Conversations with Annie, My Jack Russell
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Last week I was shopping for an extension cord and another timer for holiday decorating, roaming around the store in a fatigued state, wondering if there was something else I needed. I suddenly and I hope surreptitiously realized I was talking to myself. Now, I know this is a bit strange and have to ask myself several questions. Am I “loop de loop?” Have I truly gone ‘round the bend? Have I been in pain far too long or it is possible those brain cells are dying off faster than I am replacing them? I would have to say a resounding “YES” to all of the above. But talking to myself in public is not my usual behavior and I realized I needed to get a grip. At least I wasn’t wearing my slippers, curlers or green facial crème.
Since I was in my son-in-law’s store, his brother approached me with a smile and asked me what I was looking for. I admitted to him I was just roaming around talking to myself but in fact, I realized at that moment, I was accustomed to talking to my dogs. My family is used to my weird if not colorful behavior and he thought little of it…I think.
We have two dogs at our house who allow us the privilege of working and cooking to feed them; the opportunity to bathe and care for them, as well as the pleasure of their company. Our Jack Russell is as bright as the average child whereas our other dog is somewhat challenged. His mother was a showgirl who was born with beauty but unfortunately didn’t have a brain in her head. He’s a Miniature Schnauzer and I know, from our previous pet of that same breed, this one, Jake, is not typical. This guy is all growls and no whistle; and deep in his heart, I believe, he thinks he’s a Rottweiler. Annie, well, she just runs the world from all she surveys. Oh, if she only had thumbs, watch out world. I tell you all of this to set the scene for what my daily life is like. These are my companions. I spend more time with them than with anyone else and as companions go, they’re the best.
My conversations with them are long and often constant. Annie never looks at me as my dear spouse does and say, “Huh?” They both like to be in the room where I live, whichever room that happens to be; albeit a bit of a tight squeeze in the bathroom.
Annie has been ill lately as aging and a low thyroid level have made life more difficult for her. It seems I’ve been talking to her more than usual as we now have much in common. We both stand at the foot of the stairs, looking up and I find myself encouraging her. She whines and I say, “Okay girl, you can do it. You just have to get started then it gets easier.” It works 99 percent of the time and the other one percent; I give her a confidence boost with a lead attached to her collar. I have thumbs so I can grip the banister.
When it’s time to give her the medications she now needs, her non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and her thyroid pill, I do have to outsmart her and wrap them in creamy cheddar cheese. I found she can spot a pill in anything else and eat all around one and leave it on the floor for you to step on later. The creamy cheddar cheese spread works great. I’m not certain, but I think she knows they are in that glob of cheddar and was simply holding out for a method that was tastier. As for me, I still have to settle for the old “down the hatch” method but have found I can no longer take pills a handful at a time and also can no longer take them with a liquid right out of the can or bottle. I swallow best with liquid from a glass. It’s amazing how often I see changes in my life and body brought on by rheumatoid disease. In this case it’s a subtle change in the working of the esophagus. Choking is not an option.
When it’s time to get up onto our tall four-poster bed, which is also Annie’s, at least the bottom one third, we both have to now use stools. I confess she does it much more theatrically than I do. I sort of climb up and fall onto the bed with a groan; whereas Annie does the “false start, false start, ‘I think I can’, then leap and fly through the air” act. Jack Russell’s are great acrobats, even when they’re aging. I’m not.
I’ve learned so much from Annie there really isn’t room to list them all. Succinctly, she has taught me to keep a sense of humor; it pays to have someone to cheer you on, whether it is her or me. She’s also taught me life plods on and we plod on with it as we do what we have to do. I cherish her company, her sympathy and her courage. Maybe if I come back as a dog in the next life, I can be an Annie.
Video: Conversation with Dog called Annie
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