Saturday, November 21, 2015

Jar Jar Binx: One Damn Fine Hound

We said goodbye to Jar Jar Binx today. It wasn't easy. It's never easy to say goodbye. I cried buckets and buckets and am sure there will be more tears before there is laughter. A lot of loved ones know the story of how Jar Jar Binx came into our lives and home, but as his light moves on, it seems fitting to share it again.

The vets think that Binx was about 11 months old when we drove away from the SPCA of Dallas with him in the backseat. He was so weak and malnourished it was hard to tell. Mark had seen him on TV and decided that we needed to save that dog. Still newlyweds, we ventured to the old SPCA building off Industrial Blvd. and they walked us over to the hospital ward so we could meet Ranger #8.

Part of a raid, they had named him Ranger #8 because he was the 8th animal they pulled out of a locked up animal control facility in Ranger, Texas, that had been abandoned by the local sheriff's deputy. Lots of animals were already dead, having been without food and water, for several weeks, but Ranger #8 hung on for dear life. The SPCA animal control officer who carried him out in his arms would later tell us that he didn't think Ranger #8 would make it; he was so weak and emaciated. Ranger #8 weighed 25 lbs. when the SPCA saved him. Part Rhodesian Ridgeback and part Lab, he should have been closer to 75 or 80 lbs.

He was close to 30 lbs. when we met him. The tiny hospital building was as ramshackle as you could imagine. We walked into the tiny room and they opened up his cage and said 'come on, boy.' He came limping out of the cage, his big frame wavering on his emaciated legs. But there was light and life in his eyes. He smiled as he stumbled toward us. It's Jar Jar Binx, I whispered to Mark. And that was it. He became our dog/baby/family that instant.

We couldn't take him home immediately. He was anemic and needed to be stable a bit longer. The vets said we couldn't have him fixed until his red blood cell levels were up and he'd gained some weight.

We returned a few days later to take him home. The look in the SPCA team members eyes when we walked out the door said a lot; they were grateful for us, but didn't think Ranger #8 would be around much longer. He was still weak and emaciated. He was still anemic. They didn't charge us a thing - they just told us to take him home and love him. They thanked us. They didn't know him - or us, for that matter. How often we've thanked the SPCA over the years for bringing such a strong light into our lives.

Mark went to work healing Jar Jar Binx as soon as we got home. Our other dog, Dusty, was clearly jealous of the delicacies Binx enjoyed, so we let him enjoy a few. Mark whipped him up several kinds of dog food with lard, butter, eggs, olive oil, etc. We needed to bulk him up and get his red cell count to an acceptable level. Princess Leia, my tabby, stayed out of the way. The animals had their own room at that point (clearly, pre-kids), and she stayed in it. The Princess and Jar Jar would later become fast buddies, but that took time.

Binx gradually started gaining weight. Within a few weeks, we were able to have him fixed. The folks at the SPCA hardly recognized him. We ran into the animal control officer who had carried him out and introduced him to Jar Jar Binx - aka "Ranger #8." His eyes bugged out of his head. He clearly didn't think that Ranger #8 was going to make it. He was smiling when we told him how strong Binx is - that he was still a fighter. That we were going to fight for him. We thanked the officer for his work.

That was 11 years and 3 months ago.

Through the years, Jar Jar Binx has brought more laughter, joy, and exasperation to our lives than we ever thought possible. Laughter and joy at watching our lion hound race through the cedar and across the ranch after a white tail buck or an armadillo; exasperation at discovering that he had eaten not one, but every single gingerbread cookie that Mark's mother had made for Christmas.

Joy at watching him swim after Savena and Cora when he felt that they were floating too far into Lake Travis; exasperation when he ate 3 remote controls and my college Spanish book in the middle of the semester.

Laughter when we first bought him a house, complete with a down-filled pillow, and we returned from work and found a roomful of feathers, with a pink nose sticking out amongst it all; exasperation when he ate half a whole salmon and half of my triple chocolate, 7.5 lb. birthday cake with chocolate ganache. (Does anyone notice a theme here?)

Joy at watching him zoom around the backyard, in between the gardens and kids like it was his own personal racetrack; exasperation when he whined nonstop for 7 hours (at a very high pitch) because he wanted to get out of the truck and run.

There are animals you love and there are animals that become a part of your soul. Jar Jar Binx will always be the latter. We're better people for having gotten to care for him and we will always miss him. We'll never know how he came into this life, but we gave him the best life we could and will miss our goofball more than words can express.

Rest in peace, Jar Jar Binx. Have fun with Dusty, Chevy, Princess Leia, Magic, Annabelle, and all the others who have gone before. You can now run forever.