A conversation at the fence. My dog is smarter than I had thought.


I mowed most of the yard today. It’s kind of big. I mow it in three sections. It used to take three days, but we have purchased a new Husqvarna mower and it eats grass, it doesn’t mow it, it EATS it, so I can get the yard done in two days including the trimming which I always do first. The afternoon thunderstorms are a factor as well. Ten minutes of Amazon Basin like torrents then back to sunny skies, every day. Yes, ten minutes, every day.

I took a break at the half way point. I’m getting old and can’t run as far as I used to. There are quite a few things I am no longer adept at doing. I gave up bicycling, partially because I am just too far out of shape, but mainly because I am just not as on fire for the activity as I used to be. Things change. I’ve been an on fire bicyclist since I was just 12 years old.

Well, I shut the mower down, left it next to the fence around our back yard and walked into the house to grab a bottle of water from the fridge. I walked back out side and sat next to the mower and leaned against the fence. The grass was cool and soft. Freshly mowed. Smelled great. Our three dogs walked up behind me and sat on the other side of the fence. I could hear them all panting. It’s a bit on the warm side. Summer in the state of Georgia can be a bit on the hot side, sometimes even brutal. Today the temp was hovering in the mid to upper 80s. The water was nice.

So, as I sat there, I started thinking about current affairs as I often do when I chase my mower around our yard. The violence in Syria is disturbing, the political landscape seems to be a bit like an old Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston fight. One side thinks they have all of the answers, the other just wants to see harmony and peace.

Well, I popped the screw top on the bottle, took a big gulp, looked at the clear sky, wiped my brow and suddenly, I heard a voice.

?~ What’s up?
Me~ Who said that?
?~ I did.

I looked around. No one was even close to me. There was a father, son and daughter across the street playing in an above ground pool. Kids laughing. I knew my dog, Jaco, was standing behind me next to the fence.

Me~ Who’s there?
?~ Me. Jaco.

I looked behind me through the cyclone link fence. My three dogs, Jaco, Milo and Elvis were standing there looking at me.

jaco
Jaco, the smart.

Jaco~ What’s going on?
Me~ Jaco…..? You can speak?
Jaco~ Yeah. Is that weird?
Me~ Duh! Animals don’t speak.
Jaco~ ‘Ever heard me bark?
Me~ Yeah, no doubt, normally around 3 am.
Jaco~ That is called ‘speaking,’ in dogese.
Me~ Yeah, I get that, but you’re speaking humanese. When did you learn to do that?
Jaco~ I’ve always been able to speak humanese. You’ve just never listened, therefore, you’ve never heard me speak humanese.
Me~ *Speechless.*

Wow. So, I was sitting here, on the lawn, having a cognizant and comprehensive conversation with my dog. I thought, ‘I need to engage this for as long as I accept it without questioning what I am doing, or till someone sees me.’

I asked Jaco how things were going inside the back yard. Does he like the food, is his water fresh, etc.? He told me all was good.

Me~ Do you and Milo get along well?
Jaco~ Yeah, he’s cool. He likes cats, but no problem. He’s short too, but it’s all good.
Me~ He likes cats?
Jaco~ Yeah. They never come into our huge pen, but he likes them. He tells me about it now and then. ‘Says they’re cute, smart too.
Me~ Really? Do you like cats?
Jaco~ I can take or leave them. No biggy.
Me~ If a cat entered your pen, what would you do? What would Elvis or Milo do?
Jaco~ Elvis is like me. He doesn’t care either way. Milo would probably sit down and talk about nearly anything with him.
Me~ ‘Nearly’ anything? So there are subjects that he doesn’t care to discuss?
Jaco~ Yeah, stuff like ‘dog politics,’ but then, a cat wouldn’t know anything about that anyway. Being a cat and all.
Me~ Hold it, you think because a cat is a cat that they have no concern for anyone other than their own?
Jaco~ Yeah, they really stay in their own club. No concern for anyone else.

To me, this fit the description of a certain group of humans, known as a political party in this here fine country, and it’s followers in my world. No problem, I’ll be kind and not mention the party name.

Milo, the short.
Milo, the short.

Me~ Does Milo understand this?
Jaco~ Yeah, but he’s cool. Actually, none of us, Elvis included, are much concerned with what cats think. They’re animals, just like we are, but smaller and a little more emotional. It happens. There are times when they get more ‘on the beam’ than usual, but those times are far and few. We don’t think they should ‘go away’ though. They are just fine.

Wow. Tolerant dogs and emotional cats. Who knew?

Me~ Tell me this, why do you and Elvis fight so often?
Jaco~ You know about that?
Me~ Yeah, I know about that. Who takes the loser to the vet when one of you wins? What is the deal? Elvis is always limping or has a sore ear or something.
Jaco~ OK, it’s me. I’m a bit of a bully. I only do it when he tries to eat at the same time I do.

This was getting better by the minute. I started to think of parallels that may exist between dog politics and human politics. I knew dog politics had to be much more benevolent that human politics. Simpler too, or at least I thought so. In my world, people judge their friends by their politics, not by their nature or character. It didn’t used to be so, but is increasingly evident as days pass and elections come and go. I find it to be a sad statement on what is commonly known as ‘brotherly love.’ Nearly non-existent now days.

Me~ What is it about Elvis that you find so objectionable which makes you feel the need to bully him? By the way, I was bullied as a young boy and I don’t approve of it at all.
Jaco~ There really isn’t anything that I don’t ‘like’ about Elvis. I just get a bit selfish at times and think everyone needs my approval to do anything in our yard.
Me~ Jaco, that’s mean.
Jaco~ Yeah, I know. I am working on it.
Me~ It sounds like a pretense or credo of a political party us humans endure daily. I’m not going to give the party name, but they rule Congress right now and block everything our US president tries to do, then complain that he is getting nothing done. It makes no sense at all.
Me~ Jaco, do you ever wish you had a mate in there?
Jaco~ You mean a female dog? Not really. After little Ella passed, it became a bit boring in here, but life is good.

(Ella was one of a brother and sister pair of Jack Russell Terriers that we used to have. Years ago, Louie was stolen and Ella passed away during a surgical procedure a couple of years ago this coming November. I cried for her. I wanted to hate Louie’s thief.)

Elvis, the dude.
Elvis, the dude.

Me~ Have you ever wanted to “be with” another male? Does Elvis or Milo?
Jaco~ No, but it’s no biggy if they decided to open that door.
Me~ We humans call that ‘gay.’
Jaco~ Yeah, I’ve heard of that. I am also aware of that political party you mentioned thinking all gays are less than second class. That they deserve to be treated as trash and to have their rights limited.
Me~ Yep, you heard right. It seems they think “All for one, and one for all, as long as you are not gay, have not had an abortion, are Caucasian, not a member of any other party or think any way contrary to what we think and you MUST believe in our ‘God.'”
Jaco~ That’s exactly the way it looks to me. Humans are curious animals. They hate many more things than they like or approve of. They are mean as hell to each other.

I was blown away by what I was hearing. I looked around me, across the street, down the block. I was still in the clear.

So, here was a dog who was completely accepting, even more than most of my friends and some of my family. I didn’t know what to think. I actually wanted to be a dog. Those guys are very cool.

Well, it was about time to get back to the yard work. I had one more section on the other side of the house to mow before I could put everything away. I sat there for a moment considering what was going on in front of me. Again, I had to say it out loud, “I’m having a cognizant conversation with my dog. He is speaking to me in humanese, and I am speaking to him the same way” as I rubbed my forehead. Maybe I was barking and didn’t know it. I wasn’t sure, but I knew I wanted to get the most from this while I could.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a definitive answer about children because he doesn’t have any pups, offspring. Couldn’t ask about money. Cars and clothes were out of the running. Religion and spirituality may be a dead-end. Maybe I’ll just ask his impression of people…..of humans.

Me~ Jaco, I love animals. I just think they are the coolest. All of them. Dogs, birds, snakes, all of them. What a wonderful gift from our creator.  What do you think of humans? What do you think of how they behave?

Jaco looked at me like my face was on fire.

Jaco~ You really want to hear this?
Me~ Yes, lay it on me.

I knew it was going to get thick. I finished my water.

He looked at me again, looked down, laid down on the grass and took a deep breath.

Jaco~ Well, I think it’s horrid the way you can be a person’s friend, then with one word from someone’s mouth you hate them. You never seem to question your own values. You seem to think by the time you leave high school that you have learned everything and that college is going to help you learn to sue someone for whatever you can get from them then gloat over what you have done. Gloat over how you have ruined someone’s life.

Your ability to learn seems very limited. You don’t take criticism well at all, but ask people’s opinions when you don’t want to hear it. As a matter of fact, you tell someone to keep their opinion to themselves by telling them your opinion.

Me~ Yes, I see that every day. Every DAMN day.

Jaco~ If you look at me, you see hair, or fur, if you prefer. I look at Milo and Elvis and see two dogs. I don’t see fur, I don’t see tall, short, long. I see my friends. Even if they were new to the neighborhood, I would see friends. Humans are not capable of such. They see skin color first, then they question your politics and religion. That blows. Yeah, I said blows. Then they consider how they might either ostracize or silence each other. They absolutely consider how to ridicule each other. I don’t get that at all.

As three dogs living together in a huge back yard like this, we get along with each other well. We eat from the same bowl, we drink from the same water bucket, we walk on the same grass. We pee on the same pole. We live TOGETHER.

Now, do you need to know anything else?

Me~ No, I believe I have heard more than enough. Can you let me know when an opening in the back yard comes up?
Jaco~ You are welcome to be a dog anytime you want to. Anytime you feel ready. I like you. You seem to take things in stride and don’t let much get on your nerves.
Me~ Yeah, life is too short to stack things in the corner so I can be pissed about them as long as they remain in that stack. Jaco, this has been an amazing conversation. You guys are much more compassionate and intelligent than many people I meet every day. Really, way above many I know.

—————————————-

Well, I took the empty bottle around to the other side of the house and dropped it into the outside trash bin, walked back to the mower and topped off the gas tank. I looked at Jaco, Elvis and Milo with a new respect. These three guys have it going on. Too bad humans can’t elevate themselves to the level of my Jaco and company.

Yes indeed, a very enlightening conversation with my sweet Jaco. I’m just glad that he has no party affiliation. He seems to be happy with that as well.

Well, I have to finish two more sides of the yard and put everything away. I think I’ll take a little “Metal Gear Solid 3 – Snake Eater” in when I finish. Yeah, that sounds fun. A little sneaking and sniping.

Thanks for looking and keep the rubber side down,
Kelly J.

———————————-

Tuesday, June 17, 2014.
Today my wife and I took Jaco for his final visit to the vet. He has developed three tumors over the years. One was on his right front shoulder. It was removed. However, within the year it returned.
Recently, he started favoring his right rear leg, as if it had been hurt. I inspect my dogs no less than three or four times a week. During the winter, I look them over everyday, as they stay in our fully cement, huge, open insulated basement. They never suffer. Ever.

Upon noticing Jaco’s behavior, I pulled him aside from the other two, which is nearly impossible, but I laid him on his left side. I squeezed his toes, his lower and upper leg, as well as his right rear haunch. He made no sound. No whimper, no growls.

I let him go for a few days expecting him to “heal,” although I did not know from what he would heal. Elvis and him scrap quite often, so I figured he may be sore where I couldn’t find soreness.

So, two weeks ago, we took him to the vet. Our vet. Britt, the owner, and vet, told us about the tumor. He said his leg would need to be removed. My heart fell out of my chest. This would be Jaco’s third procedure in around three years. Cost is no object. Keeping Jaco from suffering is the main point.

We decided to euthanize him. Not a decision arrived at easily or hastily. We did not want him to spend his years having tumors removed or recovering from surgery every six months. I know without any doubt that Jaco would be miserable with such activities. We took him to the vet for his final visit on June 17th, 2014. I cried more in three hours than I have in 40 years. I held Jaco as he slipped away. My heart shattered as he slumped and finally lie motionless. I cried for my friend.

Rest well, my old friend. Rest well. You are still with us daily. My lovely Jaco. Rest in peace.
Kelly J.

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