Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Till we meet again, Sweet Jinxy girl

It has taken me several days to write about this, but we said good-bye to Jinx on Monday, May 10.  It was not unplanned, and it was time.  She had rapidly lost motor function in the rear once it began, and within one week was no longer walking without support of a harness. It was very taxing, considering that left her with only one good leg.  Yet, her spirit never wavered.  The body no longer allowed her to run and play and so we had to make that decision to let her go, to a place where her body was united with the joy and freedom of her mind.

I cried so much the previous week, saying my goodbyes and "I love you's" over and over, my heart aching to lose her.  It was difficult to recognize the miracle that we had in her in those extra months post-diagnosis, through the tears. In my head I knew the lives she had touched, and the things she had accomplished and how she rose through each challenge to overcome adversity.  In my heart, it just hurt.

We were blessed to have the resources of two excellent veterinary services.  Dr. Strickfaden (Country Care) for the holistic treatments that I feel sustained Jinx much longer than predicted, and Dr. Jay Peters (Countryside), who I consider a friend, and who is the vet I rely on for all my routine care. He is always willing to answer questions, find answers for me and exhibits such tender care to both animals and humans.  On Monday, Dr. Jay came here to our house, where Jinx could make her final goodbyes in the comfort of a place she knew and loved, in the arms of those who adored her. Jinx and I napped all morning together on the bed, and then it was time.

We drove to the training field. Oh, the happy hours we spent there! Tom lifted her from the van and when I said "Jinx, lets go to work" she literally pulled him onto the field with a surprising burst of strength.  The gleam was in her eye.  There was no pain there, only the excitement over once more going to work.  We lay on a blanket on the field, with the sun shining.  One final time I asked her, "Jinx, want to go to work?" and she barked for her tug toy, and gripped it hard and full.  That was how she left us for the Rainbow Bridge, going to work, with her tug toy in her mouth. And the grip was full.

The many messages of love and understanding that I received meant so much to me. People who had met Jinx and remembered her (one person mentioned her pink collar that she wore at the USAR testing when we traveled), and many who simply know what the love of a good dog means.  The unfortunate responsibility that we take on when we do love such a dog, is to promise that we give them the ultimate gift to honor their service, when the time comes, giving them the release that they cannot bring themselves. In that, we promise to respect them and not serve our own ego by insisting they struggle and/or feel pain just so we have them near us.

The house feels so empty without a dog to greet me. I expect to see Jinx around every corner. I wonder if she will "visit" me, as several of my past dogs have done?  In the meantime, I decided to allow Ridley, aka "little one", more indoor freedom. She had been very well behaved on previous sessions.  She was excited to be in the land of beds and bones and happily gathered her finds.  And then something happened.  She found a sock and brought it to me. This might sound insignificant, but what you may not know is that the sock would almost certainly have been left there by Jinx, who had an affinity for carrying socks in her mouth. She never ate any, just like the carry them to you and have you give them a gentle tug. And now, here was Ridley exhibiting the same behavior, even though they were only together once... when a crate door was not properly closed... so she would not have learned it from Jinx directly.  I would like to believe that Jinx nodded and passed the torch to the Little One...  and all is better in my heart.