Well, no easy way to say it….Jumpin’ Jack didn’t make it. He’s dead. That was supposed to be my last dog ever. Now I’m stuck with six more.
When Hefty, from my college years died, it was hard enough that I didn’t want to go through it again and simply didn’t want to get another dog. I looked at Chickendog and Jumpin’ Jack and just saw dead dogs, and eventual loss. I intended to let them get old and, uh, you know…..And it happened- they both checked out recently. I can’t imagine how much harder this would have been if I hadn’t had puppies crawling over me distracting me while I was petting JJ. It might just have been so hard that I would have been glad I hadn’t gotten any more dogs!
Jumpin’ Jack was going to be my last dog and then I took my first road trip with a budding romance who’d found a dog on the PetFinder website. She was my first contact with the world of formal dog training and had lots of competition experience. People from that world seem to just accept that poop is going to move through their life-and it isn’t stepping in dog poop that’s the problem, it’s letting it hang around.
If you mention, “No dog, no poop,” they’ll just be like, “What does that even mean?”
Someone brought up with lots of dogs reminds me of immortal characters that have captured my imagination—Samantha on Bewitched, The Immortals in Highlander, or even, sadly, in many cases, Vampires. Only it’s the humans who are “Immortal” and supposedly have the larger picture in mind for the dogs. Breeders will simply go through a thousand dogs, culling the ones they most desire out of the litters that come out-did I mention vampires; ha ha. I’m talking in this case about the breeders who care and just want to have great dogs to train and compete with, not the ones that the media like to show during sweeps week. There is no doubt in my mind that I’d want a Moose or Chickendog puppy if they hadn’t been fixed-they are such great dogs, though neither of them were a specific breed.
And there’s the flipside right there: They were both abandoned dogs. Neither one was bred for any specific reason but simple “accidents” and nobody else wanted them. Chickendog had even gone through six homes. In fact, all six of my current dogs have been discarded and they’ve proven to be great pets, extremely trainable so you might as well adopt a dog from a shelter. They tend to appreciate having someone petting them and are more likely to return the attention they get more than those ungrateful new puppies. Jumpin’ Jack? That was the worst of the dogs (I know, this is some eulogy for him) and I got him as a puppy. His mom was apparently owned by an unresponsible person and had gotten knocked up by a neighbor’s dog who also had an unresponsible owner. “Hey-I taught them abstinence. Let everybody else in society deal with the consequences.” Such great trainers-they couldn’t even keep their dogs in a fence.
Well, the new gf was looking for a new dog, even though I think she already had seven at the time, and we showed up and there wasn’t just that one, but four litter mates. They’d been scheduled to be destroyed the day before we got there, but the facility knew that we were coming and, long story short, we went home with all four. Looking back on it, I can’t believe how easy this decision was but we were sure we could find good homes for them. And we did; OOPS! She took two, and I took two. Lucky dogs. I had a momentary lapse. I see a day when there will be a 12 step program for people like me, and trust me there’s a need. In the case of normal substance abuse, once you stop you, you can be done. With dogs, once you stop you have to keep literally feeding your habit for another 15 years. And picking up its poop, and making trips home to let it out before you meet your buddy after work for a drink or run, and eventually have to bury it.
I never know if it was a predictor of the future, a cause of the ultimate result, or simple maturity on our parts, but early on we definitively made definite decisions on whose dog was definitely whose. There was no sharing of dogs. Like I say, dog people have seen it all. I had to learn fast.
So anyway, Jumpin’ Jack is dead. He died in his sleep out at his puppyhood home while I was working on the house. He was able to take a walk around the property and get one last pee in to mark the property. I’d left the other dogs at home, partially for Jumpin’ Jack’s comfort, partially so they wouldn’t have to try to figure out what death is-we certainly don’t need another religion to get started based on their understanding.
I’d been feeding JJ about a pound of ground beef a day to keep him eating and so he’d been putting on some weight and had decent energy from where he’d been.
While Moose and Mouse have taught me that positive reinforcement is the only way to go, it was Jumpin’ Jack that proved that negative methods simply do not work. It is those methods that I’ve buried in that hole with Jumpin’ Jack.
Ha ha-just kidding, negative methods are still alive and thriving, being promoted right there on the Animal Planet.