I’ve thought about this day for a long time. Probably for close to a year. The day that I would write the blog post about losing Jewel.
Bear with me, this will be long.
When you have a pet, and you’ve never lost one before, you dread the day you have to say goodbye. With Jewel, I sometimes feel like she went down so quickly. Other times it feels like a really long and heartbreaking goodbye.
Sunday will be the one month marker of her passing. I waited until I thought I could do this without breaking down, but the tears come full force today as I type.
You should know that I never intended to get a dog the day I went to the shelter and saw Jewel. I only went to drop off some food and a small donation. You see, just three months before I had stupidly stepped foot inside of a pet store (my anti pet store opinions can be a whole other post) and saw Wookie. So, a second dog was not something I thought I needed.
I remember looking in the kennels located in the back of the Warner Robins Animal Shelter and seeing this salt and pepper schnauzer in a pen with about 5 other dogs. It was crowded. All of the dogs were barking their heads off and Jewel was close to the front silently watching me. I said to the worker, “That looks like a schnauzer.” He replied with, “It is, and boy does that dog love water!” I didn’t think much about that comment until later. I asked if I could walk her and he leashed her up. She was so good on a lead. She knew a few commands: sit, stay, and come. I learned that her owners had surrendered her just a few days before and that she was three years old and named Jewel.
It blew my mind that an owner could surrender a dog they’d had for three years. I filled out the paperwork while she sat at my feet. I remember leaning down to her face and she gave me her signature kiss- multiple quick and soft licks right on the nose.
I couldn’t pick her up until the next week after she was spayed. However, I went to visit her at the vet’s office right before her surgery. They let me visit with her in the lobby and walk her outside. I remember she seemed disinterested in me. I didn’t realize at the time that she was grieving the loss of her other owners and probably just scared from being in a shelter and now at the vet.
After her surgery, I picked her up and we headed home. I remember being so impressed at how she knew to jump in the car and curl up in the seat. She was a great rider. She wanted to look out of the window from time to time, but was so calm. She was nothing like Wookie (the little terror)!
At home, she moped. She wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t interact with us, wouldn’t play. However, at night she’d curl up on the couch at my feet to sleep. Wookie, who refused a crate, had always slept next to me. With the arrival of Jewel, that changed. The first night, Wookie crawled over my legs to get to Jewel and curled up next to her and slept all night.
Did I mention I never meant to keep Jewel? I intended to find her a “good home.” Fourteen years later I sit here sobbing over the best girl in the world who adopted ME.
That summer, I picked up a water hose to water a plant I was doing my best to kill when all of a sudden Jewel let out the loudest bark/scream I’d ever heard. If you own a schnauzer you know the sound I’m talking about. She CHARGED the stream coming from the water hose and began screaming and biting at the water. I remembered the shelter worker’s words “she sure does love water!” I’m guessing now that he learned this as he attempted to clean kennels in her presence.
Chasing the water hose became Jewel’s game. Anytime I was outside and even touched the water hose she went berserk. Not only did she live for the water hose game, but if I put water in a cup she’d drain it. It was as if she thought water in a cup was a treat and somehow different from the water in her bowl. He was right, she sure did love water!
I have to admit, Jewel loved me with her whole heart UNTIL she met her daddy. The very night she laid eyes on him, she went right to him. She crawled into his lap and did her schnauzer gaze. I lost her to Bobby right there. She always preferred him to me from that point on. She only wanted me when she sick. Otherwise, she was a daddy’s girl.
Jewel had an amazing life. She traveled with us, was on the cover of a magazine, was featured on Jane Velez Mitchell’s (Headline News) pet of the day segment, and won a couple of photo contests. She vacationed at the deer camp, rode the gravel roads with her head hanging out of the window, chased squirrels and rabbits on a daily basis, had a killer wardrobe, a special pink heart blanket that she used as a “cape” and was LOVED with our whole hearts.
The photos I want to share today are the last photos I took of her. I took these about a month before she died. She was weak and frail and losing weight rapidly. I knew these would be the last ones.
I remember that ride to the vet’s office almost a month ago. Bobby was driving, and I was holding Jewel. We were both sobbing. She was so weak that she was lying with her body against my chest and her head resting in Bobby’s hand. She took turns just gazing at each of us. I remember saying to Bobby, “You know, you think when you get a shelter dog that you are saving them, but SHE save ME so many times.”
This dog was with me through a failed relationship, through recovery from a major surgery, through four moves, a new marriage, and countless times she healed my heart and pulled me out of some dark moments. When you have a dog, you can’t dwell on your failures or heartbreaks for very long. They won’t allow it. She leant her soft ears to my tears and tugs too many times to count.
I will always miss her. I look forward to seeing her again, and I truly believe she is in heaven now. She is whole. She is happy, and she hasn’t let God put the water hose down yet!
I wish for everyone to be rescued by a shelter dog. I wish for every dog to be loved half as much as Jewel.
This is for our girl.