We knew this day would eventually come. Josh and I talked about it many times over the years and he knew that when Jigsaw died, it was a day to immediately cancel everything, leave work, and just be together. Jigsaw was my childhood dog. His doggie family is a bit of a legend where I grew up and often I’d hear, “Is that Taz’s son?” He sure is. He looks just like him.
In his younger years he was a wild and wayward kid. He may have been a bit of a fighter in his teenage years. And by a bit, I mean most of those black marks on his face are scars and his right ear was torn. He grew up in an area where he could run free, and with that freedom comes the occasional fight in the animal kingdom. Life is different in the Appalachian Mountains, and Jigsaw enjoyed every freedom afforded to him.
One day he ran away with Sweet Pea, his doggie mommy. We lived on the side of a mountain and it was mostly forest, so to disappear wasn’t that strange, but they were gone for two weeks! We had searched and hoped, but at the two week mark we left it alone. They had ID tags and hopefully would come back one day, or would be found. Right about that time, they came roaming back to our front porch, skinny and with adventure in their eyes. They’d been on some sort of wild adventure but had come back to get some food!
Jigsaw was by my side through every high school boyfriend, and let me cry on his fur when we broke up. When I met and married Josh, he accepted him with mutual respect. When we moved from apartment to apartment he went with the flow. A third floor apartment in Newport News is a far cry from roaming the Blue Ridge Parkway in his youth, but he was loyal. Even when we got a cat, and then had a baby– I always feared he would change or become aggressive towards them, but he never did– not even once. It’s like he was so fiercely loyal to me that he wouldn’t dare hurt something that I loved.
I’d been watching him closely for years now. He’s grown older and I never wanted him to suffer through too much. He’s had seizures and a few other things in recent years, but yesterday it became much worse. If I endured what he did yesterday, I would want to go as well, so I snuggled with him and decided it was time. We snuggled for the rest of the afternoon, took pictures, and Josh bought him some canned dog food. I wasn’t sure if he’d eat it or not but we quite enjoyed watching him scarf it down!
We explained as best we could to our daughter, Hazel. She’s three and plays with Jigsaw like a Calvin & Hobbes comic. Every single night her prayers are “Thank you God for my mommy and daddy and Jigsaw and my family. Amen.” I think she understands as best she can. She asked if we could get another dog, and then right before we left the house she cried for a bit and said, “Can we just keep him here?” We hugged and savored the moment. She gave him tons of hugs and kisses.
By the time we got to the vet, he was over the snuggling. Jack Russell Terriers are famous for taking on the personality of their owners, so it was hilarious that Jigsaw was never much of an affectionate snuggler. He might have given out as many kisses in his lifetime as most dogs do in one day. So as I’m holding him and stroking his head, he grunts and jumps down to the rug on the floor. Crazy dog.
Afterwards was much easier than before he passed. Before I was constantly asking myself if I was being greedy wanting to keep him here, or if I should let him go. Every day I wondered what was best for him. And now he’s not in any pain. I knew he lived a great, full life, and now he can rest peacefully.
Jigsaw | March 17, 2000 – October 6, 2015