I want to try to get back in the swing of posting on a more regular basis and I thought I’d start with something kind of light and fun. So, this blog is dedicated to my little 7 pound constant companion known as Pookie. I realize that is not a very masculine or regal name, but somehow it fits him. His proper name is Jasper, but it evolved- don’t ask me how- into Pookie.
It was a big decision for me to take on the responsibility of a dog. I gave it a lot of thought, but in the end, it was my heart that made the decision for me. Had I thought about it logically, I never would have done it. After all, as a single active woman who had more irons in the fire than I ever should have, I really had no business taking on the responsibility of a little creature that would require care and attention. The idea entered my thoughts quietly. I believe it was triggered when my daughter- who lived on the opposite side of the country- told me she was pregnant. Deep down- hidden in a secret place- was the knowingness that I would not be given a lot of time with my grandchild, and this dog would be the salve for my heart when the ache became too much to bear. I told friends that Pookie was the substitute for when I was separated from my grandson, but really, I knew it was more than that. I’m so glad I listened to my heart.
Pookie and I found each other online. I’d been talking to the owner of some Maltese pups and none he offered felt right. He was sending me pictures and, of course, they all looked pretty much the same. Finally, he said, “Well, there is this one little guy, but I’ve gotten kinda attached to him myself, so I’m not sure I want to let him go.” He sent me his picture. That was my dog! Then he told he’d been born on 12/25/05. That sealed it for me! My birthday is 12/25/50. It was a match made in heaven!
I’ve had dogs in the past and I’ve loved each one of them dearly, but none has been as close to me as this dog. He actually feels like a part of my soul family, if not a part of my very soul. He’s been my constant companion since he came into my life back in early 2006. He was there in 2010 when I lost most of my family. He was there the night my attorney called to tell me my bank had just been seized and the deal we’d scrambled to put together to save me from going down with them was now null and void. He was sitting at my feet the first time a Draco came walking into my house- poor little guy- he tried to be brave, but what started out as a growl quickly turned into a whimper as he shook violently with fear. He’s been there through numerous ET visits- most friendly, others not so much. I recall the night a tall white being stopped by to visit with me. He was radiant and oozing love! Seeing Pookie sleeping at the food of my bed, he reached out to him and cradled him against his chest, saying, “Ahhhh, an expression of pure love.” Pookie seemed to disappear into the white glow of this guy’s long white robe. Always Pookie had the final say in who I agreed to enter into a serious relationship with. If you didn’t get the Pookie seal of approval, then that was it. I trusted his instincts more than my own. We’ve traveled the country together and he’s been sneaked into more Hamptons than I care to count. (now we only stay at dog approved hotels)
Perhaps the most meaningful part of our journey together has been our decline in health- we went downhill together, with his ailments mirroring my own. In 2013 I noticed he would be disoriented and stagger out of his closet in the morning like he was hung over, at the very same time I had started to have similar problems in the morning. Our daily 3 mile walks ended abruptly one day when suddenly, I could no longer keep my balance. I was getting dressed when I tipped over pulling on my sweat pants and fell in a heap. I laughed out loud and looked at Pookie, saying something like, “Well that was graceful!” But it wasn’t funny when I could no longer make my legs work. Pookie also lost his ability to walk and needed surgery for his torn ACL. In addition, he was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, Cushing Disease, various infections and a heart murmur. Likewise, I learned that in addition to…or as a result of the poison, I also had Lyme Disease, Adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems and either Parkinson Disease or Parkinsonism.
The day I took him in for the surgery to repair his ACL was horrible. I could barely walk myself and I remember having to park in the lot across the street. I sat there staring at the 50 yard distance to the front door. How was I ever going to make it that far? He’d been so sick, he only weighed a little over six pounds, but it might as well have been a hundred. Later that day, the doctor called to say that the damage to Pookie’s joint was much worse than expected. Given his overall health, she urged me to let him go. My response was not at all typical for me. I burst into tears and was unable to give her an answer. Every pet owner will relate to the agony of having to make this decision. You just don’t know where the line is between your selfish desire to keep them with you as opposed to doing what is in your animal’s best interest. Eventually my heart urged me to keep him here.
It would have been a comedy if it hadn’t been so tragic to see us together. Me holding Pookie’s frail little body up in a sling as he went outside in the snow to do his job 4 or 5 times a day. I was probably at my worst during this period of time and together we’d tumble into the snow as I lost my balance or simply fell over from weakness. It was tempting to just lay there and not get up again.
After one of those bouts I brought him into the house, and I laid him gently on my bed. He was so frail and weak! I stretched out on the bench and got down to his level. I looked him in the eyes and asked him if he’d rather I let him go. Did he want to go now and give up this struggle? If he wanted to go, I’d go with him. I was ready to make that deal. But he surprised me. As clear as anything he told me no. We stay together- we see this through. I started to weep. I really thought he’d say, let’s go for it- let’s go home together. Instead, I told him, “I’ll hang in there if you will.” We made a pact.
He became my guru and my source of strength. As bad as it was for me, it was just as bad for him. Yet he never whined. I surprised myself by being a bit of a whiner. I didn’t adjust well to being sick and I pouted to him about it all the time. He’d listen without judgment but offer no sympathy…only love.
In spite of our deal we had another occurrence that drove home the point for me. It was a major turning point for me. Pookie had yet another appointment with the vet and I was barely able to get both him and me into the car. Driving wasn’t the issue, it was getting to the car- carrying him and then getting his body and mine situated in the vehicle. You have no idea how weak poison will make your body. I got him settled on the passenger seat. He was like a limp rag doll wrapped in a blanket. I walked around to the driver side and pulled myself up into the seat. I was running late, of course, but I took a few seconds to rest and catch my breath. Then I reached up, pushed the remote to open the garage door, started the car and tugged on the seatbelt to get it around me. I put the car in reverse, started to back out and immediately slammed on the brakes. The garage door had not opened. I felt a tingle go down my spine. I had a revelation. I turned to Pookie, who looked up at me with those big black eyes and I said, “This just might be a sign, Pookie! We don’t have to do anything! Do you understand, we can just sit here and fall asleep! I think this is a sign!!” I rolled down my window and kinda stuck my head out and breathed deep. “See, it’s easy….this will work…we can be out of these sick bodies today and we’ll go together.” Then I turned back to Pookie to get his approval. The look on my face must have been priceless! I have no explanation for it, because there can be none! Pookie was sitting up like he was a healthy young pup as he smiled at me (Yes! He was smiling) and his demeanor said, “We go bye-bye now…why aren’t we moving….you know I love to go bye-bye!” I wanted to cry but seeing him like that made me laugh out loud. I was somewhat disappointed, but he was right. We needed to push on.
Slowly Pookie learned to get around- not sure you can call it walking, but he makes his way around well enough. I also have gone from barely walking to a half block, then a full block and now to walking almost two miles—on good days. We continue to have our challenges, but Pookie never gives up! We’ve made three appointments to have him “put down”, but each time we give it one more try. I’m hoping that is behind us. We’ve agreed…well, I agreed…no more talk about giving up. We are committed to seeing this through.