From JANIE SHEPPARD
It is a well-known fact that there can’t be a three dog night without three dogs. And so–
Bill and I are inordinately fond of Jack Russell Terriers, believing them to be a special breed suited to living with a select group of slightly crazy people who have a fairly high tolerance for aberrant (for lack of a better word) behavior.
We believe, perhaps mistakenly, that we are among said slightly crazy group of people.
Last week we heard of a year-and-a-half-old male JRT (as they are known by their fans) who was in desperate straits (he had been sentenced to death). Once more, we agreed, we could leap into the breach. After introductions via phone and email, Bill, accompanied by Heidi (one of our other 2 rescued JRT’s), drove to San Francisco to bring home number three, and after his interim rescuers duly appraised Heidi, who was on her very best behavior, we were deemed suitable adopters.
“Tashtego” was to be his new name. And if you’re scratching your head trying to remember where you might have heard that name, here’s where you heard it: In Moby Dick, Herman Melville’s great novel incidentally about whaling, but really about how the world works (or mostly doesn’t), Tashtego is a Gay Head Indian harpooneer from Nantucket. Quequeeg (a South Sea Islander) and Daggoo (an African tribesman) are the other two. Think 19th century whaling: in Chapter 78, Tashtego slips while extracting spermaceti oil from the severed head of a huge whale, falling into its head just as it comes loose from its moorings and slides into the water. Quequeeg jumps in, and using obstetrical techniques, rescues Tashtego. You can read the chapter here.
When Bill arrived home bedlam ensued. Jerry, our second rescued JRT, went into a full-on temper tantrum, a ridiculous sight when you consider that Jerry is a one-eyed, deaf, nearly toothless old guy who harbors a Napoleon complex. With Tashtego on one leash and Jerry on another, we kept them apart, feeding them doggie treats, which calmed Jerry only while he was chewing. Video here.
Next, we took them for a walk, a trick previously taught us by Sallie Palmer, local dog whisperer extraordinaire. It didn’t work. Jerry continued yapping and lunging at Tashtego.
Fearing continued bedlam, I called Sallie. She advised using a fairly big crate to keep the two dogs apart. So, thinking I could calm down Jerry by taking him with me to Rainbow Ag to buy a crate, off we went. Jerry is the perfect gentleman in Rainbow Ag where dogs are welcomed with treats and kindness. It worked, he became the perfectly calm gentleman. I asked a young sales person for the biggest crate that would fit in my Prius. On the second try we found one that fit–just barely. A few purchases later, we headed home. Somewhere during this process Jerry must have had an epiphany. Arriving home, yapping and lunging gave way to an occasional bark and snort.
To ease Jerry’s lingering pain, I sat him on my lap and sipped a glass of Cabernet. Bill, who was cooking dinner, reported that Jerry would not look at Tashtego, who was quietly sitting on the floor watching the proceedings. It was to be a temporary reprieve. Sitting down at the table occasioned another outburst, this time from Tashtego, who began to bark and jump up and down. Silently thanking Sallie for the inspiration to buy a crate, we ushered Tashtego into it, where, after the indignation wore off, he settled down for a nap.
After dinner, we went for our usual “post prandial” poop walk to the vacant lot at the end of our cul-de-sac. All dogs pooped, and pooped out, we returned home to settle in for a short evening of tv. Tashtego again began jumping and barking so he earned another time out in the crate, leaving the rest of us to our usual boring tv watching.
And that was our first Three Dog Night…