Posted in A Day In the Life

We Put Our Dog Down Today

Jeter 2008 – 2020

We put our dog Jeter down today.  A cancer had snuck into his life and Dean and I vowed that we wouldn’t let him suffer.  So, we kept track of meds, missed meals, and limps that developed, reaching a point where we knew it was time.  I hate that point.  Like everyone who loves their dog, I wanted ours to live forever.

A compassionate young vet who does nothing but at-home euthanasia, came to our house. As a result, we got to hold Jeter and stroke him while he fell asleep.  She administered the first of two shots, and in a few minutes he had fallen into a twilight kind of sleep. As we talked to him, he wagged his tail, still able to hear our voices. Then came the second dose, the one that would mark the end. My husband continued telling him how much we loved him and what a good boy he was. At the very end, when I could feel the life force leaving him, I thanked him for being our dog. And then Jeter sighed. . . a long deep sigh with a bass tone sound to it, like the one he’d make at night when he was letting go of the day and surrendering to sleep. Except this time, he wasn’t surrendering to sleep, he was letting go of life.

I watched Dean and the vet put him on a stretcher and carry him to the van that she’d parked in the driveway. We had a couple more minutes with him. The body that wasn’t him anymore lay tucked in by blankets on the stretcher and I reached out and petted his head one last time before turning away and walking back inside.

Now the house is too damn quiet and it feels like a betrayal to vacuum up the dog hair on the carpet and the floors. I think I’ll wait a few days.  An absence fills the space where our dog once lived and we miss him beyond what either of us ever thought missing could be.

Dean and I have cried and wailed.  Wept and hung on to each other tight.  We’ve gone through the pictures on our phones and talked about him, remembered days on the trail or at a lake. Each photograph reminds me of what good attitude, joy, playfulness, and loyalty looks like. 

The bottom line is that our dog, the world’s best dog, loved us unconditionally, without judgement There’s not a dog lover out there who hasn’t entertained the idea for just a moment that in the overall scheme of things, dogs know more about how to be good people than we do.

My heart is broken, but time and the sweetness of memories will mend it. I will always carry Jeter in the perfect little place into which he burrowed when we met. You’re still with me, buddy. And the goofy yellow lab that Dean and I adopted so many years ago turned out to be such a smart choice, one of the best that we ever made. Rest in peace dear Jeter, most faithful of companions, most loyal of friends.  You will forever be in our hearts.

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Snog And Dog– Life Lessons From a Labrador Retriever

English: yellow labrador retriever in the snow...
A grey and windy storm lumbered into the foothills and left 6 inches of wet, spring snow. At 9:00 this morning it was still snowing, but the dog nudged my hand and did his doggie talk version of “it’s not a work day, so get your ass out of bed and let’s play.” A sane person, even a reasonably sane person would have told the dog to go lay down and made themselves a cup of tea. I am not a sane person—not on snow days and even though it’s the weekend I know that I have to get up, put on my snow pants and boots and go do “snog.”

The word snog is a combination made-up word, for which there is not another word, and that’s why it had to be made up. Snog equals snow and dog, thus snog. But snog is not just a description of the dog. It is, in fact, a state of mind and heart of both dog and person. In my estimation, snog is the most visceral experience of snow that you can get. It is prayer wrapped in great celebration. However, I found out that snog is a real word that has nothing to do with snow or dog it is a verb: 1. snog – touch with the lips or press the lips as an expression of love, greeting.  Okay, well my “snog” means to kiss nature then and be kissed back by nature and it has to do with a labrador retriever!

Eighteen degrees out and still snowing, the roads were snow packed and icy. The clouds hung low and tight next to the mountains creating the feeling of being in an ice dome instead of in open country. The snog, named Jeter paced in the back seat while we drove 10 miles under the speed limit to Dry Creek Trail. Past the Baptist church at 70th with all its dire warnings printed on their sign board; past the black cows that didn’t look their usual apathetic, oblivious selves encrusted in ice and snow; and past Mallard Pond Drive where the trust fund baby of a major seed company lives and does the best Christmas decorations in the county. We drove until we slid into our left turn and pulled into the empty parking lot at the trailhead.

Oh boy: snog and a trail all to ourselves. I opened the back door of the car for Jeter, who flew from the back seat to the gate, paws barely touching the ground. There was no one else around. A perfect snog day. Six inches of fresh snow and a trail unblemished by the sane people who lingered late in bed or the coziness of their kitchens. Snog ran onto the trail to the first spot where he could flip over on his back and make a snog angel in the snow. It was pure joy. Fresh snow is like walking in sand—you work it, but for Jeter fresh snow is like sailing among the clouds. He runs in circles. He burrows his head into drifts looking for old tennis balls left on the trail. He sticks his butt up in the air, wags his tail and barks. He fills himself with the moment. The quiet here is such that we can hear the snow fall.

The practice of gratitude comes in a lot of different packages. In this package, I am alone with my dog in nature, infected by the joy and delight with which he celebrates fresh snow on a March spring day. All around me is the beauty of the natural world, infusing my heart with happiness, easing and dissolving  the concerns and obligations that are my weekday baggage. In this moment, my snog has taught me to love life so fully that I too delight in this cold, white, wet stuff that has frozen my face and numbed my finger tips. I walk with a goofy smile on my face, laughing out loud at Jeter, calling out good morning to geese flying overhead. We are being kissed by nature, and we are kissing her back.

I walk at a good clip as far as the bridge, while Jeter runs in circles around me, breaking trail, occasionally stopping to create another snog angel. Enveloped in the joy of this appreciation, I know I made the right choice in getting out of bed to get us here. A group of birds sitting on the fence that follows the creek seem to sing the snow down harder, and the wind swirls the snow around us while we make our way back to the car. Wet dog, wet person filled with gratitude and joy. I learn a lot from my dog. He nudges me into nature on a daily basis. He keeps my heart and legs strong by demanding daily treks to various trails. And he loves life unabashedly with a contagious enthusiasm. We pull out of the empty lot, blasting the defroster, the car permeated with the smell of wet wool and wet dog, the great snog adventure in the rear view mirror and a stretch of  frozen road leading us home.