On Friday I returned home from what had been one of the best weeks of my life. I was so excited to sit down and share my experiences on my blog. Upon waking Saturday morning I contacted my mom who was anxious to hear all about it. After telling her all the amazing things that I had been blessed with the past week, she gave me the saddest news I have received in the the past ten years.
On Wednesday, March 19th the world lost an incredibly sweet, furry soul. Blackjack was a stubborn old man and I believe lasted as long as he did because of all the love that was given to him and also because of the love he still had to give. Although we were apart in his final days he was never alone and never far from honest love and the warmest hugs and pats. Even though I was prepared for him not to be there when I returned home, the loss is still incredibly hard…my heart is broken and the grief is, at times, too much to bear. What will get me through are the reminders that he had such a good, happy life and that he finished his years off exactly where he belonged.
For those who do not know, here is Blackjack’s story:
I met Blackjack in the winter of 2001. I had gone back to University to study Kinesiology and in one of my classes I met Jeff, a very cute boy, who I was put together with to work on an assignment. He invited me to his house to get to work and when I arrived I was excited to learn he had a dog. A young, adorable, crazy, black and white Lab/Border Collie cross; Blackjack. I gave him a “hello”, and I’m sure quite a few pats, and then sat down at the dining table to get to work. And then something crazy happened…Blackjack came up to me while I was sitting in my chair, climbed up on my lap, and with two paws on one leg and his other two on my other leg he just stood on me…right up, not sitting or curled up on my lap but stood on me…as if to say “I like you, I claim you”. He gave me a few kisses and then jumped down after some instruction. Jeff had never seen him do that before and in all my years of being surrounded by dogs I had never seen that either.
As time moved forward, Jeff and I progressed to a relationship. We were together for a few years so Blackjack became a huge part of my life. A big change saw us moving away and sadly where we were going we couldn’t take Blackjack with us. It was a difficult day saying goodbye, a bit more so for Jeff because Blackjack was his after all, but he was going to a good home so we took comfort in that. After a little more than a year away, my relationship with Jeff ended and I found myself back in my hometown. Not long after, my brother asked me if wanted Blackjack back. His friend, who had taken him in, had moved to a tiny apartment in Toronto and felt it was unfair to keep him in such a small space (Blackjack, though not a big dog, had a medium build and LOVED to run). I immediately said yes, and, after convincing my mom it was a good idea, I was off to pick him up in Toronto.
It was an emotional reunion and a pretty quiet ride back to my place but it didn’t take long for Blackjack and I to find our rhythm. After my breakup with Jeff I was almost 30 and was not in the best of health. Blackjack rescued me from a very dark place and he quickly became my world. He fell in step with my family and friends and was always willing to become part of a good story. For the past ten years he has been where he was meant to be. He was so incredibly loved that I know, without a doubt, it is not only my heart that is breaking because of his passing, but countless others as well.
He had his trying moments: peeing on peoples legs, killing and eating bunnies, humping any dog that came into the house, very VERY selective hearing and of course his “old man” gas…but for all his inappropriate behaviours there were many more delightful ones: he loved anyone who took the time to say hello to him, he was fiercely loyal to me and his family, he loved unconditionally, he knew when you weren’t feeling well and would do whatever he could (in doggy ways) to make you feel better, he was kind, incredibly gentle and extremely patient.
My life will not be the same without my crazy man beside me and I will forever be left with a Blackjack shaped hole in my heart.
“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion”
“He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds, my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach into the sea. Has has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being: by the way he rests against my leg, by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile, by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I succeed, he brags. Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful. He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant. His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me…whenever…wherever – in case I need him. And I expect I will – as I always have. He is just my dog” ~ Gene Hill