Remembering a Friend

Around 7 years ago my wife took our recyclables to the drop off center here in our development. A little while later the phone rang. It was my wife with a simple question. . . . Would you divorce me if I brought a dog home? I then heard the story of the nice doggy who was lost and how it would just be until we could find it's owner or take it to the pound. As we had three cats at the time, who were all old and set in their ways, I reminded her of the last time we tried to get a dog. Lets just say all hell broke loose in our home! In the end, the cats won.

Being a soft touch for animals, especially dogs, I said it would be alright for a couple of days. We called her Jasmine, which was soon shortened to Jazzy. After a couple of days in our shed, she made it clear she would prefer the house. So, with much trepidation, we brought her in on a leash to see if she ate cats. We soon learned that she not only didn't eat cats, she actually liked them and treated them like they were her pups. Our cats weren't thrilled with this giant, furry interloper, but she was so gentle and friendly they decided to tolerate her. After a few weeks of searching for her owner, we gave up. By this time we were so attached that we decided to keep her.

With my wife at work and my son at school, Jazzy took up her spot next to, behind and sometimes, under my desk while I worked. She usually found the spot that made it most difficult for me to get up, probably to keep me from getting away! She followed me from room to room (yes, the bathroom too!). When I ran errands, she jumped into the front of my truck and laid across the seat with her head in my lap. When I picked Logan up from school in the afternoon, she waited in the truck or came up to the door and waited, making sure she licked every kid face that got close enough. She charmed everyone with her friendly, gentle nature.

Over the next couple of years, our cats died one by one from old age and it became just Jazzy and me. Jazzy was getting older, her face graying with age, but she always seemed happy and content. In early 2009, my wife again asked if we could bring another dog home. This time a 2 year old German Shepherd with no social skills at all. After a couple of weeks, once Niki learned that Jazzy was too old to play rough, they became buddies. Niki is a typical Shepherd, meaning she can be a little nervous. She gets scared easily and Jazzy was her rock, always calm, cool and collected. When Niki got nervous, she laid down next to Jazzy and got her ears cleaned and face licked. Everyone was Jazzy's baby!

Jazzy always had bad hips and then developed large fatty tumors with a strange cancer beneath them. We had the tumors removed, but they came back. She also had early stage renal failure, so I made her special food to help her kidneys function better. She had a difficult time fighting off infections, so she spent a couple weeks at the vet after one of the surgeries. The vet staff fell in love with her. I visited every day, bringing her special food. I felt like Norm going into Cheers, I was a regular. Through it all, Jazzy kept her amazing attitude and made everyone around her feel a bit happier.

Last Saturday, Jazzy could no longer stand up and we had to carry her to the vet. We knew this day was coming, but that didn't make it any easier. We were crying like babies, but Jazzy, unable to stand and in pain, licked my face and looked content. We weren't the only ones crying, so was her vet and the receptionist. This weekend we buried her ashes in the back yard alongside her three feline babies, under the shade of the Cherry Laurel tree. We think she was around 15 years old, which is pretty ancient for a 75 pound Golden Retriever/Black Lab mix. Over the last 7 years, I spent more time with Jazzy than anyone, including my family. My office is a very different place these days, especially as Niki is still moping around, her security blanket gone.

About a month ago, I was diagnosed with "Smoldering " Myeloma, a cancer of the blood plasma. It is a relatively rare cancer that is incurable, although with treatment it can be sent into remission for long periods of time. At present I do not require treatment as the cancer is just "smoldering" in my blood and bone marrow. When it will stop smoldering, no one can say. It could be months, years or decades. It's not likely, but I could die of old age before it stops smoldering. For now I have to come to terms with having a ticking bomb coursing through my veins, with no idea when it will go off. There is no stage 1, 2 or 3 with Multiple Myeloma, when it strikes you go right to stage 4. I have always been a bit of a glass half empty person, luckily my wife is a glass half full type! I don't know what my future holds, I only hope I can deal with it with half the grace that Jazzy showed as she aged.

Timm Smith
October 12, 2010

Picture of Jazzy