Yesterday we put our dog down. When I say “our,” I mean me, my wife and my children.
We met Jack 16 years ago. We had been forced to give away our three cats to other owners. Our daughter developed allergies which helped make the decision only mildly more palatable. One cat, also known as my cat, Jasmine was the most difficult to let go. She was the cat, who no matter where I was would find me, climb up my arm and drape herself around my shoulders like a scarf.
We didn’t waste much time seeking out Jack. Much to the chagrin of my wife, I needed him. There’s something about that unconditional love, that wagging tail greeting me at the door when I came home after a difficult day of seeing patients that were helpful.
Now we have said our final goodbye.
Yesterday we put Jack down. This, next to my grandmother’s passing, has been one of the most difficult goodbyes I have ever had to say. Last week I suggested to Nancy we call the vet and take Jack and have him examined. I guess, as I think about this decision which never materialized, I was looking for someone to make this decision for me. As a social worker, have this conversation, sometimes more frequently than I would have ever hoped. As I spoke with the vet, fighting back tears, I felt as though I had been having a conversation with myself. She was telling me everything I tell others in a similar situation. I knew the answer. I knew what needed to be done. I knew what the humane decision was.
The night before, I spent the evening with him. I watched him nervously walk into the kitchen and stand in a corner staring into space. His vision gone, clouded by cataracts which have grown rapidly over the past several months. His hearing also gone. After several minutes he began to walk in circles around the kitchen. He found another spot of significance only he knew. This behavior has gone on for the last 2-months and more recently has grown worse. He grows tired after a half-hour and retires for a couple of hours when I rise and watch the rise and fall of his chest to ensure he was breathing. As I watched this behavior tonight, I was reminded of the kindness of our decision. This is no way to live. There is no longer any quality to his life and watching him struggle simply pains me.
Today, our first without him ― feels so lonely, we ache without him. The silence is deafening, and we sometimes “hear” him, only to remember that sound is now gone. We’ll never again hear the jingle of his collar as he comes to greet us or look down at him as he sits by one of us at dinner hoping a scrap will either fall or the kindness of one of us will bestow him with a gift. I never imagined saying goodbye to such an amazing friend would be so difficult.
We returned home and with a bottle of Makers Mark recounted our memories. Listening to my wife and son I am reminded of the great gift he was in our life.
I slept horribly. I read and reread a poem sent by a friend. The grief and sadness I feel, commensurate with my love for him. The thought of falling asleep and waking without him being there to greet me was too much to bear.
Jack has been an amazing teacher to me. He taught me the what it meant to live life unselfishly. He reminded me of the importance of caring for others when those emotional batteries had been bled dry.
I am grateful for the life lessons you have taught and for my willingness to learn. In so many ways I have become a better person as a result of those lessons.
Our future, I am sure will be graced by another canine but Jack will never be replaced. His memory, like other memories, will fade but he and the gifts he gave us will never be forgotten.
Rest in peace Jackie boy.
2 thoughts on “Jack + Jackie boy + Man’s Best Friend + My Buddy”
So Sorry for your loss Chris. I had to put Charlie down in October he was my best friend and it still hurts everyday. But I know that he no longer hurts and we will be together again someday. And listen carefully you probably will hear the sound of his collar. They truly never leave us. God Bless your family and Jack.
Glenn A. Richau
We had to put down our 15 year old yellow Lab three weeks ago and it was one of the most painful decisions we ever had to make. I am so sorry to hear that you had to put down your beloved Jack because I know he was more than a dog; he was your companion and a member of your family.
After Rocky died, I went searching for a book to read, maybe to have some author validate the depth of my grief. I came across Dean Koontz’s “A Big Little Life.” In it, he writes, “No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish — consciously or unconsciously— that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.”
You have my sincere sympathy and deepest condolences. I hope your heart heals soon.