My Heart is Breaking

by Heligirl on March 21, 2012

in Beyond Mommyhood,Poochies

Jack at the Grand Canyon.

My heart is breaking. My best friend of 13 years is dying and the only thing I can do is let go.

I remember the first time I saw him. He was just a little furry handful with a whole lot of smooch. He loved to give kisses, and he did, all the time. Up until a couple of weeks ago, that is. His nickname soon became, “Jack the Licker.”

Jack was my companion, best friend, confidant, shoulder to cry on, support, and travel buddy. He was there when there was no one but him – no husband, boyfriend, or roommates. When I bought my first house, it was for him and me. The house and yard had to be Chihuahua friendly. When I went on vacation, he went too. The trip had to be conducive to my pooch’s needs.

Jack going along for the ride (pre-kids).

We’ve flown on planes together and driven all over the Southwest, camping in the desert. Jack has been to Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands (both sections), Arches, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Olympic, Yosemite, and Sequoia national parks. He’s walked in Valley of the Gods and looked out over Monument Valley. He’s barked at buffalo, mountain goats, antelope, and coyotes.  He’s gotten his feet wet in Oak Creek in Sedona and sniffed at a Saguaro cactus. He’s been sailing and kayaking, even barked at sea lions and dolphins. He’s been on literally thousands of miles of road trips in his own little dog seat (a raised bed with a harness so he’s safe in an accident).

He’s lived in California, Nevada and Washington, moving with me several times before we found our current home in 2004. It was just him and me until we got his “brother” Daggett in 2004.

He’s nursed me through a hip replacement and countless broken hearts (over boys, dreams, job rejections, you name it). In the pit of the worst time of my life, when I found it hard to keep negative thoughts away, I learned that the mind could actually only hold one thought. If I had my happy thought handy and brought it to mind every time my mind wanted to wander to the negative, I’d feel better. My happy thought was of how my Jack greeted me when I came home every day – reckless abandon of puppy love and pleasure (not to mention lots of kisses). It was images of his puppy face that kept me from that pit of pain.

He saw me reach my dreams: work as a helicopter pilot, buy a home, get married and have a family.

He was there to see me meet my husband, and was the first thing I introduced my babies to when I brought them home from the hospital.

Best boys.

The books, breeders, and websites all said a Chihuahua has a long life span – mid to late teens easy. I feel so cheated. At 13 years and 8 months my faithful companion, the creature I didn’t think it was possible to love anything more than, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. I always feared cancer would be the force to take him. I never expected his big, loving heart to be the culprit, and so soon. One of his little heart valves is in terrible shape, letting blood flow back into the veins in his lungs and as such, cause his lungs to fill with fluid.

He’s on medication to keep the water off and help reduce fluid buildup, but that will only work for so long.

Jack giving Sweetness her first puppy kiss the day she came home from the hospital.

Then two weeks after his diagnosis, he had what the vet (and human doctors with human cases of CHF) call “an episode.” Suddenly with no warning he started breathing really hard. Within a few hours he could barely breathe. We rushed to the vet and he spent 24 hours on oxygen and was pumped full of diuretics. About 30 hours (and $1,100) later he came home, but a little worse for wear.

Now he’s in puppy hospice, snuggling with me every minute. It is only a matter of time before he becomes too uncomfortable to snuggle. Then I’ll be forced to say good bye, saving him from further discomfort and bringing to a close one of the most valuable friendships of my life.

Jack is not “just a dog.” He’s my best friend. I’ve always said I’d do anything for him. I’m now being called to do just that. It’s killing me and I know a part of me will go with him.

I feel so very fortunate to have had my Jack in my life. He was my rock and my soft spot. You really haven’t experienced love until you’re loved by a child, but before there were any children, I had my Jack. His unconditional, completely trusting love got me through the worst point of my life. And I got to share what I know has been the very best (having my family) with him. I did everything in my power to make his life the best it could be. He always had love, the best food, pampering, friendship, companionship and attention.

I don’t know what awaits Jack on the other side. He has more soul than some humans. To think there is no Heaven for my pooch feels so wrong. I’d really like to believe there’s a place where he can run, play, sleep in the sun, chase squirrels and not miss me or his dog brother.

I imagine a day in the distant future where I’ll come walking toward his new home and he’ll come running up to greet me. He’ll cover my face with his puppy kisses and I’ll bury my face in his soft fur and tell him again how very much I love him.

When it is my turn, I’ll have a lot to reflect back on in life, and I know he’ll be one of the things that will be on my mind and will bring me peace when I draw my last breath, because I’ll know I’m about to hold him again.

What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. – General Dwight D. Eisenhower


SharleneT March 21, 2012 at 5:50 am

I’m so sorry. I, too, have a best friend Chihuahua and can’t bear the idea of her time drawing to a close. My thoughts and prayers are with you. And, I absolutely believe there’s a dog heaven where he will be waiting for you to stop by and get him for your own eternal journey. {{{HUGS}}}
SharleneT recently posted: Hot and Sour Kielbasa Cabbage Solar Soup

Twitter: Heligirl
March 21, 2012 at 8:32 am

Thanks so much Sharlene. Since writing this and scheduling it to post, little Jack has really responded well to the medication and is doing quite well considering. The doctors say this gives him a few more months, maybe a year, depending on how he continues to respond. I take nothing for granted. Every day more I have with him is a gift.

Twitter: TheJenLars
March 21, 2012 at 8:47 am

My grandmother died a couple years ago. At one point, they brought her back, and she was angry because she’d seen her childhood cat and known she was on her way to heaven.

Twitter: Heligirl
March 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Oh Jennifer. Really? Oh I can’t tell you how much it means to me to hear that. Thank you so very, very much. Really. I can’t tell you what a gift it is you sharing that with me. Thank you!!

Audreya March 21, 2012 at 8:56 am

I’m so sorry!! Several friends have had to say goodbye to their precious pups lately and my heart breaks for every one of you. Last night I read my friend JoBeth’s equally touching tribute to her Sadie and she said once her minister was asked if he thought dogs went to heaven and he said “Heaven is always more, and never less”. I cried then; I’m crying now.
Audreya recently posted: I Don’t Bathe

Twitter: Heligirl
March 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Oh sweetie, thank you so very, very much for sharing that quote from your friend’s minister. That is so touching, and while I’m crying too, it makes me feel so much better.

Susan March 21, 2012 at 9:47 am

My heart breaks for you. Beyond sad. But I’ve been learning a lot in the arena of what actually happens beyond this world we perceive; and please know for sure that our pets have no issues with passing over to “the other side,” as we do. When he dies and you are more than sad, his spirit self will still be right there with you wondering why you’ve stopped playing with him and stopped talking to him. So- keep talking to him when he’s gone, because his doggy spirit body will still be right there with you. Not the same, I know. But a little comfort.
Susan recently posted: How High Is Too High?

Twitter: Heligirl
March 21, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Wow Susan. I’d not heard that. I’m always talking to myself so I can just as easily continue to do that for my Jack. It is a little source of comfort to know he’ll be right there with me. Thank you.

Liz F March 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Oh honey, this made me cry. When I was six, we adopted an 11 month old Golden Retriever (Nick) and I was heartbroken when we had to put him down in 2006. Dogs have such a special place in making a family whole.

Twitter: Heligirl
March 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Thanks so much Liz. I’ve seen that poem before and it is what I imagine is waiting for my Jack. It’s so heartwarming, and makes me cry every time.

Liz F March 21, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Mom is with me on this one–big hugs from Eastern WA and from the ‘Couve xoxox

Twitter: Heligirl
March 21, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Thanks guys. Love to you both!

Mommahunt March 21, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Just have to say I’m so sorry. I know what you are going through. My first real pet of my own was my Doxie Rocky and when we had to put him down it was so devestating…three years later it still is. He was “the pet” oft life.i did read a great book that helped my after we put him down. When the time comes if you want the name let me know. Also enjoy your time together and know that I’m thinking of you

Twitter: Heligirl
March 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Thank you so much. I would like the name of that book if you have it. I know it will be one of the worst days of my life. I cried on and off for months when my cat I’d had since second grade died after I graduated from college. I know this will be much, much worse for much longer. Thanks again.

Teresa March 21, 2012 at 5:36 pm

I share you pain Jen. Dogs are so special. It will hurt so bad, but he will always be with you in your heart and in your memories.

Twitter: Heligirl
March 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Thanks Teresa.

Melissa {adventuroo} March 22, 2012 at 8:29 am

Oh no– so sorry to hear this. Our dog Trajan is getting old and went blind from diabetes about 6 months ago. It’s so hard seeing the pets we love suffer. Sending you peace and strength.

Twitter: rachael1013
March 24, 2012 at 9:58 pm

I’m so sorry. It’s so hard to lose a friend, and to watch them get sick first doesn’t make it easier. I hope you enjoy the time you have left together.
Rachael recently posted: Week 15: Short but Sweet

Nicole March 30, 2012 at 9:48 am

so bad to here that i love dogs too.
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