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Life’s Lessons


Dustin left for the United States Coast Guard in 2005. He would try to come home on leave once or twice a year, and Jade never forgot him. He always recognized Dustin at first sight, or even before that when he heard his car pulling up the driveway.
In the six-plus years that my husband, Paul, and I have been together, he and Jade had also become best of friends. Whenever Paul was off work, he took him everywhere. They were inseparable. Paul took Jade’s loss pretty hard too. He compared losing Jade to the loss of his Dad. My daughter Deanna, her husband Noah, and their kids said their good-byes to Jade about a month before he left us. Somehow, without even talking with her about Jade’s health, Deanna knew, and sensed it. She took extra time with him that day, without my even knowing why.
I think Saki, our Siamese cat, misses him. I get the feeling that Saki knew Jade was at the end of his journey a couple days before. He did not leave his side all day. Even when Paul had to run into town and closed the bedroom door to the room where Jade rested, Saki sat outside the bedroom door ... and was still in the same spot in front of the door when Paul got back an hour or so later. Normally, Saki would pick on him, taunt him and just plain mess with Jade. But he hadn’t done that in the last few weeks or even month. I think he knew it’s cruel to kick someone when he’s down.
I had put together a scrapbook for Jade a few years ago, realizing back then, that he was aging quickly and would most likely not be around much longer. In it, I put a great quote by Andy Rooney, “The average dog is a better person than the average person.” Well put, Andy. I guess we could all learn something from a friend like Jade. My family made jokes about the scrapbook when I made it, but now they look at it teary-eyed, and are glad that we have it.
Neither Paul nor I slept very well the first few weeks after saying good-bye to Jade. The house was so very quiet. I never thought I would take his loss so hard. Nothing really prepares us for the loss of a loved one, be it human or a furry friend. It’s really been heartbreaking.
Dustin will be home on leave in a few weeks, at which time, Deanna, Dustin, Paul, Noah, Bryson, Jack and I will give him ‘a proper burial’ and spread his ashes somewhere that he would want to rest, perhaps by the lake or park that we used to walk and run.
He’s in a better place now. No more pain. He’s probably, running and jumping and having a great time. I’m sure he’s smiling as only a dog can. I think that he is still most certainly watching and guarding all of us. He’ll never really be gone from our lives, his legacy will always be with us, as well as those important life lessons that he taught us.  
May he sleep peacefully. Jade, 1998-2010.




Judith St. Ores grew up on a dairy farm outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. She works in the field of information technology, and writes humorous short stories in her downtime. She currently lives outside Hudson, Wisc., with her husband, Paul, Saki, her cat and their new puppy, Bailey.

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