Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Running With Animals

I took Annie out for a long walk today. Well, relatively speaking. It was a long walk for her compared to the ones she has been on recently. For the past year or so walks were set to a half mile since that was all Jazz could manage. Today we did a mile and a half, most of it uphill and at a pace that had us both panting by the time we returned to the farm. In the foggy weather it was invigorating, we even jogged a bit. All that moisture in the air keeping us hydrated and warm. It felt good to run aside a wolf again.

Annie is far from a wolf, but she looks the part. She's eighty pounds of fur, fat, and muscle in a wolf gray coat. She has those prick ears and dark brown eyes and a big open face that looks like a slightly tamer version of her wild relatives. She did well out there on our path. We are so much alike, us two. A little wild and a little too well fed, but hungry for what calls to us. We were a good team out there, getting in shape and feeling our hearts beat faster.

When Annie was tuckered out I let her inside to drink water and nap with Gibson and then walked out to the far pasture to halter Merlin. We tacked up and went for a quiet ride down the mountain road. No goals or training tasks in mind. I just wanted to be on the back of a horse, breathing slow and steady, and thinking about the past week. There was a lot to think about.

I am very much at peace with the decision I made for Jazz. But the lack of him in the house is disorienting. I still call out for him when I grab Annie's leash to go for a walk. I have been walking them together for seven years and old habits die hard. Annie sleeps by the front door a lot. I don't know if it's because she is waiting for his return or because she has been confined to the living room/kitchen with a dog gate (Jazz had some accidents and I wanted to keep him on the non-carpeted areas of the house) and this was off limits before. The front door is the draftiest and coldest place in the house. She could just prefer air conditioning. Either way when I see her there I think of the former. I think about Jazz a lot. Some things can't be helped.

It's almost the end of December. I'm not worried about the Mayans or Chase Bank (far scariest to me), but I do worry about other things. I thought about those things as I turned Merlin back towards the farm and let him run home. As he stretched out his thick legs, reaching for his place of comfort and rest, I tried to stop thinking about them. You can lose it for a little if you know where to hide. If I can find that place in the saddle on a running horse it goes away. So I sank into my seat, my ass a dead weight naturally moving with the hind of the horse. I let my heals drop, my shoulders relax, and I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Before I knew it we had loped home and I was sitting on his back, he standing still in front of the black horse head post Merlin knows is his parking space. It worked. the whole time I was free.

I ran with a wolf, I rode a fast horse, and tonight I'll try to let those moments beside my animals help me stop thinking about the mistakes of the past few years. It's hard. But if there is one thing Jazz's passing truly taught me. Our time is so very short here. Try and run fast while you can. And be grateful every time you aren't running alone.


Blogger Christee said...

Sounds like good evening. Cheers!

December 19, 2012 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Exercise and fresh air can work wonders to change perspective. Do share a link or info about Chase bank... haven't heard about that.

December 19, 2012 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks, Jenna.

You don't know how much I needed this message tonight.

Hug Annie & Merlin for me.

December 19, 2012 at 10:35 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am glad you found comfort with the rest of your furry family. I am sure Jazz is glad you are finding some peace. You did the best you could and I am sure he was a happy dog for all his years.

Have a wonderful winter season and happy new year.

December 19, 2012 at 10:35 PM  
Blogger Kelsie said...


Thank you so much for this post. I felt like it was written just for me. In two hours I will turn thirty, and while the notion isn't particularly depressing, this monumental birthday is being marked by crippling, crushing depression the likes of which I've never experienced. The Sandy Hook shooting has left me weeping and hopeless in a way that is totally unfamiliar to me. I'm an eternal optimist...but earlier today, a semi truck almost ran me off the road...and it was only at the last minute I decided to swerve so I wouldn't die. I realize a lot of people read these comments, but I don't care. I'm having a helluva a rough time right now, though my personal life is very blessed and rich. Your post helped put me back into a better frame of mind. I'm still crying...but there's a smile tugging at the corner, too. Thank you. Late night posts from you are a rare treat, and this one was particularly welcome.

December 19, 2012 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger gMarie said...

I've found you through Karen. I was very touched by this post. I think it's very hard to say goodby to a beloved pet - they are family. I know I'm still looking for, calling and missing my male basset who moved on 2 years ago. And now our Lucy has joined him. It's nothing compared to what those Sandy Hook parents have lost.

Thanks for the reminder - that there are many, many good things around if we just enjoy them. g

December 19, 2012 at 11:55 PM  
Blogger Charlene said...

Chin up ladies. It's hard sometimes, isn't it. Hang on and hang in...

December 20, 2012 at 1:42 AM  
Blogger daisy g said...

I am of the mind that there really are no mistakes. Every experience is here to help us progress on our path. The most difficult ones have the most profound effect. Sending you comfort today, Jenna.

Kelsie-I think the events of last week are leaving us all thinking and hurting. I pray that you find solace in something that holds true meaning for you. Peace, daisy

December 20, 2012 at 5:25 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

Our dog Zelda stayed at the front door for a week after we had to let our older dog Sara go. The memory of her is strong in our house, just like the memories of Jazz and George must be in yours. Peace be with you all.

December 20, 2012 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

jenna so sorry to hear you had to make a difficult decision this week with Jazz. As far as Annie, a few years ago we had 3 dogs and then lost one, then the other, now we are just left with Waylon the "pup". Each time we left and did not return with one of the older dogs the others did spend hours waiting by the gate, jumping up whenever we returned home and standing for a few lingering minutes by the door just waiting for the other member of their pack to walk through. I know they recognize the missing member and eventually realize they are not coming back. They realize long before we do that that pack member is going to leave soon and adjust their positions in their pack accordingly, maintaining respect for their elders, but adjusting their positions nonetheless. It doesn't take them quite as long to move on, but I'd expect Annie and Gibson will behave differently for a while while they adjust to their new place in your pack.

December 20, 2012 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger Susan T. Blake said...

"Our time is so very short here. Try and run fast while you can. And be grateful every time you aren't running alone."


December 20, 2012 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger Carl said...

I have 2 dogs and some may disagree, but I really believe that no other animal can reach a human heart like a dog. They connect with our emotions and know our minds before we let our thoughts out. We know that there will be heartbreak one day, because it's unlikely that they will outlive us. With the help of your other dogs, you'll get through it.

December 20, 2012 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger KellyV (Kelly the Fifth) said...

Warm sunny hugs from LA. Kelsie - you choose right.

December 20, 2012 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Jimmie said...

Thank you Jenna, for sharing your emotions about Jazz and the rest of your non-human family. Your words have me shaking my head in agreement. I still miss every animal who has lived with me, but as time passes, I am more able to smile without the heavy heartache that comes on as I've held them for the very last time on this earth.

Your healing is beginning too, I think.

Love from Diane in North Carolina

December 20, 2012 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Kelsie - Hang in there. It will get better. I think we all suffer from depression at one point or another in our lives. This time of the year can be particularly trying with the cold and dark. But soon the days with lengthen and tho it will seem slow to us - before we know it the green spring will bring its promise of regeneration and new life. Every life is precious - those lost in the Sandy Hook murders but yours as well. If those children could speak to you now they would tell you your life is precious and to live it to its fullest to honor them and what they believed in and stood for.


December 20, 2012 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

My condolences on the passing of Jazz. May your fond memories linger.


December 20, 2012 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger JD Lynn said...

That was beautiful, Jenna.

Blessed Yule to you and yours.

December 20, 2012 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Oh kelsie, I understand. Know that this is the toughest part, and light is ahead. You are supported here, that is for certain.

December 20, 2012 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I never comment but always read. I love your blog, your outlook and your determination. The last lines of this post will be staying with me for quite a while. Very well said. Thank you.

December 20, 2012 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Tiffany said...

How very meditative! I know long walks with my Sadie always help me to let go of the fears and worries, even if only for an hour or so.

December 20, 2012 at 1:47 PM  

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