I’ve always loved Halloween. As a kid, you were out after dark, on your own marauding around the neighborhood with a bunch of your friends, collecting candy. What’s not to like?
As a grownup, I’ve continued to get a kick out of it, and it was much my husband’s favorite holiday.
While Halloween on Beacon Hill is quite a fun gallivant, once my sister Trish moved to Salem – the Halloween Capital of the World – we often spent the night there. For many years, Trish lived on a street just off of Salem Common, and would get several hundred trick-or-treaters over the course of the evening. Last year, she moved to a quieter neighborhood, but I was still looking forward to giving out candy, and just chillin’ with my sister and my dog nephew, Jack, the nicest and sweetest dog I’ve ever known.
As his regular dog sitter when his family was away, I got to know Jack very well. (My husband used to joke that we’d moved from being baby sitters to being dog sitters.) And I completely adored him. He was just incredibly affectionate and completely adorable, with a truly goofball personality.
Everybody who met Jack loved him. The best dog ever.
Jack had a special bond with my husband. (Diggy had an absolutely magic way with both kids and animals.) They were just wild about each other.
When Jack came into our home for the first time after Jim died, he searched upstairs and down for him, came back into the living room where we were all sitting around, let out a couple of moans, and lay down, head on paws, facing away from us.
Anyway, he was really a very lovable dog. My sister would say that he wasn’t the brightest bulb on the tree – not much IQ. But our sweet boy did have exceptional doggy EQ. Which he just demonstrated, yet again.
Jack was acting peculiarly, so Trish took him to the vet on Monday. They set up some tests, and on Thursday Trish got the awful news that Jack had brain cancer, and did not have long to live. They were hoping that with treatment, he could have a while with good quality of life, but it was not to be. On Friday, the much loved Jack died while napping, saddening the entire family – as my sister Kath said, Jack is an important part of our family – most especially my sister Trish and niece Molly. But in dying so quickly, Jack spared my sister the agony of having to make the decision to put him down, or to watch this sweet little puppy suffer.
This picture doesn’t do Jack justice, but it’s the last one I took of him. This was in late August, when I dog sat for his nibs while Trish got Molly back to school. We had our usual fun time, walking to Mack Park, hanging out in the yard, sniffing at stuff (Jack, not me).
I will miss him tremendously. As dogs do, he brought us all immense joy and pleasure.
Right about now, I’m hoping that there IS an afterlife, that Jack has found Diggy, and they’re whooping it up together.
I’ll be in Salem tonight, observing Halloween. Despite seeing the little trick-or-treaters all decked out, despite having unlimited access to Butterfingers, this will be a sad Halloween, indeed. But I know how these things work. It won’t be long before, every time we talk about Jack, we’ll be smiling.
Goodnight, sweet prince, and flights of doggy angels bark thee to thy rest.