Farewell to a Friend

This past weekend, I was reminded of the true meaning of unconditional love, a lesson that will stay with me forever and that will hopefully make me a better person and by extension, a better writer. As a rule, I have tried not to discuss my family too much (if you know me personally, you will know there is little I enjoy talking about more than my family) and have tried to keep the focus of my blog postings on writing. But, with your permission, I would like to share with you what losing our sixteen-year-old black Labrador Retriever has meant to me and to my family.

Jazz wasn’t supposed to be our dog, but in the split second it took for her to tear past me sixteen years ago, my heart knew she was indeed, my dog. As it turns out, an acquaintance of my husband had an eight month old puppy that wasn’t getting the attention she deserved and this woman cared enough for her, to want to find a family who could give her what she needed. My husband thought of his brother who already had one Lab and it was at his brother’s house I first met my dear friend. Unfortunately, the idea of a female partner drove the first dog crazy, which drove my brother-in-law’s family crazy, the end result being, Jazz came to live with us.

Jazz was a perfect match for our family and before long she adopted my husband as her favourite person in the universe.

But alas, for the past year we have watched as Jazz’s body began to show her age and ultimately betrayed her. Over this past weekend, my husband had to carry her down the stairs. Knowing he had a day of gardening in front of him and knowing Jazz wasn’t about to let him do so without her, we placed her bed next to the planter. She never lay down. Refusing to leave his side despite her obvious pain, she dragged herself back-and-forth from the shed to the garden, matching each of his movements with lumbering strides and occasional stops to catch her breath. It was obvious her body had finally decided enough was enough. Yesterday morning, we made an appointment for her and again carried her outside to sit in the gazebo one last time while we had our morning coffee. For the last few days, I have thought about Sasha Trudeau’s black Lab that sat at the lake’s edge where Sasha’s body had been swept by an avalanche slide, also refusing to leave his friend’s side. I cried when I read that story knowing full well Jazz would have done the same.

The joy of having Jazz in our lives and now the sorrow I feel with her passing, will make me a better writer.

I’ve talked about it before, but in order for a writer, regardless of their genre, to write relatable stories, they must be willing to dig deep. Having just gone through the painful experience of watching Jazz struggle to remain the best dog for us, and then to watch her close her eyes and hear the vet whisper, “She’s gone,” has added another layer to me and hopefully to my future writing. Whenever I am called on to write about loyalty, sacrifice, dignity, unconditional love, or letting go, I will be able to look back at Jazz’s life and know I’ve seen each before.

She was a dear friend and we will miss her.

12 Comments

Filed under Writer's blog, Writer's journey, writing,

12 responses to “Farewell to a Friend

  1. I am so sorry, Sharon. I’ve gone through this and know how deep the sorrow can be. A dog is truly a friend in every sense of the word.

  2. sharonledwith

    I’m sorry for your loss – pets, especially dogs – become a part of your soul the moment you bring them home. Peace.

  3. Sherry Hinman

    What a beautiful tribute, Sharon. It’s hard to believe how tightly animals can wrap themselves around our hearts. I’m sure you and your family were the best friends she could have ever had, too. Thinking of you.

  4. You brought tears to my eyes Sharon. I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing a dog can be one of the purest forms of uncomplicated grief. Lots of hugs.

  5. Sharon. Thank you for this tender tribute to Jazz. You were part of his pack just as surely as he was part of your family. We who have travelled that road have some sense of how you are all feeling. And we know he’s not leaving your hearts. Good dog. Stay.

  6. Very well said. Thanks so much for a touching story.

  7. Thank you everyone for your comments. Jazz was indeed a loved member of our family and as I’ve said will be dearly missed. I appreciate so many people have gone through losing a pet, and my intention in sharing Jazz’s story is to remind fellow grieving pet owners how blessed you are to have experienced what we did with our old hound – unconditional love.

  8. 😦
    I have two chihuahuas who are my precious babies. This is the kind of story that makes both happy and sad. Every pet owner should value their furry babies that way. But, it’s a horrible loss when it happens. I’m hoping my puppies will each live until their mid-thirties, set a record. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  9. Wista Jeanne Johnson

    For non-animal lovers, it is difficult to explain what we learn from our animals. Just like Jazz, my older cat seems so loyal; he climbs onto my lap everytime I sit down. I often wonder what this means to him. I know my cats won’t live forever, but their presence in my life makes me humbler and happier. I try not to think about the day one of them will pass away.

    • My guess is the lying in our laps is their way of saying we belong to them. Although we lost Jazz, the good news is we still have four cats living with us. They seem also to be missing their honourary member of the pride. There doesn’t seem to be any sense in wasting precious time with our pets worrying about when they will no longer with us. Simply enjoy them while they are here with us physically and know even when they are gone they will live forever in our hearts.

  10. Karen

    I just lost my Yuri yesterday. My son found her at approx. 12Pm laying on her pillow, looking like she merely fell asleep. I can relate to your story because like Jazz, Yuri was always there with unconditional love. She was so patient and kind. Before the operation on my nose, I had sleep apnea and sometimes would stop breathing. Yuri would nudge me until I woke up. She would stand watching me to make sure I was all right and then walk away. Once I got the operation she would still sit near to make sure I was all right until it healed. I went for a walk this morning and it just wasn’t the same without her by my side. It was so lonely.

    • Karen, I am so sorry for your loss. I feel those of us who are open to the love animals have to offer are truly blessed. Whether it be a dog, cat or bird, pets are a gift and we do grieve their loss in the way we would any family member.

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