WHEN OUR 5-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER, Jordan, started asking for a puppy, we told her no. Apparently our answer went in one ear and out the other because she kept asking.

Over time, I warmed up to the idea of a dog in the house. In fact, I was ready to help Jordan pick one out. But her father wouldn’t budge. “Babe, I’m allergic to dogs,” he said every time she asked.

One thing you should know about Jordan (besides the fact she’s the best daughter ever) is she’s persistent – really, really persistent. It took that girl nearly five years, but her father finally caved.

Jordan picked out her puppy, named him Big Jack, and introduced him to her father. What happened next surprised us both. Her dad embraced Jack and didn’t have any type of allergic reaction. Jordan immediately snatched Jack back, exclaiming, “Hands off, mister! This dog is MINE!” (ALSO READ ECHO’S STORY: How an Animal Lover and Animal Research Saved This Kitty)

Jack had renal dysplasia, a potentially deadly genetic defect of the kidneys that affects Shih Tzus more than any other breed. (Photo credit: Stillwell family)“Mommy, what’s the matter with Jack!?”

After the first few nights of being in a new home in a new bed and crying himself to sleep, Big Jack relaxed and returned to his happy-go-lucky self. But only for 42 days. Because that’s when he got sick. He started vomiting. Stopped eating. Then had a fever and began to shiver.

All of us panicked. What did Big Jack get into when we weren’t looking? Did he eat something poisonous?? We rushed him to Dr. Scott Steckler, a local vet who truly loves his patients. After a series of tests, we were told Jack had renal dysplasia, a potentially deadly genetic defect of the kidneys that affects Shih Tzus more than any other breed.

Big Jack inherited his mother’s smile and his father’s kidney disease. (Photo credit: Stillwell family)We immediately checked him into the hospital where it took 14 days to nurse him back to health. (Yes, two weeks! That’s how dangerously close Jack came to dying.)

Big Jack did more than survive. He thrived.

I’m happy to report that after his near death experience, our big little cuddle buddy enjoyed a full life on this planet doing all the things fur kids do like riding shotgun and begging for treats. (His favorite was kosher turkey!)

Big Jack was my daughter’s first love. We miss him every day. Thank goodness for animal research. Without it, we would have missed out on so much love!

Jean Stillwell keeps things running smoothly at a popular physical therapy and sports rehabilitation facility in New Jersey. Jordan is an expert translator who lives in Spain. Both shared photos for this FBR Real Pet Stories™ post.

E P I L O G U E

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