Sixteen Years of Devotion

This morning we had to do what most dog owners eventually always do in the end, say farewell to a friend.  As many of you know Blackie was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer almost 2 years ago, thing was no one told him that he only had two months to live so he just decided to rock on and stick around for a while.  For almost two years after that his vet simply shook his head and said, “well doctors don’t know everything”, each time that he saw Blackie not only alive but in good spirits and doing well.

Our Friend and Loyal Companion for 16 Years.

Our Friend and Loyal Companion for 16 Years.

Well the last few weeks were different.  He slowly stopped eating and then this weekend he crashed.  After that he couldn’t stand and even refused water.  I really hoped he would simply pass on his own and nature would take her course, it was not to be though.  So this morning Dorothy and I took him to the vet to be put to sleep.  He died in the arms of two people that dearly loved him, you just can’t do much better then that.

Yesterday our son got to see him for the last time, that too was a gift.  Even Matthew could see it was time to let our friend go on to the other side, I was happy to have had the chance to know he understood.  A boy and his dog are something special.  In this case it was a relationship that began when an 8 year old kid chose this special dog because he thought he was “special” in another way.

Matt had his heart set on a golden retriever but  I have always believed that you should adopt first if you can.  I was also broke at that time of my life and didn’t have 800 dollars to shell out to a breeder.  So we went to the Ft. Worth Humane society.  He was pretty upset that there were no goldens to be had but I explained how if no one took these dogs home eventually they were put down, that it was up to us to save one if we could.

You might think that is a heavy load for a kid but he got it and soon decided that it was the right thing for us to do.  He found Blackie (the shelter had named him Count) as a little fur ball of about 8 weeks of age, part of a discarded litter we were told.  What made our kiddo pick this one though?  He peed in his water dish, our son said, “we have to take him, he is so dumb no one else is going to want him”.  Well, you can’t argue with that and so began 16 years of devotion.

I also showed Matt where I will bury our friend today, we shared a moment together talking about our friend.  I couldn’t bring myself to explain why I choose the spot to him at that point, but it is a special place.  It is on the very back corner of our land under some big trees.  It is right near the property line so it is land that won’t ever be disturbed with our homesteading activities, so that is part of it.  Here is the special part though.

On the other side of our fence is a trail, not a trail like a person would build, more of a small wash with a game trail on it.  Between that trail and our land is a fence, a fence we can’t cross.  Blackie though is no longer bothered by fences and can roam as he pleases.  I can’t think of a more symbolic and special place to lay my friend to rest.  I know he isn’t in his shell any longer, he has crossed as all mortal beings do but this is a spot we can go to visit him in spirit.

I know if his spirit wants to walk with us on our evening walks that trail will lead him to us and that fence will mean nothing to him.  I am very glad that fate allowed our friend to live long enough that we found our place here in Texas.  I wouldn’t want it any other way, I am glad we have this special place for him to be laid to rest.

There will be no TSP today, I need to now go and tend to the last thing I can do for my friend of 16 years.  Our home is now unbalanced, we are a two dog family with only one.  That will change some day soon but not now, for now I am simply content when I realize not only was Blackie a great friend who helped raise our son into a fine man, he was well cared for in return.  Being a dog in the Spirko house is a pretty good gig.

During the last few months Blackie has been hard to get to eat.  During this time I have cooked that dog, chicken, pork chops and steak, and you know what, I’d do it again if I could.

188 Responses to Sixteen Years of Devotion

  1. Jack,

    So sorry for your family’s loss. Sounds like he had a great life with your family and will be missed.

    Best Wishes,

    Jim

  2. This was an extremely heartfelt and touching piece of writing Jack truely shows your love and devotion to this dog. Seriously dude it brought a lump to my throat reading this. Blackie was blessed to have such devoted owners such as yourself may he find happiness in the next life brother, be at peace that I don’t think he could have had a better life with anyone else. My heart goes out to you your wife and son on this very sad day

  3. You gave a great home to a needy soul, I’m sure it was appreciated right to the end.

    When the right time comes, another another lucky dog will get a great home.

    My thoughts are with you.

  4. Reading your tender story and being a dog person, myself, my heart if breaking for you loss. I can’t stop crying, either. We are never ready to say goodbye to those we love.

  5. Sorry to hear this news, Jack. So many of us will be reunited with our dear pets on the other side someday. It will be a very happy day.

  6. Jack,

    Sorry for your loss, I know he is gone but will never be forgotten.

    Alan

  7. Farewell Blackie Spirko. Jack, I couldn’t help but shed a tear while reading this post. It reminded me of my lost dog/son, who I lost several years ago. I deeply miss having a dog, but I cannot be unfair to the dog by not spending enough time with him/her. I do not have the time to spend with a dog with my long work hours and being a single guy (so there is nobody else to spend time with him/her). I look forward to the day when I can adopt another son or daughter to go on hikes with, play with etc. I used to take mine to the drive in movies. I always got there way before anybody else. I would play fetch with him to tire him out a bit. Then I rewarded him with a steak that I had picked up at the grocery store on the way to the drive in. He ate steak, and I got the crappy hamburgers. Great memories.

    I wish you and the rest of your family well during this time of sorrow. May your next second dog share the love and friendship that Blackie did.

  8. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. It means a lot to me that you share so much of yourself, that you don’t just do this as a 9-5 gig, but share your personal side too.

    Thanks for all you do.

  9. I am very sorry to hear this Jack. It is a very hard job for every dog owner. You did the right thing.

  10. Jack, Dorothy and Matt,
    I am sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is to let a family member go, four legged or two. My thoughts and prayers will be for your family.

    Greg

  11. So very sorry to hear about your loyal friend. We went through pretty much the same thing with our 17yr old beagle Tina a year ago.
    Whe she stopped drinking we knew it was over. Our son had come back to Maine from Colorado for a visit, and I swear she waited for him to get back home before she took a turn for the worse. She had grown up with the kids, and she acted like she couldn’t understand why she was getting so old. It was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.
    We waited over a year before getting another dog, I just didn’t want to try and “replace” Tina.
    After about 15 months of having no dog, we adopted a 2yr old beagle/basset mix named Bea from a local shelter. I guess I didn’t realize what a large hole not having a dog had left in my life.
    We’ll be thinking of you and yours.
    Scott

  12. Chris Murray

    Sorry for you and your kids its hard losing a dog you have had for so long. But ones from shelters seem to be the best. Hope everyone ok

  13. I am so sorry to hear of Blackie’s passing. I shed a tear or two just reading the post. 4 years ago we had to bury our faithful, dogs, of 15, 16 yrs. It was a tough day in our house. We had to call our youngest son , in college, to tell him of his dogs passing. They are buried on the back of our homestead, under the favorite trees to take a nap. I thought I would never rescue another dog.But…….I rescued one. And to tell the truth, I’m not sure who saved whom.I got my Golden Retriever, Gracie, when I found out I had a brain tumor. That was more than a few dark days for us, but we are both doing fine.So have a toast for Blackie, and remember a life well spent. Thank you for sharing his life with us.

  14. I am truly sorry for the loss y’all are going through. I am also happy that you were able to have a 16 year long journey with him, memories like that make the strain worth it.

  15. Jack: I am very sorry for your loss. I can really relate. My wife and I just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. 13 years ago like all Newlyweds we wanted sometime together before children. So we thought we would get a dog. We found a golden in a rescue shelter named Duke. Since I am a big John Wayne fan his name was Karma. We have a daughter now and family situation does not allow us to have another dog right now. We put Duke down 5 years ago. He also died in my arms. I still miss him and still love that that dam dog. He was ne of the best friends I ever had.

  16. It sure is a sad day for you the pack leader and the rest of your pack. It has just been a bit over a year since I lost my beagle boys Milo & Rudy. Many years since I lost my Cloey our golden lab. Each one I held in my arms singing their hamburger song as they slipped away. To this day it is still hard to cook some meals that were their favorite. I know you will alway cherish the friendship and lessons brought to you from your beloved friend and family member.

    Blackie may the earth embrace you until you become one so you can dance with the elements and frolic in the sun. Play with my Milo Rudy and Cloey in time you can walk side by side with your old pack. Take care and all my love to you and your family.

  17. I’m sorry for your loss. I recently lost a beloved dog of 15 years. A year later it still hurts. I find the poem Rainbow Bridge to be a comfort though.

  18. 04 BlueSmoke

    Jack, I’m sorry for your loss. Dogs always give much pleasure over their lives. the pain we feel when we must do what we should pales by comparison.

  19. Been there Brother, and it’s tough. Losing my boyhood best friend after 17 years was hard on this ex-paratrooper too. They’re family, and most of the time actually closer than most of our blood relatives. I’m tilting a brew back for you and yours tonight.

  20. Sorry for your families loss Jack. Hearing about it made me remember all the ones we’ve lost over the years. I don’t think anyone would blame you if you took another day or Two before starting The show back up.

  21. Go in peace faithful servant and know you were loved…

    My deepest condolences… May he forever run in fields of green with tall trees…and lots of birds, squirrels and rabbits to chase…

  22. Godspeed, jack and family, hugs and a tall class of bourbon in honor…

  23. Blackie’s picture reminded me of a wise old man, and I am sure that Blackie was as well, and taught the 3 of you many lessons. His memory will show itself in many ways in the coming years. It is so fortunate for all of you to have him rest with you there in Texas.

  24. So sorry for your loss Jack! My husband and I recently lost our 7 month old puppy to parvo. It was nothing compared to the length of time you had Blackie, but it really helped us gain an understanding of the depth of sadness associated with a pets passing. I think unless you have gone through it yourself, you have no idea how bad it really is. It is different than a best friend….this was a friend that you saw every single day!
    Your story really touched me. I hope you take off whatever time you need.

  25. My condolences to you and your family, Jack.

  26. I had to say goodbye to my cat this morning. My last real memory of her is of waking up early this morning to find that she was using my neck for a pillow. I understand the pain you are probably experiencing. You have my deepest sympathy. Take the time you need.

  27. David & Sarah in Houston

    A human never truly discovers the breadth and depth of their humanity without a dog. May peace and comfort find you in this time of reflection.

  28. So sorry for your loss.

  29. Diana Nickel

    So sorry, it is very sad and empty when an old dog is gone. He sounds like he was a good boy. We miss our old Sophie dog, too. Gone 4 years now.

  30. Eoin O Murchu

    Jack,

    I lost my first and favourite dog a few years back in the fashion, I sat in my car outside the vets and sobbed like a toddler. Hard times its true but it’s good to see you will remember his life and respect him in death.

  31. Mr. Spirko and family,

    I am saddened to hear of the passing of your family friend. As an avid dog lover and owner I have also had to make the decision to ease the pain of our four legged friend. Time and fond memories will fill your heart with joy. Keeping ou in my thoughts and prayers.

  32. Crying Dog Owners

    From our family to yours Jack, please take our love & heartfelt sympathy for your dear Friend Blackie.
    You were both with him as he slipped into an eternal peace,now he is pain free. Take solace in those facts. He will live on as your faithful companion in spirit now!

  33. tyronedeblanco

    : (

    We lost our dog back on 1/17/13. I feel your pain Jack. “Dirk” was an annoying bastard that loved life and was a HUGE part of our family. His presence was large and the void he left is deeply felt in our home. Hope your family endures gets well. Love and peace bro.

  34. Sorry to hear this, Jack. 16 is a great, long life for a dog, but still, it is never any easier on us just because they had a full life. There are people whose death I would cry less (or none) about than if my dog died. I know the bond you were talking about and it is a terrible thing to have to end.

    Be blessed.

  35. I am sorry for your loss, but I rejoice the friendship. I hope your family’s pain is brief as possible.

    Todd

  36. R.I.P. Blackie. Our dogs worm their way into our hearts and then leave a hole when they go. {{{Hugs}}}

  37. Our condolences to your family, Jack and Dorothy. My wife and I chatted with Dorothy at the Liberty Forum and she told us how much you both were missing your doggies when you were away, especially with Blackie in poor health. You can’t save every puppy, but at least you gave that one a good life and lots of love. Inspiring.

  38. My dog is my best friend even though I am married and have a wide circle of human friends. He has seen me and stuck with me through my worst moments in life. He is beside the desk as I write this, resting on a hard wood floor just to be near me.

    In our society, losing a dear friend that just happens to be a dog is not as revered as losing a person. We have no standard rituals or mourning periods. To me, this should be changed. No podcast today is only right. I would call “shame on you” if you did one.

    When my best friend departs, I am not sure what I am going to do and I can only hope to honor him like you honored Blackie.

  39. There is never enough time with the ones we love. My heart goes out to you and all that love Blackie. I hope knowing there will be endless time for hikes and hunting when we meet again on the other side brings some comfort.

  40. I was very sorry to hear about the passing of Blackie. We had to put down one of our Goldens, Honey, about a year ago and we still miss her terribly. Every once in a while when our other golden approaches just for a moment I see Honey out of the corner of my eye. My wife and I have had quite a few dogs together and have fond memories of all who have passed. I always say old dogs are the best dogs. They somehow seem to appreciate life more as they age. Enjoy the day and your memories of Blackie.

  41. Sorry to hear the rough news. You and your family are my thoughts today.

  42. I’ve had dogs all my life and they are the best companions-their unconditional love and loyalty is something we seldom see in our fellow humans. Dogs are like kids with fur coats and are a huge part of the family. Rest in peace blackie.

  43. Jack,

    I’m sorry for your loss. Your audience supports you.

    🙂

  44. Brian W/NorIDhunter

    I totally understand and respect the time you need to deal with your loss. Although he can never be “replaced”, I hope that you folks will pass through your grief soon, and be able to choose a successor to Blackie’s job. As I worked in a shelter for some time, I’m gratified to hear of the happy life you guys shared together and hope that others will consider a “shelter dog” in their lives as well. In the meantime, I will give all 5 of my dogs an extra hug on your behalf, in particular my 9 y/o black Lab – Magnum; thanks for the reminder that our time with them is all too short.
    May I be half the person that my dog thinks I am.

    • Modern Survival

      It will happen sooner then most expect. We were very close to adopting another dog before Blackie passed. The reality is Max deserves and has deserved a true partner for a long time. Blackie and he sort of just coexisted as Blackie was an old man when we got Max. Max is such a good dog he understood that and gave him space and never tried to force him to play. I am sure he will be a great big brother to a new pup VERY SOON.

      • Jack, In the show notes of episode 536 you said that when the time came to replace Blackie that you would be replacing him with a feist. Is that still the plan? Your life has changed quite a bit since then, having moved twice etc., and feelings change over the course of time, so changing your mind isn’t bad. I was just curious if that was still in the plan.

        • Modern Survival

          Don’t take this wrong, I know what you mean but I have to say this, we will never “replace” Blackie again I know you didn’t mean it that way it is just too recent to not say that in response.

          On the breed, at this point I am really not married to anything anymore. I plan to simply visit places with rescue dogs that need a home, I am going to look for a pup we have so much going on here I don’t want to deal with ingrained problems and issues with a dog attacking our livestock. Pups are easy to teach in this regard.

          I look at it this way, we are going to see a dog and just know, that is simply how it has always been.

  45. It was an honor to spend time with you and meet Blackie last week. The sadness is a testimony to what a wonderful friend he was. He lived a good life and was a source of joy for your family. Take care my friend. –Sam

  46. Jack, Dorthy & Matt…
    We are sorry to passing of such a dear friend. Time does heal these wounds, but the memories will always remain.

    God Bless,
    Rook

  47. Sidney Patin

    Sorry to hear about your loss, Jack & Dorothy. Pets are members of the family and their loss is felt for a long time. I still miss my Kasey and Paris, my little buddies.

  48. I went through the cooking and feeding special foods for an old dog that was losing her appetite … it can be a pain but when you stop having to do it, it leaves a huge hole and boy, do you miss it. It’s the least we can do for them after years of their companionship and love. I know when another special one comes along that needs Spirko family love you’ll be ready.

  49. Jack, I am so very sorry to hear about Blackie. Your family gave him a beautiful life and I know he will always be with you.

    I lost my beloved Mastiff/Shepherd Kodiak about 14 years ago and have always kept his picture on my desk. I know someday I will see him again.

    Inside the frame is this: “You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, the will be there long before any of us.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

    God Bless.

  50. Jack – so sorry for your loss. We have 2 dogs and know how you and your family must feel. Thanks for sharing with this beautiful and moving post. The selection of the spot for Blackie is SO thoughtful.

  51. Gosh, I am sorry Jack.

    She won’t understand why, but I’ll be giving my dog some extra attention today in gratitude for her years of loyalty and love.

  52. Sorry for your loss!

  53. Sorry for your loss. We have a Lab and a Shih-Poo which meet me at the door every day with their toys, and a parrot that goes nuts for her share of attention. Your tribute hit hard by reminding me of how many days I don’t go outside and play with them. That will change today…

  54. What a beautiful tribute for a wonderful dog. I hope the memories you have of him will help carry you through the difficult days ahead as you mourn your loss.

  55. Jack and family Sorry for your loss .

  56. You are a good and kind person when you can feel and appreciate the love of a devoted pet and understand that they are a special gift to us. There is the old story that when God drove Man out of the Garden only the Dog chose to go with us…and so we are close in a way that defies logic but not emotion. God bless you and your family.

  57. How someone treats & feels about the animals in their life can often give you a good example of their character [I feel. ] I can tell you loved your dog, Jack. Sorry for your loss.

  58. Autofabwelding (David)

    Sorry to read about your loss Jack. I know from your show videos and especially this post that your dogs are very special to you. I love the way your son picked him out.

  59. Dear Spirko Family,

    The Teolis’ in Virginia hold you in our hearts and thoughts during this difficult time and beyond. Very sorry to read this post but we know Blackie pushed the limits because of your love. Peace.

  60. I think there is a special bond between man and canine. Dogs sense our emotions, love us, and protect us. Your words brought up emotions that I have felt before and that I will feel again as I currently have two great dogs.

    Thanks for sharing.

  61. yesterday reading the blog post and today hearing you on the podcast you have made me misty-eyed, holding my two year old BosPin tight. :.( Dogs are so special. I had just gotten back from iraq when my parents told me they had to put Sophie down at 12 years of age (recurring bladder stones). I was taking the news well until my mom started describing her final moments, her last whimper before passing and i yelled at my mom “stop it! im trying not to cry!” 🙂 the dog is one of the biggest parts of a family to me, so sad when one goes.

  62. I’m sitting here tearing up hoping that my wife doesn’t see me from the kitchen. Only a dog owner knows what it means to have had a companion that never yelled at you, never judged you, and was ALWAYS happy to see you.

    It hurts to hear your experience, but death is part of life. Eventually we lose every pet, friend and family member, and it’s just a blessing to hear that it could happen in such an optimal way. Hope your hearts are warmed with the fond memories of your best friend.

    -Dan

  63. God Bless

  64. II did not post when I first read about Blackie. I cried as I read it to my daughter and husband. My daughter started to get teary just because I was. We share your grieve in your loss even if we never petted Blackie. He was there in your podcasts and videos. We lost a pet a few years ago and I got teary every time I drove near the vet. He died in our arms too. As sick as he was he still tried to comfort us in tour time of grieve. A pet is more than a pet it is a member of your family too.

  65. Jack, I’m sorry for your loss.

    That was a very touching eulogy and I’m not too proud to admit that I got choked up reading it.

  66. My condolences brother

    Loss of our furry friends is always hard. About the only consolation is the amazing fact these animals choose to spend their lives together with us.

  67. Matthew N Gooseneck

    Sorry for your loss my friends.

  68. Sorry to hear about your loss, Jack. Thinking of you and the family.

  69. Jack,
    I am so glad that you got to spend such a long and loving time with Blackie. We had to put our Cattle dog mix down a while back. It was devastating for my wife and I.

    This little Cattle dog was the most insane dog ever. We adopted her and she was an instant part of our family(we also have 2 other dogs). Initially and officially we named her Tabouli. The first day we had her, she was in such horrible pain she kept snorting like a pig. So from about 2 hours into her life with us, she was Piggy.

    This was one of the most broken dog I have ever been around. She was hit by a car sometime as a puppy. Her back hips were all mess up. On of her back legs had a curved bone. On top of that, her back knees would bend the wrong way very often. Her spine was tweaked because of the leg and hip issues. There would be about 2 months of the year she would be in horrible pain. We had to buy a heating pad just for her.

    The last few months were tough for her. She started having seizures. That not only took it’s toll on her, but our other dogs as well. I remember the moment she looked at us with the “It’s time to let me go” look. Like Blackie, she passed being held by the 2 people who loved her more than anyone ever did. This poor crippled dog had I very hard life before she came to live with us. I was honored to be able to give her what she deserved.

    Cheers to you Spirkos, for giving Blackie a wonder life. And cheers to Blackie for returning the favor.

  70. GrizzlyAdams

    Very sorry for your loss Jack. We lost our Doberman back in November 2012 and was very hard on my wife and I. We have kept his blanket in a large plastic bin. It still smells just like him.

    GA

  71. Jack,

    My deepest sympathy goes out to you and your family. Blackie sounds like a great family member. We had a similar chapter in our families book of life when our 14 year old collie mix died of bone cancer. She lived a year longer then expected & I cherish every moment I got to spend with Maggie.

    Thank you for sharing this with the TSP Community. Acts like this show you are truly building a Community not just a resource for being self sufficient. Discussing all parts of life helps us all grow.

    Regards,
    David

  72. My deepest sympathy, Jack.
    I know what this feels like.

  73. What a beautiful testament to “Blackie”. Jack there are many things in life that bring joy but nothing quite like the selfless love a dog can give. Not only to his Master but also to an entire family. Loyalty and unconditional love is something truly rare, Blackie, like many dogs had it in spades. I read the article a couple days ago when it was posted and a read it again today. Very well done my friend. Thinking about you guys.

  74. Jack-

    I couldn’t make it past the third paragraph. My eyes started to well up with tears as I went through the same thing 5 years ago. I don’t have kids, but losing a beloved pet has to be the closest thing to losing a son or daughter. These companions give their love so unconditionally asking nothing in return. I am sure you have lost pets in the past. Time will dull that wound, but a song or a situation in a movie will make it all come back. I am truly saddened by your loss.

  75. What a great life Blackie had. If all dogs could have such a home the world would be a better place. The next friend that you adopt will have some big paws to fill.

  76. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. We had a dog and cat that we had to let go a couple of years ago from cancer. Miss them everyday. Great tribute and we can’t wait to find our forever home to lay their ashes to rest in a place that’s home.

  77. Caught your words about Blackie’s passing on the podcast, then read the entry above. I appreciated your perspective as to how Blackie became a part of your family’s story. Over way too many years, I’ve had any number of “pets” who have taught me as much, or more, about being a better person, than many of the humans I’ve encountered. And, when it has come time for one of them to cross the veil, I’ve felt it was my obligation – my honor – to be there to the very end.

    I’m sorry for your loss. You expressed yourself well. Taking care of a “family member” from beginning to end is another lesson in learning to prepare for today and tomorrow.

  78. Diane Shearer

    Jack,
    Just wanted to express my sorrow at the sad loss of your dog. We have had to make that choice many times. I’m looking at a photo of one of our most special dogs as I write. We had to make the hard choice 2 years ago in very similar circumstances. I’ll probably always miss him, no matter how many dogs I own. I hope it helps a little to know so many people understand. You’ve written a beautiful tribute to your friend. Blessings,
    Diane

  79. Hi Jack, just cought your story about Blackie on the podcast. So sorry to hear about your loss. Dogs are such an amazing benefit to the family unit. There is nothing like a kid and their dog. Being a ranch kid growing up with dogs and now watching my own kids growing up with dogs in their lives is so fun. I can honestly say that this “big tough cowboy” has shed more than a few tears over the loss of my “working dogs” who were actually more friends and companions than ranch help. It is so hard to say goodbye to such a bright spot in your life. Most importantly you were there with him when he passed. My prayers are with you and your family. God Bless.

  80. Jack,
    I just wanted to let you know I was thinking about Blackie today. I had to say goodbye to my best friend of the past 16 years Driver today. I told him to find Blackie and make a friend forever. Its hard but I know it was the best thing for him.

    • Modern Survival

      My heart goes out to you. It is a very hard thing to loose a friend and dogs make the best friends.