Saturday, November 06, 2004

The End

Jackson’s life came to an abrupt end.

As late as Tuesday October 19 I didn’t notice any symptoms that he was sick. On Saturday, concerned because he wasn’t eating and wasn’t himself, I took him to the vet. Still, I wasn’t overly worried.

It turns out there was reason to be. They told me he had cancer. By the following Monday he was gone after an exploratory surgery confirmed the cancer and that it had already spread extensively.

The cards, emails, flowers, phone calls, etc. that I got from so many people after Jackson died made a huge difference for me. Thank you to everyone from me and in spirit—Jackson.

One of my favorite sentiments was from a relative in Flagstaff. She wrote “Someone once said that dogs' lives are shorter than humans because it takes a lifetime for people to learn how to love, dogs know from the beginning.”

My mother, who knew Jackson well, mirrored that sentiment. She said he was what we strive to be, a completely spiritually evolved being.

Everyone who saw Jackson and I together saw that we had a special bond. Some people didn’t necessarily understand it, I don’t know that I even understand it, but it was and is real.


In late 2002 Jackson and I moved to Summit Park near Park City, Utah. We rented part of a house from Barbara Felt, who also lived there with her daughter Megan. The following is from Barb:

The second week you were here, in the living room, you said "watch this. Jackson, go give Megan a kiss.” (Jackson got up and went right to Meg and gave her a big lick.)

“Now, Jackson, go shake Barbara’s hand." (He came straight to me with that huge paw outstretched).

We knew then that he was unusually humanlike.

Later there was that time when I took him running down the backside of Jeremy ranch on a leash that lasted about half the run, when he could not withhold any longer and decided if I was going to be on the other end of that leash, I was going in the river with him. I let go. He beamed.

Remember the day I though I’d lost him at the cabin on top? Well, he fooled me again. When you came to help rescue, there he was, waiting at the car.


Some more information I got from Steve, the guy we got Jackson from:

Jackson's mother was the daughter of two working sheep dogs who lived on a ranch somewhere in Utah. Her name is Oso, which means bear in Spanish. About a year ago she ran off during a storm and they were unable to find her, which was brutal for Steve and his family. Oso was terrified of loud noises and between the thunder and some fireworks that day she got scared and ran away. Despite an extensive search, they were unable to find her.

All of this explains a few things about Jackson. He loved to try to round up cars and trucks when he was roaming free on a ranch or farm. It was a strong instinct that was all but impossible to control. He also hated loud noises.

As far as Steve knew there are two siblings of Jackson's left in Provo, in the neighborhood where he was born. Their names are Cody and Sammy. We know of two other litter mates that were with their original [human] families for a year or less before moving on to other homes. We've lost track of them. Jackson's sister Andy died of cancer when she was still a pup.

On Jackson's second plane trip:

In a very generous offer, my friend Jim offered to fly me to Utah to visit him. Of course I accepted, willing to perform the deed required; I had to fly Jackson from Ohio to Salt Lake.

What a trip it was! Jackson and I drove to Cleveland. He had a very big crate. I gave him his sleepy drugs, kissed him on the nose, and off he went on the conveyor belt. I almost cried I was so worried about him travelling in the belly of the airplane. But off he went and I waited. And waited. And began watching the weather. Which got worse. And worse. And worse. Until finally my flight was cancelled. After much bantering with the clerks, they finally understood that I had to get Jackson out of baggage and back home until the next night, when it would be safe to fly. At last his crate appeared, but Jackson was at the height of sleepiness. He weighed a lot. It took every bit of strength I had, along with a helpful baggage handler, to get him out of the crate and into my pickup truck. He slept all the way home.

The next night the weather cleared and we were scheduled again. Fewer sleepy drugs (I had used most of them up the night before), crating, and waiting. I boarded the plane, making sure to get a seat where I could see the baggage being loaded. They wheeled Jackson out and I started to cry. Poor Jackson, directly down beneath me in with the baggage! Those droopy big brown eyes. I was a wreck and I started crying. I worried and fretted all the way to Salt Lake. Would he dehydrate? Would he have enough air? Would he feel sick and throw up? Was he being jostled or bumped?

None of the bad stuff happened and we made it to meet Jim. What a wonderful reunion for all three! The trip was awesome, with Jim showing me everything wonderful to be found in Salt Lake. A salty float in the lake after a wild thunderstorm had to be the highlight. Or maybe it was the hike among the aspens up on the mountain, with Jackson leading the way. Or walking through the downtown dog park with Jackson off the leash. The whole trip was absolutely amazing! Thank you Jim, and thank you Jackson.

Marijan Grogoza

[I never drugged Jackson again on his future plane trips. -JB]

If you have any good Jackson stories, please send me an email at utahredrock at

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