Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Jasmine Haynes: the people who help us through the worst of times...

My husband and I lost our beautiful Norwegian Elkhound Star last month. She was 11 years old, but I thought we’d have at least a few more years with her. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was all very fast, she showed no recognizable symptoms and seemed very much a happy dog until four days before we lost her. It was such a shock, and even now, I can hardly believe she’s gone.

I’m so grateful that she had such a good healthy life, and that her illness was so quick that she did very little suffering. I’m also grateful for all the help our veterinary professionals gave. They were so kind and caring with Star. Dr. Atton and Dr. Keil of the Felton Veterinary Hospital did their best to figure out what was wrong with her, as did their staff to take care of her. When we needed a neurologist, my sister helped me find Dr. Christina Vitale of Veterinary Medical Specialists. She was thorough in her diagnosis and very caring and supportive even though the prognosis was not good. It was not easy losing Star, but without these wonderful people, it would have been so much harder to bare. Dr. Vitale was with us the whole time, and I will be eternally grateful for her kindness to Star in those last few hours. She really helped me believe that my husband and I made the kindest, most humane decision in letting Star go.

We will always have wonderful memories of our 11 years with Star, right from the moment we brought her home. Here’s a photo of her first walk. She didn’t like to walk. In fact, she’d plunk down right in the middle of the road. We finally managed to break her of that habit, thank goodness, and after that we enjoyed our 3 ½ mile walks every morning.

Star was a digger. She couldn’t just lay on the dirt, she had to dig a hole to curl up in. She was as comfortable there in the dirt as she was on our bed.

At six months, Star appeared almost fully grown, with that dark muzzle. She was such a handsome dog. In later years, her muzzle turned gray, and my husband called her Old Gray Beard.

She was a good dog, always warned me about strangers coming up to the house, spent the days out on our deck in the sun as I did my writing out there. And she always had to have her 15 minutes of petting before we all went to sleep. We will miss her so much, but she will always be in our hearts.

Thanks so much for letting me talk about Star. One of my early books, Somebody’s Lover, contained a story that featured a Norwegian Elkhound very much like Star. I’d like to offer that book in a drawing. Leave a comment and tell me all about your furry friends, and I’ll enter you. Please leave me your email address, too, so that I can contact you if you win. I’ll also add you to my newsletter.

Please stop by my Jasmine Blog for more pictures and stories about Star.


ev said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Our furbabies give us so much and ask for so little in return don't they?

We have three dogs and three cats. All rescues of one kind. Our oldest two are both 11 now too. Charlie our Lab mix(he's the one in my avatar) is currently standing on the stairs, looking at me and whining. He's been getting like that lately and it bothers me because I know he's getting older although at times he still acts like a puppy. Esp when we have a fresh snowfall and he can't wait to get out there and comes back in bouncing around.

Isis the old lady, is a doxie mix and was fostered when her owner died. She's a pistol and will probably be around to torment the cats for a long time.

Max, our other doxie, was a puppy mill rescue at 2 1/2 and has been with us for almost 3 years now. It took a long time to train him to be a dog and not a caged animal. Although he will still try and nip sometimes- everyone but me- he had to learn to walk stairs, go potty outside and still doesn't like to be outside alone. He's my own personal bodyguard.

The cats all came to us in various ways- Rascal when we went to pick up the ashes of my daughter's beloved kitty was in a cage looking for a home. She was black like Midnight had been. She came home with us that day. Spike, white with green eyes and fangs, chose my daughter at an adoption clinic. I had told her no cats before we even went in to get petfood. No one told the cat.

And TK (Terror Kitty or BatShitCrazyCat) we found while camping. Someone had dumped her at 6 weeks out into the woods. It had snowed the night before we found her. She weighed all of 1.23lbs. Most of it fleas. She came growling out of the woods at Isis and into our lives.

And so it goes. And will always go.

Jasmine Haynes said...

Thank you so much, Ev. I love your stories. It's so wonderful that you were able to rescue them all. You are right, they give us so much. And we have rescued a little cat in our neighborhood. We've named her CT, stands for Crooked Tail, because she's been in a lot of fights over the years, but has survived. She has truly helped us through this loss. Thank you for sharing.

KarenB said...

I'm so sorry about your loss. My friend lost her sweet dog today after thirteen years and she's devastated. I have a seven year old airedale terrier, she's a monster, but I love her and cannot imagine my life without her. I told my friend to cry it out, our dogs are part of our families and we need to mourn them.

Jasmine Haynes said...

Thank you, Karen. and please tell your friend I understand what she's feeling. She does need to cry it out and admit the loss. And I would say the same about Star as you do about your monster! Star could bark up a storm and I forever had dog hair in my food, but I'd give anything for some barking right now. Thank you for understanding.

Kaelee said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. It is always hard to face the moment when a beloved pet is gone. I have five cats waiting for me across the rainbow bridge and three bringing me joy at home right now. Two of them are getting on in years but the youngest is only four. He's the biggest cat we have ever had live with us but the most timid. He still runs frightened when we carry a plastic bag anywhere. Our theory is that he was put in a plastic bag before he was dumped on my sister's farm where we rescued him from the farm dogs. I can't imagine life without cat hair on my clothes. I love dogs as well but have never had one live with us. Star was a beautiful girl.

Mason Canyon said...

Jasmine, so sorry to hear of your loss. They are not animals, they are our four-legged furry children. I don't mean this in a bad way, but when we lost our dog about 8 years ago, I said then that with the pain we felt from losing him, I couldn't see how a parent could stand losing a child. The pain never goes away but it does get easier (or you just get use to it, I'm not sure which). Keeping you and your husband in my thoughts and prayers.

Thoughts in Progress

Atia Austen said...

Jasmine, I am so sorry about your loss! I don't think I will ever get used to lose an animal. I've had many animals and I cried for every one of them.

One of my very first memories is the day I had to witness the death of a small black dog my mum had rescued some years before. A man ran him over with his car. I'm really grateful that my brain destroyed the pictures of the accident but I remember sitting there on my cousins lap, crying until I wasn't able to cry anymore.
The man who ran him over worked in a bank and I never wanted to be served by him, whenever I was send there by my mother to pick something up.

I grew up on a small sheep farm and met so many wonderful dogs.
When my grandpa had to give up his flock due to his age, he kept his favourite dog who became some kind of nanny to us children. The first time I ever saw my grandfather cry was when this wonderful animal died.

Some years later we got a beautiful Doberman Pinscher. Her former owner gave her away because she was too friendly. And she friendly she was. She loved children and they all loved her. I remember waking up in our holiday home in the middle of the night with her standig next to my bed watching over me. She checkend on every member of our family, slept for some time and started her tour again. We had to let her go after 10 great years. We still miss her.

A year later we got a dog from a dog shelter. She came all the way from Hungary and turend out to be - different. And difficult. She was a great actress, needed hours of petting and lots of food. The year we spent with her was a horrible year for our family. But she was there like a curly teddy bear and tried to make us smile again. I remember one evening, when I had some kind of breakdown after a phone call. She came up next to me, put her paw on my arm and looked up to me with her brown eyes as if she wanted so say: "It's going to be okay."
Her death brought the whole family together when we had to bury the second dog in two years.

Of course we weren't able to live without a dog for long. We got another dog from Hungary. Again with a wild mess of cury hair. Miss Sophie and I share a special bond. I was the one who took her home from the dog shelter. She loves everyone but I think I am her favourite. I visit her every Friday at my mum's house and I'm sure she gets up with a smile every Friday. She even got her own cat after she decided she wanted to have one of our neighbour's kitten. They are a troublesome team but nobody is able to be angry at them because they are too cute.

Some days before Christmas we had to say goodbye to my sister's pet goose. She was a part of our lives for 18 years and I don't want to think about the summer. There will be an empty space in our garden. She announced every visitor. None of our dogs ever dared to take that job.

I'm sorry that this entry is so long! I just love my furry family members and I think KarenB is right. our dogs are part of our families and we need to mourn them. Star was such a beauty. Thank you for sharing her story with us!

Greeting from Germany

Jasmine Haynes said...

Thank you, Kaelee. Star was a beautiful girl. And just as your kitty doesn't like trashbags, Star always hated linoleum. She had her leg broken as a puppy by getting underfoot and stepped on, and I'm sure it was on linoleum. Animals carry these things with them. But I'm so glad your cat had someone to rescue her

Thank you, Mason. They are like our children. Like you, I can't imagine the horror of losing a child, so I feel like I'm overstating when I say how much I miss Star. But there it is, they become huge parts of our lives, especially when we don't have kids, as is the case with my husband and I. Thank you for your thoughts.

Atia, your entry was not too long in any way. This is what I wanted, for everyone to share their love for their friends, be they still around or departed. We love them all, even when they were troublesome. Your sister's goose sounds like Star, always announcing everyone. Funnily enough, she always knew the sound of my husband's car and would start barking for him before I even knew he was home from work. And she did love him so. Whenever he took a nap, there she was on the bed with him. Our animals are our family, as you have all said, and we will miss them all. Thank you.

Crystal Kauffman said...

Jasmine, I love that you're an animal lover. This world and all the needy strays needs more like you.

Jasmine Haynes said...

Thank you, Crystal. We definitely welcome all the strays. Thank goodness CT the cat adopted us, or I don't know what I would have done when we lost Star. I just needed a furry animal to hug. Funnily enough, when we returned home that day, CT seemed to know something was wrong and was exceptionally affectionate. It was good for both my husband and I. But then you know all about loving those furry creatures!

TashNz said...

SO Sorry to hear about your loss Jasmine... dogs are just like people really and they create a huge void when something happens. We lost our German Shephard to the diesese they get in their back legs... He was a very important member of our family. xoxoxo

ev said...

I pity the person who ever buys my parents property someday in the future. Someone it going to have a field day when they start digging up bones- cat, dog, rabbit, guinea pigs and fish. My dad always found a home for them when they were gone- and if it was in the winter, into the basement freezer they went til spring. Now he is with them on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge and someday I will get to play with everyone again!

Linda Henderson said...

Unfortunately I'm not allowed to have pets where I live, but I've had plenty in the past. I love cats and dogs both. When I was young we had a beautiful St.Bernard and he was a wonderful dog. We were all devastated when he died.

seriousreader at live dot com

Mary said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. A few years ago I had a hamster that got a tumor on her stomache and I had to take her to the vet's office and after some tests I was told there was nothing they could do for her. So I had to have her euthanized. That was probably the hardest thing i've ever done but the veterinarian staff helped so much.

All you can do at this point is cry and feel the loss. It gets better each day when you remember all the fun she had with you and you know in your heart that you gave her a very special life and she was happy with you.

I have four male rats right now that are the cutest little things you've ever seen.

Jasmine Haynes said...

Thank you, Tash. Animals truly do become part of the family. I'm sorry about your German Shepherd, but I hope you had many good years with him.

I'm sure there's a heaven where all our loved ones are having a wonderful time, including our beloved pets, Ev.

I'm sorry about your St. Bernard, Linda. I hope someday you live in a place where you can have pets again.

Many people might say "ewwe" to rats, Rose, but when I was younger, a friend of mine had a rat, and really, he was the sweetest thing. Thanks on Star. It was a hard decision to make, but everyone we worked with was so helpful, so kind and caring, from our neurologist to the vets right on down to the receptionist who had to bring me the paperwork to sign. I don't believe there's a more caring profession. I am trying to remember all the special years with Star instead of those last few days.

Thank you, everyone, for all your kind words and empathy. It's really helping.

Michele L. said...

Aww...I am so sorry Jasmine. I know how much it hurts to lose a beloved pet. My mom has had many dogs and when they died it sure hurt. They all have such a special place in your heart.

Jasmine Haynes said...

Thank you, Michele. You are so right, they have such a big place in our hearts. And each time I lose one, I feel like it's worse than the last. but we have a lot of good memories.

Jasmine Haynes said...

Thanks so much, everyone, for your condolences and sympathy. It's really helped to be able to talk about Star.

The winner of Somebody's Lover, which features a story about a Norwegian Elkhound just like Star, is Ev. I'll email you, Ev, to get your snailmail.

Thank you all!

ev said...

Thank you!!!! :)