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the most difficult goodbye

Tonight we said goodbye to Jinx.

The loss of every pet is beyond difficult, but some hurt in different ways and some seem like they hurt more. We were devastated when we lost Annie back in 2011. She was just shy of her 13th birthday, and she was old. And although Annabelly was my soulmate dog, Jinx… well, Jinx is our heart.

This fluffy, perfect gentleman of a dog was the most polite, dignified, and happy dog I have ever known. Jinx was just so full of love. Love for everyone and everything (except for squirrels). He was the happiest of creatures, his tail always up and wagging.

Jinx was diagnosed with lymphoma this month, and it was apparently very aggressive. Over Father’s Day weekend we noticed that Jinx was peeing a LOT. So much that we made a vet appointment a week later and we all thought he just had a urinary infection, but we did a blood panel anyhow, just in case. Aside from the excessive urination and drinking, Jinx seemed fine. Just tired from all the peeing. He was eating well, we was still happy and bouncy. He started having trouble holding himself up on his back legs, but we thought maybe he was just in pain because of the urinary issue. He had antibiotics and that seemed to help after a week’s time. But then we got the blood test results (2 days later) and Jinx’s calcium levels were 2.5 times what they should be. It was severe and dangerous. So we did another blood test to see why there was the calcium issue. And after those tests, the vet did an extra exam to see if there were any swollen lymph nodes. And there were. A few, only they were hardly enlarged at all. She took samples for biopsies and on Friday last week we got the call that they came back positive.

Jinx had cancer.

More specifically, Jinx had lymphoma. We met with the vet Monday evening and discussed options. We were supposed to see an oncologist today, but Jinx hasn’t been eating since Friday (without us forcing food into him by syringe) and the oncologist had already told the vet that Jinx’s prognosis wouldn’t be great even with thousands of dollars of treatment. Without treatment, he gave Jinx less than a month left. We were going to meet with him anyhow, but this morning… we made the decision that we needed to for Jinx. He was obviously suffering. He just lies in one spot and his breathing is laboured. He’s not eating (although he apparently goes CRAZY for McDonald’s fries. So we fed him a bunch of those last night.) and he’s sad.

Jinx isn’t ever sad. He’s happy, offended by impropriety and squirrels, and gets a little down if someone is upset in the house, but he’s never sad. And it’s obvious he’s unhappy and in pain. So we cancelled the oncologist appointment (4 months isn’t something I’d wish on Jinx) and I called our vet.

This is one of the hardest decisions we have ever had to make. It was tough with Annie, but she let us know she was ready. And we knew it was coming. With Jinx… we’ve had about 4 weeks to watch him get worse, then better, then worse, and then… cancer.

Out of nowhere. He was FINE in April when we went for our annual checkup. Maybe we should have had a blood panel done then. Maybe we would have noticed the calcium thing then, but it would have been a treatable thing. But we weren’t going to do any blood work until he was 10 because 9 isn’t that old for a Finnish Lapphund. Especially not a perfectly healthy one.

Our little puppy, always a puppy in manner and action. Goofy, loveable, proper. Waggling tail. Always waiting to be invited onto the couch, bed, or to take food from you. Always making sure you don’t stand too close together when you hug (No, puppies!). Always telling you off when you have the audacity to walk backwards, or try to sneak up on someone. Nothing aggressive, just a warning BIG YAWN and if that doesn’t get the message through, he lets out a little RAOOOF to let you know he means business.

Jinx has had four homes in his lifetime. His first four months were spent in Tennessee until he drove all the way up here (yes, on his own) and joined us on our wedding day, then we had a lovely year in Verdun – until the house fire. Jinx spent his formative (read: CHEW ALL THE THINGS) year with us in the basement of my in-laws’ home for a year after the fire before we were able to move into our own home. Our first home owned completely my ourselves. While living with his Pawpaw and Mama in that basement, he managed to help them remodel a few wooden items, like their deck. He also loved to carry around rocks and logs of wood. One of his favourite toys that year was a chunk of  foundation cement that his Pawpaw had drilled out of the wall to install a vent.

Most of the chewing was out of Jinx’s system by the time we bought this house. There were a few incidents while here, but we realized after the loss of Annie, that she might have been framing him all this time. Jinx is a good dog and generally, if you tell him not to do something just once, he’ll listen. He doesn’t like to upset people and he doesn’t like to do the wrong thing. He’s a tender soul. Kind. Gentle as all get out. Playing with smaller dogs, or children, he’s so gentle and lightly paws at them, or rolls over on his side so they can jump all over him. We have always been surprised and impressed by Jinx’s gentle and thoughtful nature. He really had a human sort of nature when it came to understanding things. And honestly, he was better that a human because he just LOVED so hard and so unconditionally (unless you were a squirrel or a rat).

You could tell Jinx something once. Just once. He would get it. And you could have conversations with him, and he would GET it. He understood tone. He understood moods. (He was scared of bad, angry moods, and would hide in another room. But if you were sad or sick? He was right there next to you, with a paw on your arm.)

Jinx loved to play soccer. He would kick a ball around with his paws forever when he was younger. He would squeak the squeakers out of squeaky toys for hours. He would eat the ears off toys and destroy indestructible toys within 10 minutes of taking them out of the bag. He loved to sunbathe. He hated shade. Our arctic breed dog, loved the sun. I’d tell him to get in the shade and he’s slink back on to the deck and sort of lie in the shade. He knew the letter of the law and he knew how to manipulate it. He knew. We never explained to him what “sun” and “shade” was. But the first time we said, “Jinx, get out of the sun and into the shade, you dopey dog.” he walked right into the shade and laid down. He was smart. He was sweet. He was sneaky about getting sun when he could. We always watched him closely because we didn’t want him to get heatstroke. Never thought cancer would be in the cards.

The most surprising thing I learned about Jinx was that he loved to garden. We’d never had a garden before and a few years ago I planted some cucumbers and tomatoes to see if I could get anything to grow and Jinx took over that garden so fast. Not once did he destroy anything, there was no pottying, no chewing, just absolute GLEE in wandering through the plants and snuffling everything. He’s the one who would alert me to ripe cucumbers (which he LOVED) and tomatoes (which he HATES). His love of the garden quickly became our summer amusement and for the last three years, Jinx has been a proud gardener and the garden has thrived. This year, Jinx hasn’t really been down there since the plants only really started to grow after Father’s Day weekend, so they are all smaller and less fruitful than normal. It’s rather sad.

He loved that garden though and he was a surprisingly good gardener for a dog. He had a Green Paw and I don’t even have a Green Thumb!

We couldn’t let Jinx continue to suffer and although this entire day has been almost nothing but tears, Jinx has been bombarded with love and McDonalds fries and hugs. My sister and nephew came over to say goodbye. The new neighbours who have Ellie, the Golden Retriever that Jinx Looooooves, came over after work and they sat in the backyard with us, and said their goodbyes to Jinx. Ellie, as in her fashion, barked at Jinx almost the entire time. They were a sweet couple for the last 6 months. Aside from some private messages and texts, the only social media that this was announced on was instagram and the outpouring of love from friends over Jinx has been so heartfelt.

We took Sophie with us tonight when we went to the vet. We didn’t want her to see us leave the house with Jinx and then come back without him. And it would help us to have her to hug and kiss and cry into after we left without Jinx. So all four of us were together in the examination room when Jinx got his shot of morphine.

We all said goodbye as a family.

I could be there for that, but I couldn’t stay with him for the rest. Shawn stayed with Jinx through it all. He was there for him, like he was for Annie, so that they weren’t alone for their final moments. Jinx was all comfortable on a blanket, on the floor of the room. (I didn’t even tell the vet how much Jinx loved fuzzy blankets, but they had one for him just the same!)

We did something for Jinx that we didn’t do for Annie. We will be getting his ashes back in an urn. We both had the same thought – we needed something for Jinx’s Garden. We both had another idea at the same time earlier today when we’d made the very difficult decision to call the vet – we wanted a sign for his garden.

We went out to the art store and bought paint and a wooden sign. We (messily) made paw prints on the sign, and I’ll be adding to it (his name, and some coocumber drawings) and then varnishing it. It will hang over his garden. We will have a little Urn (that I can paint myself) to place in the Garden as well. It will say “Jinx – The Happy Gardener” on the plaque.

We said goodbye to the most polite and gentle dog tonight. The best wedding gift ever. The Happiness and Heart of our family. Now we are three, and Sophie is confused – that hurts just as much as losing Jinx. We have each other and Jinx was a wonderful part of our lives for 9 full years.

Sophie will miss you.

Your father will miss you. I will miss you.

Find Annie, Jinxy. She’s out there waiting for you. She’ll take one look at you, sigh, and promptly wash your face and ears like she used to every night after dinner. She will be quite miffed that you haven’t kept up the washing, or the dreadlocks behind your ears like she used to make for you. You listen to her well. She’s your Big Sister and loves you. We miss you so much already, Jinxy, but we know Annabelly will look after you now.

I love you Jinxy. Goodbye.

23 comments to the most difficult goodbye

  • Shawn

    That was beautiful Pookie. Jinxy would be so happy with this. I know he’s giving you a very special waggle right now.

    If ever there was a dog that is my doggie soulmate, it was Jinx Puppy. It’s almost ridiculous how much I love that dog, and how much I’m going to miss him. We have to hold him in our hearts, just like with Annie. Jinxy was just pure, pure love and joy. And that’s what those amazing 9 years have meant. I love you Pookie, and Jinx loves you too.

  • Pam

    Tennessee. My neck of the woods. He was obviously a southern gentleman. He will be sorely missed.

  • Marilyn Healy

    Jinx was the best dog ever. He was beautiful on the inside and the outside. Our hearts are broken. We will miss him. You made a courageous decision and it was the best one. You can see that he was no longer happy. He will be with Annie and will be there waiting for you.

    I love that you will have a Jinx paw sign in your garden.

    Big Hug and Lots and Lots of Love,
    Mummy
    XO

  • What a beautiful tribute to a very special member of your family. Love the garden sign. Hugs and more hugs. Doing the right thing really sucks sometimes.

  • Sara w

    Jinx was an amazing dog. I love seeing the post and pictures of him especially in his garden. Losing a pet is so hard, but he has given such an amazing gift of being such a handsome, well behaved gentleman always 🙂

  • Oh, Cat. I’m so sorry. Red and I are sending you and Shawn and Sophie warm thoughts and hugs. Shawn is a strong man. I’ve stayed in the room once and vowed to never do it again.

  • Erin

    Beautiful story Cat! I’m sending love, hugs and prayers to you, Shawn and Sophie. I know the pain of losing a pup too soon, and you have really captured the grief and the joy of the life he lived! The sign for the garden is fantastic, what an awesome tribute!

    May your Rainbow Bridge crossing be swift, Jinx!
    Hugs, Erin

  • Chris

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful furry family member.
    He will-as his HAPPY SELF be waiting at rainbow bridge for his caring family – maybe even with a soccer ball at his paws. May you have courage and strength. You have a garden of beautiful memories. HUGS

  • Clarisse

    A beautiful tribute for a very special puppy .He will forever be my Lion King. He was the most gentle and patient dog I have ever known . My heart is breaking along with both you and Shawn. I will miss you my Jinx but will hold you in my heart along with Annie, Scruffy and Sassy
    Love and Hugs Ma

  • Lynn

    That was beautiful, Cat. I’m in tears. Jinx will be back to let you know he is well. Sophie will see him. I’m so sorry. The Gang of 20 now have a guardian angel watching over them.

  • Lynn

    I forgot about Nifty. Jinx will get to play once again with his brother. 🙁
    The Gang of 20 have 2 guardian angels.

  • Michelle G.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m actually battling the same thing right now with my cat, Bella. She was diagnosed with lymphoma, we’re doing the tube feedings, and trying chemo. She’s my very first pet so I’m having a hard time judging when I should let go or if I’m continuing treatment because I can’t say goodbye. I will need to make a very tough decision soon but reading your story, seeing that I’m not the only pet parent out there facing such a hard decision, makes it a little easier for me. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Tish

    Heart Hugs. just…. heart hugs… because… well… because you know the rest.

    xoxoxo

  • sending so many hugs and positive thoughts. I’m so sorry. Losing a beloved pet is the hardest thing.

  • Deb

    Having known and loved Jinx, we are the better for it. Thank you for letting us share him, for bringing him to visit so he could run around in our yard and so Lilly could walk him around the block. It was a hard decision that you had to make but one that we understand. We love you and are here if you need anything. Hugs! Xoxoxo

  • Val

    Tears are rolling down my cheeks. Such a lovely tribute. I am so very, very sorry for you guys. Hugs.

  • So sorry for your loss Cat and Shawn xoxoxox

  • Dino

    Cannot stop crying, even my heart is crying for you, all three of you. Thank you for sharing Jinxy’s life, and passing, with us.

  • Hey sweetie – I don’t have a lot of computer access these days but I wanted to send you a quick hug. This is such a hard thing. 🙁

  • Caroline

    I have been reading your blog for a number of years now so I was used to seeing Jinx’s beautiful face, that is why I read this with tears rolling down my face. Hugs to you, Shawn and Sophie at this really upsetting time. You have a wonderful way with words Cat and this was incredibly moving but also a lovely tribute to Jinx.

    RIP Jinx and have fun with big sis Annie.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss. This was beautifully written. I’ve lost 3 of my furry babies as well and its never easy. *hugs*