My name is Emmy, and this is the story of my first love, Jack. Aside from the obvious first love I’m sure I felt for my parents, the first thing I can remembering is my dog Jack. My parents married young, but waited 12 years to have me, so Jack was their first baby.
They lived in Kalamazoo, MI at the time, but soon moved north to Traverse City where they lived in the granary at the farm of our friends, Dean and Cindy. On the farm there was a barn cat, Tigger, who Jack played with. He and Tigger ran around the farm with the horses, Ayatollah and Whistle.
And then I came along.
The day after I was born, my dad took my baby hat home so Jack could get used to me. Jack ate it. But after that, he was my best friend and protector. Though I’m sure I tested his limits, he let me climb all over him and indulged me in whatever I wanted without complaining.
When I was 6 months old, we moved into a new house, and when I was old enough, my parents took me on walks up the hill to the next neighborhood. One of the first houses we passed had a dog that would bark whenever we walked by. Jack always led the way and bared his teeth, just to prove he was tough.
But my dad later told me that when he went for walks with Jack up the hill and I wasn’t there, Jack would run away and hide. It was only when I was there that he felt like he had to be brave.
Of course this story eventually leads to when Jack got older. He still played with my friends and me, and though he was a bit slower, it didn’t matter. Just like always, he put up with me no matter what I asked. And then one day, we had to put him to sleep.
I don’t remember what exactly my dad said, but I do remember that I was at my friend Ann’s house when he came to tell me. Though I’m sure I knew it was time, it didn’t really make sense to my 8-year-old self. I’d lost my best friend.
We have a new dog now, Stuart, though he’s not so new any more. He’s 13. I love him just as much as I loved Jack, and he’s acted a lot like Jack since we first brought him home.
The first time we let him out of the car to run up the hill to our house, he took the same path through the woods that Jack always had. And I think we were all happy to have some of Jack back.