Too many ghosts

26 07 2010

As I write this Jenni is sleeping on the couch. She will get up just now, stretch and make her way past me to the bedroom where she will climb up on my bed and make herself comfortable on the pillows with a gentle sigh. On her way past she might give me a glance, just to check on me. Her tail will be high in that Ridgeback confident attitude. Or so I imagine.

Actually Jenni is sleeping outside my east-facing window, next to Tina under the “Angel Bells” rose that I planted over her grave. She was cold, poor girl, when we buried her this morning so I covered her with the fleece I’d been wearing. I left her head uncovered so that she could hear me in the bedroom more easily and I also put a biscuit in her bowl by her side – just for a snack before breakfast. Jenni was Tina’s sister by another litter so hopefully they are sharing happy experiences although they never knew each other.

Jenni came to me last night in distress, she shivered next to my chair so I stroked her and asked what was wrong. Thinking she needed to go outside as her belly was obviously distended I opened the back door and she rocketed out in a very uncharacteristic manner. I immediately called her to no avail. Now Jenni ALWAYS comes when called, not always immediately but sooner rather than later. Now I was worried. I got out a torch and went looking. Eventually I saw her eyes reflecting back from the bottom of the garden. I called her and she came to me then ran off along the verandah. I called her again and she lay next to me, her head in my lap as I stroked her. I had to get her into the Landcruiser but needed to get organized. I called her into the house and she ran in, again uncharacteristically fast. I expected to find her inside but after searching the house I realized she’d just run straight out the front door. Now I really was panicking. After about 15 minutes of calling and searching I phoned Trevor to come and help me then spotted her eyes by the side of the house. She was whimpering and groaning which I’d never heard her do. I finally managed to get her into the car and we set off to the 24hr veterinary surgery on 2nd Street.

There were no lights on in the surgery (power cut) which was not a good start. Not getting a response from the doorbell I phoned the number listed next to it and got a reply. A side door opened and several people came out to help. I explained the problem to the duty vet and he gave Jenni a cursory examination. I was worried that she’d maybe swallowed a sharp bone at the microlight club that afternoon and an X-ray would be in order. The vet explained that he thought that was unlikely and anyway, they were on inverter power and couldn’t do an X-ray but I should leave Jenni there over night and they would sedate her and see what developed. This sounded like a really bad idea to me. I knew that the Kamfinsa vet would be available after hours (which the 2nd Street lot did not know) so we got through to him and I took Jenni over.

It took the vet a while to arrive as he had to go and get an assistant for surgery but he took one look at Jenni’s distended stomach and her distress and pronounced that she had a twisted stomach and needed immediate surgery. I watched the surgery start from a distance but decided I’d better move off before I fell down. I scratched Jenni’s chin and went to the next room. After an hour it was all over and Jenni was moved to a recovery kennel. The vet was pleased with how it had gone and despite having to remove her spleen which was too badly damaged from lack of blood said that he’d be very disappointed if she did not recover. He did caution that an embolism was still a very real danger but he gave her a powerful painkiller to keep her quiet and promised to check up at around 2a.m.

On the way back across town I wondered if it would be OK to take Jenni up to Nyanga in 2 weekends time. We are going to go up for the long weekend for some much needed paragliding and it would be unthinkable not to take her  – she’s always liked going up there. I’d ask in the morning.

When I phoned at 8 this morning the vet was still doing the rounds so I was told to phone back in half an hour. At 08.24 I got a missed call from a number in the Kamfinsa area that I did not recognize. My heart sank. I called back but it was engaged. Then the call came through. “Hello, is that Andrew Roberts?”. “I’m afraid I have bad news about your dog.” Jenni had been up and wagging her tail when he checked at 02.15 but when the staff opened up at 8 she was found dead. It seemed likely that an embolism had indeed struck her down.

My Gentle Jen, Jenni Girl, Chienne Sauvage, Joli Jenni, Jensie or just plain Madam had left me. There is a rose on top of her grave too, a red floribunda one of unknown name. Jeanette laid some of the blooms that I’d cut off the bush next to it after it had been watered and settled in. I am tired now. Tired from a short night last night and the grief today. I must try and get some sleep tonight. Maybe in the moonlight I will see Jenni lying on her old sheepskin on the foot of my bed. She might even get up in the night, turn three times to make a better “nest” and lie down again. Then again it may just be a ghost.



3 responses

26 07 2010

Sorry, I don’t know what else to say.

27 07 2010
Stephen Clarke

So sorry friend. Good hunting – lion dog.

28 07 2010
Big Blister

We are grieving intensely with you – feeling that intense loss and emptiness – almost as if she were my own dog…

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