(This piece will not be updated.)
I must preface this piece by stating that I DO NOT abuse or mistreat animals of any kind, neither humans or any living thing. If you do such and have me on a friend list on any social media site, remove me now.
For me, animal abuse is a deal breaker for friendship and should be reported to the proper authorities 100% of the time.
Having said that, here is my story.
Here is Jaco Dog’s story.
My wife and I love animals. All animals. To us, animals are animals second, and living beings with a treasured gift of life first.
My wife and I do not buy living flesh in any form. Purebred dogs are lovely because they live, they have life, but are not eligible for companionship in our domain. If you are selling, we are not buying. It’s nothing personal. We just don’t buy animals. They are not needy. We seek adoption of needy animals. WE accept being adopted by animals. You read it right.
We are owned by three cats and three dogs, until Tuesday, June 17, 2014.
We currently harbor three lovely dogs. All are mixed breeds and are well taken care of and loved. Milo is a mix of a Beagle and maybe a Jack Russell breed or a Basset Hound breed. We don’t know. He was found running around in Dalton, brought to my wife and she brought him home.
Elvis is a black Labrador mix. I don’t know what his lines are. He became a member on the same day as Jaco did, nearly 12 years ago.
Regardless, we love them.
Now, we watch over our pooches very closely, more so as they age. Elvis, the lab, is around 13 years old. Jaco is also around 13 and I guess Milo to be around 11 years old at least. We’ve had him for close to 5 years.
When Milo joined our family, he wouldn’t allow anyone to touch him. He wasn’t wild in any manner, you just couldn’t get close to him. He wouldn’t come closer than about two feet from you. We never forced him to get closer. We let him be as he is.
Through the years, he has gained trust in me, first, and then, my wife after. Considering that I monitor them everyday, he sees me more often. He now forces himself on me. I figure he may have been treated badly before we acquired him, or rather, he acquired us.
Yes, we name all of our dogs after musicians. We have had animals before and they have either succumbed to various maladies and could not be saved, or as in one case, died in the night, another was stolen. His name was Louie (Satchmo was his name sake). He would get out of the back yard by scooting under the fence. One day, a roofing crew was a couple of houses down the street putting a roof on a house. It was a Saturday. Louie got out of the yard, (he was tagged for monthly medications and rabies, had my phone number on the tag,) walked up to the crew and one of the men ushered him into his truck. At the end of the day, Louie was taken with the crew. One of our neighbors knocked on my door, I answered, he told me he had just seen Louie jump into the truck. By the time I got there, minutes after the knock on the door, everyone was gone. I found the business owner’s name on a sign in the yard where they had worked. I called him and told him what had happened. He told me he would call his crew members and ask around and then get back to me. A day went by. I called him again on Sunday. He told me he had called his crew, I am sure he did not, and he said no one had Louie. He then cussed me for calling him on his day off, “On my day of rest, on my Sunday.” I should have called the police, but I don’t trust them either. Louie was a purebred Jack Russell, his sister was also one of our dogs. She passed on while on the operating table about two years ago. She was having GI issues so we took her in for exploratory surgery. She passed during the procedure. Louie and Ella are fondly remembered and still missed. Ella was named after Satch’s sweetie. Both Ella and Louie belonged to my wife prior to us becoming married.
Elvis and Jaco were given to us together by a friend of my wife. They were welcomed immediately into our family. By the way, our family is my wife and me and three inside cats.
Well, this story is about my friend Jaco. My wonderful, lovely friend, Jaco.
Jaco was a big guy. 120 pounds or so. Not fat, but very healthy. Spaniel mix. At this writing he was at least ten years old. Friendly. Loving. Slightly timid. I think his timidity came from his breed, but I think we know that can’t always be counted as truth. He was a black and white parti-color. He was absolutely beautiful. He was Jaco Dog.
Jaco was a little bit of a bully. He always had to eat first at the dog bistro. A tall, 3 foot by 18 inches by 18 inches box that feeds our dogs as they eat. It refills itself as the food is eaten. I fill it every other week with about 20 pounds of dry food. Jaco always had to be first in line when I filled it. He and Elvis were great friends, but always at odds, or at least, sparring partners. Both good dogs.
Milo just looks on. Never too excited, never afraid, always present. Three great dogs. Three wonderful friends.
Elvis and Jaco are the last two of the original group of dogs we have owned over the years. Louie and Ella, the two Jack Russells my wife had originally owned when we wed in 2002 had gone on. They were the champions of the back yard. As I said, we have had more than just these dogs, but Jaco, Milo and Elvis remain, until recently.
Elvis has been to the vet twice for tumors. He’s fine today. His last visit was about a year ago. We hope the best for him. Milo has shown no health issues as of this sitting.
Jaco had started to limp on his right rear leg. Then he held it off of the ground as he walked. I have steadily and judiciously inspected his leg, up and down, and he has no pain. It is a mystery to me what may be happening.
When my lovely wife and myself discussed what we wanted Jaco to go through, hard choices were on the table.
1. His tumor is not removable as just a tumor.
2. His leg will have to be removed with the tumor.
3. We can give him peace, freedom from pain and discomfort, freedom from limited mobility, by euthanizing him.
Oh man. Those are the options? Yep, those are the options. Wow, not much in the basket to choose from.
After his visit to be diagnosed, we brought him home. We let him back into the yard. Elvis and Milo had to figure out who he was again. They go through this every time. Sniff this, sniff that. You know the routine.
Well, we had to decide for Jaco what he would want for himself. How to you address that sort of thing? Remember my conversation at the fence when he told me all about his life in the back yard? I really wish I could get some feedback from him now.
We trust all of our animals to a local vet, a very well trained and capable man who loves animals more than we do. He’s the doctor. Were he not, we would have equal adoration for animals.
Well, we had Jaco for another week before we had to do the unthinkable.
Deciding to end the life of an animal is not a cherished thought, nor is it a desired responsibility, and it is nearly impossible to determine when ‘the right time’ is. One thing was certain, Jaco was getting sicker by the day. The tumor was growing and it had no remorse for what it was doing. It was determined to do its deed and to finish its job. It’s course was certain but it’s timing was not shared with us or the vet. We had to give Jaco every moment of joy we could.
Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 was a nice day. Clear out, warm, the hot weather hadn’t set in for the summer quite yet. Jaco, Elvis and Milo were crowding the fence where I stood, looking through the cyclone links at me, tails creating turbulence. Jaco, on three legs walking with his back against the fence like he always does. I had evil thoughts in my mind and I had to gather Jaco to go.
By this time, a week after his last trip to see Britt, his friend and doctor, he was walking on three legs. He was feeling no pain as I had inspected him daily for at least ten days and couldn’t get a single whimper out of him. He had no pain, but was not using his right rear leg.
I opened the big roll-up garage door and grabbed one of a bunch of leashes from a nail on the wall. I opened the side door leading to the back yard from our basement. I beckoned for Jaco, tears in my eyes making it nearly impossible to determine which black blur was him. I could tell by the feel of the soft long fur of his coat. I felt even more anguish at the thought of knowing which of my dogs was who just by feeling their coat. The soft curly coat I finally could feel let me know I had Jaco near, but it also brought agony over the thought that I was not going to feel his coat again after this afternoon. Without being able to see through the tears that flooded my eyes, I found the steel loop on his collar and clicked the catch on the leash into it. I beckoned to Jaco, “Come on boy, we have to go.” He was eager. He was alive and Jaco. His time was ending. I was in anguish and I was angry. The tumor had forced my hand and I hated it. I was very angry.
I had to pick him up to put him in my dear wife’s truck. Tuck him into his spot so I could ride with him. I began to cry like I had not cried since my childhood. Not since the day I went to my Grandmother’s funeral when I was just 16. 1970 was the year. I held my little friend. I stroked his beautiful head, looked at his dark lovely eyes. Pools of soul. I held him for the six and a half miles to the vet. It seemed like a day’s drive to get there.
We had called Britt the day before and let him know what we had decided. He was expecting us.
His veterinary technician ushered us into a room with Jaco. Few questions and little conversation took place. They knew why we had appeared in their office.
I placed Jaco on the stainless steel table. The lady asked us if we needed to have a couple of minutes alone with Jaco. “Yes.”
She came back with Britt in ten minutes. I was in tears, Joy was in tears, I am in tears now. We laid Jaco down to relax him. I hugged him and held him. Britt took his paw, found a vein, administered the deadly dose. Jaco slumped and was gone. I continued to weep. I had just taken my dog’s life. Wait, no. I had just given someone permission to take my dog’s life. I was complicit. Which was worse? It didn’t matter. I had made the decision, and I had watched it become reality from a thought. I was complicit.
I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t. I already missed Jaco as if he had been missing for months. Britt said he would see to Jaco’s interment for us. I felt so trashy, as though I just couldn’t be bothered with it. I had considered a funeral, but I don’t think I could have handled such a thing. I really wouldn’t know who to turn to or if it is ever done. I was utterly lost in a void of blindness at that moment.
We covered Jaco with the blanket, I kissed his lifeless head, hugged him one last time and pulled the blanket over his head. I tucked him in and walked through the door. I suddenly felt extremely vulnerable.
It has been 16 days since I last gazed at my lovely Jaco. I feel as though it was just hours ago that he was in my arms. That I felt his breath on my cheek, felt his tail slapping my back, my arm over his neck.
I love my animals, probably like no one may be able to comprehend, but I do. They are very precious lives in my life. Joy and I have five animals left to care for. One day it will be four, another day, even fewer. We will be faced with a ‘Jaco Moment’ five more times. I am not looking forward to one more Jaco Moment, much less, five more.
This experience has filled my cup of compassion fuller than I ever thought possible. I can’t imagine thinking ill of people, no matter how intent they are on making me or others feel so. I want so badly to tell people, “Change your thinking. Every interaction you have with someone, vocal or physical, changes them in some manner. Do you not hope to be remembered fondly?”
Love one another. Be kind to one another. Don’t let a ‘Jaco Moment’ be an insignificant thought for you. Understand that we all need to have joy up to the very last second. Be an inspiration, not a despised memory.
Thanks for looking.
This is for Jaco Dog. My lovely friend.