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Celebrating a Decade Together

Jack and I just celebrated our 10th Gotcha Day, recognizing the lucky day we came into each other’s lives. I don’t know his real birthday, but it doesn’t matter. Our time together is what matters most to me.

I wasn’t officially looking for a dog when Jack appeared. I had just lost three dogs to old age over a nine-month period and was going through a significant life change. I was heartbroken and didn’t quite know what my reinvention would look like. I decided the last thing I needed right then was to be responsible for another living being, especially when I was struggling with my own life.

I still miss Dot, Jax, and Paco.

Still, I pined for canine companionship. As an adult, I’ve always shared my home with at least one pup, and the richness these furry friends have brought into my life is immeasurable. I knew being dog-less wouldn’t last long. I needed a dog’s loving companionship to heal. It was a long month and a half.

All the while, I was trolling the Humane Society and rescue websites. Jax, one of the best dogs in the history of dogdom, came from the animal shelter. His gratitude for being rescued from the shelter’s “black hall” hours before he was to be euthanized was evident every day we spent together. Giving a second chance to an abandoned pet is life-affirming.

Soon, looking at the pups on the website wasn’t enough, and my bestie Kevin and I went to the Humane Society to meet them in person. Fully expecting to meet my new roommate, I was disappointed that I didn’t feel a love connection with any of the dogs we met. Little did I know it was the best thing that could have happened.

Man sitting in chair holding a poodle.
Jack loves his Uncle Kevin.

I called a friend who has given more dogs a second chance than anyone I know to share my tale of woe. She had news that would change my life. She had just rescued a black miniature poodle named Jack from a neighbor down the street. He had abandoned the poor guy in his front yard with no shelter, food, or water during record-setting ice and snowstorms. When Jack escaped the yard and ran in front of a school bus, my friend grabbed him.

She said, “You need him, and he needs you.” I flew over to meet him, and it was an instant heartbond for both of us. That his name was Jack seemed like a sign from above. It felt a little like I was stealing him as we carried him out to the car wrapped in a blanket. He was so scared and little.

I never wanted a poodle and didn't think of myself as a poodle person until I was at the dog park with a poodle and a parasol. Now I'm sold on poodles. I love being able to change his hairstyle for my entertainment, Plus, it's amazing to share a home with a dog that doesn't shed.

Jack was so scared at first. He doesn't like to go to work. Baby's first haircut.

Six months later, the neighbor asked what ever happened to his dog. My friend told him that Jack had a new home now and that he didn’t deserve him. I will always be grateful to my friend, Jack’s Auntie, for introducing me to my best friend.

When I first met him, he was a wild man with so much crazy energy. We spent lots of time at the dog park to give him a chance to “run some stink off,” as his Auntie says. He was eight months old, and though I can’t imagine that he’d had any training in the past, he seemed to understand basic commands automatically.

Dog Park Terrorist

I had heard that poodles are extra smart, but I had no idea how easy it would be to teach him. It took me longer to learn how to teach him than it took to teach him to roll over, play dead, jump through a hoop, dance on his bag legs, and lots of other silly games we’ve made up. I’ve been amazed that Jack doesn’t do tricks for treats. He does this because he loves and trusts me so much that he wants to please me.

He’s such a good boy, but he isn’t perfect. He gets in trouble sometimes and has gnawed on furniture and torn up tissues. With all my other dogs, I have stories of the hilariously horrible things they did, but as I try to think about the worst thing Jack has done, absolutely nothing comes to mind.

This happened during an online meeting. Busted eating tissue!

But most of the time, Jack is a perfect angel. He's always ready for fun and loves to dance and party. I swear Jack understands every word I say and responds to yes and no questions by how he wags his tail. Jack loves animals and people but is a bit aloof with people he doesn't know. He knows all the names of his puppy and people friends and has a dramatic response when I mention the name of someone he loves. I've never been around a pup who gets so excited that he has to shake it off with his whole body, especially when his love is fierce.

Jack is a bit of a goof. He's not crazy about dressing up. Jack did not like having a mohawk.

Our life together hasn’t been without tragedy. I nearly lost him when he was attacked at the dog park, and I had to pry him out of the jaws of death. Thankfully, it only took 16 stitches to take care of the injuries. I could have been so much worse, and I’m so grateful it wasn’t. Read more about the story here.

Dog in purple t-shirt lying on a bid with a paisley bedspread

I’ve learned so much about unconditional love from Jack and the other dogs I’ve shared my life with. Knowing I’m coming back to someone so happy to see me is part of what makes my house a home. I think we can take some instruction about what it means to love with our whole hearts without judgment. They know everything about us, even our dirty secrets, yet they still love us. 

I’ve also learned about deep grief from my dogs. I see people apologize for being heartbroken when their beloved pets become one with the universe, embarrassed about the deep bond they had with an animal. These beings grow to become more than pets - they’re our soulmates. For some, their relationship with these animals is the closest, most loving they ever have. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. 

Interestingly, Jack’s Gotcha Day coincides with National Puppy Day, so there’s even more reason to celebrate. Now that he’s nearly 11 years old, he only has about half his teeth, and he’s getting grayer. We’ll be together as long as the fates abide, and I will love him every minute.

Find the gray dog on the gray rug. I love this guy so much! Ready for his close-up!


Did you know I've published a book?  Learn more about it here!


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