JETT: The Best Of Dogs.
By Shane Pinnegar
She really was the BEST of dogs.
We found her at the refuge centre, emaciated, full of mange, scared and hungry. She had a look in her eyes which melted our hearts instantly, and we knew she’d found her forever home with us.
She was around nine months old and had been mistreated by whatever arsehole had previously had her – she was scared of the rustle of plastic bags, loud noises, bubblewrap, raised voices, and I had to pick her up to put her in the car for the first few months. She has a kink in her tail that we think was a door slammed on her. One time in the very early days of having her, she even tried to jump out of the car window in fright. We still have no idea what that was all about.
And boy – she loved her food, as you would too, if you’d been practically starved as a child. She could eat for days, never turned her nose up at a snack, always begged for treats and if we ever lost track of time, you bet her body clock told her when it was mealtime and she was not shy to remind us!
The first day I brought her home she was so timid – until I threw a ball in the backyard and just like that the kelpie in her came out. She would sprint after that thing like her life depended on it – not that she could catch it often. One malformed eye made her mouth-eye co-ordination on a par with my hand-eye co-ordination (not good at all). My daughter was around 3 at the time and after throwing the ball a little she tried to beat Jett to it, at which point Jett showed her inherent cattle dog traits and went straight under the kid’s legs, throwing her somersaulting through the air to land with a thwack on her back in the dirt. It would have been hilarious, pure slapstick, had she not been crying hysterically.
You can’t tell an animal off for showing its true nature! It was a trick she would use from time to time at the park as well – she brought me down in a tumble of un-coordinated limbs many times, until eventually she was too smart for her own good and made me fall right on top of her. That was the final straw for the second rear cruciate ligament – her first had popped 18 months prior, and she had operations on both, with long recovery periods after each. We erected a small one-person tent in the living room and zipped her in it to keep her from moving too much while she was recuperating. She hated being cooped up, hated not being able to run around. She was always such a playful puppy, and I believe she truly appreciated being rescued from her abusive early situation and shown a loving and caring environment, and she charmed everyone who she met.
In the first few weeks after she moved in with us she showed a penchant for chewing. We’d go out for a movie or dinner or a band and come back to find that she had carefully pulled one book off the bookshelf and turned it into confetti. One time she deftly extricated my original 1984 copy of Motorhead’s No Remorse double album – the one with the real leather cover – from my collection, and gnawed one corner into nothingness. Not happy.
But I could never stay angry with her for long. In that instance Lady Boomboom found a replacement copy online. Another time in those early days I was cooling three massive slabs of chocolate cake, to be used for a friend’s wedding cake. Boomboom was out somewhere and it was pretty late and I saw Jett skulk past the kitchen door looking guilty as hell. I ran to the dining – ‘what did you do?!?!’ to find that she had got herself onto the table and eaten half of one of those slabs of cake which were cooling off. It must have been a 1 foot/30cm square of chocolate cake. I didn’t know whether to call the Ranger to take her away or the animal hospital to pump her stomach. Thankfully, apart from a bit of diarrhoea the next day, she was fine – and quickly forgiven, even if I did have to stay up another hour and a half cooking another slab of the cake!
She was a sucker for affection as well. Many a time I gave Lady Boomboom a kiss or a cuddle and Jett would tactically interject herself between us as if to say, ‘wouldn’t that affection be better directed my way?’ Boomboom walked to the train station on her way to work in those days, and she would always notice that as soon as she farewelled Jett, the dog would zoom through the dog door and watch her from the gate for as far as she could.
When we got Ziggy he was only 7 weeks old, and wanted to play with us all, always. Jett acted like a grumpy old woman, perhaps establishing the ground rules, growling Ziggy away often. ‘How dare this impudent youngster annoy me like this!’ For two or three days, that is, and then Jett was showing him things, playing with him, looking after him – big sistering him, basically. If she noticed we were watching she would sometimes act standoffish to the pup again, but it was all for show. She waded in protectively at the park when other dogs gave Ziggy a sniff – it was unnecessary most of the time, but you have to respect the caring protectiveness behind it.
She loved walks and drives in the car, shredding cardboard boxes into confetti, playing tug of war with rope toys and gutting plush toys of their filling (a hobby she has passed on to Ziggy). She pretended she hated the water, and on a hot day she’d always run away when I picked up the hose to cool her off. Then she’d cuddle up all tail waggy and smiley and far more cool and relaxed once her temp dropped in the water. Every now and then she’d leap into the water at the beach as well – though she NEVER got used to those pesky wave things.
She shared her love and affection unconditionally. She knew when any of us were upset or unwell – and we have had more than our share of upset over the past ten years. She knew I was about to have a mini-stroke in early 2019 – she was acting odd and whining at me for a couple of hours beforehand. If only they could talk. She never understood when the child ran away from home and from us, and both she and Ziggy would often go into her old room and sniff around, looking for her. I think it broke her heart as much as it did ours.
Around the same time (early 2019) she started limping more and more. We thought perhaps one of those cruciate ligaments in her hind legs was playing up again, but no, a scan told us it was cancer and her left hind leg was full of it. Amputation was the only option, followed by a course of chemo.
You should have seen her – within 36 hours she was hopping around the back yard, wanting to play, and she never stopped cuddling us. She has always been so affectionate. You can’t imagine a human bouncing back that fast.
Then a month or two ago she seemed to be struggling more and more. She’d cough and wheeze when she ate too fast, as if she had something stuck in her nasal passage or something. We feared the worst, and rightly so… the cancer had come back and was all through her lungs. There was nothing else we could do for her but make her comfortable and as happy and pain free as possible, and care for her until the pain got too much.
I got home yesterday after another week and a half away for work, and she declined in front of my eyes. She was largely off her food, listless, struggled to get up, her fur was peeling off her (even more than normal – I’m sure we swept up enough over eight years to make a store full of dog fur coats), and the look in her eyes told us she was ready.
She woke me a little after three this morning, panting heavily, struggling to breath properly. Her eyes were so hopeful that I could help. I couldn’t. There was nothing we could do other than show her love and affection. And steak. I went to the shops as soon as they were open and bought her fillet steak. She may have been off her food, but she was always up for a steak.
She went peacefully at the vet. She knows how loved she was – and is – and that she will never be forgotten. I don’t believe in that silly religion or heaven malarkey, but if there is any justice in the world her spirit will come back as another puppy to love those that need her as much as we needed her in our lives. Or she’ll be in puppy Valhalla eating fillet steak and chasing birds and playing tug of war every day.
We love you – Fly high Jett. Rock in peace forever. xXx