Friday, February 24, 2017

Life Lesson: Live Like Jilly.

Jilly starts each morning with kisses. She kisses me. Then she goes over and kisses my husband. After kisses, she flops down on her cushy bed awaiting her daily belly rubs. After belly rubs, it's breakfast time(hers and some of mine), followed by a walk in the park. 

Ignorance is her bliss. 

Two years ago, she didn't feel her usual tail wagging self. After three vet visits and some very expensive tests, they concluded she had 3 months to live. They wanted to do a risky surgery and start her on chemo to give her, perhaps, 6 months. We decided to let her live her life the way she wanted to live it for as long as she could. We didn't tell her she was going to die and she didn't. Yup. She was 9 years old then, she's 11 going on 12 now.

Living the ruff life.

Jilly, my sweetness and light, wakes each morning wagging her tail in delight for another day. She wakes looking forward to breakfast, a walk, treat, nap, more treats, running around the backyard, dinner, pets, Kong playtime(with treats), another nap, belly rubs and bedtime. She barks happily when her people get home. 

We were worried a few months back because our happy-go-lucky lab, Jilly was groaning. A lot. She groaned from her bed in the afternoon. She groaned when we were upstairs with her and when we weren't. She groaned when the baby came over. Fearful, I went into overdrive watching her every movement for any sign of illness or, yes, death approaching. I was afraid to ask her to sit, stay or follow me anywhere, so I left her peacefully alone.

Another life lesson from Jilly: we all need to be needed. 

While I tip toed around, leaving Jilly quietly alone, she groaned louder. And louder. And louder. Until one day, I finally got it. Jilly was trained originally to be a guide dog and that training had a strict daily routine with commands for action. Walk. Sit. Follow me. Down. Stay. And guide dogs are always with their trainers or masters. They are rarely left alone.

I wasn't asking Jilly to do anything, so she felt unneeded. I started treating her like a guide dog and she stopped groaning. She is now happily following me around the house, upstairs and down. She is doing her job, staying near me, throughout the day. 

It was my fear of losing her that made her feel lost. She has no fears. She didn't know a doctor thought she was dying. She doesn't worry about tomorrow.  Jilly only wants to live her life doing all the things that make her happy with the people she loves. Walk in the park. Nap. Eat treats. Play.  

I always thought of myself as Jilly's teacher but now I know better. Jilly is here to teach me some very important life lessons: live each and every moment with no fear. And more treats.

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