Nothing Will Ever Be The Same

I don’t know how to go on. I don’t know how to care about anything. First, in December, I lose Courtney. Nothing could ever be the same. I haven’t even been able to post about losing her. My heart did not have a moment to begin to recover, and then this. This.

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Anya went off the road on her way back from some shows and time with one of her dearest friends in Florida. She was headed to my house to drop off a dog. She had only made it to South Carolina. We didn’t understand why she wasn’t messaging us back, as it wasn’t like her.

Then the news came. 2PM on a random Wednesday. I was doing all the dogs’ toenails. I sat down for a break.

“Jenna, Anya’s gone.”

Screaming. Screaming. NO! Scottie running in, confused, “What’s wrong? What happened?” ANYA. NO.

No.

I rode in that truck with her many miles. She called him Trucky. She was so god damn proud of her rig. It was a box truck set up for transporting show dogs safely. Trucky did keep the dogs safe. All seven dogs are fine. One of them is here with me now. I cry every time I look at her.

Just recently we had three days, largely just us. Three days and three nights. How could I know it would be the last? We went to a dog show. We lost in every breed that weekend, every day, with every dog we had with us. That didn’t happen much, but it turned out to be a gift. We left the show pretty early every day and just hung out. We found this tavern. It was perfect. We went there every day. We had some lunches and hang out time with other friends, also amazing, but I got so much time with Anya. I enjoyed the dog banter with other friends, too, and they loved her as well. We are all so lucky we had that weekend.

I most loved driving around with her, listening to music and talking. Every song she ever sent me, I loved. We just appreciated the same kind of tunes. We talked a lot in the truck. Serious talks. Real talk. Hopes, fears, dreams, ideas, plans… we got lost a lot. We had to avoid tunnels and certain overpasses, because Trucky had a big ass.

We found an ancient old stray dog on the way to the tavern on Saturday that weekend. Anya posted him all over the local Facebook pages and we found his owner! He’d gotten out.

I don’t “people” well, and I have crippling social anxiety. Anya understood. Sometimes I’d ditch the dog show for a bit and go sit in Trucky and eat poptarts and share them with all the dogs. She always reassured me. She made me feel safe, and sometimes even bright and capable. That’s not something anyone else has ever been able to do.

Last night I found a crumpled up dog show ribbon in the pocket of the pants I was wearing to a gathering at her favorite bar, in her honor. It has survived being washed and everything. It was from the last day of that show. He had gotten first place, but only by default as he was the only dog in his class. He didn’t go on to win the points that day.

He only needs to win one more time/weekend to finish. Just days before Anya died we put him the next show at the same location.

The other night a pro handler (and friend of hers) reached out and offered to show him for me for there, since our beloved Anya is gone.

I will go, and I will hope he gets his title that day. She would be so fucking proud. I don’t know if I can show anymore after that. She would want me to do whatever made me happy. Right now I feel like that all died with her.

She’s everywhere and in everything I do. Every room of my house has a memory of her. My mind is full of images of her. The music we last jammed in Trucky. The things we talked about. The last words she said to me in real life, before she headed off.

“We’ll do this again next month! I love you, boo”

I love you too 😭

On a rainy funeral day…

A Parable of Immortality
by Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch until at last she hangs
like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says,
” There she goes! ”

Gone where?

Gone from my sight . . . that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of destination.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment
when someone at my side says,
” There she goes! ”
there are other eyes watching her coming . . .
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout . . .

” Here she comes! “

Melon Update at 7 Months

I wanted a Border Collie for two decades, and Melon is a stereotypical Border Collie if ever there was one. He is busy, brilliant, fun loving, and beautiful. He’s one of my favorite dogs. We have made it a habit to train nightly, and his intelligence and quickness to learn amaze me. He’s also a ton of fun to run in my field, where he takes his duty herding my other dogs very seriously.

In just a handful of sessions, he’s learned take and hold, spin, twirl, hug, sit pretty, and a ton of other stuff (and all the basics of course). He enjoys herding, and we hope to go back more.

Here’s some recent photos of the gorgeous, adorable little dude.

A Summer with Quest

I wanted to update on some of the highlights of my amazing summer with Quest.

In the Dog Days of Summer, my happy place was the lake. I’ve never had a finer retriever than this American show line German Shepherd Dog, and the irony of that isn’t lost on me. For hours we can play. I get a tiny thrill watching him air scent items I’ve thrown, diving into the water with glee, swimming hard once he knows which direction to go. He does this activity with the same pure joy and happiness and desire to please that he has when showing, herding, training, or doing anything else I ask of him. I’m going to miss the lake over winter, for sure.

Another thing we enjoyed this summer was attending a car show. Quest was, naturally, the “star” of the show, with his friend Sky (another German Shepherd). He posed in a 3-wheel motor cycle, grinning in sunglasses, while a dozen people took his photo. He did the same in front of any and all vehicles I wanted to take a picture of him with. He never missed a beat. He ignored another dog snarling and lunging at him, strangers reaching for him non stop, and everything else you could imagine at such an event.

Shortly before the car show, we attended another show, where of course Quest gained another point or two, leaving him only three single points shy of his champion title at 17 months old. He also has advanced massively in his training for service work (for me) and therapy work (at nursing homes). He enjoyed some hiking, and he helped raise Dare, Melon, and Tuna. To top it off, he was X rayed and his results came back as OFA good hips and normal elbows! Good dog, Quest.

All in all, it was a summer with many challenges, but lots of happiness and love too, and I owe so much of that joy to my sweet brown dog.

Built Like That

We’re regulars at the nursing home where we do pet therapy now. Staff, patients, and family know us. Case workers know us. The dogs are known by name. Residents save bits of food for them. Family reminds me their loved one is in a certain room, and begs me to please stop and see that resident if I can. I am getting to know the residents myself. I have learned their quirks. I know who wants to love on the dogs, who would rather just watch, and which nurse is actively scared of them. She doesn’t cringe and look alarmed anymore; she knows our dogs will flatten against the wall when asked and not even look at her. She knows we’re respectful.

Today a resident I had not seen before was staring from down the hall. I wasn’t sure if she was curious, disgusted, or desperate to meet the dogs. After some time had passed, and the dogs had finished visiting several others, I walked closer, testing the waters. It was very quickly apparent her look was one of deep desire to meet and pet the dogs. She began petting Quest, admiring him.

“I haven’t seen a shepherd built like THIS in years. It’s so nice to see.” This certainly caught my interest. She continued. “They’re so beautiful!” Dare greeted her too, and she examined both of them, petting and stroking them. She then turned stern. “Young lady, I have something to say to you!”

I felt a bit nervous, but she softened, smiling. “You’re doing a good thing. We need more people to show dogs and breed dogs like this.”

Oh how I would have loved to know more about her life and her history! I had to attend to something else, so I couldn’t ask just then. The next time we walked by the woman, just about an hour later, she smiled widely. “Here’s my chance,” I thought to myself. I couldn’t wait to know what breed she’d owned, and what she’d done with dogs in her life.

But she didn’t remember us. She asked about the dogs, and told us the same things, as if she’d never seen us before. And I let her. I told her their names again. I smiled as she complimented them. She stroked Quest’s beautiful face, and told me she hadn’t seen a dog in months. I let her start new, and I will let her every time I see her.

I don’t even know her name, but I let her know I won’t be giving up this breed or my dreams with them any time soon. Good dog, Quest. Good dog, Dare.

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