PJ: The Next & The Final Chapter
This one is long too. And the photos aren’t the best. And I curse a lot. And I’m not apologizing for it. Maybe one day I’ll write that book I keep threatening to, but for now it’s another blog post…
Having enough wits together right now to tell you what I know so far. In all it’s raw ugliness. If I don’t do it now it risks never being done. I take pictures & I write & it soothes a bit…but again, there’s a story that deserves to be told. Her life will not be in vain, dammit. And there were secrets.
Got the speediest course in the last 24 hours. A life course. A death course. And the complicated crap that gets in between.
Have you ever known someone with a serious mental illness like schizophrenia? They can see & hear things that other people can’t. When I used to read patient’s charts at the hospital they revealed the same histories over & over & over…abuse, neglect, trauma, lack of support. Interviews brought details from past lives sprinkled with religious themes & paranoid delusions. Yes, so sad. Some could be helped but others will suffer forever. Society is so ashamed…used to lock these people up in institutions for years. Families are shamed & shameful. They all have a dirty little secret.
Clinicians care for patients in these “conditions” but sometimes it’s too much. Sometimes they take on the unsettled energies of the ones who count on them for help. Sponges in spirit. They give…& it takes from them too. Sometimes if you can’t fix this horrible pain & despair & living nightmare it takes a toll. So you try to teach coping skills. Play soft music. Bring peace in ways maybe they weren’t aware of before. To make their lives less hard to bear. But you know those lives will never be what they truly deserve.
PJ had a hard life before she was abandoned on that dirt road. I don’t know the details of what she endured, but I felt the pain loud & clear. It’s better if I don’t know. She watched 2 of her puppies die when they were run over by workers rushing to their job. The last one, Pinto, was adopted by PJ, the guy who alerted me that they were there & worked up on the tower at the end of the path.
About 6 months ago I got a call from PJ’s wife. She explained that Pinto had become aggressive towards other animals on their property & could I help? If I couldn’t then “the worst” would have to happen she said. Well fuck no I can’t help! I’m busy rescuing other dogs & dealing with my own shit & hearing that PJ’s only surviving puppy was also aggressive & about to be killed was all too much to take, so I was rude & hung up as quickly as I could. Then blocked it out of my mind. Until now. A dirty little secret.
PJ was schizophrenic. She was OCD. She was on the autistic spectrum. She never got over the loss of her babies & the trauma of watching them die. She suffered abandonment. She was sweet & loving. More affectionate than all my dogs put together. Only 2 nites ago she laid on her back with all her legs spread out & head cozy on my thigh & I tickled & massaged her fat piggie belly for over an hour while she lay quiet & didn’t move an inch & I whispered to her knowing in her deafness she couldn’t hear me but on some level I know she could. I’ll never forget that moment. I hope there’s an angel assigned to piggie belly rubbing up there.
But the last 24 hours was different. There had been a series of aggressive episodes leading up to this point. She was forced to stay in her crate because it was too dangerous for me to let her out. I needed to make a decision quickly. And I did. But not without the help of some kind people I know. Seems there are more little dirty secrets than I ever knew about. Rescue is a weird world. People outside of the bubble don’t know what goes on & what needs to be endured. Because we love them & feel put on the planet to protect them. And they don’t ask for a damn thing. Ever heard a deaf dog in desperation? Here you go…& this was nonstop despite how many sorted drugs I pumped in her in hopes she could rest one more night here.
I reached out privately last nite to several rescue friends. Was so confused & inexperienced with this sort of thing. Maybe there was a stone I hadn’t turned? Maybe there was another country place she could stay? Allie wanted to take her back but the owner of the land she stays on refused & said that it was too much of a liability to have an aggressive dog there. And who could blame him? Allie & I have spoken daily since PJ came to live with me. She was very supportive & so hopeful for a good outcome. But I realized last nite that Allie was MY angel. She kept PJ alive for ME by providing a zen environment free from the distractions that plagued her…which was most things/objects out of the norm…& kept me happy knowing I could visit & not have to be faced with making a decision.
PJ was not rehab-able. Allie told me straight up she would always have to be “managed” & I could never trust her with other dogs or most situations outside of her small space. I’m sorry if my last post eluded to the idea she was now perfect after her time at Allie’s. She was country institutionalized. So if Allie was my angel, I needed to be PJ’s. They don’t make big girl panties big enough. For realzz.
So, back to my friends…the ones that gave me the strength last nite. Here’s some excerpts from conversations I had. It was like loving poetry popping in my inbox through the nite. Sharing here because I just know someone else will need to hear these things…
“There is one thing worse. A dog who has never known love left to die in the street. That is worse! She is loved, you are listening to her and she will go to sleep in a warm loving place.”
“I feel despair sometimes because there are so few places to “put” animals who need help. When one has particularly bad issues, and we’ve done all we possibly can under the circumstances, we have to also remember the safety and wellbeing of other people (those who may agree to take her in) and other animals including that of ourselves–I know you love her, but you cannot have a dog in your house like this.”
“There are times that I say out loud, “What the fuck am I doing?” On the nights I get home late from work and I have to clean pee from my incontinent senior cat, then clean vomit from a dog, then make sure this dog gets meds, take everyone out, feed them, then…you are right, it is a blessing & curse.”
“It takes so much more courage and love to be able to call it then to keep a dog alive so we don’t feel the pain. She wasn’t OK at Allies. She was not faced with anything.”
“As rescuers we do what we can, we give our best. We are always going to be the ones with other dogs. If PJ were a human, she would have to go into an institution. I am not a fan of killing–I can’t even kill bugs. But I do believe there is such a thing as humane euthanasia and that there are worse horrors. What if you were not here tomorrow to care for PJ? What would happen to her then? No one would be able to take her on. And she would be mistreated because no one would understand or love her the way you do. I know this is not easy and it shouldn’t be. You are preventing worse things from happening to her.”
“She came back to the one person who would advocate for her…and be that strong for her.”
“I know the end of the story. But I adopted them anyway because my life with them in it, even for a short time, is better.”
And then there was my Kira from Intuitive Pet Care:
“I love you soulsiSTAR you are amazing. We know it, the animals know it, the universe knows it, and I hope YOU know it. You are not alone in your experiences, your feelings, your thoughts. You are LOVED and supported more than you know. There is no wrong decision when it is coming from your heart. You always have and always will do the best you can to make sure the animals are taken care of. Be gentle with yourself and always remember the decisions you make are perfectly guided in every way. There is more that you will see later.
Let the tears flow to move out toxins and heal emotional undercurrents. This is good…ALL of it. The divine plan doesn’t always have to feel divine to prove its existence. Everything will be OK . I know you’re wondering when things will smooth out and it seems like it’s one thing after another but please trust you are going through A LOT of healing and transformation right now. Don’t let it add to your shell but instead let it serve to BREAK It. OPEN your heart through the pain. Don’t close it (PJs lesson).”
And finally, Sue. We were in brownies & girl scouts together in NY & our rescue work got us back in touch a few years ago. She is a veterinary tech & was coaching me on the doses of meds every hour to try to help PJ relax:
“I’m home all night. I can stay up with you if you need me to.” Cue: ugly cry, again.
This is sooooo not about me, but… I can tell you that making the decision to euthanize your otherwise gorgeous & healthy 3 year old dog is more painful than the dictionary has words for. Like someone is slicing all your guts up while you’re awake & have no strength in any of your limbs to fight back. Helpless? Shit. That would be putting it mildly. Paranoid? That you made the wrong decision which is so final that you just can’t fuck it up? Yes. Regretful. Pissed. Confused. Blessed because you knew them & you loved them & they loved you & you wish that was all it could be & it still was but it’s not. And it won’t be ever again. Not in this lifetime anyway.
God, I wish my time would come sooner. I just want to hold them all again. The 3 babies I lost in a year. And if you think that makes me sick & suicidal for wishing & hoping & thinking about it then fuck you too. I don’t have children. And I don’t know why God made me a crazy dog lady. But that’s what it is. It’s real for me, so judge all you want cuz I ain’t listening…my shoes are Jimmy Choo & your ass can’t afford to walk in those bitches anyway if you got something to say about it. I’m blessed. And I know it to the core of my being, I know it. She came back to me from Allie’s so she could sabotage shit so I would be the one to give her this gift. She is with her babies again. The voices are gone. No one can ever hurt her. Not even one more time. No more muzzles. And I’m letting her go so she can be back with me in spirit as soon as she’s ready. Yup, another dirty little secret.
So 2 angels came this time. 8am at my house this morning. Dr. Flores & Christina. They won’t want me to go on & on about them & I will respect that. But just know what they did was extremely loving & brave. Our heart soldiers in this crazy mess. By choice.
I felt the moment PJ’s heart stopped beating. My dogs stopped barking from inside the house. No trains. No construction noise. And PJ was forever quiet & I noted that moment you could hear a pin drop in the big city. She was at peace & we gave her that gift.
“Oh this horrible wonderful life of mine. Crying & laughing. Loving & hating. Peace. Fear. Hope. More lessons. Friends who are soul sisters more than anything. They get it & are with me in the most profound ways. Several of them, so I am the luckiest most blessed girl in sadness tonite. Wow it humbles me to the core. Makes no sense in so many ways. But we keep marching…” — Love, RA