It happened so suddenly. Thursday he woke up and seemed fine. He pranced from my bedroom, down the hall to the kitchen, awaiting our morning ritual of "treat time." All four pups line up, and I get them each a couple of morning treats and we start our day. We went to the backyard together, I did "poop patrol", threw the ball a couple of times, and came in to check my emails, etc. All seemed pretty normal, until dinner time came.
Jack is motivated by food. There is no simpler way to put it. If I was in the kitchen, so was he. If a crumb was dropped, he'd be there to catch it on the way to the ground. That boy did not miss a meal, ever. Until Thursday. I knew something was wrong when he didn't get off his bed to eat dinner. My first thought was that he'd pulled a muscle and was simply too sore to come and eat. I brought his bowl to him, and he just took a sniff, and put his head down. He'd never, ever turned down food before. I knew something was wrong.
I had a gold party to work that evening, so on my way out, at about 5:30pm, I called Hubby and told him I was worried. He said he'd keep a close eye on Jack and let me know how he was doing. When I got home from my party, only 3 dogs met me at the door. Not Jack, he lay quietly on his bed, in front of the fireplace, looking sad and tired. I was shocked. Again, he'd never, ever not greeting me, tail wagging at the door. I knew something was very wrong, but I kept telling myself that he must be sore, maybe he'd pulled a back muscle. I changed cloths, sat down on his bed with him, and stroked is beautiful, soft fur. His nose was cold and wet, and he seemed to enjoy the attention.
We headed for bed at about 11:30pm, and were able to coax him to come into the bedroom. I laid in bed, listening to the TV and listening to Jack breathe. He was panting, and didn't seem to be able to get comfortable. I dozed off at about midnight, and awoke at 1:08am. The first thing I noticed was that he was still panting. I decided that maybe he needed to go outside and wanted a little company. I got up and encouraged him to come with me. Half way down the hallway he stopped and got sick. I thought for sure now that something was really upsetting his tummy. I hoped he was able to get rid of whatever was bugging him and he'd bounce back in the morning. I was wrong.
We wound up staying up all night together.After I'd gotten him outside to pee, he took a few steps and laid down in the grass. He didn't want to get up and come inside, he didn't want to move. I was finally able to get him in by getting Hubby up and having him help me. The rest of the night was spent watching him, as he lay in his bed, and various spots in the family room, trying to get comfortable, but never quite finding the right spot.
At 5:30am he got sick to his stomach again. As I cleaned up, he managed to walk outside and again he lay down on the grass and didn't want to come back in. This was not like him at all. I woke Hubby up again, and together we were trying to figure out what could be going on. At 7:30am we were able to get ahold of the vet, and booked him for an 8am appointment. After struggling to get Jack into and out of the car, we both were extremely concerned. He would take a few steps, and lay down. It was hard to get him into the office, onto the scale, etc. He just seemed miserable.
The vet took a look at him and was concerned. His heart rate was up, and his gums were getting pale. Bad signs for something serious. They wanted to do x-rays and blood work, all of which would take some time. They told me to call at 11:30am if I hadn't heard back.
At 10:30am I got the call. Things were very bad. Jack had a massive splenic tumor in his chest. They believed that the tumor had ruptured and was causing internal bleeding. His blood work had come back showing there were a lot of things going on - none of them good. None of his levels were where they should have been. He was in a lot of pain. I asked the vet, through my tears, if Jack was her boy, what would she do? She told me that the only thing they could try to do was surgery, and she didn't think he would survive that. She told me that if he was her boy, she would say goodbye, and let him be out of pain. Not unexpected news at that point, but still devastating.
I called Hubby, and managed to get the words out. He was in meetings all morning, but would be home as soon as he could be. I called each of the kids. Bear was home and came over. Hubby came home at about 12:45 and we turned around and headed back to the vet. We decided against bringing him home for one more night. I couldn't stand to see him in pain, and panting, unable to eat or drink. The time had come so quickly, but it was time.
We took him outside to a lush green grassy spot. He loved to nap in the grass in our backyard, and we wanted him to enjoy the smell and feeling one last time. We took our time with him out there, laying with him, petting him, whispering our love into his soft ears. We felt that he knew, that he understood. He would doze for a couple of minutes, then wake again and look at us with is beautiful, golden sparkled eyes, that look so tired and resigned. We took pictures with him, in between our tears. It was so terribly, terribly hard.
Finally, after a nice long while, we walked him back inside. He walked slowly and once inside the small room, he slumped back down onto the floor. I sat with him, lifting his head onto my lap. I cradled the soft, big, beautiful head of his telling him over and over again what a good boy he was, and how much I loved him. Bear and I stayed with him, giving him as much love and comfort as we possibly could, until he took his last breaths, and his incredibly loving, faithful heart stopped beating. He passed peacefully from this world to the next, surrounded by love. I don't think any of us could ask for more.
I have never loved a dog more than I love that boy. Jack was my 40th birthday present - the best birthday present I'd ever had. He came into my life when I was in a depression and he made me feel whole again. He was the most faithful companion ever. He was my introduction to the world of Goldens, and he was a perfect ambassador. So much of what I do in my life now, the Golden Retriever group I organize, the Love on a Leash therapy I do, is because of Jack. Being thankful for him just doesn't seem like enough. That boy really did change my life and I am eternally grateful.
These are from yesterday.
Keep Grandpa company until we meet again, my dear, sweet Jackie-Boy. You are loved more than words can ever begin to explain.