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JET, or My First Labrador Retriever

jetI love dogs, cats, anything with four legs, a tail, and furry coat! I had many dogs, but one day, unexpectedly, I just fell in love with one breed: the Labrador retriever.

I really did not know much about labs. Mostly the picture I had in my mind was a big fat thing snoring around. Sorry guys. I know this is so so wrong, but hey it was how I was picturing a lab until I met Jet. Jet was my boyfriend’s lab, and I suspect, no I know, that I stayed with him for his dog. I fell in love with that black thing immediately. Jet was a working dog, and loved to go hunting with his Dad. But, as he was getting older, it became more and more difficult for him to get up early and go freeze his butt in a field. He still liked the idea, but his joints were too stiff in the morning to really go for it.

At that time, I already had Douchka, a German shepherd, and Pouch, our Golden retriever. Both of them accepted Jet pretty fast. Douchka being Douchka started by showing him who was the boss, but she would have died to protect him or Pouch or her humans. Pouch was Pouch, our gentledog, and started to hang out a lot with Jet, sharing bones, and playing tug war.

Every day, I was taking the three of them to walk in a big field, leash free. They minded me….. Most of the time. We had a few adventures that way. The field which was a Pepco facility field was surrounded by houses on both sides. One day, a Sunday, I was walking them around lunch time, and the three of them started running around. They disappeared for ten seconds, and then came back like accomplices licking their lips. I did not have a second to wonder what mischief they had got into that I heard a guy screaming at his wife: “Honey where did you put the hot dogs?”, and a female voice replying “They are on the patio table.” “No, they are not! The dish is empty. Where are the $#$@##$$ hotdogs?” Needless to say and yes, with some shame, I have to acknowledge that the four of us ran away from the screaming house as fast as we could. I never walked them again around lunch time on weekends there.

That field was not flat. At one point there was a big hill, and Jet got me there one time…. He started to rush to climb that hill, and I did not mind. I mean, I did not know him that well at that time. At one point, at the top of the hill, he turned back his face towards me, and then disappeared. I started running with my two other buddies following me. I arrived at the top of the hill, and Jet was nowhere to be seen. I totally panicked, and started running around and screaming his names: nothing. I ran back to my truck with the dogs, and started to drive around the neighborhood. Thank God, it was a very quiet neighborhood but nothing. It was like he had vanished from the field. Not knowing what else to do, I went back to the field, and there, on the sidewalk, sitting quietly, was Jet waiting for me. It did make sense. It was where we parked, and once he finished exploring whatever he was doing (I learned later that he was visiting a Dalmatian girl who lived close by) he went back waiting for me, his human, who had left him alone in the wild world! A few times, he tried to play that trick again on me, but as soon as I was seeing him going faster to climb that hill, I was right behind him!

Jet was the first dog that had a great sense of humor! We communicated well. He came with me everywhere: from work to errands. Everyone knew him. If I were going to make a deposit at a bank, there was always a cookie ready for him.

The front passenger seat was his, and he was anticipating my driving. So many times, when he was seeing a stop sign coming, he was putting one of his front paws on the dashboard to keep his balance. What did he think? I was not going to send him through the windshield.

We went to Florida two summers in a row with him, and he loved it. He loved the swimming pool where he could retrieve his favorite ball in warm and clear water. He loved our walks on the beach, jumping into the Gulf waters. Jet loved water. He must have been a fish in another life. The first summer in Florida was so much fun for him. The second summer was not as fun. He was slowing down and was still enjoying the swimming pool but he left the Gulf alone that time. During our walks, sometimes he was looking at me with tired eyes, wanted to go back home, and I was just following him, whatever his body was telling him to do. He was my sweet boy.

His face got frosted so fast. He was black, and there is nothing more beautiful than a black face frosted with white hair.

My office was in the basement, and like many of my other labs, his idea of relaxing was to be under my desk on my feet. The issue started to be the stairway, and if he were upstairs while I was at my desk, he was going to the top of the stairs, and calling me to help him. He had so many different barks:

  • I want to come
  • I want a treat
  • I need to pee
  • Let’s go for a walk

He certainly communicated far more with me that my supposed boyfriend! LOL!

One time, it was before 9/11, and I was supposed to pick up the boyfriend from the airport. So, we went together, Jet and I, and were waiting for him in the terminal, sitting on a bench. A guy came to sit next to me and started a conversation. Jet was there with his big face on my lap, looking at the guy. Suddenly an awful reeking odor of spoiled rotten eggs with maybe a touch of musk surrounded us. The guy looked at me with disgust and ran away! I swear my darn dog was smiling like “That will teach him!”

The last Fall we had together, Jet started to get really fat, you know like the idea of I had of labs before knowing one. Something wrong with him. Xrays were done, and the vet wanted to do an exploratory surgery, and we went for it.

I still remember that morning. Jet was not too happy since he had no food, but we went together in my truck like old buddies, like always. He went to the vet office with a wagging tail. He always liked the place. I gave him a huge hug and there he went.

I was so antsy that day. Waiting for a call to give me an update on his condition, I decided to go to a local pet store to buy him a new bed. He would need to be very comfy after the surgery. I was on my way there when I received THE call. The vet told me that he had liver cancer with bleeding tumors, and nothing could be done. The only thing was to put him to sleep while he was still under the anesthesia. I remember the connection was not good, and right then in a minute, I had to let him go. Why the sky was still blue, the trees with glorious colors when my boy had just left this earth and crossed over the rainbow bridge?

That day, I went to see him before he became ashes. I caressed his beautiful face, his velvet ears, and I left, empty handed.

Later on, when I split with the boyfriend, he let me have his ashes for my kitchen furniture, a real small price to pay to keep my boy home. Jet is always the first one to move to a new home! He was my first lab, and he made me fall in love forever with that breed: the amazing, smart, loving, beautiful Labrador Retriever.

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