Because clearly our kids haven’t suffered enough these past six months, last week the fates took our beautiful doggy Jazz from us.
I totally understand one of the reasons you have pets is so kids can learn about life and death and grieving, but with everything they finally seem to have gotten over our kids didn’t need this lesson anymore. Besides, she’d already taught our kids a potentially lifesaving lesson. Seven years ago we needed a solution to our kids’ fear of dogs. The worst moment came when the now Miss8 ran out in front of traffic to avoid a very placid dog on the other side of a fence which wasn’t even looking her way. We answered an online ad looking for a home for a beautiful 9 month old Samoyed, named Jasmine. We fell in love immediately and adopted her. It took nearly a year, but with the help and patience of this sweet fur-ball eventually Miss8 overcame her cynophobia (I just Googled that so I could sound smarter than I am).
Jazz was a good house guest too. She took her security duties very seriously, always going straight for the crotch of anyone who came onto our premises. Despite just having a sniff, it usually pulled them up pretty fast. She’d also insist on helping to clean up after dinner. We’d take care of the table and she’d handle the chairs and floor.
We were genuinely blessed with this dog. She had such a beautiful, gentle nature – we really couldn’t have asked for a more kid friendly dog. All she ever wanted was to lie down between your feet and be close to you, or to lick your face if you happened to bend down to pick something up.
Miss4 and her were especially close, sharing most meals and the occasional bowl of water.
But after seven mostly uneventful years this beautiful dog suddenly became unwell and, from the outset, things didn’t look good. I’m pretty sure, under normal circumstances, the vet would have suggested a different course of action other than treatment. But as he said:
“After what your family has been through lately, I think we need to try.”
And although he ultimately didn’t manage to pull off the Miracle At Bent St which we were hoping for, Dr Geoff‘s herculean efforts (he went into his surgery to check on her at midnight and then 4am) did secure us another night with the hairiest, laziest, lickiest, most-likely-to-sniff-your-crotch member of our family (and yes, I’m including myself in that equation) before she went off to chase the breeze and dig holes in the clouds.
This afternoon we gathered as a family around the front gate, where Jazz would occasionally meet visitors and give a welcome bark to warn us we needed to put pants on and hide the washing pile. We buried Jazz’s collar beneath a Jasmine plant which will bloom every year with a white doggy blanket reminder of our girl. We each said a few words to thank our wonderful friend for being part of our pack and giving us so much love. There were tears and laughs and cries of anguish and lots of hugs.
Each member of the family will miss her in their own unique way. For me, the meal time clean up is when I’m feeling her absence most. Leftovers which would otherwise reward our lovely white girl for her patience are now being scraped into the bin.
I don’t like it at all.
Just like I dislike her not being between my legs while I type on the balcony, or not seeing her sitting on the other side of the sliding door in the morning – she would stand there from the moment our feet hit the floor beside our beds waiting to be let inside to be with her family.
So it’s been a rough week. Just when things were starting to settle back into a routine and the kids were feeling secure again that life wasn’t always on the verge of dealing them a bum hand we have this family tragedy to nurse their emotions through.
Our emotions through.
I know there are people who will think, after all we’ve been through, that it’s only a dog, but they’re wrong. This wasn’t only a dog. This was our dog. She was family. She was one of us.
And her pack is going to feel the heartache of her absence for a long, long time.
RIP Jazz. Thank you for company, the love and for always taking the time to lick the floor clean after a meal. We loved you too.
Below: I trotted a few houses up the road to where Jazz’s ‘boyfriend’, Buddy, lived. I explained what had happened to Buddy’s owner and she was very sympathetic. Then I held up a garbage bag. “Would you like some dog bones?” Buddy’s owner pointed gingerly at the bag and looked horrified. “Oh God, no,” I assured her. “They’re from the butcher. For Buddy. All cow.” I don’t know if dogs have a sense of humour but I’d like to think Jazz is giving me a last laugh.
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“Raising a family on little more than laughs.”