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In memory of Jeannie

My Glorious Jeannie


Our family is blessed to have had one of the best dogs in our home. Jeannie was hand-selected by Benny to love us and show us a better way to live. Her love was unconditional and always patient. Words usually flow freely from my heart when trying to convey my most meaningful thoughts. This is not one of those times. Just like Jeannie’s love, my words today can only be simple and straight to the point, yet I hope that my lack of artistry easily brings you to the time when Jeannie was with us in physical form and some kind of understanding of how hard it is to live with her gone.

I have these pictures in my mind of the times we spent together.

I remember Jeannie and my then 3-year old daughter, Angilynn, on the grass, laying down on their tummies and playing together. They were facing each other. Angilynn rested her elbows on the ground with her hands around her face, giggling while the two of them were so affectionate with each other. Jeannie’s soul touched Angilynn’s in so many ways. I meant for the two girls to grow up together, for Jeannie to see her buddy transform into a teenager and, possibly, a college student if Jeannie decided to live that long with us.

Time was not on my side.

I learn my lessons too late, but the only thing that makes me live is the idea that God willed for all of this to happen in order to make me a better and a more whole person. I wish Jeannie could take away my pain, but I know that she served her purpose in life by teaching me these lessons. How my heart aches for her soft touch and her fulfilling breath. How my arms wish to hold my dog. How I hope that I was a good enough mommy to Jeannie.

The pain burns most when we eat at home. Kato and our new buddy, Pikachu, sit next to us. The lack of Jeannie’s presence is so real and so big. Tears can’t help but to swell up in my eyes sent directly from my empty heart. Is it mere vanity to assume that Kato hurts, too, wishing for his long-time best friend to return at any given hour? I give Pikachu the love that her own spirit deserves, consciously aware of treating her for the beauty that she is. Yet I will not be deceptive to say that my two dogs do not feel my sadness for Jeannie every day.

I hate it most when people ask me how I’m doing with a tone in their voice like I’m supposed to have let go of this pain already. I blatantly explain that I lost Jeannie, one who was like my child. That seems to shut them up really fast. Those without the experience of loving four-legged animals aren’t at fault for not sympathizing with my pain, but they’re almost better off just saying, “I am sorry for your loss,” instead of assuming that another dog could just easily replace the grace Jeannie had blessed me with.

At Barnes and Noble on Father’s Day, dog books everywhere surrounded me. It seemed like I had subconsciously attracted the tools I needed to heal from her physical loss. I picked up DOG YEARS by Mark Doty. His words are so healing, authentic and creative. Mark is an experienced and emotionally in-touch writer who can easily express the loss of a best animal friend. I, on the other hand, feel a need to get the most elementary words on paper. I plainly want the world to know how agonizing it is to live without my beloved Jeannie.

As much as I cry and allow my emotions to release, I know that everyone is right. She would want me to go on and accept the love and lessons that her untimely death has brought into my world. “Untimely.” Such an unnecessary word, but I feel that it is properly used in this instance because I thought she would mature to an old dog. I envisioned us taking those endearing walks with people smiling at her aging body. I failed somewhere because I got caught up in my professional successes that I must not have envisioned our long lives together more strongly. I must not have made it clear to the Divine just how much I needed Jeannie in my life, to help me, to grow with me, to teach me and, above all, to love me. Now I have some solitude in my car to reflect on those four years and seven months that she gave this world. I will never forget the day we first took Jeannie home and Benny told me to not hit her. He gave us his prize bitch with full intention and trust that I would raise her to be the best that she can be. My life was busy with a baby and a growing practice. In her lifetime, she helped us cope with three of my husband’s layoffs. With each job loss, I learned more and more the importance of LIFE in comparison to anything lifeless.
I can never forget my mistakes and I know that in order for me to grow, I have to hold on stronger to the love that we shared. The fond memories that Jeannie gave our family will always be cherished in our hearts.

I love you so much, Jeannie. I miss you every night and day. Thank you for giving this family the best years of your life. You left us with Kato and you gave space for Pikachu to have a loving home. You can never, ever be replaced and you will always have a precious place in our hearts. I know that you look after us. Angilynn talks about you often and I remember your love whenever you send me a rainbow and a butterfly. I look forward to the day when we are reunited forever. I am so proud to have loved you and I will always keep your pictures up in our house to remember how good of a dog you were. You were a glorious Staffordshire bullterrier, worthy of your title and worthy to have stood among world-class dogs. Actually, you were in a class of your own, and you improved my life by showing me patience, understanding, gratitude, healing and the most important thing in life: love. Thank you for coming with me to work and for being so quiet until it was time for me to lock up and go home. Without you, I would have spent all night at the clinic. Thank you for the special way you’d silently cry, delicately place your paw on my lap and tell me that it’s time to stop working. I can still feel you when I push myself at work. I spend more time at home now than I do at work. You served your purpose in my life so well. God must be very proud of you and I believe I am a better person now because of your enduring love. I give more love now because you loved me.

Our dogs are very precious. Please take lots of family pictures with your animals. We did not take enough. I knew the love I had when she lived, but I took for granted the idea that Jeannie would be with me for many, many more years. Every moment is a gift. Treasure those words and show some extra love to your pets. They truly deserve our very best. There are only few greater honors in life than to have a dog depend on us for their every want and need.

In memory of our beloved
Ch. Shogun’s Dark Phoenix
“Jeannie”

Thank you, Benny Gasmen, for our precious dogs. We are in debt to you always. Long live Shogun Staffords legacy. I am very proud of you. Thank you for making me a guardian of this very special breed.

-Anna Navida Dolopo

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