Thursday, November 18, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things: a note from Colten

I met Jordan in July of 2001. I had only known Tristan for about 5 months and she invited me to NYC for a visit. On that visit I met her two dogs, Jordan was almost 5 and Reggie Love was 7. I moved in with Tristan, Reggie and Jordan the very next summer. Since then so much of my life has been about our dogs... Jordan and I have shared some amazing memories and she has taught me a lot. Here are some of my favorite Jordan memories:

Early Morning Runs in the Park. Sunrise trips to Prospect Park to run among the vast pack Brooklyn of dogs. Jordan would take off immediately and run at least 100 yards away from us in pure joy. Reggie would stay closer to us, but was very good at fetching Jordan when we asked her too. Jordan was amazingly fast, always found a stick to carry around, and would only come back to us when she was ready to.
Pictured: Jordan ready to take off!

Road trips! Jordan and I have driven across the country 5 times together. Her favorite place to ride was lying across my lap between me and the steering wheel. She is an excellent car companion and loves to pee in new places, so driving someplace new was a win-win. She even drove with me and TT in a Penske moving van when I moved to Brooklyn.
Pictured: Jordan and I driving west to CA for the summer of 2003.

Hotel Room Living. Jordan traveled with us so often that she thought of hotel rooms as her other home. She was known to do a perimeter search as soon as we got into a room - searching for food and any signs of cats, always checking under the bed which she could often crawl under. This search was reliable and adorable and she wasn't satisfied with a room until she had fully “secured” it. Did not matter to her if it was a Motel 6 or 5-star luxury accommodations, she was just happy to be part of the adventure. When her vision began to go her familiarity with a standard hotel layout served her well.
Pictured: Jordan at the St. Regis in 2008.

Photo Modeling. Jordan was a poser. She loved the camera, loved the attention, and encouraged me to take more photos. She was a charmer in that department, which made up for the fact that Reggie would bark if you even pointed a camera towards her. Jordan had endless patience for the camera, and I credit her with getting me so into taking dog photos.
Pictured: A classic favorite Jordan pic around here, this was taken on our Brooklyn window bench in 2004.

Cat Stalking. Jordan loved cats. Not in a bad way, but in a really super obsessed way. She *needed* to meet the cats, always. If a cat was behind a closed door she would wait, and lick the door, cry and wait some more. Really, she has spent hours waiting outside doors. We called this door waiting routine "cat worshiping," as she would eventually lay down with her head on the floor between her two front paws.
Pictured: Jordan waiting patiently outside the door, hoping for a chance to meet Prince.

Super Fetch. Jordan loved to play fetch. Preferably with really large toys, a deflated soccer ball or football was ideal - but anything she could get her mouth on would do. She was also an incessant barker during these fetch rounds - she'd bring you the ball, drop it and immediately start barking until you threw the ball for her. And she played fetch when she was blind too - it just took some tricky and careful tossing on my part. The only bad part was when I had thrown the ball but she was still barking at me as if I hadn't.
Pictured: Jordan playing fetch in a park - this was a break on a cross country trip driving east.

The Snoring and the Sleeping. Oh, Jordan was adorable in bed. She was fond of sleeping under the covers, which she would do each night until it got too hot then she would stand up and try to find her way to fresh air. And the snoring, she would sleep on her back and snore the night away. Cute unless she was sharing your pillow.
Pictured: Jordan asleep in Ventura on my sister's couch. Waiting for a baby human to arrive is exhausting.

Swimming. This dog loved the water. Lakes, rivers, oceans and kiddie pools. Bring it. Some of my favorite Jordan memories were on the beaches of Santa Barbara and San Diego. Countless rounds of Jordan diving into the ocean after soccer balls. Rubbing in the sand, diving back into the water, shaking it out of her ears. She loved it all.
Pictured: Jordan in the San Diego bay - swimming back with the soccer ball in her mouth.

Jordan on Tour. Jordan was part of the official TT entourage. She traveled to many of Tristan's tour appearances, and that included several college campus stops. It was my job to negotiate Tristan's contract and it always included a rider about Jordan. Slightly awkward to explain at times, Jordan was no teacup-sized purse accessory, but she was very much part of the official package.
Pictured: Jordan waiting for the action to start during a visit to Smith College in Northampton.

Rub outs and Rollover. Those of you who have spent time with Jordan know the adorable noises and actions that add up to her back rubbing squirms and rollover antics. While it started as a technique to apply filth, Jordan adapted it to other tasks like trying to remove her harness or any other clothing like item she didn't want on her - and in 2006 Jordan agreed to let it be put on cue, rolling over and over again for treats.
Pictured: Jordan enjoying getting closer to the ground while on a walk in the park in Greenville.

The Flying Dog. Jordan flew with us on almost all of our big trips. She was just small enough to fit into a carry-on dog bag. This means she flew tucked under the seat by our feet. She never barked, never cried. She was perfect, no one ever knew she was there - not even when she farted... nope, they just thought that was us. And when we would stack our luggage up on a luggage cart she would sit on top of the bags and just balance and waive to all the people - "yes, I am the queen of this stack of bags, thank you." Such a good flying dog she was.
Pictured: Jordan and I nap in ORD waiting on a flight delay.

Jordan the Scrappy Fighter. Yes, she was a fight picker. She always went after dogs bigger than her - including her sister. She played dirty and never seemed to need a reason. This all came about when she was about 7 years old, later we figured it might have been from chronic back pain, or maybe even early brain tumor signs. I will say that she lived the last 4 years of her life in total peace. The scar on my upper lip is a Jordan bite, received while separating Jordan and Reggie in the middle of the night. It was dark and I grabbed her out of the fight, but pulled her up near my face - where I became a casualty...
Pictured: With her vision on the decline Jordan tried to pick a fight through the window with this nice J Crew dog mannequin.

Kissing. When Jordan wasn't fighting she was certainly kissing. She loved licking people’s faces and she would slip you the tongue before you even knew what hit you. Nothing like being coated in Jordan saliva, and this face washing was not reserved for any elite crew, all people and canines alike were subjected to her tongue if they got within reach.
Pictured: Jordan can kiss and drive at the same time. Super talented.

Heat Seeking Missile. One thing Jordan and I both have in common is a love for heat. She would spend hours in the sun in the spring and summer. We called this sun routine "baking." She also liked other sources of heat: heating pads, heating blankets, the hair dryer, towels fresh from the dryer, space heaters and caves of blankets formed around the forced hot air heating system. Jordan joined me on many cold mornings bundled up in a blanket directing heat into our own special cave for two.
Pictured: Jordan baking in the CA sun.

The Dirtiest Dog on the Block. Jordan liked it dirty, no really. I should make a slide show just of her dirtiest pics. She rubbed in dead things, coated herself in mud, or dirt, or sand - really she would used whatever filth was available. Oh, and she loved horse shit, and cow shit. Yes, if it smelled bad she wanted to be coated in it. This also meant Jordan got a LOT of baths, fortunately she didn't mind as long as someone gave her a blowout, did I mention that she really loved the hairdryer?
Pictured: Jordan coated in a mud suit during a visit to a dog park in Colorado.

Jordan filled my life with more adventures than I ever expected a 15lbs black & white package to do. She was a feisty attitude filled bundle of snoring love. And she was a great companion and inspiration for travel. I miss her, but promise to keep up the dog adventuring at home with Reggie and Harley.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Jordan’s Passing

We let Jordan pick our wakeup call time, and she got up at around 6 am. We took all three dogs outside, and I could feel how cold it was. Toni slept on the couch, so he woke up when we came downstairs. At a previous session with Laura, we asked Jordan what she wanted to eat. Dogs communicate in images, and Laura said, “It looks like, well, what you’d put in a taco, like taco meat.” Those of you who know us well may be smiling right about now. We’re very fond of tacos, and when we have them for dinner, sometimes Colten will put a little taco meat in with the dogs’ food. We thought for sure she’d choose filet mignon, which we suggested, but she said it was too hard to chew (makes sense—she is missing two of her canines and several other teeth) and to let Harley and Reggie Love have it. So, we made taco meat for Jordan and steak and sweet potatoes for the other two. Cooked fresh at 6am.

mmmm.... tasty meat!

For dessert, we brought out the Frosty Paws ice cream, and this time made ice cream cones for everyone. We have fond memories of going out for soft-serve ice cream with Jordan, where she always shared a vanilla cone or got her own child-sized one. Barbara came into the kitchen just before the ice cream indulgence began and snapped a few shots. We let them all eat together on an old comforter so they could be as messy as they wanted. Jordan licked hers slowly and intently. Reggie Love was determined to pick hers up and run away with it. Harley ate half of his in one bite, then finished Jordan’s when she was done.

I put down some of her favorite blankets on the chaise lounge in the front room with a heating pad underneath, and laid Jordan down. Sun was streaming in the large picture window. She settled for a little while, but then began to get fussy. Colten suggested that I take her upstairs to our bedroom; a trick we’ve developed to cope with her fussy periods was to simply change locations—it often worked. I settled her on one of her favorite blankets in the bed and laid down with her. Colten joined us after a few minutes and she calmed down and fell asleep. I’m not sure what came over me—the earlier-than-usual wake up call, general exhaustion—but I fell asleep with her.

Resting on the chaise lounge while I wrote out a card to Jordan.

The next thing I remember, Barbara was walking toward the bed. I didn’t feel startled at all, just opened my eyes and saw her. She said, “The vet is here.” (For the record, our vets wouldn’t do this house call, so we had to find someone for this specific thing. Jordan, Colten, and I all met her just once at her office. Even though she doesn’t work on Sundays, and it was Halloween, she agreed to come. It was a forty-five minute drive for her one way. We felt blessed she agreed to do it—and we feel lucky that she brought so much compassion and competence with her.)

I scooped Jordan up in my arms and carried her downstairs into the front room. She was still in a sleepy-dreamy state. I laid her back down on the blankets, which were still warm from the heating pad, and she continued to be pretty sleepy. Barbara tied a long piece of black yarn around her neck. At one end, there were two beads: a black and white granite bead and an obsidian bead from a prayer bracelet Toni brought with him. On the other end, which was loose, was another black and white granite bead and five more obsidian beads. Toni also brought a guardian angel with him for Jordan.

The vet explained that she was going to sedate her. Jordan jumped a little at the prick of the needle, pretty uncommon for her since she has an incredibly high pain tolerance. She jumped again and snapped her teeth together. Then she settled back down began to get groggy. The vet stepped out of the room. Jordan got up, turned around and laid back down. I read a card I had written to Jordan out loud. Then Colten sent her a message silently. Barbara and Toni each took a turn doing the same. She looked incredibly peaceful, the sun shining on her black fur, her in a familiar pose with her face between her paws. Reggie wanted to talk to the vet who was waiting courteously in another room and went and visited her a few times during this period. Harley stayed close. When Reggie came back Colten went to tell the vet we were ready. As the vet administered the final shot, I took the scissors and cut the black yarn in half. Barbara reminded us all minutes before that this would cut the cord of our physical connection, but that a golden thread would always remain and we would always be connected. Jordan continued to look so, so peaceful. So beautiful. Like she was having a wonderful sleep. Colten slipped off the loop of yarn from her neck. The vet had disappeared again, I didn’t even see her leave. We were all crying but it didn’t feel dark. When we were ready, she came back in, Colten scooped up Jordan, wrapped her up gently in a blanket and everyone had a final goodbye and head pat. He then passed her on to the vet and they left. As I write this, I am weeping. There is a heaviness in my chest where my heart is. I miss her terribly.

Colten made one of my favorite breakfasts, lemon sour cream pancakes, and my pancake was in the shape of a Boston Terrier face.

After breakfast, we took Reggie and Harley out for a walk to the pond across the street. This was another one of Jordan’s ideas from our talk with Laura on Saturday. There were lots of good things to smell and it was good to breath in the fresh air.

Barbara took the beads from our side of the yarn cord. She sewed a bead on both Reggie Love and Harley’s collars (during our last communication session, when we explained the ritual to Jordan, Reggie Love piped in with “Well can’t I have a bead? I need a bead bad Mom,” so we added beads for both dogs).

Reggie's bead is sewed right onto a star on her collar.

She hung my bead on a necklace chain and set another one using some wire for Colten to wear around his neck.

Jordan’s half of the yarn cord with her beads will stay with her remains. We are planning to make a small altar for her ashes. I’ve taken all your emails, blog comments, and Facebook posts and turned them into little cards that will be part of it.

Here is what I wrote in my card to Jordan and read to her before she passed:

You are one of the most amazing creatures I have ever known. No matter what I have done or what I will do in my life, finding you and taking care of you is one of my greatest achievements. You have taught me so much—about courage, resilience, moving forward, unconditional love, patience, acceptance, forgiveness, and happiness. You have grounded me, inspired me, soothed me, and always been by my side. You have lived your life on your own terms and taught me to do the same. You’re one of a kind. You are a gift. I will love you forever.

Earlier that morning, Colten made this piece of art by placing both our hands and Jordan's four paws on the glass of the photocopy machine. I think it's beautiful. (click to see it full size)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Memorial Jordan-o'-lantern

Colten carved a special Jordan memorial pumpkin today. We lit it and placed it in the front yard. A gorgeous glowing reminder of our sweet baby dog.