Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Remembering Jody

Autumn always makes me think of Jody. She was a delightful little Rat Terrier that owned me for about twelve years and we had a wonderful life together. I discovered her one October when she was only four weeks old at a breeder's farm down in Arkansas and it was love at first sight. She was so tiny - a minute, absolutely fearless ball of energy. We had hogs back then and she somehow managed to befriend the sows. Perhaps they thought she was just another little pig. She never missed a meal with them...snatching kernals of corn from beneath their very snouts. They never once hurt her, but they often flipped her out of the way just like they did their own babies.

She was raised with cats and was quite protective of her feline friends. It was not uncommon to see her 'carrying' one by the scruff of the neck across the yard, even though some of them were bigger than her. Even the toms would just relax and let her do what she wanted - she could be quite bossy. I remember one time in particular a stray beagle came to visit. He was wearing a collar and I was able to contact his owner, but the man was unable to pick him up until after work that evening. Jody spent the entire day keeping her cats corralled on the porch - when one would try to leave, she'd haul it back up. If the beagle approached the porch, she'd chase him back to a spot she chose for him under one of the big shade trees. By late afternoon, she was exhausted, but still worried about her charges. She finally darted around the house into the back yard and came back carrying an old rug. She took it over and offered it to the beagle, who scuffed it around a bit before curling up on it. She then went back and brought one of her toys and gave it to him. Once he was resting on her rug, the toy by his nose, Jody felt she could let the cats off the porch. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen.

After my children grew up, we sold the farm and moved to a larger community. Jody wasn't very happy in a town home and neither was I, so we moved again, this time out onto a small piece of land in the country. She knew instinctively that she was home just as soon as she got out of the car - that little dog ran around with a smile on her face for weeks. She had the run of the place...only the flower beds were off-limits to her, and she was very good about staying out of them. That is, she was until we met Bob, the man next door.

Bob had been widowed for several years, as had I, and we soon became good friends. Jody wasn't sure if this was a good idea or not and she began a brief campaign to keep us apart. When she saw us chatting over the fence, she'd head for the nearest flower bed and stand in it - legs stiff, a fiercely defiant expression on her little face. Of course I would have to say sternly "Jody! Get out of that flower bed." and that was her goal...she had focused our attention off of each other and onto her. She'd then trot up and look at Bob as if to say "See! Jean is my mother, not yours!" It didn't take long for him to win her over, though. He is an animal lover and, by the time we were married, she was his dog as much as mine.

I've had many dogs over the years, and perhaps I'll have another one soon. I think I'm almost ready to welcome a new puppy. But there's one I'll never forget...autumn always makes me think of Jody.

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