April, 2009 Archives

Charlie, lord of the land of Bath Towel.

Right now, Charlie is enjoying the sunshine through the living room window. It seemed like a good day to post some of his bath pictures from the other week. 


Jack, never crabby, investigates the catch of the day.

Jack, never crabby, investigates the catch of the day.


Our wonderful dog Jack has died, after a 6-month fight with lymphoma. He was 8 years old.

No public services are planned, although Valerie and I will be scattering his ashes at the Oregon Coast sometime this week.

He died on Friday the 13th of March. I guess it shows you how hard it was to deal with it … it’s been almost 3 weeks and only now can I write about it. We got two sympathy cards in the mail from the vet yesterday. I hadn’t cried in a week or two, but those cards set me off. The entire staff at the vet’s office had signed it.

If you have to get terminal cancer, lymphoma is far from the worst of the bunch. Jack spent the last 6 months just acting like normal. He would be a bit lethargic for a half day after his chemotherapy regiments, but he’d spring back and be ready to play. The steroids he was on made him gain weight … so the last month he was shuffling around with 15 extra pounds on him, but he was happy, and that was what mattered.

The Tuesday before he died, Jack went disc golfing with us. He was a bit slow walking from hole to hole with us, but he seemed to enjoy himself. On Wednesday, he started rasping, and Thursday it worsened. Still, he insisted on riding in the car with us when we did errands late Thursday afternoon. 

That night was difficult. His breathing got worse, and worse, and he was pacing and unsteady on his feet. Finally at 3 a.m. or so I put a towel down and let him up on the bed. I had to lift him up; he couldn’t walk any more. He started howling. He would try to get up, and stumble, and fall back onto the bed. At 7 a.m., Val and I finally decided we should take him to the vet to put him to sleep, since he was in so much discomfort. He never made it there, though. Jack died as I was lifting him into my car.

I have so many fond memories of Jack. The way he would comfort you when you were feeling lousy. His incredible enthusiasm when you jingled the car keys. His weird habits — like when he went for a walk on a city sidewalk, he would never step on a metal grate or sewer cover. He always, always walked around those objects, no matter how inconvenient it was or no matter how I scolded him. His fear of lightning, and the tragic but comical way he’d run for cover during a thunderstorm, squirming under the futon and shaking like a leaf for hours.

I got Jack the day I graduated college. He lived in Klamath Falls with me, when I had my first newspaper job. I packed him into my Saab when we moved together to Arkansas for a year. He was there for my first date with Val, as we walked him along the Willamette River and I held Val’s hand for the first time. He was there when I walked with Val on the beach near Florence, where I kissed her for the first time, and where I proposed to her 14 months later. He graciously accepted Val’s status as half-owner when she and I got married at the end of 2007. And he managed to stay alive long enough to see Charlie.

Val and I will always be dog people, and there will be many dogs that brighten our lives. But Jack will always be that big dog I wanted as a kid, the one I was never allowed to have when growing up. 

Val and I are both going to miss him.

Goodbye, Jack