Jack, the Hero Dog
A Dog's Tale. Based on a True Story.
I was seven years old the day it happened. We lived in a house in a rich neighborhood. Marble floors. Quality carpet. A swimming pool. It was my favorite childhood home because it was the closest place to where all my friends lived, where they could ride their bikes a few feet and be where I was.
It was summer time, back when summers in the Valley were bearable. Back when you could sit comfortably outside on your front lawn in the evenings without feeling like you were in an oven. We were enjoying ourselves. I was enjoying myself with my stuffed animals, playing pretend on the grass. My parents were in lawn chairs drinking lemonade, and Jack, my dog, was not far away from me. A catahoula leopard dog with golden brown and black splotched fur and golden irises, he never strayed too far from me. He was my protector. Had been ever since I was five years old.
He growled when strangers got too close. He served as the judge in my pretend hearings when my stuffed animals deserved punishment for being bad. He sometimes even served as a fashion model for my most creative and whacky fashion designs which consisted of scarves around his head, and tutu's around his waist. Today though, he was on watch, his gaze facing the street. His line of vision went from me to the road, and back to me. It was as if he knew the possible scenario that could occur that day, and was preparing himself.
Jack never had it easy. Before we adopted him, as a puppy, he was ran over by a car. He was about five months old when it happened, and the person who hit him loved animals and took him to the nearest vet clinic right away. The incident occurred just outside Quincy California, the city where my grandparents lived, and was the only town nearby with a vet clinic. Quincy was a freakishly small town, and the moment Jack arrived in that vet clinic in Quincy, he was the talk of the town. And that talk eventually made it to my grandpa, who naturally wanted to go in and check on the puppy. My grandpa was the type of man to package food and warm blankets for the homeless, and fix or offer to fix broken houses or furniture even if they weren't his, and even if the people they belonged too weren't friends. He usually did it for free, just out of kindness. So when he heard that there was an animal, a dog, possibly in need of a new home, he was drawn toward that clinic.
My mom had been talking about wanting a puppy for about a month before then, and had mentioned it to my grandpa about a week earlier. When my grandpa made it to the vet clinic, the vet had completed the operation the night before, having stayed up the whole night trying to reconstruct the puppies pelvis, which had been shattered by the impact. The vet said that the damage was immense that even though she did the best she could, he may never walk again. That same day my grandpa was standing outside the vet clinic asking my mom about whether she wanted him. And well, she did. And now he was here. Walking, running, the whole jazz. Apparently the vet underestimated her own abilities.
Jack was lying on the grass a few feet away from me when he started to get anxious, whimpering. Jack's breed was known for "singing" which is another word for whines a lot. This was different though. A car was approaching from the right. Two of my friends came out of the house across from mine, and saw me in my front lawn. They called to me, and told me to come over. The car was approaching at a fast pace. I wasn't paying attention to the oncoming car. Jack stood up and lay back down, giving a bark. I turned to shush him.
I went running, the car set to collide with my small body. Jack sprung into action, taking off. He was like an arrow, aiming right for my legs. I was inches from running into the street just in time for the car to hit me. Jack drove his head right underneath me, sending me toppling backward, landing on my butt on the grass. I shrieked angrily, not knowing what was going on. He kept running, landing himself directly where I would've been had I not been stopped. My mom stood up and started screaming and waving her hands. The driver saw her, the expression of horror on his face as he slammed on the breaks. Jack tried to veer left but the car bumped his body. He rolled and stood back up, trotting back around and back out of the street. The driver and my mom were panicked as he asked what happened and she explained.
I was really mad, until I saw that car bump Jack, making him roll right before my eyes. And I realized at that moment that if he hadn't ran underneath me and made me land on my butt, I'd be dead. He saved my life.
We drove him to the vet shortly after it happened. He seemed fine as we drove over, head up, eyes open and awake, legs and arms working. Tail wagging. Still we wanted to get him checked out just in case.
"Our dog has been hit by a car and he needs to be seen." my mom had said to the vet tech at the counter.
In the examination room, the vet poked and prodded him. Jack was looking around at us, wagging his tail, tongue lolling out. He seemed quite proud of himself. I think he knew that he had just done something heroic. The vet felt along his spine, shaking his head.
"Other than this little cut on his lip, he's fine. No broken or fractured bones. No bruises. Nothing."
Relief. He hadn't been harmed, despite his heroic act of knocking me down and taking on a car himself.
"Thank you." my mom breathed under her breath. "You don't ever run toward the street like that again" she said, pointing at me. I nodded.
"I learned my lesson. Sorry mom." was my immediate answer. It was true. I had learned my lesson. I learned that Jack would sacrifice himself for me if I wasn't careful. And I didn't ever want him getting hit again. He was too special for that.
When we got back into the car, I hugged him and told him thank you. My dad only had two words for him, while giving him a good rub on the head.
"Good boy." he said. Jack wagged his tail, his tongue still lolling. He had the biggest smile on his face.
"I think he knows he's a good boy." I said.
"Yes. He deserves a gold medal. Good boy Jack." my mother said. And we drove home, with the most heroic dog in the world in our backseat.
Jack went on to save my life three additional times, and even saved the lives of a few other children, simply because he was driven to. He lived his life fully unleashed by saving the lives of others. He lived to be 14 years old, and died in February of 2019 of natural causes. We held a ceremony for him, and put his ashes into the pot of a beautiful Japanese Wisteria plant, which has since grown very large, and will sprout beautiful purple and pink blossoms again in the spring.
About the author
My credentials: BA in English Literature with an Emphasis in Creative Writing
Two minors: Psychology and Chinese Language and Culture
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing