Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Story of Jack and Trinity

As one of my first acts as an "adult" with a newly minted undergraduate degree, a full-time job, a new boyfriend and a rental house with a yard, I made the big leap into responsibility and got a dog.  I saw a post about Jack while "browsing" Petfinder and I fell in love.

Jack's Petfinder Picture
It probably helped that he resembled Ernie, the charming dog of a family friend.  Ernie knew tricks like how to bark at the right spots when Clare, his owner, sang the song How Much is the Doggie in the Window.  The Petfinder notes about Jack said he, "will make a great pet for a family that wants a lab-type dog in a smaller package!" and that he "is very affectionate and loves to go for walks and car rides."  They claimed, "He is crate-trained and housebroken." (I know exactly what it said because I printed it out and kept it all of this time!)  I thought that description sounded like the perfect dog.

Two days later, I went to visit Jack at an adoption day and fell further in love.  The folks who ran the adoption agency were skeptical about my ability to care for him.  They said he needed lots and lots of exercise and that he would do best with a family that included children.  They said that he has been in and out of the agency and they were looking for a forever home for him.  I was determined that he was MY dog and I was committed to doing what it would take to care for him.  One of the volunteers believed me and helped me convince the powers that be that I was worthy of adopting him.

After a screening process (and a fee and a contract), I was allowed to pick him up at his foster home.  From that point on, he was my dog and I was his person.

2002
I remember those first walks I took him on, when the leash felt so new and strange in my hand.  I didn't know a darn thing about having a city dog.  All of the dog experience I had was with country dogs and was from when I was a little kid with no responsibility for their care.  On one of those first walks, Jack was sniffing a tree in the park by our house.  A passerby commented that Jack was checking his "pee-mail". That was my first clue that I had a lot to learn about dog politics.

I quickly realized how different dogs and cats are when I found Jack constantly underfoot, looking like he was asking me, "What do I do now?  How about now?  Tell me! Tell me!".  He needed me to take the role of master/alpha, so I had to step up! I needed to tell him what to do all the time and I felt so bossy. I got used to it, though and now I am annoyed when my cat doesn't follow my commands :)

2009
The notion that I was now fully responsible for his care was really driven home when, on one of our walks, he tried to poop and some grass didn't come all of the way out of him.  As I stood there looking at him, all a mess and needing help, I had the realization that it was my job to deal with it: mine and mine alone! As it turns out, owning pets involves a lot of gross tasks having to do with stuff that comes out of their bodies. After taking a deep breath, I covered my hand in a plastic bag and pulled out the blades of grass.  Yep.  That was when I knew owning a dog wasn't going to be all rainbows and roses.

After a few weeks of being on his best behavior, Jack decided to unpack his bags and show me all of the issues he had kept well hidden.  He started being aggressive to other dogs, including my boyfriend's new puppy.  He started to have bathroom issues inside of the house.  And, most problematic of all, he starting to have severe separation anxiety.  I found that last issue out via a note from our neighbors.  I think he felt safe enough to unpack his baggage because he knew I loved him and he was at home with me.  Smart dog, waiting until I was too attached to let go before showing all of his cards.

2003 - Picture by Sally
To say owning Jack has been easy would be very untrue.  This dog tried my patience and challenged me in so many ways.  He brought me to tears with each new problem.  But, I knew when I got him that I was making a lifelong commitment and that I would have to deal with whatever he threw at me.  So, I found workarounds, coping mechanisms and sometimes drugs for his issues and we made our peace with them.  I did my best to give him a comfortable and happy life and he gave me so much love and devotion in return.

As much as he was a pain in the bum, I loved him deeply.  He was my companion through so many life events, including moving from Minneapolis to Boston and back again.  He traveled all over the country with me and literally followed me up and down mountains.  When a dog who has no interest in exercise follows you up a mountain, you know you have his loyalty.    

2008 - New Hampshire

2008 - Maine
2010 - Minnesota
Oh, and that description about Jack on Petfinder?  As it turns out, those were all lies except for the part about being affectionate.  And the things that woman said at the adoption day?  So untrue!  He valued a quiet house with soft beds, needed very little exercise and got cranky and snappy around children.  And his foster home?  It was 6 blocks from where we ended up buying our house exactly 7 years later, nearly to the day! And that boyfriend I had when I was 23?  He is now my husband.  That puppy that Jack hated?  That was Tchazo and, if you've been around my house or my blog lately, you know how close Jack and Tchazo were.

2013
After nearly 11 years and an enormous collection of memories, Jack and I parted ways today.  Jack's health has been deteriorating steadily for about 2 years.  He had a few cancer scares and a wicked case of arthritis, but in the end, it was old age that tipped the scales.  He was estimated to be 15, but his exact age is unknown. His quality of life has been dwindling and within the past handful of days he was showing us signs that he was ready to let go.  In his last few weeks, the thing that seemed to bring him the most comfort was being held on my lap.  And believe me, I held him a lot.


This power that pet owners have to determine when a beloved pet's life is over is a blessing and a curse.  I am very thankful that I (and our wonderful vet) was able to create a transition for him that was peaceful and relaxed and full of love and comfort.  But, man, does making the decision to euthanize suck!

I am so grateful to Paul for being right by my side as we went through the heartbreaking process of letting Jack go today and in the days leading up to today. Tchazo was there, too.  It was important that we all supported Jack as he left us.  Our hope is that Tchazo will have an easier transition to his status as only dog since he was there to witness Jack's passing. Even though I have no doubt that it was Jack's time to go, it is still sad and painful to lose a pet.  He was a member of our family and we will feel his absence for some time to come.

2009
Be free and be at peace, my Jack.

19 comments:

  1. It's so crushing to lose a pet, but so worth it to love them. My heart is with you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ahhh Trinity. My thoughts are with you and your family today.... so difficult to make such a big decision. Hugs to you all. Jen

    ReplyDelete
  3. So sorry. It is so hard to let them go, even when you know it's time.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh Trinity, this is such a beautiful piece about about a beautiful love. I am so glad you found each other despite the lies. Your family is in my heart and I wish you peace and courage.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is tough stuff losing a pet. I'm so glad the love between you two was so great! Great piece!
    Sarah

    ReplyDelete
  6. Love your tribute to Jack. It's so hard to lose a member of the family even when the time is clear.

    Wishing you comfort in your great photos and memories.

    ReplyDelete
  7. MAMA! I'm so sad to hear of Jack's passing. You and he were meant to be together. He had the most amazing family! What a lovely tribute to your baby. I'm sending you and Paul hugs, and Tchazo and Fanny pets. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is such a beautiful story, a warts-and-all love story. You clearly enriched each others' lives. I'm sorry for your loss.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you all for commenting. It helps to know other people understand this sort of love and grief.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a beautiful story, Trinity. I feel so happy for Jack that he was blessed to have you as a companion through it all. And I feel so sad for you in your loss. Sending you warm thoughts and big hug.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a beautiful story, Trinity. I feel so happy for Jack that he was blessed to have you as a companion through it all. And I feel so sad for you in your loss. Sending you warm thoughts and big hug.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Michelle J. ZimmermanMarch 14, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    Trinity I'm so sorry for your loss. My friend at work is at this very same point with her beloved dog, Molly. I hope Bill and I can have the courage to do the same thing if and when our Jack's time comes. Your tribute was beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm so sorry, Trinity. Jack had a beautiful face.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Jack was the best paper eating pet anyone could ever have. My heart goes out to you. Love, Casey

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm so sorry for your loss Trinity. Thank you for sharing this - hearing about the times Jack had with you, Paul and Tchazo reminds us how much he was loved and what a wonderful life he had. He was very lucky to have you guys as his companions. Thinking of you this week. Jessica

    ReplyDelete
  16. So sorry for your loss. We thank you for sharing your lovely tribute to Jack with us. He was so loved by you, Paul and Tchazo. Sending hugs..

    ReplyDelete
  17. Trinity! Lovely. Simply lovely. I cried...and chuckled. I adore our furry and feathered friends. Rest in peace indeed sweet Jack!

    ReplyDelete
  18. My friend Carolyn (above) shared this post with me. We both love dogs and other animals, domestic and wild. Your story of love regarding Jack is beautiful and reminds me of the joy of saying "Hello" to Ginger (my terrier friend) and eventually ... "Good-bye." As hard as it is to let them go, helping them at the end is the last act of love we can show them. I felt so fortunate to have cared for her and for the love she gave me in return. I hope it helps to know that others are holding Jack and you in our thoughts and hearts today.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This post had me in tears at work! I feel your pain. A little over four years ago I adopted two dog brothers, rescued street dogs from Puerto Rico. I had never owned a dog before but I always wanted to. Sadly, we had to put down one of the brothers, George, just two weeks after adopting him. His brother, Fred, lived and he is the love of my life. He is also my "adulthood" dog and just like any pet, it will be hard when I have to say goodbye. My thoughts are with you, Paul, Tchazo, and Fanny.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...