This is not the entire story of my dog Jack. It’s a long story but my involvement starts when I found a dog about three months after I lost my husband. The one on the left is an alligator; David’s the one on the right.
Back in the spring of that year, I was roped into doing someone a favor and that put me roughly 100 miles away from home. Good deeds must be done, right? God rewards us for helping even if our friends don’t offer us gas money. On my way home I stopped at McDonald’s to use the restroom and get a cup of water with ice; it was a very hot day in southeast Georgia, somewhere around 97 degrees that day. I got back on the road heading for home. But wait.
What is that I see on the road up ahead? Oh, no! It’s a dog and he is dodging semi-trucks right and left. He keeps rolling out of the way just missing getting squashed by the huge tires. Being a Yankee from up north I pull over to the side of the road and holler in my best Yankee accent, “Get out of the road you stupid mutt are you trying to get yourself killed.” I’m sure there were some curse words in that sentence but I left them out for your delicate ears.
Well, the idiot dog stops in the middle of the road and looks to see who is yelling at him so I start cursing, er, yelling even louder. Another truck just misses him and he makes a beeline for my car. He leaps into my open car, licks my face all over…smells like he has been eating dead fish mixed with week-old garbage, yuck…and starts drinking my ice water from McDonald’s. Without thinking I put the car in gear and start driving home. The dog was covered in black tire smut but had no visible injuries. He/she/it was panting so hard and was making a clicking noise when it breathed and was so hot I could barely touch him (I’m going with the generic term ‘him’ for now); he was on fire from fear. I bathed his head and ears with some of the cold water, cranked up the air conditioning and he promptly fell asleep on the passenger seat.
Along the way, I stopped to buy a collar, leash, and some dog biscuits. Poor dog had never seen a collar and thought I was trying to strangle him. I searched for the owner but no one came forward. I wanted to name him Duke; my daughter gave him the name “Jack”. Okay, that works.
Here is Jack on our first day together, uncertain of his new situation. Would life with me be better than getting hit by a truck?
I soon figured out that he had been mistreated and abused. He recognized ‘people food’ like fried chicken, BBQ, baked beans, and coleslaw but not dog food. I had to hand feed him and be very patient as he learned to trust me. When it finally dawned on him that he was welcomed inside the house he looked happy, but when he realized he was allowed to sleep on the bed he was in hog heaven.
But she was a good old cat and she got over her little snit. Here is Mamacat watching over Jack as he sleeps on a nice, comfy bed.
Meanwhile, my daughter who lived next door gets a dog of her own; an American Bulldog and named her Allie. Here is Allie at 3 months old.
The two dogs Jack and Allie become friends. When my daughter was at work I babysat for her dog and walked both dogs on leashes in our neighborhood. One day tragedy struck. We – the two dogs and I – were attacked by two full-grown Pitbulls. The dogs were aiming to kill Allie who was only 7 months old at the time. Well, Jack wasn’t gonna stand for that so Jack acted like a rodeo clown and tried his best to distract two Pits so they would not hurt his sister-dog. He even tried to protect me when one of the Pits knocked me down and started biting my hand. It was the longest event in my life. Jack was a hero. A superhero.
Someone called 911 and people started showing up…to watch. No one was willing to get into the middle of this dog attack…no one except for an 87-year-old woman. She grabbed her broom and started beating the Pits with all her strength. When the broom handle broke and the woman fell to the ground I thought for sure she was having a heart attack, but she was only trying to catch her breath; she had COPD. Police, ambulance, animal control all showed up. The owner of the Pits showed up; don’t ask me who called them. I refused treatment by the ambulance crew (they thought I was crazy but hey, the dogs are my responsibility and they come first, right?) and I told them to help the lady with COPD. The police took my info and photographed my hand. One policeman reluctantly gave me a ride back to my house so I could get my car to take the dogs to the veterinarian. Just a note: the back of a police car is not a comfortable place. It’s all slippery plastic. Yuck.
I grabbed my car, picked up the dogs…oh, where were dogs? The 87-year-old lady had them inside her fenced yard and was giving them a bucket of cool water. I drove like crazy to the veterinarian; the techs came out to carry both dogs into the treatment room. Since Jack was covered in blood head to toe they looked at him first. Not a scratch. Not one single bite. No damage of any kind. The blood belonged to the other dogs, not to Jack. So they immediately turned their attention to Allie. For a while, it was a life or death situation; no time to think. She was torn up, required surgery, stayed at the vet’s a while and later required all kinds of yucky after-care at home. While all this was happening at the vet’s office I was at the doctor’s having my hand repaired. No big deal; all better after three courses of antibiotics. We figured when my hand and Allie’s wounds healed that would be the end of that.
But we were wrong.
A few weeks after the attack Jack stiffened up, he looked like an accordion all scrunched up. He could not lift his head nor could he put his head down to eat. He was screaming in pain like a banshee. I’ll skip the next part but long story short Jack had suffered a neck and/or back injury at the time of the attack and would be in chronic pain forever. He has good days most of the time, but then he has episodes of agony. Each episode is a bit worse than the last and we do the massage/pain meds, etc. until the pain resolves itself. This most recent episode was horrible – he was dragging his back legs like a mermaid on dry land and I was about 4 minutes from having him put down. It was that bad.
The vet gave him prescriptions and advised that I lock him in a tiny crate for 2 weeks and not let him move. Nope, not gonna happen. I am a former Corrections Officer and I know what solitary confinement can do to a young man; it would be far worse for a dog who cannot understand being in a crate. I gave him the prescription meds but added my own treatment which was warm baths, massage, Turmeric and Masala, tart cherries and pumpkin. I also added fresh air and sunshine to keep his mood up. It was necessary for me to learn how to make him pee and poop – no fun but I did what I had to do. He gradually got a little better. I rigged up a plastic basket on an old baby stroller so Jack could ‘walk’ and visit with all his neighbor friends. The sunlight and fresh air are good medicine. Some days we took short walks with Jack walking unsteadily at his own pace; when he got tired I carried him home.
One day while walking the dogs (without the stroller)…hold on a minute. Let me clarify that.
I forgot to mention that in November some boys gave me a little vicious, nasty, terrible dog and no one wanted it so I decided to give the new dog the benefit of the doubt. His name is George – he is a handful and rarely stays still and never stays quiet…
Here is my favorite photo of George; it shows off his big butt – yes, dogs and owners sometimes look alike in certain ways.
It took several months for me to get all three dogs acclimated to each other but eventually, and a great big thank you to all my internet friends who encouraged me when I wanted to give up. Here is proof that the three dogs were happy together on one chair. Left to right: Allie, George, and Jack fading into the shadows on the right.
With a bit more work I could even walk all three dogs, Jack on the left, then George with the white tail tip, and Allie on the right. All three walking with leashes at the same time. Please do not look at the sloppy woman in the photo. Yes, that is what I actually look like first thing in the morning; but please only look at the three dogs, okay? My neighbor snapped this pic with her cell phone before I could suck in my belly.
Leaving Allie home in the air-conditioned house here we see Jack and George participating in a charity dog walk – The Dog Lovers’ Walk at the Landings, Savannah, Georgia which benefits our local Humane Society. Oh dang, there’s that dumpy woman again and this time she’s carrying bags of dog poop!
In case you wonder why I don’t take Allie out in the street for walks with the other dogs, well, look at how big Allie is compared to Jack. Allie has to be walked separately as some days I’m just not strong enough to wrestle 3 dogs.
Back to the story…okay, so I’m walking with my two dogs Jack and George slowly at Jack’s unsteady pace in my neighborhood. I spotted a known thief attempting to break into my friend’s house, and, being a former prison guard, I yelled at him to get out. Since Jack was not able to walk quickly, I lifted Jack and began following the thief to make sure he left the area.
After following the thief to the end of the street found myself standing in front of my friend Will’s house and was not looking forward to the very long walk back to my house carrying Jack in my arms. I jokingly asked Will, who is a seller of junk, if he had a spare baby stroller I could borrow for 10 minutes. Will, who is a mellow kind of guy, quietly said, “No stroller, but I have a wheelchair”. He quickly added, “You probably don’t even know what a dog wheelchair is.”
Five minutes later I had Jack strapped into the wheelchair and together with the dogs, I went back home to get the $10 to pay Will for the well-used $400 Doggon’ Wheels wheelchair. It has taken some time to do adjustments to the wheelchair so that it fits but Jack is doing great. The exercise is helping him to get stronger and I don’t have to carry him in my arms anymore.
Here is a photo of Jack’s wheelchair before adjustments.
I know that Jack’s next episode could be the end of his life so I treasure each day with him. He is my hero. He saved his sister-dog Allie from certain death and saved me as well. I owe him whatever it takes to make him happy and comfortable. See how happy he is.
Now it’s never-ending work around here. My house will never be clean, my bank account is drained by my cup runneth over with love. Here are Jack, George, and Lucky playing together., and of course, Allie is next door sleeping on the comfy chair.
Note: Just in case anyone gets the impression that I hate Pitbulls, no, not true. It’s the irresponsible owners that are to blame for the Pit’s bad reputation. I love Pits. In fact, I met some of my new neighbors a few years ago when they were given a tiny little puppy. I used my best Spanish language to let them know that the dog would grow up to be about 100 pounds. They laughed because they thought I was joking. We soon became friends and I was the person who took their dog ‘Junior’ to his vet appointments. Junior, pronounced in Spanish it sounds like “Yoon-Yor”. He is a sweetie pie.
Okay, truth be told, one day last March Junior got out of his fence when the gate was left open by the slightly irresponsible relative of the owners and Junior tried to attack me and/or my two dogs, but ha! Having gone through this experience once before I was too fast for Junior. I acted like Superman or Wonder Woman and lifted both my dogs and jumped behind a fence and slammed the gate in his face. I love Junior, but as you can see from the photo, I love him from my side of the fence.
So, that’s the story of Jack so far.