. Suddenly “doing dogs” is not so important. Although still breeding a bit and enjoying looking at the show puppies grow up with our lawn as their show ring, I find that I am in no hurry to take them out; maybe they will be shown someday, maybe not, as their trotting around at home is as wonderful to me as their trotting around a ring. Even though missing the National this year did give me pause as I have a puppy that would have been competitive, there will be other nationals and other UK shows rather than this year’s wonderful one at Blenheim Palace. For one so once immersed in the dog show world as I, I have changed my priorities by the grace of God. Please say a prayer for my Al; he has been probably the only man in the world to put up with me. At this point he shakes his head with an empathetic yes!




postheadericon A Little Bit of Humor


If you’ve ever worked for a boss who reacts before getting the facts and
thinking things through, you will love this!

Arcelor-Mittal Steel, feeling it was time for a shakeup, hired a new CEO.
The new boss was determined to rid the company of all slackers.

On a tour of the facilities, the CEO noticed a guy leaning against a wall.
The room was full of workers and he wanted to let them know that he meant
business. He asked the guy, "How much money do you make a week?"

A little surprised, the young man looked at him and said, "I make $400 a
week. Why?"

The CEO said, "Wait right here." He walked back to his office, came back in
two minutes, and handed the guy $1,600 in cash and said, "Here’s four weeks’
pay. Now GET OUT and don’t come back."

Feeling pretty good about himself, the CEO looked around the room and asked,
"Does anyone want to tell me what that goof-ball did here?"

From across the room a voice said, "Pizza delivery guy from Domino’s."


Subject:  Senior Church Moment

A Preacher was explaining that he must move on to a larger congregation
that could pay him more.

There is a hush within the congregation. No one wants him to leave. Joe
Smith, who owns several car dealerships in the city stands up and proclaims,
"If the Preacher stays, I will provide him with a new Cadillac every year,
and his wife with a Honda mini-van to transport their children!"
The congregation sighs in relief, and applauds. Sam Brown, a successful
entrepreneur and investor, stands and says, "If the Preacher will stay on
here, I’ll personally double his salary, and also establish a foundation to
guarantee the college education of all his children,

More sighs and loud applause. Joe Tavares stands up and says “if the
preacher stays I will provide him with all the wine he wants.”

Sadie Jones, age 88, stands and announces with a smile,
"If the Preacher stays, I will give him sex!"

There is total silence.

The Preacher, blushing, asks her, "Mrs. Jones, whatever possessed you to say that?"
Sadie’s 90 year old husband Jake is now trying to hide, holding his
forehead with the palm of his hand and shaking his head from side to side,
while his wife replies, "Well, I just asked my husband how we could help,
and he said, "Screw him!"

Isn’t senility wonderful?

Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth!!


 The Dogs Of Moscow – Taking the subway to find food and learning to get off at the right stop – WOW!

          The Dogs Of Moscow –
          An Interesting Story….

          Canine commuter … wild dog waits on the platform
          STRAY dogs are commuting to and from a city centre on underground trains in search of food scraps.

          The clever canines board the Tube each morning. After a hard day scavenging and begging on the streets,
          they hop back on the train and return to the suburbs where they spend the night.
          Experts studying the dogs say they even work together to make sure they get off at the right stop after
          learning to judge the length of time they need to spend on the train.
          The dogs choose the quietest carriages at the front and back ofthe train. They have also developed
          tactics to hustle humans into giving them more food on the streets of Moscow .

           Scientists believe the phenomenon began after the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, and Russia ‘s
          new capitalists moved industrial complexes from the city centre to the suburbs. Dr. Andrei Poiarkov,
          of the Moscow Ecology and Evolution Institute, said: These complexes were used by homeless dogs
          as shelters, so the dogs had to move together with their houses.
          Because the best scavenging for food is in the city centre, the dogs had to learn how to travel on the
          subway to get to the centre in the morning, then back home in the evening, just like people.

          Well trained … dog enjoys a nap on the underground

          Dr. Poiarkov told how the dogs like to play during their daily commute.He said: They jump on the 
          train seconds before the doors shut, risking their tails getting jammed. They do it for fun. And
          sometimes they fall asleep and get off at the wrong stop.

          Dog tired … mutt naps on tube seat in Moscow

          The dogs have learned to use traffic lights to cross the road safely, said Dr. Poiarkov.
          And they use cunning tactics to obtain tasty morsels of shawarma, a kebab-like snack popular in Moscow .
          They sneak up behind people eating shawarmas then bark loudly to shock them into dropping their food.

           With children, the dogs play cute by putting their heads on youngsters’ knees and staring pleadingly
          into their eyes to win sympathy and scraps. Dr. Poiarkov added: Dogs are surprisingly
          good psychologists.

           The Moscow mutts are not the first animals to use public transport. In 2006 a Jack Russell in Dunnington,
          North Yorks , began taking the bus to his local pub in search of sausages. And two years ago, passengers in
          Wolverhampton were stunned when a cat called Macavity started catching the 331 bus to a fish and
          chip shop.


Another gem from my email:

Law of the Garbage Truck:

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were
driving in the right lane when suddenly a car jumped out of a
parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his
brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of
the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi
driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was really
friendly. So I asked, ‘Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined
your car and sent us to the hospital!’ This is when my taxi driver
taught me what I now call, ‘The Law of the Garbage Truck.’

He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around
full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of
disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it
and sometimes they’ll dump it on you. Don’t take it personally.
Just smile , wave, wish them well, and move on. Don’t take their garbage
and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.
The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take
over their day. Life’s too short to wake up in the morning with regrets,
so…Love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don’t.
Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it!

Have a blessed, garbage-free day!