Under the catalpa


Jack last week

Jack died on Monday.  After a month of being pretty chipper with a good appetite, he really declined on Sunday.  He could hardly walk.  We knew it was time. The prednisone prescribed for the lymphoma really gave us another entire month with him.  He came on two trips with us (Wellfleet and the White Mountains) — trips that we would have hired a dog sitter for and left him home, had he been well. Those were wonderful trips, with so much quiet time together.

On Monday, after I cooked up about a pound and a half of bacon, I brought him to the vet. Actually, I scheduled a home visit first but when I heard the price ($500), decided we would do the best we could to make one last trip to the vet tolerable. And, they were wonderful. I brought a big bag of bacon – which meant no muzzle was required. He growled and snapped once, but then put his head in my lap and let himself be ministered to.  It went so fast. I think he was gone before the needle was even retracted.  After awhile, we bundled him in his blanket and some pink shot silk that I had brought along and brought him home.  We buried him under the catalpa.

Even though we used this quilt in the car for the ride to the vet, I put it back. It helps me somehow, for it to be there, even though he isn’t.

Jack was born in Puerto Rico and abandoned at the age of two. He was left tied to a fence for a couple of weeks. Someone took pity on him and brought him food now and then until a shelter on the North Shore rescued him and we were lucky enough to find him. He weighed 17 pounds and was a nervous wreck.

It took me a while to understand that he was terrified of cameras.  Eventually, I think because I invested in a decent camera and learned to use a manual setting where no flash was required, he got over that.  And, I’m not sure he ever figured out that phones have cameras (I’ve barely figured it out).  But because of that, we have very few pictures of his ‘middle years’ with us.

He wouldn’t let anyone touch him for a long while, and then only on the top of the head for a long time after that. Finally, his haunches were allowed.  I loved the fact that he eventually let me rub his belly.  At first, too, he made no sounds at all. For a couple of months, we actually thought he might be mute. But he came along.

He was a hefty 32 pounds for most of the last several years. He groaned when my husband gave him the special neck scratch. And he was so devoted to me. Followed me from couch to chair to bathroom and back again. In fact, I didn’t close the downstairs bathroom pocket door all the way, because he wanted to be able to poke his head in. Whenever I left the house, his primary occupation was waiting for my return.

This past Christmas.

At a time he was still afraid of cameras.

We are missing him.