I know I haven’t posted in a long time, what with one thing or another going on, and I apologize for that. And today’s post, Jody’s Tail, is a very special tribute.
Jody is a full-blooded Golden Retriever who came to us at the already elderly (for her breed) age of 10 or 11. Her story, when I heard it, just broke my heart. Today, we make preparations to take her to the vet tomorrow, to ease her way to the Rainbow Bridge. She is 16 years old.
A friend of mine first told me Jody’s tail. She lived with an elderly man and wife, and the woman passed away suddenly. The couple’s daughter came from out of town to help her father, since his health wasn’t the best either. The daughter had a mental breakdown and was hospitalized. During this time, the man passed away in the home, alone except for Jody and another dog. No one found them for days.
Making a New Home
We already had 3 dogs, a cat, and a horse to take care of. I knew my husband would kill me. But when I heard Jody’s tail, I had to do something. She was being passed around from home to home, a circle of friends of the last remaining relative of the family. They were desperately searching for a forever home for Jody and the other dog. I stopped one day after work and met Jody for the first time. Her soft demeanor and honey yellow eyes tugged at my heartstrings. I put her in the car right then and brought her home.
Jody wasn’t sure what to make of her new family, at first. There was Rain, the mother hen of the group, an older yellow lab/Husky mix. There was Pepper, a miniature Boxer, who bounced around with all the energy of a terrier. Then there was Morgan, a Great Dane/Bull Mastiff mix who, at 75 pounds, was still a puppy. There was the usual bumpy start, expected when you bring a new dog into an established pack. Everyone has to sort out where they stand in the new hierarchy. And finally, there was the pincushion (AKA a cat), whom Jody always regarded with suspicion.
Then, there were two kids, and a mom and dad who would spoil Jody just as much as the other animals. The first few months were hard; we all knew Jody was grieving and traumatized, and eventually we took her to the vet. We told the doctor Jody’s tail, and the she filled a prescription for Prozac (yes, the human kind!). I worked at a pharmacy at the time, and all employees could get scripts filled at cost, so getting Jody’s medicine didn’t cost too much.
It took a few months, and the Prozac, but Jody finally came around. She would go outside and play with the other dogs, jump on the bed or couch, and she settled in well. She became part of the family.
I think the final step in her healing process was the move from west Texas to southeast Missouri. You would think such a change would be hard for an older dog, and of course the trip was. I don’t know if it was the dramatic change in climate, or what, but Jody became a new dog. She actually ran. She played with toys, and learned how to play tug-of-war (as a retriever, a soft bite is bred into her genetics). She truly blossomed.
In 2013, I was diagnosed with leukemia, a blood cancer. Since our small-town hospital wasn’t equipped to deal with it, I was sent to St. Louis, almost 4 hours away. I was hospitalized for a month and a half the first time, and my heart broke as I wondered what effect this would have on Jody. When I returned home, I was still extremely ill. I stayed in bed most of the time, and of course, Jody was there with me and the other dogs.
All together, I must have been in the hospital off and on for 8 months. Each time I returned, I was weaker and weaker. Jody could sense that, even though she couldn’t understand why. She latched onto me like glue. If I was out of the room more than 5 minutes, she would come to find me. Sometimes she even had to be in the bathroom with me! This behavior continued even after I was well. Jody’s tail continues.
A little over a week ago, something happened to Jody. I’m not sure if she had a stroke, or developed something similar to Parkinson’s disease. It was sudden, that’s for sure. One day, she just didn’t get off the couch to go outside with the other dogs. She’d been having more and more issues getting onto the couch, and she couldn’t jump on the bed any more at all. We picked her up and put her on her feet; she promptly fell down.
It seems Jody was very weak and unsteady on her feet, wobbly. Sometimes when we put her on the floor, her toes would “knuckle under”. Often, she could walk a little better outside, where she had the grass and dirt for traction, rather than the hardwood floors. I carried her in and out for days. I carried her to the bedroom when I went to sleep. She’s not a huge dog, but I’d estimate 60-70 pounds, and that’s still a lot for me, especially to pick up from the floor. But I did it.
Jody’s improving a little bit. She can now walk easily outside, and sometimes even on the wood floors. But, she’s developed a large swelling around her belly, and still staggers when she walks. She’s still weak and has a hard time even getting to water. I bring her food and water. As a family, we’ve made the hardest choice of pet ownership: the choice to have her put to sleep. Her appointment is tomorrow at 4:30. We will show her a final act of love, and help her to cross the Rainbow Bridge.
The Rainbow Bridge
I have no idea who originally penned this poem, but I’d love to give them credit for it. It’s helped me so many times!
Just this side of Heaven, there is a place called Rainbow Bridge
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water, and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly, he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands once again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge, together…
~~Author UnknownFollow Us! by
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