My Buddy Jack
2 May, 1997 - 22 October, 2009
I first met Jack on 20 May, 1997; he was the only wounded puppy at the RSPCA that day, with a large gash in his head. This almost led to him being named “Gorby” after the famed peacemaker of the time, Mikhail Gorbachev, fortunately wiser voices prevailed, and Jack became his moniker. He came home with me that day, so small he could fit into the palm of my hand. He slept in a little cardboard box beside my bed, and on that first night, at about three in the morning, he let out the faintest whimper to let me know he wanted to go outside. As I carried him, up on my shoulder, he nuzzled into my ear and gave me my first puppy lick; it was that moment that sealed out fates. We would be Best Mates for Life.
Since that time, my furry friend has been a constant through my tumultuous life. He stuck with me through three moves, three relationships, four housemates, four cars, three bikes, five jobs and countless pairs of shoes.
Every morning he would drag me into the day on a walk. Though, he’d never wake me when he thought it was time for a walk; he would wait until I did not stir after my alarm went off, then come and retrieve me from the depths of slumber. Even in the darkest winters, when it was -7 in the morning, we would still head out - neither of us willing to admit to each other that it would just be nicer in bed!
And he was a competitive little bugger. If I walked, he had to walk ahead. If I rode, he had to run faster than me. And when I swam in the ocean, well, he would bark at me from the shore to let me know what a foolish person I was for jumping into such a powerful, tangled mass of water!
We roamed and explored many and varied places together; from the streets and bike paths of Wanniassa, Monash, Oxley, Chisholm, Richardson and Kambah to the reserves of Farrer Ridge, Fadden Ridge, Chisholm Ridge, Urambi Hills, as well as the bush and beaches of the south coast! Sometimes he would lead me astray in the thicker scrub, but he would always get us home in the end.
He even learned to climb ladders, such that he could keep up with me in the adventure playground in Kambah. He truly was tenacious.
Whenever the black dog has come calling for me, Jack would chase him off with a combination of pats and puppy licks, or dragging me out for a walk. Whenever I was injured, for felt ill, he would linger close to ensure my comfort and safety. When I was cold, he would huddle next to me to keep me warm. When I’d leave home, he’d watch with those sad doggy eyes, ensuring I knew I had someone to come back to. When I returned, I’d be met by an excited dog, his tail wagging furiously, keen for a pat, and any worries of the day would melt away in the sweep of my hand through his fur.
Jack was the master of the wagging tail. His tail wagged so furiously, it was dangerous to anything a foot off the ground. So vigorous was this wagging, that his whole rear end would move; it is little wonder his knee eventually gave out, after a lifetime of such imbalance!
He was also a wise dog. I’d always come to him first when I had worries or woes. Invariably, his answer would always be “Let’s go for a walk and think about it.” But he was always right, we’d head out for a walk up some hill or mountain, and by the time we’d returned to the front door, I’d have the answer.
And it wasn’t just me he looked after; Jack had a sense for all creatures in need, always happy and willing to oblige with a nudge and a lick if someone was feeling down or watching over people should they be sick. He gave me the precious gift of my last memory with my grandmother, of her sitting on the couch, laughing like a schoolgirl watching the two of us play on the floor.
I have often heard it said that dogs are the definition of unconditional love, and in Jack I know this to be true. It is little wonder that dogs live such short lives, when they are so full of giving, expecting nothing in return. Even in the end, when he knew his time had come, he tried to spare me the pain and wander off to die alone.
In the end, while very saddening, I was glad to be able to help see him off; to save him from the misery of a long, uncomfortable downward spiral. It was the one small act of kindness I could do to repay him for a lifetime of love and warmth. It was my honour and privilege to see him on his way, to hold his paw and pat his head as he passed on, to ensure he knew that he was never alone.
I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the staff at Tuggeranong Veterinary Hospital, and in particular Dr Malcolm, who made Jack’s last moments so much easier for both him and I. They showed a tremendous depth of compassion and understanding throughout an incredibly difficult time.