Tuesday, January 31, 2012

As Promised--A Tribute to Jackson

Okay....well I'm not real certain I have it ll figured out but I'm working on it. As Promised, here is my first piece of writing. I hope you enjoy it. As you all get to know me, you will understand how much I love my pets.


A tribute….to Jackson


            He was the best dog in the whole world and his name was Jackson. He was only six weeks old the day he picked me for his very own. I wasn’t looking for a dog.  I was a cat person.  I was there only because a friend asked me to drive him there to see the puppies that were advertised in the newspaper. Golden Retrievers and Black Labrador Retrievers were for sale. We stood there watching the seven puppies as they played with each other, rolling and tumbling on the floor, nipping at each other. One puppy was not participating. He was the only black Lab that was left out of a litter of four. He was all head with feet, and he looked more like a seal than a puppy. He just sat there and stared up at me. I looked down at him and somehow, we connected. My friend picked up a pup and claimed it as his. I looked down again at that cute little Lab and without hesitation, scooped him up into my arms, and said, “I want this one.” I had no intention of leaving without him, and I never regretted that decision. Jackson and I were best friends for eleven years. No human being was ever tuned in to my moods like my dog, Jackson was. When I was sad he would sit quietly, letting me know that he was there for me. My happiness caused his tail to wag and brought bursts of ‘happy barks’. He hated to hear the word ‘bad’, but he brightened at the words ‘good boy’. He always tried to be ‘Good Boy’. Although he was truly my dog—my faithful companion—everyone loved him. Anyone who knew him could tell at least one ‘Wonderful Jackson” story. Jackson was well-behaved, polite, and a very kind, compassionate dog.  He loved babies of any kind—human babies, baby kitties, puppies, bunnies—you name it; Jackson loved it. Once we found a litter of kittens living in the basement of our apartment building. Although he was very gentle with them, he was also very protective. He spent the night lying beside the box we put them in, just watching over them.

            Jackson was one in a million. His intelligence was awesome, and I know he understood everything I ever said to him. I could tell that by his reactions. One thing that was most unusual about Jackson was that he could see shadows. He would pounce on a moving shadow! He knew that this was entertaining to most people, so he would actually look for a shadow to pounce on when there were people—especially children—nearby.  He loved to entertain children.

            We were pals, Jackson and I. Wherever I went, he went. He loved to ride in the car and he loved to go to the beach. I took him to the beach a lot. He was an excellent swimmer and could swim out very far into the lake. Usually he would find a stick floating on the water and bring it back with him. Many times he would drop the stick and go back in to retrieve another one he had seen while swimming back with the first one. He loved being in water, including his bath. Being squirted with a garden hose was a real treat to him, and snow was among his favorites. I would throw snowballs and he would jump up and catch them. We had a little war game we used to play. I would build a row of snowmen and on command, he would ‘attack and destroy’ them, one at a time.

            We spent many hours playing, since he was such a playful dog. We played many games of ‘fetch’ with sticks or balls for however long I could find the time. Sticks were his favorite. When we went to the beach I would tell him to go find a stick and he would bring one back. We would play with it for hours. He always carried it to the car to take home with him. Although it made a mess in the car, I usually let him take it, since he was such a good dog.

            Although he was a lovable and playful puppy at heart, he sometimes scared people because he was so big. Once he got away up at our camp and was found barking at the kids in the pool. They were afraid of him, but actually, he just wanted the kids to splash him with water. Another time, he ran onto a volleyball court in the middle of a game. He only wanted the ball. The players accommodated him by giving him a ball they weren’t going to use any more and he walked around the rest of the day with a face full of ball. When people got to know him, they loved him. Any time I was invited to a picnic, the invitation was also extended to Jackson. He was always put on the clean-up committee.

            Having Jackson for my dog was a joy—a joy I never thought about losing. One day in June of ’95, I noticed that my 120-pound black Lab was not 120 pounds any more. He had not been eating well, but I thought it was because of the heat. That summer was exceptionally hot. I noticed that he was regurgitating what he ate, but again I attributed that to the heat. The weight loss was a reason to call the veterinarian. I made an appointment and when I took him in, I discovered that he had lost 35 pounds! My vet suggested that I leave him there for a couple of days for tests. She had already tested him for the obvious (worms) but that test was negative. I agreed to leave him there. After two long days, I called for the test results. I was given the heart-breaking news that my Jackson had kidney disease. I could not stop the tears from flowing.  

            “What happens now?” I asked. The vet said that we could try dialysis, and that there was a chance that Jackson could live a long normal life, with just certain diet restrictions. She felt it was worth a try, since Jackson was such a special dog. I told her to go ahead, and never mind the expense, because he was worth it. Jackson spent another four days at the animal hospital, going through treatments. In those four days I agonized over whether I had done something to cause his illness. I could not eat or sleep. I called the vet many times just to ask these questions that were running through my mind. She assured me that it was nothing I had done. “It just happens sometimes,” she said. On the fourth day I called to see if I could pick him up. She told me to come in to talk about it. My heart sank a little deeper, because that did not sound good. In her office, she told me that she did not like the numbers she had gotten back from the second set of tests. She said I could take him home, but not to get my hopes up, and to call her if I needed her. Jackson actually looked a little better, but he was subdued. Usually he would have been happier to see me. I took him home and watched him deteriorate for the next four days. We took him to our camp because he loved it there. By Sunday, when we returned home, he was markedly weaker. He would not eat, and even the smell of food made him turn his head away. I tried all his favorite things, but to no avail. He was definitely getting worse. On Monday afternoon, his eyes were pleading with me to help him. He was suffering. I called the vet and told her it was time, and that I could not stand to see him suffer any longer. I wanted to wait until Tuesday, though, for two reasons. One, I wanted him for just one more day, and two, I wanted the night to pray for a miracle. On Monday night I slept beside him on the floor. I talked to him and told him he was always a Good Boy, and that I loved him very much.

            On Tuesday, July 19, 1995 he was very weak. He had lost another 35 pounds. My plan was to take him to the beach that he loved one last time, but he was just too weak to go. Before we left the house, I pinned the blue ribbon he had won in a dog show to his collar. I wanted everyone to see that he was a winner. I sobbed all the way to the animal hospital. Mike, my significant other had to drive the car. I felt as though there was lead in my chest. My heart was so full of pain! We parked in the parking lot and I got out and held the door for Jackson. He obediently got out. He took a couple of steps and then had to lie down. “Come on, Boy,” I coaxed. “It’s only a little further.” He repeated the action all the way to the door—a few steps and then rest. The tears were streaming down my face, but I didn’t even know it. My heart was being torn to shreds. He lay down just inside the door. When I turned around I saw that everyone who worked for the vet was crying. Jackson was one of their favorite patients. Someone handed me a tissue. I took it and sat down on the floor beside Jackson. Almost immediately, one of the technicians opened the door and told us to come in. She led us to a room to give us some privacy and she told me of my options. I chose to have him cremated and have his ashes put into an urn. He would be with me always. I was given the option to stay until the very end, but Mike talked me out of it. “Remember Jackson alive,” he said. The technician left the room so we could say our final goodbyes to the best dog in the whole world. I could barely talk as I knelt beside him. He was suffering—suffering terribly. His breathing had become labored and his eyes were not focusing on anything. I put my hand on his head and held his paw.

            Jackson,” I whispered. “You’re going to a place where the beaches are nicer than we have here. There are sticks, too, Jackson—better sticks than we have. You won’t hurt any more. There aren’t even any fleas there. Wait for me, Buddy. Someday we will play on those beaches together.”

            He kept trying to focus his eyes on me, but he just couldn’t any more. I looked up at Mike and was surprised to see the tears on his cheeks.

            “You’re a good boy, Jackson,” he choked out.

            The technician came back into the room. I got up and Mike helped me out of the room. I’ll never forget the emptiness I felt as we drove home. My heart was broken like it had never been before. I called my family to let them know. Everyone cried and said how sorry they were. My mother told me that there had been prayers said for Jackson at her church the previous Sunday. Everyone knew him and loved him. I mourned him. I grieved for my best friend. Two days later I received a sympathy card from the vet. It was the first of many that I received. She wrote a nice little note telling me that she knew how special Jackson was. That day, the person who did the cremation called to tell me how beautiful he was. She also told me something very odd. She said that she picked Jackson up from the vet hospital, and when she pulled back the sheet, she discovered that he had his paw in his mouth. She had no idea how that happened. We talked about him for awhile and I conveyed my deep sorrow and grief to her. It was she who suggested that I write a tribute to him. She felt that a dog that was that special deserved some recognition. I couldn’t write this then, because my heart was still raw with grief.

            Three days after he was gone, I was sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup coffee. It was a dark and dismal day, and the sky was full of storm clouds. I looked out of the window at the cloudy sky, and there in the sky was a very dark cloud floating by. The cloud was shaped like a black Lab! I smiled as I looked up at it through my tears, and whispered, “God, you just got yourself a damn good dog.”


 Carole McKee   

4 comments:

  1. Carole, what a beautiful tribute. Your love for Jackson and his for you shines through every word. It had me in tears as I read. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. He was one in a million. Thanks for your comment.

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  2. Beautifully written though sad for the loss of a favorite pet. This story in Jackson's honor I'm sure will comfort many pet owners having to deal with losing their best friend.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Peace,
    Devon

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    1. It was my pleasure to share this story. ~Carole

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