The story of Jackson, aka Ubu, begins six years after the loss of my other beloved son Jackson now referred to as "Legacy Jackson". Before the conclusion is made that I have a tendency to name my dogs Jackson please read on.|
Legacy Jackson (a Black Labrador) was with me for 13 of his 14 years on earth. We had a great and busy life together relocating and traveling for business and pleasure. I was a young man on the move and he was my companion. He was a blessing, a wonderful dog and a gentle soul.
Legacy Jackson departed in 1996 and I was devastated. It isn't my way to rush out and get another companion so time passed. Fast forward to 2002 on a spring day in Portland, OR. I walk into my back yard and over the low chain link fence behind my home I see a lab puppy. Of course I rush to the fence to see this cute little guy and he barks at me while retreating and moving forward. He was afraid yet curious about this man who was smiling and calling him (although I did not know his name yet). When I asked my neighbor his name I was told "Jackson". Stunned, I turned around and went into the house, sat down and the tears came.
So Jackson and I became friends over the fence. He had this ball that he stole from the baby he lived with (hey, they were both babies so all is fair...) and he always had that ball with him so I threw it and played with him from my side of the fence. I would also give him treats (later to be known as cookies in Ubu speak) usually in the morning when I was leaving for work. But I made him earn those so I taught him manners (sit, down, shake, etc.), at least as best I could from my where I was. Every morning he would be there at the fence waiting for me. His parents said that he would want to be let out around that time and then they figured out why. I never asked them if they ever wondered how he learned his manners.
After a few months the parents asked me if I wanted to adopt him. They said he appeared to be more mine than theirs at that point and they were a young couple with two little kids and not enough time and energy for him. Of course I would!
That's how Jackson came to me and I didn't need to be hit on the side of the head to know that he was sent. Of course some people will give you that look if you express that thought so it's something that I kept mostly to myself. But I knew and he knew. I felt Legacy Jackson's spirit but there were enough differences to make them unique. Legacy Jackson was beautiful, affectionate yet stoic. He would retrieve something if you asked him to but if you continued throwing it he would want to know what was wrong with you. Ubu was silly and playful. His ball (yes the same one) was the other centerpiece of his life sharing that status with me (or vice-versa). He was very silly but in a measured way. He was truly a well behaved puppy that grew into a model of perfect behavior as an adult.
Ubu had some very important people in his life besides his dad and they all contributed to his happy and care free life. Aside from playing with his ball Ubu loved to hike, swim, play frisbee (quite amazingly I might add) and would love to join me at camp-outs with my friends. He was an athlete and a ham. He was so well behaved that he was welcomed anywhere I took him. It was just last year at an event that a man commented "that is the happiest dog I've ever seen!". Indeed.
Jackson was with me for almost 11 years. I met him as a puppy over the fence and was able to be there when he took his last breath. As mighty and strong as he was, cancer has no regard for such traits. When I was told he had hours, maybe days, to live he willed his way through another month. During those last thirty days he ate the food I cooked for him (he decided that he was done with dog food), played with his ball, made new friends at the hospital and went for our nightly walks that we cherished. Ubu never complained, whimpered or cried. He took it like a dog (I'm not sure if dogs can have a stiff upper lip). When it was time he made it known but I asked him to please wait until morning so his doctor could see him. He spent the night on the patio (the cool air must have been soothing) sitting and staring at the moon and stars until morning. When we arrived at the hospital the situation was clear; all they needed was the word from me. There was no need, as soon as I gave it he let go. He died naturally with me holding him, his ball and with dignity. He waited until morning as I asked him to. Obedient to the end.
Dana - We shared our love for her and he called her mom