I first saw his picture on petfinder on October 2, 2011 exactly two months since Gizmo died. The irony is not lost on me. I had a visceral response when I saw the black and white shih tzu named Grover. I closed the internet page and decided it wasn’t time to adopt a new dog.
By October 5th his picture was haunting my dreams. I thought about him steady. It bothered me. I asked for advice from friends and was told to follow my heart. Brent said to apply and see what happened. Just because we apply doesn’t mean we’ll get the dog. A little heart and a little fate went into my application.
On October 6th in the late afternoon I got a call from Ohio. If you want the dog come and get him and bring cash. No vet check. No interview. No home visit. Shaggy Dog Rescue was ready to give me Grover.
I told Brent about it and he said “we’re going to get him”. It was that simple. I worked nights on Thursday and by 8am Friday morning Brent and I were driving the volkswagon towards Ohio on a wonderful puppy rescue road trip.
We talk about our dreams and goals. We talked about how life has changed and how we’ve had to re-adjust our views. We talked about the future and avoided talking about this pup until we hit Mentor, Ohio.
Mentor is where I picked up Gizmo. We drove right past the exit and I couldn’t help but cry a little thinking of my little dude. I miss him so much. The tears landed on Taz’s soft baby blonde hair and she looked up at me with love. I gave her a gentle hug and stared out the window for a while. A good friend recently told me that Gizmo was having so much fun running that he didn’t realize he’d run right into heaven without a second thought. It really is a typical Gizmo thing to do something wonderful without really thinking too much about it.
We kept driving south for another hour until we reached Canton, Ohio where we got off the highway. The woman in charge of the rescue (Judy) asked if we could pick up some vaccines for her at the local feed store six miles away. Her car was stolen a month ago and she had no way to pick them up. A tray of 25 5-way puppy shots for $80 was part of my adoption fee.
We called Judy as we left the feed store and headed back into Canton. Brent and I were both quiet on the ride to her house to pick up Grover.
She told us to knock on the side door and she’d meet us at the front door with the dog. It took about ten minutes after we knocked for her to meet us out front with papers under one arm and Grover under the other. She said she had trouble catching him because he was playing.
When the front door opened the smell was horrific. Grover was a mess of black that turned out to be a mix of dirt, urine and feces caked on his feet, face and belly. His white patches were yellow with angry red patches of urine burn on his tender skin. He smelled so badly that Taz and Poco wouldn’t go near him. Brent and I were speechless as we took the seven pound shih tzu out from under the fleshy arm of Judy.
She gave us syringes filled with wormer and revolution that we were to administer at different times. She said her photocopier no longer worked, so she could only give us a bit of paperwork. She assured us he was neutered July 2011 and was given a rabies shot at that time.
Brent and I left with Taz and Poco in the front seat and Grover in the back seat. Even with the windows down the smell was horrific. We drove five miles and stopped at the closest PetSmart where we begged them to groom Grover. They were wonderful and promised to have our puppy smelling better within the hour. It was the best forty-five dollars I’ve ever spent at PetSmart. Thank you to those groomers who did the last minute job of cleaning up our new pup.
After leaving Grover in the arms of a caring groomer at PetSmart our next stop was to Target to buy a cooler for our cold stuff and a new tee shirt. The one I was wearing when we picked up Grover smelled horrible and was covered with brown and black stains. I changed beside the car then we walked to the closest eatery to wait for our stinky boy to get de-stinked.
We wandered over to a pub with an outdoor patio, but they wouldn’t let us sit with the dogs, so we crossed the street and ate outside at the tables at Burger King. It was gross, but we were hungry and nervous, so we ate.
We returned to PetSmart and our puppy was clipped and cleaner, but still had a smell. They offered pet perfume, but we decided that would be too many competing smells. He slept quietly while Taz watched for the long drive home.
Brent and I were quiet for a long time and when we did finally start talking I realized he was angry. He was angry that Shaggy Dog called themselves a rescue. He was angry that a rescue would not provide basic grooming and general care.
I believe Judy was doing the best she could with little money. Unfortunately, Ohio has a huge number of puppy mills and dogs get turned in constantly. She told us there were twenty dogs turned in with Grover. Nineteen males and one female that the breeder was finished with and dumped at the local humane society who called Shaggy Dog Rescue to help. Overwhelmed and still trying to help Judy had a tough job. Her best wasn’t our best, but she was trying to save the dogs. Without her, Grover would have been euthanized with a week, but she bought him time and then gave him a chance. Grover had been staying with Judy and up for adoption since July.
It’s interesting to think that Gizmo was still alive when Grover went up for adoption. It’s amazing that nobody snapped this little darling up. Fate? Was Grover waiting for us? Was he willing to wait a little longer to come and convalesce at the farm? Was Grover really sent by Gizmo?
I’m grateful Judy gave Grover some time to find his forever home. She pointed out that Grover had two letters tattooed on his ear: “JB” could clearly be seen on the inside of his left ear flap. We don’t usually re-name dogs, but Grover didn’t recognize his name and we wanted to find something that matched the initals.
We thought about Joe Packer when we thought the JB was a JP. We considered Cleveland, Ohio, Lambeau, Akron and Puppy. We were in New York State when I thought of Jax or Jackson. It started with a J and we could add Bear as a middle name. Taz has four names why shouldn’t Jax have two?
Jackson “Jax” Bear became our puppy on October 7, 2011 on the eastern edge of New York State. We got back to the farm at 9pm that night where Jax immediately started playing with plush toys and peed outside. We were so proud.
We had plans at the beach with friends, so we packed up our turkey and headed to the beach where our friends were waiting. Jax was awesome. He traveled well and made himself at home at the beach.
On Saturday I was on the kitchen floor playing with Jax and asked Brent if it was too soon to be in love with this pup. Brent laughed and said I was in love the first time I saw his picture and read his story. I smiled knowing he was right.
It hasn’t been a week and we feel like Jax has been apart of our lives for years rather than days. He’s fit in and started to fill out. He doesn’t have much muscle, but it won’t take much time to get this boy in shape the way he follows his big sister and adventurer: Super Tazil Puppy Dog.
Poco still isn’t sure, but the baby isn’t intimidated. He even barked at Poco for playing too rough with the toys. They had a brief game of chase in the rain after work tonight and I see these boys becoming not only best pals, but brothers.
We aren’t looking to fill the hole in our hearts that Gizmo left behind, but we are looking to ease our grieve by helping another pup find a new life. We’re helping each other.
After a second bath and trimming off his dirty beard his whites are whiter and he now smells like a healthy dog. Jax is younger than we thought at just a year old and has breathed new life into the old farm.
New Re-Birthday: October 7, 2011 since we don’t know his actual birthday. He is one year old on re-birthday this year. Welcome to the farm and thank you Jackson Bear.