|Rest in Peace, Juba. 2004-2012|
A month ago today, Juba went to her regular place for dinner and then didn't eat her food. Huh? Alarm bells went off. This dog always wanted more! We went out to the back yard where I was working on my garden. I saw her crouch down to pee and my heart turned cold. The pee was black!
The next day I took her to the vet and they gave her some antibiotics and asked me to try to catch a urine sample. When I brought it in later that day, they had me turn around and go back and get her. They ran some tests and her white blood cell count was very high. She was on an IV for three days at the vet and by Friday, he said that she either had leukemia or a serious infection where she was destroying her own red blood cells. I asked if I could take her home and they said that it was fine. She probably would not last the weekend.
I was told to try to get as much protein and fluids into her as possible. If it was an infection and she could rebuild her red blood cells, she could recover. She made it through the weekend, but wasn't keeping food down. She was on a strong antibiotic and steroids, so they added an anti-nausea pill. Her strength seemed to come back and my hopes were renewed.
The next blood test showed some stabilizing. The yellow in her eyes had gone and her pee was still reddish, but much closer to normal. Yes! We can beat this! But, then she threw up globs of blood. I just knew it was over! Back to the vet and more hope: she now had an ulcer from the medication. Another pill would coat the stomach and allow her to heal.
I was nursing her around the clock. Every day she looked weaker, wasting away in front my eyes, but there was still this hope, this possibility that it was not cancer. A week later, renewed hope: her red blood cells were increasing and her kidney function had improved. But, now she looked like a cancer patient. Her head had started to cave in and her belly was swollen from the steroids. This last Tuesday her back legs became so weak that she couldn't support herself. I made a sling to help her support her back end and that worked. She could stand and walk a few steps, but edema set up and those hind legs started to swell. I began to accept that it was cancer. I almost took her in to put her down then, but she perked up. I had bought all kinds of meats, made purees, bought baby food, squirted chicken and meat broth in the side of her mouth when she didn't want to eat and she went up and down.
Through the whole thing, she talked to me. Dogs have different barks that mean different things. Most of the time, I felt like I knew what she wanted. Was she in pain? She didn't show it, at least not until the last two days. She just looked weak and sad. She was a big dog and hard for me to move around so I figured out a way to slide her into different rooms and could carry her up and down the steps outside to let her be outside. She barked at the mailman up until the last day. By Thursday night, I knew there was no hope and that I would take her in on Friday, so we had a pizza party. I wanted to see if the smell would inspire her to eat something solid (by now she was rejecting almost everything). She wolfed the pizza down. Friday afternoon I took her to the vet and she was euthanized. She was ready. I was not. I can hardly wrap my head around the notion that she is gone. She was fine and then she wasn't. Isn't that just how it always goes?
The whole thing started with Mitchie. I had had a couple of cats that were both getting quite old. I lived in an apartment in Chicago and had no intention of getting a dog. Then, Abdul, my friend and gallery partner, shows up with Mitchie who was supposed to be our gallery dog. A whole new world opened up. I now walked the city parks, made new "dog" friends, had all kinds of adventures that I hadn't had before because I rarely went out.
|Laila and Juba, October 2004|
|Juba was the only brown one.|
I named Juba after this song of Caetano Veloso's, Leãzinho. It's a sweet song about a little lion. Juba is the lion's mane. You can listen to it while you look at the pictures... (It's in Portuguese.)
|First bath, 2004|
|3 months old.|
So, of course I kept her. She was my golden girl, by butter ball. And, then there was her little sister, Sheba, the runt. I knew I would never go through this again, so I kept both of them. We WERE moving to a house with a yard, in the SOUTH where there was plenty of room, after all....
|Juba and Sheba, February 2005|
|February, 2005 (Still in Chicago)|
|Juba and Mitchie, July 2007|
|Wisconsin with Tom, August 2007|
|Ice Storm, December 2009|
|With Diane, who is a cancer survivor!|
|With Laila, May 2010|
Daughter and mother...
There was court and a big mess. She bit his legs and he got $20,000 for it. Then she bit the dust. I was court ordered to put her down. There is nothing worse to me than to kill a healthy dog. At the same time, I really feel like something was wrong with her wiring. I had her since she was a baby and she was just getting worse.
A couple of weeks later, Mitchie was diagnosed with lymphoma. He lasted three weeks and went down. Awful, just awful.
|June 2010, right before Mitchie died.|
|June 2011, Visit from Pedro|
Now I was just down to the two, Laila and Juba. Things were good. In March, I spent a month on the road with Abdul and we went to Tucson by truck for the Gem and Mineral Show. I finally had someone who could house sit and take care of the animals, Pat. On the way there, we stopped at a truck stop in New Mexico and this little chihuahua was running around, desperate. Abdul said, "Catch that dog!" (Yes, ALL of this is Abdul's fault!) I did. He had been there, in the middle of the desert for at least three days. He glommed on to me immediately. It was clear that I now had another dog, Tor.
What would the dynamic be now? I've never really liked little yip-yappers, but this guy is loaded with personality. Yes, Laila tried to kill him when we brought him in, but after I yelled at her, she accepted him. Tor immediately bonded to Juba and was always laying next to her.
The following photos show Juba's descent during this last month. The picture above, in the leaves, was taken just this past January. Yes, both she and Laila were showing signs of aging, but at eight years old, I thought I had at least a couple of more years with her.
|Visiting her at the Vet, week 1|
|Back home, weak, but still looking like herself. Week 2|
|End of Week 3. Her face caving in. She can still walk.|
|Juba's last day, with Tor at her side.|
|She's buried in front of the house where she used to lay all the time.|
Nik and Pat helped dig the grave.
|Tor and Laila.|
I guess this post is more for me than for anyone else. But, I know that many of you also have had pets that you loved and have lost. Is it any different to grieve the death of an animal than that of a person? It feels the same to me. I've lost my grandparents and several friends over the years and the big hole that they leave behind, that spinning feeling, the sense of a time that is now gone.......... it is the same. I think that these four dogs also represent a last connection that I had with my life in Chicago, too. Their muzzles went white, my hair is going the same way. They are dying and I am getting old. Time is fleeting.
Several people have said that Tor showed up to replace Juba, that he was sent by God knowing what was ahead. It's true that both have this attachment to me that the other dogs didn't have, but I don't know what I think about that. I do know that he brings some youth into our aging house. Laila likes to play, too, and the two of them have some similar toy interests. Laila has been moping. I look at her with suspicion. Is she missing Juba? Or, is something wrong with her, too? Sigh...............
What is it in us that seeks this connection with an animal? I cannot imagine living without pets and apparently there is a genetic bond between dogs and humans that comes from thousands of years of mutual co-existence, more than with any other animal. I grew up with animals and recently learned something new about my childhood with dogs. My parents had a dog named Bobby when I was two years old. They had to go to a different town one afternoon and the dog followed the car. My Mom thought that he would go back home, but he never came back. Three weeks later, I was still asking about Bobby.
|Bobby and I, 1963|
Notice how we are leaning into each other. And how much he looks like my black dogs... They replaced him with another Bobby.
Bobby II kind of has a Juba look about him. Here is a better picture with my brother when he was a bigger dog:
Do these early experiences get imprinted on our brains?
These thoughts have been with me during these past days. I also remembered some things that I had read by the theologian, C.S. Lewis. Those of you who don't know his religious work might recognize him for "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". I couldn't remember in which book he talks about this, but he said something like "if animals are needed to bring humans happiness, they will surely be with us in heaven". He talked about heaven as a full experience of the divine. That, whatever we know here is a faded version of what will come. He also plays with the idea that sin (the separation from God) has clouded our perceptions. When we were in a full state of grace, all of nature did, indeed, communicate with each other. Jesus could command the wind, trees could bend at will. From what I understand, he and Tolkien were friends and both explored this world where good and evil manifested themselves in how they treated the natural world and that old folk tales of fairies and giants and trolls were remnants of an actual world that has passed on.
I haven't found the text that I was looking for yet, but did stumble on a fascinating article about Lewis and his love for animals and how he saw their place within a theological context. It's quite long and I haven't finished it yet (lots to digest and think about along the way). If you would like to read it, click here.
I need to end this post at some point, don't I? One of my facebook friends reminded me of a wonderful little video about GoD and DoG. It makes me teary-eyed to watch it:
Finally, there is a matter of finances. Yes, Juba's illness is costing me a bundle which I don't have: $750. My vet is wonderful and allows me to make payments when these things happen, but this is the biggest one to date. I know that if this had been in Chicago, it would have been four times that, but still.... So, I'm hoping that some of you would like to do a bit of shopping in my Etsy shop to help with this.
Use this code at checkout and get 40% off of anything in the shop: FORJUBA.
I would trade all of my inventory if I could have her alive.... Sadly, it's not meant to be. I was saving up to get Tor neutered, but now he will have to keep his ornaments for a little bit longer... Heh, heh.
If you don't see anything that you like in my shop, there is a donate button on the right sidebar. Juba will accept any amount.
And, what about you? Is there anything you would like to share about your animal experiences? People don't leave comments on my blog very much, and I don't know why. But, please! Feel welcome to leave your thoughts on this and any other post.
|Me with Bobby III, 1978|