Compassion 4 Paws

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Eulogy for Jackson

Jackson at park[8]

Jackson had found his way into so many hearts by the time we adopted him! Afflicted with Addison’s Disease at the age of seven and about to be euthanized for reactivity issues in October, 2007, Jackson had been deemed unadoptable. Upon hearing this news, a woman who had known Jackson since puppyhood came to the rescue. She convinced Jackson’s owners to release him to her for foster care (her home was already brimming with the presence of other large dogs) while she searched for a permanent home for him. Dana had walked him, trained him and boarded him for years. The lab/shepherd mix and Dana shared a deep bond. It was Christmas of 2007 when I sent Dana a card detailing the death of our dog Duchess in the summer. Dana had been one of Duchess’s long-time trainers. In response, Dana e-mailed me a long history of Jackson, asking if we Cunninghams would be willing to adopt him and offering all sorts of free services, products and even promising to fund an upcoming operation Jackson needed! Jack Boy was ours by the end of January, and stayed with us until he died on August 19th, 2014. I quickly found out that he was well-known at Magnuson Park where he was taken on daily walks. He exchanged enthusiastic greetings with several well-wishers. The Cunningham family knew Jackson as sedate, graceful, food-loving and very tolerant and civilized with others of his species. Although I heard he was extremely rowdy in his youth, I witnessed Jackson mediating truces between other rowdy canines at the park on occasion. He didn’t tolerate bad behavior, and, in extreme situations, quickly and efficiently corrected other dogs. He was subtle and sophisticated in his interactions, using body positioning as one of his favorite tools. At home, Jack would lie right in our paths then lead us to his food dish if he felt his meal was late. He would lie down, also, when confronted with the need for a bath in the tub. But, he willingly leapt into the tub during thunderstorms, where he lay trembling until the storms had passed. Jackson is the only dog I’ve heard growling and barking at the same time—a truly fearsome sound like rumbling thunder punctuated by loud arfs. Jackson had a ready intelligence and was easy to train, learning different commands even as an elder. He retained lessons learned. One example: While I was driving with Jackson in the back seat of our car with the windows open, I accidently rolled up the back window while Jackson was sniffing the breeze. I rolled it down as soon as I heard him whine, but he never again stuck his head out the car window. Jackson’s body began to lose functioning in earnest in the fall of 2012. In December, 2013, we called in Dr. Sara as his geriatric mobile vet. She put him at ease immediately through her body positioning and calming voice (it takes one to know one). She saw Jack next in June when he could only walk a block before collapsing…and again in July, when he was not leaving our yard. Each time Dr. Sara would clip Jack’s nails—which he let her do without protest—a first! When Jackson collapsed in our yard one Sunday in August and couldn’t get back up, then refused food and couldn’t urinate, I called Dr. Sara—who was coming that Tuesday, anyway—and we agreed it was Jack’s time. Although he had been comforted with injections for inflammation and pain through his neighborhood veterinarian that Sunday, Jack refused to take pain medications by mouth. He had shut down. On Tuesday morning, Jackson’s dear friend Dana, my son and myself surrounded Jackson with our presence, love and petting as Dr. Sara calmly encouraged us all and let us know what she was doing and what Jack was probably experiencing. This was such a good and peaceful death! We were all so grateful to see his pain ended. Thank you, Dr. Sara! Jackson lives on in our hearts as a gracious, patient and loving companion.

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