Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dark Chocolate, Coconut, & Hazelnut Skillet Blondies

You might notice a preponderance of chocolate in my last few posts. That's because I've been self-medicating a heavy heart. As of late, I've needed mega doses of chocolate just to get through the day.

Our beagle, Harry, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last October. It's a rare form of cancer for a neutered dog to develop and there is no treatment. By the time we discovered it, tumors had already spread to his kidneys. It was a blow to hear the news from our vet but Harry seemed to be doing reasonably well despite the cancer. We were advised he might have a few good months left and to enjoy our time with him.

After a period of initial grief on hearing the diagnosis, I promptly went into denial and set about spoiling Harry with plenty of love and treats. I think I actually believed my dog would get better and I wouldn't have to face losing him.

And he did seem to rally for a little while. He was our same old Harry- alternately contrary and stubborn, then loving and snugly. He'd still practically do a back flip for cheese and he still insisted on a daily minimum number of pets that he'd extract from you by resting his head on your lap and looking up at you with the most soulful yet slightly pathetic eyes. I was an easy mark and would crumble under that look and gladly pet him until he got his fill and wandered off to do something else. 

Life seemed to go on as usual and the longer it did, the more my denial increased.

When Harry did get sick over the President's Day holiday weekend, my delusion shattered and I broke down along with Harry. He declined pretty rapidly and by Monday we knew it was time to make arrangements to let him go. I spent his last day by his side trying to comfort him and choking back sobs. Our vet came to the house that evening and mercifully and kindly put Harry to sleep. 

As you might imagine, I'm bawling as I type this. The tears aren't as constant this week as they were last week but my heart is still pretty raw. 

It's amazing how empty a house with two adults and two remaining dogs can feel. We're all out of sorts and it's just going to take time to get over losing Harry. Every day gets a little easier but the sadness is still palpable. Jack and LuLu seem lethargic and aren't eating as much as usual- dogs grieve in surprisingly similar ways to humans. 

If I could heal my broken heart with chocolate, plenty of hugs from Eric, and smothering Jack and LuLu with affection, I think I'd have made a full recovery by now.  Since that's not the case, I'm going to move on from chocolate desserts for now. I'm sticking with Eric's hugs and the puppy love, though. I've learned not to take it for granted that they'll always be by my side.

Go kiss your kitty, pup, rabbit, ferret, bird, whatever and thank them for the immeasurable joy they add to your life. Soon, hopefully, I'll just remember all the happy, goofy times with Harry and not the pain of losing him.

I found this recipe on The Kitchn while trying to distract myself from crying. I think the title "blondie" is a bit of a misnomer 'cause my batch look a whole lot like brownies. It's probably due to the addition of espresso powder- I think I might skip it next time. Do not, however, skip the optional coconut flake. It added just the right note. These blondies couldn't be any simpler to make- a perfect project for someone not particularly inclined to bake but trying to get back to some sense of normalcy. That probably doesn't sound like much of a recommendation but I promise they're worth the (minimal) effort. 


  1. I'm so sorry for your loss. When I lost my pet 3 years ago, I cried for months. I hope all the good times will bring a smile to your face.

    PS I eat chocolate 3x's a day, for medicinal purposes, of course.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear this Shelley! I know how hard it is to lose a pet.

  3. Steph and Meredith- thanks for your kind words. It was a nice way to start off my day.

  4. Oh Shelley. I'm so very sorry to hear of your loss. I've been where you are and I know how raw your heart is. I miss my Modo every day and he's been gone for almost 2 years. Hugs to you.

  5. I don't think the pain ever goes away when you lose someone you love. I am so sorry for your loss, Shelley. Your blondie/brownies look wonderful. Take care. xo

  6. Oh Shelley, This just made me sit and think-I say that because last night I came home to my puppy who managed to chew up my wedding video cd-I was so frustrated-But now when I read this I just let it go. Thank you for reminding me on what an important role those wonderful furry companions are in our life. I feel your loss. I have never not had a dog in my life ever, which means I have had to say goodbye a few times too. Hugs my friend.

  7. Shelley, I am so so sorry for your loss. I dread the day I have to do the same thing and I go crazy with panic everytime I find a bump on my 8-year old Golden. It is hard to let it go when they have such sweet face like Harry. Hope your heart heals. You have two beautiful ones left and hope you have lots of time to enjoy them.

  8. I'm so sorry to hear about Harry. That's so sad, and I know how strange the house feels when a pet is gone. Just last night, our little cat Sassy seemed to be out of sorts by the way she was sleeping. All of a sudden, her legs weren't working. We're still waiting to find out what the problem is exactly and may never know, but it seems like she may not be with us much longer. I need several brownies or blondies for distraction today. These look great!

  9. Oh goodness I am so sorry to hear about Harry. Reading this post, I snuggled my little Zoe closer to my chest. Life is so fragile and we can never be reminded of that enough. My in-laws are going through the same thing with one of their dogs, it's just devastating. I know you will miss that sweet boy and even though nothing will help your heart mend faster, food is a good deterrent and chocolate has its own way of healing, doesn't it? Thinking of you <3

  10. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. Losing a pet can be so painful. It sounds like he was well loved, though, which is certainly the thing a dog treasures most out of life. Hope your heart heals quickly and that you'll feel better soon.