Thursday, September 30, 2010
9/30/10 I couldn’t wait to share with anyone who wants to 'listen' that there is no way I can ever feel alone! Today a “KATIE LOU leaf” appeared--no tree to match—the same kind that romped along beside me shortly after she died. THEN, a magnificent BLACK butterfly hovered around me…after all the colored ones BLACK JACK has sent since he passed, how could this not be a ‘howdy’ from my boy--AND my girl?!
Monday, September 27, 2010
9/27/10 Mom felt like my dying simply “ripped a piece right out of her heart” I know, but I keep telling her we had it all. What’s really important is to remember that we both filled one another’s hearts so full and blessed one another so much during our many years together. I immediately and for almost two months now have kept telling Mom that I am very happy and busy, so she did begin feeling better right away.
My love still surrounds and inspires her just as it did when I was there in body. Nevertheless she has felt like she’s sort of been floundering. You see, Mom has always strived to be her best, to serve in the greatest capacity. Without me to care for she has felt as if she needs to be doing more than just nurturing herself, going into that quiet place where she can get the answers for moving forward in the best direction for her. Well, I sure did ‘message’ her the other day! She took a few minutes to journal (when she was not feeling it would be under the pressure of a “should”). Her mind finally went blank for further writing so she got up discouraged that her writing hand didn’t give her any more clues.
This time an email offered her an inspiration. It relieved her to realize that being gentle with herself, simply asking for guidance and then letting the answers happen is the very best way for her to be living right now. No striving, struggle, pushing, impatiently trying to force ‘getting on with’ her life—as quite frankly has always been her inclination.
Although Mom does very little cooking, a cooking blog movie had moved Mom to begin blogging about my aging and care, eventually giving me the reins to write it through her. So this time, ironically (no accident, really) a cooking blog writer began by sharing some very personal feelings which gave Mom the idea once again. She thought, “Maybe it’s time to get back to blogging again…it would keep me writing not only to satisfy that creative urge, but also give me more impetus to ‘journal’, getting in touch with myself on a deeper level.”
Then I ‘suggested’ she tap into her Higher self and let that energy fuel the new blogging.
So today I, Black Jack, do hereby turn over Mom’s care and ‘feeding’ to Judy…(never fear, I won’t be far away—ever). Now you may say, “Well, Mom IS Judy”, but I’m talking about the “mini-Judy” if you will--the wise, innocent child Judy. Some folks call it their ‘inner child’, I believe.
Have fun, Mom! I’ll be playing right along beside you!!
Mom was so excited to begin that she could hardly sleep that night!
Sunday, September 26, 2010
MEMOIRS OF A DOG’S LIFE
By Black Jack Nelson
May 25, 1991 – August 8, 2010
(7,003 wonderful days with my BEST FRIEND Judy!)
NICKNAMES (I affectionately acquired): “Monkey face”, Jack-o-lantern, Jack-in the-box, Jack-o, Jumpin’ Jack, BJ, Jackpot, Fat Jack (because my daddy Benji’s guardian was named Jack, a ‘rotund’ man) and “Alligator jaws” *see explanation below…
ON PUPPYHOOD: I was such a playful, outgoing puppy—not a care in the world! I even loved everyone early on… When we barely had our eyes open we could get out and romp with one another. I remember there were toys there and shoestrings! There were so many fun things to do I kept really busy, even rolling off the little ledge in all my enthusiasm.
Before we all took that dreaded trip to the vet, I felt “amorous” toward my ‘real’ mom, Sassi (and acted on it) which didn’t seem to go over very well…
Mom says I was passionate about everything—and quite a ‘momma’s boy’, always wanting to be very near my mommy. This made her aerobic and floor exercising extra challenging.
ON PLAYTIME: One of my favorite things ever was digging in dirt when we had a grassy backyard in Nebraska—even when it was muddy. When we moved to Arizona Mom discovered I was reminiscing in the nose level flowerpots! Sadly she was clever enough to put big rocks in them to deter me.
Also when we lived in Nebraska, we loved to go racing, barking to say hello to the neighbor dogs when Mom let us out in our backyard. Our only experience in snow happened there, too. Man, my being so well endowed with such short legs, sure made it pretty tough to do my ‘business’! And that white, cold stuff seemed to cling in snowballs to everything especially my then long beautiful hair.
It was really fun when Mom finally taught me some tricks…in fact, it was so exciting my whole body just quivered awaiting the commands. I could sit, wait really well and find hidden cookies inside just about anything, like boxes, newspapers, bags, jars, etc.
My all time favorite toy became a thread bare monkey who was great for pretend killing, shaking and running around the house with his arms and legs flopping from my mouth. I see Mom just put him on ‘my self’… It is so sweet: she made a sort of ‘memorial’ shelf for both Katie and me on her entertainment center to help her remember us better.
ON WALKING: It was fun when Mom walked us two dogs together. I was always far out in the lead acting as if I were ready to go to the ends of the world. Katie always lagged behind more and more as she got older. Mom always joked that I was too busy to read or sniff out anything but the aromatic headlines of past occurrences along the way, while Katie wanted to read every word of every article. This was compounded by her decreasing eyesight in her later years, which didn’t keep her from going in for the ‘kill’ if I even woofed at something. We were quite a team. And you should have witnessed the “leash dance” Mom had to do if she stopped to chat with a neighbor, since we insisted on going round and round them.
I was always so excited to ‘get there’ I pushed with my hind legs (Mom said it looked pretty funny following me). You see, I always wanted to be first, fastest and go the longest, kind of like my Mom actually! Now, were I to come across a juicy (i.e. stinky) morsel, Mom was hard pressed to be strong enough to get my ‘alligator jaws’ to release it. I know she was always concerned about it not being good for me, but boy, I wanted it!
Eventually I had a difficult time walking so those cherished daily walks dwindled, then had to stop. Finally I lost use of me darn right rear leg almost entirely and the other was very weak—maybe I pushed those two back legs too hard through the years... Then Mom needed to carry me outside and hold me while I did my ‘business’. She even devised a belt to help hold me up so she didn’t have to stoop over. And my inside wandering area had to be even smaller, to include only my beds and dishes because otherwise I would fall and hit my head on the floor repeatedly before I could regain my footing. Finally I could barely hobble from bed to food… We made it work, though, as long as we could.
ON EATING: Which brings me to eating! Even suckling on my ‘real’ mom Sassi before my eyes were open, I once ate too much and got so bloated my people we were concerned. I was so roly poly, I’d roll right off the little step in our play area.
Katie and I both loved to catch popcorn in our mouths as it was tossed to us. I loved food so much that at the end of my life when I had little reaction to much of anything I still perked up at the smell of a can of tuna fish being opened.
Fact is, I loved eating so much I would eat my food and then check everyone else’s food & treats, stealing even from ferocious Katie Lou if I had the chance. Mom finally had to separate us at dinner time when Katie couldn’t see anymore to defend her food bowl.
Eventually though, I couldn’t chew my precious biscuits any more and Mom even had to blend my soft dog food—but it sure tasted just as good lapped up as chewed. When I ended up having trouble even finding my food, I became very messy instead of ‘inhaling’ like I once did.
ON SLEEPING: I remember sleeping on a very high bed in the motor home that we lived in for a number of years. Then I preferred curling up in little round beds that a friend gave us when her dogs outgrew them. Finally they got too high for me to maneuver so that’s when Mom used the two halves of a crate also keeping me corralled a bit. Even those were getting a bit high for me in the end.
Mom used to think my tongue must be too long for my mouth because the tip used to peek out when I slept, even becoming dry! But that didn’t disturb my sweet dreams.
PERSONALITY: Mom always said I wanted to please and I must admit that’s true. Even during the “trying to break the ice” game we all played when we were puppies, I’d give up my spot for others. Some would frown on this as submissive but it sure made life more peaceful.
And what is it with humans, wanting to dress us in funny clothes! The coats and shirts I had to get used to were enough. But I resigned myself to this humiliation, too, since it gave Mom so much pleasure.
Then there was paw painting, usually called finger painting I think! Messy, but oh well, it’s nice for Mom to have those paintings--some composites done with our mothers a very long time ago.
Robyn used to be appalled when she saw that Mom had me wearing the pink harness Sugar I used to wear, but we dogs don’t care if pink is called a ‘girlie’ color or not!
Bathing was never really a joy…even at the end of my life the threat of a bath perked me up.
So I guess my job with my keen hearing and sight was to alert Mom and/or Katie to any strange noises—and I was very good at it. The doorbell was the most fun to sound the alarm to so both Katie and I could go rushing to the door barking our heads off .
Now, there WAS some mischief that I got myself into…I seemed to have more than a penchant for ‘stinky’ things, especially what was called “feminine products”. We used to live in a large Las Vegas home with many occupants and one day I came down the long stairway proudly carrying one such prize. Well for whatever reason that caused a really big fuss and from then on, sadly, all garbage/trash containers were put out of my reach for the rest of my life.
My car sickness plagued Mom in my early years since she loved to drive us to many places. She prized her red convertible and after one long winding uphill climb she couldn’t stop before I hurled breakfast beside her bucket seat, not really reachable for thorough cleanup--ever. Of course I did my best, but… Thank goodness I outgrew this affliction because Mom really had the ‘travel bug’. I’m also really happy I could finally totally relax on drives, too, after I no longer was inundated by all the little and big frightening noises as well as gigantic scary objects out the window. Even when the car would just kick up a pebble, I’d be scrambling for Mom’s lap.
Katie taught me about the “vacuum cleaner game”. She acted like it was a big, fierce monster to be attacked and killed before it ‘got’ us. And maybe that’s what she in fact thought; nevertheless I joined right in. Mom actually had to try to get us out of the room or be sure Katie was sleeping soundly enough before she ran it. Maybe that’s why Mom’s never really gotten back in the habit of using it much…
Men seemed to be my enemies after the puppy stage. I’m not sure why because they never really mistreated me. Perhaps they were just different from Mom. But I was super friendly once they proved themselves to be safe.
Once I nipped at someone! When I was a puppy, someone reached toward me from a car. Well, I didn’t know but what they were going to take me from Mom, so I let them know that would not be allowed. Then when I was losing my sight and hearing the whole world seemed frightening until I adjusted some.
Groomers and other professionals were always in complete control and therefore I never, ever got a bad report on my behavior until my senses waned during my later years. One time the groomer actually broke my leash trying to restrain me. So Mom eventually got to comfort and hold me during all grooming sessions. I even had to have some of it done the last time in Mom’s lap since my legs didn’t want to hold me up any more.
ON HEALTH & HANDSOMENESS: Mom likes telling how she helped with my conception. Only two of us were born to Sassi and Benji. I’m sure glad I got the looks; I hear my sister was ugly. Seems she got the terrier part from daddy, I got the silky from him, the black & white coloring from my mother.
During my younger days, one lower canine tooth protruded from my mouth. Some thought it made me look ferocious, others just silly.
My hearing was always quite, perhaps too, acute. At home, even quiet noises such as the 'click' when the furnace came on made me very nervous. Sometimes I became inconsolable. I’d try to hide on highest point, even shoulders, if they were available, clinging and pushing against the person. I WAS afraid of noises but when I could no longer hear, except possibly for certain pitches, my life became very solitary and quiet, especially after Katie left. I was also only able to see movement & shadows during my later days.
Until my skin began getting flaky and thinning I was always very healthy. Mom had lots of tests done but there was nothing conclusive. She began a diet to figure out if I was allergic to something, but that made me really sick. It didn’t bother me in any way, so we learned to live without my beautiful coat of hair. I ended up with quite a wardrobe of shirts and coats. Our neighbor, who loved both Katie & me, gifted me with 3 Hawaiian shirts. Mom kept trying to find coats that fit my super long body, having to remake some of them. I think Mom liked me best in the red one with the iridescent stripes and a pocket.
Then I’d used my wonderful body so well and so long, it just finally wore out. Even on my last night, the vet told Mom she was surprised that I looked so young at age 19+.
THE FLOOD STORY: Then there was the flood of 1993. Mom rescued all 5 of us dogs from having to tread water and put us all in a large crate. Even though Katie and her mom couldn’t even be in the same room together without fighting, we were all aware and wise enough keep it ‘zipped’. As we waited for the rescue boat into the wee hours of the morning, and all the way to shelter there was rarely a peep out of us. Mom only had to do a reminder tap on the top of the crate those couple of times and we got the message.
ON MOTORHOME LIVING: For a number of years Mom, Katie Lou and I lived and traveled together in a motor home. We even went to Mexico a several times, necessitating legal documents, the red tape for which Mom hated. Those Mexican roads were a challenge for Mom. Once when driving around a curve, the refrigerator door popped open, flinging a cabbage down the aisle toward Katie. That was the first time she’d ever jumped right into Mom’s lap when she was trying to drive. If I could have I’d have laughed out loud!
One time Mom took a 4 day side trip and found a good Mexican vet where several of us were boarded. I was so nervous I couldn’t potty the whole time. When Mom came back and took me in her safe arms, it all let loose—all over her! Once again I had tried…
ON KATIE LOU: Katie Lou, my Lhasa Apso 'cousin' was born just a couple of weeks before I was. We lived together nearly her entire life, almost 16 years.
Even after Mom was able to find homes for all the other puppies when we were born, deciding to keep Katie and me for herself, she hesitated to discipline effectively because I was quite timid and fearful, showing signs of cowering over the slightest raised voice—this wasn’t good...
Katie Lou would play with me early on, but more of the time, she was bullying me and causing my life to be a bit like hell. Mom always said I most certainly deserved better and I’m so pleased I had those 3+ years of peaceful ‘alone time’ with just Mom!
Once when we were visiting a friend Mom let herself be talked into trying a shock collar on Katie Lou because she didn’t like her barking at his neighbors. I believe Katie may have lost a little of her mind at that time. Later in the evening, when she was on Mom’s lap, she growled at ME and even tried to nip Mom!
THE DETAILS in a NUTSHELL: In 1990 and 1991 Mom attempted to purchase a Kennel in Cottonwood, AZ. It was badly misrepresented, including the line of Lhasa Apsos that were a part of the purchase. She would learn later they not only had physical/neurological problems, but also tended toward aggression.
Then the Kennel purchase fell through and Mom had ‘rescued’ all the remaining puppies and their breeder parents—in total about 10 dogs. There was no time for obedience training and so we pretty much trained her! On our mini-ranch five of us dogs were allowed to sleep on Mom’s bed at night and she would simply separate them (never me) when a fight broke out.
Mom had used my parents to breed a puppy for a client. My mom, Sassi, was a purebred Lhasa Apso, dad, Benji, a Silky mix. The intended ‘guardian’ for this puppy wasn't able to take him after all, for which Mom and I are both grateful! I was a Lhasa Apso mix, born 5/25/91, and lived with my Mom my entire 19.3 years. Always weighing about 15 lbs. (because Mom always monitored my eating), my height was about 12" at the shoulder; my black body had some white markings (‘tuxedo shirt’ chest and very tips of my toes) and brown eyes. Mom kept my luscious (if I may say so myself), manageable, silky hair an inch or so long just for convenience, because she had to care for so many dogs. Eventually as it thinned I had to be kept covered for warmth and protection from the sun when I was outside. I felt like my duties were to be Mom’s companion, alerting her and/or Katie to any strange noises, then when Katie passed I was her only companion and we could simply ‘be’ gently together. My favorite activities or hobbies were LOVING my daily walks, my ‘pet’ monkey, eating and eventually some training, i.e. sit, wait, etc. which I was so excited to do!
I always lived indoors, sleeping with Mom or where I wanted to in our home in our small community subdivision. I ended up mostly in either my daytime or nighttime bed beside Mom’s. At the very end I needed and wanted to be more confined because I was disoriented from lack of sight/hearing and would wander getting lost even stuck under or behind furniture—that was awful and scary. So I then slept almost all of the time in one of my two beds in the kitchen area Mom enclosed for me, close to my food.
All in all THAT WAS A FULL, HAPPY LIFE!!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
9/14/10 Today the butterflies are orange and plentiful!!
Yesterday my boy came for a lengthy visit! I had been trying to mask the discouragement that he had sent butterflies and a heart shaped cloud as messengers and nothing from him. And I felt further discouragement when Day said she hadn’t heard from him either. Since he always loved the energy generated during my wonderful massages from Day’s healing hands, however, it is no wonder that in the middle of my massage she had to stop and focus on him. She said he had been listening to our conversation and agreeing with what we were saying—that his life was complete, that were he to have left sooner I might not have taken the time to just focus on Judy (reminding me that he chose to stay to get as much time as he could with me), that he’d really been absent from his body for a long time and so I was not to be upset that I wasn’t experiencing more grief. He was by her right side and then left nearest my head sending warmth and energy that both of us could feel. Day was impressed with how he was flitting about since she’d really never known him in his younger days. It told her that he as one of the “busiest” little beings I’d ever met…which she said makes sense as he described how busy he now is in his new life.
Jack made sure as she had been massaging my feet she looked up where I had arranged ‘his shelf’ on my entertainment center. It makes me feel good that he’s proud of my efforts on his behalf.
Black Jack has a new companion—still the black and white Shih Tzu-looking fella that had visited him while he was still here. We suspect that he may be a ‘soul companion’ from a past life, as I don’t recall him befriending anyone who meets that description in this lifetime. His new buddy is teaching him how he will take on a very important responsibility. He said he didn’t want to go into details more until he learns more, but it has something to do with newborns. Day and I told him he’s perfect for that—to infuse them with his infinite patience and caring ways. We had to reinforce this since he is so humble it was hard for him to accept the compliment.
When Day asked Jack about the yellow butterflies (that Day says she’s never seen in Arizona) he said, “yes, those were my friends.” And the heart-shaped cloud… ”well, I had a little help with that!” So today I must assume that the even more brilliant golden butterflies that demanded my attention again today were still more of his joyful friends, romping in green fields of flowers and blue skies. It was so fun to watch them flitter about together!
Day indicated that the angel who has loved him so much from the beginning of his transition stayed with him until he was ready to reach out and join in the activities on the other side. As in life, he sort of stayed back and observed as if he were a bit uncertain, even though he knew all those around him already. Perhaps he had been so used to just being with me…just being with me—mostly in the background but always there and usually in the same room. So he wanted to be sure I know that while he doesn’t announce his presence like Katie Lou did he visits often just to enjoy ‘hanging out’ with me as before. Now I can be more aware and appreciative of those ‘heart feelings’ that I’ve had all along, knowing it’s actually my boy still communicating his love and support to me.
Day was just in awe that he was so vibrant and could take the time out of his busy schedule in his new life of learning to join us for so long. Finally his pal nudged him that they had to go now…
Was the massage or the message more powerful…?
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Gone for one month… "Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne” Sounds like Black Jack ‘speaking’…?
Since his departure: many, many sometimes mixed and confusing feelings and thoughts… I’m finding myself in a very unfamiliar space. Although I’ve experienced ‘voids’ before it was never quite like this. At one point as I was missing Black Jack desperately I realized that was focusing outside myself just as has been my tendency perhaps in order to hide from myself. So I asked myself, what would no longer hiding behind dogs, family, significant others, etc. look like? Wouldn’t it look more like living precisely as our dogs DO live—self-focused, no worries, always being completely present in the moment? And how would that translate into the ‘real’ world? I sensed a calm, serene strength… With no worries, the river of Good would automatically flow more smoothly—would gently guide me along. What does it really take to jump aboard that boat?
I’ve been accused of “Pollyanna-ish-ness” all my life and it’s time to realize this is a part of the masterpiece that I Am—I’m actually proud of it! It’s really not a bad way to live. There’s no need to strive to accomplish great things but rather to become the very best ME I can be, naiveté included.
Then today, on the day my boy has been gone for a whole month, while I miss him dreadfully one moment, it also feels somehow as if he was never here. That is heartbreaking on one hand and I know it must mean something on the other.
It’s really difficult to put into words all the unusual feelings and emotions that being responsible for only myself for the first time in life is evoking. So I’m “sitting back quietly” letting it all be okay, knowing Life “alights upon me”… Without Black Jack’s physical body to constantly focus on and care for, it seems much easier to hear his communications now…
Thank you my dear, dear boy!!