Jack Our Forever Buddy

My story begins 16 years ago when after the hit and run and tragic death of our 9 month old scottie Duffy, my 8 year old twins convinced me that we should get another dog. After some research my husband and I decided that a Retriever either golden or labrador would be the perfect dog for us as a family. I wanted to adopt a dog not a puppy as there are so many full grown dogs needing families. I put out the word that I was looking for a dog to adopt, I wanted the dog to be at least 1 year old, house broke (if possible) and used to children. It took about 6 months before the call came that a friend of a friend had a dog that they where eager to find a home for.

I met “Luigi” on a Saturday morning. To call it love at first sight would be an understatement. Luigi was about 1 1/2 years old and had been a Christmas present puppy for 3 boys. It did not take very long for that adorable puppy to quickly out grow his home. The family he had belonged to just did not realize how active and large a Black Lab could be. Luigi was tied to a stake in an almost non-existant yard when I first saw him. I went to him and offered my hand for him to smell, he licked it and I fell to my knees and hugged him. 15 minutes later Luigi had jumped into my car and off we sped to his new home where my husband and the twins were anxiously waiting for our new friend. Once home we all decided that he was not a Luigi, he was a Jack. As my son declared that “you can depend on a Jack”.


10 years passed. Jack had established himself as a true member of our family, and his antics are legendary in our neighborhood to this day. I could tell so many stories about that excellent dog, but this story is about how we finally lost him. It began 4 years ago. Jack was about 12 years old and we had noticed that he was slowing down and turning grey, but he was according to his vet in very good health. It was October 2003 when my beloved father-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer that had already gone to his brain. Our whole family was devastated. Dad was hospitalized that very same week and my husband Jeff and I spent the next 10 days travelling to and from the hospital. Our small farm is located 75 miles from the hospital so I was leaving the house in the very early mornings before the sun came up and not getting home until well after dark. I was exhausted from all the travel and worry.

When Dad was finally considered well enough to go home I was able to spend more time at home. That first morning that I was able to do my chores in the daylight Jack was with me as usual, but I was alarmed to see him! My wonderful friend was bone thin and staggering as he tried to walk with me. I raced to the phone and called our vet LeeAnn. LeeAnn is a farm vet so I did not have to try and get Jack into the car, LeeAnn would come to us. When LeeAnn arrived she got out of her truck and Jack as usual met her in the driveway, she asked him for his paw and he offered it. Poor Jack, he was so ill that she was able to draw blood while shaking hands with him. After LeeAnn had done an examination of my sick old buddy she decided that he probably had diabetes and that his blood work would tell us for sure, but that was not the worst of our worries, Jack had a lump in his abdomin that should not be there.

Since Jack was already an old dog Jeff and I decided that we would do everthing we could to keep Jack comfortable and happy, but we did not want to put him through surgeries and treatments that would more that likely make him an invalid. We wanted our Jack to remain himself for as long as he could. Diabetes was confirmed and jack began his insulin almost immediately, but I told LeeAnn not to do anything about the cancer. Our goal was to enjoy quality over quantity. Whatever time that he had left we would not put him through anything that would diminish his life. 18 months passed and my father-in-law had his ups and downs battling his cancer while Jack gained weight and enjoyed his food once again and was very much himself. Then Dad went into his final illness, slipped into a coma and died in his own home with his wife, 6 children, 6 daughter’s and son’s-law and 15 grandchildren all gathered around him. Dad died on a Tuesday and we laid him to rest that Friday. That weekend Jeff, the twins and I spent quietly at home resting and learning to live without that wonderful man in this world. Monday evening comes and I went to find Jack to administer his insulin, I call him and he did not not come, I went out to the barn searching for him and he is not there!

Jack always comes when you call his name I am beginninig to feel the dread that something is terribly wrong. I raced into the house told Jeff that Jack is missing and we both grab flashlights to go back out into the night to find our Jack. Minutes pass that feel like forever, we are shouting his name and running in opposite directions to try and find that good old boy. Finally Jeff calls out to me, he’s found Jack but he is unconscious! Jeff and I carry Jack into the house, he is alive but not responding. It is a diabetic coma. I run for the kayro syrup and start pouring it under his tongue. Within moments Jack is awake and I give him his insulin injection a few minutes after that Jack is happily eating his dinner although he is doing it laying down as he is not steady enough to stand yet, but anyone who has every had a lab knows they LOVE their food! That night Jeff and I came to the realization that it was time for Jack to go. Our hearts were broken, but this good dog had given us all that he could and it was not right to ask more from him.

LeeAnn was called late that same night. She agreed …it was time. We made arrangements for her to come by the next day, it was a Tuesday one week from the day that my beloved father-in-law had died. Jeff went to work that morning and I made plans to stay home with Jack, we were going to spend the day in the garden Jacks favorite place to be as he loved grazing in the vegetables always deciding that the tomatoes were just right for picking right before I would consider them ripe that way he would get them before I could. That dog would pick his own corn on the cob and it was a common sight to see him coming out of the field with an entire stalk in his mouth only to lay on the lawn peeling the husk off the corn eating every kernel and leaving husk, cob anf stalk in a heap on my front lawn. Jack also never let a piece of ripe fruit pass his notice an apple or pear in a tree was no reason not to eat it, he figured out that if he stood on his hind legs he could reach any low hanging fruit and this was a favorite pastime for him. Our grapevines were easy picking for him and when the grapes were ripe you could usually find him in the arbor.

Our Jack was the most gentle of souls and in all the years that he lived on the farm never did he harm any living creature, as a matter of fact more than once he brought me baby birds that had fallen from their nests (completly unharmed) and even little baby bunnies. I guess he knew that I would do my best to help these helpless little creatures. Now it is Tuesday and LeeAnn will be over in the afternoon, our time together is ticking away and I am criing in the garden and Jack is right beside me, I wonder if he suspects? Oh how I want to make this day good for him! Jeff always buries our pets that have died, I have never been able to bear doing it, now I am thinking how a man should not have to bury his father and his dog in the same week! My mind is made up, I am going to dig this hole, I will meet LeeAnn and stay with Jack till it is over, and I will put him in the grave and cover him over. Jeff will not have to do it I need to spare him this. I looked around for the perfect spot it had to be just right, Jack deserved the best and I would settle for nothing less. Finally I chose the garden. It was the natural choice. I started digging right next to a raised bed of strawberries what would be more fitting for a headstone than food? I dug and dug, my neighbor Helen came over to ask what I was doing and I told her, we cried together after all she was Jack’s “Auntie Helen”.

I turned down her offer to help because by this time I was feeling like this was my mission, the last thing that I could do for my buddy. Jack stayed right with me the whole day and we never left the garden. As the day progressed though I noticed that Jack was finding it harder and harder to get up and that he could not pee. He would stretch out as if to urinate but nothing would come. Then he started drooling, I had never seen him drool before. Lab’s do not usually drool as they have dry mouth’s for retrieving. Soon though Jack began to pant as well as drool. Oh, where was the vet? Something was wrong with my dog that I had not seen before. Finally LeeAnn arrived I told her all that was happening to Jack her answer to me was that drooling is an indication of nausea and that the panting was caused by pain and because he was not able to urinate it was all indicating that his kidneys were shutting down. It was now obvious that it was time to put him down. We walked him over next to the hole that I had tearfully dug and LeeAnn quietly administered the injection to put him into a deep relaxed sleep. Jack began to snore almost immediately and we laughed about that. Then because LeeAnn and I are both Christians, my wonderful friend said a lovely prayer of thanksgiving for Jack and then gave him the shot that would stop his great big loving heart. It was done…there was no struggle, Jack’s breathing just became shallow and then stopped. Numbness filled my mind, I had to attend to the task at hand finish this burial get it done before Jeff came home, don’t make him have to deal with this. LeeAnn helped me lower Jack’s lifeless body down into the hole that I had spent all day digging, she offered to help me fill it in, thanks but no I needed to do it myself it was all that I could do for Jack now and I wanted to do it alone.

Postscrpt: It has been 2 and a half years since that day. Our family has adjusted to our losses, but we miss our dad and the best dog we have ever known everyday. My twins are now almost 25 years old now and my son is soon to be married. A few weeks ago we were talking about his future and all the dreams that he has for the coming years when he told me that he and his fiance have already decided on a name if they should ever be blessed with a son of their own…Jack Albert. I told him that I knew Albert was for his Grandfather, but I wondered if Jack was for our dog? His reply to me was “you can depend on a Jack… and besides he was a really good dog”.

Kerri from MI

2 Responses

  1. kim Says:

    Loved the story about Jack.

  2. Diane from California Says:

    What a beautiful story. A fitting tribute to a beautiful dog. Thanks for sharing.