Archive for December, 2008

The F Word
Two members of our pack have a working retrieve. That means they will pick up and carry whatever we ask them to if they are physically able. It makes for great photo ops. Mara fetched a lit string of Christmas lights for our holiday photos. Today I made it look like the dogs were pulling each other around on sleds.
When you have a dog with a working retrieve, you get spoiled. That is if you use it right.
Ky’s favorite task is to help carry in the groceries. Mara will pick up things I drop like pens or bottles of spices I drop in the kitchen, or even bring every one of our packs’ dog dishes to fill at meal time.
Tringa, the “puppy” just turned a year old. We’re finally getting around to starting her working retrieve. She has a pretty decent play retrieve which should help make it easier.
Right now we’re just starting to have her hold a bunch of different things in her mouth in lots of different places at all sorts of different times.
Yesterday I walked by her in the kitchen and decided she should hold a yogurt container lid in her mouth. The rest of the pack was sleeping in different places around the house.
I started saying the F word (fetch) as she was holding the lid. She’d hold it for a little bit and then try to spit it out. I’d not let her do that and ask her to fetch again.
I was paying attention to Tringa and the task at hand, not really focusing on anything else in the house. When Tringa took the lid again, I was letting her hold it for a little bit. I relaxed and looked around.
There was Mara sitting, holding a dog dish in her mouth, looking intently at me for the next step. Ky had miraculously appeared from the bedroom where he’d been sleeping, coming to fetch the lid I had given Tringa.
I got a big smile out of that.
Soon we’ll have three dogs appearing out of nowhere to see what they can help me carry!
F is for FUN!

Tringa practices fetch

Tringa practices fetch

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My husband & I live very close to the crossroads of animal life & death. Because of our jobs, we’ve both participated in animals’ deaths quite often – almost daily for many years.
From 12/06 until 12/07 we lost 6 of our own pack, three of them within 72 days of each other.
Even with all that “practice”, it doesn’t get easier.

Anticipatory Grief is an interesting term.

The Webster New World Dictionary defines the word anticipate as:
1. to look forward to
2. to forestall
3. to take care of, use, etc. in advance
4. to be ahead of in doing.

Anticipatory Grief.

It’s certainly not something to look forward to in the traditional sense and I’m pretty sure I won’t be using all my grief in advance either.

How do I define this term myself?

It is heartache I’m feeling every day in some way since the diagnosis of bone cancer in my demo dog, Ky.

It is the underlying sadness in knowing this is his last Christmas with us, his last New Year’s, his last birthday-if he lives for the next couple months, his last school visit to have kids read to him, his last puppy mentoring class.

His Last.

It’s the bittersweet attempt to cherish and savor every single moment we have left; taking advantage of every photo op, every extra Leolick; every sunrise; every sunset.

It is gratitude. Gratitude for every single moment we have left; for all he has taught me; for all he continues to teach me; for the privilege of having him in my life however brief it may seem.

It is joy. The joy of savoring every single moment we have left; the joy of breathing in every ounce of his spirit deep into my soul; the joy of an incredible partnership.

It is appreciation. Appreciation of each sparkle of every star, of each snowflake, of each smile-provoking event, of life itself.

It’s uncertainty. The uncertainty of what each morning brings, of how soon and with whom to share the news, of what is the best for him, of how to share limited time with the rest of our pack.

It is faith the Universe is just as it should be; faith each of our journeys, his and mine, are just as they should be.

It is knowledge. Knowledge of what his end here will be like; knowledge we left behind will get through it once again.

It’s an all exhausting, energy draining, nauseating, soul-numbing pain in every fiber of my body 24 hours a day.

It is letting go. It is holding on.

It is a belief he will never truly leave me.

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