I had thought that this past weekend would have been different. I had planned to upload Christmas photos and share stories of Christmas, both here and up with my family. I thought it would be all happy, happy, joy, joy but alas, as is often the case, God laughs while I make plans.
Instead of sharing with all of you the happiness of the holiday season and the start of the New Year, I sat and cradled the head my 14.5 year old Dalmatian as I said my thanks and goodbye to him.
Jordan McKay Duncan was a dog I never thought I wanted. He, and his brother, Pixel, were strays that a friend of Dakota's adopted from a shelter when they were 18 months old. She had only wanted Pixel but couldn't leave Jordan behind because he was slated to be put down at the end of that day. She called us and asked if we would take him.
We went to meet him on October 31st and upon meeting me for the first time, he lifted his leg and peed all over me. Not really a great way to endear yourself to me but to him, I think he was marking me as his own. We took him home where he joined 6 month old Jaxon.
The years went by and he grew older but he was always, always, always a wonderful dog with so much love to give. He wormed his way onto my couches and my bed....and definitely my heart.
The last two years have been trying with him. The last year was the hardest I ever went through with an animal. Through it all, I loved him because getting old isn't graceful and it isn't fun......and it was no different for Jordan. It felt like once the kids were both sleeping through the night, Jordan began his numerous nighttime wakings and needing outside. His accidents, too many to count. His getting off schedule and demanding to be fed at 2am for months on end. Believe me, if Jordan wasn't sleeping, I wasn't sleeping either. There have been many nights I logged a pitiful 3 hours of sleep while taking care of Jordan's needs and cleaning up messes.
I honestly believe that Jordan single paw-edly kept SpotShot carpet spot removal in business. He gave my washer and dryer a run for their money. He tried my patience. And even though I would tell myself I wouldn't miss him when he was gone, I knew it would be far from the truth.
Through it all, those big brown eyes would look at me and say "I'm sorry. I love you and I am so sorry to make such messes." And I would forgive him over and over and over as I scrubbed poop out of carpets.
My life revolved around Jordan for the past 18 months. I couldn't be gone for more than a couple hours unless he was gated in the kitchen. And even then, I would often come home to messes. Every moment was consumed with "Does Jordan need out? Does he need medicine? Is he ok? What does he need now?" and the like. It was exhausting. Completely overwhelming and utterly exhausting. But it was my life.
And then...the kids and I got home from Seattle on the 31st. The kids left with Dakota around 5pm and I headed out to Stephanie's to celebrate the New Year. I was back home by 1am to take care of the dogs. I let the dogs out in the backyard to do what dogs need to do except the fireworks were so loud that Maddie got completely wound up. She charged at Jordan, trying to get him to play. Jordan, being unsteady on his legs because his back knees were so weak (from his days of rough play with Jaxon and, as it turns out, perhaps hereditary issues as well) was knocked off balance. I could tell immediately that he was hurt. He limped his way back into the house. I gave him a pain pill to help and I was hoped he would "walk it off" the next day and I started getting everyone settled in for the night. He wanted up on Kaylen's bed. I helped him, as usual, get up on it. Then...after I left the room, he jumped down. The thud and cries were heartbreaking.
I ran in and sat with him until he was calm. I helped him up and tried to get him to sleep on the floor. Nothing doing - he wanted the bed. I helped him up and he stayed there until 6am. He got down on his own and limped outside, then ate his breakfast and, with help, went back to bed. At 8am he got up again without falling but was clearly in pain. I gave him more medication to help. By 830am he couldn't walk without assistance and he would fall to the ground over and over. I sat with him and kept him calm.
At 9:30 I text'd Dakota to fill her in and we made a plan. Having been up very late to celebrate the New Year, the kids were still sleeping. They were up, an hour later, the four of them got ready and headed over. At that point, I had been sitting on the floor with Jordan for a few hours. Stephanie had spent a couple hours talking with me on the phone and listened to me as I talked about Jordan's younger years and all the emotions I was dealing with at that moment. I am so thankful for that connection because sitting with him, knowing what was coming, was painful. I realized losing him was going to be far more difficult than I had been telling myself for the past year.
Finally, around 12:30, Dakota, and everyone, showed up. I was hesitant about having the kids there but it turned out to be a really good thing. They were able to see for themselves that he was in bad shape and I think it helped them understand a bit why we had to make the choice we did.
Kaylen wanted pictures taken with him so we took photos and everyone had some time to say goodbye. We couldn't get him up to get him to the car so we scooted a blanket under him and we all carried him out to the car. Dakota and Vicki went with Jordan and I stayed with the kids.
It was absolutely gut-wrenching to watch them drive away. I pulled myself together for the sake of the kids and I took care of them. Dried their tears and indulged them in making scrapbook pages (their idea) so they could have photos to remember Jordan. They wanted the pictures we had taken printed out, so I downloaded them and printed them. They created pages and Kelton typed up a poem. I think it was really good for them to do while they processed their loss.
Dakota and Vicki soon returned and after a few minutes, we got the kids ready to leave. Just as they were leaving, Stephanie arrived. We said goodbye to the kids and closed the door. It didn't take long before I was a mess of tears. Stephanie held me and let me cry and cry. We spent time with Maddie, who was a mess in her own right. Dakota took care of the kids and got them through the day.
It's been a couple days of intense grieving for all of us. Last night, when I was putting the kids to bed, it was hard for all of us. Jordan was a BIG presence in this house. He was seemingly everywhere and suddenly.....he is no where. It's a huge change that has all of us off kilter and feeling fragile.
In time, we will get used to him not being here but for now? Right now the house is big and empty and quiet.
We miss you Jordan. You will forever be loved by us. Thank you for an amazing 13 years with me.