Norman and Nathan. Those were the names of the two kittens we adopted from an event at a pet store in North Little Rock in July of 2007 from the Maumelle Friends of the Animals. Sweet and shy, they took a few days to adjust to our home, where they were rechristened Jack and Harry. Jack Harrison was our “boy name we never used” and that ship had sailed! Trever’s paternal grandfather was named Jack and my dad’s name was Harry, so Harrison was to be a derivative but for the cat, we stuck with Harry.

As time went on, Jack became Sarah’s cat. From the time she was small, Sarah had wanted an “orange” cat. We had an unfortunate time with some kittens when the girls were too small to have pets, and with a devil of a cat named Kiara (don’t worry, all were rehomed with love!) and then had a brief time with a little orange guy named Mini Bubba before he got sick. But Jack and Harry were in it for life. They were the OG duo, surviving through Max, the giant Scottish terrier we had for a couple of years, and Lilly, the mischievous little Siamese who proved to be too much to handle after my cancer diagnosis and who tortured Jack incessantly for no apparent reason. We lost Harry several years ago but Jack persevered through the addition of the dynamic duo of Bubby and Ben and later Lucy – all dogs. He even tolerated his new cat brothers Finn and Noah, who tragically both died last year after brief, different, illnesses.

Jack was a big boy in his prime, tipping the scale at close to 20 pounds. He was slightly neurotic and a creature of habit. After the bad interactions with Lilly, he pretty much decided Sarah’s room was his safe space and refused to live in the rest of the house with all of us. She graciously accommodated and assume his care, complete with toilet facilities for him! She is a clean freak so that was quite the ask, but she complied, incorporating a covered litter box into her ever changing room decor. He was her best buddy and it became more and more clear that he wasn’t just a family pet, he was “Sarah’s cat, Jack.” Several years ago, she noticed he was losing weight and drinking more; a diagnosis of diabetes was made and she again valiantly assumed his care, providing insulin shots twice daily at some points, making sure he was fed, medicated, cared for, and happy.

Even though he was a hermit at home, Jack had quite a few adventures, especially during the peak pandemic time. We were hesitant to board him when we went up the the family cabin in north Arkansas, so Jack came along with us, making a few memorable messes in his carrier on the trips. In one “mis-adventure” last summer, Trever, Sarah and I were going to go to the cabin for a few days, but upon arriving, found some evidence of rodent residents and decided to go to Eureka Springs for a couple of days instead. Jack snuck into one hotel disguised as a baby and was a legitimate guest at another, although he had to legally register as a dog, which he likely found very offensive.

Despite his age and his medical conditions, Jack continued to thrive; we did have some scary experiences with his sugar dropping too low at one point, causing seizures and even an episode of blindness. After his sugar was stabilized his vision returned, although we credit the consumption of a Jimmy John’s sandwich to his healing process. Because he loved his foods, particularly carbs. He would steal a chip or a cracker if the opportunity presented itself, sometimes carrying them away to crunch away in peace. Sarah could rarely snack in her room without having to share with him. And even as he aged, and his back legs became slightly bowed with arthritis, he played with his laser toy until the end; he was always game to chase and pounce on the red beam of light.

Jack was a popular guy, whether he knew it or not. He often made an appearance on Zoom classes and meetings, sometimes to the distraction of those involved! He was a favorite patient at our veterinarian’s office at Greenbrier Animal Hospital where he stayed when we went on vacation and all the staff knew him by name.

Sarah was always the first to notice when something seemed “off” and this last week was no exception. Jack had become increasingly vocal, restless, pacing and crying, even with her in the room. He had lost a tooth the week before and a visit to the vet revealed he had an infection/possible abscess; we hoped that was the issue, but she had a feeling it wasn’t. After a steroid shot, and trial run of antibiotics and painkillers, he became increasingly listless, refusing to eat and growing weak and lethargic over the next day. As it always seems to happen, our veterinarian’s office was closed Saturday morning when we realized that something was seriously wrong. As we tried to decide what emergency clinic to try, Sarah remembered that Dr. Lori Smith (who used to work at Greenbrier) had moved to her own practice in Conway; they were open a half day on Saturdays and graciously worked us in mid morning.

Sarah and I made the drive to Conway yesterday with her fully prepared to make the hardest, most loving decision a pet parent can make. After some blood work revealed kidney failure, and given his medical issues and his declination of quality of life, that decision was made. On March 18, 2023, Jack Brackett crossed the rainbow bridge with his best girl by his side, loving him out of this world the same way she loved him through it. RIP Jack – you were a good boy.

-Karri Temple Brackett
March 19, 2023

And you know in your soul
When it’s time to go – Taylor Swift

Many thanks to Dr. Ward and staff at Greenbrier Animal Hospital for all the care you showed Jack over the years. And to Dr. Lori Smith and staff, formerly of Greenbrier Animal Hospital but now at Good Shepard Animal Clinic in Conway, Arkansas who assisted in Jack’s transition from this plane.

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