huMan’s best friend

If all
dogs go to heaven, then today they got a good one.
My work day
consists of playing with baby doll McKenna upon arrival at 6 am and no real
break until I close up shop with the kidlets, unless I can get all three to nap
at the same time; hopeless. Don’t get me wrong I love these kids to death, but I
hope to never be a single mother of 3 thats a certain bet.
Being a
nanny I endure anything and everything little ones have to offer, sass, large
grins, open mindedness, opportunity, poopy diapers, morning routines, and being
spit up on. I can literally handle anything in the outside world because of
these wonderful experiences. Today was like any other, kids wake up at 8 begin
to quietly read to each other, as the clock ticks towards half past the hour
tummies start to rumble and i’m forced to rise from the floor and head towards
the kitchen to portray rachel ray for a quick 15 minute meal. Eggs & Toast
it is, crowd favorite when the beginning of the idea starts to form and the
words leave their lips, but once on the plate in front of them, they are
starting to think cereal would’ve been a better option.

Although
they take their time, they do always eat majority of their food, i admire that.
After breakfast we hit the morning grind, picking out clothes, brushing teeth,
rinsing, and flossing. Always expected is an interruption from one of the two
older ones having to ‘go pee pee’ of course in the bathroom the other is in. So
there we are waiting to use the bathroom as a group to brush our teeth because
the other 4 didn’t seem like a good fit that morning. McKenna is a happy baby
today, new teeth coming but no complaints from her; the dogs are outside playing
with the ducks (note: not eating for once) and running around the 7 acres of
land they are offered.

Both golden
retrievers, Gabby is 2 years old and a little trouble maker, she greets me at
the door every morning with a glove or tennis ball she shouldn’t have in her
mouth. Jesse on the other hand is 15 years old and struggles to wobble over to
me with greetings in the morning, I generally pass her on the stairs and give
her a quick loving pat on the head that is just enough to get her to wag her
tail, but on the floor she remains. Today was like any other, greeting both
dogs, one approaching the other lain on the floor, but Jesse had this air about
her that told me something was happening today and she knew exactly what it was.

Being a
Minnesota summer, since the winter isn’t freakin’ cold enough the summers are
excruciating with humidity and heat when the sun is beating down on little
bodies. The dogs get to come inside if the humidity reaches a certain point, and
for Jesse, knowing the end is near, i just tend to keep her inside all day.

When she is
let out to potty she chases after these ducks like she is a puppy again,
although she isn’t moving very quickly or with much grace at all, she chases
them with a light inside her that glows at that moment; and I realize never have
i before seen her light up in that way. I let her chase and play for a bit as
she gently makes her way around the corners of the yard, realizing she won’t be
catching these ducks in this lifetime, but accepts the thrill of the chase
anyway.

I shoo the
children inside and bring Jesse with, Gabby’s kenneled because she unfortunately
will eat the ducks if trusted to be left with them. I have to physically pick
Jesse up and bring her inside, not easy when she weighs 65 pounds but sensing
the end is near I oblige and don’t complain, for her sake. I go about doing the
laundry and odd chores for the family while the kids are playing and McKenna is
napping; while waltzing into the laundry room to change the umpteenth load I
look down and noticed how badly Jesse is struggling to breathe, I sense it.
There is a look in her eyes and a stillness about her body while she’s panting
for air that tells me something isn’t right; she’s been lying on this same floor
for the last hour and is breathing as though she just chased a car down the road
for a good mile or two. I turn to the kids and tell them they can play Wii
downstairs (the one and only thing that will get them out of my hair and me out
of being questioned whats going on, Wii is strictly prohibited, but I know no
other choice). They happily oblige with a “WHAT? Oh my goodness, YES!” off they
go, Mckenna is still napping although I know it won’t last for
long.

My work day
starts at 6:30 and ends at 5:00, it is now 4:40 and I must now admit that those
were the longest 20 minutes of my lifetime. Between crying for this poor animal
who is suffering and praying Bridget (mom) would walk through those doors at any
moment, the seconds turned into minutes and felt like hours. After shooing the
kids downstairs I filled up the dog bowls with water and grabbed some food for
her, just in case, grabbed a towel and the phone; after trying to reach both mom
and dad, i realized I was in this one alone. I’m not going to lie, its been a
long time since I’ve been that scared; I know I can be a mommy, I have maternal
instinct and can comfort little ones and animals at the drop of a hat, but at
that moment I had never faced a death to something I was close with that I
needed a mommy right then and there.

So there I
was, at 21 years of age, lying on the cold laundry room floor next to this 16
year old golden retriever who’s seen more things in her day than i’ll get to
witness or ever know about; I didn’t know what else to do, so I just did what I
would want, snuggled. I wrapped my arms around her shaking body and sang to her
while she struggled to breath. Now I don’t know how much any of that helped, but
it distracted me from breaking down into tears for this precious animal. I can’t
tell you how long I lie on that floor, or how many Van Morrison songs I shuffled
through or repeated to that damn dog, but being that comforting factor for her
while she knew her life was ending, was more powerful than anything I have yet
to experience.

I think Jess
was waiting for that door to fly open and for Mom or Dad to come through so that
she could finally breathe her last breaths, she kept holding on and was
breathing in such a manner to tell me, “listen i’m really struggling here, but
i’m going to hold on because these people did for me and I want to see them one
last time”. I did the best I could to alleviate any pain, or attention to that
pain. After her organs began to visibly fail, and she was excreting waste I knew
it was time.

Mom came
home just in time to see her, knowing something was wrong when she wouldn’t even
lift her head when the door opened, Bridget looked me in the eyes and asked me
‘What was wrong’ I just looked up at her and know that with my gaze came all the
weight of what I was about to tell her. “You’re baby is not going to make it
through the night”, Mike & Bridget have had this dog longer than they’ve
been married, this was their first ‘baby’ and now its her time to go; I can’t
imagine what they must be going through, what they might be feeling.

Bridget
proceeded to set her things down and said she’d take a look at her, not as an
engineer, certainly not as a vet, but as a mother, as a best friend who’s known
this creature since she graced this earth. She knew the outcome and gave me the
look that I had been dreading; we contacted Mike and let him know, telling us
he’d make the vet’s appointment for tomorrow. Jesse wouldn’t make it through the
night, and knowing that I held her while she was dying makes me feel proud and
scared a the same time. Did I do it right? Could I have done more? Was my voice
completely out of tune like usual?

I’ll never
know the answer to those questions, but watching her slowly fade away made me
realize how important and precious life is. She had the opportunity to live out
her 16 human years here on Earth until her final breath, most of us won’t ever
get that chance; seize the day, you’re time is now. If there’s something out
there you want to do, go do it, quit making excuses. If theres someone out there
you want to hand a random compliment to, do it, what do you have to lose?
Someone you want to tell how much they mean to you, or how much you love them,
don’t wait; tomorrow’s never guaranteed.

Leaving that
house today and kissing her goodbye for the final time was a heart wrenching
feeling, every routine i’ve ever known for the past 8 months will forever be
changed after this day, i’ll walk through that doorway every morning, that same
doorway in which I held her during her final moments, i’ll never forget that.
But old routines will be broken by the oddities of something missing and new
routines will form, the doorway will come to represent something else, maybe the
frame in which holds the kids height chart, but Jesse will never be forgotten as
she was as important to this family as their own children, and to me, just as
important as my own puppy.

Life holds a
brevity in which nothing else can compare. Your time is now to do with what you
will, don’t mistake it, seize it.

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