Only a month shy of Jaxxon turning thirteen years old, my son Sebastian and I came to a heartbreaking decision to put our beloved Jack Russell Terrier down. Poignantly, he arrived in Ridgecrest early that same morning, marking his first trip home since moving to Utah in February. Some time after hitting the road the night before, I called to inform him that I had found Jaxxon bleeding from his mouth and in pain and that I planned on taking him to the vet the following day. Naturally, with a close bond having existed between my son and his trusty dog since the get go, he was more than eager to come along to help tend to his faithful pet.

Since Jaxxon’s appointment was scheduled for early the next morning, Sebastian and I were forced to cut our pleasantries short once he arrived so we could make our way to Crestwood Animal Hospital. With Jaxxon nestled in his crate in my backseat of my car, I couldn’t help but find this homecoming bittersweet; on one hand, I was happy to see my son once again but on the other hand, it was tragic that his visit would coincide with such a melancholy event. Although I was deeply concerned that Jaxxon’s situation was dire, I was somewhat comforted by the fact that my son was there with me so we could face this harsh reality together.

As we waited for the vet in a private room, Sebastian held Jaxxon as we reminisced about his good old days. We agreed that from the very beginning he was a mischievous puppy with an excess of energy; once discovering a loose wooden board in our backyard fence, he escaped through it only to come around to the front door and scratch excitedly to be let back in. Another time, upon noticing the front door was cracked opened, he took off like a bat out of hell down the street. Running after him, we found him sitting obediently under the STOP sign at the end of the block just as we’d taught him to do during his evening walks.

Once my landlord issued a warning about our contraband pup, I took the opportunity to buy my current home where we eventually expanded our brood of dogs. Even so, Jaxxon was by far the most cunning. Surprisingly, even as he got older, his shenanigans continued as it came to our attention that he was seen roaming the neighborhood during the day while I was at work and Sebastian was at school. To catch him in the act, we left the next morning as usual but we drove around the block. Sure enough, we spied our little vagabond skillfully climbing up and over his chain link kennel and then up and over the backyard fence.

With a dog like Jaxxon, we never knew what to expect to find once we came home. Once we found him sitting on top of the back porch beaming with pride as the lifeless body of our rooster lay at the bottom of the steps. Although it was a sad way for any animal to die, we couldn’t blame Jaxxon. It was no secret that the rooster was borderline diabolical; incessantly going out of its way to antagonize the dogs while they were confined to their kennels. Little did it know, as it flew over the fence and into the backyard, that Jaxxon could easily escape his kennel and wouldn’t think twice to save us all from the feathered clutches of evil.

Then there was the time while on a walk near our home when Sebastian lost grip of Jaxxon’s leash, prompting him to once again take off like a bat out of hell. Seeing as he’d recently gone deaf, I released Pugzlee from his leash to make them easier to find together once we went back for the car. Ironically, they ended up just down the road, at the Animal Shelter, with Jaxxon scratching at the door, begging to be let in. Although they had just closed for the day, they welcomed them in any way. Annoyingly, even though I showed up five minutes later, they wouldn’t release them until I paid the very steep fines the following day.

Sadly, Jaxxon’s examination detected visible signs of cancer. Our hearts sank but I wasn’t surprised seeing as he’d suffered from several health issues in the past. Surgery removed his undescended testicles long ago and he began losing his hearing at age seven; both complications of being purebred. As he aged, his hips became stiffer and one would think that it’d keep him from running away anymore but it didn’t. In fact, only a few months ago, he didn’t think twice about taking advantage of wind damage to our wooden fence. He jetted off before being caught by a good Samaritan several hours later and several miles away, heading east on the 178 towards Trona. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he was making his way to Utah to seek out his boy.

Sebastian, now back in Ridgecrest to visit family, friends and his dogs, continued to hold Jaxxon tightly in the aftermath of his grim diagnosis. After thoughtful consideration, I supported my son’s difficult, yet necessary decision for his devoted dog. Knowing that Jaxxon had lived a long, eventful life and then some, as I have faithfully transcribed, neither of us wanted him to suffer further. That being said, in Sebastian’s loving arms, our little Houdini, our little runaway, our protector, our good boy, quickly and peacefully passed away.

“Dogs and other animals – goats, donkeys, cows, a grumpy rooster – continue to change my writing life” – Jon Katz

— Monica Lorenz is a contributing columnist and former DI blogger.

••

The views expressed are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the official stance of the Daily Independent.