Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Little Jack: August 26, 1995-August 11, 2008



(Jack and me when he was about 5-6 weeks old, and on my left last summer, with Buster on my right and Penny on my lap)
The thing that surprises you about a good dog is that they need so little. Give them a little Purina dog chow, exercise and play and love, that's all they want. What they give you is extraordinary companionship, better than what most people are capable of. Jack didn't want anything except to be with me, and play with his ball.
Jack was diagnosed, as old readers here know, with cancer back in November. Whenever our vet visited in recent months she said it was a miracle he was still with us. I think that he wanted to stay with us as long as he could, and play with his ball.

Jack probably had an ideal dog life. Compared to all of our other dogs and cats over the years, Jack was an AKC registered pure black lab, born in the kitchen of some of our friends. We first met him when he was a little black sausage with flippers, and saw him almost daily until he moved in with us permanently. Columbus Day 1995 I went to their house, he was running around with his 9 brothers and sisters, he had a final drink from his mother and a pee on the floor, and he came home with me in my jacket.

As you know, I work at home. I rarely go anywhere, so Jack pretty much hung out on the couch, and every hour or two came with me for a walk or just out back to play with his ball. He was always very quiet and undemanding, and a wonderful brother to Petey, our old dog who died 2 years ago, and to Buster who is younger but we call his twin, and now Penny the bossy beagle. He tolerated cats, and our cat Emily who was about his age, curled up next to Jack all day yesterday and slept with him back to back.

Jack was mighty active these last few months, for a 12+ year old lab with cancer. He was happy and doing what he wanted, until this weekend. Starting Saturday he could barely move, and I called the vet to visit us Monday, one final time.

I walked Jack yesterday afternoon a little bit, and I was hoping I would find a four-leaf clover to celebrate the day, and wouldn't you know, he pointed down at one point, there was this four leaf clover and then he looked up at me with that grin that labs have. Amazing. He got home, took his ball, and I threw it twice, a few feet, and he retrieved it, but then he was having too much trouble moving.

As I said, Jack may have had an ideal dog life. He was born into a loving family's kitchen, and that was how he died. We are lucky to have a traveling vet, and Jack died at home, on his blanket, with his whole dog and cat family with him. It is easier than you think it will be. He just went to sleep. He is buried out back with his favorite mini-basketball, and a few extra toys for sharing in doggy heaven, next to his old buddy Petey. We moved a small pine tree on top of his grave, which he had peed on earlier in the day.

33 comments:

tt said...

Oh my gosh..I'm soooooo sorry Gary.
Jack looks like he was a treasured friend. He was lucky to have a family like yours.
My most humble and sincere sympathies.

celeste and maurice said...

We are so sorry for your loss. Hugs to all the peeps and pets.

Lis Garrett said...

Oh, I am really very sorry. I know the pain of losing a beloved pet, friend, and member of the family. But it's nice you have such wonderful memories to remember. I'm sure Jack couldn't have found a better family with whom to spend his days . . . .

kate et jim said...

Jack's surely in doggie heaven with lots of friends to play with - hope he shares his ball... ;)

kate et jim said...

I just noticed the 4 leaf clover!

Gordo said...

Gary, I'm so sorry. Dogs are amazing companions and generally undemanding as you said. Losing a member of the family is never easy, but being able to do it with dignity and surrounded by love is a great thing.

gary rith said...

Thanks!

Candace said...

I am sorry to hear about your loss. Jack sounds like he was an amazing and loving dog and member of the family.

Janet said...

OH, I'm so sorry to hear about Jack's passing :-( It does sound as if you gave him a great life, tho, filled with much love.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like Jack lived his best life.

Stacey said...

Gary and family, I'm so sorry. Jack was a beautiful and happy dog, that's clear. I'm glad for you both that you had 12 years.

gary rith said...

You said it, 12 PLUS years!

Lou said...

Gary, I had a big old sniff for Jack here on the couch just now, I hope the pain is a soft one that pours out easily and lets you remember only the lovely things. Cuddle all the others a little closer tonight, x

Anonymous said...

Jack was truly one of a kind. You were good for all those years to him and he returned the favor.
EH

Nance said...

Gary, I am sitting here sobbing! Your tribute to Jack was beautiful.
It is always so hard when they leave us, yet we would do it all over again.
Take care,
Nance

gary rith said...

I can't help but feel that they're BETTER than us. Just so purely loving.

Tricia said...

Typing and sniffling over here to say I'm so sorry for your loss of a family member. He was beautiful and it sounds like you were lucky to have each other.

Lynda said...

When we lost our Greta, I think my husband and I cried for 2 full days. Unless you have pets, you just don't know how much they had to your life. I am sorry to hear of Jack's passing and the empty space left in your family.

You certainly described a happy life - he must have felt so loved.

Jessica said...

I'm soo sorry about the death of Jack. :( It sounds like he had a great life and a wonderful family to take care of him.

~ Sil in Corea said...

Jack sure was a good dog. We had a black Lab when I was in high school; he was a sweet dog, and that Lab grin! Each dog has his own special niche in our hearts.

Hugs and Commiserations,
~ Sil in Corea

Maggie said...

Ah, Gary I'm so sorry. Losing a pet, a family member to be sure is tough and heart sickening. You sound well with it though and I'm happy he went so peacefully.

Reb said...

Gary, what a beautiful post. I am sorry for your loss.

gary rith said...

What can you say? A long and happy life until the end, that is as good as it gets. There is a hole in the household though. It seems so quiet.
Thanks all!

John Bailey said...

Ah, Gary, you're a good man, and that's how Jack had such a good life. Remember him with a smile.

kcinnova said...

Oh, Gary, I'm so sorry. I'm glad that Jack had such loving owners and a dignified end of life.
My thoughts are with you & Maude tonight. :*(

Karen said...

Gary, I'm so sorry. I came looking for WWC and found out about Jack. We are still crying over here about our Kbhr. It's so hard to let go, but in the end those old labs let you know they are ready, don't they? Truly good boys to the very end.

Ellen said...

Gary, I am so sorry. What a wonderful dog he was! Thank you for sharing him with us on your blog here.

Chatty said...

That may be the most beautiful epitaph I have ever read.
Jack would be pleased - if he could tear himself away from playing with his ball long enough to read it...
*smile* But he wouldn't need to read it - he already knows.

Tink said...

You gave him such a great life. If only all dogs were so lucky. You will be missed Jack.

gary rith said...

Yes, I hope he is busy in dog heaven. I am not in a hurry to rejoin him, but I hope that one day I will.

Fortune Cookies said...

I am sooooo sorry to hear (read) about Jack! My thoughts are with you and your family. It is so hard to let them go, I know. ((bloggy-hugs))

Mother of Invention said...

WOW, Gary..sorry you had to say good-bye but what a beautiful account of a beautiful friendship. I'm glad he had such wonderful owners and that you got so much from him. Pets are amazing...and that 4-leaf clover...that's just neat.

(I need one of those! Thanks for your reply!)

TheColorTree said...

Just catching up with your blog after being away ... so so sorry to hear about Jack! You wrote a beautiful well-deserved tribute. He was lucky (and grateful, I'm sure) to be so loved.