- Posted November 28, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Loving and losing a dog: Your tributes
My dog Jenny.
- dsashin, CNN iReport producer
Sunday, July 8, 2012 I had to put my dog Jenny down. It was one month shy of her 18th birthday. I am almost 30, and for 17 and a half years of my life, my number one priority outside of myself has been Jenny’s wellbeing. The last 6 years, I have been her sole provider. Even when there was no one else around, there was Jenny, by my side – and I by hers. She was my little shadow.
The last couple of months, I knew the time was near. When you spend all day, every day with an animal, know their every habit and movement, you notice those subtle shifts of decline in them, ones that no one else can detect. She began to get even thinner, and she wasn’t eating as much. The quick run down the 3 flights of stairs at work – to go outside around 10:30 am, dwindled. She preferred the elevator, or slept through the time she needed to go out. She then began to have more accidents, and couldn’t make it down the elevator to go outside.
Then one Monday morning in June at work, she fell and couldn’t get up. I scooped her up and drove her immediately to the vets, where he said that her heart murmur and the seizure medications were just getting the best of her, along with age. She was put on steroids, which kept her going for another month. My boyfriend was leaving for Iowa for five days, and I decided last minute that I couldn’t go. I knew Jenny may be too much to handle for my father at this point, and besides, even if he could, it was five precious days – at this stage, I couldn’t miss any of it.
By Sunday, it was clear that it was Jenny’s time. She couldn’t walk more than a few steps, even with the full dose of steroids. When she did take the steroids, they made her shake. Despite the appetite increase she recently had from the medication, she wouldn’t eat. Tim was on his way home Sunday, and I knew it was time. It was THAT day – the day I dreaded since February 7, 1995 – the day I got Jenny. The day I thought about often, and thought about daily since Jenny had seizures 3 years prior.
Jenny was my baby, my best friend, my greatest source of comfort. My personality does not lend itself much to contentment – I am always going and doing and wondering what else is over the horizon. For every moment of my life in the past 17.5 years that I’ve spent going, and doing, and running, and stressing, and pushing, and feeling restless over all other aspects of my life, Jenny was the thing that grounded me. Wherever Jenny was felt like home, and everywhere else, did not. During some of the darkest days of my life, I could bury my face in Jenny’s fur, listen to her heart beating, and feel like things were ok. I loved that stinky dog smell. It was the best smell in the world.
When I graduated college and moved out, Jenny came with me and also came with me to work every day – every day including last July 6th. Whatever bond I had with her before, increased tenfold once it was just me and her, all day, every day.
When Jenny got older and spent much of her time asleep on her dog bed or in her crate, she may lay there for hours, away from my boyfriend and me. She could no longer hear. I noticed that if I left for a moment, and had to come back to the apartment, I would find her up, standing in the living room or in the bedroom doorway, looking for me. I’d walk up behind her, touch her, and even though she couldn’t hear or understand me, I’d say, “I’m here, sweetie.” She’d immediately go lay back down. Nothing broke my heart more than seeing that when I was gone, my dog knew it immediately and was searching for me.
Before she lost her hearing, Jenny was afraid of a lot of things. She was a naturally nervous dog. Whenever I cried, she would shake. If I got even the least bit upset, talking on the phone, having a conversation with a visitor, or even just yelling at the television, she would get upset, too. My fear and sadness, whether real or perceived, Jenny felt, too.
I hadn’t the faintest idea how much there was to the relationship you have with a dog, until I got Jenny. When I got her, she was a puppy, and I was a child. We grew up together. There’s something extra special about the bond you can have with an older dog. I will never fully understand how I can feel so bonded to a creature with whom I haven’t shared a single conversation. I will never know exactly how much about our life together she truly understood, and the worst part, on the day she died, as I waited several excruciating hours for my boyfriend to get home from Iowa to go with me, I couldn’t let her know how incredibly much she means to me, or how much happiness she gave me in my life.
The day she had her first seizure in 2009, I broke out in hives. This has never happened to me. The pain I was feeling manifest itself physically. I would have to say the emotional hole I was in that day was the deepest I had ever been in. I had no one I felt I could really talk to about it, no one with which to share the pain and fear I felt, and my dog was at the emergency vet clinic where I had to leave her in the middle of the night. At that point, Jenny had a solid healthy 15 years of life, so seeing her in that condition, and so out of nowhere, was a horrible shock for me. The next morning when I picked her up, I didn’t know how she would be. That morning when she came through the doors into the waiting room, I saw her eyes search the room. She saw me and ran to me, tail wagging, rubbing her face all over my legs and face and body. I never saw her so relieved and happy to see me.
In 2006, a guy got into my secured apartment building downtown, and was apparently getting into peoples apartments and stealing. I had just returned home from work, was in my bathroom, and left the door unlocked. Next thing I know, I hear someone come in, and it was much earlier than when my roommate normally returned home. My sweet, 30 pound, 12 year old senior dog turned into what seemed like a 100-pound, vicious Rottweiler. Just as I stepped out of the bathroom, my heart pounding, realizing that someone was there, my dog ran by me, growling and barking like I had never seen before, and chased the man out of the apartment and down the hallway. What would have happened had my faithful friend not been there, I do not know.
There isn’t a lot of comfort I had when she died, except knowing that really, short of expecting her to live forever, I got everything out of my relationship with my dog that a human being could ask for. A full, long life, so many days together at my office job for 6 years, and up until the end, good health. She had so many people that knew her and loved her, and she basically got whatever she wanted. I wish every dog in the world could get the life that Jenny had, and that every person could get the relationship with an animal that I had with Jenny. When it comes to us humans and canines, the way it happened with Jenny and me is the way it’s supposed to be. Few of my human relationships have compared.
All I can hope for at this point is to be able to hold onto the precious memories of my dog, and to hope that she is still out there somewhere, jumping and playing like the healthy, happy, young dog she used to be. I love you, Jenny, you’re my angel. I am the luckiest human alive to have gotten the time with you that I did. Rest in peace and hopefully some day we can play together again.