Friday, January 6, 2012

The Door to Endless Summer Days

If it is true that our pets are a reflection of us….in some form, then I am a multi dimensional being. I have survived this much of my life (almost 50) as a spaz, a rascal, a lovey, a munchkin, being stinky, and at times being a “bad dog."

I have had my share of pets…all varieties. From the time I was young I can remember them all. My first really emotional experience with a pet leaving us because it was his time…would be our German Shepherd, Rex. He was an adopted dog (sort of)….one that used to be a guard dog.  We were told to be careful around him that he was trained to attack. I have no idea why my father would 1. Bring a dog into the family with 6 kids that was an attack dog and 2. Give us his secret attack word. I will tell you that it was all bunk. I used to look in Rex’s eyes when I was around 8 years old…close enough for him to eat me alive and say the secret word….”WATCH."  Nothing ever happened. I did get a few licks. My older brother really became Rex’s keeper and they were inseparable. Rex found his way home through that door to endless  summer days after hours of seizures. We buried him in this old Indian blanket…one that we’d all cuddled with at one time or another. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Fast forward to yesterday….our half mix Chihuahua, Fox Terrier, Nana, found a door to endless  summers. Fourteen years ago...Nana was never expected to live. Some little kid in a town not far from here was trying to give her away in a supermarket parking lot.  He came up to my open car window one April afternoon and said (in a classic southern drawl), “You want a Chawawa?”  Of course, I said no….but within 5 minutes the dog was on my lap and we were heading back to the Ranch. I drove about one mile and the dog started vomiting. I just assumed it was car sickness. She was so small. I thought she was about 8 weeks. Turns out she was several months old and she had Parvovirus…the intestinal variety and it wasn’t pretty. The Vet told us she probably wouldn’t make it since she had started bleeding at this point. I called Jorma, who was on tour, crying my eyes out and telling him that we had to name this little puppy, because she couldn’t die without a name. We always seem to name our pets after some influential person so Jorma said we should call her Nana….after his Grandmother. I told the Vet to try whatever he could…that she must have come into my life for a reason….that I had to at least give her a chance. Even so…I felt like Nana could leave this world having been named. But she wasn’t ready to leave. She survived intravenous meds for 3 days, bleeding from every orifice and a few other unpleasant symptoms. When they called me to come get her…I thought they meant come get the body. I picked up Nana and it was as if nothing was ever wrong with her.

As these things go…..many years passed and she started showing complications with her intestines and kidneys. She experienced rapid weight loss, loss of appetite and excessive drinking of water. We always managed to get her back on track for a time but it was short lived.  In the midst of all of this, my allergies to dog hair and dander had taken it’s toll on me. My sister offered to take Nana in and although it was sad….my sis an her family loved Nana like their own. I am forever grateful to them. When she called me to tell me that Nana was sick again I came by to take her to my trusted Vet. The Meigs County Vet Clinic Docs and staff are angels. They have seen me through so many pets, made house calls and held vigils with me when our animals were either hurt or leaving us. They rose to the occasion in Nana’s and my hour of need once again. This time…..the decision to play G-d was a joint one. I could have fought for Nana’s life and in all reality…it may have given her a little more time but this time….she was ready or at least that’s what my Vet told me.

I held her little face in my hands and I told her how much I loved her and how sorry I was to have made this decision. At one point she looked away and I told her to not look at the room but to look at me… that I would stay with her….and she did. I believe with all of my heart that she understood what was in my heart. When she took her last breath, I had the sense that a dog we lost last year….Hazel….was there. I could see the two of them running through that door to endless summer days, green fields, sunny days and love, love, love all around.

That is the story of Nana. I could have just told only the happy parts of her life and there were many….but I think she wanted me to tell her story. Her story…is that she was loved so deeply by so many but mostly by me………………………………………………………………

With gratitude…..