The Day The Barking Stopped
The Reid household will never be the same. Our beloved Jack Russell terrier, Palmer, had to be put to sleep recently.
Palmer was the inspiration for -several of my columns over the years. One in particular, "So Many Squirrels ... So -Little Time," led to my first-place award in the 2005 National Society of Newspaper Columnists competition.
Palmer never caught another -squirrel, but he sure as heck tried. He hated them dearly. Didn't have much use for cats, either.
But he loved people and never met a stranger. He demanded attention; he was always center stage; he lived life flat out. We're so glad he lived a full life.
Fifteen-plus years is a lot for a Jack Russell. Not because of any -particular health issues associated with that breed. But because Jack Russells are, well ... crazy. Unless they're asleep, they're in high gear, scorched Earth mode ... running around like fools. A lady once described her Jack Russell as "a thug in a clown suit."
Palmer's ashes will end up in an oak urn, with a brass plate that says "Palmer, 1997-2012."
Had to be special-ordered, of course. Only the best for Palmer, whose teething victims included kitchen -cabinets, Nunn Bush shoes and Martha Stewart -comforters. He ate designer-brand food, wore a microchip and had a team of doctors all over the state.
"Oh, we already have Palmer in our computer," said the receptionist at a remote vet's office in Moore County. "Remember ... we treated him for a -spider bite a few years ago."
"Yep," I said. "You also treated him for an eye ulcer on Thanksgiving Day a while back. Or maybe that was the emergency vet in Greensboro ..."
Palmer also was boarded a few times and hated it. At Lucky's in Greensboro, he was the only dog who ever locked himself in his room. Not a kennel, mind you ... a room, with a TV set and all. I've stayed in cheaper hotel rooms myself. Anyhow, Palmer somehow had locked his door, and they had to call in a locksmith to get him out.
Lately, though, Palmer had been going downhill. I quipped to a friend recently that Palmer had gotten so old and frail that squirrels had begun to chase him.
Although we were in denial about Palmer's declining health, we couldn't deny what we saw in the ultrasound. When it comes to friends, loved ones and pets, cancer does not discriminate.
In his last days, Palmer refused to eat his dog food. But he would eat bites of hot dogs and chicken. Knowing Palmer, I figured he was thinking, "Well, at least I finally got some people food out of you guys!"
Palmer was usually squirmy and jumpy during his rides to the vet. But on this trip he just laid quietly in Teresa's lap.
After a brief examination, the vet said she was 100 percent sure it was time for Palmer to go. And he looked at us as if he understood.
This poem by an unknown author says it all:
There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth. It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors.
When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this lovely land. There is always food and water and warm spring weather.
There, the old and frail animals are young again.
There is only one thing missing. They are not with the special persons who loved them on Earth.
So each day they run and play until the day comes when one suddenly stops -playing and looks up!
Then, the nose twitches! The ears are up! The eyes are staring! You have been seen, and that one suddenly runs from the group!
You take him or her in your arms and embrace. Your face is kissed again and again and again, and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet. Then, together, you cross the Rainbow Bridge, never again to be separated.
Raymond Reid can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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