Gimme that camera!
Of all the dogs I've been honored to know, Jett is the one who captured my heart the most. There are good dogs, and then there are great dogs. Jett was a great dog. 

Jett had the best temperament, the sweetest disposition of any dog I've ever known. His only mission in life was to be by my side. He was my constant companion for thirteen years. To this day, even with Deuce by my side, I miss Jett. 

I dreamed about Jett before I found him. I know that sounds odd, but it happened. It was that dream that sent me to the local shelter the next morning. And there he was. 

Jett was part of a litter of Labs that had been seized by the shelter, the details of which they were unable to share. When I arrived, there were two black males and one yellow male. I picked up a pup and burst into tears. The emotion was that powerful. I named him Greenbrier Smokey Jett even though I'd never have papers on him. His circumstances weren't of his making and I thought he still needed a proper name worthy of his ancestry. 

There was never any question of whether or not Jett would be crate-trained. He liked his puppy crate. Right from the start it was obvious his little soul liked having a private retreat. That it kept him safe and out of mischief was just a bonus. The puppy crate was in the living room during the day, and I took it to the bedroom each night. At least until Jett discovered he could finally jump onto the bed. After that, he slept with me. 

First snowfall
We used to laugh at puppy Jett. If suddenly the house became quiet, we'd search for the pup. If Jett put himself in his crate, we knew to check around to discover what he'd done. Even after we traded his puppy crate for a big-dog crate he'd put himself in for a nap. When he was about five, we removed his crate from the house. He did not like that at all. He'd go to that spot and flop down, chin on the floor, and look sad. So we learned never to offer to loan his crate to anyone, even a family member. 

As a young dog, Jett was energetic and active. He was an expert Frisbee player. He caught a lot of air when he made a leap. After attending a wedding, we discovered Jett loved to chase bubbles and kept a supply on hand. And like all dogs, he loved to go for a walk. What he did not like was water. 

I thought it strange that a Labrador Retriever didn't like water. When I realized just how deep his aversion to bodies of water ran, it made me a little sick to my stomach. Those "circumstances" the SPCA couldn't talk about? What if the original owner was inhuman enough to try and drown the litter? I ceased my efforts to introduce the joy of creeks and rivers to Jett and concentrated on what he did like. 

Bubbles! Yea!

After we loaned his crate, I folded an old comforter in quarters and put it down for him to sleep on. It didn't take long for his buddy, Shooter the cat, to join him. It didn't take Shooter long to push the dog off it, either. They were best buds and the dog allowed the cat to have anything he wanted. 

The trouble started just after Christmas 2011. I bought Jett a regular dog bed from Smith and Foster. Whether it was the bed or not, we'll never know. After sleeping on that bed for less than two weeks, I came home from work one afternoon and noticed Jett's head was swollen. Nose, lips, ears - everything. So off to the vet we went. 

The vet suspected he had a blockage or some such with a lymph gland and started him on a course of amoxicillin and prednisone. The swelling slowly subsided. It was about this time I felt a small fatty tumor on his side. Other dogs had had them after receiving a steroid so I knew as long as it didn't suddenly grow, it wouldn't cause a problem. I was wrong. 

By spring the swelling had gone but something far more insidious gained a hold on Jett. His fur began to fall out. I saw black patches with scaly edges on his skin.  Back to the vet we went. She tested him for skin diseases and said he'd picked up an odd bacteria. Once again we began a course of antibiotics and prednisone. 

I burned the dog bed. 

The black spots shrank but didn't go away. The vet recommended a medicated shampoo. We used that. While bathing him, I grew concerned over a change in the fatty tumor. I thought it was marginally larger. I was right. In the course of the next week, it grew to the size of my fist. 

We took Jett to the vet and asked her to remove it. She shook her head and refused. Because of whatever bacteria was on his skin, she would not make an incision and possibly introduce the bacteria into his bloodstream. I understood that. Had I known what was ahead, I would have taken the chance. 

As Jett still had the black, crusty patches, she prescribed a course of Baytril. The black patches remained. The tumor grew. It didn't take a vet for me to know Jett's immune system was very compromised. When he could barely walk, I went looking and found this about Baytril:

Cartilage Lesions: One of the general symptoms often seen while using Baytril for Dogs is the impairment of joint cartilages. The cartilage is a part of the body which happens to be fleshy, tough and a protective sheathe around the joints. It controls flexibility in the animal however cartilage lesion leads to body pain, swelling of joints and affects walking capacity of the animal. 

Jett's feet were crippled. He could still make it around the house and get outside to pee, but that was all. No more long walks. No more Frisbee. I started to give him a baby aspirin every other day, which seemed to have positive effects. 

The black patches were still there. They didn't shrink. They didn't grow, but the tumor kept getting larger and now had reached the size that even without the bacterial infection the vet would not have consented to remove it. 

Then I noticed a new black spot on his belly. Knowing a trip to the vet was pretty useless, I dabbed the spot with rubbing alcohol. IT WENT AWAY. I put alcohol on all the spots and they ALL WENT AWAY!

Why had I not done this sooner? WHY HAD THE VET NOT SUGGESTED IT? Had my precious Jett been needlessly crippled? 

I will never believe anything other than the vet only cared about the money, not healing Jett. Trust me when I tell you I will never go there again nor will I ever recommend her when asked if I know of a good vet. 

Jett was a changed dog. I think he was depressed. I watched for signs of pain: pacing, panting, extreme licking, tremors. He exhibited no sign he was in any pain until he got up to walk. I kept up the baby aspirin and we made his life as easy as we could. 

He made it through the winter of 2012-13. Ron and I agreed at the end of autumn 2013, we would give him final peace. We didn't make it that far.

Late in May, something happened. I couldn't be cruel and ask him for more just so I could have a last summer with him. 

We buried Jett on the hill beside Callahan.

Rest in peace, my beloved, my precious Jett. You will never be forgotten.


Jett's best buddy, a cat named Shooter

To honor Jett, we named our second Labrador Retriever
Greenbrier Smokey Deuce

Deuce captured my heart and healed a lot of wounds. You can read about Deuce here, and at his blog, Deuce's Day

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