Friday, May 2, 2008

Where Has Jeni Been?

I must get personal here in order to explain. Most of you know that my husband has been undergoing a medical treatment for the last year. You also probably remember that my mother died in October. I also mentioned here that I was helping to care for a neighbor who was dying of cancer last year and passed away just before Christmas. I also started my tour company last year and in January began selling Italian wine again. To, put it lightly, my plate has been full and life has been very heavy. I have broad shoulders and can really handle a lot, but I finally reached my limit. About the same time my husband finished his treatment, about three weeks ago, I hit the wall. I was breaking down, tired, depressed and utterly exhausted emotionally. It had all caught up with me. I think the fact that my husband finished and that I knew he would be improving quickly, allowed me to let go of my responsibilities and let my shoulders drop a bit. I finally let all the stress of the last year come to the surface.
I have never been depressed in my life, but I finally got the picture of what depression felt like. got worse. Our favorite dog, Golia, our big teddy bear, had a problem. My husband was walking him across the street, on a leash, when he crossed paths with a woman and her small dog. We pass by this woman and her dog almost daily with no incidences. That day, Golia decided to lunge for the little dog, and not being able to get at him, bit the owner's leg instead...badly. It was awful and traumatic for everyone. (The woman is going to be fine. She is healing from some extensive plastic surgery on her leg.) We fell apart. After some days of trying to calm down, we consulted several German Shepherd and animal behaviorist specialists. We all were able to put together an understanding of why Golia did it. Since my husband was home sick all year, Golia felt stressed and sensed the change in the house. (He was always extremely tuned in and sensitive to us.) There were small changes in him during the year that indicated stress that we did not see. Also, my husband did not walk with Golia except a few times during the year; I walked Golia daily. So, Golia became extra protective of Antonio and Antonio lost some of the dominance he had over Golia. Because the incident happened in front of our house, the dog was also extra protective. Golia was also a rescue dog, so we don't know what else could have triggered his fear, and ensuing "misdirected aggression", from his past. The experts agreed, he was not attacking the woman, but taking his aggression out on the closest thing to him when he couldn't get to the dog. We were left with the option of keeping him away from people for the rest of his life, muzzling him when we left the house and never taking a vacation and leaving him with anyone, or...putting him down. After much heartbreaking reflection we decided to put him down. We could not risk this happening again, and potentially being worse. We put him down two weeks ago.
We rescued Golia 5 years ago, and he had been abused and had a hard life. It took a lot of work to break through to him, but when we did, the pay off was huge (as it so often happens with rescues.) It is so difficult to explain to those who didn't know him, but he was one of the cuddliest, sweetest, friendliest big dogs either one of us had ever met. Anyone who came to our house fell in love with him, even to the point of ignoring our other dog. He was my daily walking partner. He was a 105 pounds of happy, bouncy, appreciative, expressive and loving presence in our house - especially this last year when we needed that lightness so. We miss him tremendously.
On a lighter note, my husband is improving daily and that is bringing so much joy back to our lives. All the things we take for granted like standing in the sun, listening to music, taking a walk, driving a car, eating what you want, and more, he couldn't do this last year. Everything is a gift to him right now, and in turn a gift for me, too!
I will be leaving for Italy soon- taking a group of wine and food enthusiasts on a week long tour of Tuscany. Lucky for me that I have lots of friends in Italy that I will be visiting and staying with. The trip will be a salve for my tired soul. I don't know if I will be posting anything from the road, but you will hear more from me on the trip, before and after for sure.
Another beautiful thing I have planned to put a smile on my face is a camping trip this weekend with my nephew Nicholas. I have written about him here before. We will explore Big Basin State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California.
I leave you with a big thank you for all the blogging friends I have made out there who have sent me the kindest notes of support over the last year. I also leave you with this beautiful picture taken yesterday of my husband who is slowly becoming more active and our other dog, Ruby.

More soon my friends!


Psychgrad said...

It sounds like you would need shoulders the size of a house to carry everything you've been going through. I'm very sorry to hear about you having to put your dog down. I wouldn't wish having to make a decision like that on anyone.

I hope you're able to get some well-needed/deserved respite while in Italy. Good to hear that your husband is feeling better.

Christina said...

Oh, life is hard indeed. I'm so sorry about your dog; that is such sad news.

You have a whole community rooting for you. I hope that you're able to experience some calm and pleasure as soon as possible.

Valerie said...

Oh Jeni, my heart and tears poured for you as I read this post. What a year, but how amazing you have been to bear up under it all. So sorry to hear about your beloved Golia. I wish you could come to Le Marche during your visit in Italy; I'd love to meet you. I'm sure you'll find some respite and healing here, though.

Rebecca said...

Thank you for sharing these difficult, sad things. With all that you've been through in the last year, I hope you heal soon. I'm glad to hear Antonio is doing'll both be doing better with time. May you be happy, may you be at peace, may you be free from suffering.

katerinafiore said...

OH Jeni, If I only knew when I was pouring all my Italy news with you that this was happenening :(
I am so sorry. Knowing you, your strength is what kept you afloat thru all these trials. I am sending you lots of hugs and kisses. And also my thoughts that you will prevail(as you always do) over it all! Give my best to your husband as well! Next time please feel free to vent to me, ok? I have to you. un bacio!

My Melange said...


You have ahd a lot on your plate this year. You NEED to take some time for yourself to relax!! I am so sad for you about Golia. I can image how upsetting that decision must have been.

Have a great time in Italy...enjoy every moment!!

What towns will you be visiting???

giz said...

Thank you for sharing a very personal part of your life. Sometimes when we journalize our experiences, it gives us permission in some way to let go of them. I hope that's true for you.

A very dear friend who is the head of a social work unit once said something to me that's really such a simple philosophy but rings a very true tone - "Life just isn't fair". My wish for you is that life becomes more "fair" for you and your family.

I've got my bags packed - I'm coming to Italy with you.

jj said...

You certainly have reasons for going through a mini-depression; just don't let it linger!

I sincerely hope things look up for you very, very soon and best of new-found health to your husband.

erin said...

I add to all the other support for's been a year that no one would want to take on. May life find new fullness in your journey...

Tamara/Rocky Mountain Writer said...

Oh Jeni, you have been so much in the last year. I know how hard it has been for you to carry all this. Our paths have been so similar in the last year, right down to your story about Golia. (We are in the process of making a tough decision about our lovable little Scamp. He has an infection of some sort and the vet is at a loss for what to do.) I so know how you feel after all of this. I am very glad to hear that your husband is doing better and that you are getting some down time to refresh.

My thoughts are with you. Take care of yourself and enjoy your trip to Italy!

bleeding espresso said...

Oh Jeni, I am so very sorry to hear what happened to your dog. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't crying....

Sounds to me like you're handling everything with amazing strength--an inspiration to us all.

Now when are you coming to Calabria?

Bella Baita View said...

Perhaps a trip to Italy will be a lift to your spirits and the beginning of a lighter phase for you. Light and love to you. Marla

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

Life brings us lessons in the hardest and most trying forms, sometimes. All I can do is send you love and strength and offer you virtual hugs.

Be good to yourself and go gently. And have a wonderful time camping and in Italy.

Ilva said...

Bad things often pile up like this, I'm very sorry to read about this but I am happy that there are rays of light reaching you! I really hope that we will be able to meet next time you come to Italy! a big hug

The Passionate Palate said...

What can I say to all of you to express my feelings? I feel eneveloped in a protective blanket of friendship and support that you offer through this marvelous virtual world we connect in. How fortunate I am. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your kind words!

katiez said...

So sorry about your dog... We have a rescue shepherd ourselves, at the moment... So I can relate a tiny bit.
So happy about your husband. Sometimes the relief when things finally start to be right again is incredibly overwhelming.
May this year be ever so much brighter!

Pannifer's said...

Oh, what a year you've had.

I'm so sorry for all the difficulties you've had to face.

Rest up, be good to yourself.

I hope the trip to Italy and this camping weekend are everything you need them to be!

african vanielje said...

Ciao Bella. My heart goes out to you all, especially the beautiful Golia. I hope your peace and happiness grows this year. You and Antonio deserve it.

'A Tuscan view.....from Umbria' said...

Sending you a big hug. I'm so sorry about your dog, that's such a tough thing to have to go through. What a year. I'm so glad your husband is getting better and that you have Italy to look forward to. You have such a lovely, joyful spirit I'm sure good things are coming your way.
If you have any spare time on your Italy trip we'd love to meet you. - Amanda

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Wow Jeni. I am literally in tears over here. I had no idea this was going on - none of it. I am so sorry I have been so absent. You are so brave and strong for having dealt with all of this. Thank you so much for reminding me how thankful I am for everything I have in my life. Jeni, I think you are ready for an upswing now! :)
Sending big hugs to all of you!

Anonymous said...

Hello Jeni, I just discovered your blog via Ilva's blog.
What a sad story and I fully understand you about wanting to do so many things to help people and at the end your dog's story... Keep you good spirit and your kindness !
Enjoy visiting Italy, especially Maremma ! I look forward hearing your impression about the Maremma :) We are lucky to have a house near Orbetello, next to the sea.
Take care,
Corinne (based in Geneva/Switzerland)