Thursday, June 26, 2014

...rare and pure and perfect

Sitting on the cold, sanitized, floor of the veterinary office I whispered a song to Gibson. My Gaelic is very limited but I know a few tunes and that is what I sang as I stroked his neck in my lap. The lights were off, we were alone, and I was trying to get him to relax as the sedative he was given slowly brought him down to sleep. The anesthetic was necessary, even though it made me nervous. That deep sleep was just too close to death, the breathing too slow, the body too weak. But both myself and the doctor agreed it was the only way we could properly see to his wound. It was too tender for his waking mind to deal with two humans poking, prodding, cleaning, and patching up.

The farmer cut his paw open on something sharp, Brigit knows what, out in the woods. For several hundred—and a dozen generations of owners—this piece of land has seen a lot of living. Every year new glass, pottery, metal and nails spring from the good earth like a dreaded hangover. Gibson has been scratched and bruised before from his day job but never like this. This was an awful wound and I couldn't fix it myself. So after a week of too-slow healing and a limping dog I decided to have a professional look into Gibson's paw.

The Doctor said it wasn't infected but it wasn't healing either. The toe pad was in half, swelling, and he could not place weight on it. She thought something was embedded deep into the half-inch cut. Gibson was in a lot of pain and wouldn't let us pry it open, irrigate and remove any possible shards with forceps — so I agreed to have him medicated to allow the healing work to begin. It was a fifteen minute wait for him to drift off and here I was on a cold floor singing in a dead language to a dog I loved more than I should.

Outside there was a thunderstorm of large anger. It sounded like the cloven air was frozen and smashed open with a maul. The water poured so hard there was no rhythm to be heard, just volume. Gibson will square off with a horned beast three or four times his size but he is terrified of thunderstorms. The drug seemed to take it off his mind and some part of me worried about the newly free-ranged Cornish Cross back at the farm. Would the young broilers know to look for cover in a sudden storm? Would the hail, rain, and wind just tear them apart? I only half worried about them. I was with Gibson who matters most of all. We need each other and right now as he slid away the rest of the farm did not exist. Burn the whole place to the ground as long as I still have my dog.

Gibson was not in any real danger. I knew this but being alone in the dark without distraction brought up a lot of emotion. It was a meditation on love.

I wasn't sad or worried, just full of love for this animal. No other living thing has spent as much time with me in my life. None. Gibson and I have never been physically apart for more than four hours, not even in sleep. With gratitude and absolute love I sang and told him he would be okay and running again soon. My practical brain worried about the money of the vet visit, the fact I would miss another house payment, the stress of both of us being range animals without much of a net...but my animal brain - the wild and real part of me - didn't regret a thing. Beside this dog is where I belong. His feet were his entire being and they would be healed. Nothing else was an option.

Have you ever read Dave Egger's short story After I Was Thrown into the River and Before I Drowned? Read it.

We spent an hour and a half at the vet that day. When he came to he was too groggy to walk so I carried him to the truck, placed him in the front pasenger seat, and kissed his forehead. When we drove home I carried him to a cushion on the floor and brought him a bowl of kibble. It was not until he was content that I went outside to see if a dozen dead birds scattered the yard. (They did not, all birds were safe and dry in the barn). Then I came back into the farm house and lay on the floor next to him. I scratched his black and white mane around his tired smile and told him he would always have all the love he needed.

I know that sounds silly, saying such things to a dog, but I meant it the way that the storm meant it. I love him. And when I love someone it is never, ever, ever, a gentle rain. It tears open the sky and stops all rhythm. Love matters more to me than all other things and my loyalty is foolish and brash. It is my favorite and least favorite part of myself. This is why you don't read about boyfriends or bars on this blog. They do not happen. I do not understand this world of partial commitments and casual sex. It's a path to a mostly lonely life in a modern world where fluid is swapped as flippantly as playing cards. I don't mind being alone. I don't mind waiting a lifetime for substance. Direwolves mate for life, can wait a life.

I hope you do not think I am comparing my love of my dog to romantic human love.  But at its root all love is the same thing - that tribal feeling of belonging, fiercely protected when had and savagely guarded from those who might abuse it.

Anyway, Patrick Rothfuss said it better than I possibly could in his novel, The Wise Man's Fear:

“We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because. That's as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect.”


Blogger Beth Brown said...

I just loved your eloquent post. I'm so sorry your boy was injured but I certainly understand your love of that dog. I have a similar love in my life.


June 26, 2014 at 1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful. You made me cry. Give that ole boy a hug for me.

June 26, 2014 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger Sarah Kopf said...

I could have written this myself as my sweet pup also just had surgery. Extra treats for your beloved dog today!


June 26, 2014 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger barbsbirds13 said...

Healing energy to Gibson. Understanding going to any extreme to help your dog is legion and your tribute is beautiful. Such loyalty and commitment is sustenance itself.

June 26, 2014 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Anja said...

Hope Gibson is healing up soon, know how you must feel, I had my little girl sedated about 3 month ago and it war scary sitting on the cold floor in the vets office (on a Sunday) and have hear go all limb and then to take ages to get back on her feed.
Sending healing thoughts to Gibson

June 26, 2014 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Maria said...

There is nothing wrong with loving fully. There are plenty of us still out there (here) who don't 'do' casual.

Your post made me think of the Diana Gabaldon Outlander books for some reason (maybe because I finished her 8th book a few days ago). When I read those, I can relate to the intensity of loving one person which she depicts. I'm not fighting for my life in Scotland or America in the 1780s, so I'm not entitled to feel that epic, but I feel the same way about my man - I am just not as good a writer as her, or you.

Sending healing wishes over to Gibson.

June 26, 2014 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Thank you all for the well wishing!

June 26, 2014 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I am no Diana G - But I would do the same for Jamie Fraser.... :)

June 26, 2014 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Anja - it is such a long, rough, wait!

June 26, 2014 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Manya said...

Please keep writing your heart out, it's a beautiful dedication to all you love and those of us who are lucky enough to be a witness. Mend fast Gibson.

June 26, 2014 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger Elaine said...

You cannot love anyone or anything too much ... there's no such thing love the way you love, just as you are who you are .... it's a wonderful thing.
I just finished the latest Outlander novel too ... have been in love with Jamie Fraser for years ... hope I don't have to wait another 4 years for the next one .

June 26, 2014 at 3:17 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Cully said...

xoxoxoxo to you and Gibson

June 26, 2014 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger Nancy po said...

I've loved all my pets very deeply, on a whole other level. Compared to having your own kids & that type of relationship, they're so non-judgemental and accepting. Always happy to see us :)

June 26, 2014 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger Einit Borowsky said...

Well said Jenna. Gibson is a Lucky dog to have a friend/Mother/Partner like you. If he could speak, I'm sure dogs feel the same way. What matters most is living in the now, with love. No halfhearted love..but balls out, over the fence,fireworks kind of loving with all of your being, heart and soul. After all, isn't real love service to another. Our dogs serve us and show us they love us with every bit of their being. I really hope he gets Bacon for breakfast and chicken liver for Dinner. :)

June 26, 2014 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

im crying like a baby. thank you for your post. im pretty shore my old dog (and in a house with 3 people there is no question that he's MINE) will not be seeing another spring, and its breaking my heart. you put it very truly. burn the hole thing down, just leave me my dog....

June 26, 2014 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

This is some gorgeous writing, Jenna. I'm sending good thoughts to your pup.

June 26, 2014 at 6:28 PM  
Blogger ella said...

The love you speak of is the way our Creator loves us, flaws and all. He expects us to love that way, too.

June 26, 2014 at 6:30 PM  
Blogger Candy Cuthbert said...

Very beautifully written Jenna. There is love shining in every word of this. Healing thoughts for Gibson this day.

June 26, 2014 at 8:42 PM  
Blogger Mary Schroeder said...

Get well soon Big G! Did the vet find anything in his paw?

June 26, 2014 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger English sheep gal said...

Hope Gibson is on the road to recovery soon. So hard for a working dog not to be able to work and supervise 'their' animals. Probably weird for you not to have your work partner by your side too.

Was the vet able to find anything stuck in the wound once he was sedated and she could take a proper look? Or did it just need flushing out?

Maybe you could have a volunteer session at some of the workshops for people to walk in a line and do a 'sweep' like when they clean the beaches, and help you find and remove some of things sticking out of the ground that may cause injury, before next winters frost brings another batch up to the surface!

Off topic, but excited to receive a whole new batch of recently released Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall River Cottage DVD's from the UK today, for my husbands birthday next week. There's even one where they take the RC experience and try to replicate it in Australia. We got a multiregion DVD player so we can play the PAL UK ones as well as the US ones. Even more excited that I put together a small coop today and am picking up our first 2 chickens from a neighbors farm next week - that's his other birthday present, it's currently hidden under a tarp in the basement!

June 26, 2014 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger ddu said...

I say all those loving words each day to my black lab rescue, Burleigh Nuzzle Burrows. He knows I mean it. He and I send best wishes for healing and happy days ahead to your dear Gibson.

June 27, 2014 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger Joleen said...

Love to you and love and healing to Gibson.

June 27, 2014 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger daisy g said...

Aw, poor sweet boy. It's quite understandable your feelings for him. He is your rock, your pal, your working partner. You are blessed to have each other. Healing thoughts your way...

June 27, 2014 at 8:47 PM  
Blogger sandalfoot said...

As I was taking a moment to read your blog, my little Max was lying on the floor recovering from his second surgery in two weeks. There is nothing like to love of a dog, theirs so unconditional, our only hoping to be as devoted. Thinking of you and Gibson. Your words brought tears.

June 28, 2014 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger Michelle Huddleston said...

I too love my dogs with my whole heart. My heart dog is seriously ill, so I know exactly what you are going through

June 29, 2014 at 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second what Michelle said. I was already crying, I lost my Aussie yesterday. Best dog ever.

June 29, 2014 at 12:54 PM  

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