Been a while since I ripped your heart out so let's do that for funsy's. Not like I'm finishing this book anytime soon. You know, the one that will rip out the entire world's heart.
|That time Jax helped me fix my computer|
Last week Jax barfed on the carpet. That's not too uncommon. His motto is "Have carpet, will barf." But he got pickier about food around that time, too. He grew progressively more lethargic and showed less and less appetite. Saturday it became obvious he was somehow growing skinnier and fatter at the same time. I figured parasites were munching down on the nutrients meant for him and a good purging would set him straight. So Sunday I took him to the emergency vet. I expected them to scold me for going unprotected from gut worms for so long, then send me on my way with some pills to shove down his throat. Instead she quietly explained he's riddled with cancer and has less than a week to live.
|Wild Jax MacGillacuddy|
Tough blow, that.
I love that doggle. He's 9 years and 3 months old, and apparently it's common for labs to arrive at this dismal destination, even if they're 1/4 pit bull like my boy.
It wasn't until I told the vet that I had a hard talk with my 7-year old ahead of me that her eyes grew shiny, at which point so did mine.
|Boyo loved Jax from day 1*|
(* except maybe on the days when Jax's excited tail swung like a tree limb,
bashing him across the bridge of his nose and laying him flat)
Simon took the news well enough I suppose. He's got some experience with death already (more than his share if you ask me) having lost his grandy, his distant uncle Steve, his uncouth uncle Craig, and his baby sister Evie.
|Guard doggle & Simon with his accessories|
|Simon unloading his day's burdens on the best listener I've ever known|
|... also the best snuggler.|
I told Simon Jax is old and has slowed down, you know, like old people do. And unfortunately it turns out doggy-rog doesn't have much longer to live. Simon was quiet, thoughtful, unhappy. I apologized for delivering such hard news, explaining that I just wanted him to get some snugs in while he could. I gave the boyo a hug and he whispered, "Don't apologize."
We took Jax to his aunt Mandi's house on Monday and Tuesday. She served him whatever food he wanted, paid him constant attention, and even gave him some solid make-out sessions (it's legal in Ga). We all knew he'd not live out the week, or even half of it. He was getting weaker daily. Cancer, that impatient c*#t, was ready to have my baby doggy. So my wife and I told cancer f$%# you and we scheduled a home visit from our local animal hospital's angel of death.
Yesterday morning Dr. Death and her technician arrived to kill my dog before cancer could do its work. Jax had been snoring with his massive head on my wife's lap. We held his face and comforted him while the doctors performed their magic with tenderness and love. They made Jax's belly stop hurting and helped him finally get comfortable again.
When they'd finished, and the vet removed her stethoscope and set it aside, we held him a moment longer. Then we wrapped him in one of his favorite blankets. The vet and her tech helped us carry my big boy out to the backyard, to the hole I dug Tuesday night. They left. I covered Jax's face. My wife and I buried him.
Jax had a full, adventurous life. And when his prime abandoned him and his condition promised to only terminally worsen, we gave him graceful passage. There is solace to be found knowing this is not something my wife and I could have feasibly prevented.
Doesn't make it easier.
So who was Jax?
short answer: Jax the dog set an impossible standard and ruined me for any future pet doggo.
...But you're not here for a short answer. You're here because you love it when I talk too much.
Jax has always loved adventuring. When we hiked in the woods he wore nothing. No collar, no leash, and we never took trails. Always straight wilderness. The loster the better. He always led the way and was always one whistle away, even if you couldn't see or hear him. If you turned around or changed course, he'd know it and would appear in front of you, scouting, always scouting.
|Me, Jax, Donavon (Firstborne)|
As much as Jax loved the river he hated kayaking. HATED it.
I took him twice. He cried the whole time, for every mile of both trips.
|If there was a turtle in the woods, |
Jax would find it and alert you by barking at it point-blank until you made him stop.
|And if there was mud to be found, he'd dress himself in it.|
|He didn't share a human's cowardly hesitation to plop down in whatever kind of filth crossed his path.|
At Jax's first house, he learned his name. We learned the phrase "severe separation anxiety" since he would wail at the top of his baby doggy lungs if you left his direct line of sight.
|That silver bowl right there served him the duration of his life.|
|He liked standing on me when he was little.|
|Don't judge. You'd sleep there too if you could fit.|
|Born with the bluest eyes.|
At Jax's second house we had a large yard. Here he'd run and run and run and play with the neighbor dogs (whether they liked it or not). He'd catch tennis balls, baseballs, sticks, rabbits, possums... one time a skunk.
|Jax was a straight beast at catching balls...|
And if you think that doesn't sound right then get your mind out of the gutter, David.
|Life hack: A cold nose is more effective than any alarm clock.|
|... but if that doesn't work, Jax had no problem mercilessly crushing your throat with his enormous head|
Our most recent house had a puny yard, but was walking distance from the lake.
Have I mentioned Jax is part fish?
Classic joke, David. Good one.
|He fished. |
His success rate was nothing to brag on perhaps but I wanna see you try his technique and come up chewing fish!
|Just rocking out.|
*David excuses himself*
|Look at that murky beast clambering out of the water to eat your guts!|
|"You best wipe that deer smirk off your stupid leaf-chewing face or I'll come wipe it off for you!"|
|"I'm sorry! It was a joke! Where's your sense of humor you rabid ungulate!"|
It was the same weekend that we moved into our new house that Jax was diagnosed. He never got the chance to track mud all over it, or have an accident behind the couch or chair or shelf. He would have loved the yard, though. And that is where he now rests.
When we get around to finding another wee little soul to join us for too few years, he will have large paw prints to fill.
|Doggle, Firstborne, Boyo|
Love you, Jax. You're a good boy.