A few months shy of his ninth birthday, we lost our Jack.
Just writing that hurts. I haven’t had it in me to share it with more than family and close friends, but it’s time.
On July 31, Jack woke as usual a little after 6:00, but he didn’t seem to feel well on his morning walk. After the walk, we decided to take him to the vet when they opened at 8:00.
He gave me one of his famous tail wags, but within a few minutes, he started to breathe hard. By 6:40, he was gone, leaving us as I held him in the back of our van. We were 5 minutes from our still-closed family vet and another 20 minutes from the 24-hour emergency hospital. CPR didn’t help.
To say I was in shock is an understatement. It never occurred to me that he wouldn’t make it to the doctor. Our vet reassured us there was nothing we could have done, and a checkup even the day before may not have caught anything. His last was only six months before, and he was healthy.
I thought I would have another five or more years with my Jack. We fed him the best food. He played fetch and hiked and ran around the house chasing (and being chased) by his sister. He visited the vet if he sneezed funny. It’s so hard not to be angry about giving our boy all we could and still losing him with no warning.
So we miss him. We miss his bark and his “wiggle butt.” We miss our silly little games and goofy nicknames. I can’t carry a tune to save my life, but every time I sang the “Jackie Poo” song, that dog’s tail would wag so hard his whole body would seem to wag.
And we miss his mind — Jack was smart! He knew the names of his toys, and he knew “Mommy,” “Daddy,” and “Aunt Lisa.” Yes, the dog even knew my sister’s name.
The general consensus was that he was a Border Collie x Australian Shepherd mix. His siblings all looked like Border Collies. In fact, when we found him, we were there to check out his brother, “Shy Boy,” whom we found on PetFinder. Well, Shy Boy didn’t get a chance. “Spot” climbed over his brothers and sisters and jumped right into my lap. He chose me, and we left the Campbell County Animal Shelter with him that December day.
“Spot” was renamed “Jack.” With that black eye patch and the popularity of one of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies that year, we named our boy Captain Jack Sparrow. Captain Jack, Jack, Jackie Poo, Poopy Doo… lots of names for the sweetest dog. I was his person, and he never hesitated to let that be known. If you visited our home and hugged me hello or good-bye, Jack would bark at you. Even my husband received the “she’s mine” bark.
So we cry. A lot… but it’s getting better. I can finally remember things without getting sad.
I remember how the tiny mangy pup, at only 6 months old, stood in front of me, squared off, and barked at a big dog who dared to look at his mommy.
I can grin at our comfy and pricy sofa he chewed to shreds the first time I left him for a weekend, or the coffee table he gnawed, or the dog tag he crunched.
I can smile at how he would creep into the bed every morning at 5:00 am and cuddle up next to me.
I can laugh at the silly puppy who would squeak a ball so much that his hound-dog big sister would howl.
So I’m sad, but that’s part of making pets your family. I’d rather have this pain now than to not have had those years with him. We’ll get another dog… probably sooner than we’d like so that Sophie doesn’t feel alone. If we’re lucky, the new dog will be smart and obedient and cuddly and maybe…just maybe… he will have a wiggle butt like his big brother, without the taste for sofas.
To those who think I’m nuts…That’s ok. It doesn’t bother me. Yes, there is greater suffering in this world every minute of every day. It may seem, to some, that this…pain…over losing a dog is irrational. Maybe, but I love Jack, and the sense of loss, the missing presence, the quiet…is sad. I don’t have children. I have dogs and cats. I give them love, they give me companionship, and I miss them when they are gone.
*** This personal blog is comprised solely of the opinions, views, projects, and travels of its author, Stacey Morgan Smith. She is lucky enough to have loving family and friends whom she drags along with her on her adventures and whom she puts to work on her little farm. She uses this blog to help promote living in the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, from Roanoke to the Potomac River.**