Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lessons from Jinx

My Miracle time is coming to an end, I am afraid.  Jinx was very well last week at her biocom appointment but I had started to notice some wobbling in the rear. Things have gone very quickly and it appears the cancer has invaded her spine, as she is having great difficulty controlling her rear end.  On hardwood floors she cannot gather her feet or stand at all, so I drove to Fleet Farm last night and covered the house with carpet runners. My friend, Shari, lent me a harness contraption with a handle on the back, so that I can help her stand and move.  When she is on the grass or carpet she can still get around on her own, but doesn't do much of that unless she is going to eat or needs to go outside in which case she will leave her bed.  Tom is away at training all week and I know he wants his opportunity to say good bye to his "girlfriend", as I affectionately call her, so I am doing what it takes to keep her comfortable.  She is still eating heartily and today was barking on command for treats. She does not appear to be in pain, but I wonder what she thinks about not being able to control her body? For a dog who lived by grace and agility, climbing ladders and racing the ATV like a sable rocket, is this simply a stage she accepts or can she make comparisons to what she used to be?  Either way, she still thrusts her head under my arm for attention, still pushes herself over to snuggle with me on the bed at night.  I've had six months beyond what was predicted, which is quite a miracle in itself.  And knowing Jinx, working her, loving her... has been the greatest miracle of all.

I started thinking of the things I have learned from Jinx and thought I would write them down as I think of them:

GRAB LIFE BY THE TAIL.  one of my favorite photos of young Jinx is of her, impish sparkle in her eye, about to grab the tail of her unaware grandmother.  Seize the tail, seize the day.  That's the way Jinx lived.

DON'T BE AFRAID TO TRY NEW THINGS.  Jinx and I started out training in Mondioring and then I discovered Urban Search and Rescue.  We flew together three times, with Jinx sitting between my legs on flights to Texas, New Jersey and Conecticut.  During the time we've been together, Jinx has rappeled from a building and I did my first and only tandem sky dive.  Jinx not only accomplished her Type 1/CE in USAR (rocked the test!!) but when I decided that she should compete in schutzhund, she did, earning a SchH2. And when I thought we should also title in MR, Jinx threw herself into that, as well.  I will forever have a dimple above my left knee, a permanent reminder of a badly performed defense of handler in a training session.

YOU CAN OVERCOME ADVERSITY.  When Jinx had surgery for a torn ligament and we had to attend rehab,  Jinx accepted the UnderArmor T-shirt that she had to wear while recuperating, and she learned new tricks and behaviors to facilitate her rehab. And when her front leg wasn't working anymore, she ran on three.  She still did biting games and all her tricks and positions, jumped on the bed, and acted silly.  I know that dogs don't speak, so they can't complain, but they can be depressed and sad and Jinx never was.   She just seemed to say "okay, so this is the way it is... so what."

TOUCH A LIFE.  Jinx and I did a number of demonstrations for school kids, summer library programs, Take Your Child to Work Day.   When traveling, she was a wonderful ambassador, happily performing her repertoire of tricks and greeting new friends.

ENJOY YOUR NAPS.  Ohhhh, napping was something Jinx and I exceled at!  Usually late in the afternoon and all it takes is "let's go to bed" and she is headed down the hall.  The best day is enhanced by a nap with a friend.

SAVOR THE SIMPLE PLEASURES.  sunshine on your fur, an unexpected treat.  A walk. The simplest things can bring the most pleasure, especially in the company of a good friend.

I'm sure there are so many more lessons Jinx has taught me. I just have to look around.