JD Allinder

Posts Tagged ‘Georgia’


In Posts on September 10, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Karma died on August 21. He was a 12-year-old rescue dog who spent the last five years of his life with friends Paul and Heather up in Traverse City. I haven’t seen Karma in a long time – about a year and a half – but I’ll always remember his gentle nature, his desire to please and be near people, and his expert companionship on the trail. He usually slept with me when I visited, and he generally followed my requests and commands better than my own dogs. Sweet Karma.

Karma’s past is sketchy, but he definitely suffered some sort of physical abuse, probably prolonged. (Paul suspects there may have been some irreparable brain damage.) He was never able to fully recover, and I was always amazed at his ability to love and trust humans in spite of his setbacks. I think the first time I met him he was pretty much glued to me like a long lost best friend. Of course Paul and Heather’s love and understanding of animals – their general philosophies pretty much mirror mine – had everything to do with Karma’s rehabilitation and his success at becoming a necessary member of a new pack. I’m so glad he found P&H. Not everyone would be as patient with his quirks as they were. They were certainly challenged by dealing with Karma’s idiosyncrasies, but they never stopped loving him, and now they miss him terribly.

I have several memories of Karma, but the strongest is from a visit Jane and I took up north in December 2008. Jane had just been with me a couple of months, and she was an absolute wild thing. Paul and Heather had three indoor cats at the time (fearless old Mao has since died), and Jane spent all of her indoor time treeing them on desktops and bookcases. The only way to get Jane to calm down inside was to run her for three solid hours in the snow every day. (This holiday actually gave birth to the exercise regimen that we follow to this day.) The snow was deep, and the woods where we walked were hilly. Each morning I took Jane and Karma out for a two-hour run – Karma off-leash and Jane on a 20-foot lead. I’ll never forget Jane’s need to go go go go go – no time for resting or reflecting. She dragged me behind, knee-deep in snow, sweating buckets in the 20-degree deep freeze. And there was Karma, smiling, perhaps a little bit confused (his human companions were overseas), but up for whatever Jane and I dished out. He was so kind, so thoughtful, and he exhibited such tireless sportsmanship. Karma was a real gentleman.

Yesterday was the second anniversary of Georgia’s death. My cry didn’t last as long this year, and I realized that I spend more time now thinking about Jane than I do Georgia. That’s not to suggest that I don’t think of Georgia multiple times every day. Framed pictures of her remain just where they’ve always been throughout the house, and I still catch glimpses of her around every corner and in every shadow. Georgia’s taught me what it means to live with death. It’s still sadness, but it’s now mixed with a certain sweetness, joy, and hope that I can’t quite put my finger on.

“Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.”

-Edwin Hubbel Chapin



In Posts on September 9, 2009 at 9:01 pm

GA in the Garden

Georgia died a year ago today. She was my first dog as a grown-up and my best friend for almost thirteen years. The full spectrum of Georgia’s effect on my life is difficult to measure. She was my constant companion for all those years, through thick and thin. She was the most reliable and important thing in my life. No matter how difficult a day was – and I had a few rotten ones over the years – Georgia was always waiting for me at the end of it. Nothing else really mattered when Georgia was around. She instantly put everything into perspective. I’ve never loved anyone like I loved Georgia. She was an angel from Heaven, and I like to believe that she’s returned home and is waiting for me.

I met Georgia in March 1996. I was at the Humane Society looking for my first grown-up, on-my-own dog. I took most of the dogs out for short walks to get a feel for their temperaments. I skipped over Georgia’s kennel several times. She was skinny and had dirty, stick-up hair. I was focusing my attention on the dogs I found aesthetically pleasing, but they weren’t interested in me. Each enjoyed going out for a walk, but there was no connection. After exhausting all the dogs, I sighed and took Georgia – her name was something else, I can’t remember what they called her – for my final walk. I found her so unappealing. I thought she looked like a junkyard dog – so undignified. As soon as we got outside, Georgia dragged me across the parking lot to a grassy knoll, jumped on me with all four paws, and knocked me to the ground. As I laid in the wet grass, covering my face, laughing, she was jumping all over and around me like a crazy nut. If she could speak English she would have been saying, “Let’s go!” Her message was unmistakable. I just kept laughing and telling her, “Okay, okay.” When I went in and told them I wanted to adopt her, I found out she couldn’t come home with me straightaway. She’d have to stay at the shelter another 72 hours for spaying. I thought I’d die. I didn’t want to be without her. I’d spent my whole life without her, and suddenly I couldn’t imagine being separated from her for those three days. I vividly remember those three days felt like a year. I never thought she’d be mine.

She died in my arms. She’d been having seizures for several months. They were most likely from a brain tumor that I decided not to test or treat. She was 13 – an old, old, lady – but she was still in good spirits. In fact, we even took a short walk the day before she died. (In 12 and a half years, we only skipped our daily walks three times.) During one of her seizures I couldn’t contain myself. I got on the floor with her and held her in my arms, crying. She licked my hand. I’ll never forget that. She was in the midst of suffering, and yet she was concerned about me. Her final seizure was violent. I thought she was dying. She lived through it, but the damage was irreversible. I let her rest all day. She didn’t eat anything. In the evening I took her to the hospital to have her euthanized. I helped her into the back seat of the car. It was warm out, and I drove with all the windows open. In the rearview mirror I could see her sitting up, enjoying the full rush of air on her face. She was smiling.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Georgia. Her pictures are all over the house. Sometimes I dream about her. I mostly think about her life and not her death, and I think that’s a good thing. Sometimes I do think about her death, though. I had never seen death until she died in my arms. One second she was alive, and the next she was gone. Life is so fleeting, so impermanent. I thank God for allowing our paths to cross. She was my teacher in life, and she’s my teacher in death. She’s still with me. I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true.