Friday, August 21, 2009

You Don't Know Jack

Sad news. A few days ago, my mom had to make The Long Drive to the vet with her 12.5-year-old dog Jack (a Jack Russell terrier). The poor guy had bone cancer in one of his legs, and it had gotten to the point where he couldn't breathe and was in pain pretty much all the time. Knowing its really the right decision doesn't seem to make it easier, though I imagine the local chipmunks are having a block party.

Jack had a tough early life. He spent his first four years with my uncle Charles, who either didn't know much about taking care of dogs or wasn't interested. You can't really leave a Jack Russell outside all the time, even in a climate as mild as north Alabama's. At his chunkiest, Jack couldn't have topped 10 pounds, and didn't have much hair.

In Charles' defense, he was also fighting with cancer (a fight he would eventually lose). During that fight, my mom would visit, and that's when she met Jack. One day Mom was out there, and noticed that Jack had been "skunked." When she left, she scooped up Jack and drove back home. Jack got a bath, went on his very first vet trip ever, and never went back because Charles passed away a couple days later.

Being adopted by my mother is the dog equivalent of winning the lottery. Food and shelter become last on your list of worries, replaced by finding the right spot on the couch to nap between chasing chipmunks in the back yard.

The last thing many chipmunks saw

Jack was a horror of Biblical proportions to chipmunks. Everything else out back -- squirrels, rabbits, etc -- were perfectly safe from the Tiny Ferocity, but chipmunks and mice? Doomed, unless they could climb a minimum of two feet up a tree.

To everyone else, he was friendly and cuddly. When you walked into Mom's house, he spent about 30 seconds making noises like a handgun being fired into a frying pan. If you withstood such an onslaught, you were okay by him and he would totally sit in your lap the minute you sat down. (Unless my mom was also sitting down. That was a dog that never forgot where his bread was buttered.) He was also one of the most well-traveled dogs I knew. Mom used to make the occasional business trip to Denver, CO, and she would drive it with Jack in a dog bed on the passenger seat.

Jack never really shook off his hard youth. When Mom got him, he was riddled with heartworms. After they were gone, he had a slight wheeze in his breath, and we always sort of suspected he would go early. That he made it to 12.5 and died from something else is a testament to Mom's Extreme Pampering Skilz.

So, it's a little quieter at Mom's these days, although not by a whole bunch. Mom also pampers a chihuahua named Chico and a Schnauzer named Beardo. (Also good dogs, but didn't have Jack's humble beginnings, the ungrateful brats.) As for Jack: when your story starts out hard, you can do a lot worse than to have a comfy and loving middle and a merciful end.

Goodbye, Jack. If you're anywhere right now, I hope the pillows are fluffy and the chipmunks are fat.


Artful Dodger said...

We've had to make that decision twice, both with dogs who had been family for 14-15 years. Your mother made the right decision. Notwithstanding the sadness of his passing, isn't wonderful to carry with you the memories of a true friend and companion?

Masala Skeptic said...

Sniff. He was an awesome puppy and we were lucky to have known him. No matter what our dogs say :)