An anniversary today, a sad one. It’s been a year since we lost our dear, sweet Jaxxon. Man’s best friend? Yes. A comfort? Yes. Home-grown amusement? Yes. A frequent topic of conversation? Yes. A warm and fuzzy? Yes. A loving companion? Yes. Do we miss him? Yes, yes, and yes again.
We got Jax because of my husband – never had a dog that was just his, wanted one, we got one. I was more hesitant. I’d had ‘my dog’ – Andy who was my buddy for 15 years – but having been dogless for a few years I was aware of some of the benefits of that state: Primary was the lack of dog hair in the house and poop in the yard, but also the lack of vet bills, the ease of coming and going whether it be to work, out for dinner or away on vacation, and the absence of hauling huge bags of dog food from trunk to pantry. But, I caved. And the rewards were more than worth it.
My husband researched and decided just what kind of dog he wanted and the day I had finally had enough of his whining (that’s my husband, not the dog) I suggested he call up the SPCA to see if they had an unwanted, stray, yellow Lab. WELL, hadn’t they just picked one off the streets?! So all resistance collapsed because this was obviously meant to be. Jaxxon was about 4 months old and cost us a mere $10.
Back to poop in the yard – I’m a gardener and I really didn’t want to have to watch my step in and around my gardens … so Jax was trained to use the hedgerows and the unmowed and therefore untraveled areas of our 30 acre property. In his 12 years with us I only cleaned up after him twice.
Jax was to be one of us, our buddy, a house dog and he was trained accordingly – the usual voice commands of sit, stay, down, come, heel; then the hand signals, and then he went on to learn so much more – go around, in your place, on your mat, back up, I’m busy, time out, check it out, it’s too early, fetch, bring me that, give me that, put that down, no eating, where is your ball … or teddy or bone, or duck, he knew them all – all very useful commands to which he responded, appropriately I might add. We were also able to simply let him out the door when he requested without tying him up, safe in the knowledge he wouldn’t wander outside of his boundaries.
One example that I think will give some understanding to this “so much more” came just weeks before his passing. I was clearing the dinner table and dropped a knife as I was moving towards the kitchen. I kept going and in a conversational tone and without looking at him or giving him any head’s up kind of command I simply said, “Would you pick that up and bring that to me, puppy”. Jaxxon rose from his resting place and went to the knife, picked it up and followed me into the kitchen and placed it in my outstretched hand.
So many things … I never trained him to bring me my slippers but somehow he learned and one day when I had neglected to put them on on returning home he took it upon himself to bring them to me, unasked. After that we were able to send him in search throughout the house to find missing slippers … He would go with my husband to collect the mail from the box at the end of our country driveway and would return with a mouthful which he would hand to me. He eventually tired of that chore but took to helping us bring in the groceries. I could give him a box of this or a can of that and he would take it in to my husband and return to me for something else.
Just one other short story – playing with Jax one afternoon, his ball disappeared into some long grass, not even a big patch, but long and though I walked it several times and kicked at the grass and hunted for it while Jaxxon lied nearby and watched, I couldn’t find it. “Get over here! Where’s your ball?” and he dutifully came over and walked through the grass, and then went and lied down again. This happened several times before I gave up in exasperation. Enter my husband who says, “Fetch your ball!” and Jax went into the long grass, straight to his ball and brought it to my husband. Apparently my mistake was in saying “where is” rather than “fetch” – obviously he knew exactly where it was and probably wondered what the hell I was doing kicking around in the grass for twenty minutes.
Twelve years of stories like these. highly intelligent, companionable, devoted, a good listener, a clown, gentle, obedient, a comfort through sad times, a call to laughter, a call to pause … extraordinary. This was Jax. And God, we miss him still. Our grandson said it best, there will never be another Jaxxon.