Sunday, June 15, 2014

King Dog of Austria

It is a sad day here in the Volcano household.  Our long time beloved intrepid travel companion is on his last journey. Nearing his 14th birthday, Jackson, the yellow lab who has travelled across North America by truck multiple times as well as jumping that pond we refer to as the Atlantic, is preparing for his final trip to find his favorite nap place with his Grandpa Jerry. A painful and aggressive bony tumor has found its way into Jackson's left femur, in a location where removal just isn't a good option.  Rest assured, we are doing everything possible to provide this treasured pet every comfort while we have the opportunity to do so.  Currently doggie hospice includes metronomic chemotherapy; a pain management cocktail consisting of non steroidal anti-inflammatories, opioids, Gabapentin, and gastroprotectants; infra-red laser therapy, acupuncture, cold therapy; and palliative bisphosphonates will be in the express mail tomorrow. When these are not enough, we will send him to stay with my Dad, who was always Jackson's favorite:)
But enough of the bad news, because Jackson hates it when I cry.  He tries to crawl in my lap and lick me, which is a big deal for a 70lb pet!  This dog has lived in more places than my husband, and as a travel companion has always consistently and quietly expressed his opinion.  Jackson's story began in Tucson, AZ, where he was deemed unadoptable by the local shelter due to previous owner surrender attributed to barking, digging, and jumping.  At that time he was an eleven month old intact male named 'Lucky.'  My friend Amy had contacts at the shelter and volunteered to foster him to save him from humane destruction, and one thing lead to another. The night I went to Amy's to pick him up, he walked across the back of the couch to meet me at the front door, as Amy opened it.  As we left, he lunged at the fish swimming in her fish tank, which thankfully was large enough to outweigh him and his velocity.
After weeks of obedience school at Reid Park and doggie play dates with his friend the Great Dane, the neighbor clued us in to Jackson's daily routine of jumping the backyard fence with a little help from the BBQ grill.  He would roam the great outdoors and then use the trash can to get back in the yard, all without being detected.  Makes you wonder how closely that neighbor was watching us!
We moved to Colorado for four years of vet school, the first of which we resided in a basement. We spent late nights studying for Anatomy exams and snuggling to keep warm. As veterinary sophomores, we moved to a lovely little house with a great backyard which we shared with my good friend and classmate, Amanda, and her adorable Scottie, Willy. Jackson and I briefly took up jogging, and when I got a summer internship in Belgium, Jackson went to stay with his buddy, Grandpa Jerry.  
While I was in Europe, Dad was teaching Jackson to assume the position, code for nap time, next to Dad's recliner.  Also coincidently during this time, Jackson developed an obsession for cheese, as well as Elliot Ness level sixth sense when someone might be serving themselves up some cheese.
Our third year in Colorado, we moved to a house with a large backyard, porch, sliding glass door complete with doggie door, and across the street from a park.  Jackson got a sister, Daisie the rescue Bernese Mountain dog, and he taught her how to be a dog.  They chased squirrels and barked at the neighbor dogs, and snow plowed on leash walks to itch their faces and backs and roll in the snow. My roommates and I took up amateur belly dancing, and whenever we practiced at home, Jackson would climb up into our blue sitting chair in the living room, just to be close to us.  We called it his Sultan chair.
Two years later we all drove from Colorado to Florida, for my internship.  Jackson was not a fan of sharing the backseat of the GMC Sierra with Daisie, and would rest his head on the arm rest or the shoulders of the front seats and dramatically sigh to make his discontent known.  
This became a theme over the years during our multiple long distance drives, from Florida to Arizona, Arizona to Ontario, Canada, etc.  
For a week we even lived in a Comfort Inn in Madison, WI with my mother while looking for a place to live during my 3 year surgery residency. 
And in a single wide trailer with fritzy air conditioning outside Charleston, SC in August while we waited to move into our newly bought and simultaneously rented starter house. 
When we moved to Austria and I went to the airport to pick up Jackson and Daisie, driving my colleague's six speed diesel, Jackson began barking continuously once he had seen me until he was out of his crate and sitting next to me in the passenger seat.
This dog has seen buffalo from the car window in Custer National Park, chased my horse, Norman even after flying through the air twice after deftly administered kicks from the horse (luckily no one was injured).  We once did a fun run at the vet school in Ft. Collins while I was wearing a walking cast. 
Suffice it to say, over the last thirteen years Jackson and I have been through a lot together, and I will miss him profoundly.  Be that as it may, for now, he is happily resting on his expensive orthopedic pet bed in front of the open balcony door with an oscillating fan blowing on him, the King Dog of Austria.