Over the last 2+ years, I have had many people ask me "how's Jack?" It is a question that I have always been more than willing and proud to answer because he truly is my little miracle pup. Because so many wonderful people have shown such concern, I feel like it is necessary to share Jack's story from the beginning.
I was playing on Facebook at work (shh, don't tell the boss) on Valentines Day of 2011 and stumbled across this picture of an adorable beagle/basset up for adoption in Ohio.
I immediately fell in love with his sad hound dog eyes and reached out to The Gentle Barn to see if he was still available for adoption... and he was! I found out that this poor puppy was at a kill shelter in Ohio and The Gentle Barn rescued him... I was the lucky person that was accepted to adopt him.
The Gentle Barn delivered him to my apartment on February 18th and, immediately, I knew that I had my hands full. It wasn't until they delivered him that they told me that they gave him the name "Mouth" becuase he never shut up. I decided to go with the name Jack, instead. :) At that point in time, I was doing traffic reports for the morning show so I am sure that my apartment neighbors LOVED Jack going crazy and barking every morning when I left at 4am. Jack and I had our typical new-dog issues for the first few weeks: I had to go buy garbage cans with lids because he loved eating the stuff I threw away, he tore apart my sports bra (which, at the time, was a good enough excuse for me to not go to the gym)... and I eventually figured out that most of his craziness and barking when I left was because he HATED being in a cage. We went from being in the cage when I left... to me gating him in the kitchen (and him ripping down the gate... along with some of the drywall)... to, finally, I just got so sick of his barking and crying that I let him roam my apartment when I left... and he did great! Ever since I realized that all he wants is a little freedom, Jack and I have gotten along just fine. We got into our groove where he let me know when he had to go for a walk by crying at my bedside. This is the cute little face that I woke up to most mornings.
We became a happy little team, for the most part. I quickly learned that Jack does NOT like thunder storms. He is also very skiddish with loud noises and fast movements around him... so I can only assume that he was probably beaten and, possibly, left out in a storm. With those things in mind, we became best buddies... except when it's bath time. Jack does NOT like me at bath time.
In early November of 2011, I was walking Jack in the neighborhood behind my apartment complex when we passed a woman with a dog that was far too large for her to handle. Her dog broke loose and attacked Jack... going straight for his neck. After what felt like an hour of screaming for help, the woman regained control of her dog and I was left laying with my poor dog in the middle of the road with him yelping in pain. I took him to Orchard Road Animal Hospital and, luckily, there wasn't any serious damage done to his neck. They put him on an antibiotic and, after about a week, Jack was back to normal. Not too long after that, I noticed that the swelling on Jack's neck was returning, so I took him back to the vet. I walked in thinking that he simply needed some more antibiotics... but walked out knowing that the new swelling was his swollen lymph nodes... because he had Lymphoma. In the days that followed, I had some very important decisions to make. I needed to take Jack to an oncologist to see what our options were so, by friend referral, we went to Veterinary Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove. I was told that I could a) let him live his life without treatment and not expect for him to live past the holidays or b) try chemo therapy and, if it is successful, he can be expected to live another 8-10 months. I decided to go with the chemo seeing as how, at the time, Jack was only around 3 years old and it was very clear that he lived a crummy life before I adopted him. I wanted to give him a shot at a little bit of happiness in life. I never ever ever thought that I would be a person to spend THOUSANDS of dollars to keep a dog alive... but here I sit, in tears, typing Jack's story for you to read.
We started Jack's chemo treatment right away. For the first few months, I was driving him from Aurora to Buffalo Grove every week. After while we were able to switch to every other week... then, from there, about once every 3-4 weeks. The drive was a pain in the butt, but Jack loved it because he knew that he was going to get a ton of treats from his doctor in Buffalo Grove. I should note that Jack has always been a little on the heavy side so, for a while, I cut out all treats and bones. He was only allowed treats at his chemo treatments... so he almost looked forward to going. :)
Jack responded to the chemo treatment wonderfully and it wasn't long until he was in remission. The folks in Buffalo Grove had a small celebration for us on our last day of treatment and sent him home with a huge box full of treats!
Even though Jack was in remission, our journey was not through. We had to continue with a maintenance drug every 3-4 weeks to keep him in remission for as long as possible because we knew the cancer would eventually come back, we just didn't know when. The thing that we had going for us is that Jack is a very young dog so he has a relatively strong natural immune system. We continued his maintenance treatment at our local vet. Jack slipped out of remission after while... so we switched back to traveling out to Buffalo Grove every week. He reached remission once again but, soon enough, slipped out of remission. This has been the story of our lives for the last 6-8 months or so. However, early in March, we reached a point where more chemo treatments wouldn't help Jack's condition much. I was told to prepare for Jack to only be around for another month or so. I knew that it was now my job to keep him as happy and comfortable as possible.
At that point, I started letting Jack do whatever he wanted. Big doggy bones...
I let him up on the couch with me which was probably a mistake because he gets way too hyper...
I even shared my beer with him (which he LOVED)...
But this past weekend has been pretty bad and Jack has taken a turn for the worse. Along Jack's journey, I have had many people tell me that I made a mistake by putting him through chemo therapy. However, someone once told me that putting a dog down only because he has cancer is not the answer. Up until this weekend, Jack has been a very happy-go-lucky energetic beagle. I always promised myself that I would do my best to keep him alive as long as he was happy and energetic. Now that we have reached a point where that is not the case anymore, I know that his time is here. I type this, in tears, while taking breaks to carry him in and outside to do his business. He is laying on the floor at my feet right now breathing very heavy. He isn't eating much anymore (which is very unlike Jack)... I just know that it is his time.
So, when you wonder why you don't hear my voice on the radio on Monday morning... now you know. I wanted to type this because I'm not sure how long it will be before I can actually talk about it... and so many people have been so kind to continually check in on Jack's progress... I feel like sharing his whole journey with you is only fair. :)
I'm doing my best to not be devistated that my buddy will most likely have to be put down tomorrow (Monday). Instead, I am trying to smile because I know that I saved him from a kill shelter... gave him a happy few years... and let him go when it was time. When Jack was first diagnosed with Lymphoma, the oncologist gave him 8-10 months to live with chemo therapy... here we are a year and a half later. I'd say Jack did a pretty damn good job. :)
So, please do me a favor. Hug your doggy and be thankful that he/she is there wagging their tail everyday for you when you get home.
Good boy, Jack... good boy. :)
Jack and I thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers.
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