Yesterday, we said goodbye to our beloved dog, Jet.
Over the last week or so, he had become lethargic and was drinking a lot more water, so we took him to the vet and hoped it was just a water infection. After trying antibiotics a blood test confirmed that Jet was bleeding from his spleen and it was getting worse by the day.
Various options were mentioned by the vet, but none of them seemed very convincing and the odds were unfortunately against him, so we made the difficult decision to end the story there and then.
We got Jet from Manchester Dogs Home, who told us that he was a stray Border Collie, but we’ve always suspected he was half Springer Spaniel (Sprollie).
He came home with us and we were immediately faced with the challenge of cleaning him up (he had various infections and lots of lovely fleas) and ingratiating him with our other dog, Mollie. For the first two weeks we considered taking him back as they fought terribly, until a vet advised us on how to re-establish a hierarchy and finally the fighting stopped.
For most of Jet’s life we were an active family with two lads. We hiked, camped, climbed, kayaked and ran – well at least Clare did. Jet was the perfect dog for us in many ways, he was great with people and other dogs, he never seemed to get tired, he had bags of character and he was built for the outdoors. We read a book on border collies and it advised, “do no try to wear your collie out, you’ll only make it fitter.”
The flip side of Jet though was his, very street-wise, intelligence. He would come on command, but only if he wanted to. If something else captured his attention, he would look back at you, weigh up his options and then run away with us whistling, calling and swearing behind him.
Showing all the escape skills of Steve McQueen on a motorbike, Jet found ingenious ways to get out of our back garden, no matter what security I tried. One time I stapled chicken-wire across a gap and piled bricks up against it. Jet moved the bricks and pulled out the staples with his teeth so he could get into next door’s garden.
In Styal woods one chilly November he crossed a river to get into a field full of sheep. I was horrified as I watched him chasing them (he didn’t bite them he just wanted to play). When he came close to the bank, I realised I probably only had one chance to catch him before some angry farmer shot him, so I waded, chest-deep, through the icy water to tempt him back – it worked, thank god. We dripped our way back to the car, once I’d emptied my wellies, with other walkers giving us very strange looks.
Jet’s weakness was egg custard. If anyone had one, he would sit, squirming and drooling until they eventually caved in and gave him a bit. If you took too long he would gently claw your knee and to remind you he was there, he could smell them from a hundred yards away.
Like most dogs he loved to play, especially with the boys. Jumping all over them, chasing them or tugging on one of his toys, he was a dog, their dog and we all loved him.
Apparently border collies were bred to run after sheep and can run 200 miles a day. They have been tested and are one of the most intelligent breeds around, but this week, Jet couldn’t even stand up.
Our boys are growing up now, Alex is 21 years old but when he heard, he came home from York to say goodbye to Jet. He brought him a couple of egg custards, broke them into pieces and placed them down in front of him. Jet sniffed them but didn’t eat any. I think that’s when I really realised how sick he was, there was a time when he’d chase you for a tiny sliver, but here he we were feeding him the whole thing at he didn’t have the energy to eat.
We all went to the vet’s yesterday, me carrying Jet in as he couldn’t walk, and we were all with him at the end. It was upsetting to see him go but even worse to come home to a house without him. He was a great dog and much loved member of our family and he’ll be missed.