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I filled out a survey about pet loss. The "pet" was supposed to have died in the past year. I fudged it a lot - because my last pet died seven years ago, but I can conjure up those feelings in a nanosecond. I can feel them now like I felt them the day my parents called me, telling me Juju had died in my dad's arms. There's this special place of happy anguish in my heart just for Juju.

Juju was the first "real" dog - she wasn't my first ME dog (that's Mina), but she was the first dog to be with me through junior high and high school and most of college. She let me cry in her fur, she tolerated regular trips to the dreaded dog park, she even put up with obnoxious foster kittens and puppies, and she expected nothing more than food, butt skritches and a warm bed. Physically, she shared one of Mina's best features - a pretty brown patch over one eye (her only eye, to boot). Other than that, she was a fluffy eskie mix with a curly tail and the generous ability to tolerate the moodiness of a clinically depressed teenager.

Don't tell Mina, but one of the biggest reason I adopted her was because she received the Juju seal of approval. Juju didn't like too many dogs, though she tolerated them with a grace befitting a queen. She wasn't thrilled by Mina, but both Mina and Juju respected each other. One night, I woke up to find both dogs curled up side by side, something Juju would NEVER allow another dog to do. I knew then that Mina was The One. It would be only a few weeks later that Juju's fragile heart would give out, leaving only a cold little body to cry on.

For weeks after Juju died, every time I visited my parents' home, I thought I could hear her. Sometimes, the bed would shake a little, reminscent of Juju doing her three circles before plopping down for a snooze. I would catch glimpses of her lying in the corner, a flash of her white fur, and then poof! gone. My mom did too. I don't know if it was just the grief talking, but I like to think that Juju's energy spent a bit of time with us before moving on to other things.

Her heart was never her best friend; she had a serious heart murmur from the day we adopted her (she was six). A few months before her death, the vet told us the bad news - she had congestive heart failure and we should limit her exercise. A lover of running free, we couldn't deny Juju the chance to play in the field, romp in the grass...you know, be a dog. We hastened her death so that she could be happy. The weekend before her death (she died on a Monday), she enjoyed the most glorious romp through her favorite park. She lived it up, got a bit lost (couldn't hear us calling for her), and ran through the fields like a puppy. It was her last big hurrah, and I wouldn't change a thing. She wouldn't, either, I'm sure.

Thinking about Juju, though, gets me thinking about Mina. She's ten. Not young, not really middle age, but not quite old. I haven't talked about it much, but I'm in the process of saving up money for a whole host of procedures that she needs to have. She needs radiographs for a shoulder problem the vets can't figure out; a removal of a *hopefully* benign cyst, and a canine tooth extraction. She has a thyroid problem, possible stone problems and borderline kidney problems. And all those things make me panicky and afraid of her eventual death, which I have told her is definitely at least another 10 years away (she agrees). Thinking about it makes me hyperventilate.

Anyway, I miss Juju, seven years later. She was not a troublemaker like Mina. She wasn't afraid of dogs like Celeste. She minded better than both my current dogs. She had one ginormous eye that saw the world for what it was - a place for sniffing, pissing, meeting friends, ignoring enemies, and having a grand old time running through weeds and flowers. Juju was the quintessential Good Dog. And I still miss her.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
polyphonicvegan
Apr. 7th, 2009 03:26 am (UTC)
>Juju was the quintessential Good Dog.

Amen.

I'm sorry Juju didn't live fifty million years, but I do think Mina will reach a proper old age (George agrees). I think you were in the right to give Juju an amazing life, much as you have Mina and her non-sister. I hope all of Mina's upcoming procedures go swimmingly! If she needs special cookies, you know my number.
polyphonicvegan
Apr. 7th, 2009 03:31 am (UTC)
Also, if I may ramble for a second, two days ago was the six year anniversary of my dear cat Suzie's passing. She lived to be a hardy 18. I was with her when the night she was born and the night she died. I love that she's buried under the porch she was born on. Full circle, or something. She's buried next to her arch nemeses (/secret friend) Birdie, my feisty Siamese who lived to be 20+. I still miss my girls so much (including Suzie's mom, Andy, who was always a little feral even as a house cat). I know 20 +/- is great for cats, but they were like my only siblings and I thought they'd be around until I was at least 30. Humph.
zebrallama
Apr. 7th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting.
rozae
Apr. 7th, 2009 04:10 am (UTC)
This was a beautiful post to read. Thanks for sharing Juju with us.
surlynymph
Apr. 7th, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
I hate it that they all live so much shorter lives than we do. I lost my Cody about three years ago while Chewie and Snickers died when I was in eighth grade but it all still feels like yesterday. When Chewie died, and than Snickers (the cat) I remember having the same exact dreams for both. I would wake up in my bed in the middle of the night to see them walk into my bedroom. I remember crying out loud and saying their name when they jumped on my bed and just let me pet them for a while. The dream was so frickin' real that I swear to this day that I really think they came to me to say goodbye.

It's so hard. So incredibly hard and it's even harder to express the pain you feel to those who don't understand how you can feel that way for an animal. It rips your heart out of your chest while it's still beating.

The best thing anyone has ever said to me was something that Pavel told me when Cody died. He said that to my family and I, Cody was our baby and we loved him dearly, but Cody was an old man and he lived his life and he was just fulfilling his own will and moving on like we will all do some day.

Oddly, that was the most comforting thing that anyone has ever said to me and I thank him for that to this day.

Beautiful post. Thank you.
yesididit
Apr. 7th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC)
echoing everyone's sentiments, its a beautiful post. there are days where i miss sugar just as dearly as when she died. i remember crying and holding her body after putting her to sleep. i'll never forget that and just thinking about it still brings tears to my eyes. we love the ones we love and we never stop.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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