Juno, Wes, and I were enjoying a beautiful evening walk. Juno, our four and a half month old puppy, would spot leaves and pounce so excited to capture her illusive target. She loved to eat flags in the ground, and always wanted to say hello to every dog we met, and this night was no different.
She was having stomach discomfort and although I was nervous, I was told this is normal for a puppy to have digestive issues.
That was Saturday night –
Easter Sunday morning at 3 am, Juno begins to whine. We go outside and she is still having concerns. She comes inside and can no longer hold down the water she just drank. I begin to feel that this is not normal, and soon we are at the Mayfair Animal Hospital.
After a few x-rays and tummy rubs, it looks as though there might be an obstruction. I begin to beat myself up, thinking what I could have done to take care of her better. I kiss her head and watch her being taken downstairs to prep for surgery.
I sit in the waiting room while completing paperwork and listen to her cry for twenty minutes, not knowing that would be the last time I would hear her say goodbye.
As my day continues, I become a mess. Everything yoga and meditation has taught me goes to the side as I continue to judge my actions as a puppy parent. I think about the high quality food we give, the dog park visits, doggy daycare, and the long 4 mile walks we would enjoy together, walking and running whenever it felt right. Was it enough? Did we do something wrong?
I was assigned a walking meditation practice, going through a labyrinth for yoga certification homework. I was restless, and Wes thought it would be good to continue on with the day since she was in the hands of professionals.
As I begin my journey through my walking meditation I become anxious. I find myself wanting to just get to the end, always having the goal in mind. The labyrinth is created to have participants travel closer to the middle, and then walk back to the edges, with no sign of how far you have to go to reach the middle. I started realizing how goal focused I am. Asking myself, ‘what am I rushing to’? I found a sense of peace half way through and as I approached the final destination I suddenly froze. I am at my goal, and suddenly did not want to finish. I hear the word ‘death’ as clear as a bell from my inner voice and I collapse into the middle of the maze.
As I sit and reflect, I realize I am rushing to nothing, because in the end, that is what we have in common: The thing I fear the most – death. I swear to take life a bit more lightly, experiencing more of the path rather than my focus on the end goal.
On my walk back from the center of the maze I ask for peace. I felt that Juno had taught me a lesson and I vowed to cherish the moment every day, praying she would return to my side.
On my run home from the maze, I imagined Juno, healthy, running at her favorite sub seven minute mile pace and in my head I laughed telling her to slow down.
Wes and I continued our day with yard work and I started to make an early dinner.
At 5:00 pm we received the call. “There was no obstruction, but she has clots of blood coming out at an alarming rate. Could she have gotten into poison?” Poison? We don’t have any in the house. Three children and numerous pets used to live in our home and we watched her like a hawk. What have we done?
We went over to the hospital to visit, and found her hooked up to every beeping machine you could think of, with oxygen over her mouth. My heart has never ached so much and as we kissed her, telling her she is beautiful, we watch as more blood escapes her body.
Wes and I decide, we do not care the cost, lets give her blood, platelets, give her antibiotics for any poison she could have come into contact with. Juno will be our miracle dog and we will be so thankful when she is home in our arms.
After hours of pacing, wondering, leaving and coming back home, we get a call that Juno is picking up. The blood is on its way and the vets have hope. Wes and I take a moment to breath and laugh. Thankful we did everything we could.
Less than thirty minutes later, we receive a different call. Juno stopped breathing. She was almost gone but they were able to bring her back. We rush over to the hospital and spend the next two hours working with the team to see what we can do.
Juno responds to our voices cooing familiar words: “Juno, when you feel better we will take you to the dog park and you will have so much fun playing with other puppies.” She is in love with Wes, and would demand to wake him up every morning at 5:30 am. We started to joke about her morning wake up calls and she began to open her eyes even more.
As her heart rate starts to climb to dangerous heights, with a sudden burst, she picks up her head, and looks us both in the eye. We praise her with such joy and she looks at peace. We were told that was a good sign and they are going to move her. We move into the lobby and just two minutes later we are told to come back down.
Juno stopped breathing. She would no longer respond. She was ready to let go. We kissed her, told her she did such a good job and thanked her for the short time we spent together on this earth.
In the end, the vet said we gave her everything for different possible poisons or other bacteria. He said it could very well be a genetic issue, and in the end he felt like a blood clot traveled to her brain.
We were able to spend some time with her after she passed. Feeling her cold body, I experienced the most heart wrenching sadness. Our beautiful dog, one that I had prayed for years to have, one that loved both Wes and I, was now gone.
As I cry uncontrollably holding her toys, I feel I am back in the labyrinth, at the end, not realizing the whole time I should have enjoyed the experience more.
At 5:30 in the morning we both wake with tears. It is almost like she was at the edge of the bed, telling us to wake up, her last joke before she leaves for heaven.
Juno – You are my guru and such a beautiful teacher. Wes and I were able to experience what it was like to have a family, and to intensely love the same amazing being. You showed us how incredibly fragile life can be and how to enjoy nature more.
You will always be my running buddy, in flesh, in spirit, always.
My hope is that Juno’s story will inspire more than just our family. Hold your pets a little longer today; kiss your spouse, your children, your friends, and your family. Tell them how beautiful they are, and forget about the goal – just be, right here in this moment.