The Day We Met Jack

December 28 is Jack’s sixth birthday. I got to thinking about his time with us in the past year.

I had been severely depressed from losing Simba in September. I was an absolute beast for months after. Not talking to someone professionally was my biggest mistake. But that’s another topic for another day. After an appropriate amount of time for grieving, I did my research for ages. My heart soared at every pic I saw of adoptable doggies. I knew I wanted a senior dog, and he would have to be adopted. Dad insisted we get a puppy and prevent any bad habits from the jump. I didn’t have the time or patience to train a puppy, so I knew it had to be an old fella.

My mom’s Christmas visit typically lasts about 3 weeks at the end of the year, due to shutdowns at her company. She was like, “okay, let’s go,” when I told her what I wanted to do. We get to the Everyday Adoption Center at the PetsMart in Henderson, which was a drive for us. We’re dead center in the middle of two EACs: Henderson and the north side of Vegas. I chose the lesser of two evils lol.

We get greeted and invited behind the doors to walk around. First one we saw was a yappy 3 legged pup. Cute but no. There weren’t that many dogs to look at. For the first walkabout, I was not impressed with what I saw: too big, too small, too bark-y. I was determined not to leave without someone. I wasted all that gas driving there, I was leaving with a dog!

We went back through the maze of glass kennels again. One last cursory glance at a pen, and Mom points one out. I look to see who she’s gesturing at. Turned out to be a poofy black dog with long bangs sleeping in a cot. I read the sign. Name: Jack. Age: 5. I called one of the volunteers over and said I want to meet that one. They took us to a separate area where you can meet the dog. He was smelly but there was something about him. Turns out he had been delivered there a day or so before, and they hadn’t gotten around to taking him to the grooming area. He was very chill, not yippy, which is something I knew Dad would appreciate. Mom liked him right away. The volunteer brought us his file. He was an owner surrender because he barked too much. My heart broke for him immediately. A dog surrendered for that clearly meant neglect.

Mom asked me a few times, are you sure? I knew I had space in my heart for this one, There was something about how chill he was that took me in. We signed the papers, bought a new bed, a proper leash (they gave us a rope at first), some dog food, and brought him home. He curled up in the backseat and slept the whole way home. We made a beeline for Dad.

“Hey Dad, guess what?” I announce as I walk into his room.

He was on the computer, with his back turned to me. Jack immediately jogged over to meet him. “What did you do…. oh no!” His face lit up though, and he got to petting Jack immediately.

I knew Jack got into his heart right then too. I get my love of dogs from him. He always had dogs growing up, and seeing him absolutely broken after Simba’s passing broke me even more. I also get my desire to not cheat the government from him too. Another story for another day!

Jack and I bonded that first night. In fact, Mom came to tell me something and I was sitting on the couch with him nearby. He growled at her, as if to protect me. I knew we would get along famously after that! He was a sleepy fella for the first day or so. Most of the adoption stories on Reddit include pictures of their rescues sleeping. Maybe they finally feel relaxed enough in a home and around a family to sleep?

This whole year was made possible because of him. I absolutely believe that. He’s smart as hell.

He’ll watch me pull his towels from the drying rack. He’ll hear the water running in the bath. He’ll see the hamper and bathroom scale moved out of the way outside of the door (my bathroom’s kinda small). When this happens, he runs into Dad’s room and cowers like a big baby. He thinks Dad will protect him from the ravages of a warm bath. You’d think he’d know by now what happens and accept the inevitable!

He gazes at me gravely and paws at me when he wants me to pet him. If I stop, he’ll paw me again, as though to say, “okay human, you may continue.” It’s hilarious.

He’s a champion tarpaulin, I mean trampoline jumper. Inside joke with my Dad. In his mind when he used tarpaulin to explain Jack’s jumping ability, he really meant trampoline. I will never let him live that down, hence repeating it here for eternity. 😀

Jack likes close contact but he’s not really a lap dog. That’s about as cuddly as he gets. That’s fine with me. I couldn’t handle having to baby him all the time.

If he hears the garage door open and close (our preferred way of leaving the house), he starts crying.

When I wake up in the morning, he waits to be told to jump off the bed.

His favorite toy is a ratty pair of gloves that had holes in the fingers. He picked them up off the floor when it fell out of a bag of winter clothes that I was looking to donate. He’s a great tug of war player… but only with those gloves! He won’t do it any other way. He’s excellent at playing fetch with it.

Mom and Dad call him my shadow. He won’t let me go anywhere by myself. Yes, even the bathroom. First thing in the morning, he’ll poke his head around the door and wait until I finish.

If he knows I’m getting ready for work, he’ll sit in the spare dog bed near the laundry room and wait for me. He knows when I start fussing with the gate for his kennel, I’m leaving, and he goes inside willingly.

I’ve trained him where if I can hear him sticking his muzzle through or leaning against the blinds leading to the porch that he wants to go outside. I ask him shrilly, “go outside?” Then he’ll move aside to let me unlock the door. He’ll jump on the sliding door and paw at the glass when he’s ready to come in.

I’m not going to lie. I stated earlier that I wasn’t going to leave without a dog. There was a miniscule shade of doubt that I was going to leave without a dog. My heart was in so much pain, I never, ever want to feel that way again. I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to take care of another dog so soon after losing Simba. But I knew I would never be able to continue to live if I didn’t have a dog to draw me out of my grief. Cats are no good. I’m allergic to cat and dog dander but I lucked out with him. Jack is a Shih Tzu mix, and he has curly hair. Allergies are almost non-existent. The only time I start sneezing when he’s around is if it’s been too long between baths. His coat picks up the allergens from outside and brings them in. Bathing once a week keeps the dander in check.

Everyone who meets him loves him immediately. He doesn’t bite, but he has to approach strangers at his own pace. He also does not like to be ignored by strangers. If they come on too strong (like my sister did when they first met), he growls and runs for the hills, AKA me. He’ll scrunch himself into the smallest ball possible and hide. If we meet strangers during our walks, they have to acknowledge him or he’ll bark at them. We tell anyone who meets him that we were blessed to find him when we did. I could not have asked for a better dog. I enjoy every minute we’re together. I almost wish he could talk so I could find out what he truly thinks of us, and what his life was like before. We treat him as though he could talk back to us. One of the things Dad likes to ask him is if he has any brothers or sisters and that we should adopt them too! If I knew his past, I would. I would only hope they’re like Jack.

He’s my partner in crime, the Jones to my Smith, the Sarah Jane to my Four. He is the adorably curly companion to my adventures in space and time. He looks better in a bowtie than I do, that’s for sure!

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