Jodi was a red dog, actually more like burnt orange, a Spaniel mix from all appearances, a mutt, a rescue, my favorite dog of all my life. My wife found her at one of the nearby shelters, the only dog in the whole room who politely didn’t raise a ruckus when my wife walked in. When we brought her home, she acted like she had grown up with us, not excited, not scared, just calmly checking things out before settling down.
It turned out that she had heartworms. Bad. The vet suggested taking her back to where we got her, said it would be risky treating her they were so bad. Taking her back there was not thinkable. We went ahead with the treatment which basically consisted of poisoning her to the point where the worms died and hopefully she didn’t. And she pulled thru. The vet was a gruff old guy but we could tell he went way out of his way to give her every possible chance.
Don’t let her run for a month, he said. Ha! Tell that to Jodi. She had been cooped up in a cage for a month or more waiting for us to show up, and than back into another cage for treatment that she probably didn’t understand. Boy was she ready to run. And run and run. Around in circles leaning in like a seasoned motorcycle rider. Full bore out after squirrels or other critters a quarter mile away. We tried to keep it down but she was past ready to go.
And ready to follow her nose into the next county. It wasn’t like she was trying to run away. All these new smells were just overpowering and her entire being became concentrated in her nose as she followed this critter and that, and who knows what the next breeze wafting in would bring. We figured that’s how she ended up in the shelter in the first place. Just followed her nose one day so far that she broke the thread back to home. We really tried keeping her somewhat under control but she was intent on making up for lost time.
When she was maybe eight years old, my wife came up with another rescue dog, Ralph, half Black Lab and half Golden Retriever. Rescued dogs come already named if you get them from a shelter, altho obviously if they show up at your door you do it yourself. Jodi’s name was actually Jodici, which was the name of a band as I found out when I saw them on late night TV a week after we got her, and never heard of them again. Ralph was half a year old when we got him and I can still show you gnawed off places on the furniture. He more than made up with a big heart what he lacked in brains.
Jodi had settled down a lot by then but Ralph was ready to go and he would take Jodi with him, disappearing for long enough to bring on high anxiety and clenched fists. They would sometimes come back after dark, trying to slip in as if they had just been out to pee. Ralph would be ready to go again the next day but you could tell Jodi was at her limit. We would get reports of them being seen halfway to Glenn or out on the icebergs in the lake in winter.
Toward the end Jodi was going blind but she would still go out with me on the golf course working. She loved to ride on the golf car and would mostly stay with me, but she still liked to follow her nose and would end up far enough to where she couldn’t see me. She would head toward the nearest golfer in a golf car and I would have to call and call until I got her attention, then pick up a rake or something to wave back and forth until she could spot me.
And Ralph would still take her off on his jaunts. He was in his prime and Jodi was an old lady. He would come home without her and I would have to go out looking for her. Often I would find her up by the barn, lying in the tall grass exhausted, unable to make that last hundred yards. I would pick her up and carry her home. She knew I would find her.
I didn’t get to be with her when she left the planet. It was obvious that it was time and my wife panicked, took her to the vet, and had her put to sleep, something she later regretted. I felt cheated, felt like Jodi was cheated, but water over the dam. I buried her in the back field where she liked to roam, near the pond where the sun could warm her rest.
Ralph is an old man himself now like me. For some time I have been thinking of digging up her bones to take them with me wherever I end up going. Like one last time of making sure she was safe at home. Finally this afternoon I took a shovel and a box and moved the big rock which had marked her grave and started digging. I dug and dug and didn’t find anything. I guess it has been something like ten years and I thought at least there would be a skull and some leg bones. Nothing.
I wasn’t sure what to think, I know it was the right place. I didn’t fill the hole back up since I thought I might dig some more tomorrow, but she just may have returned to the earth from whence she came. I say “she” when obviously it is just her body we are talking about and she has been following her nose in doggie heaven all this time waiting for me to show up, hopefully in a golf car.
Accounts of near death experiences often speak of loved family members appearing on the other side. I don’t expect to go thru that door for awhile, tho you never know. In any case, my hope would be to see a streak of red fur heading toward me at breakneck speed, eyesight fully restored, nose open to roam, ready to go exploring the ever present Now.