Present Tense

Dog spelled backwards…..

JuniorOur dog Junior turns 1 year-old on Sunday.  My husband and I are throwing him a little party, mostly so that we can have an excuse for dessert, but there’s another reason:  I want to celebrate his spirit.  Junior has a zest for life.

We’ve had a lot of dogs over the years and like people, they’ve all had distinct personalities.  Skelo was all business, Kodiak liked to wander, Samson worried, Chili is a pleaser and then there was Feta.  She was a 12-pound,  black and white Jack Russell Terrier with a massive personality.  There was no dog too big to challenge, no person that she couldn’t charm, no hole too deep for her to explore and no naughty trick that she wouldn’t try.

Feta was one of those dogs that you never forget and never get over losing.  She was fierce with the local wildlife, but so sweet with kids and if you were sick, she nestled in next to you and wouldn’t leave until you were well.   The most important part of Feta’s life was fun; she wanted to have it and there was no consequence too severe to curb her high jinks.  Whether she was swatted, yelled at, chased with a broom, or banished to her crate, she’d come right back, look you in the eye and do exactly what she wanted to do.

She died a little over 4 years ago at the age of 15 and I’ve written about my regret at letting her linger too long.  The last year of her life contained very little in the way of fun or even pleasure.  She wasted away, which is the last thing her little soul would have wanted.  I think about her everyday and so when my friend sent me a photo of a little black and white male Jack Russell from her latest litter, I was smitten.

He looked so much like Feta in the photos that we started calling him “Feta, Junior”.  When he came home with us, he was christened Junior.  Although he physically resembles his namesake, he is much sweeter than Feta and lacks her snarkiness around other dogs, but he has her sense of humor and fun.  My husband and I like to say that Junior is “Feta without the f**k you attitude.”

Junior is our ‘free spirit’  dog.  He will suddenly zoom around the yard in circles, with a canine grin on his face.  He’s always busy; dragging a log, digging a hole, shredding tissue, flipping a stick in the air, taunting his housemate, Chili.  Junior loves to swim so much that we bought him a kiddie pool that he’ll splash in for hours.

During a recent trip to Michigan, while we sat on the dock at a friend’s lake house, Junior ran in circles, detoured into the water, paddled around, ran out of the water, spied the tetherball court, punched the ball with his nose until it wound around the poll, then he unwound the ball, ran back into the water, and on and on for an hour.  If it looks fun, he does it.

That’s what I love about him; it’s what I envy about him. Junior has no internal editor saying “don’t do that, you’ll look silly”.  He just does.  He lives completely in the moment.  Aside from his habit of murdering rodents, he could be a pretty good Buddhist.  I want to be Junior; he’s my zen, hippie hero.

We haven’t had a birthday celebration for a dog since Feta’s first birthday.  We just didn’t figure any of them would ‘get it’.  Happy Birthday, Junior.  Feta would approve….and then she’d steal your cake.

September 16, 2011 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , ,

12 Comments »

  1. Thank you for that Jane! I remember your blog about a year and a half ago when you were talking about Feta and her kidney disease. I read that blog a few days after I made the decision to put our 14 1/2 year old Maltese Mercedes to sleep due to her kidney disease. I wrote to you at that time about how I found comfort in that blog. I think about her every day. She was my “soul mate” dog. I still feel guilty and wonder if I made that decision too soon. She wasn’t eating which was her greatest joy. I guess there is never a good time or an exact decision to be made.I’m still having difficulty living with my decision. Dogs live with so much joy and happiness and we need to celebrate that. My 2 Shih Tzu’s are still with us. We got them from rescue situations and they live with happiness and joy everyday. ( I showed you their pictures at LAF over the summer) They would want us to celebrate each day and birthday while they are here and not be hard on ourselves after they are gone. I appreciate knowing there are people like you who understand the bond we have with our “furry children.” Happy birthday to Junior! I hope you all have a great celebration of the wonderful life he has!

    Comment by Marni | September 16, 2011 | Reply

  2. This past two weeks have been the time where I put my dog and my cat to sleep within just a few days of one another. I still haven’t healed enough to get another dog of my own. I understand the one who marks your soul. I really do. And I thank those who let me borrow their dog love on occasion. Happy Birthday, Junior:)

    Comment by kandis | September 16, 2011 | Reply

  3. Thanks for the smile Jane, and a very happy birthday to Junior….methinks you have some of that spirit also…you know what they say, it takes one to know one! Love ya.

    Comment by Adrienne Blue | September 16, 2011 | Reply

  4. Awww, Jane this made me tear up. I do realize that we have betrothed Chili and Murray to one another, but it’s really only about their senior ages. My Murray is so like Junior. Sure, he’s diabetic, sure he has Cushings Disease and sure, I had to have his eyes removed and yes, he will be 12 years old on 12/25 (my Christmas baby)……but, he still have that zest of life that you speak about. He and Junior have that personality that captivates everyone they meet.

    At the vet, at “camp” (Come Sit Stay)….even at Barker Days last weekend people gravitate toward him, and proclaim, “OMG, I love this dog”. He and Junior just “have it”.

    I’ve always joked to friends that if Maxx (my boy that I had to put down 6 months ago) and Murray were human children……Maxx would live with me until he was 30. The need to please and make sure I was OK all.the.time took over the ability to have a fun carefree life.

    Murray, on the other hand would be my boy who’s friends referred to as, “Booger” or “Scab”, he would be the one who jumps off of the garage roof on a dare, he would be the one who eggs the algebra teacher’s house. I think that Junior would be a part of these shenanigans. 🙂

    Happy birthday, Junior!!!

    Comment by Chris Hyne Tisone | September 16, 2011 | Reply

  5. Your old friend Big Mike here and I remember when you got Feta many years ago … Yeah, what a character (runs in the family?). Great blog! And Happy Birthday, Junior!!

    Comment by Mike Fiss | September 17, 2011 | Reply

  6. Thank you Jane for sharing your story. It took me 15 years to get another pet after my collie – Lady Cheveno died and I adopted a cat from DDFL. When Starfire Marie turned 1 I had a party for her with cats and dogs in attendance, it was a lot of fun but I only did it once!

    She has an attitude, tolerates her sister, plays fetch with me and doesn’t leave my side when I’m sick.

    Junior – enjoy your special day, play like there is no tomorrow and Happy Birthday!

    Dianna

    Comment by Dianna Marquez | September 17, 2011 | Reply

  7. I love this column, thank you. I understand completely and agree totally. I never understood the whole God and spirituality thing until I got Frances…and then I learned to aspire to be a dog on a daily basis. I fail a lot. But, like dogs who continue to chase squirrels they will never catch, I try daily. Happy birthday to Junior!

    Comment by Francesca Amari Sajtar | September 18, 2011 | Reply

  8. Happy Birthday Junior. Jane you continue to happify my heart. Love ALL your doggie stories. I can’t wait til my gypsy soul settles the hell down so I can get me some new doggie stories to share. Soon, very soon. Now, I go play!!!

    Comment by Margie | September 19, 2011 | Reply

  9. This was a special tribute to Feta – one of the loves of your life right???
    Very sweet, I loved reading it.
    Marsha

    Comment by Marsha | September 19, 2011 | Reply

  10. Thank you for that Jane! I remember your blog about a year and a half ago when you were talking about Feta and her kidney disease. I read that blog a few days after I made the decision to put our 14 1/2 year old Maltese Mercedes to sleep due to her kidney disease. I wrote to you at that time about how I found comfort in that blog. I think about her every day. She was my “soul mate” dog. I still feel guilty and wonder if I made that decision too soon. She wasn’t eating which was her greatest joy. I guess there is never a good time or an exact decision to be made.I’m still having difficulty living with my decision. Dogs live with so much joy and happiness and we need to celebrate that. My 2 Shih Tzu’s are still with us. We got them from rescue situations and they live with happiness and joy everyday. ( I showed you their pictures at LAF over the summer) They would want us to celebrate each day and birthday while they are here and not be hard on ourselves after they are gone. I appreciate knowing there are people like you who understand the bond we have with our “furry children.” Happy birthday to Junior! I hope you all have a great celebration of the wonderful life he has!
    +1

    Comment by Webber | September 20, 2011 | Reply

  11. Jane – I let go of my Riley last night and had to go back to this blog post. Thank you so very much for sharing your journey with us – it means so very much!!!!!

    Comment by Angie | October 22, 2015 | Reply

    • Angie
      I’m so sorry:( I know how much that hurts. Next Monday will mark the 2 year anniversary of when I lost my little soul mate, Chili. I still ache for her. Take care of yourself. I’m sure that Riley had a fantastic and love-filled life.
      Jane

      Comment by janelondon | October 22, 2015 | Reply


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