November 2000-November 13, 2016
neutered male black Lab X

In January of 2001 I'd been watching a website called PetFinder.org (I recommend this site highly, you type in your zip and it gives a list of available animals at participating shelters in your area) and other rescue/shelter sites because Stormy (our then 6 month old spayed Lab X puppy) REEEALLLY needed a buddy. She just had so much energy and I couldn't play with her the way another dog could. We took Stormy to a friend's on New Year's 2001 and she had a BLAST playing with their Golden Retriever.  I found a Golden cross male on at the Spalding County HS, about 60 miles away. The following Wednesday was to be his last day before he got put down. I tried to talk Jim into taking off work and going with me to look at him, but he really didn't want another dog. It ate at me all weekend. So I decided to go by myself. I rarely drive that far alone (and I got lost on the way- luckily, I figured it out pretty quickly) but I got there OK. The Golden I had come to see was quiet and very distant. He wagged his tail but didn't seem too terribly interested in me. With his history (intact, older male that had been found roaming) I thought I might be getting in over my head. He probably had been living a hard life.

As I'd been walking the kennels, I had noticed a cute little male black Lab X puppy, about 2 months old, who was just as friendly as could be - licking my fingers, standing quietly for scritchies. I asked to take him out and we went for a walk outside alone. He just was so adorable, walking along on the leash very nicely and looking up into my face and wagging his tail. I was sunk. But at the same time I felt horrible as it was the Golden's last day. I met a very nice rescue person there (PetOrphans, they have a website too, PetOrphans.com) and she advised me to go with my gut.

I was totally unprepared to take home a puppy (no crate or leash with me), as on the website they said that a shelter person would take the dog to the vet for you (to be spayed or neutered) and you pick it up at the vet. But they told me he was too young to neuter yet. So it was either drive home with him in the truck with me, or pay to board him until I could drive BACK down there and get him. Well, you can guess what I decided.

So off we went. Poor puppy cried about 2/3rds of the way home but conked out the last stretch of the way, in Jackson GA, where I told him "we're in Jackson now, almost home now buddy, hang in there". So his name came to me- Jackson.

And the Golden I felt so worried about getting put down, who was the dog who drove me to go all that way by myself? Well I checked the HS's website again a few days later, and he WAS NOT EUTHANIZED- he was adopted AT THE LAST MOMENT! A happy ending all the way around :-).

Jackson was quite the pet. He was very mellow, even as a puppy, and he learned anything presented to him very quickly. Within a week he knew come, sit, down, wait, and shake. He  completely charmed us. In his younger days, he would get on our laps or on the couch and sit there very regally, almost in a trance as he is petted, head thrown back, ears flopping and nose pointing at the sky. He looked for all the world like that scene in "Titanic"- you know, "I'm king of the world!"

Jackson had a very healthy life until the summer of 2014 when he was 14. One day we woke to him scrambling around the living room, urinating and defecating as he went. I thought he'd had a stroke and took him to the vet. I almost put him down that day but the vet (who is no longer with the practice we used for the dogs) annoyed me just enough with his lack of information that I decided to bring Jackson home and call my sister Kate, who is a vet in Ohio. I thought Jackson might have a vertigo-like problem. I have vertigo, and his symptoms seemed similar. Kate told me that indeed older dogs are prone to vestibular disease and to give Jackson a few days and see how things went. Jackson did get better every day, and after three weeks you'd never know he ha a problem other than a slight head tilt. A follow up ultrasound to check out his liver (a problem discovered by bloodwork done at his previous vet visit) showed he had a tumor there. Not knowing if it was cancer or not- surgery was not recommended- we prepared ourselves.

The following summer, 2015,  Jackson had another round of vestibular disease and  did not fully recover this time. He began needing help to get up and down the porch stairs and we added pathways of non skid throw rugs on the hardwood in the house so he could have better footing. For most of 2016 he went downhill. He became incontinent; daily "dog laundry" was the routine. Eventually I did get him a bellyband (diaper that velcroes around a male dog's parts, with a Depends in it to hold leakage) which saved a lot of work. Over his last few years Jackson had become increasingly stressed at dinner time, and as 2016 progressed, this got worse. His "pant-whine" was very upsetting and made it hard to concentrate on my work. Another vet visit and a pain medication was prescribed that was supposed to have a sedative effect. It only helped a little. He would eventually settle down around midnight, and he was quiet during the day, so I tried to fit in things I needed to get done then. We don't think the whining was pain related because it conformed only to a certain time of day and Jackson was perfectly fine the rest of the day. The whole process of his decline was stressful, and I knew his time was getting near when one day, he could not even stand up after we carried him out to potty.

About a week later, early in the morning of November 13, I woke up and Jackson was distressed; he threw up his dinner, undigested, and it had been almost 12 hours since he had eaten. After watching him a bit I was sure it was time. That call is never an easy one. We headed to the Animal ER.  It was not the passing I had hoped for- I wanted to feed him a banana, his favorite food, as he passed- but he was in so much pain they sedated him as soon as we got there and he was pretty much out of it. Jackson travelled over the Rainbow bridge as I stroked his head.

I still think of him every day. There will never be another Jackson. But he will live forever in our hearts.

Here is Jackson a few days after coming home. Who could resist that face? January 2001.

Puppy pile! Jackson and Stormy. Jackson is on top. January 2001.

Jackson retrieving a stick. He looks quite pleased with himself, doesn't he? January 2001.

Jackson and Stormy with The Big Stick. Stormy scavenged this from some tree trimming Jim was doing. It was a bit big for me to throw for them, so they just carted it around the field together. January 2001.

"Those sure are some BIG dogs!" Jackson in March 2001, four months old, with Boy and Mera.

Here is my handsome little buddy, March 2001, four months old.

Here is Jackson with my friend Stephanie Annee's Saluki puppy, Liza (she's about 6 months old here), May 2001.

Staying cool in the pool! July 2001. Jackson is 8 months old here.

Such a handsome dog! August 2001, nine months old.

A favorite position. Our couch is not this faded- I had to lighten the photo so you could see him. Taking pictures of black dogs, especially indoors, is not easy!

Jim's home!!! Jackson, left, with Stormy. March 2002.

Jackson with our pretty tulips, April 2003.

Jackson and Laura, November 2003.

May 2008. Still likes to play with sticks once in awhile!

March 2, 2009- Georgia had snow- a LOT of it (well for us any way :-)). We got between 4 and 5 inches- our last significant snowfall was in 2002 and I think this one beat it! Jackson did not enjoy the snow as much as Stormy did but he humored me for a few shots any way :-)

1/10/11- We do get snow in Georgia from time to time. We actually had some on Christmas this year- the first time since 18-something. Generally snow isn't a problem by itself, but we had freezing rain on top of the 4 inches of snow we got the night before. Three days later and we still had ice on the ground. No one went to work all week- and we didn't get mail for three days! Here's Jim and Jackson playing on the snow-turned-ice.

August 8, 2011- We fenced off our apple trees in the front yard in an attempt to stop the dogs from eating so many. Well, that worked for one out of the three dogs ;-) Jackson and Sophie will help themselves to the all-you-can-eat apple feast by jumping the fence!

Jim's Mom/my MIL Eldora Behning and Jackson, now age 13, chillin' on the porch on Mother's Day, May 12, 2013.

July 3, 2013- Jackson (right) and Sophie sacked out on the couch.

My little old man is 14 this year. He is in pretty good shape- despite a little arthritis in his hind legs, a bunch of benign fatty tumors (he had them removed once when he was 5 or 6, and they come back), cataracts, and poor hearing. He got a clean bill of health at his annual physical in May 2014 (this pic was taken in April 2014). The vet said that just to look at him, you'd never know he was 14. He still gets around really well but is starting to sometimes lose his footing on the stairs and hardwood floors. It is a bit sad watching him age and knowing that someday in the not-so-distant future he will be gone, but for now, we will enjoy every day we have left with him.

July 24, 2014- Little old man sleeping :-)

July 26, 2014- Jim got back from a bike ride and resurrected the dog's pool from the basement to cool himself off. Jackson hadn't been feeling too well after a bout with a UTI and somehow hurting his back, so we wanted to do something we knew he'd enjoy, and water is definitely one of those things! We hadn't used the pool since Jackson was much younger, and never with Nellie and Sophie. Nellie was not too keen on joining Jackson and Jim in the water, but with a bit of persuasion, she finally accepted it, even if she wasn't too crazy about the idea! Sophie never did get in the water!

Jim making himself a sandwich, Christmas 2015, with Jackson (R) Nellie (L) and Sophie hoping for a handout!

Jackson and his "bestie", Sophie, January 2016.

April 17, 2016- Jackson has gotten progressively more frail over the last year. He had a second bout of vestibular disease in the summer of 2015, and has become weak in his hind end to the point where he needs assistance up and down stairs and at times, in the yard. He has a liver tumor, probably not cancer since it was discovered two years previous when he had his first bout of vestibular disease. He is fairly incontinent so there are accidents in the house. All of this makes him pretty high maintenance, but he is a model for perseverance despite his limitations.

Jackson has good days and bad days. He is now 16 years old which is a ripe old age for a Lab. These pictures were taken because I don't have but one other picture of me with Jackson- and we never know how much longer we might have with a pet.

May 29, 2016- One of my friends from the online game Howrse was in Jasper GA for a graduation this weekend and she wanted to bring her family to meet our Morgans. I love sharing about the breed, and they are their own best ambassadors, so of course I said yes! I mean, how awkward can it be to meet someone you've never met before, only "talked" to online a few times via a game? No worries at all- we had a great time! Mary Frances and her daughter Phoebe (12) and son Peter (15) were a delight. Those are two of the most kind, polite, caring kids we have ever met. Jackson enjoyed their attention. What a treat for the little old guy!

August 8, 2016- Sleeping with one ear in the water bowl. At this point he always curled his body in the same direction, possibly because it was more comfortable with his liver tumor.

September 17, 2016- Jim reading while Jackson hangs out with him.

October 30, 2016- I think this is the last picture I took of Jackson. The last few weeks prior to this he had been a complete invalid, not able to walk more than a few steps without his weak hind end giving out. But he still enjoyed life and each evening just before dusk, once the temperature had cooled enough, I would carry him outside to watch the world go by. Sophie was never far from his side. Here they are enjoying the end of the day together. Less than two weeks later, Jackson would be gone. The second picture was taken on November 22, 2016 and shows Sophie in their spot in the yard... but minus Jackson :-(

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Jim and Laura Behning
75 Glass Spring Rd.
Covington, GA 30014
(770) 385-1240
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