Service Animal: Dog, Pet, Friend, Companion. Love & Loss
Good Bye Sweet Jaden….
Service Animal: Dog, Pet, Friend, Companion.
Love & Loss
Good-Bye Sweet Jaden….
Hey Juicers, ‘Grandpa Juice’ here. If you’re a frequent reader, you’ve heard of me, but so far, have not heard from me. You also know that Grandma Juice is disabled, and rocks a wheelchair. And, you also know about her service dog, Harris. If this is all news to you, then you have a lot of reading to do to get caught up. Slacker.
Tonight I’m going to tell you about Jaden, Grandma Juice’s first service animal. Jaden has been living with cancer for a few years, and this morning we had her put down. For those of you who consider your pets as family members, you’ll understand how hard this can be. The rest of you will just think our family is all crazy. We’re okay with that.
In January of 1999, we went to Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) and received the gift of Jaden. I could write a whole post about CCI, but I won’t. Suffice it to say they are awesome. After spending two weeks at their training facility (two weeks to train Grandma Juice, Jaden was already trained!) we brought her home. Jaden provided independence for Grandma Juice. She pulled her chair, opened doors (literally and figuratively), turned on and off light switches, picked up things Grandma Juice dropped, and provided companionship. Jaden was so much more than just a ‘pet’. We were even able to combine commands that Jaden already knew and teach her to pull Grandma Juice’s socks off, and open the refrigerator and bring her bottles of water. And Jaden loved it. She lived for it. She always knew she was special. When we would put her pulling harness on, she was all business. She had purpose, a job to do, and she understood its importance. Service Animals live and breathe one thing, to care for their person. Jaden had this in every fiber of her being. Where there was Grandma Juice, there was Jaden. The ever loyal service animal. But she was more than ‘just‘ a service animal. She completed Grandma, and Grandma completed Jaden.
If you have ever owned a dog, service animal or not, and paid any attention at all to it, you know they have personalities. Jaden was always the cool, calm, collected one. She was ‘chill’… Unless you had a squeaky toy, then all bets were off! Squeaky toys (okay, and birds too!) aside, she was sure and steady, like when she would pull the wheelchair. A service animal is bred to be calm. Jaden was calm, confident and careful with Grandma Juice. Amazingly beautiful to watch. And she was always at Grandma Juice’s side. Always. Even when she retired and Harris (new service animal) moved in, Jaden was still there, ready and willing to help her as needed. I can’t think of a more intimate relationship between a human and an animal. They were a team, formed out of necessity, bonded by love.
Three years ago, when we noticed the tumors growing in Jaden, the veterinarian estimated Jaden had six months left at most. A service animal gets the best vet care possible, but Jaden was already 13 years old, and surgery was not an option. “Take her home and enjoy your time with her” was the diagnosis. And so we did. A service animal can not (or shouldn’t be) allowed to eat ‘people’ food. After all, if you feed them table scraps at home, you can’t expect them to leave food alone when you go into a restaurant. And it’s considered very bad manners for a service animal to eat food off the floor at a restaurant. So we did what we should… we spoiled the hell out of Jaden. We gave her table scraps. Which, she refused at first. After all, she was special. She wore her service animal badge very proudly. But finally, she made up for all the years she wasn’t allowed to eat our scrumptious food! We also spoiled her with squeaky toys (but still didn’t let her chase birds). But the tumors in her side and chest continued to grow. We had to base our course of action on her quality of life. As long as she didn’t appear to be in pain, continued to be ambulatory, kept her love of food, and showed no signs of personality changes, we would give her time. And, time was definatly on her side! Six months turned into three additional years with the awesome Jaden! Service animal or pet, you know this is a miracle!
Two weeks ago, she started to show difficulty walking. By now, the tumor in her upper chest was almost the size of a football. The others, more like softballs. It was interfering with her ability to walk. She still loved food and squeaky toys, was still the loyal, devoted service animal and also the loving friend she always was, but getting up off the floor started to become a chore. Over the last several days, she would lie in one place all day, and we had to coax her to get up and go to the bathroom. And yet, at night on her own, she would struggle to get up and follow Grandma Juice into the bedroom to sleep by her bed, as she always has. It was time.
I contacted Dr Pierce of Waggin’ Wheels (she doesn’t have a web site 702-808-7387). She makes house calls. She came out this morning and explained her process. She gives your loved ones an anesthetic before the lethal injection. This simply puts them to sleep, and ensures the process is painless and non-traumatic. I made a bowl of stew for Jaden, and we let her eat as the anesthetic took effect. She probably would have been just as happy chewing on a squeaky toy. A small token perhaps, but it was a comfort to us that her final waking moments were spent joyously eating people food.
Once the process was complete, Brian Proudfoot from Precious Pets Animal Service came in to collect Jaden. They will cremate her, and return her ashes to us in an urn. We would like to thank Dr. Pierce and Brian for their professionalism and compassion. It helped, and we appreciate it.
Goodbye sweet Jaden. Thank you for your service, companionship, and love. You will be missed.
Grandma Juice says… This was an incredibly difficult post to write. I simply could not. Grandpa over here cried throughout the whole thing. I love him for that. Harris is wandering around, looking for his girl. Service animal instinct or dog intuition, I’m not sure, but he knows. If you’d like more information about the wonderful things Canine Companions do for people in need of service animals, please check them out. They are non-profit and run solely on donations. As they say, HELP is a four-legged word. And needs your support to continue. Donate $1… donate $100… Just donate.