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the medicine dog

To heal another from their fear or suffering there is no more noble cause

This will be the last story for my book.

But this story I haven´t told yet because strangely, I forgot it. But the last three days, although five or so months removed from that fateful day I carried Jackson´s dead body five blocks, wrapped in plastic, to that dog hospital who I have no idea if they cremated him nor not. I never went back, but the last days were hell. Raging ulcers near my heart, the pain and the throwing up, just gnarly and left me spent emotionally as well as physically.

Why didn´t I go back? Because i don´t need a jar with his ashes and the money I needed to just live whatever life that was those first days without him. Carrying his lifeless cold body all those blocks was all i need to remember what I lost.

Here´s the story with a little back ground for relevance and reference.

The Medicine Dog

Just after my mom had passed away and still a week away from getting home and with very little in our pockets Jackson and I moved into a very cheap motel in Hawthorn close to the airport

The long road we are on were strewn with motels like this one, drugs and hookers and lost people like us I guess, Jackson and I in the far corner room.

We had checked in and I was putting things away and Jackson was sitting near the Landro disco as we called it because it was missing the letters to spell Landrover Discovery. We heard a kid screaming, not a little, but a high shrill like a deathly terrified childs voice.

I ran out to see a woman, a light skinned black woman, in a dress, I remember, it was like a summer dress but long below her knees. She was beautiful. And she was holding her son who was terrified of Jackson.

´Please can you grab your dog, my son is terrified of dogs. he was mauled when he was two, please get your dog´.

´Jackson, get in the house, right now´ and Jackson God love him got that look on his face that said, ´I haven´t a fucking clue whats going on, but thats why you are the boss, I´ll be in our room´ And off he went orange ball in his mouth.

´Im sorry, I´ll keep an eye on him´. I looked at the boy and I said, ´Hey little man, don´t worry, that dog is your friend.´

He had calmed down some and enough that I could ask, ´So, hey, where you all from?¨

I got to learn that his mom was a nurse, laid off from a hospital in Oxnard, and was evicted, and now, with all they had left, her and her boy were in the far from room from mine.

Her sister had helped her with a little money and arranging an interview here in Hawthorn to maybe get work in a hospice near Disney Land.

´Wow, life comes at you hey. But you are a really good person. That´s obvious. You and your boy, things will be ok.´ Not that I knew shit about what´s ok. I just remember her look on her face when I said that. She actually found the humor in it. I think.

Later that day when the sun was off to the other side of the world and it wasn´t so hot, Jackson and I would set up two goal posts out of plastic bottles andwe would play FIFA World Cup Footall with his orange ball. Sometimes if I had a hockey stick we would go the whole Stanley Cup finals, best of seven.

Jackson would stand in goal and I would kick the ball to try and score. First one to ten won. He stopped ten he won, I scored ten, I won. And trust me, we were pretty even on our competition. He won lots. The Stanlely cups were fun because a few times it came down to the seventh game. I remember how happy I was that although I lost 10 - 9 in that seventh game, because the look on his face. He held that ball, panting and exhausted, and he knew he won. Because I also played the announcer in every game.

The ball back out to the blew line, Gretzky one times it, and oh, no, it´s over Jackson makes the most amazing save. He just won the Stanley Cup, again. and I would jump around and cheer. He seemed to really like that. I think anyway.

But he also reminded me it was game time and he would be relentless in pressing that gooey ball up against my leg putting perfect round ball marks in my pants. I remember being pissed off because I had just bought grey dress pants from Banana Republic and now i had five perfect ball imprints on my legs.

So outside we went and like usual Im calling the plays., I think I was Messi on this day because I didnt know the names of any other FIFA players. I think the score was around 5 to 3 or something, and I looked over and I saw the little boy watching us. Hey, you wanna come play. He turned and went inside.

Two days later, on a day i was too tired to go out Jackson took his ball out side and was outside for an usually long time. So I went outside and there in front of our Landro. was Jackson and ten cars down the parking lot was the little boy. Jackson didn´t go any closer and the boy just looked. Then Jackson took a step and the boy stepped back.

Jackson then did something kinda super cool, he tried to toss the ball to the boy but it only went three cars towards him. So Jackson went and picked up the ball and tossed it again by the flick of his head again the ball sailed towards the boy. but this time the ball caught the slight incline and it rolled all the way to him.

His mom was standing on the steps watching. ´Go on throw it´ so the boy picked up the ball and was totally a natural and threw the ball way over Jackson´s head to the other end of the parking lot behind us. Jackson bounded for that ball, had to reach his paws under another car to get it and somehow scurried it out.

He picked it up and ran back to were he was before, but no further, and tossed it again. Again the boy picked it up and threw it.

He did it five times and I could tell he wanted to do it more but his mom had food for him and he had to go wash his new Jackson gooey hands. Good dog Jackson.

The next day I heard the same thing going on only now I hear the boys voice. ´Drop the ball, drop it´ I thought it was funny because he heard me saying that to Jackson everytime I didn´t score and he caught the ball. And he said it just like I did.

I went outside and there was Jackson still not super close to the kid, and it was as if Jackson only trusted the boy as much as the boy trusted him. But now he could easily toss the ball the eight feet or so to where the boy stood. And the boy still could throw it like he could hit home plate from center field. And Jackson loved it So I just sat down with my ipad and kept playing Madden Online, which by the way I got really really good at.

They did that for a good two hours and the mom just gave me this look like, wow, this is happening. The next day again only now Jackson was teasing the boy and the boy actually was reaching for the ball to take it from jacksons´mouth and Jackson was not having it So he was doing a tug a war but the boy having heard how I dealt with Jackson did the same. ´I said drop it.´ with real authority.

By day seven he and Jackson were sitting next to each other, Jackson begging for some of the boys sandwhich, the boy petting him and Jackson actually licked the kid and gave him a kiss.

I said to the boy, ´hey always be careful putting your face near a dog´s mouth. Now you and Jackson´s are like brothers kind of and so Jackson will never bite you, but always take your time with every dog you meet to be sure he might want to be your friend. There are dogs out there who were like you, and some human was brutal to them, and they will never trust you. so always be careful ok´.

Yes sir.

He said yes sir. That´s the sign of a good mom.

On the eighth day they were leaving and I went to talk to the mom. She had aced her interview and got the job. Woohoo, I said, damn straight. yes. They were packed up but where was the boy, where was Jackson?

I looked around a car and there they were on the steps of another room, Jackson leaning into him, paw on is leg, and patiently waiting for his share of the boy´s doughnut.

No Jackson, you wait. again something he heard me say and Jackson every so gently took his share.

Ok we gotta go, said the mom.

Now Im not gonna say the boy had tears in his eyes, but I sure did when he said,

Goodbye Jackson, I love you.

Five words and a boys life was changed, and a boy who is now 12 maybe, and Im pretty sure he´s gotta dog, because that´s last thing I heard him say. Mom, I want a dog. And the look on her face and when she said thank you to me, almost whispered it, i said, hey, blame Jackson,

Jackson The Medicine Dog, He took a kid who who´s death shrills of pure terror when he first met Jackson to eight days later with that,

Goodbye Jackson, I love you.

Ya I had a pretty special dog and I cant imagine a life without this rock in my throat and these tears in my chest. Every day still. I am grateful for him, my Medicine Dog for all he is teaching me still.

Be real with each other people. Be humble. Be kind.

Goodbye Jackson I Love you.

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