Post #557 Our Pack is Less Today

January 14, 2018 at 8:13 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Nearly ten years ago, Partner/Spouse and I, and ex-wife, went to a dog adoption show.  It was the same group where I had picked up my previous cocker spaniel rescue, Sporty, who had left us several months earlier.  We were there with the intent of adopting another cocker who looked identical to Sporty.  While I was walking him around the parking lot to see if he and I were going to be friends, Partner/Spouse had wandered around looking at other dogs.  When I walked back in, there was a small, black, curly haired spaniel mix sitting on his feet.  He looked at me with excited eyes and a sheepish grin, and asked, “Can we take home two?”  That was how I met Jack.  Oddly, the other spaniel didn’t work out for us.  He was a one-person dog, and we weren’t his one person.  No harm, no foul, we got another one who stayed with us for years and years.

They told us Jack was around five years old, but every vet I talked to agreed with that he seemed older.  The adoption people didn’t have any history on Jack since he’d been dropped off during the night with no information of any kind.  Jack was a bundle of energy.  He loved life, but had the attention span of a nanosecond.  He worked his way into our hearts then into our bed in no time.  Everyone who met him loved him immediately.  I always said it was easy to love Jack because he made you do it.

The first visit to the vet was a bit of an eye opener.  I’ve had cocker spaniels since the mid-80s, but not one of them has ever been any trouble medically.  Jack was different.  The first thing the vet said was, “He has ear trouble.”  And we were launched into a never ending struggle to keep his ears clean and infection-free.  It was a losing battle.  We never got ahead of it, despite the amount of money we threw at it, and the amount of time spent working on it.

Jack was the cutest dog ever.  He had some poodle in him so his hair curled.  A month after a grooming session, he looked like a Disney character.  But he was a trucker.  He burped, he made the air unbreathable, he snored, he napped like an Olympic athlete.  He couldn’t leave paper towels alone.  He’d practically take one off your plate to chew it up and swallow it.  He knew he wasn’t supposed to do it, but it was way too tempting to resist.  Once, we were all sitting in the living room watching TV.  Jack was sitting at ex-wife’s feet and she suddenly yelled in surprise, “Jack!”  He quickly spit out the bit of paper towel in his mouth and said, “What?” in all innocence.  His face was so expressive.

Jack also had a sensitive stomach and would vomit for no apparent reason.  He also had the intermittent bouts of loose stools which led to the treatment of rice dinners.  Nearly any upset stomach a dog has can be fixed by mixing a quarter cup of cooked and cooled rice into their regular food.  They’ll love it.  Of course, if the problem isn’t corrected in a couple of days, get ’em to the vet.

Jack took everything that came at him with an equable attitude and a certain air of puzzlement.  Something was different; he couldn’t explain it; he rolled with it.  When we got another dog to add to the pack, he looked quizzical, then wagged his tail, and took a nap.  When we went on long road trips and ended up in a new house, he sniffed around a bit, pooped in the yard, and took a nap.  When we switched out dog foods to keep weight under control, he looked aggrieved, took a bite, ate what was in the bowl, then took a nap.

Jack suffered from seizures.  Not many, about once every nine months or so.  The first one scared me to death.  We talked to the vet who said if it didn’t repeat on a constant basis, we shouldn’t worry too much about it.  We all got expert at timing them, and taking care of Jack afterwards.  He was a goofy dog, and his seizures were just part of his charm.  I can’t imagine anyone giving him up.

Until this winter.  His chronic ear infections finally took their toll about a year or so ago, and he became deaf as a stump.  I used to think he was putting us on because he always seemed to hear the word “Treat”, but it became more clear that he couldn’t hear.  His naps became longer and deeper.  He responded well to hand signals, and with his normal quizzical look, he soldiered on in a silent world.  We kept a closer eye on him so he wouldn’t get into too much trouble.

But this winter, things took a down turn.  He’d always loved winter.  We would groom him in November so that by the time harsh winter arrived, he had a short thick coat of fur to help him withstand it.  He would play in the snow, digging tunnels and chasing invisible squirrels until he looked like a snowman.  Or a snowdog.  This year, he wasn’t enjoying it much.  We kept a very close eye on him, and realized he was losing his sight.  He would walk into the walls and wander around until he found the water dish even though it hadn’t moved.  Then he had another seizure, and it seemed worse than the others.  His condition grew worse.

Then I saw that his tail wasn’t wagging anymore.  He wasn’t having a good time.  He still ate pretty well.  He pooped, peed, napped, but didn’t engage like he used to.  Even Buddy, our other dog, couldn’t seem to rouse him.  I carried him around a lot and he seemed to appreciate that.  He cuddled a little more than he used.  He napped at our feet rather than on the dog bed.  We decided it was time.

So this week, our pack is one less.  Jack was a happy-go-wacky kind of dog who brought a lot of joy to our lives.  He wasn’t the dog we would have chosen, so we were lucky that he chose us.  He drove us to distraction at times, but the joyful, quizzical, accepting, happy nature he exuded won us over every minute of every day.

Sorry, no recipe to go with story, but a memory of a happy dog who enriched our lives from the moment we met to the moment we said goodbye.


  1. So sorry for the loss. I went through the same thing a couple of weeks ago. It’s never easy.

    • Thanks. We were pretty well prepared for it. I’ve always said, the moment you get a dog, start saying goodbye. I’m sorry you went through it, too. Take care.

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