Just a Change of Address

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 10 May 2008

It's 21.12 and there's a dreadful wedding reception going on down stairs.

Normally I wouldn't a mind a bit of Abba, but the 'Dancing Queen' looks a bit worse for wear and we haven't hit midnight yet.

Can I bare it?

Not after the week I've had.

I think I'll be calling down in an hour or so to tell them to shut up and hurry up with their divorce, failing that I may just start throwing cold tea over the balcony....

It's been four days since I blogged.

Wednesday night I drove down to the cottage. Hanna was aleady there having been dog-sitting. BB and her beau turned up at the same time as me, Jim arrived after his show at 12.30.

Jackson was delighted to see us, he wagged his tail and sat quietly as we threw bits of food at him. We all sat round the kitchen table talking about whether we should or whether we shouldn't do the dirty on him.

At 2.30 we went to bed. I slept lightly.

At 8.30 the following morning, the three of us lifted Jackson up and put him in the Jacmobile. His back legs couldn't sustain him any longer. His breathing was bad, he was looking every minute of his 13 years and 7 months.

We arrived at the vet by 8.40. For some reason, known only to Jackson, he wagged his tail and bounced around the waiting room. Norrmally he shakes and tries to escape.

He walked with us into one of the tiny little treatment rooms.

The vet examined him and gently told us that it would either be today, next week or the week after, and that we weren't doing him any favours holding on to him as he was in dreadful pain and there was nothing he felt he could do for our lovely dog.

I went out into the garden and cried, deciding that I couldn't face the execution, but changed my mind. I couldn't leave Jim to deal with it on his own even though Jim was totally calm.

So I went back in. The vet, the nurse, Hanna, me and Jim carefully picked up Jackson and placed him on the elevated table. I had applied my lippy, Jackson was known for his Mac Red Bindi. Kissing him on his smooth head was de rigeur. The vet shaved Jackson's left leg as we all cuddled him. It couldn't have been more peaceful.

After listening to his heart for five minutes, the vet pronounced Jackson dead at 9.10.

My Bowen practitioner told me, as she re-arranged my muscle groupings that Jackson had 'Just changed his address'.

After nearly fourteen years of sharing our home our beautiful Golden Labrador had left.

The vet asked us whether we wanted a communal cremation or an individual one costing 15 quid more than the two day Congestion Charge Fine I've just paid. Losing Jackson was a contributary factor in me losing my memory. I forgot to pay for my weeks journeying through London, I also forgot my best friends 60th birthday, my Mother's 86th and my daughter's best friends 21st. Funny what grief can do. If my memory serves me well I think it's called stress related Amnesia...there's a dog barking outside as I write, that's a tad unfair.....

We declined the individualised cremation opting for a paw-mould instead. The vet pressed Jackson's paw into a plaster mould, but his skill as an artist lacked the expertise he had as a vet. Jim took over and managed a perfect paw print . It will dry in the airing cupboard, we dont have, then be hung on a wall somewhere alongside an honorary photograph.

I couldn't talk about it on the show on Thursday, all a bit too raw. I managed the three hours but I did spill my coffee and tangle up most of my wires and thoughts. On Friday I honoured Jackson by talking about grieving and pets for nearly two hours. LBC's listeners were compassionate and articulate discussing the loss of a loved one - whether pet or human - it was very cathartic.

Last evening the whole of LBC were invited to drinks to celebrate the rising audience.

I couldn't stay for too long I was still a bit weepy. So I grabbed a taxi and asked to be taken to Latimer Road and LBC. The big, oaf of a driver, took me somewhere to the back of beyond. I walked and walked, having given the greedy cabbie all my money. I stopped a fresh faced woman who happened to be a doctor, she guided me up two roads and down two more. Then an Australian woman emphatically pointed to the right with her whole body, arm and hand whilst telling me to turn left. I suggested she was confused to which she confessed that she was doing a de-tox and really didnt know her arm from her elbow. I stopped a Rastafarian who smiled and in a haze of peace, love and Ganga pointed towards Babylon. Then I stopped a little green car. A woman with long black hair and a plummy voice told me enthusiastically to walk left and left again. Her passenger, all clipped and English repeated the directions.

'Left.' he said. 'Go left.' he reiterated without smiling.

'Bugger me.' I thought. It's David Cameron.

For the first time in my life I had two Tories instructing me to turn Left.

I told him I wouldn't tell anybody that I had seen him driving around west London in such an uncool car but I cant keep to my word, clearly he and his wife were cruising the new Mayors manor.

I finally arrived back at the flat. I sat down to write about Jackson and blubbed all over my journal.

Today I sat in for Bill Buckly and did the food prgramme, We talked honey, asparagus and wine, then I went for a little walk with my guests down the river and into Battersea Square for a plate of Lebanese goodies.

I've just driven them to Victoria, walked into the flat to settle down for a quite night and there's the frigging wedding bash going on. Cindi Lauper is now yelling that 'Girls Just Want to have Fun.

Tell me about it..

I've called down and the disco man has turned the bass down.

The screaming women are quieter, I've just counted five and there's a lull, hold on, wait a minute, the lull has passed they are all now yelling in unison for the YMCA...

I wonder if Jackson can hear them up in his kennel in the sky?

I bloody hope not!

I shall miss my lovely dog but he did have a good life and I do believe we did the right thing.

I thank you all for your commiserations.

have a great weekend and I'll be back on Monday.

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes


1. At May 10, 2008 11:42 PM Stephanie wrote:

Oh.... no.

So sorry hun.

Sitting here in floods of tears - do take care of yourself.


2. At May 11, 2008 7:49 AM lynne wrote:

My thoughts go out to you. I lost my little Sal four years ago nearly and it broke my heart. Although we have now got another one she is my daughters and it is never the same. It still hurts and always will they are not pets they are family.
Keep your pecker up

3. At May 11, 2008 5:29 PM Glenn wrote:

Hi Jeni,
I was so sad to read the news about Jackson. I know from experience how difficult it is when it is "time". Just think of the years you all had together and how much joy you brought each other. I hope Jackson has a wonderful new address, has lots of dog parties with endless bones and pigs' ears; maybe he's reacquainting himself with his mum and brothers and sisters....:-)
And woofing at you lot to let you know all is well...
love from Hamburg,
Glenn and a big lick from Pablo and Rosita Serrano to heal your wounds quickly

4. At May 11, 2008 5:30 PM rhianon wrote:

Sorry indeed to hear about Jackson. A friend is a friend whether it be human or animal. And friends are hard to come by.

5. At May 11, 2008 6:56 PM June wrote:

Oh Jeni
I'm so sorry about Jackson.
How strange he should wag his tail and bounced around the waiting room, perhaps he knew it was his time and was letting you know that that was what he wanted.
I so like the idea of a change of address, I shall remember that.
Thinking of you and the family
Love June

6. At May 12, 2008 10:40 AM A wrote:

Jeni, So very sorry to hear about Jackson, but you did the right thing as hard as it was and he would thank you for it.
I like the phrase 'just changed his address'...spot on.

7. At May 12, 2008 11:49 AM kerri wrote:

Dear Jeni,
Am so sorry to hear about Jackson, but as you said, he had a good life. I have showed your blog to my sister in law, who lost her black labrador Pippa last friday, she was 15, she said it really helped. Take care and try not to be too sad. xx

8. At May 12, 2008 12:18 PM Sue Campbell wrote:

Jeni - I am so sorry about your loss. At least you have some wonderful memories of Jackson and they will help you get through the "quiet times" in your home. I still listen, when I can, to your radio shows and they are brilliant. Take care, Prestwich Sue

9. At May 12, 2008 12:18 PM Caroline wrote:

I've only just checked in with you after 5 months of absence....why does it take so long to move house, then calm down to normality in Thailand?

My thoughts are with you for Jackson. Its the best end to a life...if there is a best end?

I wish you the best and will check in now I have more time.

Kind Regards
Phuket, Thailand

10. At May 12, 2008 1:11 PM MrsRotty wrote:

Big cyber hugs to you - it's awful losing a pet. We have a mad 3 year old lab, and the thought of losing her makes me go cold. Love the idea of a pawprint.

11. At May 12, 2008 1:22 PM Marmite Girl wrote:

Dear Jeni

I am so sorry to hear about Jackson, reading your blog made me cry, it is so hard to lose a beloved pet they do become such a huge part of the family. Big huge hugs to you all.
Much love Marmite xx

12. At May 12, 2008 4:39 PM Emma Crawley wrote:

Sorry to hear about Jackson. This story might help but will also make you cry again probably!

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

YOU have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

13. At May 13, 2008 7:01 PM Adrian Appley wrote:

Hello Cheeky Girl,
I read your account of the final hours of Jackson and in so doing shared your grief with you. Having the pawprint cast made was a very good idea and a fitting tribute to him. The only photograph I will display is that of my lovely absent labrador lad. Of course Jackson could hear the party noise - he will be watching you like the proverbial hawk and anxiously waiting for the time he links in with you. Don't wait for too long before consulting a medium even though he has infinite time. When I eventually meet you I will tell you 2 heaven jokes so clean you could even tell them to your granny. In the next few days I will deliver a letter and another present that may surprise you.
Stay sweet,
Adrian Appley.

14. At May 14, 2008 10:46 AM Tricia wrote:

So sad for you Jeni.

I am recently new to dogs, I got my first 2 years ago and just HAD to have another last year. I didn't understand before this, just how wonderful dogs are. They become so much part of your family life, they comfort you when you're sad and low and greet you at the door, as we should be greeted by human home sharers! You would be a very strange person if you did not feel Jackson's loss as you do. Even though mine are little more than pups, I dread the day their time is up. So sorry for your sadness, but I bet Jackson had the best life!

15. At May 14, 2008 2:20 PM Lilo Lil wrote:

So sorry to hear about Jacksons "change of address"...............

16. At May 16, 2008 8:05 PM Sammie wrote:

Dearest Jen,
Just been in tears reading about Jackson...We lost our beloved Speedie some 12 years ago now (gosh that long?)...and not a day goes by when I don't think of him. We eventually got the lovely Luca (she's a bit bonkers mind you...). Pets are not just pets, they are your family...Loved the Rainbow Bridge story.
From All the Grainger Women in and around Berkshire....thats Mum Carole, twins Carrie and Sam (that's me), we miss you Jen! Bring back GFL!!!! YOU ARE THE GREATEST!!!!!!!!!!

Copyright 2007, Jeni Barnett. Website produced by Chopstix.