Nicknames are cool.
Well, I think they are anyway.
I guess some might be cooler than others.
Sometimes people get nicknames they wish they didn’t have but other times, they get a nickname that they end up loving. Frequently nicknames result from an event or situation, or even due to a person’s particular physical attribute or even a personality trait. Other times, it could be the most random thing. Growing up, I had a few actually. One was “Red” which wasn’t too creative or original, because I am a natural red-head. Another was “Pillsbury”. If you are thinking that was a nickname I acquired because I was an excellent baker, you are way off. My Dad called me “Pillsbury” when I was a little baby / toddler because I was a little on the chunkier side. My Dad is a creative guy and he has a very goofy sense of humor which comes through regularly in the way he says things.
One day I was driving home from work chatting with him and he asked me “what are you up to this weekend, are you going to play with Matches”? I asked him “what”? He repeated himself. I was so confused so I said “what” again. He then says “are you going to hang out with Matt?”. At the time, Matt was my new boyfriend, and we had been dating for about a month and a half. I bursted out laughing. I asked him why he decided to call Matt “Matches” and he really didn’t have a reason, it just popped into his head. It took me awhile to tell Matt because I was concerned he might think it was a little strange since he had not met my parents in person yet. When I did tell him, he smiled….he liked it, which made me smile because I liked it too. So I started calling Matt “Matches”. All of the time. I thought it was original and so cute.
Fast forward a year later and we decided we wanted to get a puppy and we started having conversations about what kind of puppy we wanted. We agreed that we wanted a boy and were focused on Golden Retrievers. Now it's time to talk about names, and Matt told me he wanted to name him “Matches”. I was so excited because that name was near and dear to me since my Dad gave it to Matt and I really liked it because I also felt like it was so unique.
When we went to the breeders to see the Golden Retriever litter, they told us about another litter of Goldadors (Golden Retriever + Golden Lab mix). We met this little 5 week old Goldador and fell in love with him immediately. He was a big boy and had so much personality, and he was also chill….we knew he was going to be our Matches pup. A couple of weeks later we brought our Matches pup home! He was the best little guy from day one. Such a happy, smart, energetic, curious, loving and handsome boy!
Matt spent so much time training him and I loved watching them together…..it made my heart explode with happiness. I started to call them “My Matchbook” since Matt was Matches and now we had our Matches pup. We traveled everywhere together, road trips were our thing and we loved adventuring together! Matt and I even made up a song for Matches and we would sing it to him, probably at least once a day. Everything was perfect and we were such a happy little family. However, this September things changed.
A little after Labor Day, Matt noticed a lump on Matches’ side (it was above his front leg). He called the vet and the vet didn’t seem concerned, said it was most likely a fat deposit and booked an appointment for ten days later. Well, we ended up taking Matches in earlier because he was having some issues going #2. They did a full workup and a biopsy on the lump. We found out Matches had some sort of mass inside his colon and the vet wasn’t sure what was going on with it….and we had to wait to get the biopsy results.
About five days later, the vet called and told us that Matches’ had a soft tissue sarcoma. Our baby boy, our Matches pup had cancer. We were both stunned. Shocked. We couldn’t understand what was happening. He was only 15 months old. The vet advised us that we had to make an appointment in Columbia, MO because there wasn’t a vet in St. Louis who could see Matches immediately. We heard this news on a Wednesday and made an appointment for the following Tuesday to see the Oncologist in Columbia. Sadly, things didn’t work out that way. On Friday Matches was having a really difficult time and was vomiting and still unable to defecate. His condition worsened quickly and we called the vet, they directed us to take him to the ER Vet clinic. We rushed him to the ER and after another full workup, they advised that he would have to stay overnight to be observed.
The next day (Saturday) morning the ER Vet called and gave us the news. Matches was full of cancer. Beyond the soft tissue sarcoma on his side, the growth inside his colon was cancerous and possibly spots on his lungs. If we decided to take him to see the Oncologist, they would have to cut off his tail and it would be very unlikely they would be able to treat him and he was in a lot of pain. Euthanasia was recommended but they said we could bring him home for the weekend to spend some time with him before we take him in to our vet to say goodbye.
We cried and cried. It didn’t seem real. How did this happen?
Our baby boy, our sweet little Matches pup who has always been the best boy in the world and had the best demeanor always. He was sick. He was so so sick.
We brought him home and he wasn’t himself, but he gave us the next three days. He was so strong and so brave. We spent every minute with him and loved him with every ounce of us. Taking him to the vet and telling him goodbye was one of the hardest things we have ever experienced in our lives. I couldn’t understand how we got here and it wasn’t processing in my head. When we got home, the loft felt so empty and we didn’t know what to do. We cried. And cried, and cried some more.
That was almost nine weeks ago and we are still so sad, it still hurts and it feels like he was ripped away from us. But we know we were so blessed to have Matches in our life and we absolutely loved being his parents.
We started Matches and Company about a month before Matches went to puppy heaven and one night Matt told me he had an idea. He thought it would be nice to develop some original designs that were inspired by Matches. After all, our company was named after Matches and Matt was the designer for the Matches and Company logo + website. I loved the idea and Matt went right to work.
He designed several concepts immediately and showed me the mock-ups. I was beyond impressed and it brought tears to my eyes. I felt like this was such a special way to pay tribute to our little Matches pup, as well as offer some custom apparel in a sleek and stylish look.
November is Pet Cancer awareness month, so we thought the timing was right to announce our new line, “Matches Designs”. We have the items on our website now available under “Matches Designs” including hats, T-shirts and sweatshirts, all featuring our company logo (two lit matches).
Matt and I haven’t determined the details yet, however we both decided that we want to find a way to give back to the National Canine Cancer Foundation with every item sold from our “Matches Designs” line. Matches was the perfect name for our pup because he truly brought so much light into our lives and hearts, so we hope in some small way we can help other families and pups who are facing what we faced by shining a little light during a time of darkness.