For To Smile Tis Why, Day By Day

When I was growing up our family dog was named Jinx. Up until then the only poochie we had known was dear old Goober, who was a Weimaraner, often referred to as the “silver ghost” of dogs. Though, Goober did not acquire the sleek profile of his breed, as he had a rather more lumbering goofy profile, and so his beauty rested in his gentle nature and kind eyes.

I’d walk into Grandma’s back kitchen, and there he’d be, in his red velvet chair, paws crossed on the generous arms of the armchair, sometimes with Grandma’s asshole cat Whiskey, a Siamese if you please, lounging on top of him.

Christmas in the 70's
Goober and I at the Homestead – early 70’s

At some point that spring, I think it was, we acquired a hutch of rabbits, and so Goober had taken to spending his afternoons underneath the Butternut tree “guarding” the bunnies. Weimaraners  are a sort of German hunting dog, also I guess known as a gundog, however he had nary a whiff of a predatory bone, but his guarding of prey character had him transfixed by these beasties we had encased in the backyard for his viewing pleasure.

So, when Jinx came on the scene, well, let us just say Goobers days spent under the Butternut tree guarding the rabbits came to an end.

Dog on picnic table with cat and family - 1980's -
Lexi, Jinx and Mom – early 1980’s

Jinx, was named that, Hi Jinx, due to her proclivity as a puppy to getting her and her sisters into trouble – like the day they ate airplane glue and the reason why Jinx had a bald chin from the burn damage.

As a Doberman Pitcher, she was a very very LARGE female Dobie, as female Dobies are suppose to be petite, and there was nothin’ petite about Jinx.

She was kind and watchful, loving and protective. She was a year old when we got her, and with taped up ears from having them docked, she arrived on the scene and promptly went over and beat the snot out of Goober and took over his, um, ‘guarding’ the rabbits.

Actually, after Jinx came on the scene, Goober was relegated to 2nd Canine of the acre or so that the homestead sits on.

By this point the one property had become 3 properties, Grandma in the middle, us on one side, good friends on the other, such is rural life. However, Jinx just could never be convinced our friends driveway on the other side of Grandmas was not her concern. So she took on the guard duties for our house, grandma’s house and the neighbours to the far side.

So, she had taken over Goobers domain, and expanded it to include ALL the people. Henceforth, anyone who arrived in any of our driveways was met with a black and tan Doberman to inspect their character and purpose for being on HER domain, visiting HER peeps.

Yet, in time, she mellowed (she got fat). After Goobers death a couple years later, and into my teens, I remembered taking her on long walks around our country block. It always gave me this pleasure to walk this great big Doberman on a leash. She would drag me for the first 2 kilometres, and I her for the remaining 2 on our journey home. Round we would go, getting a kick out of cars giving us a wide berth and looking at the pair of us in amazement, thinking no doubt that 130 lb (58.97 kg) beast could just take off and my 90 lb (40.82 kg) 5 foot 2 could do very little about it.

Yes, Jinx was formidable. But that was only skin deep. On the inside she was a lap dog, and in her youth had been known to actually sit on your lap. In her later years, she quite frankly just didn’t fit.

Summers were spent lounging soaking up the rays out on the top of the picnic table, using that as a sort of dais to purvey her grounds. And at the hottest parts of the days, in the cool shade underneath.

Over time, it had become clear that her left ear would never stand up, so hence forth she at attention always had that one ear that never cooperated, as though she were for ever more making a left-turn.

She and I were a team, and my job was to feed her, make sure her water was filled up, take her for a walk, give her treats, and lay on the floor with her cuddling. I admired her courage, her sense of duty, her strength and fierce loyalty to her peeps. To be sure you knew any robber could take all the furniture, the TV, the stereo, but just you touch her people and your ass was grass.

She was subtle though, and when she deemed you unsavoury, it would just be her presence that she would utilize, not necessarily her bite. She would give you plenty of warning with a low growl, warning you of being on shaky ground. It was only after quite a bit of warning that she a couple times knocked someone, with her teeth bared but together, as a final warning that she indeed meant business, and to stop. Once she did this to a neighbours’ cousin who thought he was being funny by teasing her, however she was not impressed.

My experience has been that often it is peoples ignorance and disrespect of dogs that gets them in trouble, and with more education many incidence could be avoided. Jinx being a well-adjusted dog was generally no threat to anyone, including the squirrels she would often awkwardly stalk.

The day she died, she was 9 years old, grandma had died just 6 months before, it was our first day after completely moving into grandma’s house. I was in the back kitchen, that same one where Goober met you on his ruby red throne, well there she looked up at me with her kind mocha brown eyes and said goodbye, and died, right there in front me.

I sobbed for days.

irish at westminster ponds - london, ontario, canada -

So, in that tradition of dogs, today my companion beastie is this fluffy blond bombshell, and is currently sprawled out on her blankie, and she and I have been a team, just her and I these last 6 years. When I was living with my sister, her and I journeyed round that same block as Jinx and I once had.

My golden one though, her eyes have grown cloudy, and her balance shaky, and her days numbered, I know. Age has found her, and one day, sooner than later I will have to make that difficult decision to… oh, it is still so difficult to say the words… have her put down.

When I have told people, I have hesitated with those words, as saying it is hard. She and I, we have been through a lot, like a lot a lot. Tim’s cancer, and then watching Tim die, and those lonely months at the cottage till the spring when with the thaw we made our escape, to migrate south back to my home.

Dog In The Snow -

And finally moving her, to this place. We adjusted to our city life, and in the last 6 years it has really just been her and I, sharing walks around my old stomping grounds, the trails and parkways that line the banks of the river Thames.

Day by day, good days and bad, watching her fade.

I took her down a few weeks back, down for her last romp round the old Apple Orchard. That day I didn’t know it would be her last, but as we walked back, her slow gait told me all I needed to know, she would never go back to run and explore down at The Coves again.

I’m taking it day by day, and watching her eyes go cloudy, losing her balance, weakening, day after day. Peeing on the kitchen floor overnight when she just can’t hold it any longer, and I don’t get angry. Oh, frustrated, but not angry… it is what it is. She is 12 this May, in 2020, and for Golden’s that’s about average, I’m told.

That day I took her down to The Coves, as we made our way back I knew , and I cried all the way home, watching her gait get slower, and slower, but she soldiered on.

As shall I. Day by day, I watch her fade, but she is eating and drinking, and dances for treats; well, dances a bit. On walks, she barely makes it round our little city block, so we don’t go as much.

A couple weeks ago when a friend was trying to talk her boyfriend out of them getting another one of a friends Chihuahua’s, I piped up and said “I’ll take her“. It came out of my mouth, seriously MY mouth, and before I could reason why, take it back, I thought – why not?

They looked at me, both of them, and as the days went by I gave my girlfriend just the ammunition she had needed to talk him out of it, telling him, again, how much it would mean to me to have that bundle of energy, how maybe it would perk up ol’Irish, give her a rambunctious companion in her final days.

So, snoring beside me in the chair, is this pint size attack weasel, named Pika. In case you don’t know, Chihuahua’s are adept at doggie Kung Fu. Irish has been the focus of these mocha and tan ninja style attacks, bouncing and pouncing, trying to get Irish to play with her, dance with her, keep up with her. Ping, ping ping, ping ping ping… Irish standing there with that goofy look, wise eyes smiling in her awe of this wee daemon under her golden paws.

Barely 2kgs and 14 weeks old, all my worries of Irish hurting Pika went out the window, and reversed course, watching her knock over Irish twice, and so their play is monitored, and Irish now stands with her paws wider apart, as the Kung Fu ninja comes in for another attack at her golden locks.

Dear lord help us all.

Pika’s bouncing and pouncing and Irish sways her giant head away from her ninja attacks, holding firm, so far, since the new strategy.

And Pika takes another round under the furniture, streaming golden tuffs of Irish hair as she goes, ripping around at the speed of light, as the ol’Golden One stands with this goofy grin on her face, as the wee weasel this time takes a couple swips of Irish’s bouncy curls on her bloomers as she flys by, and comes back around delightd with the dangly gold strands of her tail.

Pika is rather enamoured with this giant gentle golden beast that lays by her crate at night to calm her little puppy fears… “there there little one, there there“.

What an adventure, ah, these best of times and worst of times, of giant smiles and hearty laughs, and next a set of tears, as I watch Ishy-lishy try to stand her ground to this pint size bundle of energy and attack licks and little nips and saucy looks.

And dear lord, look at those ears…she makes me smile. Oh, Pika.

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