My Good Boy
The vet fully supported the decision. She was wonderful, telling me a story about a Buddhist and her dog and offering tissues and water. The work of ending his life did not take long. He passed peacefully on the office floor, my face buried in the rough of his neck as the vet delivered the heart-stopping syringe. As he was fading the vet told me to tell him how much I loved him, and all I could say was "he knows" and then he was still. When it was all over, the staff gave me a few moments with his body and then told me they would mail me the bill.
I drove home with just his collar and leash. His body remained behind and would get a private cremation later that week. I didn't feel guilty, just hollow. As if someone just took away the ability to feel or react. I looked at the empty passenger side, and the window. On the short ride down Jazz was leaning painfully against it, his eyes glazed over. I then realized I should have cracked the window, or opened it so he could feel the fast air on his face one last time. I didn't think of this one kindness, and broke down into a kind of cry that doesn't let you drive.
After college I was offered a job in the Urban South. I was leaving behind family, friends, and 22 years in the Northeast, which was the only place I knew as home. I had only been on my own two weeks before that wolf was my roommate. I adopted Jazz in 2005 from Tennessee Sled Dog Rescue, outside of Knoxville. I went there with the full intention of taking home a malamute, not a Sibe. Malamutes were my dream dogs, a manifestation of adventure and independence from a childhood of reading Jack London novels. But when I pulled into the driveway of the kennel I saw a flash of red running down the hill. I can still see that powerful blur of color in the rainy mud. A lone Siberian Husky in a sea of giant Alaskans. After looking at dozens of young Malamutes, it was the six-year-old red dog that I wanted to meet. He had been following me around the kennel for the entire tour, his yellow eyes glowing behind a smile. I had never seen a more beautiful and calm animal that looked so wild. He laid down in my lap and was mine. I took him home in my new (to me) silver Subaru Forester.
He was with me through moves of five states. He hiked with me through the Smoky Mountains, pulled me through the wilds of Idaho in a dogsled, Drove on cross country road trips to Pennsylvania, walked aside goats and geese in Vermont, and came of an old and beloved age here in New York. He went from a pet to just a natural part of my life, the care of him as normal as showering or starting up the truck - actions you do without thinking of them as a burden. Jazz was never a burden. For seven years he was my dog. He was family.
This Video was made in 2009, right when I was at my most scared for the the farm. That winter of 2009/2010 I was told I was being kicked out of the cabin in Vermont and had to find a new place for the animals and I. I was broke, worried, and so emotionally invested in agriculture and writing as my calling I refused to give them up. I was certain of just two things: I needed to keep the farm going, and I had no idea how to pull it off. I made it. Jazz was there through it all.