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.
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Hi everybody! It’s Sally and Luna, chief canine officers at Jimmydog. We hope our canine and feline friends have found our “flatten the curve” tips to be helpful. Today, we share our last, and maybe most important, one.
Today’s tip: Welcome a new family member
We’re both rescue dogs and we’ll be forever grateful to Stephanie and Todd, the best people ever, for adopting us. While many things are closed right now, animal shelters and rescues remain open — and, unfortunately, the flow of animals needing homes hasn’t slowed. With people working and schooling from home, now is a perfect time to bring a pet into the home. So, dog and cat friends, encourage your people to get you a new friend! How fun will that be?! (Just don’t let them name your new fur sibling ’Rona.)
Today’s tip: Comfort your “essential” people
Not everyone can work from home. Medical personnel, hospital staff, grocery/pharmacy/pet store workers, delivery people, mail carriers, truck drivers, warehouse staff, first responders, journalists and many others are still leaving home each day for work — and often working longer hours than ever. For dogs and cats who live in the homes of these essential workers, you are super-essential yourselves! Your people desperately need the extra snuggles and licks that only you can provide. Don’t hold back!
Today’s tip: Stay healthy and safe
In normal times, most pets do everything they can to avoid trips to the vet, and now it’s more important than ever to stay away if you can. (We hear that lots of veterinarians have altered their procedures to “stop the spread” and you might have to go in all by yourself, without your people to comfort you!)
So, this isn’t the time to see if that amber-colored plastic bottle is tasty or to chase the cat down the stairs and hurt your leg. Stephanie and Todd, the best people ever, block off parts of the house to keep us from getting into trouble while they are busy working. Honestly, it’s annoying, but we understand it’s for our own good!
Hi everybody! It’s Sally and Luna, chief canine officers at Jimmydog. Like you, we’re learning lots of new words and phrases lately: “COVID-19,” “flatten the curve,” “social distancing.” Today’s tip is about how our canine friends can assist with that last one.
Today’s tip: Model social distancing
Our friend Max, always a sweet dog, has begun “air humping” his favorite people from a distance, rather than grabbing on tight to their legs as he usually does. We think it’s a thoughtful gesture appropriate for the times. If you’re humper — or a jumper — you should consider making similar adjustments. You also can assist with social distancing while on walks. Many leashes are 6 feet long — the exact distance people are supposed to keep between each other. If you encounter friends and neighbors while on your walks, you and the other pups can do a quick sniff greeting, while your people chat at a safe distance with the leashes between them.
Hi everybody! It’s Sally and Luna, chief canine officers at Jimmydog, here with another idea for how dogs and cats can help their people adjust to stay-at-home orders because of coronavirus. (We had to ask Stephanie how to spell that one!)
Today’s tip: Keep them calm
These are stressful, scary times. (We’re not telling you anything you don’t know. You can sense it in your people. They might be raising their voice, holding their shoulders up by their ears, even crying sometimes.) Dog and cat friends, now is a perfect time to offer yourselves up for extra cuddles and pets. But you don’t even need to do that because just looking at you can calm your people. Curl up for a nap somewhere where they can see you. Their shoulders will relax and their blood pressure will drop in no time. If they’re really upset, shift into one of your cutest poses and snore a little. Or chase rabbits in your sleep to give them a chuckle.
Hi everybody! It’s Sally and Luna, chief canine officers at Jimmydog. With kids learning from home to “flatten the curve,” dogs and cats have a special role to play in educating them — and entertaining them while their parents try to work.
Today’s tip: Assist with homeschooling
Pet friends, you should spend time each day teaching your little people how to feed and groom you the way you like. You can also have daily lessons in which the little ones play teacher, instructing you how to sit, lie down, roll over, fetch, etc. (If you already know all these things, that’s OK. Just play along.) And don’t forget PE classes. Dog friends, if you have a yard or nearby park, take the kids out with you for a game of chase or fetch. Cat friends, you can engage kids in games with your toys, too. (Cat friends, we know you don’t want to, but remember that all of us — even cats — have to do their part in this effort!)