Jack was our chihuahua rat-terrier. He was so old his back arched like a question mark. He was blind and almost entirely deaf. We didn’t want to put him to sleep, because despite all of that, he was a walking garbage disposal who loved to eat and trot aimlessly around the house. The other dogs were protective of him. Of all the dogs I’ve ever cared for, Jack was the most resilient. He lived to be 23 years old.
LB found Jack in her backyard 12 years ago. He was terribly thin, covered in cuts, and digging in the mud for water in the middle of August. He had a hoop earring in his ear. And, part of his ear was missing. At the time, LB thought someone was missing his or her beloved pet…that perhaps he had been out in the wild for a long time, which was why his prostate was the size of his head and he was covered in ticks and fleas.
The vet took one look at Jack and knew no one was looking for him. He was a bait dog, most likely. He was desperately neglected, and he had never known human kindness. For months, he sat in her house like a statue, too afraid to move anything but his eye lids to blink and sleep. The vet had to pull almost all his teeth because they were rotted. He guessed his age to be around eleven. LB took him home, and he has been with her ever since.
Fast forward six years…LB and I are together. Jack became my dog, too. He was part of our family. And, losing him has left a big-eared, dog-shaped hole in my heart. My cousin called him Methuselah, who, according to the bible lived to be 969 years old. The vet called him father time. I called him Jack Jack Kerouac…or Earl Grey. Our neighbor called him George Clooney (that’s probably my favorite nickname).
He was six pounds. This tiny little dog…six fucking pounds. One day we had to have x-rays done, and the vet found lead in his skull. So, someone shot him with something at some point. Let me run up on the mother fucker who harmed this little dog just once and see if I don’t ruin the second amendment for both of us. It’s hard to love people when you love animals.
Jack lived and lived and lived. Every time we took him to the vet for his shots, Dr. Greenberg would say, “This is the last time I will see Jack, I’m sure of it.” And, every year he came back. This went on for another six years. I’m pretty sure he was a Viking chihuahua. Nothing stopped him from living. He refused to give up. And, LB gave him a wonderful 12 years of life…a good life. We had to have him euthanized, which was utterly heart breaking. But, he started to become confused, like doggy Alzheimer’s, and it was evident that he had given up his will to live. Dr. Greenberg joked that he ate anesthesia for breakfast, although I surmise it would have been gunpowder and lead. Maybe that’s how it got there.
When I first moved in with LB, we had four dogs total. I would open the front door and let Jack walk down the sidewalk because he never went into the street. I would watch him from the bottom of the driveway, and occasionally, he would dart through a neighbor’s yard. He always came back when I called him. I don’t know what Jack was doing on his mini adventures through the neighborhood. But, since he was as old as Methuselah, I imagine that he went to meet with some of his friends—philosophers and poets and such. Now, I imagine him with a long white beard, for reasons unknown to me, kicking it with the likes of Sappho and Aristotle and Plato.
I imagine that he runs down the sidewalks in heaven and circles trees and chases birds and plays with his sister Riley. I imagine he is free of osteoporosis and glaucoma and that his teeth are perfectly intact. I imagine that he is no longer afraid or in pain. And, that brings me peace. My cousin recently said that the darkness shows us where the light is. I imagine he found the light, and that is what helps me escape the darkness. We love you, baby boy. Thank you for so many wonderful years.