Jimmy and Joey welcome an old friend
When we have to say goodbye to our beloved pets at the end of their lives with us, it’s hard to imagine a world without them. Our hearts ache after those goodbyes. But thanks to our own dogs Jimmy and Joey, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge several years ago, we know all the pets who have passed are happy and healthy, playing with friends, having adventures and taking plenty of long naps. We know because our sweet boys occasionally write letters, telling us about their new lives on the other side. In their latest post, we hear about their important new jobs – and a couple of new arrivals.
Dear Stephanie & Todd,
We have some big news! Joey and I have gone back to work. After serving as volunteers with the Rainbow Bridge Newcomers Club, we’ve been promoted to ambassadors, a paid position. You know we loved our jobs as chief canine officers at Jimmydog Pet Portraits, and it feels great to work again.
They gave us cool badges – tags for our collars that say “Newcomers Club Ambassador” – and we get a paycheck of extra bones every Friday. Of course, you can get bones around here anytime you want but these are delivered right to our house. We really like how they do deliveries here. The birds drop off letters and packages – and sometimes, when they are feeling festive, they leave a little “frosting” on them as they fly off. What great days those are! Mail and something smelly to roll in, too! It’s so much better than how mail was delivered in our old lives. We hear that when it is their time to pass, those guys in the white trucks and brown trucks who used to menace us every day cross a very different bridge that takes them in a whole other direction. We’ll never see them again!
But back to the Newcomers Club. It takes over after the Welcoming Committee greets new arrivals and after the Pack Placement Committee decides where everyone will live. Our job is to get everyone settled into their new houses, give tours of the whole place and answer any questions.
Soon after we got our badges, Joey’s good buddy Clooney arrived. Joey tells me he and Clooney go way back – back to when Clooney was just a puppy and you found him wandering in the street all alone. Joey says you helped Clooney find his forever home (where he was given that great name!), but that he’d still visit your house often, so he had two families who loved him. Lucky boy!
Swapping stories about how we found our forever homes is a big activity here. We gather ’round the fire hydrant at night, chewing on sticks and listening as everyone recounts what was always the greatest day of their lives: Forever Home Day. The cats mostly lie around, licking themselves and pretending not to listen. Occasionally, one will chime in with their story, but their stories always end with “…and that was those people’s luckiest day ever.” Cats!
Anyway, Joey tells me that back on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, he and Clooney bonded over their mutual suspicion of human strangers and their love of watching baseball on TV with Todd.
Because members of Clooney’s former pack are already here, the Pack Placement Committee had an easy job, then we helped him settle into his house with his sister dog Arlo Jean and his sister cats Helen, Gertrude and Phyllis. But Joey insisted we make Clooney a guest room at our place, too, complete with his own twin-size, human-type bed, just like he used to have when he would visit your house. We even put a little dog biscuit on the pillow for him!
Not long after Clooney arrived, we welcomed Blossom, a voluptuous bulldog who has all the dogs’ tails wagging. She’s also got a big family here – Bixby, Georgia, Handsome and Gnarly, all bulldogs like her.
Both Blossom and Clooney were really worried about the packs they’d left behind and were so relieved to discover that their houses here have TVs with special channels so they can watch everything their packs are doing whenever they want (channel 118 at Clooney’s house and channel 2235 at Blossom’s).
After she got situated, Blossom gave us a list of stuff she wanted to see and do. No. 1 was going to a river. I was confused. Maybe she wanted to take a nap on its banks? I’d never seen a bulldog swim, just sunbathe.
Anyway, Clooney, who loves rivers, too, wanted to come along, so we all ran – every dog wants to run a lot after they arrive – to a nice big, wide stream.
Clooney jumped in first, splashing around before finding a shallow spot where he could plop down, only his head and long, fluffy tail sticking out of the water. Blossom dove in right after him. I was barking, “Don’t you need some floaties, Blossom?” but silly me, she’s a great swimmer.
And she taught us the best game: stone diving. Any dog can do it. You just swim down to the bottom and find a good rock and bring it back to the surface. You can play two ways: The dog with the most stones wins or the dog with the best stones wins.
Some nearby cats said they would help judge which rocks were best – and we took them up on it because cats are so good at judging. But then, when Joey shook a tiny bit of water on one of them, they got huffy and left. Cats! After that, we tried to pick the winning rocks ourselves but couldn’t: Just like every dog is the best dog, every stone is the best stone!
After the swimming and stone diving, we took a long nap on the bank. Even if I was wrong about Blossom and swimming, I was right about her liking naps on the bank. But then she was ready to go again. Who knew bulldogs had so much energy? She was hungry, so I took her to the food court. We were there for a long, long time as she worked her way through Forbidden Edibles, Chew All You Want, Legs! Legs! Legs! and the other stands.
Clooney and Joey, not liking big crowds, headed off on their own, saying something about wanting to take a long walk to catch up. I found them later, curled up on our together sofa, watching baseball on TV. They couldn’t have been happier.
Really, that’s true of all of us here. We know how much you miss us, and we miss you, too. But you are the reason we are here – happy and healthy, surrounded by friends. When you kissed us goodbye on our last day with you, your love for us lit the path to the Rainbow Bridge and this magical place beyond.
Tail wags and doggy kisses!
Jimmy (and Joey)
Everyone has that one go-to friend they can always call when they need an understanding ear or a shoulder to cry on. Maybe he or she was a college roommate or perhaps you’ve known each other since kindergarten. It’s a bond you cherish, but the human BFFs of the world are faced with some stiff competition. Two-legged companions just can’t compare to a furry, wagging package of pure loyalty and devotion!
These 10 pieces of evidence prove beyond a resonable doubt that your dog is your REAL bestie!
1. You share everything. Food, furniture, clothing – nothing is off limits between best friends!
2. They know how you’re feeling without you saying a word. Dogs have an uncanny ability to sense our emotions and respond in just the way we need them to. When we are down, they provide a calm, quiet presence and when we are up, they exuberantly join us as we hop around and dance!
3. They make you feel like a celebrity with their joyful greetings. Seriously, has any human ever been as excited to see you as your dog is every single time you show up? Our canine BFFs help keep us humble and grounded, but they also remind us that in their eyes, we are Beyonce! (or Jay-Z as the case may be!)
4. They’ve seen you at your worst – and vice versa!
A best friend is someone who allows you to be comfortable with yourself, warts and all. Our dogs have seen and smelled it all – bedhead, coffee breath, post-workout funk, those 15-year-old slippers – and their love for us never wavers.
5. They remind you to appreciate the little things in life.
When was the last time you hopped in a puddle just to see the splash or caught a snowflake on your tongue? Dogs go through life without ever losing that magical, childlike wonder. Being with them helps us slow down and appreciate the beauty of the world.
6. They inspire you. Best friends don’t just tell you what you want to hear. They are always there to support you, but they also aren’t afraid to let you know when it’s time for an attitude adjustment – or a new hairstyle! Our dogs may not be able to talk, but their pure, honest adoration helps remind us of the people we truly want to be. “Be the person your dog thinks you are!”
7. Anyone who messes with you had better watch out!
Bad breakup? Bully at work? Just let your dog at ’em! Our pups are so deeply devoted to their human besties that they’d happily lay down their lives to protect us. Countless canine heroes have done just that.
8. You have a good time together no matter what you do. Only true BFFs can have a blast doing something as mundane as a Costco run. That’s one of the many fabulous things about dogs. Everything is fun and exciting as long as they are by your side!
9. They are always there when you need a helping paw.
Human friends tend to scatter when it comes to the boring things in life like rides to the airport and moving days. Your pup may not be able to drive or carry your sofa, but you can bet she’ll be there for emotional support. And there’s no better cheerleader to motivate you while you work!
10. You make each other’s worlds a little brighter.
When you come right down to it, we choose our best friends because of the way they make us feel. Dogs enrich our lives by bringing love, laughter and joy to our world because for them, we are their whole world!
Written by Dina Fantegrossi
Renowned portrait artist Todd Belcher has only a few openings left for custom portraits that will be ready in time for Christmas.
Don’t miss the opportunity to give that special someone on your holiday shopping list, a gift they will love forever. Contact us today!
A custom portrait of a beloved pet or family member is a unique gift that becomes a treasured keepsake and valued piece of art. Todd creates portraits from photos using pencil, colored pencil or acrylic paint. Sizes to fit any budget. Gift certificates also available.
For more information, visit Jimmydog.com.
Helper Elf and Chief Canine Officer Freddie is ready to take your order!
Recently, Freddie, Jimmydog’s semi-retired chief canine officer, compiled a list of her 10 favorite things, from walks to boating to vacations. And that got her thinking of the things she’s not so fond of: Why can’t there be more delicious stuffed bones and fewer baths? Why not abolish trips to the vet and spend more time lying in the grass? She’s sure her dog friends, if not their people, will agree wholeheartedly with her list of her 10 least favorite things. And she feels so much better having gotten this all off her chest.
I worry a good bit, but I’m not a complainer. That said, there are some things that have been troubling me—some for a long time (like trips to the vet) and some more recently (like attacks of angry bees). Without such bothers, my life would be nearly perfect! Stephanie suggested that writing down all these irritants would make me feel better, so I’ve come up with a list of my top 10 least favorite things. I do feel a little better now, though I’d be happiest if you, my dear readers, could help eliminate them all from my life. I think you’ll agree they are terrible, and I’d be forever grateful!
10. Strangers: As I see it, there are two kinds of dogs in the world. Slobbering, indiscriminate goofballs who run up to every stranger thinking they might have snacks and discerning dogs who like to know something about a person before a formal introduction. I, if you haven’t guessed, fall into that second category. If you see me in the park, a friendly wave and a greeting of “What a pretty girl”—from a distance—is perfect. After we’ve gotten to know each other, I will let you pet me.
9. Separation: Stephanie, Todd and I are a pack, which means we should be together at all times. That’s the first rule of being a pack. I didn’t make up the rules, though I try my best to enforce them. Once when we were visiting friends, I found myself outside while Stephanie, Todd and everyone else were inside, I tore off a storm door so we could be reunited. And that’s why we have a strict open-door policy within our own house.
8. Bicycles and skateboards: These unpredictable wheel-y things take up space on dog-walking paths and make weird whirring noises as they go by. Plus, I think they are used by dognappers to quickly scoop up attractive dogs like me. “But you love cars!” you might say. You’re right, but dogs can ride in cars. They take us places! Bicycles and skateboards are not dog-friendly conveyances. Yeah, yeah. I’ve seen those skateboard-riding bulldogs, too. That’s not normal. Ban the bicycle, I say!
7. “You have to stay home.” I believe those are the five ugliest words in human language. “You have to stay home” is even worse than “We are out of treats.” (I actually never hear that second one because Stephanie is excellent at keeping me in treats.) And, honestly, Stephanie and Todd don’t leave me home alone very often. We usually travel in a pack and if they must do people stuff inside a store or office building where I can’t go, I stay in the car. Yet sometimes it’s too hot for me in the car or they have go into a people-only building for too long and I get left at home. I register my displeasure every time, dramatically lowering my head in a show of sadness and walking slowly to my bed. Poor me!
6. Baths: Can I get an “amen,” dog friends? Even dogs who love to swim hate baths, which get rid of all the natural perfumes we’ve carefully layered on ourselves. I actually get showers rather than baths and am thankful I don’t get taken to the groomer. I hear other dogs’ people talk about the “doggy spa” and my dog friends tell me it’s more like a torture chamber. They put bows in their fur! Unacceptable! Ban the bath! Scrap the shower!
5. Rain: A gentle rain is a great soundtrack for a nap, but rain should only fall at night, when it doesn’t interfere with naps and outings. Daytime downpours can ruin everything. Todd and I recently got caught in one during a walk in the park. He thought we should run to the car, while I protested the storm by walking extra slow. Take that, rain!
4. Bees: I don’t know what I did to the bees, but they are after me. I think they might even have a “Most Wanted” picture of me in their hives. I’ve been stung a lot. Once at a park, I passed out from a sting and Todd had to carry me up a hill to the car. Now he brings Benadryl with us and it makes me feel better. Oh, wait. I just had a thought: What if the bees are security guards for ground squirrels? That would explain everything!
3. Hot days: Many of my other dislikes are caused by hot days—the bees sting me more on hot days; I can’t always go on car rides on hot days. And, I hate to admit it, but as I get older, the heat gets to me more. Bring on the cold, clear days of winter!
2. Going to the vet: Here’s my problem with going to the vet: Everything. Everything is my problem with going to the vet. I don’t like the shiny floors, the awful smells or the bad treats, which are really vitamins they lie about. You can’t fool us, vet tech! And that’s all before the exam even starts. Then the vet comes in, touches you all over without even asking, shines bright lights in your eyes, and sticks things everywhere, including your nether regions! Plus, Todd says it’s all very expensive. I think we should stop going to the vet and spend the money on vacations! I’m going to bring this up at the next Jimmydog meeting.
1. Missing Joey. My best pal Joey crossed the Rainbow Bridge a few years ago and although I like being an only dog and getting all of Stephanie and Todd’s attention, I miss him. My people are the best people ever, but they aren’t good at chewing bones, chasing moles or clashing in the snow. You need a dog friend for things like that. Joey sometimes writes us letters from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge and it sounds like he’s having a good time with Jimmy, Stephanie and Todd’s first dog. I’m not ready to join them yet, but when it is my time to cross, the first thing I’m going to do is ask Joey if they have snow beyond the Rainbow Bridge. And then we’re going to play and play, no bees allowed.
Yours in dogness,
Freddie, Jimmydog’s semi-retired chief canine officer, has always had a zest for life. On one of our recent blistering hot summer days, she settled down inside with the air conditioning blasting and reflected on some of her very favorite things (aside from air conditioning, of course, because for a dog living in North Carolina that one goes without saying). If you’re a dog reader, what are your favorite things? We’d love to know! Freddie still has plenty of time to start new hobbies and try new experiences!
As a dog ages, she often takes time to reflect on her life. (When we senior dogs are kind of staring off into space, that’s what we’re doing—reflecting.) Anyway, as I celebrated my 15½ birthday recently, I started thinking about all the wonderful things I’ve enjoyed over these many years. (I know! I know! I don’t look a day over 6!) I’ve been lucky to have a safe, comfortable home and the best people ever, Stephanie and Todd Belcher, looking after me.
But, as they say, it’s the little things that matter. So, if you’ll indulge me, I’ve compiled a list of my 10 favorite things—the stuff that has brought me immense happiness. Whether you’re a person or a dog, I bet you’ll see some of your own favorites things on my list, too. (Cat readers: I’m still trying to figure out what it is that you like.)
- Vacations: When I first went to work for Jimmydog as chief canine officer, I insisted on lots of vacation time as part of my compensation and I recommend all working dogs do the same. Do you know the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? I don’t know who Jack is, but working too much makes Freddie a cranky girl. Even in semi-retirement, I maintain a busy schedule, so I treasure my vacations. Give me a week at the beach or in the mountains and I’m a happy, happy girl. For me, vacations are a chance to check out new hotels (so many interesting smells!), explore different trails and parks (so many things to see!) and just hang out with Stephanie and Todd (the best part!). If you haven’t booked your summer vacation yet, do it now!
- My backyard: In my opinion, the best backyards offer places for rest and relaxation but also provide entertainment—and by that standard, my yard is perfect. There is plenty of soft green grass to roll in, plus leafy trees and bushes to nap under. (I still visit some excellent sleeping holes my pal Joey dug years ago under the boxwoods.) But bushes aren’t just for shade: They house all the interesting critters—ground squirrels, moles, voles, rabbits. In my younger days, I took seriously my job to eradicate them from the yard. As a senior dog, I’ve adopted the philosophy of many aging hunters: It’s as interesting to watch as to kill, but that doesn’t mean I don’t ever give chase. A quick run after a ground squirrel is great exercise and exciting for all involved!
- The wind: My human readers might be surprised to find this on a list of favorite things, but wind is the best—oh, the smells it delivers to my nose! It’s like a news feed for dogs and I love to be well-informed! A breeze in the yard lets me know when a rabbit has hopped by, while the gust created by an open car window tells me we’re getting close to the park. Humans try it next time you’re out: Close your eyes, stretch your neck, thrust your nose into the air and take a giant sniff! You’ll learn so much.
- Grass: If I had to pick the best thing in nature, it would be grass. It’s so functional—perfect for peeing, for napping, for a quick roll-around. We’ve got a beautiful patch in the backyard that I use as my lifeguard stand when I’m watching over people swimming in the pool. I just wish I could explain to Stephanie why grass is so great. I love her, but she’s ruined some pretty good grass rolls over the years, insisting I have a bath after I’ve worked so hard to get the delicious smell of poop and dead stuff deep down into my fur.
- My bed: There’s nothing better after a walk—or after dinner or after a car ride—than a nap. I’m lucky enough to have many bedding options throughout the house, including several dog cushions, Stephanie and Todd’s mattress and pretty much any piece of furniture. These days my favorite is my dog bed in the den. It has a thick cushion and side bolsters for maximum comfort, plus a nice tan and red floral pattern that complements my fur. It is so inviting that after an especially good nap, sometimes I’ll get right back in for second one.
- Our van: Anyone who knows me knows I love a good car ride and these days I’m really enjoying outings in our van. Todd and I call it the “Doggy Van Gogh-Go” because we are hilarious like that. For park walks and other outings, Todd drives and I ride shotgun, window open (See No. 8: The wind). When Stephanie comes along, she’s usually polite enough to sit in the back seat so as not to mess up our well-honed driving routine.
- Ice water: This is a pleasure I discovered late in life. I’ve had a bit of kidney trouble (nothing too serious yet) and the vet says I need to stay hydrated. Trust me: Ice water—specifically filtered water with a handful of cubes in a nice stainless-steel bowl—is the way to go! To make it even more convenient, I’ve got bowls all over the house—outside on the patio, in the hallway, in the dining room. It’s the doggy version of people carrying a water bottle everywhere they go. Slurp!
- Stuffed bones: This delicacy is a Belcher pack tradition and because I like you, I’ll tell you our secret recipe. Start with large beef marrow bones—after a dog has already licked the outsides clean and gotten out all the marrow. Stuff the center of each bone with soft dog treats. Serve to your happy dog. Easy, right? I like six of these bones after dinner, served around 7 p.m. That’s correct: I said six bones. They are the perfect dessert—delicious, long-lasting, healthy for my teeth. Dog friends, feel free to share our recipe with your people. You’ll love them!
- Boating: Ah, the boating life! It’s like a car ride on water! Boating combines so many things I love—wind, travel, exploring, hanging out with Todd and Stephanie. My favorite place to go is High Rock Lake, with our friend Bryan (it’s always good to have a friend with a boat) and his dogs Amos and Piper. I love boating so much I wrote a whole blog about it. Read it at http://jimmydog.com/backyard/?p=1061.
- Walks: Of course, No. 1 is walks! I attribute my excellent health and ageless beauty to my lifelong habit of strolling. Todd and I are dedicated. We go every day, regardless of weather and average about 1½ miles. Other dogs are content walking through their neighborhoods but with my thirst for adventure, I need to explore. My hot spots are large parks—Horizons, Bethania, Triad, Miller, Tanglewood—places with wide trails, lots of woods and interesting field edges to explore.
So, there you have it, friends: my top 10 favorite things. And now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to enjoy No. 3!
Yours in dogness,
Our dog Freddie loves boat rides and wants to share her passion for the water with her dog friends. She knows safety comes first and offers tips to make outings safe and fun for everyone. When you see her out on the lake, be sure to give her a wave! And if your dogs are avid boaters, post pictures of them on the water. We’d love to see them.
If you need to find me this summer, I’ll be at the lake.
Now that I’m semi-retired from my role as chief canine officer at Jimmydog, I have even more time for adventures and with summer’s arrival that means boat rides.
Not to brag, but I’m a natural first mate, comfortable on the water, good at spotting fish and helpful navigating the boat. (“Go that way!”) I don’t have my own boat, but we have a family friend with one and that’s the next best thing. Bryan is an excellent captain who likes to take his own dogs, Amos and Piper, out fishing and they often invite me to come along for a day on the lake. I always ask if Todd and Stephanie, the best people ever, can come, too, and Bryan always says yes. He’s very nice.
For dogs, boating is the best. You’re out in the sunshine, breeze blowing in your fur. And the smells. Oh, the smells! Fish and suntan lotion. Hot dogs and beer. Delicious dead, decaying stuff in the water and along the shoreline.
I’d like my dog friends to join me on the water this summer, whether you sail on the ocean, take a pontoon out on the lake or kayak down the river. Get out there! But before you do, here are some tips to keep you safe on your excursion. (Don’t worry, dog friends, this is mostly stuff your people need to do. Read through it with them and then you can take a nap while they get everything ready.)
* Keep the first trip short. If you’ve never been on a boat, ask your people to keep your maiden voyage short. Sure, you’re excited thinking, “Let’s go for the day!” but not every dog is the expert sailor that I am. You don’t want to set out for a three-hour tour and discover the waves make you seasick and the movement of the boat freaks you out.
* Get a life jacket. I don’t wear one myself because I don’t swim a lot—I’m more of a sunbather. If you plan to spend a lot of time in the water, get your people to invest in a good life jacket. It will help you float and it has a handle on the back that lets your people scoop you out of the water, if necessary. Life jackets come in different colors and styles, so you’ll look super cute in yours.
I know what you expert swimmers are thinking: “I don’t need a life jacket. I’m no amateur dog paddler.” I get it. Labs, retrievers, all you Portuguese waterdogs out there, you’re born to swim, yet it’s best to be safe. You never know when you’re going to face choppy water or just tucker out.
Speaking of safety, experts tell me dogs should be outfitted with harnesses instead of collars while boating. Again, it’s about making it easy for your people to grab on and help you. So, let them put the harness on, even if gives you awkward tan lines!
* Make a “dog overboard” plan. If you’re new to boating dog friends, here’s the rule: Stay on the boat until your people say it’s OK to swim. Yet we know there are times when following the rules is too hard: If you see a fish jump, you must dive in after it. You have no choice. This can make your people panic so they should have a plan (cut the engine, call to you to return to a specific part of the boat, jump in after you, etc.).
* Bring fresh water. Whether you’re heading out on the ocean, a lake or a river, you’ll need your people to bring along a bowl for you and plenty of fresh drinking water. We can’t drink salt water and even though lake water and river water are delicious, they aren’t good for dogs to drink. Even clear, clean-looking water contains invisible creepy crawlies that can make us sick. If your people are especially considerate, like Todd is, they’ll bring plenty of ice, too. Refreshing!
* Pack a first-aid kit. Accidents happen. You could step on a fish hook or get stung by a bee. (I’m getting stung by bees all the time lately! I’ve done nothing to them and yet they are after me!) Have your people put together a little first-aid kit with gauze pads, adhesive bandages, tweezers, Benadryl (for those bee stings!), Dramamine (for seasickness) and other items. Stephanie says I should remind you that your people need to check with your vet for the proper dosages and to make sure it’s OK for you to take those medications. I will remind you not to take those medications unless your people put them in something yummy, like cheese.
* Provide a shady spot. Even if we’ve been splashing around in the water, it’s easy for dogs to overheat once we’re back on the boat and under the beating sun. Plus, boat decks heat up fast, burning our paws. If your boat doesn’t have enough shade, ask your people to make you a temporary tent with towels.
* Bring extra towels. Ask your people to pack extra towels to wipe your paws and dry you off before everyone gets back in the car. They also are helpful if the water is too cold and your dog comes back onto the boat shivering. In that case, you’ll want to wrap your dog in dry towels and give them lots of snuggles until their body temperature rises.
* Slather on that sunscreen. All dogs, especially those with light skin and white fur, can get sunburned. Did you know they make sunscreen for dogs? I did not! If your people can’t find the doggy version, they can use sunscreen made for babies and children, as long as it doesn’t contain any zinc or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA). (Whew! I needed a little help with the spelling of that one!). Zinc and PABA are toxic to dogs, which Stephanie tells me means they are very, very bad. Your people should put the sunscreen on your nose, ears, groin and tummy—and you dogs should do your part by not licking it off, even if it’s tasty.
Wow! That’s a lot of preparation, equipment and rules! Don’t worry. Your people will handle everything and it really shouldn’t take them very long. Then you’ll be ready to set sail. I’ll see you on the water!
Yours in dogness,