–It’s no secret that I’m a dog lover and have been since I got the dog hunger when I was about eight years old. Maybe earlier. A dog bit my nose when I was trying to pet it before I started school. Didn’t discourage me a bit. I was just sorry I didn’t get to pet the dog.
–This year has been a hard year for my family in regard to our dog friends. About a year ago we had to let my son’s dog, Hank, go. He was very old. Our best estimate was around seventeen. So it was his time. Then at Christmas my son-in-law’s big German Shepherd in the picture above had a stroke or some problem and they had to have him put down. And now we’ve had to say goodbye to my daughter’s dog, Jaks, the lab mix in the photo above. He developed a lung problem a month or so ago and went down fast.
–Jaks was such a fun dog. He loved the water and when he was younger would fetch sticks out of the pond as long as you had energy to throw them. He liked to do acrobatic tricks by walking on fallen trees. He loved to sneak ahead when we were walking out in the fields and find deer poop to roll in when my daughter wasn’t paying attention. He got a lot of baths. He became my best friend whenever I was cooking – just in case I might drop some tidbit on the floor. He wasn’t above nosing in the trashcan if you left it where he could get to it. He loved my daughter and would try to get between her and any other dog that might think she looked good for a rub behind the ears. He liked his toys, especially the ones that squeaked, and you had to keep something nearby- a stuffed toy or a rolled up sock or maybe a towel – for him to carry to show you when you came home. He was a very good dog and it’s hard to think about him not coming home with my daughter and son-in-law for a visit anymore. He loved coming to the farm and walking with us. He and his buddy, Watson both. They would start getting excited as soon as they pulled off the parkway about five miles from our house. But then when it was time to leave, they were the first in the car to make sure they didn’t get left behind.
–Dogs are such good friends. I’ve had so many dogs of my own over the years and it’s been great sharing my kids’ dogs, too. And I’ve put a few dogs in my stories. There was a dog named Maybe in one of my young adult books. Another of my young adult stories had a little white ghost dog. Then of course, in The Scent of Lilacs, Jocie had dog hunger the way I did as a kid and prayed her dog prayer and found Zeb out in the woods. More recently in The Believer, Elizabeth has a dog, Aristotle, that helps things turn out right at the end of the story. A pet can lend an added dimension to a story the same as it can to your life.
–We’ll miss Jaks the same as we miss Watson and Hank. But they were all three very good dogs. If you have a dog, give him or her an extra dog biscuit tonight in memory of Jaks.