Present Tense

What dogs are for….

ember stretch

My husband and I have been having a discussion about whether or not to get another dog.  Okay, it’s a disagreement.  He says no, while I say yes.  We have been having this argument for about 24 years now, through various dogs.

So, last week, he said to me, “Explain to me why you want another dog.”  I hemmed and hawed and threw out some inarticulate dribble about ‘feelings’ and ‘joy’ and ‘can’t really explain’.  Not an effective answer.  Very unsatisfying for both of us.  So, the next day, I sat at my computer and composed this note to him.

You asked me why I want another dog.  That is a valid question that prompted me to put into words, what our past, present and future dogs mean to me.

I love them for their unique personalities, quirks and qualities.  Like people, they each bring something to my life.  They force us to realize that all creatures have a perspective and have needs and desires.  I love that.

Skelo was loyal and responsible and completely committed to you.  He was the grown-up dog, who kept the other dogs in line.  He tolerated very little nonsense from the others.

Kodiak was a clown, with a sensitive side.  He loved people and beer and crashing the neighbors’ poker parties.  He accepted the younger, more obnoxious dogs with a sense of humor and tolerance.

Feta was a rock star; she had to be the center of attention and had to win every competition.  She could be hard-assed and aggressive, but was nurturing and sweet if you were sick or helpless.  I still miss her smart-assiness every day.

Samson was…Samson.  Dopey and distracted but very loving and sweet.

Chili was complex and smart as a whip; she was moody and beautiful.  She was my soulmate, who gazed into my eyes and trusted me implicitly.  She had a dry, but well-developed sense of humor and she liked to watch dog shows with me on TV.  I looked forward to waking up and seeing her sweet face, every single day of her life.

Junior is sweet and forgiving, with the soul of a poet.  You can see in his eyes that he just wants to be loved and praised.  He is a lover, not a fighter and he loves you the most.  And he can run in the tightest, fastest circles that I’ve ever seen.

All of them have brought such joy and love and humor into our lives.  Just like people.  Their spirits are as important to me as the human spirits in my life. Maybe more so.

They love us fully and boundlessly.   They don’t expect perfection or make me feel guilty or judge me for my screw ups or lack of grace.  They don’t care if my radio ratings are good or bad and they don’t hold grudges.  They are far nobler than many humans I’ve known.

They eat with gusto and allow me to put coats and life vests on them.  They sing along with your saxophone and dig big holes in the yard. They charm our visitors and share our love of beets, sweet potatoes,  popcorn and sports.  They accept our quirks.

We are a family and since neither one of us have a huge tribe of human friends in our lives, I feel like our dogs are my tribe.  I need them in order to survive and to thrive.  I realize that you may not see it the way that I do, but a life without dogs is just too hard for me and I’m grateful that you allow them into our lives.

Our new puppy is another spirit that will touch us in her way.  Sweetness, light, humor and playfulness emanate from her.  She will fit in nicely and maybe even kill a mouse or two. She will bring love to our little familyand she will come when we call her.  I guarantee it.

So, there it is.  Thank you for your patience with me.  You too, are full of light, humor and forgiveness; those qualities are of the highest value in our tribe.


December 14, 2013 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Beautifully explained Jane. Each pet, be it dig, cat, bird, horse, etc., is unique and has aspects that add to our lives. Blessings of happiness , humor and love to you and your tribe.

    Comment by JaNiece | December 14, 2013 | Reply

    • I suppose this is the same for “all” pets really… we have a 22lb lardis maximus we have affectionately referred to him over the past almost 10 years… he has been put on EVERY single cat diet out there… so Walter… his real name… is about to get the shock of his life and maybe, just maybe, when our new little Boxer puppy we have already named Jasper Reese-Finch-Bloom Macey (yes the puppy has 3 middle names thanks to my kids) arrives on December 28th…this month… hopefully he will play with Walter enough that he will get Walter down to a nice kitty weight… But I so agree with Jane… pets bring something diff to everyone’s lives for whatever their special reason… to be with their human family… I cried when I read that article b/c I would be lost w/o our Walty and at the same time… so excited to get Jasper…

      Comment by Wendi Macey | December 17, 2013 | Reply

      • Wendy
        Have fun with Jasper. LOVE the name:) Boxers are very entertaining!

        Comment by janelondon | December 18, 2013

  2. Wow !
    YESSSSSS we can get another puppy!!!

    Comment by Marge Beem | December 14, 2013 | Reply

  3. Nice ….

    Comment by Big Mike | December 14, 2013 | Reply

  4. Very well put Jane. She completes your adorable tribe although I would call it your pack. Junior once again seems complete as without Chile he seemed like a little lost soul and now once again he looks like a puppy in the Springtime.

    Comment by Mike | December 14, 2013 | Reply

  5. Love your reasons!!! Is that a pic of your new puppy? Sooo cute!! DOGS ARE THE BEST!!!!!

    Comment by Nancy Jo O'Malley | December 14, 2013 | Reply

  6. All I can say is sometimes I would rather be with my puppies than other people because of those very reasons! they bring me comfort in good times and bad and love me back no matter what.

    Comment by Christine Ridgeway | December 14, 2013 | Reply

  7. That was a great piece, no wonder Dee gave in!!!!!!!

    Comment by Marsha | December 14, 2013 | Reply

  8. Well said! Dogs help shape us into who we are and I also couldn’t imagine life without them!

    Comment by Lisa Stevens | December 14, 2013 | Reply

  9. I had a little trouble seeing the last part of this, there was something in my eyes… Thanks. T.

    Comment by Tim Lankerd, Ann Arbor, Mi. | December 14, 2013 | Reply

    • Mine too Tim! *sniff*

      Comment by paula g | December 15, 2013 | Reply

  10. Beautifully written! Congratulations on your new addition. She looks adorable!

    Comment by Loretta Eberle | December 14, 2013 | Reply

  11. Made me cry. Wish I were as persuasive as you though. I have a die hard hold out. His excuse is that he doesn’t want his heart broken again. What? I will work on new words.

    Comment by Margie | December 14, 2013 | Reply

  12. Love this, Jane. You took what I’ve always felt in my heart about my dogs and put it into words. Wonderful!

    Comment by Carol Brust | December 15, 2013 | Reply

  13. Jane, you were spot on and the way you so lovingly described all of your dogs brought tears to my eyes. Congrats on the newest edition!

    Comment by Rae Manzanares | December 16, 2013 | Reply

  14. Wonderfully said! My dad’s dog passed yesterday which is a little eery since he passed 3 years ago tomorrow. I can’t be sad though because now he has his shadow back with him. She took care of him when he was sick and was the best nurse he could have.
    I missed that your precious Chili passed on. My deepest, heartfelt condolences. Our 4-legged children are the heart of the household.

    Comment by Renae | December 17, 2013 | Reply

  15. Jane, I would seriously have this discussion with my hubby, but the fact is that Cats are a part of my life. I have two cats now Callie and Cookie. Of course my hubby says when their gone… Deep down I know I would always have cats in my life. Without, my life would be empty. In your case, these may be your kids. I do have kids, but I know when they are gone, I will always have cats, just as you will always have dogs.

    Comment by Kathy Slavik | December 17, 2013 | Reply

  16. What a little cutie pie, and her name really suits her. She will make a great addition to your tribe. Did you get her from a breeder here in Colorado? Do you mind sharing who the breeder is? We are looking for a new addition to our tribe, and would like a jack russell terrier, but we can’t find a breeder. Thanks Jane.

    Comment by Teresa Sayles | December 17, 2013 | Reply

    • Teresa:
      Here is the breeder’s page from the Rocky Mountain JRT Network. I don’t feel comfortable sharing anything more than this on the blog. All of them are great folks.
      Jack Russells are rather high maintenance, so I would encourage you to chat with a breeder about the breed.

      Comment by janelondon | December 18, 2013 | Reply

      • Thanks Jane for the information, I will look into the JRTCA network. We have had 3 rat terriers (all who have passed) in or tribe, and love the terrier breed of dogs. Plus I grew up with a toy fox terrier that was a very special dog in my life. They were so full of energy and life. It would be a blessing to add another terrier to or tribe. Thanks again for the information.

        Comment by Teresa Sayles | December 22, 2013

  17. What a great letter! I’m the one that lost her little JRT ‘jUGS” to a car accident. My husband is a cat person(we have 2 garage cats) but when I asked if I could get a puppy he understood the connection. I had with this big silent hole in my life. I got Copper, my female and a week later I looked at my husband and asked if I could get another puppy! My reason was I could raise them together He said yes, He knew it would make me happy. I went and got Mr. Bean. What a pair. Totally different from each other. Both are JRT s and drive my husband crazy , but I know he loves them as much as I do. They are my furry children. I knew you would get your jack and your letter was exactly the way us dog lovers feel. That”s why we need them..

    Comment by Karen | December 18, 2013 | Reply

    • Karen:
      It’s like my friend Darlene (who brought my last 3 JRTs into the world) always says: “you can’t have just one”. Only folks who’ve had multiple JRTs really understand about their amazing personalities. Lots of work, but worth it. Congrats on the two pooches. As I write this, Junior and Ember are wrestling in my office, having the time of their lives.

      Comment by janelondon | December 18, 2013 | Reply

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