Polar's Mom started following my blog a bit ago...and when I finally got off my happy butt to visit her page, I saw that Polar was the name of her dog...a Great Dane.
Seeing his picture - especially one where he's curiously looking at the leaves on trees - made miss Chassis more acutely than I have in the recent past.
My sister's dog is a pit bull mix - weighing in around 40 pounds. the picture above shows them together. Yes, that's how big she was.
Anyway, my sister's dog didn't like Chassis playing with her as much as Chassis liked to...so she'd run out a little dog door and stay outside. Chassis wanted so badly to play with her that she started sticking her head through the same dog door - hoping that miraculously she could shrink down to the size that the little dog was.
Obviously, it didn't work.
It was just Chassis and me for almost 5 years of her life...but then, when we moved in with Joe in April, it became the three of us. We lived downtown for about the last two months of her life - and during that time, I saw her spirit rise up again and again.
She couldn't run and her endurance wasn't what it used to be. She'd long since stopped sitting and she shook 100% of the time. People walking by thought she was cold or scared, because she trembled so much. She couldn't help it. But she loved the walks downtown. She got to smell all the good spots and got to meet literally hundreds of people. Everywhere we'd walk, jaws would drop and people would approach us to pet her. She was 42" from her shoulders to the ground - a tall dane for sure - and the comments of "That's not a dog, that's a horse!" followed us more often than not. People asked to take pictures with her and asked if they could pet her. I'm sure that at first it was due to her size, but after the initial shock wore off, they'd inevitably comment on how soft her ears were or how kind and sweet her eyes were.
The thing is, I've never seen homeless people react to anything the way they reacted to her. Maybe I could've been scared about it, but they'd come up and she gave them the respect that they didn't seem to get from anyone else. Homeless people are people too - and she seemed to understand that eye contact is something that they didn't get often. She'd lean on them just as she would a Wall Street banker...everyone deserves a little affection.
One day an old man came up to me and asked me a lot of questions about her. He eventually disclosed that he was a photographer...or at least that he used to be...before his Parkinson's made it more difficult to hold the camera steady. I explained that that was kind of what Chassis had - a neurological problem that made her shake all the time.
The man got tears in his eyes, leaned down and hugged her - saying "See Chassis? You understand what it's like, don't you?" She looked at him and wagged her tail. I like to think that she did know exactly what he was going through.
He wrote down his name on one of his old postcards and offered to take a picture of her - a dog that touched his heart.
I never called him. It's one of my biggest regrets. I thought I had time. I thought WE had time.
I can't imagine another dog touching me how Chassis did. She was amazing, patient, and loving. How often do I exude those characteristics?
She was limited by her medical problems, but she did what she could.
I think that this feels so powerful to me because the last week or two, I've been so uncomfortable. I'm cramping pretty much all day long. And I'm bleeding. I'm fatigued. I'm worried. I'm so ready to get this stupid uterine fibroid out of my system. I've started to pull away from a lot of social situations...I just don't feel up to it. Sometimes I feel that this fibroid is draining me more each day.
When I look at Chassis' pictures, I realize that she did what she could. She embraced each new adventure as a chance to see or do something she hadn't before. She loved people and pets alike. She never snapped at anyone. Not once.
When I need to rest, I will. When I need comfort, I'll lean on others. And in the meantime, I'll be optimistic about the future - I'll trust that things will get better and that I'll be taken care of.
And when I get my strength back, I'll make a conscious effort to run the routes that she couldn't. I'll bake cookies or put together winter care packages for the homeless people in our neighborhood.
And I'll stop to smell/enjoy all the good stuff.