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Home / Articles / Columnists / Dog World with Tina /  Thank You, Jack
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Thursday, December 7,2017

Thank You, Jack

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  


Do you savor the story line, enjoy the plot, characters, and the entire experience of a book or movie? Or do you focus solely on the last chapter/end? I have not shared this publicly. I didn’t want to be the recipient of wellmeaning, obligatory responses like, “I’m so sorry for your loss”, “So sad”, “Heartbroken”.

I had been away for a week, but he had waited. Barely able to stand or go outside without assistance, he was noticeably humiliated when he’d lose control. There was a tired look in his eyes. I would not deny his request any longer. Thursday afternoon, November 2, Dr Kimberly from Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice came to our home. Relaxing music played, candles and incense burned. Jackpot aka Kodiak Bear, Boo-Boohead, Lug, Hippo (he so loved the lake) earned his wings. It was beautiful, dignified, peaceful, with us, our three dogs and one of the kittens, beside him. I envision Jack was first approached at the Rainbow Bridge by his packmates, the AusSiebelts: our Rudy, Mack, Chloe and Lacey. There to greet him, with his hearty laugh was my dear friend and fellow-rescuer, Ned Abbott (who transitioned in August). “Where ya been, big fella? We’ve been waiting for you!” bellowed Ned. Past the bridge awaited a scent-laden meadow. Bird song filled the air... and… Jack meanders into the pond. “Come on, boy”, encourages Ned. “Lots to show you!” I cherish that vision.

In May of 2004, this beautiful 15 monthold boy was surrendered to me on the turnpike, in between hurricanes Frances and Jean. I named him Jackpot, because whoever adopts him will certainly have "hit the jackpot!" He came with a urinary tract infection, an airline crate, and distasteful manners. Sixty plus pounds of red tri-color Australian Shepherd transformed into a bucking bronco, when a leash came out. With visible bruising, people asked if I was in an abusive relationship. “No, I’ve got a new foster dog!”, I cheerfully replied. We began to work with the Gentle Leader, and an endless cheese supply. Within weeks he was walking beautifully on lead. Even the young girls next door could manage him. He understandably refused to crate, since his previous owner had kept him in it 8-10 hours. Jack had the awful habit of waking up at 3 a.m. and playfully attacking us while we attempted to sleep. With patience and structure, he settled.

The only thing Jack loved more than treats, was children. He would “AwoooooWoooooWooooo” whenever he saw or heard kids. He would beeline to them. Even those who disliked or were afraid of big dogs could not resist Jack’s charms. Our Mack was already doing petassisted therapy. Jack might also enjoy that, I thought. However, Jack’s former owner had taught him to hug (stand on his back legs and put his front paws on her shoulders). I knew he’d never pass CGC (AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test) without four on the floor. It took months to UNLEARN that behavior. In spite of all his issues, he was a loving and sweet dog. He made the funniest expressions and sounds. My friend/fellow rescuer Christine knew that Jack wasn’t going anywhere. She was right. We were his fifth and final home.

I have a choice. I can be sad for no longer having Jack’s physical presence, or I can be grateful for the events that brought him to me, and the dozen years we shared. I rejoice that I got to be his foster-failure mom, his partner in animal-assisted therapy and his biggest fan. I celebrate all the blessings. Jack’s final chapter was one that humans wish they could have surrounded in love, dignity intact, and a peaceful, painless transition to his next adventure.

So PLEASE, do not be “sorry” for the “loss”. Jack isn’t lost. He is in my heart and with every person he snarfed treats from at the park, touched through his work (bite prevention in schools, nursing home visits) and met, walking in parades. He would have been 14 this February. That is quite a run for a big, rescued dog. I am beyond blessed to have been entrusted with this very special dog. Thank you, Jack. You made me a better human. Run fast and free.

I had been asking for a sign that Jack made it all right to the Rainbow Bridge. He sent me the message (in the clouds) that YES! he had, and was happily greeted by friends. Group: Jack is the big fella, smiling at the camera. All except the three small dogs are now with him.


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Tina, I loved your piece about Jack. Could so relate to several parts having had to make the sad decision to say goodbye to our sweet four-legged family member only a day ago. Thanks for bringing a grown man to tears.

I agree. There is sadness in missing their presence in our lives. But most of the focus is on the blessing of having been the lucky family to which she became an integral and loving part.

The "dash," while the shortest part of any obituary, represents all the rest of a life lived between the two dates.   To Jack, Luna and all the rest of our packs that lived their "dash" to the fullest.



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