The New 60

             Compliments of Guest Blogger, Fred Esposito, CLM

“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.”
― Eric Hoffer

Like all of us, I’ve had my ups and downs in life. Despite the down times, there are things in my life that remind me of how truly blessed I am and how grateful I am to have these blessings in my life. My family and friends rank at the top, but there is one more blessing that came into my life almost fourteen years ago.

A friend of mine who was visiting LA called me in February 2000 to tell me he found an abandoned puppy who’d been physically abused. The vet, who dubbed the puppy “Scooter,” cleaned him up and prepared him for travel back to New York State with my friend. Upon his return, he called to tell me that this little Jack Russell puppy mix, about four months old, had mostly suffered a head trauma. But my friend already had a boxer and a bichon, and the last thing he could handle was another dog.

I reluctantly went to meet “Scooter” (I so hate that name) and found him trying to hit my friend’s big tall boxer, appropriately named, Oscar De La Hoya, with his little paw. What a little fighter he was, and considering his rocky path, definitely a survivor. It was love at first sight – he was mine!

I brought him home and had my own vet examine him and give him his first round of shots.  I tossed “Scooter” out and renamed him “Jackson Brown Esposito.”  Within the first few weeks of the usual house breaking exercises and puppy hijinks, his wounds were healing nicely and he was becoming more playful and responsive to me.  In fact, he would follow me everywhere.

Within three months of Jackson joining the fold, life changed again. I had accepted another position in a law firm, but we had to move to Philadelphia. I loaded up the car and we drove to Philly for our new start, where Jackson immediately took to the dog parks and the playful antics with other dogs –it really warmed my heart to watch him.

As part of his rite of passage, I enrolled Jackson in obedience school, and it was there that we discovered something wasn’t quite right. Jackson wasn’t responding to any of the whistles for training and the trainer suggested I take Jackson to the vet to get his hearing checked.

Fortunately, my new vet had privileges at the University of Penn Veterinary Clinic and Jackson was immediately scheduled for a hearing test. When the tests were completed, the vet sat me down and started with the good news, bad news scenario. The bad news was they determined that Jackson had lost about 70% of his hearing. They could not be certain if the cause was attributed to the physical abuse, but were inclined to think so. The good news, simply stated, was “Jackson doesn’t know he can’t hear.”

In spite of his profound hearing loss, Jackson is very social. And ever since that day at the vet I vowed his life would be like Disneyland and I think I’ve done a good job at keeping my promise. Jackson is going to be fourteen in December and does have a heart condition, which is treated by medication and special diet, but overall, he is still a puppy in many ways. I know he will eventually succumb to this condition, but not for quite some time.  In fact, his vet now says he’s the new 60!

I sometimes find myself looking back on my years with Jackson. He has taught me so much about unconditional love and the meaning of friendship and self-sacrifice. He is my little boy and always will be. He is the sweetest dog and when I see him playing or sleeping in a little ball or growling at me because he thinks it’s time for bed, I smile and reflect on how fortunate I have been.

Getting Jackson may not have been planned, but he has made all the difference. I often think of the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” in which Judi Dench says “Most things don’t work out as expected, but what happens instead often turns out to be the good stuff.”  I think those of us with pets can’t help but agree with her.


Fred Esposito lives in Lynbrook, a village in Long Island, NY, where he’s resided for the last seven years. He enjoys traveling, domestic and international, and loves reading, bike riding, cooking and fine wine. Professionally, Fred manages a large law firm and is well-known as a speaker and author on various law firm management topics.

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