There’s no greater gift than friendship because it’s through friendship that we learn so many things. And when it comes to man’s best friend, there are things you can learn that never cease to surprise you.
Handsome Jack was found at the base operations of Haiti Air Ambulance in Port-au-Prince. When the crew found him, he was emaciated, scared, untrusting—it’s clear all hell had befallen on Jack. The crew, each one of them dog lovers, were committed to bringing Jack back to life. As the Indian proverb says, “we are now responsible for him.”
But an emergency medical base is not the best place for animals. Although we all love Jack very much and he did his part to protect our base from other dogs and wild animals, including the two-legged kind, he can’t stay with us. Once Jack was thoroughly on the mend and ready to fend for himself, as is customary for dogs in Haiti, we let Jack free down the road from our gated base. The next morning Jack was back.
Touched by his dedication to our base, the crew showered Jack with love and attention along with some breakfast. As the day went on and sunset drew near, their hearts sank with the truth that they would have to take Jack away yet again. We knew that it would have to be far to make sure that he would not find his way back. Port-au-Prince, after all, is not an easy city to navigate like the grid system of New York or Paris. Most natives of this city can’t navigate it even with GPS in their hands.
Jack was taken clear across town, past the city limits, up and over a mountain to a place about 25 miles away from our base. The next morning everyone was quiet noticing Jack’s absence but they pressed on.
The day after that, two days after departure, Jack returned. Finding flight nurse Wendy at the helipad, he ran up to her ready to report for duty. Realizing that Jack was committed to our base and protecting us there, we knew that there was nowhere in Haiti, or the Dominican Republic for that matter, that would prevent Jack from returning to us.
I brought Jack back to New York, frustrated and less than excited about the prospect of a second dog in my life since my heavy travel makes it hard for me to care for the first. But thanks to Steve Hong of K9 Key, who trains, boards, loves and provides my Mika with a second home, I had willing help for Jack. Our handsome mister arrived in New York in October. He was nervous, had never lived indoors before and didn’t know anything about New York, let alone our winters. But the same zest Jack showed for protecting our base, he applied towards becoming a good indoor dog (house training, learning to sit, eating dog food and taking baths).
In the two months since Jack has moved to New York, he has gotten all his shots. He’s regularly seen a vet to help his final stages towards healthiness and put on a few pounds for the New York winters ahead. For the last week, Jack has been staying with me and coming to work at Pulse headquarters where he has consistently stolen hearts, held court and taught us many things. Through Jack, I have learned a lot about love. In particular, that it’s never bad to ask for it. In his gentle ways, he will come and lean his forehead under your hand or under your foot saying, in his way, “please love me.” Jack has taught me about loyalty, protecting those you love and even forgiving them when they do something you don’t understand. He is sweet, happy and like all Haitians, resilient. For a skinny guy, he’s so strong; he makes my arms tired.
The best thing I can do for Jack this holiday season is find him a family that will love him as much as we do. Some place with a large fenced yard, so that although he can’t roam the streets wildly like he did in Port-au-Prince ruling the night, he can at least have his own domain to lord over. Jack is ready for a home and ready to give love. He has a lot of energy and likes to bounce around, which makes me think he would be wonderful with kids. I just hope wherever he goes next isn’t too far from our offices so he can come and visit us.
To adopt the handsome Jack, please email Jack@nullHaitiAirAmbulance.org