Happy National Mutt day! This day was created to celebrate these lovable, unique pets who paw their way into our homes and hearts. Meet Archie, the most adorable Corgi mix who ever lived. Archie lived the best life with our July Top Fan Janice Hughes who commissioned Todd to paint this tribute to her beloved dog in 2009! Archie has been a resident at the bridge for many years is doing well and has become fast friends with our beloved pack of rainbow mutts, Jimmy, Joey and Freddie.
There once was a dog named Clooney, George Clooney! A very good boy, our god dog visited regularly and was often quite helpful. At one time our “Doggy Van Go Go” had an electronic window that stopped rolling down and Clooney was on the case. One hot day Todd loaded up Clooney, Freddie and Joey to take them out for a walk and left them for a few minutes in our driveway with the car/ac running. When he returned, Clooney had locked them in and we had no extra key! Triple A was quick on the scene to unlock the door and in the process the window was fixed. Thank you Clooney, missing you today and everyday. November 2006-July 15, 2018.
It’s called the Alex Hayden effect. Now more than ever! Read it. Learn it. Live it.
• Be generous without fear.
• Assume the best in people.
• Stay curious, keep learning.
• Share your gifts freely.
• Offer your help without thinking twice.
• Smile first.
• Say yes more often.
• Above all else, always choose kindness.
Any moment when you feel lost of unsure or just need a push in the right direction, take a breath, say “AH” and think: “What would Alex do?” This is the #TheAlexHaydenEffect
Pass. It. On.
Credit: With love and light from Big Leo Productions.
In honor and memory of Stephanie’s brother Alex, tragically killed by a drunk driver, July 14, 2018.
Although Jimmy loved people, he never liked any other dogs. Generally, he would ignore them. We would often take him to friends’ houses, and he wouldn’t even look at their dogs. We described this as a type of K-9 arrogance and explained it as his superiority — at least in his mind — to other creatures. I’ve never seen an animal so uninterested in its own kind.
“Just wanted to let you guys know how absolutely thrilled we are with the portrait you did of Sugar. We have had such a wonderful time with her over the past eighteen months- it is going to be so hard to say goodbye. We are grateful to have your beautiful work as a keepsake of this very special pony. We look forward to having you create more lasting memories of all of our special animal friends. Thank you for sharing your talent!”— Betsy, Josh and Owen, Winston-Salem, NC
When we adopted Sally, we knew we would eventually get a companion for her. She had previously lived with a canine friend, and a four-member pack of two people and two dogs feels right to us. Last fall, our beloved Jimmy, Joey and Freddie worked from across the Rainbow Bridge to find Sally, so we trusted their judgment and were content to wait until they sent our next pack member this way. Here Jimmy explains how our Rainbow Bridge trio selected Luna — the absolute perfect addition to our pack!
Dear Stephanie & Todd,
Freddie, Joey and I don’t like to brag (well, Freddie likes to!), but we think we did a great job picking Luna to be the newest member of the Belcher pack. Having watched channel 740 to keep up with the happenings in the Belcher household, we know you agree! She fits in like she was paw-picked to live with you — and she was, by our loving paws!
When choosing Luna, we knew we had a huge task ahead of us. The fourth member of your pack had to be the right family dog for the two of you, a best friend for Sally and a talented co-chief canine officer for Jimmydog Pet Portraits. (Whew! Writing the job description alone took us several days!)
Like we did when we sent you Sally, we cleared our scheduled, giving up our extra-curricular activities here on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge to devote ourselves to finding just the right dog. We didn’t mind: It was a labor of love!
Given the long line of terrier mixes who’ve served admirably as Belcher dogs, we focused on terriers and narrowed our list to a few final candidates. But then, one night while the three of us were chewing bones and watching Sally snooze on channel 740, Joey wandered off, returning with a photo and resume of a dog who looked nothing like a terrier.
Joey simply set the papers on the floor between us and went back to gnawing on his bone. I picked up the resume and began to read aloud:
“Interests: Food. Food. Food. Food. Food. Also, food.”
“Secondary interests: Walks, car rides, running, playing, clashing.”
“Tertiary interests: Toys, bones, naps.”
“Well, look at that!” I said. “She likes all the things we like! Amazing!”
I continued reading.
“Special skills: Very cuddly; agile jumper (can leap onto a table in a single bound, especially if there’s food on the table); dedicated forager; sound sleeper.”
Joey woofed happily when I read the “very cuddly” part. I grabbed a pen and underlined that. Stephanie, we’d heard you mention several times to Todd and others that although Sally is perfect in every way, she’s not very cuddly and that you wanted a dog for snuggles.
I read on.
“Skills: Quick learner, team player, hard worker, experienced branch manager.”
“Dislikes: Pool floats.”
“Hmm,” I said to Freddie and Joey. “The pool floats thing could be a problem. Stephanie and Todd have a lot (A LOT!) of pool floats.”
“I’m not worried about that,” Joey said. “I was always suspicious of the floats — the way they drift erratically in the pool and blow around in the yard, traveling this way and that way. I learned you just have to snap at them and they deflate instantly. Cowards. She’ll figure that out. She’s smart.”
Freddie, who hadn’t said a woof as I read, reached for the photo, holding it up to Joey for comparison.
“She looks a lot like you, Joey,” Freddie said. “Both white,soft hair, long legs, long body.”
“You think so?” Joey said, a slight smile crossing his snout. “I don’t pay much attention to appearances.”
(It is important to note here that since you adopted Sally into the Belcher pack, Freddie has not stopped talking about how much Sally resembles her. “Look at that face! That fluffy coat! That coloring! Isn’t she the cutest dog you’ve ever seen?” she asks Joey and me every night as we watch you all on TV. “Well,” we tell her, “she’s the second cutest dog we’ve ever seen. You’ll always be the first cutest!”)
“Is she a terrier?” Freddie asked. I flipped her resume to the next page. “Yep, 25% American Staffordshire terrier! Plus some cattle dog, boxer, collie — and a whole bunch of ‘mixed hound.’ ”
We all agreed that while we’re partial to terriers, “mixed” is probably the best breed of all.
Freddie laid back down and chewed on her bone for a bit. “What shall we name her?”
And, with that, the decision was made! This sweet girl would be the next Belcher dog! The three of us jumped up, chasing each other around the living room and out into the back yard to play and clash in celebration.
After we tired ourselves out, we settled in the cool grass. “Well,” Freddie said, a little exasperated. “We still haven’t named her.”
The moon was only a sliver that night yet it was a bright white, brilliant against the black sky. “Luna,” Joey said.
“Her name is Luna.” Freddie didn’t even think to argue.
We’ve been binge watching all the new episodes of “Sally and Luna” on channel 740. We didn’t plan for her first weeks with you to coincide with stay-at-home orders (even we dogs couldn’t have predicted the pandemic) but we think it’s worked out well that you’ve been able to spend so much time together. And car rides with your primary pack are definitely allowed under social distancing guidelines!
We usually watch TV as a trio but one day not long ago, Freddie and I decided to take a walk. Joey said he was sleepy and wanted a nap.
When she and I returned, Joey was watching TV. On the screen was Luna, taking a nap under the boxwoods alongside your patio in a hole Joey had worked so hard to dig years ago. Here, on this side of the Rainbow Bridge, Joey curled into a cozy ball. On your side of the bridge, Luna did the same. Soon, they were breathing together, separated by the Rainbow Bridge but linked together knowing how much they both are loved.
Tail wags and doggy kisses!
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.