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Mischievous Jack calms down

Everybody loves fireworks, you say … well, Jack doesn’t. Jack is our 11-year-old Yellow Lab who sleeps at the foot of our bed, as he has all his life. Except for when there’s a loud clap of thunder, or like on New Year’s Eve, fireworks popping somewhere in the distance. Jack then moves to the opposite end of the bed, often on my head.

We were in that position last weekend when fireworks starting booming late in the night. I was laid back on a couple of pillows engrossed in my favorite Christmas present, David Sansing’s new book “Mississippi Governors”, when the once 100-plus pound Jack, who has slimmed down in his elder years due to a battle with diabetes and other ailments, plopped on my stomach like a big bag of potatoes.

I laid the book down and Jack dropped his head on my chest, staring intensely at me as if to suggest, “Why can’t you make those fireworks stop?”

Of course I couldn’t, so I did the next best thing — I rubbed his big, bony head for the next 20 minutes until he fell fast asleep.

That’s where he stayed until too early the following morning, when he decided it was time to eat and promptly awakened me so I could tend to it.

Jack doesn’t get around as well as he used to. Arthritis in his hips has forced him to hop more than run, but turn him loose in the front yard and the old man can still get down the hill in good time hoping to find a stray cat wandering around my mother-in-law’s house across the street or perhaps some scraps tossed out the back door by neighbors on the block.

I’m asked often by regular readers of this column if he has come to tolerate Charlie — the 6-month old, hyper Yellow Lab puppy that keeps us all on our toes around our house — any better than at first when Jack showed his disapproval.

Tolerate might be a strong word, but he’s definitely come to accept the fact that young Charlie isn’t going anywhere. Jack tends to do his own thing while Charlie hops around him like he’s on a pogo stick just waiting for a signal from the old man as to what they should get into next. When Jack plops down in his favorite corner spot to prepare for a nap, his hobby of choice these days, Charlie reluctantly runs out by himself looking for whatever trouble he can find.

Charlie has taken to pulling large sticks of wood out of my rack on the patio, meant for the fire pit, and bringing them in the house where he chews them up best he can. Fallen limbs from one of our large oak trees he thinks belong inside and he’s drug pieces as long as six to seven feet in length through the doggy door.

Jack noticeably ignores the troublesome antics of Charlie as if to suggest he can’t compete with the trouble Jack cooked up in his youth, and he’s right.

Jack has by far been our most mischievous dog of the six we’ve had. Perhaps that’s why it’s so odd to see him at this stage in life when he’s the calm one. We’ve had a few scares recently prompting conversations of whether we’re close to having to make that decision no dog owner wants to make. But every time we fear we’re close, Jack bounces back like his old self, proving he still has a lot of life left in him, and just perhaps a little more mischief.

Joel McNeece is publisher of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce. You may email him at joelmcneece@gmail.com.