Friday, December 27, 2013

The Life of Rolley

Rolley was a great little guy, whom we had the privilege to share 17 years with.
He was a year and a half when we got him from Jack Russell Rescue.  I will never forget the first time we met.  His foster mom lived in a retirees trailer park, and he kept escaping from her tiny fenced yard.' He's a handful' she said as he peed on my foot, and so began  the kind of love affair that only a dog and their favorite person can share.
We had decided to get a dog - for the boys... they were old enough, and had been bugging for one, Wishbone was their favorite TV show, and so we started researching JRTs.  This was pre-internet, so that meant taking a few books out of the library...which turned out to be woefully inadequate. We had no idea what we were getting into lol.
Jacks are very high energy, independent thinkers,  and way too smart for their own good.
His first family treated these characteristics like flaws to be beaten out of the dog... so to say that he had trust issues is a bit of an understatement.
Almost right away he decided that Mom was the person for him, it still took 6 months for him to learn to trust me, but as it turned out he was the perfect dog for us.
We hiked and camped and boated all over Ontario.  We regularly hiked from Gainsbourgh to Western Road along the Dead Horse Canyon trail, we did parts of the Bruce trail, and most of the Kettle Creek trail from Belmont to Port Stanley.
 We did a lot of camping and  used to joke that he had a bone buried in every Provincial Park in Ontario.
Our very first camping trip together was to Algonquin. To understand this story better, let me remind you that he was 14 pounds of courage.  We had been together 2 months at this point, and he had already become 'my' dog, Bill and the boys had gone to the evening program at the park interpretive center, Rolls and I stayed in camp.  The boys were supposed to take the garbage with them but forgot, so I strung it up between two trees. Not quite high enough as it turned out, the raccoons came, lots of raccoons.  They kept trying to get the pinata that I had strung up almost in reach, fighting and carrying on each one yelling louder than the rest.
Rolley decided that his job was to defend his Mommy, but he was smart enough to know that these things were dangerous, so from under the bed shaking like a leaf, he did his level best to sound like a pack of wolves, howling and yipping, just like the wolves we'd heard the night before. I'd never heard him make those kinds of sounds before, or since, my little wolf.
Jacks aren't known for their love of water, but Rolley was always the exception.  We always made sure we were camped near a dog beach.  My boys were part fish, and if they were in the water, so was the dog.  We have countless home movies of the three of them diving off the rubber dingy, jumping off docks, and just loafing in the water. If we went fishing he was in the bow of the boat, biting at the waves, if we were canoeing, he'd
be in the bow, or occasionally swimming along side, he had his own life jacket, because he liked to jump off the boat if it was still.
He loved the beach when the waves were crashing, he'd chase them running in and out of the water as if  chasing a living thing. We had to watch to make sure he didn't swallow too much water, as he did once at Long Point.  We had quite a hike back to the campsite, and he peed all the way home.
I make ponds in every garden we have had, and they too were great places for a little dog to play.
Last summer we had the roof done during a very hot spell, I could hear the roofers laughing and looked out so see that my little dog was having a swim in the pond, they thought that was the funniest thing they'd seen, little did they know, that this was typical behavior for this little guy, even at 17.
Of course the gardens bring wildlife, and Rolley took his job of guarding the garden from marauding rodents seriously.  He was an amazing mouser, voler, and rabbiter, the latter he would shake to snap their necks, pull the fur off, then bring to me, basically unmarked,
proud as punch, with the expectation that I'd cook the lunch he'd provided.  This after all is what Jacks were breed to do, so I couldn't get mad, though I did the one time he caught a chipmunk. There after he'd watch them intently, but he never again tried to kill one.
There are so many stories I could tell, how he was a bit of a clown, and how the set of his tail and ears, told you how he was feeling, the way he would 'talk', or his klepto tendencies.
He stayed active, full of 'piss and vinegar' right up to the age of 16, when he started to slow down. He had cataracts, and was going deaf, but still enjoyed life, last year at 17 his hips started to give him some trouble, but he never complained. We took him to South Carolina for a month and he loved the ocean, and walking on the beach.
He started to decline in September, his kidneys were starting to go, and he was getting weak, but tough little dogs never complain. In October he could no longer keep down hard food, so we started making chicken and rice for him, but the last few weeks, even that wouldn't stay in him. He was still trying to be tough, always happy to get a treat, especially peanut butter doggie cookies, but we all knew it was time. Selfishly I couldn't
do it, and the last few days were terrible, he was so sick, until Boxing Day morning, when I couldn't put it off any longer. When we wrapped him in his blankie, and took him to Vet Emerg, he didn't even wake up, until we got there, when he was sick again.
The last thing he did was to give my husband a little kiss, then he nuzzled my neck, and was gone.
This is the hardest thing for a pet's person to have to do.  Intellectually I know it was the right thing to do, but my heart hurts. The house is so still, it even smells different, his canine brother, Spencer keeps looking for him, and looks so hurt and worried. How can you explain to a dog what has happened, when you can barely grasp it your self.
I'm grateful for the long life we had together, and will cherish the memories of a little dog with a king sized heart. Rest my friend, until we met again...I will always love you.

1 comment:

  1. Robin and Bill,
    We have a 16 1/2 year old jrt sweetheart who is fading named Sam, but skiing here
    in Vermont with us he feels like a pup. Your story has brought tears to our eyes twice!
    You were blessed and so are we! Great eulogy!
    Bob and Keri Axon


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