Friday, April 8, 2011

The Return of the JD

So about three days after JD passed, we realized that the house was too quiet. There was no head in my lap as I tried to do homework, there were no battles at dinner time, there was no leash wrapping around my legs when I took the dogs for walks...what was so wrong? Most people would think that two dogs is more than enough, but to tell you the truth, it was too easy.

Don't get me wrong, Max and Crimson are incredibly high maintenance and quite the handful, but for some reason Gary and I felt that the house had grown quiet; deafeningly quiet. So we began to look for a new addition to the family. Now, you may find this insensitive to the memory of our old pup, but our thoughts were that we were going to find the perfect puppy to uphold his memory. And we found him.

Meet JD Richter Stephens III (Richter was his name when we got him, so we just kept it as his middle name. Yes dogs need middle names). He is a lab-retriever mix just like JD II and he looks just like him. Through hours of research, Gary came across this little guy and his sister, Sunny, at a shelter in Sacramento. With no time to lose, Gary and I took advantage of his Alaska Airlines flight benefits and booked it to Sac-Town. Gary's trip down was flawless, mine not so much, but that's another story. Gary picked JD up, shaking and covered in pee at a PetSmart near Sacramento. He put him in a shopping card and spent two hours in the store buying him food, a kennel, wee wee pads, and a brand new collar. I met them later that evening and knew immediately that Gary and I had fallen in love with this puppy.

We brought him home in a little mesh bag that fit underneath the seat on the plane. You have no idea how much attention you get when you have a puppy with you. Honestly, I think he's the only reason we got on the plane with our standby status. He was perfectly behaved on the plane, sleeping almost the whole time and sticking his head out of the bag to see what was going on the rest of the time. He put his paws on snow for the first time that evening, and I have to say he liked it. That little Cali boy rolled around like he'd lived here forever.

A few weeks, a few pairs of underwear and socks, and a computer cord later, we are doing very well with chewing and potty training. Gary has taught him to sit and lay down and is now working on "stay." JD is already so much bigger than he was when we got him, but such a cuddly little baby. He has so much energy and brings out the best in Max and Crimson. I haven't seen Max play with dog toys until we brought JD III home. He wrestles with the old dogs, making them seem just as young as he is. I think that his presence will prolong their lives for sure. While we love JD III, we will never ever ever forget JD II, who has been enshrined on a bookshelf in our living room. Our new JD has lots of similar personality traits and looks so much like our old pup that it actually gets me choked up sometimes, especially when I stroke his puppy fur and remember how soft JD II was; still so puppy-like. I miss that old guy so much and all of the love that he brought to our home, but I am also so glad that we rescued this puppy from the shelter and brought him home with us. Our home feels whole again. It is busy and restless and warm and loving.

There are some people who think we are crazy for getting another dog. Three dogs? That's outrageous! But Gary and I are dog people and this just feels perfect to us. I couldn't imagine a bed with no dogs on it. I couldn't imagine a kitchen with no paws underfoot. I couldn't imagine a yard with no dog poo land mines. I love Max's seal belly on my feet at night and I love JD's little yips at dinner time and I love Crimson's wisdom as he takes the role of oldest. So maybe we're crazy for loving all this craziness, but I think that in this insanity is when we are at our best. This JD puppy saved us just as we saved him. He already has so much love for us and we have so much love for him. I don't know what it's like to give birth to my own child, but I feel like this love is just about equivalent. These boys are our babies and we live for them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Death of St. Valentine

I've never been a huge fan of Valentine's day. I always loved giving and receiving all the cute little store-bought cards in elementary school and I will always love the candy that is included. As for romantic dinners and mushy gifts, I'm not so hip to it. The boyfriend and I didn't have big plans for V-Day this year; maybe dinner, maybe a movie, but we absolutely didn't expect to celebrate it the way we did.

Our baby, JD, has left us on Valentine's Day 2011. Three months away from turning 17, he just couldn't go on. He was so old and so tired he finally let go. After three seizures in three months, he just couldn't recover. On Sunday morning we woke up to a JD that refused to even sit up. As the vet was closed and we knew what was in store, we spent the day cuddling him on the floor, nursing him with water from a turkey baster, and propping him up enough to feed him his favorite treats. That night Gary, his brother, and I all slept in the living room with JD. We knew it would probably be our last night with him. None of us slept.

At noon on Monday, Gary took JD outside and set him down for one last peepee in the Juneau snow. We took Gary's truck. I drove because Gary didn't feel comfortable driving, his mom sat in the middle cradling JD's head, Gary sat in the passenger seat stroking JD's belly.

We told our favorite vet all that had happened and that we thought his time was up and he agreed with us. The doctor gave JD a sedative and then left us all alone with him to say goodbye. The four of us stood around him, telling him how much we loved him and what a good dog he had been. Eventually the doctor came back in and administered the shot that would put him to sleep forever. Gary held his hand over JD's heart as it slowly stopped beating.

Everyone cried. Everyone's heart is broken. We spent more time with him even after he was gone, making sure he always knew how much we all have loved him. Before we left, I buried my face in his fur, his soft puppy-like fur, and told him there was no dog out there like him and that we'll never be able to replace him.

We took his collar off to take with us and Gary made arrangements to have him cremated. I almost feel like we're going to have him back when his urn shows up on Wednesday. I want him to come back so bad. Even with the other two dogs still running around the house, it feels like someone is missing. Someone is missing.

Gary and his family got that dog when Gary was five years old. His mom saw them at the airport and picked the runt that was trying to drag a duffel bag across the sidewalk. He ended up being the sweetest, most playful old dog. I already miss his panting and his drooly muzzle in my lap. I miss picking up his butt when he falls down and how peaceful he looks when he sleeps. I miss clapping for him to come because he can't hear me yell his name. I miss his ears flopping when he runs. JD was a part of our family. A member of our family is gone and we are all devastated, but so happy that he isn't in pain any more.

I believe that JD is in a better place now because all dogs go to heaven. And hopefully he will be reincarnated in the next JD puppy that comes our way.