A TRIBUTE TO MILO JRT
On Monday, March 31, 2014, we laid Milo JRT to rest at a cemetery on a rainy day, overlooking the Napa Valley, in a lush garden next to a pond that gets direct sunlight during the day and is set among dogwood and oak trees where deer graze and wild life live and thrive – this is what he enjoyed throughout his life in his own yard. I wrote this poem for Milo after his burial as the day unfolded and it helped me get through the hours:
TODAY I BURIED MY BEST FRIEND
The hail came when we placed you in the earth
The thunder sounded when we placed the dirt upon your grave
The rain softened when it was done alas
It was your way to assure me of the peace you found
I will never forget your eyes as they gazed upon my own
The eau and essence that was only you
I bid you well my best friend until we meet again
My best friend was Milo, a Jack Russell Terrier
Milo JRT was buried hugging with his favorite little stuffed fleece pony toy. I scattered red rose petals about him, and anointed him with Geranium essential oil, and we wrapped him snuggly in his monkey blanket that I made him years ago. He looked peaceful, at rest, as if just napping. I gave him a final goodbye kiss.
In the fall of 2002, we walked into a small town corner pet store, the kind you see with puppies playing and tugging on each other from the window. There was Milo, only four months old in a kennel with his sibling. We instantly fell in love with Milo though – there was something about him, the way we instantly connected, chemistry—a type of gravitation and melding that happened all at once. It seemed to me, that Milo chose us and we wanted to carry him away at that moment because of the way he made us feel the moment we held him. That special bond began from that very moment and the rest is history.
Milo, as a puppy, was a feisty and clever little ball of energy and had the tendency to bolt and run and folic any chance he got – we were your constant guards to keep you from danger yet let you explore your curiosity in a healthy way. As the months passed and you grew, your intelligence and keen perspective qualities began to emerge and serve you and well as others. You never needed formal training and were an obedient and good boy. You were always eager to please and did as you were told. Even though you liked people more than dogs and cats, you were always gentle with them and never bit or harmed a creature. You were sensitive and smart and your awareness of those around you was unique– it was innately you and was the core of your character.
Your first task was to provide support and companionship for a young man navigating through an emotionally difficult time in his life. At your early age, you provided unconditional loving support and purpose, not to mention distraction with your own shenanigans that filled his time trying to keep you safe, happy, and healthy. Your support helped my son through the tough teen years when it seemed nothing else would or could. You were his guardian angel and he was yours.
A year or so later, as life would have it, your next task was the care and watch of a mother who needed someone special like you—so you came to live with me, I am the mother who needed you desperately. You see, my home nest was empty with all my children gone but you came in and filled the nest and our hearts with joy and happiness that at that time my life lacked and desperately needed. As the years progressed, the bond forged even stronger and the two of us were inseparable. If I had to be away from you, I couldn’t wait to get back and when I was gone, you waited every day for me by the door until I returned. It was not easy being away from you ever.
When I became very ill and bed-ridden with Lyme disease, you were there beside me every single day, through my therapies. It was during those dark days that your closeness, nudges, kisses, and warm presses gave me the emotional strength to see it through another day of pain. Taking care of you while you took care of me helped me get better. In the process, you earned the official status as my ‘therapy dog’, which meant you got to wear credentials and fly on a plane next to me when I felt better, and could accompany me anywhere no pets were allowed. It was an honor and you always represented it with dignity and respect.
Years later, you served another very special role in our lives. As our wedding ring bearer, you looked so dapper in your black bow tie and tuxedo, with a patent leather collar and leash studded with white rhinestones—you were the star of the show. I will never forget how you put smiles on all our faces and how you made that day even more special. Through the years thereafter, you and I shared many special moments, and some private moments that only you and I will ever know, little nuances that happened between us that I shall never forget and will be in my heart forever.
More recently, Milo out did himself. It was 6am one morning and Milo began urgently and constantly barking at my closed bedroom door, never letting up until I awoke to see what was the matter. When I opened the door, Milo immediately ran down the hall and led me to my husband who lay on the sofa, pale white and sweating and could barely speak. I immediately called the ambulance – they were here in minutes and rushed him to the hospital where he stayed for three days. Steve was suffering a series of mini-strokes that could have killed him. Milo became a true hero that day.
You see, Milo knew very well what we were feeling – whether it was emotional, distress, or you were just having a bad day. He always knew and was next to the person that needed him the most at that particular moment. He was amazing.
In his final days as he was being treated for Lymphoma, he kept that same eye contact with me. He was communicating with me, telling me ‘don’t worry about me, I will be fine mommy’. I could tell he was sorry that he was the source of my pain. I never wept in front of Milo. I spoke to him and told him he was good boy; always sure that he did not see my distress. But he knew all along what I was feeling, he knew it to the very last moment when we laid him down. The plan to fight to save Milo was interrupted by complications due to the location of the cancerous tumor and the size. We needed more time to see if the chemo and radiation were working, but the look in his eyes that day told me what I needed to know. Milo was saying ‘good-bye’ with a look of adoration and so full of love. It was classic Milo and his unmistakable way of communicating that I could not ignore or misinterpret. At that very moment, Milo seared his name onto my heart, ‘M I L O’, I felt it happen and the pain was nothing like anything I ever felt before.
And so, on that very day, Sunday, March 30, we were adamant that Milo would not meet his final day in a clinical setting. He would never go back for more testing, poking, cold sterile kennels, where strangers come and go. We gave him the dignity and the respect he deserved, a proper send off, allowing him to leave us in his own surroundings. While we waited for his doctor to arrive, I assembled his bed outside under the oak trees, in the area where he liked basking in the sun daily. It was a blessing that the sun was out at the time. I placed his favorite blanket upon his bed as well as toys and fresh red roses from the garden. I applied essential oils of geranium onto his chest and coat. As we waited for the doctor to arrive, we held him and told him our goodbyes and thanked him for being a wonderful and good boy. My husband sang him the song ‘I was born under a wondering star’, and Milo afterward looked up at him and seemed to have acknowledged the gesture nicely. When his doctor arrived, we painfully placed Milo on his bed and when we were all ready to let go, he received a sedative, and then a minute or so later he was given a dose of anesthesia that allowed him to sleep peacefully into eternity and the unknown.
Milo, thank you my friend for giving so much and asking for so little. The universe is yours now and I take solace in knowing that your energy will continue to live on.
To see pictures of Milo JRT, visit his FB page: https://www.facebook.com/milo.jrt
By Patricia Workman – April 1, 2014