Monday, March 09, 2009

A Tribute Party for Two Wonderful Old Critters

warning: today's post might squeeze tears out of your eyes.  

We live each day appreciating any time we've got left with our beloved, creaky old cat.

We have some good neighbour friends who have been living that same kind of borrowed time with their dog.  Jazz was a pound dog who chose her new people very wisely.  She's possibly 15 years old, has raised two human boys to ages 11 and 8, and is one of the best dogs I've ever met.  
On the weekend, we had everybody over to our house for a Jazz and Nigel Tribute Party.  We know we haven't got long with these two.  It's time to throw a party for them now, not after they've passed on.

It was our goodbye to Jazz.  She has been failing for the last week, badly, and it's been just a matter of making the appointment to see the vet for the last time ever.  We knew it.  She'd perk up a little during our visit but soon sink back onto the comforter I put on the floor for her.  

I scooped Nigel off my bed for a last visit with Jazz.  Years ago, Jazz would trot through our house, sniffing all the corners, wagging her tail when she came across the cat.  He in turn, would bristle slightly and give her a rather condescending look.  They didn't ever seem hostile to each other, but they weren't exactly good buddies.  Just sort of tolerated each other when the dog came over with her family.

At this point, they're both so old, they just sort of sat there and acknowledged each other.  

"You too?"
"Uh huh."
"Alright then."

Of course, the Pug had to get in on the attention.  I am a little worried about his state of mind when these two friends are gone.  He might feel lost without Jazz.  She was so important to him when he was a puppy.  She taught him how to behave himself.  She let him run under her belly and between her paws.  As she got older and less agile, she would lie down and bark as he ran around her and jumped over her.  She is the dog who showed Dobby how to walk on a leash, a skill he later passed on to another little young dog.  

And he will not know what to do without Nigel. If the cat leaves the couch, the dog is right there waiting to find out what they're going to do next.  (Same thing they do every night.  Try and take over the world.)

We gave the old guy and the old girl some well deserved treats.  Jazz got a few little chunks of meat hand fed to her.  She didn't even have to get up for it.  Nigel on the other hand, proved how aware he is that the rules have changed in his old age.

We turn our backs for a minute and there he is, IN the chip bowl, licking out the dip bowl.

The wine glass was already empty or I figure he'd have gone for that too.

He washed it down with a nice drink of flower water.  There was something hilariously wrong with this.  Instead of clapping and shouting and reprimanding like I would have years ago... we laughed adoringly and took pictures.  Don't think the cat doesn't know it.  He's working it.  As he should be.

It was a bittersweet celebration.  All 8 of us took turns at dinner describing a great moment with Jazz and Nigel.  We had so many good chuckles and memorable stories.  It felt good to share, but hurt knowing that our time is running out.

As I write this, Nigel is sprawled over my right arm.  I can still hear him purr faintly and when I type he wobbles.  Dobby is curled up, snoring, at my left hip.  Jazz is living her last hour.  I will miss her so much.  I'll be praying for a peaceful end, and for the people who love her to remember how awesome she was.  I know what they'll be going through.  I've been there and I will again, sooner than I'd want to.

It's so hard to lose a pet.  They are family members.  It's a different kind of pain, mourning a critter who dies.  But it's worth it.  If having animals for companionship means outliving them, knowing that their loss will hurt, it's still better than not having a warm furry friend at all.  

Bless you, Jazz.

...and Nigel slowly jumps off the couch and wobbles his way over to his food dish...


jules said...

Bless you Heidi.

hayseed said...

It IS better to enjoy them, even though they are just passing thru-what a sweet idea, and I can't think of a better way to toast all of this, than with some flower water!

Heidi said...

I'm glad you took time to celebrate while they are still alive. there will be mourning enough when they are gone.

And then who will drink that flower water?

marsh to the fore said...

What a wonderful idea--cerebrating our beloved animals while they're still with us. Mostly we put aside--in our own minds--the fact that they won't be there for us one day. The alternative is too painful.

One Red Horse said...

Yep, a few tears. I am still missing my sweetie Max who died on December 28th. Every minute with our shorter-lived 4 legs is treasure.

coffeypot said...

Loosing a pet is as traumatic as loosing a child or parent. I feel for you, Heidi, and wish Nigel a peaceful passing and strength to you and your family.

Heidiwriter said...

This is so sweet. I have a 17-year-old orange Tabby. He's still doing pretty well, but I wonder how much longer... our pets are our children.

Heidi T

Angela said...

I was bawling by the first photo. RIP Jazz.

I dread the day that one of my pets dies. I will be so depressed.

dilling said...

it is the hardest thing ever...

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh, it is so hard.

She is gone. One of the boys came to our house while the parents took her to the vet. Tears all around.

I'm telling you though, what a good long life this dog had. We'll never know what her first year was like, or how old she really was when she ended up at the pound, but she really picked the right family. She was well loved, cared for, and valued.

I think the whole neighbourhood will feel her loss. The last few months, she'd gotten very quiet. No strength to get up and bark at everybody who walked past the house. man that dog could bark! I'll miss that. I always knew when the neighbours came home.

I'm glad I got to be part of her circle of people. It was an honour.

Biddie said...

Aw, poor Jazz. I hope that her boys will be alright in the days to come.
I have SEVEN dogs right now,and not one of them can ever take the place of my beloved Poodle. I just can't imagine mourning the loss of my Dad, my second marriage, my Granny, without her...
Give Nigel a little scratch for me, will ya? He is a fine old gent. Truly.

JKB said...


Darnit, you made me cry. I don't want to think of the boyz ever leaving.

Excellent post, and excellent idea.

Patches said...

Oh...*sniff, sniff*

What a wonderful idea to have a tribute party while they are living.

Of course I had to take a walk down memory lane after I read this yesterday. Took me a while to collect myself again. :) The memories of the pets I grew up with are treasures to me so it was nice to bring them out again and think of all the good times.

Thank you for that! And thank you for sharing Nigel and Jazz with us. What a fabulous life they have lived. I would like to come back as a pet that is loved like that in my next life. :)

pseudosu said...

I have like, NO time, and not enough brain cells to craft an interesting reply, but -- I just heart you hon.