“And though she be but little, she is fierce!”
–William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
How do you say goodbye to a force of nature, one whose very presence demanded your attention and that you pay proper homage to her royal littleness? You start by saying hello.
A few months later, my Mom called from Arkansas. She found a wiener litter and had a pup for Bronson. When we got to Arkansas, I’d never seen a dog so tiny in all my life! She could fit in a saucer and was dwarfed by my nephew’s hands. I’d never had a little dog – ever – so this was going to be a learning experience. And boy, was it ever.
After a week, I knew something was wrong. Jazz seemed to be losing energy, wasn’t gaining any weight and her poo was awful. A trip to the vet delivered terrible news – she was 9-weeks-old and only weighed one pound, her fontanelle wasn’t closed, and she was suffering from a “dirty water” illness she caught at the backyard breeder (we didn’t know the evils of BB’s back then). The vet didn’t expect her to make it through the week. How do you deliver that news to a 14-year-old who’s thrilled to have his first dog?
I told Bronson, “Sweetheart, she’s super sick, but we’re going to pray really hard and do everything we can to make her better.” That meant every-four-hour, round-the-clock dosages of meds and tiny feedings of a special concoction the vet gave us. Within a few days, she started looking better and at the end of two weeks, had finally started gaining a little weight. The Wiener’s first health scare was crushed like a bug!
The next few years were full of antics by this Stinkin’ Wiener, as she soon came to be called! Loud? My god, this dog was loud! She could bark the paint off the walls! She still terrorized Grady, but secretly they were the best of friends. It always tickled me so to see this giant 138-pound Doberman Pinscher and this 8-pound Wiener cuddled up on the couch together, most of the time, her lying on top of him. He adored her and she him. She intimidated the Cat, chasing him anytime he’d try to walk around her. She was fearless.
One morning, I carried her outside to potty (even then she was Royalty!) and instead of trotting off to do her business, she sat down. I picked her up and moved her to the grass, where she sat again. I knew something was wrong, so I called my vet and described what happened. He said to come in immediately. They got a quick x-ray and he told me, “She has what looks like crushed vertebrae and I can’t fix it here.” He made me an appointment with a specialist in Tulsa and told me to get there now, that if I waited even a few hours, she’d be permanently paralyzed.
I drove like the wind to Tulsa where the doc rushed her in for an MRI. He came out looking grim. “She has a crushed vertebrae and I need to do surgery now.” They told me it was $3,000, how I had to pay half now and half at the end, then they’d do the surgery. I didn’t care if I had to hock my left boo…ah, camera gear, Jazzy was getting her surgery.
I rushed home to get some stuff so I could be back by the time her surgery was done and during the trip back, the doc called. “It’s even worse than what we thought. She had three crushed vertebrae and honestly, she’s not going to make it. Even if she did, she’ll never walk again.” Well, as my favorite Fried Green Tomatoes character said, “Never say never to me!”
I brought her home and sure enough, she couldn’t walk – her back legs were paralyzed. She couldn’t even wag her tail. I fashioned a tiny halter so I could “walk” her to go out and potty. Thankfully, she still had control of that part. I would get in the tub with her daily and do water therapy, where I’d move her little legs for her. And I prayed. And prayed. And prayed.
Three weeks after Jazzy’s surgery, she was still no better and at that point, I had to ask myself, am I doing the right thing? Is it humane to keep her in such a state? Was she happy? Jazzy had always been an active dog, yet all she did now was sit in her crate and look sad. I mean, to me, quality of life is a bigger factor than quantity of life. I didn’t want to make Jazz suffer just to keep her with me, even though letting her go would break my heart. I struggled with this day and night.
A few days later, we were sitting out in the sun – Jazzy on her blankie I laid on the grass – waiting for Bronson’s return from school. She heard him walking down the sidewalk, and all of a sudden, jumped to her feet, ran about 10 steps, then turned around and looked at me like, “Did you see that?!” I was so stunned, I burst into tears! Bronson walked in, saw me crying, and immediately though the worst. I told him, “Look down…” He looked down and there Jazzy stood, looking up at him, her tail slowly moving back and forth.
From that day on, Jazz regained use of her legs and learned how to walk again. It was a drunken sailor walk and she no longer could jump on couches, but by golly, the amazing little Wiener did it! And that’s how the “amazing” part of her name came to be.
Fast forward several years, a few more health scares (another back issue, broken nose, and lipoma surgery), yet each time Jazzy triumphed. Grady passed, but I still had my girl Dobe, Katie. Xena the Pit Bull came along. Maggie Monster. And then came Destiny the Pibble. After Grady passed, Jazz never really had a “best friend” again. Oh, she liked all the others, but none that she truly “loved” like she did Grady.
Until the day I brought Destiny home.
Most of you know Destiny’s story – emaciated and fearful, terrified of most people and other dogs. I remember bringing Desi home and the first one to greet her was Jazzy. She marched right up to Desi, who towered over her, and sniffed her real good. When Desi went to lie down in her crate, I watched nervously as Jazz went into the crate with her and curled up. Yet for all my nerves, it was obviously what Destiny needed because she fell fast asleep.
For the next three years, those two were inseparable. If Desi was in her crate, so was Jazz. If Jazz was on the couch, so was Destiny. And talk about play! Good grief, these two could raise the dead! It was always so fun to watch – this tiny little Wiener and this huge Pibble, battling it out! Jazz gave no quarter, I mean, she’d grab Desi with the two teeth she had left in her head, and bite the living daylights out of her! Desi would bark and growl, acting like she was gonna tear her head off, but never laid a paw on Jazz. It was Smackdown: Jazzy Edition!
And that’s what they were doing the week Jazzy fell ill. On Monday, she and Destiny were having a regular episode of Smackdown, with Jazz ripping into her like usual, barking her little Wiener head off. Tuesday, she didn’t want to eat her breakfast. Given she was 14-years-old, she sometimes wouldn’t eat two meals a day, so I wasn’t too worried. But that night, she didn’t want to eat dinner, so the next day, we made a trip to the vet. He said Jazzy’s heart was incredibly enlarged and we needed to get the fluid off it, so he sent me home with meds he said would start working almost immediately.
I had a crate all set up for her, away from everyone else, with all her favorite blankies and everything. Destiny wouldn’t leave her side. I tried to entice Jazz with chicken, cheese, cat food – you name it, I tried it. She just wasn’t interested in anything. As I laid half in the crate with her – sad eyes looking at me – I knew, deep in my heart, she was telling me it was time. I picked her up to love on her and had her in my arms for only a moment when she took two deep breaths and was gone. My heart broke, but at the same time, I smiled – Jazzy had the last laugh ’cause she got me to pick her up and hold her like she always did.
Destiny didn’t understand. She stood there, looking at me and looking at Jazz. I knew I needed to do something, so I laid Jazz on the couch. Desi walked up to her and nudged her like she always did. When Jazzy didn’t respond, she looked at her for a long time, sniffed her head, then went and laid down in Jazzy’s crate. At that, I no longer could hold back the torrent of tears and cried until I could cry no more.
Finally, I wrapped Jazzy up in her favorite blanket and we made a long trip back to Mamaw’s house in Arkansas that night. Jazz always loved to run and play in the field and seemed so happy there, so I buried her next to my beloved Tyler.
Since she’s been gone, the house is a lot quieter. I don’t have to wash the rugs nearly as often since no one else has old age accidents. Don’t have to buy any special food for the Toothless Wonder or pick up tiny little presents she’d leave in the most unexpected places. And not a day goes by that I don’t wish I was saying, “Jazzy, stop barking!” or washing rugs or spending extra money for special food or picking up special Jazzy presents (well, I take that back, I have found a few petrified turds on occasion). We all miss her terribly, especially Destiny, who mourned her for weeks, refusing to eat or come out of Jazzy’s crate. And though she be but little, she took up a huge space within our lives.
You know, at night I close my eyes and I can see her, the Queen Wiener in Heaven – barking at my Dad for cheese from the fridge, asking Nanny to hold her, and bossing all the other dogs around. I’m sure the Big JC shakes his head quite regularly at her antics, yet secretly loves how she’s “jazzed” up the place. All I know is this tiny, indomitable spirit left paw prints on my heart and I’ll not soon forget the fierce, brave, and amazing Wiener.
I love you, Jazzy. Be sure to send a little glitter down every now and then.
P.S. If you’d like to read Jazzy’s birth story from her point of view, visit WienerBites. You can find Jazzy on Facebook and she promised to start doing WienerBites from the Other Side just as soon as I wrote her story. So, Jazzy, you better get with it, you Stinkin’ Little Wiener! 😉 If you’d like to purchase a “be fierce. be brave. be amazing” wristband, visit our TylerDog shop. In the meantime, enjoy a gallery of images featuring the life of Jazzy the Amazing Wiener.