After the death of our very old German Shepard, we decided it was time to once again fill our house with the sound of puppy noises and clumsy paws. We had already decided to get the puppy from the animal shelter, knowing that they were full to the brim with unwanted dogs, puppies, cats and kittens. The worst part would be not being able to provide ALL of the unwanted pets with a home.
After loading up half of the family, including Grandma, we made it to the shelter. I tried to remember everything I had been taught about the best ways to choose the right puppy, such as watching for signs of a dominant personality, taking the time to see if the puppy acted overly fearful of humans, trying to figure out the breed or combination of breeds, so we didn’t end up with a larger or smaller dog then what we could accommodate in our house, etc.
Because we had children, we knew it would be best to get a puppy that was as close to eight weeks old as possible. In this way it would grow up accustomed to being around children. Since we wanted a medium or larger sized dog, I tried to choose from the many that fit this description. Giving credit where credit is due, I have to say that Grandma ended up being the one that kept going back to one cage where two young puppies stood side by side, both males, both looking rather forlorn. Choosing between the two was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, knowing that the one not chosen would be left in the pen alone. I finally chose the one that seemed the most interested in what we were doing. I decided to call him “Jack”. (That’s “Captain” Jack, of course!) We took him into a room to interact with him. He was exceptionally friendly, loved the children, yet was very calm. Needless to say, that’s when I fell in love with a dark swarthy, Lab mix, that was 8 weeks old.
After filling out the paperwork that made him officially ours, we loaded him into the car and set off for home. It took me about 15 minutes to realize that we had chosen a very sick puppy. After getting home and bathing him, we noticed that he had a massive amount of foul discharge coming from his nose and eyes, and seemed to be very tired. It was late afternoon by then, so early the next morning, I took Jack to the Vet.
As soon as I explained to the Vet that we had gotten Jack from the shelter the day before, I was informed that all adoptions had been stopped temporarily due to a contagious form of puppy influenza that was affecting many of the dogs there. We got him out just in time. It took several more trips to the Vet before Jack finally got better. Soon he was acting like a normal puppy should, and I began training him. He was one of the smartest dogs I had ever worked with. He learned and memorized things extremely quickly. He was a joy to teach.
Fast forward nearly three years. Jack became the near- perfect dog that everyone wants. He was playful, but always gentle. He never had an accident in the house, he followed instructions, and he became very loyal and devoted to the family. Out of the blue, my husband was diagnosed with a terminal type of cancer. Our world fell apart. My husband decided to get chemotherapy treatments, even though he was told it would only extend his life somewhat. During these horrible times, Jack would follow my husband around. He would lay on the floor as close to the couch as he could, to be near my husband. One of the side effects of the chemo treatments included dizziness. On the numerous times when my husband would pass out, Jack would be there in an instant, lying down as close to him as possible, doing his best to “help”. On the day that my husband passed away, Jack started sleeping on my bedroom floor. He’d always slept in the living room before that.
Jack has a white chin now. He’s gotten rather plump around the middle, and doesn’t run around the yard as quickly as he once did. If I could duplicate him, I would. Of all the dogs I’ve ever owned, he is the one I would swear has a soul. He just “knows” things. Things that my fellow human beings don’t even recognize at times. Just goes to show that even a ragamuffin, sickly puppy from the animal shelter, can grow up to be better, smarter and more loyal then the most expensive pure bred dog ever.
Pasco County Animal Shelter.
Animal Services Center
19640 Dogpatch Lane (Formerly Lake Patience Rd.)
Land O’ Lakes, FL 34638