Our sweet little Jack passed yesterday, so please forgive me if I ramble or if I don’t make much sense. I’m having a lot of trouble trying to make anything make sense at this point. Aaron and I are crushed. We are trying to go about our day but we keep getting stopped in our tracks. We just can’t make sense out of the fact that we won’t see and rub Jack’s little white belly ever again. It doesn’t make sense that we won’t see him spin around for us ever again. (which he did on command if you said those words quick and mashed together: ”spinaround!”)…and after a spin he’d be rewarded with his favorite thing in the world…a bite of pancake from our plate.
We keep looking over at his bed and we expect him to be curled up under the blankets like he always was. He loved snuggling up. He even had his own heating pad in the winter months. We’ve got pics of him on the desktop of the laptop and every time either one of us opens it we can’t help but click one of the photos open. He stares out at us from magnetic pics affixed to the door of the fridge. Aaron emptied the dryer today and in the load of laundry was Jack’s pillow and pillowcase. We had put the load in the dryer just before leaving for the vet so that when he came home he’d have a clean warm pillow to lie on or burrow under. But he didn’t come home from the vet. Instead we gave him a proper burial in Aaron’s parent’s yard, under a pear tree, in the company of our old cat Zoe, and Aaron’s childhood dogs.
Ok, I’ll briefly talk about his illness. It came on fast. What he had was kidney disease. Over the past few weeks he had been losing weight, but he didn’t really lose his appetite at first. Then he began to eat less of his dry food. So we’d do things like scramble him up and egg, or give him chicken and rice…which he’d eat heartily at first. Then it was about a week before our trip to Memphis…he even began to eat less of the eggs and chicken and rice. We were worried and we planned on taking him to see the vet the day after we got back from Memphis. In the meantime he would be over at Grandma and Grandpa’s…aka, Aaron’s parent’s house. He goes there when we go out of town. He loves the carpeting and the extra attention (since Carlos stays here at our house with Walt, Jack gets to be the spoiled only Grandchild for a week.) We called from Memphis to check on Jack and in the first couple days he ate OK, but he was lethargic…not his running around little self. Then on the final two days at Grandma’s he barely ate.
We got home from Memphis, picked him up on Sunday and took him home. He was fairly weak and vomited the food his Grandparent’s had given him earlier. And I forgot to mention that for the past week and half his breath was bad. We didn’t know if it was just because he was excessively licking because he didn’t feel well, or if it was from lack of eating. So we brought him to the vet Monday afternoon, not super optimistic, but hopeful that we could solve his problems with treatment. After lots of tests it was determined that he was in kidney failure. The bad breath was due to toxins that his kidneys were not eliminating. The vet asked us if he drank excessively and we said we didn’t really think so. The vet agreed that it’s hard to tell with a little dog. He really didn’t go to his water bowl all that much, and he peed the normal seeming amount when he went out. Aaron’s dad noticed that Jack’s pee was very clear on the day before. That is a symptom of kidney failure.
So, the vet told us the terrible news. She said that there really was no turning back from this point. In her career she had never seen a dog recover from this. If Jack was a human the only option would be a kidney transplant.
We expressed how unbelievable this was. Because Jack was still trying to behave like his normal self. Aaron would call him and Carlos to go outside and Jack still fought from under his blankets, jumped out of bed and trotted to the door. In our front yard on the same morning that we had went to the vet Jack tried to walk around and show interest in sniffing the grass and the fire hydrant (yes, there happens to be a fire hydrant pretty much right in our lawn…we think the pups secretly had it installed.) Aaron even sat on the front steps, patted the top step, called Jack, and Jack was hesitant at first, but then he galloped up the steps and stood on the sun warmed bricks while Aaron gave him a back rub.
A few hours later we’d be at the vet where we would be informed that this day should be his last if we wanted to spare him the extreme pain he was enduring. The little guy was a trooper. He never quit on us. We just keep saying “he tried so hard for us.” He tried to act and be normal, even though his body was completely failing him. He loved us that much.
The vet was so gentle and kind and has Chihuahuas of her own. Plus, she is a family friend that Aaron has known since birth pretty much. Jack was curled up on Aaron’s lap for the final hour or two of his life, while I kissed his little face and told him how much I loved him over and over. He never even stirred during the process of passing from this life to the next. He gently drifted out of his body which was held by the two people who loved him more than anything in the world.
Of course when an innocent little soul is taken from us like this there is awful sadness. And there is also guilt…which is a worthless emotion…but it is there nonetheless. Could we have missed earlier warning signs? Could we have prevented this? No one knows for sure. But questions like those don’t do you any good.
Jack was so much more than his little body. He was an energy, a spirit, a smile, and a perpetual ray of sunshine. We feel like he was the embodiment of our love for him…if that makes any sense. We’re not sure what comes first…our love for him…or who he is. We almost feel as if our emotions conjured the little guy into existence. He was the love we were looking for…and the universe brought him to us.
And now, his body is gone. But that love is here stronger than ever. We will not let it fade. We will not do him the injustice of letting his energy dissipate. The little boy worked so hard to make us happy and if we abandon that it’s sacrilege.
We only had Jack for less than four years. We found him on Craig’s List…here’s a link to that story from July 2010. It seriously was love at first sight. He was exactly the dog we were looking for…but we didn’t know it. He slid right into our schedule, right into our home. He was buddies with Carlos but there were also hierarchy issues. Carlos was Alpha but Jack liked to throw in a challenge every so often. But Carlos absolutely loved Jack. He loved being the leader of the pack. When they went outside Carlos would almost act like a sheep dog and corral Jack back inside when they were done with their business. Carlos would eat first while Jack stood inches away crying a little whimpering cry, and then when Carlos was through eating it would be Jack’s turn. And Jack wouldn’t have it any other way. We even gave them their own food bowls but Jack wouldn’t touch his…he’d only cry and wait for Carlos to finish.
Jeeez, I can tell a million pup stories. We all can.
What I want to say most is that Jack was ALL GOOD. He only brought goodness to our life. And tons of it. We only spoke to him like he was an itty bitty baby. He never ever got into his bed without us tucking him in. Five times a night he’d make Aaron re-tuck him in. His bed was on the floor directly next to where Aaron’s head was. Jack would manage to uncover himself in the night, several times, and each time he’d let out his little whimper, telling daddy to tuck him in again. If necessary Aaron would do it a hundred times a night without complaint.
We were outside today with Carlos, and it’s obvious that he’s wondering where Jack is. He keeps smelling the spots where Jack frequents and it makes us sad. Carlos loved being the boss of that little guy…but he was a super gentle boss.
We are not looking to get another pup anytime soon. But we do think that it would be good for Carlos. We know how much more fun the day is for Carlos if another dog is around. Carlos is an older gent and we knew that Jack kept him young. So, getting another pup is pretty much a sure thing. We just don’t know when.
Just out of curiosity I pulled up dog listings on Craig’s List today. Me and Aaron scrolled through just looking at the pups. At one point Aaron couldn’t contain his emotions. He said as we were looking through the listings he was hoping to see the listing for Jack all over again. He wanted to adopt Jack again…just like we did four years ago. Aaron’s not nuts (well maybe a little) but he doesn’t believe in time travel. It’s not like he realistically thinks he can go back and adopt Jack all over again…but that’s what his heart wants to do more than anything in the world. And I didn’t have to think about it for one minute…I feel exactly the same way. I want to come across that pic of Jack, standing there in the grass, his adorable eyes looking up at the camera, his little tail a blur because he’s wagging it so fast…and I want to adopt that little guy all over again. I LOVE all pups…but right now my heart only wants to take Jack home with us all over again. The keyboard is tear soaked at this point. It’s a childish wish and me and Aar both know it. But it’s such an honest wish, and we feel it right down to our bones. We remember the day first brought him home in vivid detail. We remember each day with him over the next four years just as clearly. He was our baby.
I know this is so so long. I just had to get this out. It hasn’t even been 24 hours. Our emotions are all over the place. We keep telling ourselves that we are not going to cry any more…but that is an impossible vow to keep. Aaron put Jack’s freshly laundered pillow in Jack’s bed. Aaron also came into the living room with a little Jack talisman…it’s a sunshine yellow vintage stuffed bunny, and he’s wearing Jack’s favorite shirt and the harness that we took him home in on the first day we met him. We never replaced that old harness as worn as it was. Jack loved it. The bunny, wearing Jack’s shirt and harness is sitting on Jack’s favorite chair across the living room from us. Next to it is the sweet card the vet gave us with Jack’s paw print stamped in ink above the story of the Rainbow Bridge. Seeing these things make us laugh and cry all at the same time.
Speaking of the Rainbow Bridge…we have a personal experience. As you know, we had been in Memphis for an art retreat last week. On the flight home we had the rainbow experience. We were landing in Newark, NJ and the evening sun was just setting behind the horizon. In our final descent we flew directly though a rainbow. I took a video of it out the window. It was so beautiful. One odd thing is that not a single other passenger on the plane reacted to it. It was as if only Aaron and I could see it. The day after that rainbow, Jack crossed the Rainbow Bridge. We know in our hearts that we flew through Jack’s rainbow…and that he waited for us to arrive back home before reaching the point of no return. I don’t want to remember him sick. I want to remember the spritely young boy whose eyeballs would widen at the mention of Pancakes. But also, I’ll never forget Jack’s last walk around our front yard on the morning of his passing. The weather was stellar and his white coat was glowing in the sun. He was squinting and basking, soaking up the all the life and warmth he could. Me and Aar stood at opposite ends of the yard and Jack looked back and forth at each of us…and just like we always did, we waved at him…a little tiny cutesy wave…one of those squishy waves that you do when you look at a baby. This was what he was accustomed to seeing. We waved to him all day every day, and he seemed to know exactly what it meant. We think he knew exactly how much we loved him. He must have. He treated us better than we could ever have wished to be treated. He gave us every single thing he had….and we gave him all of our love…every drop.
I’d love to drop back in and blog about Jack again if you’ll let me. Our emotions are extremely raw at this point and I’d love to write more when we’ve gained some more perspective.
One last thing…we started a page in a notebook today and it helped us out a lot. We wrote down every nickname we ever used for Jack…there are more than a dozen…and we wrote down all of the special terminology we used with him every single day. We had our own Jack lingo. The lingo and the nicknames are all silly, and it’s possible they could be forgotten over time. We wrote them down because we don’t ever want to forget them.
Ok, that’s all for now. Hug your pups and kitties tight for me. If you have a Chihuahua, kiss it on it’s salty bulbous eye…Jack loved that to bits…and we loved it even more.
Thanks for reading,
xo Jenny & Aaron