We made the decision to put our Jane down last Wednesday, and it was easily the hardest thing either of us has ever had to do.
She's been a constant in our lives for the last twelve years—before we were married, before we met each other's families, before I even moved back to Maine. Except for the few trips that we couldn't take her on, she's been with us at all times—up until this last year, Josh was even able to have her with him while he was working—and in all places. She slept next to our bed, on our bed, and sometimes even in our bed; she sat next to and between us and on us; she followed us around and sometimes she led us around.
There is suddenly, as I said to someone earlier today, a huge gaping hole in our house and in our lives and in our hearts. We've been sharing stories and memories and laughs about her, but there are moments where we both fall silent, when the lack of her is just so apparent and so sharp, when we both feel that loss as a punch to the heart and to the gut.
She was two years old when she came to us, via not just one chance, but many—a woman confiscated her from her family members, people who mistreated and abused her; she passed her on to Josh's then-boss, who happened to be at her place to get his dogs groomed; he then showed up back at work with an extra dog in tow, handed her to Josh and said, "Here. You have a dog now."
Josh didn't have a leash, so she spent that first day attached to his belt by a piece of twine.
She was a purebred Jack Russell, with papers and everything. According to those papers, her official name was "Dazzle". Which was just... no. She was Jane, the Janedog, our Jane, Janer, JDog, and most often, the Little Turkey.
For months, she was scared of everything and everyone who wasn't Josh. Walk in one doorway of a room, and she'd run out the other.
She didn't make a peep, not even when she was sleeping; when she slept, she'd sleep like a bean, taking up as little space as possible.
As time went on, as she relaxed and started to feel safe, she found her voice, and she started claiming more space for herself.
I never would have guessed that an eleven-pound dog could have such presence, but now, without her, the house feels so empty and so quiet.
A few assorted thoughts and memories:
She was intensely protective of both of us: When Josh officiated at his sister's wedding, he got choked up halfway through. This was of concern to Jane, who started barking... and wouldn't stop until I got up from the audience, walked back to where all the dogs were tied, and picked her up. I stood there, holding her, for the rest of the service.
Whenever she caught us roughhousing, she'd break it up by standing six inches from our feet and barking up at Josh. If we weren't quick enough to obey, she'd grab his pant leg and start tugging. For this, she was known as the Fun Police.
Also part of her Fun Police duties: Whenever she noticed the cats playing Rodent Volleyball, Jane would confiscate the "ball", crunch it dead, drop it, and walk away.
Even though her constantly wagging tail was of never-ending interest to the cats, she was surprisingly tolerant of them.
She was hit by three cars: once before we had her, resulting in a pin in her back leg; once when she chased a chipmunk into the road in Kennebunkport, resulting in road burns so bad that her coat never grew back in that spot; once where there was impact, but no lasting physical repercussions.
One summer when Josh was working near Walker's Point, she wandered a little too close to the Bush compound... and got picked up by the Secret Service. When Josh stopped by and asked the guys at the checkpoint if they'd seen a little white dog, one of them—silently, completely deadpan, black sunglasses and curly-ear-wire and everything—opened the back door of a black sedan. And there was Jane, perfectly calm and cool and content in the backseat, with the air conditioning on and a styrofoam container of water at her feet.
She was attacked by a standard poodle, resulting in surgery and over seventy stitches. It was awful.
And yet, that didn't stop her from later attempting to pick fights with a Rottweiler (who was thankfully in a car), and a Great Pyrenees (who was thankfully entirely good natured, and appeared to think it was super-fun to be chased all over the beach by a dog who was half the size of his head).
She was an avid hunter, but rarely successful: she'd spend hours snorting at the same spot in a rock wall, even though the chipmunk had escaped out the other side two minutes after she'd expressed interest.
One time we pulled into our driveway and there were deer in the yard. Jane launched herself out of the truck and went tearing after them in an attempt to take them down. She was not successful.
Ditto a rafter of wild turkeys, who surprised her by taking flight into the trees. (She couldn't figure out where they'd gone, even though they were all teetering on way-too-thin branches right over her head.)
She ran around in circles constantly, always counterclockwise. Sometimes through the house, sometimes around us, sometimes around nothing that we could see. When she ran long distances, the circles got bigger and bigger, so she always ended up clocking at least three times the area than the distance she was attempting to traverse.
When she walked or ran full-tilt—also known as Crazy Run, when all four legs left the ground at once, resulting in brief pure-joy Falcor moments—she did so on all four legs. At medium gait, she'd pull up her bad back leg and hop on three.
Sometimes she'd get going so fast that she'd stop paying attention to her surroundings and run head-first into trees. She lost a tooth that way.
She got sprayed by a skunk at our wedding.
It took her at least three run-ins with various porcupines before she learned that she couldn't bite them. After that, she'd follow them at a safe, 6-inch distance, barking the whole way.
She was the inspiration for a lot of songs around the house, mostly involving roast beef in some way: "Turkeys in the night, exchanging roast beef..." "Little Turkey on the hillside, Little Turkey made of roast beef..."
She was a fan of roast beef. And turkey. And tuna. And cat food.
She hated swimming. Hated it. We'd occasionally check to see if she'd change her mind, but every single time, we'd bring her into the lake, let her go, and she'd just paddle around in a circle until she spotted land and then make a beeline for it.
We only actually witnessed it once, but she was apparently well-aware of what the cat box was for—because one winter day, out of nowhere, she just jumped in and used it rather than going outside.
She swore a lot. A LOT.
Her winter coat involved giant eyebrows and a beard and a back-mohawk.
She was a huge snob about dog biscuits—if you handed one to her, she'd promptly spit it out and look insulted—resulting in ridiculous lies on our parts when dealing with drive-through bank tellers: "Oh, thank you so much! She juuuuuust ate, so we'll save it for a snack later!" The rare times she ate them was out of pure spite, in order to keep other dogs from enjoying them—she'd gag them down while staring daggers at any other dog who dared to want a treat.
A lot of dogs are scared of thunder. When it stormed here, our Jane would run out to the back porch and bark up at the sky.
She wasn't a pet, she was family. It's so hard to look over at Josh and not see her in his lap; I know that for him, it's even harder to sit there with an empty lap.
At some point, we'll be able to talk and think and write about her without this pain, but we're not there yet. Having her ashes home with us helps, as do the pictures that my sister printed out for us—most of the pictures in this post were taken by her—but I think, beyond that, it's just going to take time. We were so lucky to have her for the time that we did, but it was still too short.