When I heard The Writer’s Dog and Pooch Smooches were ending the Give Cancer the Paw blog hop after almost a year’s worth of helpful posts full of important information and shared experiences, I had to stop to acknowledge their combined efforts. I’ve never felt I had much to offer this particular Petosphere movement. While I have had a lot of experience with human cancer – haven’t we all – my pets have been lucky. So far. Since I know it won’t always be this way, cancer is a jerk like that, I watched from the sidelines, putting aside as much as I could for later.
Alas, it had to end for the organizers to move on to other, equally vital projects. As an appropriate finish, they are dedicating their final posts to the special pets who have endured this unjust disease. A number far too great for my liking.
At first, I wasn’t sure I would be able to contribute. I don’t know why I thought I was so fortunate as cancer is the demon that haunts us all. It didn’t take me long to remember one extraordinary dog who touched the lives of everyone in my little family for the better. Jenna the Gentle, Jenna the Goof, Jenna the Agility Bernese Mountain Dog.
Because we moved to Alberta, we haven’t seen this spunky beauty for over a year but we have known her for quite a long time. Jenna took agility classes with us almost from the beginning and as such, she was one of Shiva’s first friends. To be frank, she was Shiva’s first and only friend for a long time. Though she wasn’t the typical canine athlete, Jenna was just as skilled a performer as any of the border collies or shelties with whom she trained. She took the obstacles in her own time, it’s true, but she never lacked in joy or ability. She was always my favourite to watch.
We celebrated a lot of successes together, and sympathised over each other’s failures. Jenna was involved in so many activities; her human never hesitated to sign her up for adventures, undaunted by the thought that Berner’s don’t make for agility superstars. Jenna was there when Shiva finally weaved twelve poles in a row. Shiva was there when Jenna ran through her first full course. It was a connection that still exists today. She will always be our teammate.
Even when we moved into a later class, one of the best parts about agility was getting to see Jenna every Saturday morning. She and her kind owner would always stop to say hello in their way out of the building. I am certain it was the only reason my PH agreed to tag along for so long. Jenna was his one true love. I could hardly feel jealous. I adored her almost as much.
I loved her most in those rare moments of mischievousness. For the most part, she lived up to the nature of her breed: friendly, calm, sweet-tempered. She was the last to get in trouble and seemed to be Shiva’s character foil in every way. But every once in a while, her eyes would sparkle and her butt would swing into the air and this happy growl would emit from her usually silent throat. Jenna in play mode was the happiest dog in the world.
At the age of six, Jenna was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. Too aggressive to consider treatment. On the other side of the country, my heart broke for her and her human. It wasn’t fair. How could this happen to a dog so loving, so warmhearted, so amazing as Jenna?
That’s the thing about cancer, it’s an asshole.
Jenna will always have a special place in our memories. It is impossible to forget her. I am so grateful we got to know her as long as we did. Her smile, the wiggling of her butt under my scratching hand, the lean of her body against my legs, these are things I will never forget. She may never have won any agility championships, but she certainly won all of our hears.