animals

Sweet but Tough Times

dog, bandage

Jazz in the hospital, post-surgery and pre-discharge. It’s a good thing he’s sitting down, because when he walked, he looked like a drunken sailor due to the pain meds.

Things are getting uncomfortable at my house. Jazz is recuperating following his second surgery in a few months to remove malignant melanomas. This surgery was harder on him the second time, and he had to spend the night in the hospital afterward.  

bandaged dog

The surgical techs decorated Jazz’s bandage with a snowman! During visiting hours, after he finished eating, he was worn out. Here he is, sleeping in my arms.

My husband and I visited him at the hospital, the evening after his surgery. As the technician brought him into the room we where we waited, his nose began vigorously sniffing. He detected our presence, and his tail began wagging; he was excited to see us! (Deaf and blind, he relies heavily on his nose.) The tech told us that Jazz wouldn’t eat the food they had given him for dinner.  I hand-fed Jazz the food he had previously refused, and he ate ravenously. He depended upon me to be there for him, and he was not disappointed. Home now as I type this, he is asleep close at my side, comforting us both.

running dog, red poodle

This is my favorite photo of Jazz, at 3 years old. Standing in the middle of the meadow where we were camping, I thought that I wished Jazz would run, so that I could photograph him. He immediately took off, running in a wide circle around me. That’s a good connection!

Those near to me who know his health situation like to remind me that Jazz turns 16 years old next month. They think that means that his life is nearing its natural end, and I should be resigned to his eventual death. They don’t really understand. When I think of his age, I think about is what a good friend he’s been for 16 years. I think of how few other relationships I’ve had that have lasted so long. I remember the countless times Jazz has comforted me with the scent of his fur. I spend more time with him than any other individual. When I am home or when we travel together, he’s my constant companion. He cuddles with me under the covers at night, needing to touch me as much as I need his touch. With 16 years together, our relationship has had the opportunity to go deep and broad. I don’t usually call him a “good dog;” I say “good friend.”

red poodle

Jazz is 3 years old here, strong and athletic!

And yet, I realize we are on a train picking up speed, going where I don’t want to go (just like Russell Sprout just over a year ago). I see this is the beginning of the end. I’m not a big believer in “bucket lists.” I think there is far more power in quiet time appreciating each other, that is not found during shared attention on something else.

dog in snow

When he was young, Jazz would go out in the snow without a big coat. These days, he’s not eager, even with a coat.

We’d planned a camping trip in our 5th wheel soon, taking some time off work to devote time to each other. We’re going ahead with this, knowing that Jazz will receive hours of cuddles in the car and lots of time with the family. We’ll take his stroller so he can continue participating in any mild walks we may take. This will allow the other dogs and us some exercise, and Jazz can safely enjoy some new smells. We want his last months to be full of time with us because he values that more than anything and we do too.  He still has time, just not as much as I would like. It’s never enough.

red poodle

Jazz at 4 years old, on another camping trip. The red “bear bell” could be used to scare bears, but mainly it was to keep track of Jazz’s whereabouts when he ran off-leash.

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