"In this manner had fought forgotten ancestors. They quickened the old life within him, the old tricks which they had stamped into the heredity of the breed were his tricks... And when, on the still cold nights, he pointed his nose at a star and howled long and wolflike, it was his ancestors...pointing nose at star and howling down through the centuries and through him."
- Jack London, The Call of the Wild
This quote did not come by accident to me. It is from a favorite childhood book, "The Call of the Wild", by Jack London. I read this book as a young kid, and soon after I met one of the great loves of my life, a stray dog, whom I named Annie. Stray, well that's not entirely true. Annie was tied to a tree at a nearby neighboring house, and the four children who lived there, used to taunt her with a plastic baseball bat. I promptly marched myself over to their house one spring day, feeling very tough and assured. I began unleashing her from the tree. Suddenly, all the children had formed a circle around me. The oldest child, announced he would hit me with that bat if I didn't leave his dog alone. I looked him right in the eye and dared him. He stood puzzled at me, he would not hit a girl and I knew it and then I walked back to my house with Annie. For decades I was proud of that moment, I saved her. Later my mom told me, that they had called and my dad had to go over there and purchase the dog to keep them from claiming me as a "dog thief." I guess it never occurred to me that way, I just loved her from a distance and wanted to save her. Annie was a part of my life for many years, walking everywhere I went, a constant companion. She taught me about unconditional love and having responsibility for another creature.
We often don't get to keep our precious creatures the length of a human life. That is what can make this kind of love bittersweet. I was reminded of this as I met a new Friend named Amy and her dog Jack. She called to tell me he was sick and his time limited. She wanted to plan a day to capture their time together. And Jack was every bit as wonderful in person as Amy had said he was. Kind eyes, and a sweet disposition. He is loved head to toe and all the space in between, no doubt there. We took Jack outside in the snow and he changed, metamorphosed like a butterfly. From ailing to full fledged romping, and playing, he became a lively beast. Amy threw snowballs and he caught them mid-air, and suddenly he started rolling in the snow, making circles. It was quite funny. Amy played with him, throwing snow and chasing him. The world shrank in those moments, and I was merely an observer of a truly special relationship. A deep and abiding friendship.
I wish I could make him better, was my constant thought. Amy is such a kind person, I wish I could fix this. Mostly because I understand the situation, that I am able to understand the journey each will take. There is one image that stood out to me profoundly, it's of Jack shaking the snow off his fur. He looks more like a wild wolf than a domesticated dog. It gave me a great sense of peace, he is so well cared for, and his life is full, and will be. This is his legacy, and what a wonderful way to be loved and cared for. I don't think anyone could give more, and that goes both ways.
For the rest of the year we have decided that any session where an animal is involved we will donate a percentage to the local Humane Society, in honor of Jack.