Jack's Gift

Our dog Jack was a people person. I say person because at age 8 he suddenly and unilaterally no longer considered himself a dog. No more sitting for a cookie, no giving a paw or staying off the rug. He slept where he pleased, went where he liked, and ignored anything resembling a command. He was the owner and the rest of us became his pets.

He loved people unconditionally. If you were human, he wanted to know you, and in his mind he was someone you needed to know too. His ice-breaking skills were unsubtle and often socially unacceptable, but for Jack they were magical. When it came to making friends, he possessed the cheerfulness of a Wal-Mart greeter and the persistence of a car salesmen. He was an equal opportunity lover of mankind - all races, religions, ages and genders welcome.

Jack’s magnetism toward human beings was where he and I differed, because for the most part I have no use for people. On our daily walks, Jack would treat a person that I would cross the street to avoid like a visiting Pope. At times I was appalled and embarrassed at the slobbering and groveling he exhibited to anyone happening by. His shaking and whining in anticipation of someone coming half a mile away was beyond my comprehension.

Jack’s determined affability paid off in the admiration of everyone he met in greater Hartsville, Massachusetts. With his good looks, winning personality and charisma, Jack could have run for office as a Republican in this very blue state and won by a landslide. He was a conversation starter and a social butterfly. One time his connections even got my daughter a babysitting job. The weight of school buses would shift as the kids crowded the windows to get a glimpse of Jack. He could elicit a smile from the most self-involved out-of-towner. Women who wouldn’t have wasted the effort glancing my way did so to ogle his handsomeness. Drivers disarmed by his luminous grin would pull over to inquire about his ancestry (Black Lab and Newfoundland we think), exit their cars for an impromptu love-in, and leave having their day made. On the rare days when he didn’t walk with me, concerned devotees would stop traffic to ask after him.

While walking with Jack for 13 years over nearly 10 thousand miles and encountering hundreds of people with him, I was gradually changed by seeing the mutual affection between Jack and his friends. I, a confirmed grouch, seemed to not mind seeing people so much, maybe even enjoying it a little all thanks to Jack’s example. Pre-Jack, I did my best to ignore people and couldn't have named more than two of my neighbors. Now I can't go a quarter mile without exchanging waves and pleasantries with some Jack-induced buddy. My identity, as “the guy who walks Jack” translated into a full roster of neighbors and acquaintances. Some I even look forward to talking to on occasion. I have become nearly sociable.

Jack’s gift was showing me that if you’re willing to make the first move with others and give a little you could be rewarded. Thanks to Jack I learned to cut people a little slack, to lighten up and to enjoy life a little more. And that’s how the sweet black dog that thought he was a person and loved everyone made me a happier human being. Thank you my friend, I love you. RIP

This story was written by Chris Gregor, freelance copywriter. Take a look at my other work (the stuff I get paid for) and learn more about my copywriting capabilities and experience/backgroundContact me at Gregor & Co. 413 528-4763 or chris@gregorwriting.com

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