Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another Week, Another Eulogy.

Momma and Jack, October, 1998

The horrible thing. 

The thing I can't talk about.

The thing I knew was coming and dreaded and could not bring myself to face, has happened.

My darling Jack The Dog has gone.

Cancer sucks.  Lymphoma sucks.  Even when it's just your dog.

On Friday evening, he seemed much as he had - declining, but not broken -  but when we awoke on Saturday morning, we knew that the time had come.  He was suddenly no longer interested in eating and his legs could no longer support him. 

His girlfriends (see below) came and spent the better part of the day with him and with us, all of us lying with him on the floor, petting him, loving him until the time came to let go.

The vet made a house call, armed with her pink syringe, and Jack quickly went to sleep in my arms. 

It was horridly painful.

It still is.

It seems absolutely mad that just last week he was insistently barking for Pumpkin Cookies.

How in the world does time just keep moving on? 

I couldn't write a word at first, but, as I'd felt compelled to write a tribute to Cosmo J. Bird less than a month ago, I now feel an even stronger urge to share the story of Jack The Dog with you.  I don't need sympathy or comments or any of those things.  Just, please, read on to share the life of one, very loved, Jack Dog.

Jack the Dog at 2 years old.


When my husband and I were first married, we lived in an apartment, but finally got enough saved up to buy a small house in a bedroom community, about 40 minutes north of where we worked. 

My husband has always known that I simply can not live without dogs, and he had always promised me that we'd get a dog as soon as we had a house.  He kept his promise.

Within two weeks of moving, I was reading the paper in my new dining room, sipping coffee and probably having a bagel, when I spied an ad in the local paper advertising three litters of puppies available in a nearby desert-ish town for $25.00 each. 


That's IT?

Suffice to say that I didn't have too much convincing to do, and being childless at the time, it was easy enough for us to hop in the car and drive 20 minutes or so to Anza.  As soon as we stepped out of the car, we were immediately swarmed with puppies.

Swarmed, I say.

There were SO MANY puppies-- three mothers, two fathers--all living on a working farm, puppies spilling out of the barns, puppies romping in the grass, puppies yelping, puppies panting, puppies running to the water dishes... it was sheer madness and hilarity. 

The mother of one of the litters was a beautiful Chow and Shepard mix, the father, mostly Australian Cattle Dog.  Most of her pups looked similar with crazy-fluffy long, thick under-coated fur, black and tan markings and purple spotted tongues.  I had my eye on a little boy with the cutest curly fur, and I followed him around for a little while, attempting to catch his eye, when I noticed that his straight-haired brother was following ME. 

I couldn't shake him.

No matter where I went, or which puppy I played with, this guy wouldn't let me go.

That's right.  We didn't pick Jack The Dog.  Jack The Dog picked US.

So that was it, then.  He was coming with us.  Aside from finding Jack (or the other way around, if you must), the most amazing part of the day was when his mother followed us to the car, stuck her nose in, gave it (and us) a good inspection, and then finally nudged Jack one last time and turned back toward the barn. 

It was amazing.  I'd never known a momma dog to say goodbye like that. I'll never forget Jack The Dog's Dog Momma and her goodbye and well-wishes. 

He was named on the drive home - 'Jack', for the everyman.  'Jack' for the great Jacks in history and literature and song.  'Jack' is a good name for a dog. 

And that is how I came to be the Momma of a $25.00 desert dog-boy.

It wasn't all roses and sonnets, of course.  He was a bit on the aggressive side, a bit too crazy when people came to the door, but he was the smartest dog I've ever known. 

He considered it a personal affront that cats and rabbits exist in the world, and had a special bark for each of them.  In fact, the only not-so-smart thing I ever saw from him was the time when he was still less than a year old, and he was so intent on running after a cat across the street that he didn't notice that there was a car coming.  Fast.

He ran smack into the side of the moving car, bounced off the door, and rolled in a fuzzy ball down the street.

He was fine.  The driver was a little shaken.

Opening Jack's Stocking, Christmas, 2010

I've never known another dog to love Christmas as much as I do.  Jack did.   He loved sitting under the Christmas tree, he loved presents and insisted that HE have presents to unwrap at any gift-giving occasion.  Sounds expensive and spoiled, I know, but he was perfectly happy if I wrapped his old toys in newspaper, which is exactly what I did. 

My husband and Jack used to stare out the front window on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa Claus.  I made him a Christmas stocking, and I'm pretty sure that he waited all year long for me to bring down the boxes of Christmas decorations so it could be ChristmasTime again.

Waiting for Santa.
My mother, the Saint, fed Jack his very first people food, when she came to visit my house for the first time during Thanksgiving.  Of course, she gave him turkey.  Right off the platter.  Which spawned a lifelong infatuation with deli meats.  Try making a sandwich with a barking dog at your heels.  Every.Day.

He was my first child.  The first dog that was ever really mine - not my parents' dog, not my family's dog.  MY dog.

Jack gets his first look at Miss M, April, 2007.

When my actual children came along, Jack was always right THERE, inspecting new babies, keeping watch over baths, supervising the putting into car seats and encouraging both of my kids to run after him long before they should have started walking.

The first time we took him camping, he had a blast exploring around the campground, until it was time to settle in for the night, and he spent hours looking from us at the campfire to the car and back again, clearly wondering what the hell it was we were thinking and why weren't we getting in the car and going home?

Run, Run as far as you dare.... then run back to Momma.
At the Salt Flats, near Anza-Borrego State Park, California.

As long as we lived in that first house, every year after we'd unwrapped our Christmas presents, we took him to the mountains to find some snow.  He reveled in it.  He darted in and out of the snow, burying his nose deep into the white, snuffling forward and sideways, making long, winding trails under the trees.

Building Snow Dogs with Daddy on Christmas Day.

We took him for walks in a nearby desert-y meadow, under a bridge with fantastic graffiti, and he would rurunrunrunrun through the flowers and scrub and sand as fast as he could, ears back, fur flying, tail straight as an arrow.

Under his favorite Bridge.

My best friend, Laurie, lived nearby with her two gigantic wolf-mix dogs, Mitoc and Teemo.  They were the best of friends.  Jack would lick poor Teemo's often infested ears, taking care of his older brother and running in and out under the legs of Mitoc the Lumbering Gentle Giant.  He loved them so much, that when Laurie and Mitoc and Teemo moved away to Virginia, we didn't DARE mention their names, or Jack would go tearing around the house searching for them for hours.  For ten years, this continued, until fate brought Laurie back home to San Diego just this past year (her dogs having made their own journey's across the Rainbow Bridge), and while Jack clearly wondered where Teemo and Mitoc were, just having Laurie back made him happy.  I'm so glad Jack lived long enough to spend time with his girlfriend again.  Ah... First love...

Miss Laurie comes to visit, Christmas, 2010.

When we went on vacations, family friends, Jule and Bob, would come over every night night to feed the dogs and birds and fish, and ended up liking the menagerie so much [Ok... maybe not the birds, which Bob nicknamed"Ted (Bundy) and "Jeffrey (Dahmer)" for their propensity to bite the hands that fed them] that they stayed for hours every night, lying on the floor, covered in dog hair, stroking fur.  Jack adored Jule.  Adored her.

In the backyard of our first house, before we had landscaping.

But I think what Jack loved most of all - and what we loved most of all - was just spending time with us. 

He had a job to do... the Chow in him made him an excellent protector, and the Cattle Dog kept him from being a "One Man Dog" as a Chow often is.  Any friend of mine was a friend of his, and until he was an old-man-dog, there was just no way to keep him from jumping up on people when they came to the door.  No way.  He was too happy to see them.

Such a beautiful boy.

Ohhh.... It's still too soon.

I've been on the verge of tears for days.  The worst is leaving the house, only to come back and find him missing.  No Jack to greet me.  No wagging tail and doggie grin.  No soft ears to stroke before bedtime. 

His absence is palpable and our collective heart is broken.

We are empty.

We Miss you.

Sleep well, my friend.

My heart will always hold you, even though my arms no longer can.

/Jack The Dog's Momma


  1. i am so so sorry for your loss, he was a beautiful dog, such a fun, mischiveous, loving character. your eulogy brought both smiles and tears.

    the other week i thought about the cats i've lost over the years, 12+1, it's a mad amount of forever goodbyes in that number... they've all been special in their own right, but some i just miss still, sinc ethey were even more special to me. i always keep in mind that saying, that really isn't a silly ol' cliché; it's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. (and i do hope it wasn't in your previous post when you lost your bird family member i said just that...)


  2. Oh, thank you, dear, and No, you hadn't said exactly such on the Bird post. It's funny... I know it was his time, and I accepted that several months ago, I know he's better this way, no more pain, etc... But wow. I just MISS him and am so sad and joyful for having had him... All at the same time. What a crazy emotion it is. Was good to write about it, even though it was painful. But that's why we do it, sometimes, isn't it? :)

  3. That was beautiful.....your mom cousin Nonnie

  4. Oh no!

    I'm crying all over my keyboard.

    I'm so so sorry for your loss. There are no words that can make any of this better. Just know that you are in my thoughts and if you need anything just say the word.

  5. Wow, this is an amazing piece of writing, and those pictures of that lovely dog are breathtaking. I just read this because I suck at routine, but I just wanted to say that this made me choke up. -hug-


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