Here is a photo of Jupiter at three months. It took him a year to grow into that head.
My sister-in-law, Maryke, told me that it hurts so much to lose our dogs and cats because the only thing they do is love us. Regardless of our moods, our actions, our choices… they love us. I have known this.
My Boy Jupiter, he loved me--purely and at times, desperately. Every time I walked out the door was an occasion to hang his head and every time I returned was call for an ecstatic hero’s welcome. Through the various depressions and sorrows of life, he let me know there is always a reason to look forward--always a walk to go on. No matter how I felt one day, in Jupiter’s gaze was the knowledge that another adventure was ahead. My Boy had an irrepressible wisdom that began with a wag and a bark suggesting everything, no make that anything, was possible. And he knew about possibilities--he could sense far more than I could ever see, hear, smell, or feel. He made me think of the world in different perspectives. Yet, for all he eagerly looked forward to, his eyes always returned to me. I was his person. He was… he is… my four-legged heart.
When it was time to go he resisted--he knew I didn’t want to lose my companion of more than twelve years. Together we had walked the avenues and beaches of Chicago, the desert mountains and sun-punished streets of Phoenix, the Hollywood Walk of Stars and ocean beaches of Los Angeles. Automatic doors were a curiosity to him. Whenever we walked past a business with them, he had to take a few steps in, sniff the air, and let me know if it was worth a look. He loved small businesses, the kind that didn’t mind if you brought your dog in--from souvenir shops to mom and pop groceries. Everyone loved My Boy.
Jupiter was a dog that often looked like he was about to say something in a language I could understand. Whether hiking a woodland trail, climbing an arid desert hill, or conquering a city block-by-block, he would look back at me--just checking to make sure I was there--letting me know that the walk or hike of the moment was the best one ever.
Once we moved in with my partner, Jenn, and her two dogs--Kid and the Grizlet--Jupiter finally had a pack of his own. He loved this. He loved being the self-appointed security detail, barking at things that should be barked at--the giant silver horse statue that suddenly appeared by a design shop, a sphinx outside the library, a large toad lawn ornament, and pretty much any holiday decoration that had a human or animal shape with a light bulb inside. When Jupiter barked, Kid--one year older and sixty pounds heavier--would glance at Jupiter as if to say, “You got this one boy.” And Jupiter would give one last quiet wuff and we’d continue on our way.
To the end, though weakly, he barked, then smiled and thumped his tail when visitors came. My brothers, my nephew and their wives stopped in on Saturday. He loved being surrounded by family. And even though his cancer-ridden body had grown thinner than thin--my bonny, boney boy held his beautiful head up and looked for me. Just checking to make sure I was there.
I’ve slept on the couch with him for the past month for he could no longer climb on and off the bed. His last few days, we all slept in the living room with him… two people, two dogs, and two cats watching over Our Boy.
On Sunday, the vet came to the house. I held Jupiter’s head and looked into his eyes… I’m here Jupiter--My Boy, the Jupiteer, Mr. Happy Pants, Boobie Booberson, Sparky, Bubby, Jupes, Jenn’s Joy--I’m here … I said. I don’t know where you’re going, but I asked Dad to come for you, he’s there Jupies, waiting, he’s going to throw that stick for you. And when he does, baby, run. Run, Jupiter, run… I’ll be coming too, one of these days, and I’ll look for you. So go, Boy, go… Run… And he was gone.
We wrapped him in a cotton shawl, along with a toy squirrel he’d chewed the feet off of, his Kong Wubba throw toy, and a stick--for no matter how much we spent on a toy, nothing beat a stick. Kid and Grizlet came to sniff him. Kid, his soulful eyes reflecting our sorrow, went and lay on the pallet we’d made for Jupiter in his last days. Grizlet, our perpetual clown, wanted the squirrel without feet. She stayed and watched us place him in the hole, add the fertile soil, and plant a fruiting pomegranate tree. The Jupiter Pomegranate that my brother, Dave, and his wife, Maryke bought and brought over for us.
Once we buried him, the house, the yard, the very air around us seemed deafening in its silence. Not because he was a noisy dog--though he had mastered the bark--rather, it was that the energy that had been bundled up in that slender frame of his had finally been released.
This morning, for the first time in over twelve years, I woke up without My Boy. I walked around the yard, alone, for Jupiter was my fellow early-riser. It looked the same but felt empty. My Boy, Jupiter, is gone.