What’s one more dog?

I’m not going to pretend that loving Jackson has been easy. Those of you who know us well, know of our many struggles. Physical, mental and emotional. I am not doing all of the Instagram posts to make anyone think I am this awesome dog mom or to think that it’s all fun and games until the end when they deteriorate. Our story is quite the opposite, in fact. I share this with you because when I was struggling with Jackson in the early days and even just a few years ago, I only ever heard these amazingly happy rescue dog stories and it made me feel guilty and bad. There were times I wanted to give up on him. There were things he did that made me feel things about a dog that I had never felt about any animal. That made me feel like a horrible human being. I am not going to give you a storyline of all of the trials and tribulations because that could be the size of a novel. Let me just say this…at his worst he attacked me in my sleep on Christmas eve. I know I can be judged either way here and trust me, I have been and I have had lots of concerned people give me advice, but, now isn’t the time for that and all these years later, I have learned that not giving up on him is one of the best things I have ever done. Our story began one day way back in 2004. My mom and a dear friend that is no longer with us, Katy, had started a company called the Bone Yard. The Bone Yard offered pet gifts and Katy and my mom were at the Pet Expo in Novi spreading the word about their new company. Scott and I went to show our support. We had no idea what we were in for. To set the stage of where we were in our lives…We had two dogs at home. Both had special needs. I was in school full-time and I also worked full-time. Three words… Last Chance Rescue.
There he was barking his head off, emaciated, stressed, bloody and missing hair in several places.
Dammit. Someone was sure to want this guy, right? We left our name with the coordinator of the rescue and said we would take him if nobody else wanted him. We hung out with him for about an hour and just couldn’t seem to pull ourselves away. I talked about him all day. I called my cousin, who I thought was going to talk some sense into me. I thought she was going to say “Sam is old and needs extra attention. Hank has health issues that are very expensive and high maintenance. You are in school and work full-time. You really shouldn’t take this on right now.” Nope. She said “What’s one more dog?” She never met him, but, she knew I was supposed to have him. She is no longer with us today. We lost her two years ago. I think about her every time I look at my boy. She knew he had lessons to teach us. I couldn’t sleep. I called the rescue in the morning. Yay! He has a home. Not so fast. Thanksgiving. Ring…ring… “This is so and so from Last Chance Rescue. You said you were interested in Jackson? He attacked the couples dog that he went home with and they have returned him.” I will spare you the conversation Scott and I had before we called the rescue back and made arrangements to pick him up at a hardware store in Howell the next day. We picked him up. It was odd that they didn’t check us out the way that most rescues do. We didn’t even have to do the paperwork that they had warned us we would have to do when we told them to call us if he didn’t get a home. In the car on the way home he picked up toys and threw them in the air like a puppy. He was so much joy packed into an emaciated pitiful body. Later we figured out why the adoption process wasn’t a process at all. He attacked my senior dog Sam, but, she retaliated and showed him who ran the house. He unveiled a whole host of things that would make him extremely hard to adopt out. Including oddly placed aggression. Later we also uncovered some health problems that many people choose not to treat, but, opt to make the “humane” choice. We decided to treat. One more dog will… Break your heart.
Stress you out.
Strain you financially.
Take up all your time.
Keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Wreck your plans.
Frustrate the hell out of you.
Make you jealous. (Yes, I am not proud of it, but, I was jealous of Jackson at one point because Scott often chose him over me and their relationship together was easy.)
Gross you out. (Perianal fistulas caused some pretty disgusting stuff. Sometimes I was horrified to have him around the furniture or in my car…again, not proud.)
Hurt you. Physically, mentally and emotionally. But, the truth I see now about what he really is… A professor.
A spiritual guide.
Pure unconditional love.
A best friend.
An entertainer.
A healer.
An inspiration. And he is my soul mate. Last week I started feeling like I wasted so much time. I wished I had always felt the way I do about him now. I felt like if I had only felt this way earlier, he could have had a better life for longer. What I realize now is Jackson was a different dog then and I was a different person. We changed each other. And that happened exactly the way it was supposed to. Struggles are meant to be and they are just as beautiful a part of the journey as are the joyous times. Animals are here to teach us. But, I realize now, we are here to teach them too.

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