A thumping noise awakened me. At first I thought it was the metal housing around the furnace popping as it heated up. I rolled over expecting the fan to come on at any moment bathing the room in warm air. Nothing happened but the thumping continued. Becoming more alert I listened harder. Was someone trying to break into the house? I got up, walked to the bedroom door and opened it slowly. The noise was much louder and it was coming from the front door. To my horror I saw our dog Brandy having a seizure.
She was old for a Jack Russell Terrier. My son, Jim, bought her as a puppy in 1994 when he was attending law school in Houston. We thought it was an imprudent purchase for a student living in an apartment, but Jim argued that walking a dog was a great way to meet girls. Apparently he was right as he told us of many encounters with Brandy that led to dates with girls in the neighborhood. One of his girlfriends was also named Brandy which led to much confusion when they were all three together.
Soon Brandy was pregnant, which was an impossible situation for Jim who had to be a school most of the day, so he brought her home and left my wife, Janet, to deal with the pregnancy, delivery and care of a room full of puppies. We weren’t thrilled with this unexpected responsibility until we saw how cute and lovable they were. Soon, all but one were sold off and Jim took Brandy back to Houston. My sister-in-law, Patricia, was the lucky recipient of one of the male pups. She named him Winston and enjoyed his love and companionship for many years.
Brandy ended up in our care and custody when Jim got married and his bride had a cat that wouldn’t have lasted long living under the same roof with a Jack Russell Terrier. They are natural hunters who in their natural habitat feed on small animals. We didn’t mind getting Brandy as we’d grown fond of her over the years and with all the kids gone, had plenty of room.
Brandy loved our back yard because it was full of rabbits, squirrels, lizards, and birds of every sort. She spent hours upon hours chasing any who dared invade her territory. On several occasions we were startled by horrifying screams from the backyard. Once it was from a rabbit who didn’t make it across the yard and ended up in Brandy’s mouth. Another time it was a squirrel marooned in a tree, not daring to come down and face the tenacious little dog that was ready to have him for lunch.
It wasn’t only the animals above the ground that feared Brandy. Jack Russell’s are fearless burrowers and Brandy never hesitated to plunge into a hole in pursuit of her prey. On one occasion I called Brandy for dinner and when she didn’t come I went looking for her. I searched everywhere but couldn’t find her. The fence around the yard was well built, so I knew she must still be in the back yard, but where? Finally, I heard a noise from the wood pile and discovered she had burrowed under it chasing some kind of vermin and had gotten stuck. It took me twenty minutes to dig her out and when she was free she ran off like nothing had happened.
Brandy was a very smart dog, well behaved, and full of energy. She loved to play with anyone who’d take the time to throw a ball or toss her a frisby. She was a great companion, particularly for my wife who was home alone all day. When our grandchildren came over she acted as if she was one of the kids, and got jealous if I played with them more than her. In time she got used to them and they all had great fun playing together.
Brandy was the inspiration for Rhin the Rhutz in the Tarizon Trilogy. If she wanted something she’d come to me and just stare until she got my attention. Then I’d look deep into her eyes and would soon figure out what she wanted. Usually it was food, water, to be let outside, to play or to be petted. Her life was simple, so I’m sure I just grew to anticipate her needs, but sometimes I’d be sleeping and suddenly feel her eyes on me and wake up to see her staring at me. This got me to wondering what it would be like to have a truly telepathic dog as a companion and, if telepathic, why not telekinetic as well.
It was a few years ago when things began to go downhill for Brandy. She’d always had a great appetite and would eat anything you gave her. That was until all the contaminated dog food from China hit the shelves. She got very sick the day the national recall was announced and totally lost her appetite. I bought her every kind of dog food afer that but she turned her nose up to everything. I got very concerned because I knew eventually she’d have to eat again or she’d die. Eventually she started to eat a little, but only if she saw me eating the same thing first. I became her food taster and from then on we had to plan our meals for three rather than two.
When Jack Russell’s get old they tend to have heart problems and Brandy was no exception. Luckily they have good heart medicine which works pretty well, but a couple years ago Brandy almost died. She got very sick and had to stay at the vets for a few days to be nursed back to health. The vet told us then that she didn’t have too much longer to live.
I rushed over to her and pulled her away from the door. For a moment she responded and struggled to stand up, but couldn’t make it and fell down helplessly. I rolled her onto her side and stroked her gently. She seemed to relax for a moment, but then the involuntary twitching resumed. Bending over I looked into her eyes but saw nothing but a vacant stare. Fear and grief overcame me. I called Jim and he came immediately. We took her to the vet but there was nothing that could be done for her. Her long joy-filled life was over.
When I walk around the house I instinctively listen for the jingle of her collar. At night I still wake up when I know it’s time to let her out. We will miss her.