Friday, February 27, 2009

The Many Pleasures of Jack le Portie

First, the blog is back. Various events conspired to keep me from the keyboard: Maggie's death, my own health issues (thankfully minor), and an overly busy schedule. I'm still waaaay too busy, but I miss blogging.

There's also the matter of having something to say, and for a while inspiration failed me--perhaps related to the struggles over my book and my grief at seeing Maggie succumb to cancer, despite my best efforts at nursing. Life is odd, though. The book finally "fell into place," and we now have a new addition to the family: Jack, a three-year old Portuguese water dog.

Jack needed a home, and we needed another dog. Jack's original owner dumped him at a grooming shop, declaring that "anyone who wants this damn dog can have him." One of the groomers, a young woman named Krystal, knew Jack to be a perfectly sweet dog, and she took him in even though she has show dogs of her own. Indeed, between Krystal and her boyfriend, they have six dogs, way too many by anyone's estimation. Nonetheless, they cared for Jack for eighteen months, teaching him nice manners and even a few tricks.

Rod first glimpsed Jack last fall. Occasionally Krystal would bring him along when she did grooming at our local doggie day care place. In January, Rod joked that we would happily take Jack if Krystal ever tired of him, and much to our surprise, she said, "let's talk." She was fond of Jack, but she also knew that he needed a different kind of home; at her place, he was just part of a large pack, which didn't suit his typically needy Portie nature. It's to Krystal's credit that she had the grace and generosity to put the dog first, something his original owner clearly didn't do.

So Jack came home with us on the 18th of January. We were immediately smitten. What is not to like about a dog that is beautiful, smart, playful, and obedient? Jack's zest for life is seemingly endless. Whether it's catching a frisbee in mid-air or playing tag, he's exuberant. Jack might also be the most affectionate dog I've ever owned. By nature, Portuguese water dogs are big, sloppy loves; even by the standards of the breed, however, Jack is infinitely doting, laying his head on your shoulder or climbing into your lap. How anyone could give up a dog this wonderful is beyond me. Best of all, Jack's presence has transformed our other dog Chloe, who lapsed into sullen despondency after Maggie's death. She's now her old self, tail upright and a little swagger in her butt.

I must admit to feeling some guilt regarding the Obama children: Jack would be the perfect dog for the first family. He's a rescue; he's three (i.e. no housebreaking); he's obedient; and he's a big kid himself. I worked hard for the Obama campaign and dutifully wrote out checks, but I draw the line at Jack. Yes, I adore Obama, but I love my new dog even more. What can I say?

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