Written by Jim Deignan
Some of you may recall my name and my history with Golden Retriever rescue. My name is Jackson and I was, for several years, confined to a puppy mill in Japan. You may also recall that in 1996 my fate was learned and life would begin to change - I was given a second chance. My life, documented in previous articles, was one of horror with my muscles weakened from lack of free movement, my weight down from lack of nutrition, my health deteriorating from lack of medical care. Most importantly, my Golden spirit broken from lack of love. Without someone to speak my name, to stroke my stately head or heal my wounds, death would appear to have been my only salvation.
Through the efforts of a group of determined crusaders the International Golden Retriever Rescue Alliance (IGRA) was born. Many of you may recall that the story of my years in the Japanese puppy mill served to raise the level of awareness of the need for rescue efforts both here and abroad. The story of my imprisonment and rescue also served to slow the sale of Goldens to indiscriminate brokers overseas. Breeders re-examined their commitments to their animals' safety and well-being.
Six years have past since my rescue gave me new life. As I now struggle with the horrors of cancer I reflect on what that rescue did for me and, more importantly, those around me. After coming home there was a very careful search for my new home and I was to join my niece Glory in Omaha, NE. My breeder remained forever in my life. She promised me a second chance and never, never, never gave up. She selected a family and watched from afar, never out of my new life.
During these last six years I became all I could be; I became a Golden in the truest sense of the word. Life went from being an imprisoned breeding machine to a confident companion - an animal that would change lives. Those involved in my rescue became stronger, more confident and committed to rescue. Breeders, caregivers and dog brokers made changes both willingly and unwillingly. Lives began changing; isnít that what Goldens do - change lives?
With this second chance I was made whole again and began my six year journey of touching lives and making the world a better place. As I leave this life I look at how important it is for rescue efforts to never stop, never say no. Not time, distance or money would allow her to ever give up. I look at those whose lives I touched and I see change. I see them changing the world in which we live.
During my last six years I allowed a veterinarian to reaffirm why he became a doctor. As I fought through the health issues from my years in the puppy mill I made my doctor stronger, more committed, more fulfilled - just as I did those in my rescue group. In my struggle with cancer I am no longer alone - no longer abandoned. Glory, my family, my breeder, my rescuers and my doctor are by my side every final step of lifeís journey.
Over these last six years I was able to enrich the life of my niece, companion and teacher - Glory. We joined a pet therapy group where we could impact lives of many, many people in nursing homes and hospitals. As an elderly lady tapped on her bed asking if Iíd come over I brought life into her eyes. On a later visit I was invited to lay on the foot of her bed. I brought hope and love - for I knew what life was without it.
My story was shared at a fundraiser for the local humane society where much needed funds were sought to give others like myself the chance they deserve. I proudly walked that runway to show everyone what a second chance can mean. I share with you some of the ways that we give back - if you never give up. Iíve looked eye to eye with small children as they, not so gently, pet my majestic head. We are teachers to children and adults alike. We teach you to live, to love, to care and have passion. I sat with a local reporter who said she wouldnít do animal stories. She sat and stroked my face, then she wrote her very best story. Over these last six years Iíve challenged those around me to be better human beings just as Glory has challenged me to be a better Golden.
Living in the home of a policeman and a Boys Town caregiver I worked every day to teach him to protect and serve those who cannot protect themselves. I took a veteran policeman and made him a better policeman. I helped make a caregiver of children become more committed to providing help where there was none. I taught integrity, compassion and, most of all loyalty. I went from life in a cage with no chance, to becoming a full Golden. From no life, to making you more than you thought you could be. As much as cancer has weakened my body my strength is knowing Iíve made you stronger. Iíve enriched you and taught you to enrich those around you - Iíve done my job.
My breeder never left me once I got back in the United States. She put Glory in charge and stayed forever on guard and by my side watching me change, grow and touch lives. She gave me the chance to teach and teach I did. My breeder traveled to my home when word of my illness shook her world. Just before Thanksgiving I again, just as life started, laid in her motherly arms to give her the strength she gave me. When we parted it was very, very difficult. We parted knowing we completed our work. If the name Jackson is again spoken in the Golden world I hope it stands for a second chance.
As I say good-bye I thank those who fought for me and with me, cared for me, believed in me. To rescue is to bring change - not just in our lives, but yours. Be prudent, be faithful, be vigilant, be responsible breeders and caregivers.
On November 30th, 2002 I succumbed to the cancer and left Glory to change more lives.
"How Many More Have To Go?"
"Jackson After The Rescue"
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