Tuesday, August 5, 2008

R.I.P. Juna 1994-2008

It is with a heavy heart that I tell you we had to euthanize Juna tonight. She would've been 15-yrs old in a few months. The photo above reflects her final weekend spending most of her time in her dog bed. It was obvious to EK & me that her time was short; her crippling arthritis had moved beyond the uncomfortable stage, even with increased narcotic pain medication.

This afternoon she could no longer walk at all. Her once powerful rear legs were simply too twisted to support her. She made a few valiant efforts to walk, but kept falling down, sometimes in obviously uncomfortable positions. We knew she was not going to rally from this; there would be no recovery; she had reached the end of her time. Funny, how fast those 15-yrs flew by.

All dogs are special. I know this is true. I wouldn't want to live in a world without dogs. They are much more than companions. That's why we couldn't let Juna suffer any longer. And truthfully, before today, she did not seem to be suffering much, but then she was always a stoical dog. But something gave out for her this afternoon. She could no longer fake it. Her stoicism was gone. It was time.

The afterhours pet clinic people were wonderful. She did not suffer for even a second. We petted her and reassured her all during the short process. I watched her eyes as she lost consciousness. There was no fear, no trouble, just peacefulness. Afterwards, I stayed in the room with her for a few minutes to say goodbye. She will be cremated & her ashes returned to us this week.

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These are some old photos of happier days. The quality is poor, but it doesn't matter since Juna was never a photo- genic dog. You can recognize her by her big ears. Try clicking if you wish to enlarge the blurriness.

Always self-confident, always the top dog, a powerful dog driven by one desire ... to be with her humans. She listened to everything we said and tried her best to anticipate & do what we wanted.

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A few things I'll always remember about Juna:

Before she went deaf, Juna was a singing dog, with a decided preference for The Star Spangled Banner, The Marine Corps Hymn, and the theme for Jeopardy.

She always knew the way. When hiking, she picked out the trail & led us. On the way out, when confronted with a fork in the trail, she would stop & look at us for direction. She never needed guidance on the way back.

When staying in motels while traveling, she would carefully note which room was ours and would lead us back to it everytime, no matter how large the complex, no matter how many stairs or elevators or hallway turns were involved. She knew which room was ours and corrected us if we made a wrong turn.

She loved to chase rabbits, squirrels, horses, skunks (she was skunked twice), birds (crows pissed her off), lizards, pretty much anything that moved. She once chased a cougar into chapparel country. No fear. She could spend hours running up and down hillsides chasing her ball.

She had big soft floppy lips -- part of her Labrador heritage mix. When she drank water, she left more of it on the floor than got in her mouth. She once found a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest & brought it to me in her soft mouth, undamaged.

She spent a lot of time staring down statues of people or animals, always giving them wide berth. We think it was because she recognized their shapes but could not figure out why they did not move. Lawn ornaments of rabbits were a particular fascination.

She could never pass up a grassy hillside without rolling down it on her back. If the grass was tall, she'd try stomach-rolling, resembling an alligator swimming through the everglades. Any grassy patch was an opportunity to roll, but hillsides DEMANDED rolling!

This year, as her arthritis was slowly crippling her, we had to cut short the long walks she had always enjoyed so much. We tried shortening the route from 2-miles, down to 1-mile, but eventually she was only able to barely make it down to a common grassy area at the end of our block. By May, she was unable to even make it that far, but she still wanted to go on our nightly walks, so I would slowly walk her to a vacant lot next door where rabbits like to hide, which gave her a bit of a thrill sniffing them out. By last week, she was unable to even hobble that distance.

Well, I could go on & on. Thanks for sticking with me this far. Tomorrow I will be cleaning and paring the house down to one dog's worth of stuff. I just couldn't bring myself to do it tonight. Yes, the deputy dawg is doing fine; in fact, he is laying here beside me now, having some kind of running dream, maybe remembering how he & Juna used to run together.

R.I.P. Juna --- you were always our best girl, the most observant, most motivated dog, and we will miss you forever!


D.K. Raed said...

A big thunderstorm moved in tonight. I couldn't help but think even the clouds are crying. Odd, what strange things give comfort. Goodnight, Gracie!


Cart said...

I's hard saying goodbye to old friends, but your devotion and timing were no doubt appreciated. The memories and odd contacts live on as well. Take care

Fran said...

Oh jeez, you have me shedding tears for your special girl. All those years shared together just zip by. But you had so many good memories & a happy life together- even till the end when you lovingly saw to her care by relieving her pain. You just know what it is time.
She was probably thinking- thanks for the wonderful life.
She's on a grassy hillside, singing now & pain free.

eProf2 said...

Sorry about your loss, DK. Your post says it all: your "puppy" brought you many years of mutual affection and love. May she rest in peace.

enigma4ever said...

you gave her a home...and a place in your heart...and she will remain there.....she was so loved and cherished....may she visit you in your dreams .....may you still feel her by your side...

we share your tears....many many hugs....


dada said...

Oh damn. I just finished mopping dry the tears when I realized I hadn't yet read the comments here! (Where's the Kleenex box?)

It's obvious from the very moving responses above everyone here loves animals and feels your loss.

Yes, many, many hugs. And a *special hug* to that old Clyde!

A Ball of Light said...

Vaya con Dios Juna!
DK & EK - my heart reaches out to you both in waves of deeply felt condolences... You made a most difficult and compassionate choice that i know was fully considered yet wrenching. May your joys be well remembered and treasured.
Deputy Dawg - hang in there buddy


Fran said...

I meant to say *when* it is time.
You shared your lives, in tune with each other.

Take comfort in knowing she struggles no more.

Blueberry said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Pain is hard to live with, but animals tolerate it with a much better attitude than people do. They keep *smiling* and make the best of it, to the last. ((hugs))

We have an old kitty with arthritis, he is almost 17.

DivaJood said...

DK, I am so sorry for your loss, but what great memories you have. I love Juna's song choices - clearly she had a sense of humor, too. My heart goes out to you, my friend.

an average patriot said...

I am so sorry. I want to say so much but now is not the time. Dogs are like humans to me but often much better. You take your time and hold on to Juna and the memories. You guys take care!

dada said...

"Dogs are like humans to me but often much better."

Amen, Average! (That pretty well sums it up!)

Anon-Paranoid said...


So sorry for your loss. I know how you feel since I just lost Ginger not that long ago.

Even now I sometimes feel she is in the house watching over me at night as I sleep.

Even though this link is about cats the poem is for all animals and I hope this helps you through these hard times.

The Rainbow Bridge

I will keep you and Juna in my prayers tonight.

Take care and ...

God Bless you and Juna.

Mauigirl said...

I'm so very sorry to hear about Juna. This was a lovely tribute to her - it's good to write down the memories of her little ways so you'll always remember. We did that for our dog Alice when we had to let her go. She had cancer at age 11 and like you, we knew when it was time to help her go. The years are way too short. But at least Juna had a wonderful life with you and passed peacefully, surrounded by love.

Thinking of you and sharing your sorrow tonight.

D.K. Raed said...

Thank you all SO much for the understanding and very kind comments. I was close to tears many times while reading them today.

Enigma is always telling me that the blogging world is a caring and loving neighborhood, but I don't think I really believed her until now.

Each of your comments helped tremendously and made the day a little easier, just knowing that there are others who understand the human-pet bond.

I hope you won't think me any less appreciative if I don't respond to any specific comment. Just know the overall effect was very comforting, on a day when comfort was very much needed.

"The Day After" is how I am thinking of today. Tomorrow will be "Two Days After". In a few days, we will have Juna's cremated ashes. That was a strange decision we backed into. We've always buried our deceased pets in our yards. It may sound macabre, but it was actually quite comforting to visit their graves & talk to them. This particular yard is just unsuitable for burial. It is so rocky, I have trouble digging a hole for a 1-gallon plant! That is how we backed into the cremation idea. Her ashes will be in an urn with her name & paw prints stamped on.


Ingrid said...

DK..what a sweet remembrance...and what a great dog she was...our dear son has allergies up the yin yang, one of them including dog dander..he's so sad as he loves to have a dog (and be loved basically).. at his former school, the 'school dog' (with one eye) would come around and be drawn to him and he's be in hog heaven telling me about it.. I'm a dog person too and wished we could have one...I think it would calm the kids down too..


Dave Dubya said...

Dogs are the gift that brings out the best in us.

We are lucky to be blessed with them.

Every walk is getting more special with our almost 14 year old shepherd mix Lucy Jean.

If virtue and unconditional love are the requirements to enter heaven, we'd all be waiting in line behind dogs.