Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Memories of Spunky Our Jack Russell Terrier
When I first started to date my wife Shirley some 11 years ago, she introduced me to her Jack Russell Terrier named Spunky. She was a very muscular dog with above average size for a Jack and weighed about 23 pounds. Spunky was mostly white with a few tan patches on her ear and face. Her coat was smooth and short and her undercoat was almost barren of any hair. Because of the lack of hair growth on her underbelly many skin spots would be very noticeable and at first I wasn't taken in by her appearance. Shirley had Spunky for a few years already and both her kids had grown quite fond of her. I had not been around for more than a few weeks when I offered to take Spunky out for a walk one fall evening. Down the apartment stairs and out the front door we went to head towards the park near the creek. About ten paces from the door we began to pass the garbage bins that were in the parking lot, when I heard Spunky had began to choke on something. The sound that was coming from her throat immediately signaled to me that she was in a desperate situation. I looked down and saw an entire chicken breast bone lodged sideways in her throat, just passed her rear teeth. I don't know what came over me at that moment, but I probably wouldn't be married to Shirley today if I didn't respond as quickly as I did. Grabbing Spunky's mouth I opened her jaw, stuck my fingers down her throat, and somehow was able to dislodge the breast bone from inside her. I paused for a moment and made sure she was OK, and we continued our walk. When I returned to the apartment I explained to my new girlfriend that her dog almost died the first time that I had walked her. At the time I did not know, the long relationship I would build with both Spunky and Shirley. The dog became a "project" of mine. My goal was to transform her from the many bad habits she had learned from the kids and the lack of consistent discipline she had received. Some of those habits included, barking at everyone and everything, being aggressive towards certain people, and some dogs, digging through the garbage, just to name a few. I worked with her all the time to try to make her a better dog, but she was very stubborn and many times I nearly lost all of my patience. She did develop into quite a nice dog and over time I grew very fond of her. Spunky continued to have her moments though. There were her two confrontations with dogs that required several stitches and permanent scars. One was a Doberman Pincher, the other was a Rottweiler. Fine choices when you are only 23 pounds. My favorite episode though, was when we had taken her to Minnesota to go on vacation with us. Spunky was deathly afraid of the water and a bath to her was the worst torture you could consider for a dog. Getting her into the boat was going to be trouble but somehow, the thought of being with us overcame her fear of the water and she reluctantly climbed on board. One outing during that week we had got into a nice bunch of bluegills and bass and we're having quite a good time when Spunky decided to grab on to my 6 inch culprit worm (purple shad if you were wondering) and stuck the hook in her upper lip past the barb. As she panicked from the surprise of the hook, she managed to again stick the hook in her right paw. Now we had a yelping Terrier with her paw stuck to her lip and quite a dilemma on our hands. After some quick thought I was able to pin her to the boat deck and began to remove the hooks as though I was removing them from a large Musky, very carefully trying not to injure her mouth. The operation was successful and she never touched another lure again. Spunky loved to be outside(as long as it wasn't cold) and I loved to watch her as she would sit, watch, and listen attentively to the world around her. I spent an entire week with her in St. Germain WI one fall and let her run through the woods chasing squirrels up trees and giving a few Whitetail deer quite a surprise in a field near the cabin. As with all dogs her time was too short and she developed a tumor that was too difficult to remove. It was the second one she had, the first one was removed successfully. Other complications began to take hold of her and we decided it was best to put her to rest peacefully. I had that task, and it was one of the more difficult things I have ever had to do. I don't know what made me think of her today, but it was probably something in our current Jack Russell, Scruffy that reminded me of her. I have taken Scruffy in the boat with us once, and he has been to St. Germain for the opening fishing weekend in 08, but I'm sure the first time I show him a purple shad culprit worm..... I'll make sure I leave the hooks out!