Monday, December 9, 2013

My Endorsement of Jazz: Who Rescued Who?

As published in the February 2014 Hibu Publications

February is fast coming, another busy month for this humble writer. Valentine’s Day and President’s Day are this month, but there are also some lesser known holidays, such as Love Your Pet Day (Feb. 20), Walk the Dog Day (Feb. 22), and of course International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day (Feb. 23).  February also means a lot of birthdays to me, and as much as I adore my husband, sister and niece, there is someone else who has a birthday this month.  My dog Jazz turns 11, a great milestone for this “rags to riches” pup.   
I started nudging at the husband for a dog after my elderly cats passed away. The idea of spending the day working at home without companionship was an uncomfortable proposition for me.  I did months of internet research to first find the perfect breed and then the perfect critter.  After applications, interviews and home inspections,  I made the rainy journey to Philadelphia to pick up my new “kid” just before Christmas 2011, an 8 year old Italian Greyhound from a rescue program.  I was instantly smitten with him.  He was greeted by my family warmly, and my parents and sister welcomed the new addition with sweaters and a “Grandma Blanket” which he snuggles under daily. It was obvious that Jazz was not treated well at all- his skin was dry and scaly, ears and nails filthy, bony, and mostly bald due to years of malnutrition. This was a little guy who, frankly, needed me as much as I needed him.  

There were lots of things that all of us had to get accustomed to: we had never had a family dog before, and Jazz had never had a family.  He had previously never eaten dog food, so this was all very new for his little digestive system.  I had never before had a pet that had so many needs, such as a winter wardrobe and sunscreen to protect his hairless parts during the summer.  Since he has been with us, he is much less timid than before, though we can clearly see his emotional scars.  He is my work partner and travels with me everywhere.  He loves the trips to the bank because he always gets a snack at the drive thru window.  Tenants always welcome him enthusiastically, neighbors say hello, and social media friends see frankly too many pictures.   He’s become an honorary student of my karate class.  A popular guy, like the cute star quarterback in high school, but he’ll always be Mommy’s Baby.  But like I said, he is turning 11 this year.  His hair on his face is turning gray and though he was never really the type to run around the house and play, he has more inclination to nap these days.  As I write this, he is sitting on his favorite chair in the living room, wrapped up under the Grandma Blanket and staring at me with his big eyes, whining for me to come pet him and kiss him on top of his bald wrinkly head.  Its almost time for bed, a soft crate draped with a blanket.  The heating pad inside is on a timer to click on at 8:30 so that it is toasty for him when he climbs in.  

As grateful as I am to have him (and I thank my husband regularly for such a gift), I feel very cheated. I wish he and I had found each other years ago.  He came to me as an old man, frail and uncared for.  He now lives a life of luxury, something that I think he has earned.   As with all things, he will not be around forever, so I will enjoy the time we have.  It will definitely hurt to say goodbye in the end, but I can’t live my life thinking about that.  It’s wasted time, time better spent napping in fresh clean puppy pajamas or taking a W-A-L-K.  We still have plenty of time for city and camping adventures.  Though our time together is short, Jazz and I are both better off for it.  We’re very lucky to have found each other. 
So now you know the story.  
Gotta go.  It's Cuddle Time.