Monday, January 18, 2010

Goodnight Sweet Jacquelyn...

It is with a heavy heart that I let you know that I said goodbye to my little Jacquelyn on Saturday. She had been pretty sick since last Sunday. After showing some improvement on Friday, she took a turn for the worse Saturday afternoon and we knew it was time to let her good. She passed quietly and peacefully wrapped in her favorite blanket in my arms.

Jacquelyn was a very special little girl. She came into the rescue about 3 years ago and her arthritis was so bad, the director called me with a very basic question - is there anything we can do, or is letting her go peacefully to the bridge the best option?

She could barely walk. If she laid down, she couldn't stand back up on her own. If you touched her, she'd scream in pain. I volunteered to take her to my alternative medicine vet (also a DVM) to see if accupuncture might help. The look in her eyes was so sad and empty, as if she had already given up. I “asked” Jacquelyn to give me two weeks to see if this might help, and if not - we'd let her go so she didn't have to suffer.

Each morning broke my heart as I had to get her up to go outside. She screamed, I cried. We went for treatment every other day for two weeks. By day 11, I still wasn't sure and figured we would probably be saying goodbye since she was still in so much pain. However, the morning of day 12, Jacquelyn "told" me she wanted to keep fighting. I went to go help her up that morning, but before I could get there, she made the attempt to stand up on her own. She still needed help, but it was obvious she was fighting. For the first time, she really "looked" at me and I could see her spirit returning to her eyes.

We endured several more hard months, but she showed slow and steady improvement. It was such a joy to see her personality emerge. One that liked the spotlight very much. As part of her therapy, we started doing some basic freestyle skills – mostly just heeling, a few spins, and a couple weaves to help her build muscle and improve her flexibility. I’m not entirely sure that Jacquelyn ever knew she was doing freestyle, but she enjoyed going to training with us.

A highlight for Jacquelyn was when she was able to actually compete. After a lot of thought, I made the decision to enter Jacquelyn in the handi-dandi class at the upcoming competition we were attending in Austin. I could tell that Jacquelyn LOVED being part of the gang and getting to go on the adventure. Our routine was done to the song “I’m Walkin” – because her victory was truly the fact that she was able to walk into the ring. I’ve never seen her happier. She had a grin on her face and I could tell she was having a great time. My favorite picture of Jacquelyn is of her wearing her 1st place medal. I’m very thankful to all the freestylers that were there to share Jacquelyn’s “victory” with me. I had worried when entering her that some may see how she walks (still with a limp and some obvious challenges) and think “why is she doing that to that poor old dog?” But everyone cheered her along and she seemed to enjoy soaking in all the applause. It was a very special memory for both of us.

She loved having her ears rubbed, and her motto was always seemed to be "It's Jacquelyn's world, you're just living in it." She was just such a happy dog. She knew how to open the cupboards in the kitchen and more times than not I was trying to scurry her out of the pantry. She didn't think twice of walking over her sisters to get her ears rubbed, and loved nothing more than to wander out in the yard in the sunshine making piggy noises. Well, she might have liked being dressed up more than searching the yard – she’d “run” over to get a fancy collar or to have her sweater put on.

She has really taught me so much - patience, endurance, and a love for life. I was blessed with 3 more years with her than we ever thought we'd have... but it still doesn’t seem like enough. She will be truly missed.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy 2010!

Wow - what a year... 2009 was quite busy for us - we were able to go to four different freestyle competitions. We travelled to Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina - and enjoying having the year's freestyle conference right here in OKC. We finished several titles and had a very good time with friends along the way.

We said goodbye to our sweet little Nellie, and are grateful for each day we have with the senior girls.

We travelled back to California to spend the holidays with family. We had a great time. Pixie got to go tracking 3 times and we didn't even have to wear a jacket. One day we got to go play at the agility show n go. Pixie did very well, and Shelby had a good time - although she was a little distracted by all the activity going on. We even got to say HI to an old obedience friend - it was surprising to see that he was no longer showing akita's, but it was good to say HI and catch up.

Jacquelyn LOVES Christmas. She's quite the character. I was a little worried about how she would handle the drive. She is quite old and doesn't move so well - but that didn't stop her from sniffing each present under the tree every morning and going in and out the dog door. Roxie and Kelly sat with my dad whenever I was out doing something. Bonnie settled in quite nicely as well.

We had a great time giving a freestyle workshop at Jump Start Dog Sports in Yorba Linda, CA. This was our "sixth annual" and I am always so honored to be invited back by this group. They are a lot of fun and I enjoy spending the day with friends. Megan even joined me and attended the workshop with Pixie. They do a very nice job together.

So - now we're onto looking at 2010... not too much "planned" at this point. I did just send in my entries for the competition in Pittsburgh in March. I'm hoping I'll be able to finish up three titles - and then maybe we can focus a little bit more on tracking and agility. Pixie is doing very well with tracking, and Shelby really seems to enjoy doing agility - so that might be a nice change of pace.

Hopefully we'll see lots of our friends at events over the year. Best of luck on your way to achieving your own goals this year!