Photo by Vicky Guy. JoJo on her first birthday!
In April 2020, we sadly had to put our sheltie, Drake, to rest. He was a few weeks shy of his 13th birthday. I was absolutely devasted from the loss. He was my dog. He was obsessed with me and was my shadow. I seriously couldn’t go anywhere in the house with out him not following. It annoyed my husband and sometimes even annoyed me a little bit. Quite a few times, he would get stepped on for being under foot.
We had routines and those routines changed through the years to accommodate his age or his health. After he passed away, all of us in our household still felt like we needed to be doing the same routine. It became habit and took some time to adjust. Like for instance, when we would leave the house, Drake would stay in our bedroom. He would have free reign in there, but we would shut the door. Drake knew when we were leaving because he would go in there without being told. For months after he passed, we would go to shut the door when we left. Sometimes we would go to check to make sure he was in the room and quickly realized the reality, he was no longer with us.
My husband and I were in the process of buying a house. I had decided that I didn’t want another dog anytime soon. We have 3 cats and a fish, but I was content with that. Life seemed empty without a dog, but I was enjoying less responsibility that comes with having a dog. We closed on our house August 28th.
Our new home had a large fenced in backyard. The fence already had “Beware of Dog” signs from previous owners. Everyone in our court had one or two dogs. The house was great for a dog but still I wasn’t. Our new house is two stories. There is a deck in backyard with stairs. My husband and I would wonder how Drake would fair in this new home. He had bad arthritis the last 2 years of his life. I said, “I would probably have to carry him upstairs to bed”.
His ashes sit on my nightstand to this day. Whenever I was sleeping, Drake would sleep next to me but on the floor. He never was a dog to jump up on the bed, he preferred the floor or his dog bed. I swore after his passing, I would be sleeping, and feel a nudge of his nose on my hand that hung off the bed. He used to do that, nudge my hand.
In October 2020, I was looking at a local pet store’s Facebook Page. This pet store is where I got Drake and a cat. The pet store in recent years, stopped selling “puppy mill” puppies and switched to adoptions from a local rescue. So, they had a few different litters of puppies available for adoption. A couple different ones from the same litter caught my eye. They were shepherd mix pups. I showed my husband and our kids, we all agreed we liked this fuzzy black/tan pup named Joe.
So, I filled out an adoption application ahead of time and the next morning we loaded up in the car to get to the pet store when they opened. We had to put our name on a list and wait in our car because of Covid protocols. They called and said it was out turn to come in. One of the pups I was interested in, was adopted by the family ahead of us. Joe was still available though. My husband spotted another pup from a different litter. I had seen her posting online, little brindle puppy with a weird snout. She looked to be a pit mix.
We took Joe out into their play yard. He was a pretty shy pup. He kind of coward in a corner of the yard. He was scared. I picked him up and he seemed to really like me though. He reminded me of my Drake. My husband though was persistent on seeing that “ugly” brindle puppy. So, we took her out, her name at the pet store was Callie.
She was a ball of energy and play. She played with my kids and husband in the yard. She had lots of personality! I just couldn’t get over her “look”. My husband didn’t like pit bulls and I told him; she looks like a pit mix. The pet store thought she was boxer, which I could see too. The kids wanted her, and my husband wanted her, so I was outnumbered! I did inquire about adopting her and Joe but told that was not allowed.
So, I sadly said goodbye to Joe and we took Callie home. She was a tiny little thing. She had multiple treatments for parasites and still had them. We did get another treatment from the vet and after 2 weeks, they were gone. We renamed her JoJo, kind of in honor of Joe because he was the reason, we were at the pet store in the first place.
She was a bit of a terror as a puppy. Housebreaking took a little longer than I would have hoped but turned out she had a UTI. She was a real biter, teether, puppy mouther, whatever you want to call it. I mean a real demon when it came to biting! Nothing seemed to work in deterring her from biting out hands, limbs, or feet. She never did bite the face. Even to this day, she thinks play is biting hands or at your shoes when you walk outside. All that has worked is bite inhibition. She really isn’t too bad about it now.
I did a DNA test on her through Wisdom Panel. The test showed she is a mix of 7 different dog breeds. 34% Boxer, 34% American Staffordshire Terrier, 10% Labrador, 8% Pekingese, 6% Shih Tzu, 4% Braque du Bourbonnais, and 4% Cocker Spaniel. Wow, that’s a lot of breeds. The boxer and Am Staff really show though. I think Boxer, Pekingese, and Shih Tzu is what gives her the little snout.
We just celebrated her estimated first birthday on July 15th! I was hesitant about her at first, but this dog has become so apart of our family! She really is like our baby. My husband was not a dog person before we got her, and I can’t believe the transition I have seen in him. I poke fun at him all the time. He spoils JoJo and she just adores her, even if he won’t admit it!
Our youngest son just stopped sleeping in our bed when he was a few weeks shy of turning 8. JoJo has now taken his place in our bed. She is a decent guard dog but also a big baby! She is 40lbs but short. He likes to use her paws. She thinks the cats are always down to play with her and terrorizes one of our cats in particular. He is pretty submissive to her though.
I now can’t imagine a life without our JoJo Beans. My husband sometimes will say “why did we do this, get another pet that will just pass away someday? I will be so heartbroken!” I will say “well she is still so young, and we have many years left, let’s not think about that now.”
I sadly have a lot of experience with death. I lost my parents, grandparents, my sister, my brother-in-law, and friends. I have lost my own pets as well as felt the loss of client’s pets. Its never easy. Its never something you can be prepared for despite trying to be. All you can do is cherish your time with loved ones whether that human or animal. Build memories and be grateful they were apart of your life. Live life in the now because death is inevitable for us all!
I miss Drake dearly and he is totally different than JoJo. Like humans, animals have their own personalities. I am grateful for JoJo coming into our lives when she did, I think she was just what we needed. They are not replaceable, but our hearts are big enough to give and receive love, over and over again!
This awkward moment came from another long-time client who I had cared for several of their different dogs over the years.
When I took them on as a client, their kids were probably in junior high and high school. They eventually all went off to college. Their one son after college, moved back home. He was probably 22 years old. He was a nice guy and often would be lounging around the house when I came in.
So his parents went out of town and they scheduled me to come three times day for their dog. So I enter through their garage. When you enter, straight down the hall is a powder room. So one afternoon I came for my visit and walked in through the garage. Right away, I see their son sitting on the toilet, pants to the floor. He was going poop.
Right away he noticed me and kicked the door closed. It was awkward. I took the dog for a walk. When I came back, he apologized for the embarrassing moment. I told him “no worries, it happens.”