Content Warning: Death of an animal friend
Jerico, The Man’s doggie companion for over a decade and my friend since January of 2017, passed away on October 25, 2021. He was a good boy. He is loved and he is missed.
I don’t want to go into all the details of Jerico’s illness and death. It’s just too much. But I will say he had a difficult year, almost exactly a year of pain and decline. At the end, I knew he was suffering. His death was a sort of horrible blessing because I knew it meant an end to that suffering.
The Man and I had parted ways in Taos in June. He took off in search of cooler temperatures. Of course, Jerico went with him.
The Man called after a couple of weeks. Jerico wasn’t doing well. He was in a lot of pain, wasn’t leaving his bed but maybe once a day, wasn’t eating well. I thought maybe this was the end.
I didn’t hear anything, not a peep, from The Man for two months. He didn’t have a phone, and payphones are few and far between out in the world. I thought maybe I’d never hear from him again. I wondered how he and Jerico were doing.
I texted The Man’s sister and asked if she had heard from him, if she knew how Jerico was. She said Jerico was doing great. That seemed like a miracle to me.
On Wednesday, October 20, The Man showed up at my door. I was happy to see him. Jerico was with him, of course. The Man lifted Jerico from the passenger side of the minivan and set him gently on the ground. He walked around, barked, came over to me for pets. When The Man and I talked to each other, Jerico barked for our attention. He seemed like his same bossy self. When it was time to go inside, Jerico hopped up the step into the trailer
On Thursday The Man and Jerico came back to my trailer. The Man said he and Jerico had gone for a little walk that morning and had a nice time. He used my phone to call about a job, then left Jerico with me while he went to an interview. Jerico mostly stayed on the couch, but stood up to bark when the FedEx driver made a delivery. Later, the lady who owns the RV park where I live came over to give me something. I let Jerico out when I went outside to talk to her. He and the landlady had met before and liked each other. He went to her to get some pets, and she obliged. When she stopped petting him, he barked his bossy bark to demand more. When she left, he and I went back into the trailer. He hopped right in with no help from me.
On Friday, The Man and Jerico came over again so The Man could use my phone. The whole time they were over, Jerico stayed on the couch, lying down. We didn’t realize it at the time, but Jerico wasn’t going to bounce back again.
On Saturday morning, The Man showed up at my door. He asked if he and Jerico could stay in the trailer with me until Jerico passed away. They had been camping on public land and it was dusty and other campers were letting dogs run loose. He didn’t think it was a good environment for Jerico. I said yes. I wanted Jerico to be as comfortable as possible in his last days. The Man warned me it could be two months before Jerico passed. I said they could stay as long as they needed to.
Jerico spent all of Saturday lying down, either on the couch or in his bed that The Man had brought in. He didn’t want to eat and barely drank. The Man and I took turns sitting with him. We made sure someone was always with him. We petted him and sang to him and gave him all the love we could.
We decided we would take him to the vet’s office first thing Monday morning and have her assess Jerico’s situation.
On Sunday, it was obvious that Jerico was not doing well. He didn’t want to go outside. He didn’t want to move from his bed. He didn’t want to eat. The Man and I continued to pet him and love on him and sing to him.
In the morning there was a problem with my solar setup, and The Man had to install a fuse. In the ensuing hubbub, Jerico left the living room and went into the bedroom where he lay down between the bed and the wall. When The Man called him, he wouldn’t come. I got very nervous thinking maybe he had gone there to die. I think The Man feared the same thing, although neither of us spoke the thought aloud. The Man went to the refrigerator and pulled out the block of cheese. Cheese had always been Jerico’s favorite food, so The Man thought he could entice him out with a nice chunk. It didn’t work. When The Man held out the entire block of cheese to Jerico, the pup just turned his head. He didn’t even lick it. That’s when I knew Jerico must feel very, very bad, and the end was near.
The Man did finally get Jerico out of the bedroom and back into his bed on the couch.
Everything that happened after that is too difficult to rehash. All I want to say is that Jerico’s beautiful doggie soul passed from this earth on the morning of October 25, 2021.
The lady who owns the RV park where I live let us bury Jerico at the back of the property, in a brushy area where there are cacti and mesquite trees, where people don’t typically go. The Man dug the grave. We took precautions to discourage animals from disturbing the resting place, including covering the gravesite with big rocks we gathered in the area.
I’m so grateful to have been with Jerico in his last days. It was a privilege and a blessing to be with him, to pet him and love on him and sing to him before he passed. I am so grateful that The Man brought Jerico to my home so I could spend just a little more time with him. I’m so thankful I could offer him a home in his time of suffering so he didn’t have to spend it in the dust or cramped up in the minivan in a parking lot somewhere. I so appreciate the landlady giving us a place to bury Jerico.
Jerico was a good boy, a good dog. He barked a lot and was bossy, but he was also a wonderful friend. He liked to cuddle and was the best doggie heater in the winter. He was a loyal companion and wanted to always be where The Man was, to follow him wherever he went. He loved to play ball more than anything else in the world and was a natural athlete. Everyone who watched him chase and retrieve a blue racquetball was impressed by his speed, dedication, and determination. He would never give up on finding a ball that had been thrown.
He was a special boy, a special friend. I miss him, and I know without asking that The Man does too.
Rest in Peace, Jerico. You are loved. You are missed.
I took the photos in this post unless otherwise note.
Thank you so for your moving tribute. I know you will keep that love in your heart.
Love to all, Auntie M
Thank you, Auntie M. You know he could be a handful, but he was full of love too. It’s hard to miss him, and I cry about him at unexpected times.
i am so sorry for the loss of Jerico. Your kindness allowed him to die in dignity surrounded by love from his people <3
Thank you for your kind words. I truly appreciate them.
Thank you for a morning cry. My Peterdog has been gone for years, but I felt the gratitude living in your story for a few minutes. Thank you for honoring Jericho and the love you shared.
Craig, your words made me cry. I’m so glad you found my post moving and that it called up memories of your Peterdog. Love never really goes away. It lurks in us, ready to resurface when we remember.
Thanks for reading a commenting.
Thank you for this Very personal well written share. I think we all have a Jericho in our past! Well done Jericho, good dog !!
Thank you, David. You made me smile.
Yes, so many people have lost a good dog…or a good cat (I lost a wonderful cat in 2002)…or a good gerbil…or an animal companion of some kind. They are such fuzzy balls of love.
Thank you for understanding what I wrote in this post.
He was a very lucky dog to have been so loved. You and the man were lucky too.
Thank you for these kind words, Rena. Yes, we were all lucky. There was a lot of love for sure. Sometimes I”m just washed over by waves of grief.