Who was Jack?
Jack was a stubborn, independent, faithful, feisty (in the human sense of the word) Australian Shepherd. He was my shadow for almost 10 years before dying on December 16, 2018.
He came into my life in October 2009. My English Shepherd, Buddy, had died on September 22nd and I was in mourning over the loss of this white and reddish- tan escape artist, whom I had kidnapped from some neglectful family or another in a Boone, North Carolina, neighborhood. He had roamed the neighborhood for weeks, accourding to our daughter, and she had already doctored one deep wound a few weeks before. She had worked in vet’s office during high school and college, so knew well how to identify an abandoned or neglected animal.
Who was Buddy?
Buddy, nervously endured the 5 hour trip from Boone to Prince George throwing up only once in the back of the station wagon. He was beautiful, even in his emaciated condition, but when we got home and tried to introduce him to the cats, we could tell we were in for a chaotic lifes during our relationship with this dog. Two of our cats would disappear for days at a time. Only our regal cat Jerry paid no mind to Buddy and Buddy paid no mind to Jerry.
When Buddy was accidentally let off lead, he was gone … totally off the reservation and our 6 acres were definitely not large enough for him. He chased cars, bicycles, scooters, horses, and especially, cats.
He and I walked at least twice a day with him on lead. I walked him before sunrise and after sundown to limit the distractions. When he got excited he could exit before my awareness of the coming excitement, pulling the lead out of my hands. Were I able to hold on to the lead, he would jump, literally jump, and being a long framed dog, when he jumped he was taller than I.
But he bonded with me, and our twelve years of exciting walks, embarassment (mine) in front of my neighbors, and moments of contentment, ended when he suddenly died as I arrived home after a day away at meetings.
Bob took me to a farm in Nottoway County advertising somewhere that they had Aussies for sale. I don’t remember how it was that Bob was looking for an Aussie for me, but there you go. Memory can be fleeting. We got to the family farm founded in 1849. There were a grundle of dogs, Aussies, of all colors. Well groomed, obviously treasured, and probably high dollar. The owners allowed me to visit the caged dogs, as well as the dogs,freely milling around. Those milling around were not breeding stock for various reasons. High dollar buyers are always looking for certain breed characteristics. Me, I’m just looking for personality, character.
And there was this black and white Aussie, mudcaked, matted, and with deep old-soul eyes. I touched him in various parts of his body to check for fear, anxiety, sensitivity. He passsed, He was calm, alert, & engaging. I had found my dog. We asked the price and the owners looked at each other puzzled. Obviously, this was not considered one of the high dollar dogs for sale, He was just a low class farm dog. “A hundred dollars”, the woman said. Bob said “done” and pulled out the hundred bucks.
The fun came getting the muddy Aussie, who would be come Jack, into the car for the ride home. The owners helped gather him up to put in my back seat where I was already sitting. Unfortunately, my door was still open, and the soon to be Jack, launched over my lap and out the door. After the laughter died down, I got back into the back seat, closed my door, and the owners again put him into the car with me. As we drove away he was frantic, but resigned himself to whatever fate awaited, and settled down.
I spoke calmly to him on the 1 1/2 drive home. He was sedate and rode the entire way with his muzzle stuck in my armpit. That may be too much information, but from that time on, Jack was at my side. If he lost sight of me he was in a search mode for me. When I left for a few hours he would, after awhile, lie down on his mat under my desk, until I returned.
We walked anytime convenient for us. I didn’t need to walk him on lead, until he became befuddled in his later years. He was at my side or a few steps ahead. He was cute, but he was not friendly. He wasn’t aggessive, but strangers needed not to get too close to me. He would hop on the bed with me at night for a few minutes and we would commune. He would then jump down to his mat on the floor beside my bed and except short trips to lap up some water, that is where he would be in the mornings when I awoke. When my feet touched the floor, it was he that my feet touched first.
All of us die of something. I am assuming that Jack died from heart failure related to seizures which he started having periodically about middle age or at least about half way between our time together. The night before he died he had a very hard seizure and never really recovered. He died in my arms the next moring on our kitchen floor.
Why write about Jack now?
I am thinking, beginning to think anyway, that I am ready for another sidekick. I’m not sure yet.