Sunday, October 31, 2010

Peacefully Flying

Jordan Love
September 8, 1996 - October 31, 2010

Jordan passed this morning just before 11am EST. It was beautiful, peaceful, and full of love. We sent her off with visions of gratitude, courage, love, adventures and flying.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


As I posted in the previous blog, here is a picture of Jordan and I dressed in our Halloween costumes at the airport to pick up Uncle Toni. Yes, he was surprised to see us!

This morning our day started in a very unexpected way. I was asleep upstairs with Jordan. Colten was in the backyard. I heard a blood-curdling scream, jumped out of bed, flew down the stairs and found Toni, flat on his back on our deck. He had slipped and fallen. He was in excruciating pain, his knee was swollen, and he couldn’t move. We called 911. The EMTs arrived, assessed him, and off to the hospital they went, suspecting he had a dislocated knee or possibly a break. Yikes. Not how I thought our day would go. Colten followed the ambulance, and I stayed back to watch the dogs. I had a long phone call with Kate, my best friend and Jordan’s godmother. It was wonderful, I cried a lot, but it felt good. I tried to do some chores as I received 30 minute text updates from the hospital. Our dear friend Barbara Carrellas arrived from New York City. I felt grateful to see her and just have someone acknowledge how crazy everything was. Then the FedEx man and the postal carrier arrived with two packages—a gorgeous bouquet of sunflowers from our friend Davis and a box of treats from Amelie. Two wonderful surprises! About an hour later, Colten returned with Toni in a knee brace and on crutches. Nothing is broken, luckily. A follow up with an orthopedic surgeon and an MRI will give us more information. We installed Toni on the couch and ate a late lunch. Jordan got to have ice cream (Frosty Paws ice cream for dogs) for dessert after dinner.

We had a call with Laura the animal communicator, and all four of us—me, Colten, Toni, and Barbara—were on the line. Jordan said she felt lighter, and she felt like she was sometimes not in her body. We wanted Laura to explain to Jordan what is going to happen tomorrow. Barbara has prepared a ritual for us to help Jordan cross over, and we’ve made an appointment with our vet to come to the house to assist Barbara. Tomorrow is a day with a lot of meaning. It’s Halloween. It is the Pagan holiday of Samhain (the Pagan New Year), which celebrates the end of the lighter half of the year and the beginning of the darker half of the year. Pagans believe that on Samhain the border between this world and the other world is the most thin, allowing spirits to easily pass through. It is my late father’s birthday (I know, I am the daughter of a man born on Halloween, go figure). It is also my Daddy’s birthday.

The call was wonderful. Jordan told Laura that Barbara brought magic with her. Barbara got to ask for her input in the ritual. Jordan reiterated that she was ready to go and felt a combination of deep sadness that she was leaving us and intense happiness at the life she has lived and the love that she feels around her. She said, “Mom, I am not going to leave you. It feels like it, but I am not going to. I promise mom. I feel happy I have a little bit of time left. I’m going to really enjoy it. I love you mom and dad. I love you.”

We all sat on the living room couch and Colten hooked up his laptop to the television. We watched a slide show Colten put together of hundreds of photos of Jordan. We told stories about the pictures and reminisced about all the amazing things we’ve done with her. We plan to put the slide show up on the blog this coming week. It’s really amazing. Not sure if we will blog tomorrow, but please check back for the slide show this coming week. Thank you all so much for your love and support. Your emails and comments are such a comfort to us and we are grateful for each one. If you’re awake tomorrow morning (East Coast time), please keep us all in your prayers and wish Jordan a smooth, positive transition.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Jordan’s Halloween Costume Revealed!

It has gotten much colder today, and Jordan does not like the cold weather at all. Last winter was very difficult for her. It was one of the worst winters we’ve had up here. Jordan would go outside to pee and start to shiver because she was so cold. It was really hard for her to go because she was too cold. Once it started snowing, Colten used the snowblower to make a path in the yard for all the dogs, but especially Jordan who would be swallowed by the snow. Without snow, the yard is open and it’s pretty rare for Jordan to run into anything. As soon as it snowed, and the snow accumulated, she would start on the carved-out path, then end up running into a wall of snow over and over. One of us had to go outside with her and watch her like a hawk. She was so miserable. Today, after the sun went down, it went down to 44 degrees, and I immediately thought about what this winter would be like. I think it would be intolerable for her.

Jordan had a really good morning today. It didn’t take her long to settle down after breakfast. She spent the morning lounging on the couch in my study with Reggie Love. Then, I decided to use the rest of the apples we picked, so I made an apple pie!

It’s a recipe for apple pie with a crumb topping that my mother has been making since before I was born.
Once the pie was out of the oven, Jordan and I got into our Halloween costumes. And now it can be revealed…We are Bumble Bees!

Colten took photos of us after we dressed up. We wanted to take them outside, but it began raining as soon as we were ready.

Question of the day: who is the Queen Bee? It’s difficult to say since we both have very strong personalities.

Reggie Love and Harley wanted to know what was going on, and eventually, with lots of coaxing, Colten got a shot of me and all three dogs.

We can’t find our small camera, which has a timer, so in order to get a shot of Colten, Jordan, and I together, we experimented with the tripod. Colten decided that he would dress up as the Beekeeper.

We abandoned trying to get all three of us in the shot, so I took some of the Beekeeper and the Boston Terrier Bumble Bee.

Jordan and I have decided to wear our costumes to the airport tonight when we pick up Uncle Toni (my big brother, Jordan’s uncle), who’s coming from Boston to spend the weekend with us. We are all looking forward to his visit so much!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jordan Goes to Therapy (and the Beach)

Today, we went to therapy, and our wonderful therapist told us we could bring Jordan with us. She was fussy at first, but after about 15 minutes, she fell asleep. So here she is with her green blanket on the "therapy couch."

Interestingly, our therapist noted that Jordan did not look ill or fragile. It's true: if you see her and she's feeling okay, she seems fine. Her coat is super shiny since we've been cooking for her. She's alert. She walks and pants and smells stuff around her. Most people don't see what we do as her caretakers. She gets very agitated in the morning and at night—the times are pretty predictable. When she's in that state, she cries, she won't settle down, she is anxious and utterly inconsolable. We can take her outside, feed her, cuddle her, but nothing makes her feel better. We simply have to wait it out and eventually she settles down. It can take two or more hours. Before we changed her food and weaned her off her thyroid medication, it could go on for four hours. Twice a day. When she goes in the yard, about 90% of the time, she begins obsessively circling; the circles get smaller and smaller until she gets really dizzy and stops. Then she starts again. We have to carry her everywhere—a combination of her blindness and disorientation means she cannot navigate without running in to stuff—up and down stairs, from room to room, outside and back inside.

When she had her seizures back in 2008, they lasted for less than a minute each. She made this horrible screeching sound, her body went stiff, then she snapped out of it. When she had her seizure 2 weeks ago, it was entirely different. We were asleep, and her body began spasming. I woke up immediately. I knew. She lost consciousness and her body was jerking uncontrollably. Her mouth was open, then she started foaming at the mouth. I just stayed with her in bed, told her it was okay, and let it play out. It lasted for 7 minutes. When she came out of it, she was beside herself. She was freaked out. She started circling while standing in the bed, panting, crying. She did that for another 3 hours while I sat up with her. She finally fell asleep. It was really traumatic for all of us, and nothing like her other seizures. This was a grand mal seizure. The next morning, we immediately increased her phenobarbitol dosage, but we realized that even if the higher dose stopped the seizures, it would only be a temporary fix. Thankfully, she has not had an seizures since then. I pray every day that she doesn't have another one. I don't want to wait until she can't or won't eat, until she has another seizure, until she is in pain. That is what is on the horizon, and I don't want that for her.

Colten and I have talked before in therapy about Jordan's illness and the last stage of her life. Our therapist was really present today for us and didn't try to rationalize with us or calm us down or anything. I really appreciated it. I feel like Colten and I are on the same page about caring for Jordan until the end, and that is a blessing. We both feel good about what we are doing this week. Your comments on this blog and tweets and emails are AMAZING. Each one of them is a gift. I heard from one of my closest friends from high school (who I have not been in touch with in a million years) on Facebook today. It was so thoughtful and sweet. Because Jordan has travelled so much with us, she's met nearly everyone in our lives, and even people who don't like dogs (I'm looking at you, Ira) fall in love with her.

Of all three dogs, Jordan likes the water and swimming the most. It's so odd: she's a short-nosed breed that was never built for swimming, and yet, she loves it. Here's a video of her and Harley playing fetch at a beach in San Diego in 2005 - amazingly just a month after she lost her right eye. Her favorite toy is a slightly deflated soccer ball. Harley beats her to the first toss, which is shallow - but notice who dives in after the ball when it gets thrown out past where Harley's feet can touch, it's pretty amusing.

Jordan has always liked the beach, and one of my best memories is of the three of us at a beach in Santa Barbara. She wanted to play fetch with a bunch of big dogs (this is when she could still see). She dove into the water—the Pacific Ocean, people!—over and over. But one time the ball went really far. The golden retrievers and labs started swimming out for it, and Jordan just followed them. She got so far out, and suddenly a big wave came and crashed over her head. Colten and I panicked. Colten took off his shoes and socks and dove in the water after her, but there she was, dog paddling back to the shore. We haven't been to the beach since her last visit to CA a year ago, and we thought the weather this week was going to make it impossible. Our therapist told us about a nearby lake with a sandy beach, so we decided to go for it.

We had never been to this beach, which is part of a state park, so we admit we got a little lost! Finally, we arrived at Thompsons Lake in East Berne, and we were the only ones there. Jordan and I walked on the beach for a while. She eventually discovered the water and dipped her toes in. We walked around some more, then she headed back into the water. Soon, she was in deeper than she expected and couldn't figure out which way to get out. But she didn't panic, she just seemed confused. Jordan has always been fearless. It's inspiring. She's blind, she's in the water, and yet she still keeps going, still tries to figure it out. She's been like that her whole life—always unafraid, always looking forward, always optimistic. Well, we didn't want her to get too far out, so Colten rolled up his jeans, took off his shoes and socks and in he went to "rescue" her.

He swooped her up and we went back to the car where we rolled her up in a big towel to dry her off. we got in the car and turned the heat on, and she fell asleep on my lap.

Last Night

Colten and Jordan fell asleep before me and I just could not resist snapping this shot.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shopping Trip

The weather really didn't cooperate with our plan to go to the beach; thunderstorms were in the forecast, so we decided not to risk it. I am someone who thought I'd never dress up my dog. But Jordan doesn't have a whole lot of hair and easily gets chilly in the cold weather. So, it started with one coat, then a sweater, and then there was a mini-wardrobe. I am not sure if it's her dog show past, but Jordan is incredibly tolerant about wearing clothes. She will let me dress her in nearly anything! Usually, it's all about keeping her warm and comfy during the winter, but a few years ago, we got her a Halloween costume. Last year, we found this amazing pig costume, which I just could not resist. Of course, we had to get costumes for the other two dogs. We did a photo shoot with all three (which you can see on Facebook), and it was lots of fun.

Today, we decided to go shopping with Jordan for this year's Halloween costume. Of course, once she arrived at our local pet store, she wanted to check out all the yummy treats. She has high standards, so she is drawn to the organic, homebaked goodies. We let her sniff out her favorites, we bought them, and then we let her indulge in whatever she wanted.
She also picked out a GIANT bone for Reggie Love and Harley.
Next up, we checked out all the costumes. She tried on a sheep (or ram?) costume which definitely had potential.
There was also an interesting inch worm.

Colten liked the penguin, but we couldn't try it on her. There was also a very strange bus with peace signs all over it. It just felt strange dressing my dog as a hippie ride to Woodstock! I was grooving on a dinosaur costume, but we could not find it in her size.

In the past, we have kept Jordan on a pretty strict diet since it's very easy for her to gain weight after one trip to her dogsitter (who spoils her with treats) and lots of food upsets her delicate tummy. We've given that up, letting her eat as much as she wants this week, so she's definitely gotten chunky! Boston Terriers are not easy to fit into dog clothes in the first place, and we wanted to make sure her thick little body fit in the costume. So, the dinosaur wasn't going to work. What did we end up with? Well, you'll just have to wait and see.

We picked up some dinner for the humans, and Jordan was getting fussy after being in the car and making so many different stops. Halfway home, she finally fell asleep in my arms, nuzzling her muzzle against the crease of my elbow and breathing warm air into my skin. I managed to keep her sleeping when I brought her inside and parked her bundled up on the couch to continue sleeping.

the snoring Boston Terrier

Special thanks to Lorna Hunt for teching this file conversion. This was Jordan snoring last night, a very common occurrence - especially when she is sharing your pillow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Talking with Jordan

Today was full of tears for me (Tristan). I woke up sad and just couldn't shake it all day. We had a phone appointment with Laura, the animal communicator. Disclosure here: we have spoken with our pets through this animal communicator for about 5 years. She has told us some uncanny things, and we choose to believe that she can communicate with our pets and the information she gives us is helpful. The last time we spoke, about 4 weeks ago, Jordan told us that her stomach was feeling much better since we started cooking for her. But, like the call before that, she did not seem ready to die; in fact, she said she felt better overall since we changed her diet and added supplements and homeopathic remedies. Today, things were different. She described her body as a "broken clock," and said she was not happy or enjoying life. She described her grand mal seizure from 2 weeks ago, and the description she gave Laura sounded like a near-death experience. She told Laura it was clear that Colten and I were very upset, but that she was ready to go to dog heaven. She just wants to feel better. She said she enjoyed her visit to the cows and she felt like she had pretty much done everything she wanted to in her life. She did say she'd like to go to the beach. Not a surprise, since she's been to the beach with us many times and used to love to swim. So, we've decided to make a spontaneous trip to the beach tomorrow. I just felt so much grief today, and it would not stop washing over me. Jordan's impending death is bringing up lots of issues for me around the death of loved ones, specifically my father. I know that we are doing the right thing for her, but it doesn't stop the sadness from feeling totally overwhelming. Colten was determined to get us all out of the house, so we finally got in the car and headed to our local park with Jordan and Reggie Love. We decided to leave Harley at home to hold down the fort. Jordan walked around a little and did not immediately begin circling, as she often does at home, so that was a pleasant surprise. Then she laid down on the blanket with me, and Colten took some photos.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday adventures for the BT

We have decided to make it a priority to spend quality time with Jordan this week and do things that we know she loves. Today, we headed to visit a small cow farm. First, we stopped by the Freehold Country Store for a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. Jordan really likes when we get these (and any of you who've visited us have probably sampled one). Colten ordered extra bacon so Jordan could have an entire strip for herself in addition to a big piece of Tristan's sandwich. She loved it!

Jordan also loves the smell of cows and cow manure. She has visited several farms before, and she always goes right up to the biggest animals, including cows and bulls, to sniff them out. She is totally unafraid of animals that are much bigger than her. Fearlessness has always been one of the qualities I admire in her; she's full-steam ahead, balls to the wall every day. Because she's lost her sight, her meeting of the cows had to depend mostly on her sense of smell, which, luckily, is still working.

Many of the cows looked up and checked us all out as we approached the fence. Two cows in particular took a liking to her. One smelled her, nose to nose (and sneezed on me). Another one decided to be bold and used her enormous tongue to lick the side of Jordan's face. Unbelievably, Colten captured it on film!

Jordan used to take great pleasure in rolling in smelly things, and manure was the jackpot. When she was on leash, it was fairly easy to steer her away from it, but when she was off leash, she would often roll in it and trot back to us feeling very proud of herself. I wore special shoes today so I could walk her right through the manure. This if the first time Jordan has ever had access to cow manure and not rolled in it gleefully—it's just one of those moments when we realize that she is not entirely herself.

We walked across the street to a local farm stand, where Jordan posed with giant pumpkins.

Then, we headed to our local swimming hole, a beautiful spot very close to our house. It's one of our favorite places to visit, to take guests, and to swim. We brought all three dogs there once and they had a great time. We were super lucky to have a mild, warm day—it was almost 70. Colten toted Jordan all over, and she posed for about a hundred photos. She was entirely chilled out as he carried her through the stream in his arms to one rock, then the next, trying to get the lighting right. Back when she could see, she was an amazing model, posing, giving looks to the camera. She's still pretty amazing. Although she cannot see, Colten simply follows where she's looking. She remained calm and never fussed once the entire time. When he brought her over to the rock I was sitting on, she continued to be calm, and she even fell asleep on me. I am trying to stay really present with her, and I found the tears welling up in my eyes. I got very sad that these are the final days of her life, and this would be her final trip to the swimming hole.