“Jack” was the name chosen by someone long before us.
However, when we rescued him from the shelter, we figured, “Why not? We might as well keep the name.” His moniker morphed strangely to “Jackpot,” slid into “Pot-Pot,” and eventually just — embarrassingly enough — “Pot.” I usually called him “Big Puppy.”
Being older, Jack had “issues.”
Boy howdy, did he have issues! We didn’t seek out a dog that needed 24-hour attention, but we got one. Within a week of his “gotcha” day, we discovered he had hypersensitive skin, causing him to chew and scratch at his sides so much, he would bleed. To prevent self-mutilation, we stumbled upon the idea of adorning him in toddler-sized T-shirts. Since Mini-human clothing is not designed for Mini Schnauzers, we had to put the shirts on backwards – with the design facing up instead of down. Securing them so he didn’t trip, while still providing freedom to “do his business,” he was the most “stylin’” dog in town. Eventually, he acquired a complete wardrobe of emblazoned with super hero motifs, holiday fashions, and our favorite, inscribed, “Mommy’s Little Monster” in stark white letters. Beyond soothing his skin, we’re sure he liked them because after every walk (when we had to remove his shirt to attach his leash), he’d wait for us to re-dress him.
A never-ending source of noises was our Big Puppy.
He didn’t bark much (unless he saw another dog) but he grunted, groaned, licked, chewed, yawned, and exhaled loudly without end. He also broke wind – constantly, always a source of confusion to him, causing him to spin mid-step, seeking the source of the rear-end disruption.
What most people remember was that he “skipped.”
Because his hind legs were too close together and he had scoliosis (did I say he had “issues?”) his rear feet bumped each other when he walked, causing him to hop, giving the appearance he was skipping down the street. It didn’t slow him down, but did provide the funniest impression of a Fred-Astaire-Singing-in-the-Rain upbeat gait as he strolled down the avenue. Ironically, it was spot-on; he actually was happiest in those moments.
Sunday was our last walk.
If I had known; I’d have recorded it; set it to replay non-stop and watch him skip forever. Sunday night, without warning, he left us. In the morning we are full of life, sprightly bouncing down the road; by nighttime our house became a cavernous hollow abyss of a void. I cannot fathom how 20 pounds of itchy, farting, skipping canine could leave a twenty-ton weight on our hearts when he left us.
I have questions.
Who now will make the sound of toenails scampering on linoleum? Who will raise his front right paw and mistakenly give me “high five” when I command “speak”? Who will put “puppy paws up” on the couch when he wants to sit next to us and chew incessantly on his smelly, dilapidated, squeaky toy? Whose feet will slip and slide as he tries to get traction to remain still on hardwood floors? Who will pee on every bush, pole, and patch of high grass in our neighborhood? Whose stub of a tail will waggle when it’s time for a treat? And, most of all, who will lie in his puppy bed, staring at me hour after hour, after hour after hour; without judgment with the most open, loving, sweetest trusting, accepting, brown eyes that ever blessed my life — ready always in an instant to take a walk?
Jack’s issues are no more.
He is at peace, skipping across the rainbow bridge. We however remain stranded in a monochrome gray world without him.
I am told that someday our tails will once again wag and we will feel like skipping, but right now, a Jack-shaped ragged emptiness exists in our life.