He was a unique individual and not the easiest
dog in the world.
Jim came to live with me at the age of 1 1/2
years. My house was his fifth home before his second birthday. The guy had not
been taught any basic socialisation skills or obedience. Instead he was shunted
from home to home. The man who fostered him before he came to live with me told
me he would chase Jim with a broom and Jim would hide under his desk. The
breeder was supposedly going through a divorce and wouldn't take the puppy back.
None of his interim homes did any sort of obedience training with him.
Jim never got along well with humans. There
were only one or two who gained his trust beside myself. Jim was a serious dog -
whether at work or at play. He would corgi wrestle for ages on end, he would
zoom around, and turn on a sixpence. He loved working on 'projects' in the woods
behind my house in Georgia... digging deep ditches, ripping out tree roots... so
focussed. He loved strong cheddar cheese and big band jazz music.
One of the first things I did with Jim was
enrol in an obedience class and also to teach him that nipping at feet was not
acceptable in human society. However it wasn't until Nick came into my life that
I became involved in competitive obedience. Jim and I competed together when he
was 8 years old and he got his AKC 'Canine Good Citizen' certificate and his
Companion Dog title. He loved doing obedience - having a job to do was important
to him. He had excellent attention in the ring because other people and dogs
didn't interest him.
Jim loved long walks in the countryside.
sitting by waterfalls, enjoying the beauties of nature. He loved to ride quietly
in the canoe as I paddled on lakes or streams. He loved neck massages, playing
ball or tug.
Nick and I used to do some sheep herding. I
tried Jim at herding but he wanted to make friends with the sheep. He became a
founding member of Herders Against Herding (HAH). His slogans were "Sheep are
people too" and "Kiss sheep, don't herd them". I guess my training him not to
herd people rubbed off when it came to herding sheep.
Jim hated being groomed or having his toenails
done. He guarded everything on the floor. He hated the vacuum cleaner. He hated
me emptying the dishwasher or opening cupboards under the counters. I used to
have him practice his down stays so I could do housework.
I looked forward to many years with him here
in the UK. Our run of bad luck began when the dogs finished their time in
quarantine. It was two more months before we could move into our house. The boys
spent that time in the 'regular' kennels at Ryslip. For one of those months I
had to go back to America, but for the other we were able to get out on weekends
and go for some walks and expeditions together. as long as the boys were back
before closing time at the kennel. We had some lovely long walks getting to know
the Berkshire and Wiltshire countryside.
We finally moved into our house in July of
1996. Then, one day in August I think it was, I came home to find Jim partially
paralysed. It turned out he had ruptured a disk. I had to consider whether to
put him to sleep or have expensive surgery. We opted for back surgery and it
took him several months to recuperate - he had to relearn to walk.
When we had worked up enough stamina for a
long walk I took him to Cumbria. On our first morning out a cow kicked him and
he suffered two broken hips. That was in June 1997. He was never the same since.
This past year saw Jim becoming increasingly
grumpy and obnoxious. He had a difficult time settling, would get bored, but
couldn't enjoy playing or walks, so he'd bark, show his teeth, guard things, and
be generally unpleasant to live with. Green lipped mussel tablets helped ease
his discomfort for several months, but finally not even prescription medication
could help him. His attention span had become minuscule. He couldn't focus long
enough to hold a down stay. He was having occasional bouts of incontinence.
It was a tough decision. He still had that
special sparkle in his eyes on occasion, but the body just wouldn't work
properly. Hearing was always his keenest sense. He never had 3-d vision and his
sense of smell wasn't as keen as other dogs'. I think the fact he was going deaf
aggravated everything else. I had the impression he was living in constant
It was finally time to free him from that cage
of a body. It was truly special to see him relax as the vet gave him that
injection... to see the guy finally be able to let go. His ashes are in a
special place in Wales which he would have loved, but never had the chance to