RIP My Jackie Boy

My heart breaks into pieces as I watch my best friend, a 110lb German Shepherd, pull his back legs foraward as he tries to move in a straight path.  Instead, his giant frame makes tiny circles, and his expression is tired and frustrated.  Jack’s brain has stopped connecting with his rear end in what the vet has called a degenerative neuro issue.  In the course of two weeks he has declined quickly.

I stayed awake all night, by his side, hoping his brain would quiet down and he could fall asleep to never awake.  While I know it is unlikely for dogs to pass away naturally, this is the first pet I am watching die so I pray for a quick end.  People have consoled me saying he will tell me when it is time, and as he rested his black snout on my lap I knew he was getting ready to go.  I knew he was getting ready to tell me.

Jack’s precense in my life has been short although grand.  He was the livestock guard dog of the cabin I purchased 5 1/2 years ago, and our first meeting was when I toured the property.  He was loyal and large, and it didn’t take me long to realize this was his land, and he knew it better than I ever could.  My first night in the cabin we sat among moving boxes, just him and I eye to eye.  He looked at me with confusion but also with a comfort that let me know he was sharing this place with me.  His loyalty to me started that night and never once waivered during our partnership.  My Jackie Boy’s fierce bark kept away strangers and scared off tourists using our driveway as a turn-around.  His scent kept everything from chipmunks and rabbits to coyote and bear out of our garden and yard.  As he aged, the affects took its toll on his awareness, and it was this first sign that told me he would be leaving soon.

Over the years he went from being an outside dog who ate on the porch and slept most nights near the front door to a gentle giant who slept at the foot of the couch and took his meals near the dining table.  My bond with him was always one of equals which my husband noted upon moving in with us.  We never had the master-dog relationship that people have with goldendoodles or pomeranians.  He was the brave, protective being that stood by my side when I was too old to be living in my father’s house and too single and strong willed to wait for a man to step in and take care of me.

This afternoon as I rested my cheek on the soft fur between his ears I realized I was never the courageous single girl living in the woods by myself but rather a young woman on a transitional path that was guided by this handsome German Shepherd. I have cried a lot today over my best friend’s decline, and I wonder how I will sleep at night without my protector keeping watch.  Jack, you have been more than a dog.  You have led me outside through dark, creepy nights.  You have single handidly saved my gardens from the hungry mouths of deer.  You have been my pal and partner in life and over this land.  And you will be unbelievably missed.

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RIP My Jackie Boy

luck or no luck

I can’t make a step by step plan to force the stars to align.  And I can’t go back in time and change the course of events that have led me here.  The only regrets I am allowed now are the ones I am letting to grow in this very moment.  This is not a midlife crisis so much as a midlife reflection.  Today is all I have and all I can try to control.  If picking off my pink nail polish while I watch a tiny spider crawl across the papers on my desk to Joni Mitchell’s 2000 album is where I am choosing to be then I must accept with responsibility the moments to follow.  My coffee sits cold in my morning mug and I think back to my 20’s when I believed neither in luck nor regrets.  That was my age of pessimism and realizing that things out of my control will keep happening no matter how little I allow myself to eat or how far I tried to run away.  It also seemed like the age of endless possibilities, and it would have been had I stopped being so negative to notice how fleeting life is.  Which brings me to here where I am afraid my luck ran out before I realized it existed.

My 30’s have so far been an endless list of responsible decisions and accepting that luck may never be on my side long enough to propel me into something meaningful and fantastic.  My childhood dreams seem to have come and gone during my long awaited but short lived time in Chicago.  I don’t like accepting that my big city dreams came and went so fast before I had the chance to make something of myself, but now I am the owner of a small cabin in the woods fulfilling a different dream.  It’s not like me to stay planted in one spot, accepting what lies before me as THE one path.  Or maybe it is that I have always ran away when things became too real causing me to leave Chicago at a pivotal point in my young adult life.

I sit and stare at the wall before me on which hangs a photo of me at 18.  “So naive, you.”  I wish I would have discovered Joni Mitchell back then.  Luck or no luck, pessimistic or not, running away or staying the course, it is the same things now as it always was leading up to this point.

luck or no luck