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.