Monday, March 22, 2010

Losing Jasper, Missing Juniper

Jasper, the black Lab, died last night, ending his fight with cancer. Our vet graciously agreed to come to our home, where we struggled for more than half an hour on the living room floor, in a futile attempt to find a workable vein in which to inject the euthanasia drug. Unable, we grimly transported him to the vet's clinic, where she administered anesthesia by gas and then, finally, the life ending drug into a vein in his leg. It was finished.

It has been an eventful but difficult year. Last spring Jasper was diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis; in June he had surgery that helped him to breathe. In August, Juniper, the Golden Retriever, and love of my life, died unexpectedly. A smothering pall of gloom crushed down on me. Juniper's twin brother, Mesa, is well but old at 11+ years of age. In November we brought home Lucy, a vibrant, energetic, and affectionate Golden pup. Then, after Christmas, we discovered Jasper's mast cell tumor. It was inoperable, had metastasized, and was terminal.

I've been reading Ted Kerasote's Merle's Door during the final week of Jasper's life, even though I knew that Merle's story, like Jasper's, would end in sadness. Patricia McConnell is right: the book is exquisitely written. It's a testament to the deep connection and immense joy that soars above pain.

For good or ill, I grieve hard. Juniper's death tore a hole in my heart. Tonight we bury Jasper, and then, once again, stare down that dark and lonely path of life after.

We who love our dogs deeply commence those relationships knowing they will end far too soon in sorrow and loss. A lifetime of loving dogs is a lifetime of heartbreak, repeated over and over. It's a wonder that we willingly, even eagerly, perpetuate the cycle.

And yet we do. We do.

Copyright (C) 2010 James Michael Brennan, All Rights Reserved