Jeter my 8yr old black male Labrador.
Always happy, loving, gentle with everyone and everything. Loved to chase tennis balls, minnows in the water, and ride in the truck. Loved to be near people and everyone who knew him loved him.
When did you lose Jeter?
Put to sleep on August 27, 2008, my son's birthday at 4:10pm
At which stage of pet loss grief do you feel you are currently at?
Still in aching sorrow on a daily basis. Denial and anger were brief. I miss him so much, he is on my mind constantly and I still cry daily, usually on the way home from work, not in front of others. I have accepted his death but am struggling with his absence. Am so sad and empty.
Jeter and Lee's Story so far
I received Jeter in October of 2000, he was a tiny baby. My son and I spoiled him right off the bat. Mostly my son did, who was 15 at the time. Jeter would sleep in the middle of my son's chest or they were on the floor cuddled together for the evening or on lazy weekend days. We had a yr old golden named Griffey who also treated him like a little baby.
At 3 months of age Jeter contracted Parvo...I took him to the emergency room on a Sunday and the vet didn't know if he could save him or not. After a week on IV's and massive meds, he showed signs of improvement. We were happy to bring him home and give him the tender care he needed. He was a lucky little boy. I was at a new job in a new town and had a small yard. The boys spent the evenings inside but went out at night and during the day. Jeter loved to explore and follow anyone who would talk to him. I had to leave work more than once to search for me little "escapee". I posted bail at the pound and freed him once.
I was looking for a small acreage and finally found one in July 2001. We moved to a 5 acre farm and the boys loved it. They stayed in the yard or roamed the fields and had a building of their own. I worked long hours with coaching and teaching and my downtime was spent with my son and the 2 boys. Quiet time was the best. Sitting on the porch and cuddling them was something we all enjoyed. Jeter was so sure he had to be the center of attention on every occasion. The boys had their share of power struggles as Jeter got older but it was never serious.
I was a single mom with a teen son who had started to drive and he was busy doing teen things so I was alone alot. Jeter and Griff were my outlets and family. I would talk and they would be so quiet as they sat by me or cuddled with me. They were so much company and after dealing with people all day, they were such a needed soft place to land. We had a strong bond. My son Jason and I would take them to the lake and play with them...those were some fun times, they loved it as did we. They made us laugh and gave us so much enjoyment.
In 2003, I re-married. Tom was a football coach and liked my animals (horses and dogs) He was not raised on a farm but dove into it like a duck to water. Jeter liked him of course. In Oct of 2003, we welcomed a male (Boomer) and female (Sugar) golden labs into the family, a birthday present from Tom. Jeter was the best baby sitter, he liked to play with the pups and was patient and kind. He was like a big pup himself.
Life went happily on until March of 2006, my son had enlisted in the army and my worries went ten-fold. My dogs were a source of comfort. Jeter was the most sensitive to my worry and heartache and he would sit with me as I cried and I told him all about my thoughts for Jason. I didn't think I could get more worried but I was so wrong. He was deployed to war in June of 2007. 82nd airbourne, stationed at Al Asad Airbase. It was not a good year for me. Tom couldn't console me. He tried and was often frustrated by my "mother's emotional hell" that was like a cloud over my head.
I finally asked for a little help from my physician to deal with the depression, not knowing if I would ever see and hold my son again was just too much for my mind and spirit to bear. I used a daily anti-depressant through the holidays and my dogs. If I was having a bad day, Jeter and Griffey especially were there for me. Jeter would push his lowered head against me as if to get as close as possible to me and comfort me. After stroking him and looking into those loving eyes that needed me, I felt a little better. I told Jeter more of my thoughts than I had told any other living being and he was always there with those soulful eyes, patient, kind, and gentle.
In the Fall of 2007, Jeter started to limp on his left front. I thought he had a bruised foot, I examined it and couldn't see anything. I palpated his leg, foot, and shoulder. It didn't seem to hurt him to touch it. I thought, "I'll give him a little time and he should be ok." He wasn't. He got a little worse. He was still happy and bouncy and still played with the other dogs but he had a limp. He stayed the same for a long time. In the spring of 2008, he became worse. Tom and I took him to the vet and the vet said he had arthritis. He gave him some meds and sent us home. The meds didn't work. We gave him an aspirin now and then to supplement the meds and he got worse.
In May of 2008, I knew something had to give, we took him back to the vet for an x-ray. The vet said he had a severe trauma to his shoulder and surgery would not fix it. He gave us strong meds and sent us home again. Jeter got worse...by July, I wanted to ask about amputation. He couldn't use his front leg and it was getting bigger and bulging. We went in In July, the vet took one look at him, palpated his shoulder and said, "There's nothing I can do, he has cancer." I had suspected this because I knew this was no normal dislocation. But when he said those words, my first thought was "Jeter is going to die." I teared up and started to cry.
The vet told us we could just keep him comfortable and Jeter would let us know when he couldn't take it anymore. My heart sank into my shoes. My little friend was at my side looking up at me with that happy look on his face and I knew he was dying....He was still so full of life but I knew he was dying, his time with us was numbered and I was going to have to make a decision when the time came to let my baby go. How could I? He trusted me, he loved me and wanted to be loved, he was my gentle, cuddly, spoiled, under my feet companion. I cried all the way home, my husband tried to comfort me but there was no comfort for the thought of my loyal, loving Jeter's death.
I was touched by the change in my husband. He allowed Jeter free roam of the deck, which was off-limits before...that was my husband's one place to be free of frisky critters. He fed Jeter all the scraps, which he loved and made sure I didn't forget his meds nightly. Jeter met each of us everyday after work. Tail wagging and smiling little face. I made it a point to spend some "special time" with Jeter daily, usually at night. He would lay on the deck and I would sit by him and stroke his pretty head and talk to him, he loved every second, so did I. I cried a lot. I knew this was a short term thing. I knew the cancer had probably spread and was quickly claiming the body he had left. He was still his happy-go-lucky self until the last 4 days of his life. On Aug. 23, he had a good day. He played with the other dogs. I threw the ball to Boomer and Jeter would wait for Boom to "bring it" to me then he would take it away and hand it to me, he seemed happy with that role.
On Sunday, he seemed to be bothered by the shoulder. Tom and I drove to the neighbors house about 400 yards away. We closed the gate so Jeter wouldn't be tempted to follow, but he did...he walked around the fence and showed up there. It was a long way to limp on 3 legs. We couldn't be mad at him, he just wanted to do something that he enjoyed so much and had always done. We loaded him in the truck and took him home. It went downhill from there. He wouldn't get up when I took all the dogs to the pond that evening, which was a favorite thing of Jeter's. I knew he was in a bad way. He wouldn't eat. I had to force his meds down him. I cried that night when he couldn't sit up for long. That shoulder was hurting him.
I spent time with him under his shade tree and hoped in the back of my mind that this wasn't the beginning of the end. The next morning, I had to force his meds down him, he wouldn't eat. I had to go to work. Monday night he still wouldn't eat. He took his meds a little better. I was not giving them twice a day instead of once to help him with the pain. Tuesday Morning he was laying under the big oak tree in the front yard and I had to force his meds again, he had no appetite. I knew I couldn't let him suffer. That night I spent the evening with Jeter under that oak tree and cried my eyes out. He couldn't follow me and the others. He just laid by the water pan. I could tell his pain was worse, his eyes were not dancing like normal. The happy look was weak. I laid beside him and talked to him explaining that I couldn't watch him hurt. I couldn't bear to see him suffer. His breathing was shallow and he wasn't interacting with me much, he just lay there.
When my husband got home I was cooking dinner. He said, "I think we need to talk about something." He asked nme to pick out a place for Jeter because he didn't think he would make it through the night. He said his breathing wasn't good. We went outside and decided on a place between two pretty bushes. It was almost 9 pm and Tom dug his grave while I went outside, sat by Jeter and cried my heart out again. I lay across his body and kept telling him over and over how good a boy he was and how I couldn't let him suffer. I stayed there for an hour, Tom came and got me and we went in. When we went to bed, we talked about Jeter and how good a boy he was and we both cried for him. I thanked my husband for digging his grave and he said "I just want him to have a good home." We held each other until we went to sleep.
Tom had gotten up in the middle of the night to check on Jeter. He had made it through the night. He had his head up but had not moved much. I knew what I had to do that day. I had to end the life of one of my most loyal, loving companions and friends I had ever known. All day long, I cried between my classes. I made that dreaded drive home. Jeter did not come over to greet me for the first time in his life. He lay under the shade, I knew his shoulder was hurting. I tried to coax him out from his little hole he had dug in earlier days. He wouldn't get up. I had called the vet and made a 4:00 appt. I backed the truck up and called again, he sat up. I dropped the tailgate and he slowly hobbled over and hopped up on his back legs and put his good paw on the tailgate. He loved to ride in the truck. I lifted him in. I drove slowly down the drive. He had his good paw on the side of the bed, looking out. He watched our home all the way down the fenceline, it was almost like he was looking for the last time and he knew it. He lay down as soon as we got past our fenceline, something he never did when he was healthy. I cried the whole way.
I parked in the shade at the vets and called from my cell. I didn't want to make him walk all the way in the office. The vet came out to the truck at 4:10 and i told him he was worse and I didn't want him to suffer anymore. He said he understood and positioned Jeter for the shot. He gave him a shot under the skin to relax him and he stuck the needle in his leg. He couldn't find the vein....he tried 3-4 times before he found it. Jeter was not liking it, my heart was crying out for him but I couldn't stop what was inevitable. The thing that tore at my heart the most was the look of uncertainty in his eyes. All I could do was try to comfort him. I kept talking to him telling to relax and it would be all right and how good a boy he was.
He lay there panting after the injection. I asked the vet "how long?" He said 2-3 minutes. He finally lay down and I kept stroking him and crying and talking to him. His breathing slowed and his eyes started to get dimmer. I couldn't hardly see through my tears as I felt sick to my stomach at ending my baby's life. I kept thinking, maybe he had another good week left or even two. But I knew I was risking letting him suffer or even being in agony and I couldn't do that. His breathing finally stopped and his body started twitching. I kept talking to him for 15 minutes because I knew his brain was not dead yet and maybe he could still hear me.
After the vet went back in, I sat on the tailgate and cried, huge sobs racking me. I sat there until the twitching stopped. I told him over and over I was sorry. When I got into my truck I screamed his name and sobbed and cried harder. I yelled, "I'm sorry Jeter, I want you back." I drove home crying so hard I almost couldn't see the road. I couldn't believe he was gone. At home, I put him on Jason's baby blanket and carried him to his grave. I laid him gently there and let the dogs come to him. They all sniffed him all over and I sat by him and lay my body on his and cried so hard I think I scared the others.
I called Tom and told him he was gone. He came home from practice and we buried him together. When we laid him down in the hole, the other dogs peered into the hole and stood on the edge looking in. I think they understood that he was gone. My husband covered his face with a cloth so we wouldn't get dirt in his eyes and covered him. We both stood at the foot of his grave and held each other and cried. I had the art teacher make a headstone for him and put a statue of a black lab puppy asleep with a teddy bear at the head of his grave.
It has been 9 days and I have cried everyday ever since. I feel so empty and lonely for him. I miss him everywhere I turn. His gentle nature and loving attention is sorely missed and I have not grieved for another being like this. With my relatives, death has been a blessing because the quality of life was horrible. They were in pain and often incoherent. Jeter was not incoherent, he was looking me in the eye when I gave the vet permission to end his life. I have held 2 beings as they passed on into the next existence, my Great-Grandmother and Jeter and both were very traumatic.
I know I did Jeter a kindness, but the hole it has left emotionally is huge for me. The pain is real and constantly present. I want to get past this deep grief so I can celebrate the life he had. I can't do that right now but I hope I can through writing in this diary because I need all the help I can get. Jeter's soul was no less than any other loved ones to me. He was important, he impacted lives, he made me better. I am a better person today because of loving my Jeter-bug.