Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Trouble with Jessie

About 10 years ago a friend of ours invited us out to his place to check out some cute little black lab puppies. We loaded up the boys and drove out there, determined not to fall in love.. we would just look. We didn't need a puppy.

As soon as we got out of the car, we saw the squirming black mass that was about 7 puppies playing with and tripping all over each other. I picked them up one by one, turning them over to cradle them like babies, acting all dog whisperer, trying to determine which had the best temperament. They all passed that test with flying colors. They were black labs, after all.

But there was one that was different. After I put her down, she kept crawling back in my lap. I would pick up one of her siblings, cradle him and put him down and he would go about clumsily playing. But when I picked up her up, cradled her, and put her down.. she crawled back for more. She chose me.

We took her home and she became Jessie the Wonder Lab. Her official, very long name, is Jessie Love Beauty Taco Walenciak.. because Dillon was 3, wanted to name him and couldn't quite make decisions. Jessie, after the character in Toy Story 2. Love, because, well, she kept crawling in my lap... Beauty, after Black Beauty, and Taco because.... I guess because Dillon was 3 and 3 year olds have funny ideas about appropriate names.

For the first two years of Jessies life I was ready to give her away. We still have furniture that bears the scars of her teething habits but I no longer have my favorite Doc Martin sandals that she mostly digested. Everyone told me to wait two years... things would change... and they did. Almost like magic. She turned two and became the best dog in the world. She never had an accident in the house, she didn't chew on anything she didn't have permission to chew on. She did get in the trash, and still does, but we taught her to pick up the trash and throw it away.. so at least she cleans up after herself.

She is quite the nanny to the boys. One night, Dillon came into our room after a bad dream. It wasn't long before Jessie woke me up, but didn't lead me to the door to go outside. She led me to Dillon's room to show me he wasn't in his bed. I had to let her see him in our bed before she would go back to sleep. Of course, Cody gets the most benefit from Jessie. He isn't a hugger, but he will hug Jessie. It's heartwarming to see my 16 year old man/boy talk baby talk and love on Jessie. He is going to miss her the most.

Jessie is not doing well. The vet thinks she has the canine equivalent of Alzheimer's. She has forgotten some of her most basic commands. She hasn't forgotten she's potty trained.. she simply is unaware of when she needs to potty, so she will walk through the house leaving a trail that looks quite a bit like a Family Circus Comic where you can trace Billy's steps by the dotted line he leaves. Jessie leaves her own dotted line. Thank heavens for my steam cleaner! Of course, Jessie soon realizes what she's done and she looks at it in shock, as if to say.. "Who did this?!".. and she will not cross it. She will not step over it. She is deeply ashamed, and I am sad for her because I know she couldn't help it. She is on medicine for this, and it is helping, but things are getting worse every day.

Tonight she gave me a glimpse of the young Jessie. I roasted a chicken and when I took it out of the oven she stood in the kitchen staring at it. Then she would look at me with so much life in her eyes, begging me for the chicken. If you could have heard her words, I'm sure the conversation would have sounded like this...

Jessie: Can I have that chicken?

Me: No, you can't have the chicken.

Jessie: Ok, well, then can I have the chicken?

Me: Jessie, the chicken is not for you.

Jessie: All right. Can I have the chicken?

Me: No Jessie, go lay down.

Jessie: Ok, as soon as you give me some chicken.

And this could have gone on all night.. I got tired and left the kitchen, but Jessie remained, staring at the chicken carcass, willing for it to fall of the platter and into her mouth. She was so excited about the chicken that she seemed like a puppy again.. in fact, at one point, she actually ran and got a ball, as if to convince us that she needed chicken because she was so darned cute and in serious training...

And then tonight after dinner, she walked through the house, leaving a trail of essence of Jessie and not even realizing it.... and my heart broke just a little.. because the glimpses of puppy Jessie are fewer and farther between...

And the trouble with Jessie is she won't live forever and I'm having a hard time imagining our family without her.......

It's a new year....

Well, it's a new year to me. Today was my birthday, and although I have reached the age where one shouldn't still love their birthdays, I do. I love my birthday, I love New Year's, I love Mondays. I love new and fresh starts. I get a do over from last year. The diet that didn't work, the goals that got lost under piles of urgent clutter, the dreams that didn't turn into reality YET; these all qualify for second chances with each new year, each new week.

All this positive thinking is very refreshing, no? No, it's usually annoying and not appreciated, but that's ok, too. I think God made different outlooks to create balance!

My own dear hubby hates Mondays. He tends to look back at what didn't get done, while I see a fresh slate. But at times, as surprising as this sounds, I tend to be somewhat of an idealist, while my sweet husband is more of a realist. He doesn't ever burst my bubble; he just keeps me from floating too far away in it.

I realize that the last time I visited my little corner of the internets, I wrote that I would be back tomorrow. Well, technically this is a tomorrow. As Annie put is so succinctly, tomorrow is always a day away... In fact there has been around 6 months of tomorrows between my last post and now.

Now as I embark on a new year, I plan on blogging more, and succeeding on that diet and even finally cleaning out that coat closet... and while some who are more "realists" might just think I'm a lying liar who lies, those idealists among you will hold out hope that I will in fact write more tomorrow....