Blackie, Jackson

Hello Mark,

My name is Pat McLachlan. I have just finished reading “Rescuing Sprite”. And, although I cried so hard I couldn’t read the words, my heart knew exactly what your story was saying. I recently lost my beloved black lab Jackson. He was and still is and will be forever, my soul mate.

My husband and I and our two boys, now grown men, have always had dogs, cats, hamsters, and birds and assorted other creatures in our home. Blackie, our Sheltie X lived to be 19 years old. In his old age he got cataracts and arthritis. The vet prescribed Rimadyl. We went on a weekend camping trip and upon return the vet asked us how Blackie was feeling. “Well”, I said, “I gave him the Rimadyl which worked wonders…so good in fact I had this old dog partially blind and totally deaf running through the brush like he was a pup! Only thing was, he did couldn’t see where he was going and couldn’t hear us calling him back! But he had a great time.” Eventually we had to make the decision to put him down. Devastated, we said no more dogs. The loss is just too great to bear. Three years later, a beautiful black lab from our local SPCA entered our lives. Jackson, 1 ½ years old came to live with us.

Jackson was a gentle, loving, giving soul. We did not know his history but he was very timid and had extreme separation anxiety. I worked with him second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour to help him overcome his anxiety. The only thing he never overcame was his fear of anything stick shaped over his head…then he would cringe and shake. He became my shadow, my soul mate. We were inseparable.

I took him to obedience classes and agility training which he loved agility. He would deliver the mail to the mail box, bring me my slippers, get his dish for dinner, find his Kong to be filled with treats and catch a Frisbee in the air or retrieve a ball until he dropped from exhaustion. Swimming was his passion. He swam so much one day I thought his tail was broken…he developed swimmer’s tail. He shook his tail so hard and so often that he could no longer hold his tail up. I wanted to share his gentle loving nature with others so he was trained as a St John’s Ambulance Therapy dog where we visited the elderly in care homes. At Halloween, he went trick-or-treating. I dressed him up, he held a goodie bag in his mouth while sitting at a neighbour’s door. I told him to stay and yelled trick or treat then hid around the corner. We got a lot of treats to share. I did not know that he was to be with me for only a short time.

In November of 2007 my husband took a job in a different province, Alberta. Jackson and I travelled back and forth from British Columbia (7 hour drive over mountain passes) for 6 months getting all our affairs settled. While moving into our new home in Alberta, Jackson met another dog to play with. This dog roamed free and was owned by a construction worker building a house in the neighbourhood. Four days after our final move to our new home in Alberta, while we were in our front yard, the construction dog went by in the back of his owner’s pickup truck and barked at Jackson, “Hey, there is my friend, come play!” Jackson dashed out and was immediately run over by the truck. His pelvis was crushed to pieces. My beautiful baby boy was gone. Both my husband and I were in disbelief. We were numb to everything. Jackson was our link to the gentler, kinder side of the world…how, how could we live without him. We were like robots for months. The pain eases, but everyday we see the tragedy in our minds.

I needed a dog. Dogs truly give respite to the human soul and I needed a dog. I began frantically and obsessively searching all the SPCA dog shelters’ throughout Alberta and British Columbia. Every day I searched and cried at all the cruelty some of these loving creatures had undergone. For 3 months I searched and then saw, a beautiful baby girl at a shelter about 2 hours away. Upon arrival, we knew she was our girl. We renamed her Sally, and fondly call her SillySally. She brought us joy and laughter right from the first moments we saw her. She is kind, gentle, loving but most of all, brings a healing quality about her to our hearts that still miss Jackson.

At first, I wanted her to be Jackson. I was angry that she was not Jackson. Then, one day she cocked her head, and looked at me with her soft brown eyes and her soul said to me, love me for whom I am, I am Sally! Each and every night I still say, “Goodnight Jackson…you are the momma good boy.” But I also say, “Goodnight Sally…sweet baby girl. I love you.” I will always love my special boy Jackson. I still do not understand why we only had him four years…and I probably never will. I do know that Sally is special in her own way…and the big brown eyes just melt your heart and that helps make the world a better place, at least for us, to live in.

Thank you for sharing your story…it helped.

Yours, Pat, Tom and Sally from Canada