Saying Goodbye to Jenny, a Beloved Border Collie

My dog Jenny came to the end of the line last week. She was over 15, deaf, and scarcely able to move, but never lost her dignity in any respect; she was a model of how to grow old with grace. Like every good Border collie she was always on the job, even as she gave in to the tides of age, still keeping constant  look out over her people. When she couldn’t move, she barked to be  moved into a position where she could survey her charges.  Towards the end one friend, a Buddhist nun, came to say goodbye. Bending over Jenny, she said in a matter-of-fact way, “Goodbye, Jenny. Come back good.” We know she will.

Later a neighbor stopped by to leave a copy of Eugene O’Neill’s famous homage to his dog Blemie, “The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog.”  Jenny, I know, would have liked these sentiments. So in her honor, I will quote a bit of it:

…I ask my Master and Mistress to remember me always, but not to grieve for me too long. In my life I have tried to be a comfort to them in time of sorrow, and a reason for added joy in their happiness…I feel life is taunting me with having over-lingered my welcome. It is time I said good-bye, before I become too sick a burden on myself and on those who love me. It will be sorrow to leave them, but not a sorrow to die. Dogs do not fear death as men do. We accept it as part of life, not as something alien and terrible which destroys life…

One last request I earnestly make. I have heard my Mistress say, “When Blemie dies we must never have another dog. I love him so much I could never love another one.” Now I would ask her, for love of me, to have another. It would be a poor tribute to my memory never to have a dog again. What I would like to feel is that, having once had me in the family, now she cannot live without a dog! I have never had a narrow jealous spirit. I have always held that most dogs are good (and one cat, the black one I have permitted to share the living room rug during the evenings, whose affection I have tolerated in a kindly spirit, and in rare sentimental moods, even reciprocated a trifle)…

One last word of farewell, Dear Master and Mistress. Whenever you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also with happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: “Here lies one who loved us and whom we loved.” No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail.

13 responses to “Saying Goodbye to Jenny, a Beloved Border Collie

  1. Sorry to hear of your loss, she was a beautiful dog.

  2. When I lost Arthur, a poodle, after 12 years of being with me through chronic illness, pain and being bedridden most of those years, I was devastated. I thought that there was no way to replace him. Even today, every time I even think about him, I still cry with love and I really miss him. About two months after putting him down (kidney failure), I got another poodle, another male and named him Dante. He is NOT Arthur and Arthur was not Dante. Each is so different. However, they have one thing in common. After he turned two, I went through a divorce. I never wanted to use any words that I used with Arthur because of the memory and did not want to compare Dante with Arthur. However, one day, I looked at him after a year passed from the beginning of the divorce, I looked into his eyes and I asked him: “Do you want your ‘roo-roo’?” He immediately jumped up and was all excited. He KNEW what this was! He followed me to the kitchen and I said “Roo-roo” with a longer sound and like it was a question. He went wild! He KNEW that it meant his food (only raw meat for him to keep in in shape and to avoid canine problems caused by eating human food). I was totally amazed at this. He is certainly not my dear old friend Arthur. Each as his own strengths as well as weaknesses. They are so different and, it is this that makes each of them special to me. So, yes, another dog, if you will outlive him/her or can find someone who will take your dog should you not outlive him/her is a good thing. Just remember that they are separate critters and will never be like old Arthur or, in your case, like old Jennie.

  3. Sorry, they never seem to live long enough.

  4. A former neighbor who walked his toy poodle every day with his motorized wheelchair came to me right after his dog went on to his next life. My neighbor was depressed, lonely and in tears. I suggested that with his love for his previous dog, he needed to immediately get another dog. My neighbor said that would be a betrayal of his love for his deceased dog. I said No, a new dog was a display of his love of his old dog. My neighbor said, NO, NO , I can’t do that.
    Shortly thereafter, my neighbor came by my house walking his new toy poodle crying with happiness.

    Show your love and cry with happiness. Jenny would want that.

  5. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Thanks for posting the homage….

  6. I am sad & sorry to hear of her passing, we rescue, foster, re-home Senior dogs and have 9 at present, to my husbnad & i there is nothing better in life that the love & loyalty of a dog. Life is precious, thank you for giving her such a LOVED life and for sharing this with all of us. God Bless you.
    Debbie DeGarmo
    Ramona, CA

  7. So sorry about Jenny…what a beautiful girl. God Bless!

  8. Jenny will be missed very very much.

  9. Clarice Dodge

    I know of no owners that were more devoted and caring of a dog than you and Pat. She was a great dog and you can take solace in the fact that you did all you could for her to the very end.

  10. Elizabeth Rogers

    Losing your beautiful border collie must be so very hard. Losing any much-loved companion animal always is, even though “dog people” may not view losing a cat in the same way. We’re facing the loss of one of our three cats (a lovely Maine Coon mix girl) to end stage renal failure. We don’t know how long she has, but we know we’ll miss her terribly when she’s gone.

  11. Almost exactly 4 years ago we lost our beloved border collie/Bernese mountain dog at the age of 13 1/2.

    I had never read the Eugene O’Neill’s homage to Blemie; after reading it here I confess I sat & blubbered like a baby for quite a while.

    So many memories; so much love. I am so sorry for your loss but so glad for the wonderful, long happy life Jenny had with you.

  12. ALisonSimpson

    Several months ago we too lost our border collie Roscoe at 15 years old. We had rescued him when he was one. It is true that we did not notice all the changes in his health when they arrived as collies over-compensate and continue to act with dignity right until the end. I rescued him from a shelter as a very nervous but loving dog who had a fear of men. I was never a dog lover but he looked into my eyes, I took him home and never once looked back. He gained his confidence and became our family herder, protector and loyal friend. He was always at my side and will be forever. Everyone that knew him loved him and he could smile. I have two sons who have had him all their lives, protecting them when they were little and spending many many happy hours with them.
    As I look back over our photographs of memories from years gone past, he is there on every one! (something I never noticed before), standing behind someone, smiling at the camera, standing in the corner watching or just protecting my boys. The day he left us was the saddest ever, I thought our hearts would break and we sleep with his collar on our bed post. Although some may think this is silly, they have never experienced life with a border collie ………
    For the last five weeks we have had Ollie with us, border collie pup of course. The pain is lessening for us and he is providing many laughs again. He has a huge gap to fill but I know for sure that he will do so in a different way.

  13. This was a while back for you, but I read this with tears in my eyes….I lost my darling sweet border collie this June, she was not quite 12. She died in her sleep. I miss her so terribly. Your dog must have been wonderful. I love the part about the dog hearing the master, and their tail wagging, even in the “beyond”….that’s my baby. My sweet darling girl, I miss you so.

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