Little Sister and Ori together again


They are together again, Ori and Little Sister.
Never before has this house been utterly silent.
Never before has this house been virtually empty except for Lisa who misses her friend almost as much as I do.
Never before has my heart felt almost paralyzed with grief.
When Ori left six months ago, I would have given up if it hadn’t been for Sister. She has been my stabilizer since then, keeping me company, making lots of noise, insisting her head be in my lap while we were on the couch, snuggling up to me when we went to bed. She helped keep me warm all winter.
When my beautiful Arabian mare left in January, I would have given up if I hadn’t had Sister to comfort me with her dear silliness and overwhelming affection.
As her crippling arthritis advanced, her medications and injections failed to ease her for more than a week. Her swollen elbows made her walking visibly harder, more painful.
Her disfigurement reminded me of the kind suffered by people who have rheumatoid arthritis. She remained cheerful. Most of the time. And ate as enthusiastically as always.
But she panted more than was normal and during her last night I could hear her moaning in her sleep as she tried to get comfortable and couldn’t.
On Mother’s Day morning, she fell. Twice. I had to help her get up.
I knew the time had come.
It came in the kitchen on the spot where she always curled or stretched out at my feet. She sometimes lay on the rug beneath the table but that had always been Ori’s place and she preferred her own.
Dr. Valerie Thorn-Baltes of South Mill Veterinary Clinic left her own family on Mother’s Day to be here. It was almost deja vu, as she had been the attending angel for Ori.
Judy, who had been here for Ori’s passing and who had stayed with my mare at that awful time – I was too cowardly to go – was here. So was Lisa, my darling old cat who had a special relationship with both Ori and Sister, and always busied herself washing them, especially their ears, when we were on the couch in the evening.
She gave Sister’s ears a final polishing.
Sister’s head was in my lap when she left me.
There have been Dalmatians in my home and my heart since 1948.
This is the first time since then that both my home and my heart are empty. This is indeed the end of an era.
The first night I did not want to go to bed alone. So I talked to Lisa and even though she had never been into what she considered the dogs’ room, she did not object when I picked her up and put her on the bed. She stayed with me all night.
I cannot be without a dog. A Dalmatian. To come into the house with no spotted dog to greet me is unthinkable. Each time I do, my heart breaks again, for both Ori and Sister and all those other wonderful Dalmatians that greeted me before them.
I am too old to take on a puppy. I have tried the shelter route but no dog spoke to me, so to speak.
By the time you read this and say a prayer for Little Sister, there may be better news. Something is in the wind, and I’ll let you know.


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A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.