When Jimmy was around 10 years old, he had two run-ins with the police, both occurring within the same year. This was his only crime spree except for the occasional pedestrian violations that he was quietly guilty of during his walks.
The first incident occurred at a hotel. We always took Jimmy on our trips, and one weekend we traveled to Athens, Georgia, for a surprise birthday party for Stephanie’s mother. On the evening of the party, we had to leave Jimmy alone at the hotel for a few hours. Jimmy was usually well behaved, but on this night — for some reason — he howled constantly, prompting the people in the next room to call the police. Luckily the hotel clerks were very understanding, and when the police arrived told themn it was a dog friendly hotel and all was well. Jimmy was saved from a night in the pokey.
Later on that year we were staying at Stephanie’s father’s house in New Jersey. We went to New York City for an evening and had to leave Jimmy alone in the house. Somehow he tripped the security system, which automatically alerted the police. When we arrived at the house, the police were there with an automated voice repeating, “Alert: Sector A.” Jimmy greeted us at the door, unaware of the trouble he had caused. Jimmy was reluctant to cross state lines after these two encounters with the boys in blue.
When we lived in Walkertown, North Carolina, we usually got home from work around dusk and was unable to take Jimmy for a walk at the local park before closing time. Instead, we would take him for treks around the local shopping center parking lots. It seems like we walked around every shopping center in Walkertown, Kernersville and occasionally Winston-Salem, passing by and behind every store imaginable: Roses, Walmart, Kmart, Dollar General, etc. Since Jimmy was a friendly dog, shoppers would often pet him. One of his favorite things to do was to step on the automatic door pads to open the doors. At the Walkertown Shopping Center he would always open the door to Eckerd’s, walk in a couple of feet and bark at the customers. Some of the staff became accustomed to his routine and would look forward to seeing him.
On our parking lot walks we went behind restaurants, department stores, video rental shops, newsstands, even a bowling alley. He was especially interested in the sounds coming from the back of the bowling alley near where the ball crashed into the pins. We had to be especially careful walking behind restaurants to avoid discarded food. Sometimes we would walk around the parking lots and playgrounds of schools. One time Jimmy sifted out a five-dollar bill behind an elementary school. He also loved walking up the school’s ramp and stairs to get a good view.
No matter where we roamed, Jimmy loved a ride in the car and a good walk.
Jimmy loved going to the beach with us. He never cared much for playing in the water. Because he was part poodle, the water heavily weighed him down. At least that is how we explained his aversion to getting wet. But he did love to sit beneath the umbrella with a cold bowl of water, watching the world go by. He loved to watch people but would growl at the dogs long after they had passed by, giving him a sense of power without having to fight for it. As they disappeared into the distance it seemed that Jimmy’s growl caused them to leave. This would always make us laugh. “Tough dog,” we would say.
Jimmy also enjoyed walking down the beach with his nose in the wind. A windy day compressed all the smells and, in a sense, compressed time. At least that’s how we liked to view it. He knew the word “wind” and when hearing the word would put his nose in the air. Jimmy was a very sweet dog.
Jimmy had a variety of toys as a pup but his favorite was very unusual — a pink flamingo. Stephanie and I had received this large plastic bird as a gag-wedding gift a few years earlier. I presented it to Jimmy shortly after he arrived at our home, and he took to it immediately. Right away, he pounced on it, picked it up by its neck and carried it around the room, despite the fact that the three-foot-tall flamingo dwarfed Jimmy’s short, puppy frame. He often carried it around with him, occasionally stopping to chew on it. We kept the flamingo in Jimmy’s plastic toy box, its head and neck towering above the rest of his possessions. Sadly, we eventually had to throw it away because it started to break into pieces.
Puppy Jimmy is pictured with one of his other favorite toys, the sock and ball. In the days before digital photography, wasn’t so easy to take photos of everything, unfortunately did not get one of him with that crazy pink flamingo.
The first two years Stephanie and I had Jimmy, which was in the early 1990s, we lived in Boone, North Carolina, right beside the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had our very own path — at least it seemed to be “ours” — which began a few yards from our front door and extended a couple of miles along the parkway.
The path was so close to our house and isolated that I never put Jimmy on a leash. I would just say, “Let’s go for a walk,” and he would wag his tail and bark in anticipation. I would open the door and off we’d go.
The path first went up a hill, passed a field of cows to our left and then leveled off near a rock quarry, which was originally mined for the building of the parkway. Below the quarry was a spring surrounded by a number of large rocks. Jimmy would run a few feet ahead of us, and he would often explore the rocks at the spring and quarry. We were lucky never to have encountered mountain lions or bears, although we did occasionally see a deer or two. We would sit atop a large rock, looking at the landscape below. At one spot, we could see the silhouette of Grandfather Mountain. Our daily walks were a highlight of our days.
Jimmy was usually well behaved on our walks except on one occasion when Stephanie took him shortly before dusk. While he typically ran past the field of cows without incident, on this evening he turned left off the path and ran into the pasture, barking at the cows — some of which started running toward him. Stephanie called for him but he remained with his bovine buddies. She chased him among the cows until it got dark. Then she went back to the house to retrieve a flashlight. A few minutes later, there she was, standing in a field of cows, waving a flashlight, and yelling at a disobedient dog. Some of the cows even started to approach her but thankfully, Jimmy eventually tired and acquiesced. Luckily, this never happened again. Good boy Jimmy.