July 30, 2013~March 10,2016
First, a little background on how we became his people. We bought him from a breeder here in Arizona. I know that’s going to create negativity for some people. What I will tell you is this: This isn’t my first rodeo. The breeder isn’t a backyard breeder, she’s not a puppy mill, I did a lot of research, and my conscience is clear.
When Jax’s mom was pregnant, I had a lot of contact with his human parents and some with his real parents. His mom is a gorgeous brindle girl named Maggie and his dad is a handsome tan boy named Moses. Jax’s full name is Jaxon Moses but I only use those names when he’s in trouble which is rare, if at all. When we first talked to Jax’s human mom I told her that my color choice was tan, blonde, brindle and yes in that order. Marc wanted brindle. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of a brindle pup. I felt like the mixed color was just too outside the box for me. But, I didn’t say no…now there’s some progress!
Maggie’s planned delivery was at 8 am on July 30th. Obviously Maggie didn’t want anyone telling her who, when, and where to give birth, because she went into labor at 4:30 am on July 30th. I thought that was a pretty clear mommy message! I got a text about the birth happening. I cried. I know damn it. I didn’t used to be such a wimp. I’m telling you though, I couldn’t help it! I was so excited about bringing a new boy into our family. If I’m being honest, I really just wanted to move in with the breeder and her husband. Oh come on. It’d only have been for eight weeks. That’s nothing! I mean what a deal for them! I move in, play with and exercise the pups, feed the pups, me being a night owl equals 2 am feeding taken care of, I can give shots, and I can clean up poops just as well as the next guy; maybe even better. I mean, I’m thinking this would’ve been a major Win-Win. Marc said I couldn’t ask.
Once things settled down and Maggie was as comfortable as can be and the vet checked all the pups out, Jax’s now grandma, called to say all was well. She told us that eleven puppies were born. Wait for it…Maggie had TEN girls and ONE boy. Can you even imagine? I have one sister and that’s plenty (don’t tell her I said that please). So the one boy was…you guessed it, the boy was brindle. I laughed so hard. I’m thinking that was definitely a message from the Universe. No matter, we were really excited and instantly came up with the name Jaxon, Jax for short. We still had no idea if we could have him. We had to wait until the pups were six weeks old and were determined to be pet quality or show quality. Obviously we wanted pet quality. I’ve often thought about showing dogs but that would mean running or trotting, those are the same thing for me, in front of a lot of people. Maybe that doesn’t sound so bad but I can see the scenario. The judge tells me to trot with Jax. We start our trot and it turns out his is much faster than mine. So as I’m trying to catch up with him, I trip because I’m obviously the first person to every forget how to run. It can happen. So I trip and face plant into the grass, creating a divot that the Cocker Spaniel trotting behind us would’ve disappeared in if he hadn’t stopped to watch the fat lady in front of him attempt a slip-n-slide move, without any water. The crowd is silent, Jax is sticking his nose in my ear, and I’m praying no one saw which is kind of funny because everyone saw! Now there’s grass in my hair, up my nose and just everywhere. To top it off, I’m about four seconds away from being the latest and greatest YouTube star. As I’m trying to regain my composure, Jax remembers he’s supposed to be trotting and so he does. He starts pulling me along, not at any type of speed. I mean I outweigh him 2 to 1 but he’s still moving and I’m not ready to do so. I begin to regain my footing and he starts going faster. I yell Jaaaaaax and damn it, once again I’m on the ground. I know that’s exactly how it would go. It would be bad; so very bad. Why didn’t I let go of the leash in my picture? Obviously because this “what-if” story wouldn’t be nearly as visual. There are all kinds of scenarios that I’d rather not be part of so, pet quality was for us.
After seven very long weeks, I finally got the email that said, “Penny, the boy is yours what should we start calling him?” I went crazy. I was so super happy. The other great thing? We only had to wait five more days to go pick him up. I’ve no doubt he was wondering when the heck he was going to get out of there since he’d been surrounded by all those girls! They did push him around and once in a while he’d push back but not very often. That was just his nature. He was such a really sweet boy and soon he’d be home with us.
He was introduced to his brother and sisters and that all went well. He may not think it went well. I mean, he got cold, wet noses stuck in his butt and then they kept sniffing his “business.” And to Jax, they all probably looked like Clifford the big red dog. So yea, I’m going to say that Jax probably wasn’t thrilled with introductions. After the intros we took him to our vet to get him established there. You know how the standard check-up goes at the vet, pinching and poking and the placing of medical instruments in quite private areas and without warning no less. I mean even I cringe by the time we’re done at the vet. The simple thought of taking the dogs to the vet causes my sphincter to work overtime. That evening, after the vet trauma seemed to subside (for me at least), we introduced him to a few things that he again wasn’t thrilled with but as we’d soon find out, Jax never complained. He got to check out the automatic waterer that makes noise as it fills on its own. Every dog that has had to get used to it was certain it was going to get them. It hasn’t done so yet but he was very leery and he wasn’t impressed.
Then we showed him how the dog door works. He quickly learned that standing in front of the dog door and day dreaming will get you trampled and also if you just stand there it hurts when that rubber flappy thing smacks you in the face. He wasn’t impressed. He was introduced to what I consider to be an amazing invention and that is the bowl that makes them eat slowly. I don’t know exactly what they’re called but after watching Jax eat I’m pretty sure he called it, “Those stupid a**, piece of sh**, sadistic, should be outlawed, takes three hours to eat, damn inventor obviously hates dogs, bowl.” He wasn’t impressed. As if all of this stuff wasn’t enough, we put one more thing on the pile, we started crate training. He wasn’t impressed. Jax was amazing. I mean he didn’t complain about any of this stuff. He did what he was told, or given, or shown and he never made a peep. I’m thinking that comes from having ten sisters push you around for eight weeks. You probably learn to just keep quiet and not step on any tails!
Jax was growing faster than the numbers on my scale; and let me assure you those increase crazy fast! I mean we’ve had big dogs before but none of them grew as fast or as big as Jax. He was freakishly big at six months (NO I never said that to him; geez) but his check-up showed he was healthy. He continued to grow. He wasn’t fat by any means; he was tall and long. When he stretched out on our sofa, he reached from end to end. That’s 6 ½ feet and his paws still hung off the end. He kept growing and growing. At one year old, he was just ginormous (yes I know Mastiffs are supposed to be big) but again, he was healthy and such a happy boy. He was so big that he couldn’t sit like a regular dog. He could only sit on the sofa as in, his butt and back legs (he’d tuck his leg or legs under his rear) on the sofa with his front legs on the floor. It’s so funny to see. Other than that, he’d have to lay down. Now when he’d lay down, he had to ease himself down, lay flat on his side, and then he could roll, to lay on his belly. I know, it’s weird. But you see, his size did get in the way at times.
For us, his size got in the way when he’d get on the bed with us. I mean it was like having three people in it and I’m no slim Jim, I’m more of a fat Albert so having him in the bed made three full-sized adults. Can you say, “Holy crap I’m squished; you have to move over?” I said it several times. Nightly. When he did try to move he was not graceful about it. No. We’d end up with scratches and bruises and it was terrible. Thankfully, we got him his own Orthopedic dog bed and he was more than willing, ok, he was at least willing, to sleep there. It was wonderful to have our bed back again. Also in reference to the size issue stuff, I already explained the whole sofa issue and that he took up half of it. Well, you would not believe how difficult it was to get him to move. First he’d look at you like, “Seriously? You want me to move? Uhh, not gonna happen.” For real! Then he’d finally start to move but he’d just change positions to get more comfortable. Rude right? I agree. But, it worked. He would defeat us. He’d wear us down just like he knew he would. His size was also a problem when he’d lay on the kitchen floor. Or in the middle of the hallway. Or in front of the bathroom door. Or along the side of our bed. Or in front of the food cabinet. You get the idea, pretty much anywhere Jax laid he was the whole area.
Just after Jax turned 18-months, we saw a big change in him when he’d try to lay down. He would shake terribly and basically once he got about ¾ the way down, he’d have to kind of drop the rest of the way. It was also more difficult for him to get to his belly like he’d been able to do previously. We also noticed that his spine was curving. 18-months old! After testing and specialists and the chiropractor, it was determined that Jax had Wobbler’s Disease which was prominent in large breeds which as I’ve just proven, Jax definitely fit into that category. Wobbler’s is a disease of the cervical spine in large dogs. It’s characterized by the compression of the spinal cord which then leads to neurological signs and symptoms. I keep telling you, this isn’t just fun but educational too! How great is that? (Rhetorical). Once we knew that, we realized he’d been having neuro symptoms such as standing three inches away from the wall and staring at it, misjudging a wall or the dog door, being afraid of things that hadn’t bothered him-ever. Plus the whole shaking when he’d lay down. There is no treatment or cure for Wobblers and it can significantly shorten the dog’s life.
Present time. Jax’s spine was curving more and it was protruding. We assumed (you know what they say about assuming!) it was the Wobblers. In reality, Jax was losing weight. He’d lost 30 pounds in three months but we didn’t realize that until he went to the vet for what I’m about to tell you. Yes I feel like a complete idiot and unfit parent for not realizing he was actually losing weight but I can’t change it now. Then Jax stopped eating (Jax was very food motivated) and he would vomit any water he drank. We tried the boiled burger and rice and he wouldn’t touch it. He didn’t want anything. On day three I was getting ready to call the vet and my son reminded me that Jax and Ryder had eaten the archery target in the yard which was packed with strips of heavy material. The word that came to mind was blockage. We were then sure that’s what was going on. It all made much more sense now. We couldn’t get into the vet until the next morning. When Marc got there, the vet wanted to keep him (Jax not Marc), so he could do x-rays which had to be done under sedation because Jax was ginormous. He also wanted to do bloodwork to check for cancer because of the weight loss and give him fluids. That afternoon the vet decided he wanted to keep him over night as the bloodwork would come in first thing in the morning; and it did. He said his blood looked good and that he’d also seen a significant blockage on the x-rays so he was going to do the surgery. He did it and it went well. Recovery didn’t go nearly as well. Jax was in recovery for approximately 10ish minutes and one of the vet techs was sitting with him on the floor waiting for him to fully wake up. When he did, he immediately took two gasping breaths, his eyes rolled back in his head, and he died. Just that quickly. The tech yelled for the vet who gave Jax two shots of adrenaline directly into his heart; it didn’t do anything. They intubated him and did compressions and tried everything they could to resuscitate him but he never came back. The vet called Marc and told him what happened. He assumes it was a blood clot and he promised me, all twenty times that I asked, that Jax didn’t suffer. They put Jax in an exam room so that we could go see him. Of course we went immediately. I’m glad we got to see him but it was hard because he was already getting cold and stiff. I was sitting on the floor with him, he’s clearly dead and I just still couldn’t believe it. It’s hard to believe it now and it’s been two weeks. He was so young. 2 ½ years old! It’s not supposed to happen that way. He’s supposed to live to be a pain in my ass and then we make the decision when it’s time. My daughter believes he did this selflessly by taking the decision out of our hands. I think she might be right. That’s what Jax was like. As I sit here I think about all the things I’ve bitched about with Jax and that I complain about with the dogs now. Is any of it really a big deal? Of course not; it’s all about perspective and I lose that sometimes. I really hate that we didn’t get to say goodbye to him. We did add his red collar to our “The ones we let go” tree that we planted in the front yard in May 2013 when my boy Benson died. I believe Jax knew we loved him and that we are grateful that we were the fortunate ones who got to be the people… of that one boy in the litter.
Jax died at 9:50 am on March 10th.