The lighthouse received some sad news in the form of a telex yesterday. One of our beloved 4 legged companions went to his maker. He was my wife’s cousin’s dog, Jackson, and he was quite a character.
Jackson, Jack, JP Peterman, Jackie Chan, JP Jangles, or Mr. J. He answered to all of them. Or, at least, he was called these names at certain points throughout his illustrious career. Look, I know I may come across as a bit of a “boob”, eulogizing a PET, and maybe ten years ago I would agree with you. But, ever since I had to say “goodbye” to my own family dog a decade ago (on my BIRTHDAY, no less), I have developed deep empathy for anyone that goes through the loss of a pet. When I lost Bailey, I cried more for that dumb dog than I have for MANY HUMAN RELATIONS, actually. I had no idea how much that dog meant to me until I lost him, and I learned a valuable lesson ten years ago: DON’T EVER LET YOUR GUARD DOWN EMOTIONALLY. I hardened my heart that day towards ALL MEN AND BEASTS, and when the inevitable time came for my Mom to have her other dog, Heidi, put to rest a couple of years ago, I was sad. Sure. But the hurt didn’t cut nearly as deep as it did for Bailey. I had learned to be dead inside, and for that I am much happier. Dead and happy.
But enough about my terrible, broken self.
Today is a day to celebrate Jackson, and the many, MANY stories and fond (and gross!) memories I have of him.
It says a lot about Jackson’s character that I have so many memories of him, considering that HE LIVED IN HAMILTON, ONTARIO, an easy 3 day drive from the Lighthouse, and that I saw him INFREQUENTLY over his life.
Still, though: it was the love and affection shown to him by his master, my wife’s cousin, who we shall call only “M”. (Not his real name, BUT PERHAPS HIS REAL FIRST INITIAL.)
That dog was so important to M, that Jackson was ACTUALLY IN HIS WEDDING PARTY. It was never even negotiable, actually. (And they went through a couple of ministers and a couple of churches before they even found a place and a PERSON OF THE CLOTH who would allow such an abomination to happen). Jackson wore a little doggie tuxedo and I think he went down the aisle at the beginning as the ring bearer. He was pretty well-behaved during the ceremony. Much better behaved than my own brother-in-law, actually, so was recovering from a terrible ADULT ONSET case of the chicken pox, from which he even had a CHICKEN POX POCK on his GUM and resulted in him eating an egg salad sandwich SO SLOWLY before the ceremony that he had to leave half of it in the back seat window of our rental car during the ceremony and after an hour or so in the hot September southern Ontario sun with the windows rolled up, that sandwich’s stench permeated EVERY PART OF THE CAR, and it took a full day of driving around with the windows down for the smell to dissipate.
You may think egg salad stank in a rental is the worst thing you could do to a car, and up until that moment, I might have agreed with you, but an incident happened a year later to change my mind, forever.
That incident involved Jackson, of course.
A year later, almost to the day, we were back in Southern Ontario for another cousin’s wedding. M, (and Jackson) were married about a year (not to each OTHER, obviously. You wouldn’t find EVEN A UNITED CHURCH minister who would perform such an unholy rite as marrying a man and his dog together. No, M was married to a lady. And I’m sorry to say that since that time, the marriage went”TITS UP”, as they say in family law, but up until yesterday, M’s relationship with Jackson was still going strong.
My wife and I were in Hamilton first, visiting with M, his THEN wife, and Jackson for a couple of days, and then the plan was that the four of us (me, my wife, M and M’s wife) would drive together to the small town north of Toronto where the wedding was going to take place. Jackson would, of course, come along.
We were all packed up, ready to go. M was driving. I was in the passenger seat, and the two ladies were in the back seat TO START. (I think seat placement is important to this story, so please bear with). Jackson was in the back, but he sort of stuck his head between the seats from time to time. We weren’t 5 minutes into our drive before we decided to take a run through a Tim Horton’s Drive Thru. I didn’t want anything, but M and M’s wife got coffees, my wife got a tea, and surprisingly, they bought a pack of Timbit donut holes “for the car-ride” but Jackson ate several of them before we cleared the city limits.
I’m not sure if this was how drives with M and M’s wife normally went down, but I remember a lot of “back seat” comments involving route talk, etc that seemed to be unnerving M. He drove through a stop sign, distractedly, and nearly got into an accident. This event unnerved him and M’s wife insisted on driving the rest of the way. So it was M’s wife driving, me still in my own spot, and M and my wife in the back seat. (I hope this is all clear to you, dear reader. Can you picture the scene?)
Well, have you ever seen a dog eat a donut before? I was brought up to believe that you shouldn’t give dogs donuts, that it was bad for them. But I was also brought up to not comment on other people’s dog raising (or children raising for that matter) and I was no authority on either topic so I kept quiet. Plus, Jackson really seemed to enjoy those Timbits, so who was I to interfere in his happiness.
Well, let me tell you: the drive to the north of Toronto should only take a little over an hour on a good day from Hamilton, and on this day, it probably did too. But in my memory, what happened next stretched time to its very breaking point, and if I had to estimate, I would conservatively say that I spent about 6 or 7 hours in the car with Jackson that day.
It wasn’t long into the drive before the most horrible smell filled the car’s cabin. It was Jackson, of course. He was having terrible farts, brought on, no doubt, from the Timbits (plus whatever other “people food” he had consumed recently). Now, these dog farts were not like the good-natured human farts you sometimes smell. No, these dog farts smelled like something was sick and dying inside of him. There was nothing really wrong with him, of course; all of this happened 10 years ago. But we didn’t know that then, and my wife and M were the first to complain about the horrible smell. M’s wife and I were less sympathetic because we were in the front and didn’t have Jackon’s ASS in our faces quite yet. Even Jackson could tell these were bad ones, because he kept trying to escape the backseat and climb up into the front. As big a dog as he was, he was sure nimble, and he in fact was able to get his head, shoulders (dogs have shoulders, right?), and his two front legs between the front seats and onto my lap, and was about to push off of the backseat and land fully on my lap, but I managed to push him forcefully back onto my wife and her cousin. How none of the coffee or tea spilled was a small miracle, and we were on the highway, so we couldn’t very well pull over. The front seat wasn’t immune for long. As all farts eventually do, Jackson’s doggie death farts wafted around to the front and the whole car had it. We tried rolling the windows down, but that only seemed to make things worse. Rather that allowing the farts to escape, the farts just swirled around and the smell somehow intensified. Reader, my eyes were actually watering from a combination of the smell and the laughing out loud at the absurdity of it.
Things got worse, quick.
M’s wife, behind the wheel still, calmly said that this “sometimes happens” and it involves Jackson’s anal glands getting clogged. Usually she takes him to the vet, but sometimes she’s had to “go up there” and squeeze them herself. She couldn’t do it herself this minute, as she was driving (do you now see why seat placement was important?) but if someone in the backseat could attempt it, the smell would stop happening. Now even though Jackson was M’s dog, he made it clear that there was “no fuckin’ way” he was sticking his fingers up his bum, and to this day I admire him for standing his ground that way. My wife, on the other hand, unexpectedly announced that she had “rubber gloves” in her purse and that if it had to be down, she would do it.
Now, by this point, the smell was so bad, we were trying to come up with different ways of dealing with it. I remembered that scene in “Silence of the Lambs” where they do that autopsy on that badly decayed body and the smell was so bad they all put Vicks Vaporub under their noses during it. M’s wife actually had some Vicks in her purse, and she gave me permission to dig it out and put some on. I think it helped a little, M and my wife were breathing deeply into their coffee and tea cups to try to mask the smell, and I honestly can’t remember if they went the Vicks route with me. I do remember M’s wife sticking some under her own nose with one hand while driving with the other. I think she was impressed with my quick thinking.
This part of the story gets a little hazy.
Did my wife don her “rubber gloves”? She certainly did.
[editor’s note: they were most likely latex gloves, and the reason she carried them was because she seemed to always be happening upon crimes or accidents in progress and wanted to be ready to help without running the risk of getting a disease. I know.]
Did she go up Jackson’s ass and squeeze his anal glands? I can’t answer that, but I can tell you that the smell only got worse after she “did whatever she did back there” and the rest of us were besides ourselves, not the least of whom was Jackson himself, who didn’t want any part of the smell, or the squeezing. And who could blame him?
Careful readers of this blog will be able to predict what happened next. A cup of Tim Horton’s tea+my wife+a car ride. Any guesses?
Yep, she had to pee. Keep in mind we were on the QEW somewhere between Hamilton and Toronto with what appeared to us to be a dog NEAR DEATH, and all we wanted to do was get to her Aunt’s house as quickly as possible, but now we had a pee emergency in the backseat. I think we had to get off the highway in some little bedroom community, Oakville comes to mind, and find a washroom. We seemed to be in some kind of industrial park, so no Starbucks or McDonalds (or even the ubiquitous but dreaded Tim Hortons) to signal relief. I seem to recall peeling into a muffler repair shop’s parking lot, and my wife flying out of the backseat, trying to sweet-talk the mechanics into using the staff washroom. The three of us took the opportunity to get out of the car and air ourselves out, the best we could under the circumstances. M took Jackson over to a little patch of grass for a pee himself, and the whole time Jackson looked and us (and M) with reproach. It had been a traumatic ride of all of us, and it was wasn’t even over.
When wife returned to the car, we faced the unpopular prospect of climbing back into that assmobile and finishing our trip. I seriously scanned the horizon for a hotel. “Maybe we could just stay in Oakville for the night? Let the car air out?” but my wife’s aunt would be expecting us for supper. How we could even think of eating at a time like this was beyond me, but you know, I WAS the only one who didn’t get a drink or a treat at that Hamilton Tim Horton’s, so I was getting a little hungry…
We got back into the car. The smell had dissipated a little bit. We were back to our original positions. M was driving. I was in my same spot, and M’s wife was back in the backseat. M usually avoided the toll highway, but he just wanted to get to our destination as quickly as possible, so we made our way over to the 407 #routetalk and took that as long as we could before turning off again, close to my wife’s aunt’s place.
You’d think we would have thrown out those rubber [editor: latex] gloves when we were stopped at that muffler place, but I guess we were distracted by ALL THE DEATH so the gloves (THAT MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE GONE UP JACKSON’S ASS) were carefully draped over my wife’s now empty Tim Horton’s cup.
At this point, we all just got the giggles so hard, at the site of this cup with the ass gloves hanging out of them, my wife holding the cup up so we in the front could see them, it was incredible. It was one of those laughing fits that just goes on and on and just when you think it’s going to stop someone else says “ass cup” or “ass gloves” or “butt smell” or something and we were set off again.
We were in great spirits when we arrived at my wife’s aunt’s place, and the first thing my wife did was hand her aunt the cup (with the dangly butt gloves) and said she had a story for HER. My wife’s aunt looked at me and M’s wife with puzzlement, and we realized the Vick’s Vaporub was still visible under our noses.
We survived the drive from Hamilton to north of Toronto, and “Jackson’s anal glands” instantly became a part of the family mythology.
The smell was so bad, actually, that it permeated all the way to the car’s trunk, where M’s and my suits, and the ladies’ dresses were stashed. If you tried really hard, you could sort of smell ass on them, but we had a day or so to air them out, and luckily for Jackson, he had no official duties at THIS wedding, so he could just chill and recover.
Although I have a few other, more positive memories of Jackson, it is this one that will always stay front and centre in my mind.
Good ol’ Jackson. Jackie Chan. Mr. J. I’ll miss you, and I’m sure M is missing you infinitely more. I’ll never forget our drive from Hamilton. And, I’ll never EVER give a dog Timbits.