The Moment Our New Dog Won My Heart Over…

jackson april 10.11 3

Jackson

Anyone who knows me (whether or not they want to) knows my former dog, Creecy. He was my heart. The friends who were in my life through my 20’s and 30’s all knew Creecy and loved him, they had no choice, he was my better half.

He and I rescued one another. That may sound cliché but it is so true.

The day we found one another I was living in Wilmington, NC. I was there on a 9 month clinical fellowship that was required for my career path. I should have been so happy, I was 24 and lived in a really funky historic house near the Cape Fear River. I had a built in set of friends, I had just graduated from a prestigious graduate school. Life was pretty celebratory at that stage.

However, I was pining away for my former graduate school. I do very well with schedules and school certainly provides a schedule. I missed my friends and my incredibly cool graduate school town of Chapel Hill, NC. I was going through a break up that needed to happen, but hurt none the less.

For the first time in my life, I was depressed. I did not know that there was a word for what I was experiencing, but I did understand that no amount of journaling, praying, exercising, coffee talk lifted my heart. All I wanted to do was get home from work, climb into the faded blue and white pin striped flannel pj’s that one of my college sorority sisters had allowed me to borrow (and eventually given to me because I loved them so much) and sleep.

So, despite the really cool downtown Wilmington house I got to live in, despite my close proximity to the Cape Fear River as well as Wrightsville Beach,  despite open hearted friends who were readily available for me (and expressed a growing concerned about me), I found myself coming home to those pj’s earlier and earlier every day. My roommate had a Labrador Retriever that I loved. I would come home from work, put on those flannels, hop into my fluffy white bed and let the Lab snuggle with me until we slept (yes, I was depressed).

One day, I got home from work and there was a note taped to our front door about a puppy under our house. It was a messy note, scribbled in a hot pink highlighter marker.

That day was no different than the previous days. I wanted my little comfort bubble. I was so depressed that I did not even go check for the puppy. I went straight for the pinstriped flannels, fluffy white bed, Labrador Retriever. I wanted to sleep.

However, as soon as I did, I heard a faint howl. The puppy. I ignored it (if you knew me, you would know that was completely uncharacteristic of me, I am a soft heart for ALL things, especially puppies).

It got quiet. I started to drift off again, and then, that little howl. I looked at the Lab and the Lab looked back at me. Some tiny part of my soul awakened (just a tiny part–I had a lot of healing yet to do). But that puppy needed help. So I climbed out of my safety bubble and went into our back yard. I looked under our house with a flashlight and there he was: a tiny, 8 week old, malnourished sweetheart, hiding behind a column…shaking. His tiny mouth was upraised and making one of the cutest little howls I have ever seen.

As soon as he saw me, he stopped howling, started shaking harder, and ran further from me. It took over 2 hours to coax that baby from under the house. With each passing moment, my heart started to come back alive, I had something that needed to be rescued (and looking back, I believe God put him under our house because I needed to be rescued).

That little puppy was starving. I used pieces of the Labrador’s food,  a soft tone of voice and occasional help from the Labrador to give puppy enough courage to step out from under the house. We worked on that for a long while. In total, it probably took about 4 hours to get that little sweetheart out, for good.  I bathed him that night, covered the hardwood floors in my bedroom with newspaper and he slept peacefully on the floor. I decided that I would figure out what to do with him the next day. Long story short, the following night, I was in my fluffy white bed and he was curled up on the newspaper covered hardwoods. He looked up at me, I looked at him and said “ok…come on…you have me”. I picked him up and let him sleep in my bed. He gave me purpose and I gave him security. We spent almost 2 decades together.

Most of my friends settled down in our 20’s but God had a different path for me. I spent the majority of my 20’s and 30’s in the Carolinas and home base switched from Alabama to Georgia when my parents made the big move.

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Creecy and Jessica fall of 2009

Creecy was my constant through all of the moves and friendships. He was also my comfort through a profound onset of chron’s and leukemia which were way worse than what I described in my previous post.

We said goodbye to one another in 2010. I believe dogs go to heaven and please do not try to convince me otherwise.

Hubby and I adopted a very cute, but very high energy dog a few months after my Creecy passed. Our Jackson has had a lot to live up to and I have tried hard to love him for him, to not compare him to Creecy. They are two very different dogs. While Creecy followed commands and was pretty mild mannered by age 3, Jackson is almost 5, his energy is ceaseless and he is stronger than he realizes (he can be embarrassing).  He is a mutt. His “siblings” look like Labs, but he looks like a miniature Rottweiler (he is actually quite adorable).

However, I have undersold his depth. I have giggled at him and loved on him. Trust me, he does not lack for love or pampering. But I have not thought of Jackson as soulful.

He won my heart on a different level the other day and showed me that he is quite soulful, despite his high energy and often disobedient behavior.

It was that scary afternoon when hubby had run up to the store to pick up steaks and firewood. Oh how the 2 of us need a “normal” night, an escape from questions about leukemia. We thought that maybe that would be it, we would listen to Christmas music, decorate the tree, enjoy all that God has given to us in this new home.

Then that horrific nose bleed that (as I wrote in this post) really did leave me lying on the floor in a pool of blood. It was scary. By the way, I carry my phone everywhere, that was the one time I had not picked up my phone.

I was lying on the floor, bleeding and crying; trying to not cry too hard because I did not want to make the bleeding worse. I was praying for help. I was really frightened, not exactly sure where the experience was headed.

Our Jackson had been watching from under the door frame. I did not see him. Eventually I collapsed onto the floor and all was quiet (except I did hear a text message from the home office, which ended up being a loving message from mom telling me she was praying for me–how ironic, right?).

But that is when he did it. Jackson walked very gently up to me, to my face, he was so careful and stepped around the pool of blood, he leaned his face into mine but did not lick the tears or the blood (and, well, if you know dogs, you know that they typically lick something like that). However he looked at me, at the scene and he looked into my eyes. He then went and sat quite stoically at my feet. A few minutes later, he came back up and did the same facial scan, and looked into my eyes again. He went back and took his stoic position near my feet. Finally we heard the garage door open (I said a prayer of thanks and asked God to please prepare hubby for what he was about to see on the floor).

Jackson did not leave my side when we heard the garage. But when hubby opened the door, Jackson ran to him (my heart exploded, I knew he was trying to get hubby’s help). Hubby was carrying groceries into the house and had no reason to go in search of his wife lying in a pool of blood on the floor (that is not typical around here). Sweet Jackson came back and sat by my feet. Then he ran out and captured hubby’s attention and and directed my husband back to help me. It was like a scene out of a movie, Jackson demonstrated sensitivity, loyalty and kept guard over me while understanding that his “mommy” needed help. And as soon as that help arrived, he did everything he could do to direct assistance to me as quickly as possible.

I can never bring back my 20’s and 30’s, I cannot bring back my Creecy. But my view of Jackson has changed. He was a “movie dog” the other day.

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Hubby and Jackson..my favorite 2 guys these days…

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