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Ode to My Beloved Jenna

RIP Jenna "Piranha Mama" Parks
December 1996 - September 2011

Jenna. My beloved Jenna.

You have been a part of my life since I was 20. Since Jon and were in our first year of marriage. Nearly every meaningful memory of the past 15 years is intertwined with your presence.

When I broke my leg that cold Valentine’s day (a month and a day before my 21st birthday) as I raced up to my parents home barefoot with you in my arms (which you went sailing out of when I slipped on the ice and the audible crack of my bone could be heard) it was you, first on the scene, to lick my tears away and bring me comfort.

When I packed everything I owned into my car, said goodbye to my husband and set off for a new life in New York, it was you by my side in the car as my companion in adventure.

When we reached NY and were forced out of the only place we had to live, it was you and I against the big cruel world and I remember the promise I made to you through tears: I would never let anyone take you away from me. If that meant living out of my car b/c the homeless shelters didn’t take animals so be it.

When I drove excitedly to pick up Jonathan from the airport after 4 months of living across the country from each other you sat beside me and waited to greet him anxiously.

You’ve been through poverty with us in our early adulthood and the secure financial years since. When our financial outlook improved and we had the funds to take road trips, you went everywhere with us. Camping, long drives in the country, and more.

When we lived in the apartments next to the cemetery you made a game of running and jumping through the forks in the trees. A whole row of trees and you jumped them- at least 3 feet off the ground- one by one over and over again tirelessly. You were a star athlete, even if your gait did run a little crooked.

You ran into the cemetery once late at night and I was terrified! But I had to let my responsibility for you win over my fear of cemetery ghosts so I sheepishly closed my eyes and went in after you calling your name (and banging my arms and legs against several tombstones in the process). I finally found you after I tripped on one and hurt myself so badly I sobbed- you ran over quick as lightning to give me kisses and make it all better.

Funny stuff: you discovered early in life you could lick your girly-bits to feel good and work yourself into a passionate frenzy. You did so whenever you wanted -always ending with heavy panting and thrusting in front of your audience till you were spent. We just laughed it off every time (what can you do?) except that one time you staged your performance during the group prayer time in the middle of a bible study we were hosting. Talk about embarrassing! And then there was that time we were learning how to send voicemail over email and were preparing a greeting for our family and you tooted loudly on mic which sent me into hysterical laughter (also caught on mic).

You loved the water. You were like a duck in the water- always wanting to swim out a little further, stay a little longer. Every stream we crossed came with a look from you – “Please Mommy can’t I just go in for a moment?” And I always gave in.

You loved the snow. Tromping in it with your woofy boots to keep the ice and cold out. Chewing icicles. Running and catching snowballs.

You loved to run. In wide outdoor spaces (look! there’s a squirrel!) or our tiny cramped apartments (you’d chase me round and round the coffee table till I collapsed in giggles under your kisses when you finally caught me).

You barked on command. You fetched on command. I could throw one stick laden with your doggie drool into a pile of 100 and you knew just which one was yours to bring back. Sometimes you were overly ambitious in your fetching- trying to pull an entire fallen tree by its branches over to Jon or I to play with!

You taught yourself tricks to compensate for my weaknesses. After getting frustrated waiting for me to take you for a walk sat muttering “Let me just find my gloves and your leash, where did they go?”, for the umpteenth time, you brought me my gloves and your leash! Such a smart doggie.

You weathered through seizures as a young adult and tumors and surgeries as an older dog. So brave and always so excited to see me after waking up from one of your ordeals.

You took the addition of Julia to our family 5 years ago pretty well, showing patience and kindness to your new doggie sister. You got a good bit of fun out of playing tug of war with her and wrestling.

I think you beamed proudly along with me when the vet told you (at 12) that you were in great health with the body of a 9 year old! Perfect teeth!

When your health finally started to slip away from you, you took it in stride. You couldn’t walk as far as you used to, you couldn’t run as far (and then eventually not at all) and you lost interest in most games most days. But you still never wanted to be separated from us- so you slowly and painfully worked your way up the stairs to sleep with us each night. It had been many years since you were able to jump up on the bed to sleep beside us, so you slept at the foot of the bed on the floor and let Julia take over in-bed duty.

Jenna we loved you so much and we miss you! Thanks for bringing us such joy moment after moment, day after day, year after year. You were a great dog and a best friend. Three-way kisses forever Jenna!!


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