Monday, February 7, 2011

A Sad Goodbye

I hate change and goodbyes.  I remember crying when they came to pave our street when I was little.  Even though it meant that we could now ride our bikes without getting gravel embedded in our knees when we fell, I just didn't want it to happen.  My road was gravel.  It always had been, and as far as I was concerned, it always should be. 

People laugh at me because even though my daughters are 9 years apart in age, Jo still wears Elizabeth's hand-me-downs.  Yes, I saved Elizabeth's stuff from 12 years ago.  It was packed away in the attic, so why not?  I always have a hard time getting rid of things.  It's not that I hoard stuff or that I am a pack-rat, and for as much as I am unorganized so the house is always *slightly* a mess, we don't really have much stuff for a family of 5.  It's just that when I let go of things, I always have to make sure that they have a good place to go where they will be loved and appreciated as much as I have loved and appreciated them.

Which brings me to my saddest goodbye and my hardest letting go.  This is our dog, Jake.  He is a great dog.  He is a loving dog.  (Someone put a blob of cotton on his head for this can see the patience in his eyes...)

But,  now he is an extremely old dog, at least 15 years old.  He has had a good life.  Maybe not a great life, but a good one.

He came to us in 1998, the January before Elizabeth was born.  He had been found on the highway as an abused puppy.  He was taken in by a lady who was very ill and kept him in a small cage and only let him out once a day to run in a small alley that ran by her house.  Then, a friend of mine found him with her and brought him to me since she could not handle him any more.  So, he came to us as a sad, scared, abused dog of about 2 yrs.

He was afraid of EVERYTHING!  He was terrified of the dish washer and hates fireworks, thunder, lawnmowers, loud cars, loud people, the name it, he was afraid.  He slowly came around and calmed down around most things, but he was still a scared 'little' guy.

But he was great with kids!  Elizabeth learned to walk by holding on to his tail, and he has endured countless other kids who have come through my doors to play with his ears, floppy lips and saggy neck skin.  There was one girl in particular who loved him to pieces.  She would gently grab his neck and go 'gobble gobble' while shaking it back and forth.  Jake loved it. 

He had a little knob on top of his head that we always said was his tuning knob.  He always looked a little lost and confused, and sometimes, when he would get wound up or get to whining, someone would take his head and 'turn' the knob on his head to tune him in a little better.  It didn't always work, but it was interesting to try.

This is his buddy Chester.  I digress, but I found this picture while looking for pics of Jake, and he needs his time in the limelight, too.  Chester was a one-of-a-kind type of dog.  No one knew what kind of dog he was, but everyone either said he was the cutest thing or the ugliest thing they had ever seen.  Either that, or they just out right laughed at him.  He got hit by a car in December of 2009.  Now, before you begin to think that he got out because we were lax on our safety measures for these dogs, I must tell you that the way that he got out of the yard was to climb a tree and jump the fence.  There was no way to control this dog.  He too was a stray dog that we rescued, and like I said, he was one-of-a-kind.  (He also ate all my raspberries right off the bush every year!)

Anyway, back to Jake.    He loved the snow, too.  And he was very frustrated when this year, in the snow, he could no longer get up and run around in it.  And this is the point of my story, although it is long in coming and I apologize for it being poorly has been a hard day for us here.  We finally had to make the decision to take Jake in and have him put to sleep.  He had come to the point where he was no longer eating, he was very sick with internal swelling and bleeding and he couldn't get up to relieve himself or walk around at all.   

Before we took him to the car, I took Jo outside to sit with him one last time and give him one last pat and love on him for the last time.  I told her that Jake was very sick and that we were going to take him to be with Chester.  She patted him and told him she loves him.  I didn't take any pictures of that because what was left of Jake's body was just a shell.  His spirit, if you will, was already long gone.  My kid-loving, snow-loving, scared of everything puppy was already gone and what was left was an old old dog who just wanted to go home.   So, Elizabeth, Jimmy and I took him in to the vet this afternoon and I held his head and patted his back while they gave him the injection that stopped his heart and broke mine.

But I can be happy to know that he is not suffering anymore.  

So, I will say to both of my boys one last time as I said every night for so long...

Goodnight, Jake.  Goodnight, Chester.  Be good boys.  Go to sleep and behave yourselves.  I'll see you in the morning.

But I will sleep tonight knowing that they are together again in that doggy heaven that certainly must exist somewhere.

And I'm sure that there are no fireworks or vacuums to scare Jake, and I am sure that there is a nice tree for Chester to climb...and maybe some raspberries.

1 comment:

  1. Back in 2003. I do not remember which of us was the most afraid: Jake of me or me of Chester?
    But even if I did not spend too much time with them, it took a very short time to love them.
    Bon vent les garçons !

    Chris, your prose is just up to all the happiness they have provided all over, during these long years.