When you enter into a relationship with someone who has a pet, you also enter into relationship with that living being as well. It only took meeting Jammer-dog a couple of times before he stopped barking at me and accepted me into the life he shared with his daddy Miguel pretty much with a yawn and then went back to his nap. If I was OK with his daddy, then I was OK with him.
As the relationship with Miguel deepened, so did my relationship with Jammer. Eventually, I was able to be caretaker when Daddy had to work late or go out of town. Moving in with his daddy was also a yawner for the old man (one of our nicknames for him) except for when it meant more treats since I was a bit more liberal with them than his daddy was.
Then, over time, Jammer became my animal companion too. That meant not only sharing the walking duties but also the clean-up duties when accidents happened. Jammer was my muse for funny “dog-wearing-hats” photo-ops and “dogs-walking-in-the-snow-in-cute-doggie-sweaters”–a pastime that neither he nor Miguel ever fully embraced. But just like Miguel, Jammer bore it all with good-natured patience. Mainly because he knew I liked to buy the special bacon-and-peanut-butter treats so for that reason alone I think he humored me.
I missed Jammer’s fun and active years but got in on his golden years–right before his decline, where he would still run and now and then chase a tennis ball and would always come in and lay on the floor wherever we were. I got to get to know a dog as loyal to his master as his master was to him and to the people he loves. I got to see a dog be comfortable in his environment because he knew he was safe and secure. (And not just because he knew the peanut-butter-bacon treats were in the cabinet.)
I left for school with a lump in my throat, though, afraid that he would pass before I got home…that his daddy would have to go through the transition alone. But in fact, I got to be in the room with Miguel thanks to FaceTime; a host of our friends were outside in the waiting room when Miguel emerged with Jammer’s green collar and bow tie in his hand.
I will miss hearing the tap-tap-tap of his nails on the floor going back to the kitchen one more time to see if he left some of his treat on the floor. I will not ever think of puffy Cheetos without thinking of Jammer and how very much he loved them. Or coming home to find him asleep, somehow managing to have his entire body underneath the bed–sans his tail, I guess so we could find him. Or of how much he loved that patch of white on his chest scratched with abandon. Or how calm and comfortable he was when his daddy was around.
Jammer will always be a part of our relationship. As Miguel’s “little one,” he became partially mine too and extended the trust to the people that Miguel trusted. That was such a sincere honor. That dog was loved like a father loves his son. I firmly believe he lived as long as he did–in fact, holding on until Miguel got off that plane and to the vet–because he was so very loved.
Loyal to the end, Jammer is now running in a green field by the river he loved so much, no doubt toward unlimited bags of puffy cheetos.
And a nice, long nap.
How he loved his daddy!
A Call to Repentance