“Filling the void”

1–17–17: My alarm is set to go off at 4:30 am, but right before it sounds, I feel Jack’s nose sniffing my ear to let me know he is going to get ready to join me on my morning run.

5:30am: As I open the door, Jack smells the air and feels the cool wind his little face. Almost as if he was giving thanks for this new day. I smile and do the same. It is one of the many things Jack has taught me to do. We start jogging the 2 miles over to Victory Field Track in Forest Park. His ears are completely erect and he has this very amusing swagger as he is trotting along right by my side.

You see, Jack knows and feels that part of his duty is to protect me. A runner speeds past us and he immediately starts to bark. He looks up at me and I say “Good Boy.”

As we make it to the track, I put his leash aside and start to stretch. Today’s workout is 800’s x 8 followed by 5 rounds of calisthenics. Jack patiently waits as he always does all year long- Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. I can see his face from across the track as I huff and puff to the finish of each lap. Seeing how he lights up as I approach gives me more motivation. After, I finish my laps and do my exercises, he just sits and waits and watches. How did I get so lucky?

Being the middle child of four sisters, I always felt as if I had to settle for “left overs”. My older sisters always had brand new everything and got first choice of anything. My younger sister, well, she was younger and the favorite.

Growing up, I rarely had the opportunity to call something my own especially when my mom became a single mom, then we really had to share everything from my mom’s attention, a single bedroom, toys, clothes and food.

One of my fondest memories as a kid (I was about 6 years old) was waking up to a big ball of fur sniffing my ears to wake up. It was a German Shepard mix my parents had agreed to take care of temporarily.

I had always been fascinated by the incredible affection dogs displayed to me and my love for them. My mom always told stories of me and dogs one of which how I almost got hit by a car running across the street to pet a dog when I was about 7.

I knew one day, when the time was right, I would have my own fur ball to wake me up like that one time. I was a big fan of Cesar Milan’s books, Dog Whisperer t.v. series and even volunteered to walk and take care of dogs in my community when I lived in Asheville, NC while going to school at UNCA about 7 years ago.

One cold December morning in 2009 an affiliate of the ASPCA sent out a notice of a family of dogs in need of rescuimg that were left out on a side of a road. It was a mom and 3 of her male puppies. It was a 5-hour drive to Lexington, NC. I had just recently learned how to drive and had never been on a highway, but I felt this was the opportunity I had been waiting for since I was 6 years old.

I arrived at the shelter and out of the 3 brothers, there was one little rascal that popped his head up and wobbled his way into my arms. He was only 6 weeks old and he did exactly what the German Shepherd mix did to me when I was 6 years old. He sniffed my ears and I felt that warm comfort all over again. I named him Jack after one of my favorite characters in a movie (Titanic).

It has been now 7 years since Jack and I met. I always wanted something to call my very own and thanks to Jack, I can. I always wondered what “Apple of my eye” meant but thanks to Jack, I live it everyday when he is by my side.

“They motivate us to play, be affectionate, seek adventure and be loyal.”

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