Justin, caught on film by Gary Henwood-Fox of Henwood-Fox Photography at Salt Rock.
I have been - internally - debating on how I'd go about typing this post about our little Justin, every day, since his passing; it's not something that I could get away from - he really meant - and still does mean so much to both Chris and myself and I'd be doing him an injustice by not saying goodbye to him in words and photos.
Grief is a funny, little creature in that way; we've been taught that it's a private matter and socially not acceptable to allow our vulnerability to show in times of extreme sadness and loss but at the same time, we are encouraged to open up and share - thus bringing us closer to those who perhaps find themselves in a similar situation. It can be confusing at times but for me to move on, I need to do this; not to necessarily close the chapter that was his life with us but to bookmark it and have something to look back on with love and fond, bittersweet memories. So here goes...
I knew of Justin well before he came to be ours - by 18 months or so - when our first dog, Max, was a puppy Chris would accidentally call him Justin from time-to-time; on enquiring who this 'Justin' was, Chris explained that years previously - when he had lived in Johannesburg - he and an ex from that time had had a Jack Russell cross Whippet who he had been very fond of but sadly had to let him stay in Johannesburg when he moved back to Durban. After Max, we soon added Cleo and Jessie to the pack and before we knew it almost two years had passed; then out the blue, Chris found out that Justin was being put up for adoption and was in need of a loving home. I'll be honest - at the time - the thought of having four dogs, one of which came with some personal history was unnerving, slightly, but as with everything we do as a couple, we do it together. So caution to wind, Justin became ours!
He was 10 years, going on 11 when he arrived at ours - and like a cat that immediately goes to sit on the lap of a person who doesn't particularly like cats, Justin latched onto me. Did it have something to do with me being home more so than most people? Perhaps this created a sense of security for him and - finally - allowed him to relax and not worry about being left alone for hours at a time. I don't know. As much as he loved us both, Chris will even admit that he was my dog, in the weeks that have followed since putting him down, I'd get terribly teary, which has been compounded with guilt by the knowledge that Chris is grieving too and me being all apologetic about that, as if I'm the only one who has lost a much loved member of our family. Chris - being the good man that he is - has firmly said to me that I was Justin's 'Alpha' and truth be told, I had never really thought about it like that and yes, looking back, I was his world. He arrived at our's with me not being really too sure I wanted him around but by the time he left, he left with me not wanting him to go, with me wanting him to stay with us just that bit longer. I wasn't ready to say goodbye; am I ready to say goodbye?
There have been so many sweet words of condolences from our friends and some family members, from those whom had the chance to meet and get to know him and others from those further afield whom only knew him through photos and us talking about him. Things like, 'they become part of the family', 'he's in a better place and not in pain', etc. were said, which is undeniably true and pre this life changing moment happening to us, I would've most likely have said the exact same things to someone in our situation; until it dawned on me that for those us who will never have children (well, we never know....) that our pet's do become our children. They have need's that must be met, whether it be protection and being kept safe and warm; ensuring they're health and wellness are looked after and that they're made to feel secure emotionally and part of the pack., made to feel wanted. Yes, I know one doesn't have to worry about things like school fees and such but it takes time and active participation to know when they aren't feeling well, because it's not like they can say, 'Dad, I have a sore tummy, I may need to go see the Vet'. If that makes sense? One has to be in tune with these little individuals that communicate on a whole other level. It breaks my heart when I hear of people who only see their pet's as possessions and not as the individuals that they are, with their own personalities and emotional needs.
I try to be as open and honest about things like my suffering from terrible bouts of insomnia and one of the things I'll miss most is having Juzzie joining me in the kitchen - in those early hours of the morning - as I sit at the kitchen counter, checking emails, typing a blog, working on photos, essentially enjoying those sweet few hours before the sun starts to rise - wherever I was in the house, he wasn't far behind. I often refer to him as my gatekeeper and that he was - those quiet times - whilst the rest of the house was sound asleep was his time to keep me company, watching patiently over me. Every morning would invariably start with him pawing my side of the bed, kindly asking in his own sweet way for a sneaky cuddle under the duvet; then as I'd be making a cup of early morning coffee in the kitchen, I knew he was on his way to find me with the pitter-patter of his paws as he made his way down the passage. It made for some sweet photos too. He never needed any encouragement, he was always ready for a love and some affection. He deserved it so much in my - obviously biased - opinion.
Oh my Juzzie, such precious moments caught on film, during the early hours of one morning.
It took me a quite a few days to go through the archives of our photos - there are literally 1000's of our hounds, some out of focus, some not perfect but each one taken a snapshot of a particular period in time - which was for me simultaneously sad, cathartic, bittersweet and, at times, even funny looking for photos to share, I found these two that made me smile - typical Juzzie.
Over the course of the last four and a bit years - since Juzzie's arrival - I, at times, thought that Max, Cleo and Jessie have had a good start to life in the sense that from the day of their respective arrivals, they had myself and Chris to build a solid foundation on - their needs were met from day one. When they need some love, they actively seek it out but for the most part they are content and in a way independent - like, 'We know you're there for us but we're not going to follow you around'. I became used to that way of life in our family, then Juzzie arrived. We don't know that much of Juzzie's life pre us but we've come to understand that for a period of time, whilst his previous owner was away overseas, he spent a few months in temporary accommodation, coupled with the fact that he was rescued from the SPCA as a puppy - this may have contributed to his anxiousness, as if he was waiting to be left again - with us, he had finally found a home that would love and accept him for who he was and have guardian's that would not leave him for extended periods of time and if I am to take one thing away from his last four years with us, is that he lived the remainder of his golden years being adored and having someone to focus all his attention on - in our case, it was me. I - at first - wasn't too sure how to deal with this but he forced me to climb out of myself and give him all the love he so rightly deserved and in return, he gave me his all. I often say to Chris that I wasn't a terribly emotional person - sensitive, yes but emotional, no - that statement is not true today.
As I was going through our photos, another thing I realised that I'll miss dearly - yet cherish all at the same time - were all the cuddle and snuggle time's that were had - truth be told all our hounds, except for Ruby (she's a Labrador and too big for couches!) love cuddling - he liked nothing more than being wrapped up under a blanket, next to me., whether it was early in the morning, late in the afternoon or in the evening - I think that's why the week's that have followed since his passing have been particularly hard for me, I had unknowingly become just as used to having him around as he had become used to having me there for him. No more pawing my side of the bed in the early hours, no Juzzie being caught having a sneaky nap on - always - my side of the bed, no more turning around and finding him there just looking at me or casually lying in such a way that I was within eyeshot of him. No more him. Period. Whilst we're on the topic of napping, Juzzie enjoyed nothing more than a good nap - towards the end, he did that more and more - especially on the couch or bed - whether we were there or not - cue to either myself or Chris shoo'ing him off - sometimes a photo or two was taken beforehand and sometimes he was allowed to just chill. There were so many to choose from that it was quite hard picking just a small handful!
I don't know if we struck it lucky with our hounds or if it's the way we raised them from puppyhood but there was no animosity nor pangs of jealousy on his arrival; in fact, it was just the opposite - it's like he had finally arrived home - if he wasn't at my side, whether I'd be in the kitchen cooking, giving the house a clean or reading, he would most likely be found chilling with the other hounds, if they were lucky, he'd spend some time giving each one a good clean by licking their faces and their ears - sounds gross, I know but the love they all shared was tangible and my original concerns regarding how he'd fit into the pack, that I had prior to his arrival, dissipated on seeing those sweet moments between each one of them. The girl's seem to be adjusting just fine without him, our dearest Max has been battling a bit. We've chatted to our Vet and he has assured us that this adjustment period will be tough for him as the dynamic of the pack has changed and he's just not too sure of his place and where he fits in. So we've had to be patient and understanding of this, again, it just goes to show that animals are so more than what we think they are - that they indeed do have feelings and emotions and need just as much care as any child would need.
The Johannesburg weather made it necessary for all to wear jerseys - patiently awaiting a treat from Chris.
Whenever he wanted a cuddle, he would not-so-subletly let me know his intentions - he'd sit patiently waiting for me to notice him, then when I did, the game was on - there was no way that I could ever say no!
The camera loved him. Chris loved him. I loved him.
I'm so glad that Chris convinced me that we needed to adopt him, apart from being 10 years old at the time that he arrived at our's - not many people would take that responsibility on, be it the emotional or the financial implications that an older animal comes with in regards to medical and Vet costs, etc. - I knew Chris loved him from way back; looking back now, I don't think I could've lived with myself knowing that I had denied them both the reunion they so rightly deserved - even though Juzzie latched onto me more so than Chris, but Chris didn't mind - I think he's grateful for that, that I was there for him these last few years.
Chris and Juzzie - our first Christmas in Johannesburg 2013.
I had started the grieving process for Justin well before he actually died, which in itself was an odd experience - usually one has the privilege to grieve the person or animal they have lost post their death but that wasn't the case with Juzzie.
After watching from the front row, so to speak, his health get progressively worse over his last few months with us, we knew we had two options - and knowing he had been on the strongest dose of pain meds possible - on one hand, we could've kept him over-medicated and watched what made him the special little soul that he was slowly and painfully wither away, or we could've been the best guardian's possible and make the hardest decision we've ever had to make together and let him go. We chose the latter. We chose the best for him and how we wanted to remember his presence over our own seemingly selfish want of wanting to keep him around - if I could've, I would've kept him for forever. I really would have...
But I digress.
We're taught that there are five stages when it comes to grieving, if I can recall them correctly; denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance - I may have the order muddled, but oh well. I couldn't deny that Juzzie was ill and our Vet had confirmed that there was nothing that could be done, apart from keeping the pain at bay with pain killers - which worked for the first few months. We decided that we weren't going to renew his pain meds script - that once finished, we would say our goodbye to him - that's when the bargaining with Chris started. Every day, and I do sincerely mean every day, I'd say to Chris, 'Are we doing the right thing? Could we not prolong his life with us?' That's when I realised how terribly selfish that would be, the last thing he needed was to be in constant pain - so that stage too did pass. Anger, I don't think I have been angry; though, as much as this kills me to admit - closer to his last days with us, I found myself getting terribly annoyed with him. I suppose - in retrospect - it was my way of distancing myself from what was to happen, that when I should've been showering him with even more love, I was internalising this annoyance towards him. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of cuddles, snuggles and our usual routine, but as always, my coping mechanism is to keep things at arm's length. As I type this do I only now realise that perhaps I was angry, not angry with him - that I could never be - but angry in the sense that there was nothing we could do to protect him. To save him. The last month has seen me being very quiet blog-wise, I haven't wanted to share, or speak of anything really - but as always, I needed to do this and by that I mean putting my thoughts down in words and hopefully by doing so this fog will lift. So yes, I may be slightly depressed, or should I say deflated? I am going with deflated. I have every right to be, don't I?
One Sunday morning, in Salt Rock, the three of us joined an awesome photographer for a special photo shoot and Juzzie was the star and shine he did - thought I'd share a few photo's from that sweet day on the beach and in the park with all of you reading this post. What a fabulous, bittersweet but most of all loving way to remember our dearest Justin - for a dog that was in terrible pain, one would never think that from the photos below.
The day before we said our very tearful goodbye - Chris had to go to Ladysmith on business and he took Juzzie along for the drive, so that they could spend some time together - just the two of them. On The Day, I took Juzzie for one last walk, our last walk together, just us two. I had imagined talking to him and asking what it felt to have lived a long, happy life but alas, we just walked in silence. We had gone for 100's of walks together but that one was tough for sure, me trying to stop the tears as we walked the streets of our suburb, with Juzzie stoically by my side - as he had always been, as one of my walking companions. It was as if he knew what was coming - though he didn't really know what was to come, but still... He was such a pleasure to walk with, I am glad that I had the chance to be his handler in that regard for the last four years. I have yet to go for another walk, with and without the hounds - Chris has been bravely doing it on his own, it's too fresh. Perhaps I should?
Chris had offered to take Justin to the Vet on his own, I told him that I was going to be there and that was non-negotiable. I had to be there, I needed to be there. I needed to be the last face and voice he heard - forget what one saw in Marley & Me - there was no prolonged period to say goodbye, it was all over within a short moment. Years of dedication, love and responsibility gone in the blink of an eye. Do I have any regrets in co-adopting an older dog that needed a home? Not for a second. Do I wish that we had had just a bit more time with him. Always. Will I feel better about all of this in time? Yes, this I know. Will I still love the rest of our hounds unashamedly? Definitely, I wouldn't have it any other way.
I shall never forget you, Justin. You're always in my heart - now and forever.
Until next time,
We tearfully said goodbye to Juzzie today...
Justin - caught on camera this past Sunday - by Gary, of Gary Henwood-Fox Photography.
Chris and I officially became members of the Durban & Coast SPCA in July and with that attended our first AGM - it's my intention to start doing more volunteer work within the organisation. There were also many a warm Winter's afternoon spent relaxing in the Durban Botanical Garden, having a good laugh with friends and sneakily sipping on the odd glass of Prosecco!
July brought with it evening's that were chilly, hence the visit to our local gas refill shop.
A sunny afternoon sky as seen from the patio of Blue Zoo Restaurant at Mitchell Park.
A light lunch was had with two sweet friends.
I'm not often in front of the camera but when I am, it's usually Chris sneakily taking photo's whilst I'm busy chatting away and not looking - he always seems to take such candid shots - until I notice what he's doing, then the quality of the photos seem to take a dive, as can be seen below!
If I had to choose a single place that makes Durban, Durban for me it has to be it's botanical garden - it costs nothing to enter and I don't think I've ever walked through the front gates and not seen people from all walks of life chilling and taking in the abundant views of the different flora and bird species from the comfort of a blanket spread out on one of the manicured lawns. Over the weekends there are usually a few different bridal parties having their photos taken in and amongst families, friends and couples enjoying the freedom that this green lung offers. Coupled with the fact that the garden has been impeccably maintained and with the added comfort of knowing that there are friendly guards patrolling - you know you're safe and that counts too. Every few weeks, the venue hosts a Music by the Lake concert - our tickets are already booked and paid for the upcoming Mi Casa concert - can't wait!
Chinese from our local Maan Hing Restaurant for supper!
The sky obviously drew my attention in July, as I took various photos whilst out and about. These two photos were taken on a Friday afternoon, spending some time with a friend before her return to Dubai; the afternoon was spent listening to her reading out loud from one of the 50 Shades of Grey volumes, the both of us critiquing where necessary and people watching. We saw a good few people - walking in groups of two - eyes glued to their phones, gathering Pokemon tokens (is that correct, are they tokens?). Definitely not how I'd like to spend my time but each to their own.
Aunty Helen and I took a couple of red roses and placed them by Uncle Lenn's side. We sat on the grass adjacent
and chatted about him for a short while; nothing morbid, just a few sweet words of love and adoration. A friend of ours lost her husband to cancer during July and Chris graciously accepted her request to be a pallbearer at his funeral. I can't remember the words verbatim that the minster said during his sermon but he something along the lines that a broken heart is our price to pay for loving someone and we should wear it proudly and to accept that the pining will never totally disappear and we should learn to live with it; that, that grief is our way of knowing we truly loved someone. Those words stuck with me.
We attended the Durban Pride 2016 after party - pity it was a wet and cold evening but luckily we were in good company - safe to say, laughs and a good time was had by all. I have to admit that I wouldn't ordinarily attend a party like this but I felt compelled to show my support, especially in the wake of all those party-goers who were tragically gunned down the month before at a gay club in Orlando. Personally, for me, it was my small way of saying that I am not afraid to go out, that homophobia should not exist in this day and age. According to Chelsea Handler, 1 out of 50 people are born Gay yet the LGBTQ community still has to contend with blatant discrimination and all for what? Being who you are? It makes no sense to me. The sad thing is that half the atrocities committed against the community are done by people who haven't been able to accept that they are gay, which all comes down to acceptance and love (or lack thereof) from their close circle of family and friends.
At the carwash!
It goes without saying that if one leaves Justin in a room on his own, he'll make his way from the hound's bed to not only on the couch but under a couch blanky too!
So that's July all summed up in a few photos - now for August!
Until next time,
Spring is knocking at our front door and with that, I thought it's time to come out of my Winter hibernation and return to the online world! I was thinking what would be the best way for everyone to catch up on what I (and to a certain extent Chris) have been getting up to these past few months. Why not share a few snapshots?!
On the topic of dogs, our old man, Juzzie, gave us a bit of a health scare that lasted from June through July.
We noticed that Justin was battling to eat his food - he's never battled to eat his food! We took him to our Vet who first advised us that he may have an infection of the gums, so round one was a course of antibiotics - which seemed to help at first but once the course was finished, the problem persisted. So back to the Vet we went, this time we were advised that he'd need to be booked in for a teeth cleaning session (which involved a general anaesthetic) - at this stage we were trying to eliminate any potential causes. So an overnight stay at the Vet and another course of meds ensued. He was okay for a few days before the symptoms returned.; by this stage, I was starting to worry as Justin has always been a healthy and happy dog - back to the Vet we went. After a thorough examination, he was finally diagnosed with a degenerative nerve disorder, which essentially means that where certain nerve endings connect with the next set of nerves, the connections are breaking down which in turn starts causing pain - in his case, it's in his jaw - thus preventing him from drinking and eating with content. If he was 10 years younger, we could have biopsied to find out what's causing it but because he's pushing 14 years old, our Vet recommended that there's not much we can do other than to keep him as comfortable as possible - which we are now doing with a daily dose of anti-inflammatory meds. He will be on the meds for the rest of his life.
Mia turned a whole 2 years old this month and Chris and I gave her (well, her dad Andre) a padded toilet trainer seat and a step up to help him when it comes to potty training her. Yes, it wasn't the most exciting gift to give but practical nonetheless!
When we moved into our house, some globes needed to be replaced. We were at PnP Hyper and found these globes that would stay on should there be an electricity cut. At just over R100 a globe we cringed but bought three for the kitchen area. As luck would have it, January through May we didn't have any power outages but low and behold, one evening in June the lights went out and boom!, our fancy globes kicked in and we had light in the kitchen. Mental note to self: buy some more for the rest of the house. Well worth the investment.
Aunty Helen and I took Candy for her annual check-up at the Vet. She can be seen chilling on our doggy seat cover on the back seat of Chris' Ford Ranger.
During the month I made two Polenta dishes - having never made anything with Polenta, I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was - hence the reason I made two variations during the course of the month! It was also the perfect excuse to use the Le Creuset ovenproof dish that Donovan gave as a wedding present to us.
I have no idea what 'PHENYLALANINE' is but Sprite Zero obviously felt it needed a little asterix - I'm too afraid to google what it is...
Saturday afternoon at the Durban Botanical Garden with friends!
There is always time for a cappuccino!
June also marks the beginning of us moving away from eating any red meat and pork - so it's seafood, chicken, ostrich and vegetarian meals from here on out. Sadly, no more perfectly grilled rib-eye steaks!
Another Nutbrown product to add to my vintage kitchenware collection.
So that's June all summed up in a few photos - now for July!
Until next time,
After spending 2 nights in the kennels whilst the tree fellers were sorting the trees out, Juzzie spending some quality time with me - in the last few months we have both noticed that he has suddenly become an old little man
I know it’s been almost 10 weeks since I last posted a blog or have done a general update on my site but for the first 5 weeks or so that was totally out of my control - as we waited for Telkom to set up our telephone line and ADSL. The next 5 weeks was totally my fault because as soon as they had connected us - I ripped out the line… but wait, before you shout at me and ask why did I do that - let me explain myself.
The lady whom we bought the house from (and her late husband) had, in all their wisdom, decided that almost every room - including the garage downstairs and our outbuilding at the top of the property needed to have a telephone connection. Don’t ask me why, perhaps it was because her husband was suffering from Alzheimer’s and they felt the need to have a phone in every room - in case he forgot where he was? Not sure that would have helped though but still…
So in my haste to clear the excess cords - and going against Chris’ wish to let him help me (I thought, I can do this…) well I was wrong - by the time I had cut all the cords, boom - no telephone connection, so some more money and another Telkom call out and another few weeks later and tah-dah, we’re up and running. Moral of the story? If you have someone like Chris in your life, accept their offered help and never forget, ‘haste makes waste’!
Truth be told though, I haven’t really been forthcoming with anything I felt needed to be said on my blog - the huge gap in waiting for our ADSL didn’t help much but I have felt the last few months have been taxing on my mental well-being. We had just unpacked our rental in Gordon Road, then packed it up again. I was so sick towards the end of the last year and then we moved into a smaller than what we’re accustomed to home - so figuring out what to keep, donate and store has been an ongoing process - I in fact made our first donation to the SPCA yesterday.
I also had visions of painting every room and unpacking as we go but I am slowly starting to realise that it can’t all be done in one go (nor on your own) and that these things will take time - patience, a virtue I am trying to adopt - the tree fellers have just finished removing 3 1/2 trees, one of which put the one side of our house in complete darkness for most of the day, and clearing the gutters - it’s such a pleasure not having to switch a light on to see whats going on inside the house during the middle of the day. I wasn’t too happy about removing trees but it had to be done, next on the agenda is to start my veggie patch where the massive Mango Tree had been. Trees removed, tick box.
Our former kitchen that will eventually become our scullery, laundry and pantry is almost all stripped out - just need a plumber to come in and connect our new sink and sort connections out for our washing machine and dishwasher - so we are getting there. Slowly but methodically.
Do I mind that the house is half painted, some boxes are still packed and that most of our art is still bubble wrapped and scattered around - I did at first but now I don’t mind so much. It’s slowly starting to feel like home. Durban is starting to feel like home again too. Chris has been hard at work with the business and I’d prefer that that is where most of our energy needs to be focused on or else there’d be no home! Some days are better than others but we are finding our rhythm and going for it.
In the ensuing Telkom limbo, I started yoga again - which is helping both body and soul. I am certainly feeling more calm and relaxed, sometimes sore too!
We also treated both sets of folks to a new Weber over the Easter Weekend - yes, that meant two consecutive braai’s on as many days but we didn’t mind as the weather was perfect in both Pietermaritzburg and Durban - plus it felt nice treating four special people in our lives.
So in a flurry of creativity, I posted a few blogs, some recipes, media and vintage finds - I know to be a blogger one has to constantly be posting but sometimes things happen that are out of your control and if your internet connection is down at home, it’s ok (I know I could’ve gone to a cafe or such and used the free wifi on offer - but the thought of sitting there with my laptop and sipping coffee whilst surfing the web has just never appealed to me).
So some weeks and months you may hear from me more so than others - I need to realise there is no pressure to put something out for you to read - but persevere I shall or else I will slip into my reclusive little comfort zone (which is always beckoning me with open arms).
I am off to the beachfront later to treat myself to a walk along the promenade - from Ushaka to Blue Lagoon and back - a nice 11km or so and then to meet up with my dearest Nush for drinks this afternoon.
Until next time,
I've met a number of people named Justin in my life but none has quite captured my heart as this particular one...
He has four legs, is a Jack Russell cross Whippet and is almost 13 years old - he is by far the oldest of the 'The Hounds' and he has wormed his way into my heart. This is how he came to live with us.
Say hello to Justin...
I love him dearly and I know the feeling is reciprocated
Acting all shy for the camera after being caught napping on the bed!
Surveying the land before we left our home in Johannesburg for Durban in August
Chris arrived home one day, about three and a half years ago, asking me if we'd like to adopt a dog. Now at that stage we only had the Jack Russell's - Max, Cleo and Jessie - all three of which we had since they were puppies.
I was apprehensive at first, as I thought three was more than enough (our family has since grown, so obviously my apprehension went flying out the window a while back!) and I wasn't too sure how we were going to introduce an adult dog to the pack but after Chris told me that Justin was almost 10 years old and from what we have seen, nobody really wants to adopt older dogs. So caution to the wind, I agreed with Chris and Justin arrived a few weeks later.
He is often found snuggled in a nook, under a blanket, preferably next to me
Chris was looking forward to his arrival more so than I was, as he knew Justin's previous owner and had met 'Juzzie' (as he is affectionately called) as a youngster. I still had reservations - I always have some sort of reservation come to think of it - but that all dissipated within a few weeks of him arriving, he fitted into the pack as if he was finally arriving home.
In fact if you were to visit us now, you'd never know that Chris wanted him more than I originally did - he follows me everywhere!
He loves nothing more than chilling on the back seat and going for a drive
When we take the hounds for a walk, Juzzie walks with me - he loves a good outing by foot - and considering his age, you'd never say he is the oldest of the pack by 7 to 8 years, he can walk for miles. He truly is the sweetest little dog - so well behaved in that respect. The first year or two after his arrival I'd get terribly sad thinking that I never had the chance to meet him as a youngster, that both Chris and myself had never been given the chance to raise him and give him the love he so rightly deserved from the start of his life.
I have made peace with that fact - I've had to - and try my best to ensure that every year we have with him is treasured, this is part of why I am blogging about him now as his life expectancy can range between 12 - 15 years. He is almost 13 now and I know that that day will come when he will no longer be around - getting under my feet, being shouted at, being adored, being my gatekeeper, being loved - so I thought I'd share him with all you reading this now as I try not to think of what that time in the future will be like for me.
That's the one thing about Juzzie that I have never understood. Prior to his arrival, Max, Cleo and Jessie would go about their day doing their thing and have never been particularly clingy - bar Max who worships the ground Chris walks on (we tease and say that he is Chris' shadow) - perhaps they were just used to having me around? Don't get me wrong, all our gorgeous dogs are loved.
We don't know much of what happened to Juzzie before his arrival but we assume that he was left for extended periods on his own and once he realised that someone - me - was at home more so than others, he just locked onto me. At first I wasn't too sure how to deal with it - in a way I never had the muscle developed to understand what it means to be wholeheartedly adored, in this case, by a pet who sees me as the centre of their life - and all I was doing was just being me.
I am not someone who shows love easily, so in a weird sort of way, he has forced me (and so has Chris for that matter) to jump beyond myself and that it's ok to love someone and / or your pets unashamedly - I can't imagine life without him now, how ironic is that, I was apprehensive of adopting him and he has now ended up becoming mostly my dog - he loves Chris and everyone who comes to visit but even Chris will tell you that Juzzie latched onto me from day one.
We treat each of our dogs exactly the same - so that no animosity arises amongst the pack - but I'll admit that if I catch him having a nap on the bed I let him be, what's the point of reaching old age if you can't have a sneaky nap on your dads' bed, right?
Most parents get to raise their children and watch watch them grow, from childhood to being teenagers, then onto adulthood. When it comes to having pets, you watch them grow from puppies to adults to old age in the space of less than 15 years. It is very bittersweet - even more so when you adopt an older animal - you realise that you have even less time to spend with them.
Just coming to say I love you and that the couch looks like it could be a comfy place to chill
He recently went for his annual check-up (we are very strict in that sense) and I am proud to say that our Vet assured us that his heart is in excellent condition and so are his joints. We had a bit of a scare earlier this year when he pinched a nerve in his back and had to have an injection for the pain but apart from that, all is well! So we still have plenty of time to love him.
Just randomly chilling alongside the couch, watching me
So glad to be able to say that Juzzie will be spending his fourth Christmas with us - love you dearly, my little Jack Russell cross Whippet!
Until next time,