Tribute to Jack

My family adopted Jack the year before I began kindergarten. That’s more than 15 years. More than three-quarters of my life.

My mom saw him at a Petsmart adoption event and fell in love. The next day she brought the rest of the family to the pound to meet him. He was spunky and wild and smart. He had a bark that could make you sit up in bed at night. (We eventually got him “de-barked,” which is a painless procedure that left him with a raspy little bark that I’ve always loved.) Because he was young and energetic and loud, he’d been abandoned not once, but twice, the second time after having been adopted out and dumped back near the pound after they decided he wasn’t good enough for them (only the scum of the earth would do this to any animal, in my opinion, but I’m a little grateful to them, because that meant we got to own him.) And he only had a few days left at the shelter until he’d be put down because of overcrowding. Needless to say, that sealed it.

My mom brought him to my pre-school to pick me up on the day we actually adopted him, and I remember my teacher saying, “is that your little Wishbone?”

We named him Jack, because my parents loved the name, but after calling my little brother “Jack” for about a week after he was born they decided it didn’t really fit. So the little spotted hyper mutt we picked out got the title.

Jack was a family dog, but he was also my dog.  We wrestled and played and cuddled together. Whenever I was in a bad mood he’d always find me and bug me until I felt better.

He and my dog Kirby were incredibly close. We adopted Kirby about 3 years after we got Jack, and they haven’t been apart since. I don’t think I’ll ever have two pets as close as they were again in my life.

Today we had to make the impossible decision to put Jack down. He had a tumor the size of a nerf football on his leg. I’m not exaggerating. And the tumor was not the worst of his issues. He was nearly blind, completely deaf, and totally disoriented most of the time. He lived at least 17 years, and it was time to stop avoiding our suffering and end his. My mom and I drove to the vet this afternoon and had them come out to the car and put him to sleep. He was very peaceful, and it wasn’t traumatizing in any way. We got to be with him when he went to sleep. We took him home, and my mom, Riley and I buried him in the back yard in the hole my father had dug the night before. There was something incredibly therapeutic about physically putting him to rest.

I think right now I’m in a state of almost numbness, but I’ll always have a sore spot when I think about him. He was the best dog I’ve ever owned, ever been around, and it’s going to be a bitch for any other dog I own in the future to live up to Jack’s standards.

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4 comments
  1. tommye waltman said:

    oh how sweet. i dread the day my beloved puppy(ies) pass. appaloosa (apple) was adopted 9/08 and foster (because he was supposed to be a foster dog, but i couldn’t resist him) just a week ago. adopted dogs are the best – so sweet and smart, usually healthy, and seem to just say “thank you” all the time. i’m sorry about your jack and hope you’ll get thru this ok with your pictures and memories. by the way, i worked with your aunt kathy at williams 1974-1976 and of course, have known your mom that long as well. if you can take it, google bill staines “old dogs” song….maybe you should wait awhile, it’s very touching. <3

  2. Amy Cauthon said:

    Nielsen family-I’m so sorry about you having to put down your sweet little dog. I love the tribute, Emily. It brought a tear to my eye. You provided a loving and safe home for him and did the right thing by ending his suffering.

  3. Jory said:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Emily. Your photos are really beautiful and the whole post has caused tears in my eyes (or maybe I should stop cutting onions at my computer … yeah that’s it :)

    It’s obvious you were the best girl a dog like Jack could have.

  4. It is late Thursday night, May 12, my father’s birthday of long ago now. I was just getting ready to turn in for the day, but decided to check my mail (always a big mistake when it is late;) and found your mom’s mail about Jack and your blog, dear Emily. Now I sit here with a tear stained face, having learned about your sweet Jack’s demise. I so enjoyed the lovely pictures of him during his lifetime, sniff, sniff. I’m sitting here bawling. However,the way you all loved him and put him to rest made me happy. I know your dad was sad and I thought of him out there digging his grave the night before and I experienced another flood of tears. Love to all of you, and pass this along to your your mom and dad for me. Bye bye Jack. Grandmother. xxx

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