Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cujo at Peace

Over the last decade my friends & family have been extraordinarily patient with my deep devotion to my dog Jolie.  Nicknamed "Cujo" by my acquaintances, Jolie Greydor was a stray who came into my life while I was teaching at Groveport Madison.  I came home from school one day, and found a poor, straggly creature lying on the breezeway.  It was April 2nd of 2003, and one of those lovely spring days when it feels as though spring is in full bloom.  The black dog that had wandered to the farm, however, was far from enjoying life.  She was extremely malnourished, with cuts all over her paws, and very fearful of humans.  After I had nursed her back to health, a trip to the vet informed me that she was actually only about a year old, but her poor state had led me to believe she was an old dog.  In that time when I wondered if the pitiful creature would ever recover, I promised Jolie that I would give her a home until she died.  Last night I fulfilled that promise.

The best guess of the vet was that Jolie was half black lab and half greyhound -- with the worst characteristics of both.  She was a beautiful creature, so reminiscent of a lab until you saw her next to our black lab Duke -- and then realized how streamlined she was.  And what a runner!  To see Jolie in motion in her prime was breathtaking.  Unfortunately, I never knew what could have happened in the first year of her life before we found each other.  Whatever it was, though, led Jolie to be fearful and aggressive.  She was overly devoted to those she loved -- me, Mother, my brothers, Grandmother -- and overly protective of us.  I will admit that I always felt safe on the farm with that dog, and especially appreciated that Grandmother was protected when I was away from the farm.

The older Jolie got, however, she lost any decorum of behavior and began to suffer intensely from arthritis.  Every time I increased her medication or created a new protocol to keep her content, I knew it was just a matter of time until that solution failed.  By late summer, she could no longer jump in the truck.  She self-mutilated out of frustration over her joint pain.  Eventually Jolie could only be handled by a few people due to her aggression.  I knew the time was coming when I would have to say goodbye.

Yesterday morning when I took Jolie for her morning walk, I realized that her hip problem had intensified and she would not put weight on her back leg.  She was losing weight as it was, and no longer groomed herself properly.  I was aware that the impending cold weather would be difficult for her, and I could no longer justify asking her to stay with me.  Last night, my step-dad Joe came over and made sure that she went peacefully.  As hard as it was to say goodbye, I knew it was time.  I knew it was the best decision for Jolie, as much as it pained me.  She was loved, she had a good life, and she went quickly.

Harrisons have always loved our dogs, even one as capricious as Jolie.  I have an odd ability to love animals that most would deem unlovable.  I like to think that if I can find it in my heart to love such a creature, then maybe others can overlook my own human flaws and find it in their hearts to love me.  The manner in which we treat animals is a true reflection of our own humanity.  I hope that all animals -- and all people -- would be loved, fed, housed, and pass peacefully.  My mother and Jolie adored each other, so the most comforting thought for me is that they are now together.

This morning I took Cash Cat to the vet to be neutered.  Less than ten minutes after dropping him off, I received a call from the vet's office that he was a "Tasmanian Devil" and would require special sedation akin to what is used with wild animals.  I could only laugh.  Cujo may have gone to her reward, but she has left a powerful ninja cat in her stead to carry on our well-earned reputation that Harrison Farm always welcomes crazy creatures!