Jilly is my dear, sweet, yellow Labrador. She is my walking buddy, my studio assistant and my home companion. She has been in my life for almost all of hers because, well, she's Jilly.
Jilly was born and bred to be a guide dog. She's beautiful, sweet natured and calm. But when push came to shove in training, Jilly pushed back. She refused to come when called. She had a habit of bolting when not on a leash. And, when she played ball it wasn't an easy game of fetch that she wanted but a hardy game of keep away. These habits don't work with seeing impaired partners, so guide dogs went looking for someone to adopt her.
She became part of our family. But, it was not a smooth, easy relationship at first. Because, as I said, Jilly is Jilly. Sweet and smart and stubborn. What she didn't realize is that I am equally smart and stubborn but maybe not as sweet. Because I wouldn't give up on her.
After almost 10 years together, we know each others every move and mood. So when Jilly started to lag on her usual happy morning walk, I knew immediately something was wrong.
I just didn't think it would be this bad...not for my very good dog.
After lab work, X-rays and an ultrasound, a 2-inch mass was found attached to her spleen. In over 75% of the cases like this, many in Labs who are around 10 years old, it's cancer. A very fast growing and invasive cancer which even after surgery causes death in 1-4 months.
I don't feel I have a right to write about death, somehow. I don't know why. Many people have experienced losses. I've had my share. And I usually suck it up. But this time, I can't seem to do it. Maybe I don't want to keep quiet, suffer silently and hide my pain.
This sucks. It's hard. And I want to change it right now!
But I can't. I can't do anything to make it go away. Even surgery and chemo for her is just more pain and suffering. And I can't do that to her either. Maybe that makes me a coward. I don't know.
Here's what I do know.
I love Jilly. I want her to be as happy and comfortable and cozy and loved as she can be for as long as she can be. If that means more peanut butter cookies and poached eggs and pancakes, so be it. If all she can do is walk around the block, ok. If I have to drive her to the park where she can sit and smell, I'll do it. Hugs, kisses, and belly rubs are hers anytime.
If she wants to follow me into the garage while I throw, like she always has, then fine. If not, like yesterday, I let her rest inside where it's warmer. Right now, I'm upstairs writing and she's downstairs on her bed by her choice. And I'm trying to get used to it, not having her right with me, but it's hard. And I know it's only going to get harder.
And I could suck it up. Keep it in. Let myself separate from her to prepare for her death. But that time is not yet. Not today.
So, I have a new mantra; She's here. Now.
So, I'm going to be here, with her, now in whatever way wags her tail the most. Because she's a very good dog who doesn't deserve this very bad situation.