This morning Lynne and I buried our beloved dog, Jem. For 17 years and 8 months, he brought happiness to our home. His sister, Scout, passed last year.
Jem and Scout came to us in 2005 – long-haired miniature dachshunds from a Kentucky breeder. At the time, I was not a pet person, so Lynne let me name them after the sibling duo of our favorite American novel.
Willie Morris and my former boss, Jack Cotton, wrote books about their dogs, My Dog Skip and A Dog’s Guide to Life: Lessons from “Moose” respectively. Lacking their literary gifts and keen insights into the canine/human affinity, I’ll make only a few comments.
Good parents don’t play favorites. That said, I confess that Jem was my favorite. (Scout was aloof, with more of a cat-like personality.) The picture of him in my arms was taken at an animal hospital. As often happens in these situations, the familial caregiver was in far greater distress than the patient.
There was never a time when he wasn’t happy to see me – no, not even once. At the end of the workday when I arrived home, Jem met me at the door, ready for a neighborhood stroll. In fact, each time I stood up, he was at my feet. His loyalty could spoil a man – and did!
When we were both younger, we ran a few miles together several times a week. Always in front, pulling on his leash, he wanted to go further. Until only a few months ago, we were still able to walk a mile or more every day.
Jem was kind. Kids loved him, albeit on occasion, too aggressively. Even a pulled tail went without retaliation.
Jem was funny, too. When he was a puppy, he would crawl into a cabinet and his sister would push the door closed. Lynne or I would open the door and . . . surprise!
It’s said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Maybe so. Senior dogs may not change, but their owners do. Early on in our relationship, I repented of my not-being-a-pet-person flaw. For more than a quarter of my life, Jemmy was my companion. I was not only happier, but better for it.