Friday, September 10, 2021

Farewell, Jake

This morning our beautiful boy Jake died here at home. He was 14 years, 5 months old.

It was only yesterday that I took Jake to the vet and got some prescriptions that might have made his condition better so he could have a better quality of life. I was going to start them this morning, but never got the chance.

I woke up around 8 this morning, intending to sleep in. Jake was laying on the blanket box at the foot of the bed, panting, much as he did the day before. The fast breathing wasn’t unusual, nor was where he was: He often lay on the blanket box when he got too hot. About 10 or 15 minutes after eight, I got up to go to the loo, but first I went to the bottom of the bed and petted Jake and spoke softly to him, much as I’d done yesterday morning, I was hoping I might calm him a bit.

I went to the en suite, and then realised it had become quiet in the bedroom: I couldn’t hear Jake panting. I went back out to him, and realised he wasn’t breathing anymore. I stroked him, told him he was a good boy, everything was okay, and that I loved him. It then became clear that he was gone, but I talked to him some more, anyway. I lay a “dog towel” over him like a blanket—not that it made any difference to him or anything else, but it felt like the right thing to do.

I rang my brother-in-law, and he and my sister-in-law came round to be with me for awhile. I rang the crematorium that handled Sunny and made arrangements to being Jake in. My in-laws left to run a few errands while I fed Leo and had a shower, then when they came back, I picked up Jake and his towel, carried him to my in-laws car, laid him on the back seat and then sat next to him. I held one of his legs and gently stroked the fur.

Once we got to the place, things were a little more complicated than they’d normally be because we’re still at Covid Alert Level 2. For example, I had to go into the room by myself (I was meeting with a staff member, and the space was too small to have more than two people in there.

She took the information, I paid the bill (I could’ve paid on pick up, but by paying today I could have someone else pick up Jake’s cremains for me, if need be). They should be ready on Monday or Tuesday of next week.

I spent a few last minutes with Jake. I removed his collar, and the towel I’d wrapped him in, gave his some final pats and a kiss, told him I loved him and thanked him for everything. Then I left. I didn’t want to spend any more time there because I knew other people might be bringing in their lost furbabies, but mostly because I won’t cry in front of others, especially strangers, so I needed to leave.

We had lunch after that, which was a nice diversion. They dropped me off at home and headed out. Once inside, I put the towel on the floor for Leo to sniff, just as I did with Sunny’s towel after she died. I got out Jake’s collar and let Leo sniff it, then I hung it on another knob on the dresser in the my bedroom. Leo sniffed it again.

Leo was acting a little off, not sitting in my lap as he ordinarily does, and a couple times he lay on the floor in one of his spots that was near the towel. I think that was coincidental, though, because when I stood up I realised he wasn’t as close to it as it appeared when I was sitting down.

I went to the bedroom and looked at the spot where Jake died—which was hard not to do, since it’s directly in my line of sight as I approach the room. I sat down on the edge of the bed and started sobbing. Leo looked at me, then walked over and sniffed Sunny’s collar, then Jake’s. He walked back to were he had been, and looked at me again. Then he looked at the collars, back at me, back at the collars, and back at me. I felt like he was telling me he understood, and maybe he did. He’d sniffed Jake after he died, and they can smell things we humans can’t, so maybe he understood far better than I could’ve known. Later, he sniffed the spot where Jake died.

My brother- and sister-in-law told me later that while they were waiting in the car at the crematorium a tui landed on a branch and started singing loudly, and two smaller birds landed near it. Some people, some Māori in particular, believe that birds showing up after someone dies is their spirit coming to say hello and goodbye, to let the survivors know it’s okay. In this case, it seemed to them like it was Nigel, Jake, and Sunny. I don’t think there’s likely to be any sort of afterlife, much as I’d like to think there’s something, but I do like the idea of the furbabies being reunited with Nigel, all of them happy and free of pain or suffering. Whether I think that’s likely or not, and so, whether I think birds can be messengers or not is irrelevant: The thought comforts some people, and that’s a good thing.

I know that if Jake could choose, he’d have chosen to die at home, a place he knew well and felt safe in. And, if he was capable of such a thought, he’d want to spare me from having to make the decision to take him to the vet for the final time. Just as with the birds, I don’t know if any of that is actually what happened, but I like to think it is, for his sake as much as mine.

The main thing for me is that my family is now just me and Leo, and the all of the beings that made up our family for most of the 24 years I had it have all died. Leo came into our lives only about 16 months before Nigel died, and since he arrived he lost his best friend Bella, then his other daddy, then Sunny, and now Jake. Our family may be greatly diminished by our losses, but we still have each other, and that’s a good thing.

However, my family is still dimmed a lot. When I shared the news on my personal facebook this morning, I added in a comment, “I fucking hate September.” I truly do, and this is just more reason for that. That feeling is so strong and real that only the strongest curse word I use would come even close to conveying the depth of my feeling. Losing loved ones is the worst possible feeling, I think.

The only other thing to say is to adapt what I said after Sunny died: Goodbye, Jake. Thank you for the honour of being your furdaddy. And if there is something after this life, then please give Daddy Nigel an extra kiss for me, and also kisses from Leo, too. ❤️

The photo up top is of Jake on his fourteenth birday back in April. The photo at the bottom of this post is apparently the last one I took of him, about a month ago. It was shortly after that day that he stopped trying to jump onto the sofa.


Pollyanna_H said...

I am so, so sorry for your loss Arthur. You were clearly such a great dad to him and he had as good a life as you could give him - he was as fortunate to have you as you were to have him. Thinking of you and Leo
Christine from Wellington

Andy said...

I am indeed sorry, Arthur. Very sorry for your loss -- yet another one!

Roger Owen Green said...

Very sorry.
And, sidebar, but COVID complicates EVERYTHING.

Arthur Schenck said...

Thanks, everyone. It's been rough, including for Leo who's an only child for the first time. But we'll get through it.