Jia Jia’s (2002 – 2020) Journey

A Dog’s Tale & Trail

Exactly one week ago today I said a tearful goodbye to one of the greatest loves of my life – my canine companion, Jia Jia.

A few days before. Photo: Paul LeMay

Anyone who knew our relationship, knew how bonded we were and what a positive difference we made in each other’s lives.

When I first met Jia Jia (pronounced like jaw-jaw akin to the character in Stars Wars) I wasn’t even contemplating getting a dog.  Jia Jia was already eight years old and moved to Vancouver from Beijing two years prior.   He became my next door neighbour and literally showed up at my back door one afternoon.  I immediately felt a connection but had no idea he would become mine for keeps two years after that, at the ripe age of ten.

I noticed that Jia Jia spent a lot of time alone in his backyard so asked his owner Lynn if I could take him running with me and she said “sure.” He became my running buddy. Then when she had to travel back and forth to China I looked after him, always hesitating to give him back.

 At that time my late husband and I had a VW pop-top Eurovan camper and decided to do a road trip from British Columbia to Florida with stops along the way in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama.  I asked Lynn if we could take Jia Jia along for the ride suggesting we might be away for a couple months, and she again said “Yes.”

Jia Jia has been to the French Quarter of New Orleans, the Florida Everglades, Key West, Lauderdale by the Sea and pretty much all over Florida.  He’s been to wineries in Napa and Sonoma, all over Texas, Arizona, California, Nevada and New Mexico.  He spent some time in Vegas casinos, put his paw on a slot machine once and won some cash.  Talk about a lucky dog!  And it all happened before he became mine for good.

From the time he was eight until he turned ten we spent a lot of quality time together.  Then Lynn said “he’s your dog.” But I already knew that.  However I never took it upon myself to say I owned him.  He owned us. 

In all that time we only spent two days apart.  Only because a friend suggested looking after my dogs when I spent two nights at a hotel with my sister and two friends for my birthday last year.  Otherwise I was planning to take them along. 

I don’t expect anyone to understand the relationship, but I can honestly say we were surprisingly attuned to each other.  He was an amazing dog.  An old soul. The dog to set the standard for all dogs for me from hereon in.

When my husband Don got sick, he suggested we get another companion for Jia Jia.  He found Layla in B.C’s Kooteney Mountain range.  With Jia Jia in tow, we all went together to meet Layla, and they seemed to get along.  I was able to get Layla about a month after my husband passed in August 2017.  She was a great choice and kept Jia Jia young.  But of course that didn’t last forever.

Jia Jia began slowing down a year ago.  This past winter in Palm Springs he could barely walk so I bought a wagon and wheeled him around and let him out to walk a bit and do his business.  Other than that his spirit was good (my husband used to say he was the happiest dog he’s ever met) and his health was pretty good considering his age.

Then 10 days before he passed a more startling change occurred and he just wasn’t the same.  He was walking in circles and couldn’t hold himself up properly.  It was heartbreaking to watch. I waited a bit to see if there’d be a change.  He improved slightly but not significantly enough.  His quality of life had diminished and for the first time he seemed tired and sad. I had to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life, and at a time of Covid-19 no less, when our vet and all other animal hospitals were asking for doggy curb-side drop off where no one else could be in attendance at the time of euthanization,  They did not want to come to the home either.  No way was I going to drop him off and not be in attendance.

After some searching and a recommendation from Granville Island Animal Hospital, I was super lucky to find Dr. Jeffrey Berkshire (liftingstars.ca – link at very bottom). We set the appointment for the following week giving some time for the possibility of improvement.

Lama Rabton prayed for Jia Jia.

The night before Jia Jia’s passing my boyfriend Paul arranged for a Tibetan Buddhist Monk to come to my home and recite prayers for Jia Jia.  It was a beautiful ceremony normally reserved for humans. My sister was there too.  Layla kept licking Jia Jia’s face.  Still, it all seemed surreal.

Next morning Dr. Berkshire, a compassionate vet, came to my home (we wore masks) and examined Jia Jia before we made the final decision.  He suspected Jia Jia either had a brain tumor or a stroke but the only way to be sure would be to give him an MRI which meant he’d have to be knocked out and possibly not survive. He explained the few options available. So we made the final decision to have him humanely put to sleep based on his lack of quality of life and the unlikely chance he would improve.

One last slow, steady walk along the Kits Point, Vancouver Dog Beach – his favorite place. Photo: Lisa King

Dr. Berkshire was wonderful and took his time, let us have some alone time and was very gentle all the way through until the very end.  Lynn, Jia Jia’s ex-owner who had since become my friend, was here too, along with Lisa, my sister, and Layla.  We did Jia Jia’s paw prints.  I held Jia Jia while Dr. Berkshire gave him a needle and put him to sleep.  It was all very fast. Finally, wrapped in a baby blanket, Jia Jia was taken out in a stretcher to be cremated on his own.  You’re given a choice whether to have your dog cremated with other dogs or by themself. I wanted his ashes.

Jia Jia saw me through some of the best and worst situations in my life.  Always a bright light by my side to ease the pain of losing a husband and two of my closest girlfriends in the space of a year.  I don’t know how I would have handled everything without him.  It was as if he was my rock.

Layla & Jia Jia on the cast iron bench for Don outside my house. Photo: d. king  It was the day before.  He looked pretty good here.

He’s gone now, however he’ll always be with me in spirit.  It will never be the same.  It will just be different.  I miss him terribly but know in my heart it was the right decision.  I never felt it was a selfless act.  Just compassionate.  I am forever grateful to Lynn for giving me the best gift in my life, and to Jia Jia for giving me a more meaningful life.

Grief is the price we all pay for love

Photo: d. king

We who choose to surround ourselves

with lives even more temporary than our own

live within a fragile circle

easily and often breached.

Unable to accept its awful gaps

we still would live no other way.

We cherish memory as the only certain immortality,

never fully understanding the necessary plan…

The Once Again Prince from Separate Life Times

(Lisa always referred to Jia Jia as her little Prince)

Website for Dr. Jeffrey Berkshire:

* http://liftingstars.ca/

 

 

Please see the following link for an article published by the Vancouver Sun on February 2nd, 2018 on pet euthanasia at home:

https://vancouversun.com/life/relationships/pet-therapy-euthanasia-and-palliative-care-at-home-in-growing-demand/

Feel-good Friday: on the wagon

This is how we roll

Jia Jia + Layla. Photo: d. king

My senior is almost 18 years old.  Since he now walks like a turtle I found the perfect solution for taking him from A to B without much effort on my part and no effort on his.  Baby strollers didn’t hold him properly and the pet wagons were too small.  So I went to the sporting goods section of Walmart and found a wagon designed to take blankets and beer to the beach.  Outfitted with comfort it works like a charm.  Also can be pulled either way, has a handle for extension to arms length, a flap for carrying stuff and folds for easy storage.  Yay!

When we arrive at our destination I take him out and he walks until he’s too tired at which point he goes back in the wagon.  Layla walks alongside for exercise but she enjoys hitching a ride from time to time.

My boy outside Revivals. Photo: d. king

This is a faster, more convenient way to take him along the River Walk. Photo: d. king

Along the River Walk. Photo: d. king

Okay Layla; don’t get too comfortable. Photo: d. king

Hope you enjoy your weekend.

FYI: I’ve been giving Jia Jia a product called Rejeneril (a patented and clinically-proven longevity product for pets) every day for 8 years now.  I believe it helps his immune system among other benefits.

The link is below if you want to check it out:

Rejeneril®

 

Fashion Week on El Paseo

Photo: Gary Bindman for Palm Springs Life 

The LE CHIEN fabulous fashion event I attended on Sunday wasn’t only for fun; it was for a meaningful cause. Presented by Animal Samaritans and sponsored by the Westin Mission Hills Golf Course & Spa, proceeds from ticket sales and silent auction items go towards rescue, shelter and adoption of homeless animals.  The Animal Samaritan group champion compassion for all living creatures, with a primary focus on dogs, cats, and the people who love them…like the people in these pictures.

Tammy with her fur babies Lily Bella + Timbit.  Tammy is wearing London designer Karen Mullen.  Photo: d. king

Selfie stick lady & her pooch. Photo: d. king

With Layla & Jia Jia before leaving for the show.  I’m wearing a vintage circle skirt with lots of sequins + North Face t-shirt  Photo: Lynn Li

Love the hat and detail on those boots

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Professional models rocked the runway posing for paparazzi with adorable rescue dogs who put their best paw forward.  The models wore San Francisco street artist and fashion designer Victor Tung‘s (a Project Runway alumnus) artsy yet elegant fashion.

People in the audience and at the cocktail reception proceeding the show were almost as fun to watch as I’m hoping these photos go to prove.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Animal Samaritans (the same people who put on the monthly “yappy hour” at the Riviera Hotel I previously blogged about) require financial support from community and fellow animal lovers to continue their good work of improving the lives of animals and the people who love them.

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated – Gandhi

Visit:  animalsamaritans.org

Artists Karen & Tony Barone. baroneart.com Photo: d. king

Wild One. In lieu of bringing an animal, Bobbi decided to dress like one.  Photo: d. king

Sheree Frede (Founder + CEO of  SheSheSHow) Photo: d. king

Debbie & Layla.  See the VW Deejay van behind us?  Photo: Tammy Preast

Photo: d. king

Photo: YASIN CHAUDHRY for Palm Springs Life

Some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses – Elizabeth Taylor

Life is better with a DOG!

Food for Thought – the Best Dog Food!

Below is a link to a very helpful article on what is best to feed your dog….aside from the usual kibble.

Photo: Tamara Gauthier

Photo: d. king

I’ve been meaning to publish this for months but put it on the back burner.  I strongly believe that dogs deserve to eat real food the same as humans for health purposes mostly.

All living creatures deserve real food. 

It is narrow-minded to think that dogs should eat only kibble.  Perhaps the thought of eating kibbles for the rest of your own life helps make the point that pets forced to do so are being shortchanged.

I’ve been making simple real food meals for my dogs for dinner since day one (day one being the day they came into my care).  Unless we’re travelling they get homemade.  Not in the morning, just in the evenings.  Sometimes in the morning they get oatmeal or eggs  but mostly good quality kibble. Aside from health benefits, the enjoyment of watching them polish off  a bowl of freshly prepared food, knowing how much they love to eat it, is enough for me to want to make it.

My male sheltie is almost sixteen.  I met him when he was eight, and he became mine furever when he was ten.  He was used to eating only kibble once a day. But on several occasions he went into a hypoglycemia shock where he could hardly function.  Twice I didn’t think he’d even recover.  So I decided to change his diet by feeding him twice a day with the second meal consisting of ‘real’ meat & veggies.  No filler. Since doing so, he has not gone into shock syndrome once.

Cost wise, buying real food is not as much as you think.  You can buy stir-fry beef or chicken on sale, mix it with plain rice, add steamed veggies like yam, sweet potato, zucchini and carrots. Then mix in frozen or canned peas. Ground turkey & fish such as salmon are also good choices.  Just like us, they like variety.   You can buy canned pure pumpkin and give them a bit of that too.  Make enough for several days and refrigerate in portions.  Your dog will love you even more for it.

Photo: d. king

Selfie in the Park

When it comes to buying kibble for your dog please carefully read the label.  Animal protein should be at the top of the ingredient list with whole vegetables, fruits and grains next.  Don’t forget to check the best before date.

Let’s keep our furry family happy and healthy for as long as we can.  It’s the least we can do for them.  They enhance our lives, we should do the same for them.

ARTICLE:

https://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/health/articles/feeding-homemade-dog-food.html

 

Just for Fun – BYOP

I don’t know why they call them “Standard” Poodles when they’re anything but Ordinary.

I first heard about the Standard Poodle Club of the Desert at Poochella where I take my dogs for grooming.

The SPCD is a social club that is comprised of over 350 poodles and their people. They have meet-ups once a month from November through April to promenade oodles of poodles in a walk along El Paseo in Palm Desert. Then everyone meets for breakfast.

Pet Companion Magazine

Pet Companion Magazine

The goal is to socialize and share their love of the breed with the community. And it is a sight to see.  I thought I would check it out even though my preference runs towards shelties.

After all, poodles are sought after canine companions, known for their intelligence, hypoallergenic stylish coat and good nature.

Fun fact: the poodle of yesteryear was originally used as a hunting dog in Germany.

 

Michael Sporn Animation

To properly walk them,  you have to look as good as they do.  

I never had a Standard Poodle.  As a kid we had two miniature poodles. Maybe because I was tiny at the time. Pom Pom, the male, was black.  Trixie, the female, was white. People usually conjure up images of poodles elegantly prancing around a show ring. My mom had ours coiffed but never in a show ring.  Although at the time they did run the show & appeared pretty high maintenance.

Website: www.spoodles.org

 

 

Words of Wisdom

On Life

Life Lessons from Het Patel

At the beginning of October 2016, Het wrote a list of his life lessons.  Sadly, he died unexpectedly and suddenly two weeks later at the age of 37.  The one year anniversary of his passing is coming up this month.  I would like to share with you a selection from his 34 philosophical quotes on living. His life was cut short and he had so much more to give. But even in times of mourning there are moments to feel good about. Think about it:

Our brains are our greatest asset and our worst enemy.

A smile can hide the deepest pain.

The fabric of life is change.  We can’t often stop it.  We can’t always fight it.  Acceptance is, most of the time, the best way to deal with change.

We barely understand ourselves, yet we’re confident that we can understand others.  That’s kind of silly when you think about it.

The best moments in life are spent in the company of loved ones – regardless of what you’re doing.

Nothing in life has meaning, other than the meaning we put on it.

Accepting that we will die one day, is key to knowing how to live. – Het Patel

 Life Lessons from Dogs

 Living moment to moment, no worries whatsoever, an innocence, acceptance, playfulness and trust that escapes most of us humans.  Refreshing!  If only we could live like that!

We can all cope with the battles of today.  It’s when we add the worry of tomorrow, and the regret of yesterday, that we break down. – Het Patel.

Have a happy weekend.  No regrets!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feel-good Friday: Give Thanks

For a little Inspiration from A-Z.  DARE TO . . .

Ask for what you want.

Believe in yourself.

Change your mind.

Do what you love.

Enjoy each and every day.

Follow your heart’s desire.

Give more than you receive.

Have a sense of humor.

Insist on being yourself

Join in more.

Kiss and make up.

Love and be loved.

Make new friends.

Nurture your spirit.

Overcome adversity.

Play more.

Question conformity.

Reach for the stars.

Speak your truth.

Take personal responsibility.

Understand more, judge less.

Volunteer your time.

Walk through fear.

Xperience the moment.

Yearn for grace.

Be Zany.

Meiji Stewart (A taste of Chicken Soup to Inspire a Woman’s Soul)

And some darn cute photos of my pooches.  

Wishing a wonderful Thanksgiving to my Canadian cohorts.

 

 

 

 

 

Feel-good Friday: Furry Friends

I would like to introduce you to our new little furry female family member,  a one-year-old sheltie named LAYLA.

THEN – first meeting

Big brother Jia Jia is thrilled to have her and considers Layla his dog.

She brings some sunshine to our days following the one month anniversary of Don’s passing.  We are still grieving and Jia Jia was very depressed and moping around.  Now he has come back to life.  Layla too for that matter.  It’s a bittersweet story of how we got her.

Don was the instigator because he started sourcing breeders when we were last in Palm Springs.  He located a breeder in the Kootenays (British Columbia) and asked me to make the call.  It was a husband/wife team. They were expecting a litter in May but I told them we would be fine with an older female for our male sheltie.  They had a female who they were planning to breed and would be happy to let her go after she had a litter.  We decided to take a trip in June to see her.  Believe it or not, Don drove most of the way there and all of the way back. The dog was Layla.  Jia Jia and she immediately hit it off.  We saw the puppies too, which as you can imagine, were totally adorable.  They were not ready to let her go as she was coming into heat at that time.  So we went on our way and said we’d be in touch.

We got the call early August that she did not get pregnant as planned, so they were going to have her spayed so that she’d be available for pick up. I asked Don what to do as his health had deteriorated to the point of not being able to look after himself at that time.

He said “go for it.”  He met her and loved her.  Said she’d be great company for Jia Jia and good for me too.  So I said okay.  I made plans to pick her up in Summerland early September where they were headed to a dog show.  It was also half the driving distance to where she lived.

Then about a week after Don passed away the breeder called and told me that Layla was very sick.  She had been spayed but didn’t come out of it so well.  She stopped eating for several days and seemed to have a possible problem with her esophagus.   They would not be able to sell her and they thought they might have to put her down.  I was doubly devastated now.  This was the dog that Don, Jia Jia and I made the trip out to see and now not only can we not have her, but she might not even make it.  I asked them to please keep me posted on her progress nonetheless.  Hoping that they would at least be able to keep  her should she survive.

Fast forward two more weeks.  I received an e-mail that Layla was eating again and x-ray showed that all was fine. Clean bill of health from a terrible scare.  It was just an alarm and she had a bad reaction to the anesthesia.  She was available once again.  So I made a quick decision to pick her up the very next day in Summerland where the breeders were showing one of their dogs.  They were not even planning to take her.  And I was lucky to get a hotel room because everything was booked for either the dog show or a classic car show.

NOW – getting acquainted with her new HOME and adapting amazing well

She’s a very sweet, smart, playful little girl.  It took her all of one day to get settled. My only disappointment is that Don not be here to witness how well the two of them get along together.  But he is responsible for finding her and he did meet her (above photo).  I’m very thankful for this gift from Don.  At least this story has a happy ending.  I absolutely adore her!

Have a Happy Weekend!