Charlie is a four year old Jack Russell Terrier. He gave a down payment on our hearts at the age of seven weeks, and has long since paid off his mortgage. After a quick reconnaissance, he took possession of a favorite couch, a reserved space in our bed, and laid claim to which times of day he is ready to walk, eat and play. He is fearless, but always keeps a lookout for a quick return to safety after surveying the yard. He is territorial, and takes offense at squirrels and mourning doves should they be foolhardy enough to feed on the orange trees or bathe in the birdbaths. He is excessively friendly, and has never met a stranger he did not love.
I would not feel happy nor whole without a dog at my heels. Many dogs have owned us over the years, dogs of every size and temperment and intelligence. There has always been a dog to lay by my feet while I made art. Dr. Advice consulted a loveable Doberman who helped out in his office for many years. He made an impressive appearance, but was actually a coward. One or more eager companions hiked along with us over many a fishing trail, chasing butterflies, lizards and digging in delicious- smelling burrows. A little chihuahua, and a wary dachshund once tiptoed past a herd of cows on their way with us to a fishing stream, wide eyes showing whites darting from side to side. A beloved German Shepherd lay on my bed with me daily during a long period of illness, giving comfort when I simply needed a furry head to hold, and a non-judgemental complaint department. They have walked quietly by me while I worked out difficult sculpture problems, and have taken credit for whatever solution I came to. Dr. Advice had a long love affair with a kind and gentle Old English Sheepdog who walked miles with him everyday. Each has taken a special place in memory, whether from their sweet or from their aloof personality. I have never for a moment believed that Charlie was simply a dog. He divines everything we think, and is quick to suggest solutions to problems. He is a student of our sloth, and his prescription for it is a nice long walk. He has his own ideas as to how the world should be managed, and it is usually in his favor. He was not an easy puppy to train, and many days I wondered what act of evil ever delivered him to us. He never got over his opinion that he had the superior intelligence. But once subdued, he graciously accepts our decisions.
When Charlie entered into our lives, we were told that a Jack Russell Terrier would either kill us or keep us young. It is not by accident that they are sometimes referred to as “Jack Russell Terrorists”. Well, aren’t dead yet! ( And neither is he.) The common belief is that every boy must have a dog to be responsible for, but to add to that, I believe that every older person would do well to enter into a contract with some sort of furry friend. Not to do so is to cheat yourself and the dog. Or cat if you must.