I change the wallpaper on my iPhone routinely, but the subject of the picture is virtually always the same – my dog Jack.
I’ve got hundreds of pictures of him –running in the snow, stealing something off the kitchen counter, head hanging out the side of my Jeep, curled up with the granddaughters, and countless of him sound asleep.
There’s just something about seeing him asleep on the foot of our bed that is very comforting, especially when I’m traveling.
Jack, a 100 pound yellow Labrador, is the fifth edition of the dogs in our household. Two of our original foursome had passed and the other two were getting quite old in dog years when we decided we were ready to introduce a new puppy to the scene. I don’t know that anyone would be ready for Jack.
We’ve had five great dogs, but Jack, also referred to lovingly as ‘Jackass’ on occasion around our house, has by far been the most mischievous.
He loved to chew up everything from dining room chairs to garden hoses as a puppy. He outgrew that stage and graduated into eating everything from wooden spoons to socks.
He’s stolen our supper off the kitchen counter in the blink of an eye, eaten pumpkins piled up for a fall display, and mangled every remote in the house. But he’s also willingly allowed our two girls, 6-year-old Addi Claire and 3-year-old Ellie Kathryn to tie ribbons in his hair, paint his “toenails,” cover him with pink dresses, lie on top of him like he’s a piece of furniture, and stand on him like a step-ladder.
Jack is a frustratingly awesome dog capable of teaching all of us great lessons. He wakes up every morning with an unbridled excitement of the day ahead. Despite arthritis in his hips and his once powerful sprint now slowing to a plodding trot, he leaps with joy every time we come home, no matter how long we’ve been gone.
The simple things in life, like a short walk in the neighborhood, warm sun on a cold winter day, and a good night sleep aren’t things he takes for granted. He revels in every moment with the family and his loyalty appears infinite.
Monday night, we were cooking our girls’ favorite spaghetti when I turned my back for just a moment and heard those front claws tap the counter. I turned to see him standing on hind legs, his nose getting a whiff of the offerings on the stove top before deliberately dropping back to the floor.
My reaction was one of more gladness that he was still somewhat capable. I handed him a spoonful of lightly browned hamburger meat, and he sauntered back to his favorite spot in the kitchen.
He knew it was the first of several bites he would get at this meal, as the girls have never eaten anything at our house they haven’t shared with him.
It’s not even 7 p.m. I’m sitting at the computer typing up a story. He walks up, drops his head in my lap and just looks up with those big brown eyes. I know what it means. He’s ready to go to bed. Jack retreats to the bedroom, curls up on the foot of the bed quickly drifting off into a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow’s a new day, and he’ll be excited to see it.