ALL THAT (is) JAZZ
In my 75th year, I have now taken on the absolute pleasure, but also absolute responsibility, of an English Creme Golden Retriever as a life-long companion, sadly his or mine. This is my first dog companion since my childhood days when my family had a black cocker spaniel. That most endearing pet unexpectedly went to a farm one night when I was a 10 y/o. Now my semi-retired consultant lifestyle, with substantial time availability and reduced international travel, permits me to have such a companion again. His name is Jazz, and the following is his testimony presented in humanized context. To be clear, the following describes my PERSONAL total pleasure in having such a dog. If the following encourages you to do the same in bringing a dog into your life, then super!.
During my first 4 years, I was called Ivan. My birth place was Russia, and I lived there for a short time before being brought to the States. For the next 3 years I lived in my own shelter next to the gorgeous blue water and fine quartz beaches of Florida on the Gulf shore. With the temperature ranging from warm-to-hot year around, I was comfortable in my own shelter that was enclosed within a fence. Nearly every day a young attendant would take me to the beach, and I would swim and romp in the surf. On those days when there had been a storm the day & night before, there would often be some dead fish that had been swept onto the beach. It was such a pleasure to roll on my back against the fish to get rid of whatever was the reason for my itching. However, when I did so, the attendant would pinch her nose with her free hand and take me to a shed to wash me with this disgusting solution that smelled like the flowers. It was the same scent in the garden next to the house where I would often relieve myself when out of my shelter. The best part was when she would rub me down with a large fluffy towel to dry me. She would often hold me tight to her as she stoked my back endlessly. I was so comforted by her heartbeat. In turn, I would lick her hands until she returned me to my shelter.
Several times during those years, I would be taken to a cage to be with a female dog of the same color as myself. My interaction with this other dog was instinctive and fleeting, and I would soon be returned to my shelter to be alone again. Within 60 days or so, puppies would be forthcoming from that dog. Within another 30-40 days humans would take those puppies away, one by one. At first, I would bark loudly in protest, but to no avail. This whole situation happened several times each year during my stay there.
While I had, what I thought at that time, an enjoyable life in those years, I became increasingly desiring of human interaction. My attendant was kind to me, including a brushing nearly ever day. However, she was only with me for several hours on most days normally, and then I was by myself throughout the rest of the day and throughout the night until the next day. Occasionally, the attendant would open the door to my shelter, and I could freely explore the entire area in which there were a number of shelters in addition to a creek. However, my movements were still limited by a wire fence that encompassed the shelters, stream, and the house where an old man lived.
As to the old man, It became clear soon that he was having increasing difficulty going up and down the steps to the house which was placed on stilts 10 feet or so above the ground. The reason for the raised house became clear when I and the other dogs were taken into the house one day when the wind was horrendous and the water line eventually rose to flood the dog shelters. The situation was alarming at first, but then comforting for me to interact with the other dogs as well as the old man and several other humans in the house. Dogs and humans were all together for several days as the various shelters had to be cleaned and reconstructed. This experience enhanced my desire to have more interaction with humans other than just the limited time with the attendant nearly each day.
Then it happened. On a particularly warm day a human couple arrived. They were different from those who would visit and often leave with one of the puppies. This couple was clearly older, and they headed directly towards my cage passing by the cage where two of my sons were placed. While the boys barked excitedly, nearly climbing over the fence, the couple only stopped for a moment to pet them by reaching over the fence. My first thought was that, once again, I was to be ignored by the humans. I started to return to my dog house in great disappointment with my tail naturally tucked between my hind legs. But suddenly, the male human was at my shelter's door calling to me: "Ivan, here boy" I understood that phrase well, and returned to where the human was. Immediately, my tail was horizontal and wagging. The female human was soon next to the male and making unrecognizable sounds that were very soothing to me. The male opened the gate to my shelter, and both humans entered to pet me for some time. My tail was wagging excessively during their presence. Just as suddenly as they arrived, they left me closing the gate behind them. My tail tucked again between my hind legs, and I returned to my doghouse so very sad having been disappointed once again.
It was not very long until the attendant came to retrieve me to go to the old man's house. I was still very sad even though the attendant was petting me constantly. New to me, I noticed some drops rolling down the attendant's cheeks. Entering the house, I saw the couple again. They seemed very excited as they approached me. The male lowered to one knee to pet me as he attached a line to the collar around my neck for the first time in my life. He and the female began to leave the building gently pulling me to follow as we left the area. This time, it was my 2 boys that were barking as to my departure. I had no idea what was happening until I reached a car, and I was pulled into the back seat. I was really scared, and I tucked into a tight space with my head buried behind the back seat. Suddenly, I could feel a hand stroking my head in a very comforting way with the female turning back from the front seat to gain my attention. Nonetheless, I didn't move for a very long time. My legs were shivering uncontrollably as I did with the first time with the car's movement after a very long period in a cage on my way to my Florida home. I was totally confused then as to what was happening, and now I was again. It was the constant petting by the female that eventually permitted me to lay my head down on the seat. My fear was subsiding.
I was traveling in the car for a long time when suddenly it came to a stop. I was let out of the back seat to a grassy field with the line still attached and held by the man. There was no blue water or white quartz sand. BUT, there was a tree with several scents of other dogs. Instinctively, I knew what I needed to do to mark this spot as other dogs had done before me. The male brought me a bowl of water, and I slurped nearly all of it. Once I stopped, the female approached me, sat down next to me, and held my head gently between her two hands, again with unrecognizables but comforting sounds. I really like her scent. She then pulled me towards the open back door of the car. Being confused, I gratefully jumped in, again tucking in my head behind the front seat. It was really hot outside of the car, and the cooled air inside of the car was very welcoming to me.
The trip in the car continued for a long time. When the car came to a stop, the male opened the back door and gently tugged on the line to get me out. I was led into a long house that had no steps. I was immediately led through the house to a back yard that I soon realized was totally lined with a wooden fence much higher than me. The line was taken off and I was free to explore the area, which I did for some time. Again, there was no fine white sand, no blue water, and I was without an escape. Over the next several days I would spend most of the time in the house and be taken to the yard several times to relieve myself. During those times I would go along the fencing looking for a way to escape. While the two humans were very kind to me, my preceding life of being outside, even if in a shelter, established my need to be 'free' in this fenced-in yard. Over several days I had found 2 spaces that I thought I could dig out for my freedom. However, before I could dig enough to excape, the male saw the dirt on my upper paws and head and then placed heavy blocks to fill in the holes. I wasn't going anywhere.
Both humans would use the sound 'Jazz' to get my attention. I came to understand that Jazz was who I was to them. I soon began to learn what to do when I heard 'Jazz, come' ... or ... 'Jazz, sit' ... or ... 'Jazz, supper' ... or ... 'jazz, NO!' I never heard 'Ivan' again. Each day the male would take me for walks on the street where the house was along with many others. What I really like was when he and I would go down to a large grassy area along a river that was lined with a wall that unfortunately prevented me from jumping in. But, there was another area that had a large pond and many dogs. My line was taken off, and I had total freedom to frolic in the water and chase, and be chased, by other dogs. It was there that I learned to respond to "Jazz, come" so as I was rarely required to have a line attached in my walks from that point on. I really loved that freedom. The male would call me to his side to sit when a car was approaching.
Often at night, when he would take me for a walk around the other houses, he would sit down on the grass in one of the yards and call me to him. We would simply be there side-by-side for some time as he petted me. He seemed to be just looking at the stars in the sky. During those times when we would walk, I would often roll onto my back and wiggle radically to get a good scratching. The male would then approach me, with me laying still suddenly, and he would rub me down on all sides. To be honest here, I would fake the back-scratching thing often just to get this rubdown.
During my walks each day with the male, I would need to relieve myself both ways. When I made droppings, he would pick them up with a bag and always say "Good Boy". I never understood the reason for that comment, but he seemed satisfied with my necessity. I instinctively did not do that discharge in the house. The male understood my needs when I would go to the door and stood there. My favorite sound from him was when he would say "WALK!". I knew then that he and I would be out in the neighborhood, and I would have my freedom to explore with my nose to the ground. So Many Scents ... So Little time. Often on our walks I would see other humans and their dogs approaching. I would lay flat on the ground and wait until they were close. Then I would get up and rush towards them. Occasionally my human would call me back. Apparently, some dogs are not friendly towards other dogs, especially if they are on a line. Other than both myself and the other dog getting to sniff each other, I actually prefer cozying up to the humans. I have learned which humans, with their dogs at their side, will provide me a treat. To be clear here, I am ALL ABOUT treats.
Often when I am taken for a walk, whether near the house or in grassy areas, the male would say out loud "Squirrel!" as some small fury animal ran to a tree and then up it to a branch. I still don't understand his apparent excitement in seeing this animal; I could care less. When one of the humans is talking with others, s/he would use the word "rug" and point towards me. The humans would laugh at that.
Occasionally, the male would be gone from the house for several days. During that time I would be taken to a building with many shelters occupied by other dogs. When there I was always well treated including swimming in the pool during the daytime. Actually, there was this one small pool that was just big enough for one dog .... and IT WAS MINE during much of the stay. Even though there were female dogs in the group, I had none of the instinctive feelings of being with them as I had when at the old man's home. Something had changed with me after I left that small office were I was stuck with a needle and was sore near my belly for several days later.
I NOW have the human attention I desire. I am truly loved. Each day I am close to my humans often with my head resting on them. This is a good thing. NO! This is a GREAT thing.