By Rosalie Tirella
Got my autumn/holiday haircut at the Spencer Rob Roy yesterday. K.C, the hair stylist there, is so good, easy going and efficient – for a half hour he took my mind off my dying Jett and how much I love my best dog and how much I will miss him when he’s gone.
Jett struggles to walk our teeny neighborhood walk these days. His bouncy gait has disappeared, replaced by baby steps, faltering and tentative. He seems disinterested in his surroundings – even his favorite fire hydrant, the red one, outside our building. I look at him and coo “Jett Jett Jett, read the doggy news!” but there’s no reaction from my boy. Jett is looking past me. And he was the one dog who was always looking at me…for me … after me. Mesmerized by Rose! The apple of his eye! Looking to his Rose for everything. So happy for the guidance! Elated to just be with his Rose, giver of fresh cheddar cheese cubes, cool clear water daily, bumpy rides in her jalopy to the dog park, half-hour walks in Quinsigamond Village, in the rain, during snow squalls, dappled in sunlight. The snowflakes stuck on Jett’s curly cue tail, the rain drops beaded off that thick husky coat. The little rub downs and hugs, afterwards, courtesy of Rose. The love made visible thru play, movement and touch …
Now I think, Jett, that you hurt when I try to get close, to snuggle, to hug …or sometimes even to stroke you. Your delicate old back, a little crooked in the middle. To touch with too much love hurts you now!
Funny, Jett, you’ve still got your robust appetite and you are super alert whenever the treats come out! But other than that, there’s not much else that excites you. Not a romp with Lilac in the grass here. Or even a hug from me, your Rose! You sleep a lot …
One pain pill – your first – as I was so hesitant to start you on the regimen because you’re so sensitive – made you, my bonny boy, very sick. You vomited in the middle of the night and, during my 3 a.m. trip to the bathroom, I “found” your puke – slid on it and went sliding under my kitchen table/desk. Amazing: so much furniture with pointy corners and I missed it all. Just luged under that table, half asleep, too snoozy to try to brace myself in any way. Which was a good thing. I was thinking of you. Worried about you. Lying on that floor for a minute or two, my hair and body covered in your puke, I was broken hearted for you. A big clean-up followed. Plus, taking you and Lilac out to pee in the wee hours of the morning – AFTER a shower, of course. We always try to look presentable whenever we’re out…cute dogs and fairly cute mistress. Part of the scenery. In Worcester. Now in Spencer. Later that morning, washing my vomity night shirt etc. I felt … so sad and lost. Without Jett. A new feeling.
Later that day I made an appointment to euthanize you on Friday. I don’t think you’ll want to go gently into that good night. But it’s for the best. This time we have to stick to the plan! I told my friend. This is too much! My boy has lost his bounce! My handsome Jett looks bedraggled … He is so restless. I think he’s suffering. His restless walks around the apartment … All signs pointing to the end.
Why, my beloved Jett, are you leaving me after just 17 1/2 years together? I could continue our conversation, old woman to husky, husky to old woman, for another 17 years! In the winter! During spring! Especially during spring time when the buds are just out and the flowers are hiding and the forsythia branches are climbing the fence at the dog park! Look, Jett, the geese have taken flight and I can see their oval, hard bellies and their long hard legs and webbed feet right above our heads as they work and work so hard to get home. Lilac has followed these athletes and run to the lake after them and you’ve run after Lilac! You’re so silly, Jett!
I already miss you, my Jett. I miss your delicate white paws. In my dreams I see their boney outlines, their clean whiteness. I see your blue eye and your brown eye, so exotic. People always remarked… I see your coyote fur, rough to the touch, a real protectant: the rain always beaded off your coat, the snowflakes stayed stuck there in their hexagon beauty. Each snowflake like no other. Jett, like no other husky or husky mix.
I remember so many of our jaunts to all our Worcester County dog parks and along Blackstone River Road, Jett … It’s as if you’re already left me, even though you’re right here, snoozing on your mat by my feet as I write this and listen to Neil Young. I’m bawling as I look at the photos in my cell phone, hundreds of them, taken of you and Lilac frolicking in all kinds of weather. I can see your smile, Jett, easy, relaxed, jaw open, smallish teeth. I’m already craving all that Jett energy that always energized me thru the years, your mistress, your devoted owner and friend. Where will I be without your joie de vivre, Jett?! Every minute of the day? It was so contagious! It always lifted my spirits!
There we were, for 17 months, homeless! Me driving my old jalopy thru the streets of Worcester depressed, trying to get to our forever home, trying to figure things out and filling out hundreds of forms and rental applications. Lilac sad, muted, as she is curled up in a ball in the corner of the car’s back seat, waiting to get … home, to have a big bed to leap onto and my bed pillow to grab onto with her big teeth …to shake the stuffing out, just for sport. For FUN. But not you, Jett! Standing tall in the back seat, facing the world, your little flag tail is curled in the morning air and you look so pretty as you poke your little snout out of the rolled down car window to joyfully sniff the new morning air. You tilt your handsome little lupine head to the sky and just love that the sun is out again and it’s shining on you. On us!! You can’t wait for that ride to McDonald’s for that breakfast biscuit with scrambled eggs – you love your scrambled eggs at 6 a.m. Then to the Millbury dog park where you and Lilac will run and run in the pale morning light and the morning dew will soak your paws. I’ll pray and read a magazine and sip my McDonald’s coffee and eat my yogurt. Watching you and Lilac and sitting on that dog park bench in the beautiful country makes me … ecstatic! I am so happy watching you and Lilac play!
An old homeless lady with her two mutts trying to find their new home, trying to get home, trying to still run her newspaper and exercise her dogs in all kinds of green spaces and … wow! I’m having fun!!
Now, looking back, I see I was already home: I was with my Jett and Lilac in the cup of God’s hands.
Two winters ago: Jett and Lilac frolicking in Worcester City Councilor Candy Carlson’s big front yard! Candy was so wonderful to Jett and Lilac when we were homeless – a true friend to the fur babies! We will never forget all the kind things Candy did for Jett and Lilac! All photos: R.T.