This is a story of my dog, Black Jack and his last day with me.

  Yesterday was just awful. Keeping vigil is emotionally nerve wracking and agonizing. I set myself up downstairs next to Black Jack in the car port and talked to him for hours. He did not respond in anyway but his eyes were open and he looked so scared. He was heavily sedated with what I had on hand for RRR (rescue) so I hope and pray he did not suffer pain. Every time I had to go upstairs to use the restroom and get him more and more ice, I was afraid to leave his side, then afraid to come back downstairs to find he had died alone. I have not been able to function at all. But this has nothing to do with me. I wanted to make his last hours comfortable. .

     Black Jack, though incredibly beautiful, an exquisite face, was not your stoic, huge, majestic, laid back Newfoundland that my Mugsy was. Black Jack came from a puppy mill and was little, neurotic, very sick, almost died as a brand new puppy and completely off the charts in goofiness. Being so needy all his life, now was not the time Jack could be left alone.

     He drank copious amounts of water and I cracked dozens of ice cube trays into his bowl, so I thought at least he is not dehydrated. His tummy would growl, so I tried to feed him anything that might entice him. He turned away from everything. My daughter, Tiff told me at this stage the last thing I needed to worry about was food. So, I finally realized I was very dizzy & I couldn’t remember when I had eaten last, so went upstairs and warmed up a plate of garlic chicken & veggies. When I came back down, Jack’s head snapped up at the smell. I cut it all up into tiny pieces, he seemed so interested, and tried to hand feed him. I put the food in his mouth and it appeared that he did not know how to eat or swallow & it fell out of his mouth.I know nothing about these things, but wondered if maybe he had had a stroke and could not eat. I tried and tried, but he just closed his eyes and mouth and turned away. I lost it yet again and my other two dogs inhaled the food like convicts.

     We sat like this much through the night. Where I live has so much mud when it rains and I wanted to keep him clean and pretty,ready for heaven, so I put a sheet sling under him and dragged him on to his twin mattress pallet bed off the muddy wet dirt he kept lying in. Jack had dwindled away to probably 120 lbs so it took massive effort to lift him and he could not move any part of his body or head, just flopped. Did Jack have a massive stroke? Was this the effect of the pain meds and Valium? I had no idea, but his heart was beating strong. He made gurgling noises. Congestive heart failure? I did not know what to do for him except keep him deeply sedated.

     My dogs are fine with cats. Jumu, my Savannah does not run and hangs out with the dogs, they are all buds. My Austin TX, internet scam rescue kitty is terrifed of dogs and runs. Austin runs, so the dogs chase him. All night long, Austin stayed with us. He kept jumping up in my lap repeatedly and kept kneading us with his little paws, “making biscuits” I call it. It was exasperating, Austin would not relent. “This is one Hell of a time to make friends” I told him.

     At 3:30 am I decided if he was on his way out, he should sleep through it, so came down with the next dosage. His jaws would not open, so I pried them apart and then Jack could not swallow.I hoped the pills would dissolve in his mouth. My friend Kathy was coming over in the morning to help me get Jack in the car and then take him to my lot and put him down. The groundskeeper, Santiago, had dug the hole. I had him called twice by my bilingual employee, Cathy, to make sure it was big enough and deep enough and where I wanted him to be, by my favorite tree and flowers I had planted. Oddly, my Jack loved flowers and would happily sniff all the pretty scents and then busily dig up everything I had just planted in the ground, my little helper. He loved my big red hibiscus bush and would dig a big hole under it to stay cool on the hot, sticky days. He also rolled in the blue bell vines and get his big feet all tangled up. Jack would start wailing and I went to his rescue time & time again.

     At 5:30 am I took a quick shower, both Jack & I were covered with sweat, mud and bug spray, we have malaria here, & I had kept us free from bugs throughout the ordeal.I was crying in my quick shower because I was so terrified the turkey vultures would come down & rip him apart. I raced downstairs with a huge bowl of ice & water and Jack was gone. Gone.

     I ran around the yard, screaming his name and there he was……….lying in a huge bed of lavender wild flowers, not 100 yards away. How on earth did he get there when he could not even lift his head during the night? I brought him his dish of ice and water and he drank thirstily. It was early but it was really hot with his big bear coat and steel wool undercoat. I ran back to the bodega and got out a big beach umbrella to give him shade. As I brought it to him, there Jack was on his feet, wobbly, heading back to the house! My heart leapt for joy. He did not have a stroke, he was really sick and now he was going to be all better. He slowly walked back to the shade and trade wind breeze of the carport and collapsed. He had had his last big break out, that last surge of energy we know all living beings experience before death. My heart was hard at work attempting to convince my brain that Jack was going to recover and everything would be just fine and I would not have to lose my beloved best friend.Not now. I have an uncanny rappore with my animal family. They feed off my every emotion.We relate without words. When I am happy they get silly. When I am angry, they stay downstairs and are quiet.When I am sad or sick they hover and must be right by my side. I was stroking Jack and then heard Kathy and her husband Leif pull up in their truck. I became filled with utter dread. Jack looked up at me terrified. I tried to remember and did my best to keep my voice calm and upbeat, not cry, no easy task.

     I really wanted Jack to see where he was going to be buried, so he would know I would be with him every day. Kathy and Leif explained it would be better for Jack to die with me and his animal family in the only home he had known with all the familiar homey smells and not be further traumatized by the trip. Of course that was best for him.

     Kathy and Leif were unbelievably comforting. They asked me at every step of the way, “Are you Ready?” “Are you ready to begin?” Did I want to stay……..I could not have endured this without them. Kathy set right to work and injected Jack with a very heavy sedative. He was soon in a very deep sleep and Kathy cut off a lock of hair for me from the top of his big old head. Despite all the copious drinking, Jack was severely dehydrated. Try as she might, Kathy could not draw blood and the veins would immediately clot.Kathy shaved more & more fur off to find a good vein, but there were none. She could not administer the fatal drug. Kathy must have stuck him 50 times. She was emotional and so sorry and apologized for not being good at this. We then made the decision to inject the solution directly into his heart. Jack’s heart was too big and the needle too short. I had to run upstairs and grab another box of tissues. When I got back downstairs, Kathy and Leif had made the decision, enough was enough. She called the vet, Dr. Soto to come to the house.Like most Hondurans, Dr. Soto can run on island time and I was worried sick Jack would wake up again. He said he would be about 45 minutes. The wait was interminable. We kept watching Jack’s steady breathing and chatted about anything that flew into my head. As we heard Dr. Soto drive up to the house, Jack took one long breath and died.

     When I was ready, we rolled Jack up in his big old favorite blanket and put him in my car. Kathy asked if I wanted her to ride with me, but I decided this was my last time to be with Jack, so we went Bye Bye Car, just the two of us, his favorite thing in the world to do. I told Jack many things on our last ride.

     We got to my lot and Santiago & another worker were ready for us. I checked the hole and it was deep, large and just where I wanted it.I wanted to put Jack in big, black garbage bags, but Kathy said Jack would be more comfy in just his favorite blanket. I wrapped Jack up nice and tight and tucked a big old chew bone in with him for his journey. It was his favorite treat. They found a wheelbarrow to get him back to the spot, as the garden I have been planting for years is now huge. They gently lowered him into the hole, I sobbed my final farewell and placed a beautiful bouquet of red hibiscus and bluebell vines in with him. Kathy and Leif comforted me and said incredible things to me I will never forget. We said our goodbyes and I asked the workers to please place rocks on top of his grave, so worried about an animal digging him up. I could not leave or bear the thought of him alone in that hole. Unable to drive, I walked down to the dock and walked the beach. After a while, the workers found me and motioned for me to come look at the grave, I thought to assure me he would be safe. Not only had they made a burial mound of rocks, surrounded by a wood frame, they had planted beautiful red and pink ginger flowers all over his grave.

     I will miss you like fury, Jack, every day until we meet again.

     Rest in peace my dearest friend.