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An Open Letter to Jack’s Previous Owner on His Last Day Alive

Heidi Wagner writes, "I was blessed to have him in my life for two months and five days. In that short amount of time, he helped heal my heart."

Janine M. Kahn  |  May 7th 2015


As cheesy as the phrase sounds, Italian Greyhounds are my “heart dog.” That breed you encounter at some point and life and know instantly you can’t live without. There’s just something about them — the way they prance, lighter than air. The knack they have for burrowing beneath blankets without needing any help. The way they dance with each other, paws on shoulders, when they meet another IG. The way they are velcro dogs in every sense of the word and always want you in their sight.

It breaks my heart when I read stories about any dog being abandoned or distressed, but that happens doubly so (at least where I’m concerned) when an IG is distressed. Perhaps because I know how fragile they are, how sweet their dispositions can be. There is a special place in hell for people willing to break that spirit.

I follow several breed-specific groups online, and through one of them encountered the story of Jack last year. I’ve been meaning to share it with you for quite some time. I read it with tears in my eyes from the first paragraph onwards, and felt it was an incredible reminder that senior dogs — of all breeds — need our love. Contrary to the “free dog” posts that hit Craiglist every day, they are NOT trash, and they deserve to go to the bridge knowing they mattered.

Grab a tissue, and please read this note posted by Heidi Wagner, who took Jack in when others did not. She runs Boxer Butts & Other Mutts, a rescue based in North Carolina, and has her hands full, but still managed to make the end of his life special. The world needs more people like you, Heidi.

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To Jack’s Previous Owner:

I held your dog today as he took his last breath — wrapped in his favorite blanket and in his favorite cuddly bed with my tears falling on his little face — reminding him that I will always love him.

His name was Jack and you dumped him, a 16-year-old blind and deaf dog, at the shelter because he was having accidents in your house. My heart was not ready to take another senior in but I saw his face and knew I had to help him as his life had been turned upside-down.

Did you ever stop to think about how scared he must have been when you left him at that shelter, only able to smell all the terrible smells? We got him out of there the same day you dropped him off. He was scared and confused when I got him, but it did not take him long to realize he was going to be okay.

He was too frail, too skinny, anemic, had a horrible eye infection and an oral infection around the only tooth he had left along with terrible arthritis. We treated everything and while always frail he enjoyed his cuddle time and the sunshine on his face.

Once he started feeling better, his appetite was great. He would eat at least every two hours and would let you know when he was ready for his food. I would have fed him every two hours for years if that was what he wanted. I was blessed to have him in my life for two months and five days. In that short amount of time he helped heal my heart.

I needed him as much as he needed me. So though it makes me sad and angry that you could so easily dump your 16-year-old dog at the shelter, I wanted to thank you, because I was beyond blessed to be part of this amazing little dog’s life.

Over the past few weeks he had started to slow down and today he let me know that he was done fighting and he could no longer get up. With tears in our eyes, my daughter and I took him to the vet’s office. We said our goodbyes and held him until he took his last breath. He did not die alone and scared in the shelter that you dumped him at. He lived a life filled with love and comfort and was reminded every day how much his little life mattered and how much he was loved.

Rest in peace, my sweet little Jack. Your little paw prints will forever be etched in my heart.

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About the Author: Janine is your typical annoying Aries overachiever with nine human siblings and a soft spot for sighthounds. She is a tattoo collector, tea drinker, and unabashedly into marshmallows and cheesy musicals. She was formerly Editor-in-Chief of Dogster and Catster and is now the Executive Editorial Director for their parent company, Lumina Media.