Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Jim Boy

The first time I saw him, I yelled for Dad to come help and hollered at my brother, Bryon, for allowing that beast to follow him home from the park. I’m not a dog person. I prefer cats, and I definitely don’t like big dogs. This brute was the biggest German Shepherd I’d ever laid eyes on.

Bryon maintained the dog followed our little half-brother, Benji, not him. I considered myself rather brave to dive forward, grab the toddler, and haul him to safety onto our porch. Bryon may have called him a dog, but all I saw was a monster, a menace, and he was huge. I stood on that porch secure in the knowledge that Dad wasn’t a pet person.

Dad came out, took one look at the beast, and ordered Bryon to take it back to the park.
I thought that would be the end of it, until the dang critter had the audacity to charge forward and stop Benji from falling off the steps. I doubt there is a man in the world that wouldn’t cave if his wife looked at him the way Mom looked at Dad that day and said, “The dog stays.”

I groaned, but then pointed out that there was no way anyone was going to get a collar on that thing, let alone a leash.

Bryon happily dubbed the beast Jim Boy and rushed out to buy a collar. The stupid creature didn’t even fight it. My prediction that he’d never accept a leash never even got tested. Soon after he followed my brothers home, we moved out to the country.
I did learn however that I wasn’t the only one who thought he was too big. Our neighbors thought he was a wolf. More than once I overheard one neighbor telling another neighbor, “I couldn’t believe my eyes, there was this huge wolf chasing a rabbit across my field and, as I watched, I realized that beast had on a red collar!”

I told each one of them that Jim Boy was the gentlest animal on God’s green earth; of course, by that time he’d grown on me. I’d even petted him a time or two.

Jim Boy came to us trained, too. He was housebroken and answered to Bryon every time he whistled.

Jim Boy also stopped Benji, and later Danny, from falling off the front porch more than once, and kept them from falling into the nearby canal at least twice that I know of.

He also kept strangers out of the yard, not that we had a great problem with that out in the boonies as we were. Whenever someone came to our place the first time, we had to go out and introduce him or her to Jim Boy; otherwise, he wouldn’t let them out of their car.

I’m sure he loved living in the country, but one day Dad announced he found a better job in Tacoma, Washington. I looked it up. Tacoma was bigger than Boise. I pointed this out, and pointed out that a huge place like that definitely had leash laws. I even mentioned how long a car ride that would be. Jim Boy loved to ride in the car, but for that long?

We debated it for weeks, in the end Dad took Jim Boy to the vet, made sure his shots were up to date and got some tranquilizers for the trip. The vet told us Jim Boy was indeed half Timber Wolf and gave Dad a small packet of pills. He instructed Dad how to give them to even a reluctant recipient. I watched Dad give him that first one. Not only did Jim Boy not fight it, he lapped it right up, no problem.

On the morning of our third day on the road, while we loaded the car, I remembered the pills and reached for them, only to discover just one missing. We’d forgotten to give him the regular doses and he’d remained as calm and complacent as with the medicine! We teased Dad about wasting money. Jim Boy was too good a dog. We finished our trek feeling we would have no problems having such a large beast for a pet in the big city.

Our first problem arrived when the US Postal Service notified us that we either pen our so-called dog or lose services. We thought no problem. The house Dad rented had a large back yard with nice six-foot high fence around it. Jim Boy didn’t like the backyard. He took one flying leap and sailed right over said fence. The second he soared over it, it dawned on me that any dog who was over six foot on his hind legs wasn’t going to find that fence a challenge.

I even joined in on complaining that it wasn’t fair to confine him to the house. We particularly hated that the postman delivered mail anytime between nine thirty A.M. and half past four P.M. We never knew when he would show. Jim Boy took his confinement docilely.

But that lead to another problem, or rather Konnie and I had a problem. We had a split entry house and Jim Boy took to lying across the head of the upstairs hall, right at the end of the railing overlooking the stairwell.

The three youngest members of our family had no problem crawling over him, and Jim Boy never so much as twitched when they did. The three tallest members of the household could step over him even when he was standing up, but Jim Boy’s shoulders came to about waist height on the two not so tall members of the family. Of course, if he remained recumbent we’d have no problem expect he didn’t remain so.

Ben, Dan, and Patty could crawl all over him, Mom could step over him laden with a baskets of clean laundry, but, if Konnie or I attempted to step over him laden down with homework, he’d stand up!

And I don’t mean he’d yawn, stretch, and languidly get to his feet, after we’d managed to step over his hulk, I’m talking as soon as we had one foot over, he’d suddenly get to his feet, each time sending us to the floor and our books flying. It never failed.

And despite Konnie saying it never happened to her, I remember at least once when it did. I clearly remember one day after school entering the house through the garage (to avoid being the first one the little ones greeted home) only to witness Konnie’s books to go sailing down the stairwell while she yelled at Jim Boy. So it happened to her at least once.

Then one day I sat and watched him. He didn’t move a muscle. All three little ones were crawling back and forth over him like it was a game. Mom stepped over him several times doing chores; he looked sound asleep and totally unaware of what was going on around him. I risked it and stepped. I went sprawling!

The next time I tried asking him to move. He ignored me. I thought for sure he was asleep that time. I was wrong, again. After that, I started grabbing him by the collar and moving him out of the way. He sulked away giving me a look that seemed to say, “You’re ruining my fun.” I didn’t care.

I started taking walks when we lived in the country. I did it as much for the exercise as to get away from our noisy crowded house, but I was afraid of Jim Boy going with me. We still didn’t own a leash, and even we if did, I doubted I’d have been able to hold him. I knew he would come when Bryon whistled, but I can’t whistle. I didn’t think Jim Boy would come back when I called to him. He fooled me again. I called; he came romping back. It got to the point that all I had to do was pat the side of my leg a couple times, and he’d happily sprint toward me.

Jim Boy looked forward to my walks as much I did because I never tried to stop him from snooping around or chasing rabbits. I let him do whatever he wanted as long as he stayed in my sight. But after we moved to Tacoma, I thought going for walks would be a problem, we still had no leash, and I’d seen several people walking their dogs on leashes, though none without. I didn’t know what to do, but I wanted to go for walks.

I resisted for as long as I could, but finally I set out — Jim Boy happily romping along.

It made me smile when I saw a fellow walking a couple of big Rottweilers. Those dogs took one look at Jim Boy, turned tail, and dragged their master away.

The first time I saw a cop coming my way, I called to Jim Boy, except I didn’t know any commands like “heel,” so when he reached my side, I grabbed his collar. Jim Boy sat down. The cop, our next-door neighbor, stopped and told me that technically, I needed a leash, however, as long as Jim Boy was so obedient, it was okay. That helped.

Jim Boy particularly liked walking along the main road in our area. There was no sidewalk and the ground fell away from the road into an overgrown ditch. He would explore around down there while I walked above. I could see him dodging in and out of the bushes, but I doubt anyone driving by could. It was fun to watch him enjoying himself like that, almost like when we lived in the country.

Then one day, as we enjoyed our walk, a fellow in a pickup stopped and offered me a ride. Kids at school may have called me a country bumpkin, but I’d lived in a city until I was fifteen, and I wasn’t naive. The driver and both his buddies were leering at me, and even if I had wanted a ride, I’d never have accepted their offer.

I explained to them that I was taking a walk for the fresh air; they continued leering and pressed harder. As I politely told them again that I was just taking a walk, I tapped my leg. I knew Jim Boy came running instantly, not only because I knew the dog so well, but because of the looks on the faces of those three men. They stopped leering at me and stared wide-eyed with fear over my shoulder, then the driver hurriedly put his truck in gear and sped off as Jim Boy nuzzled my hand. I gave him a big hug. He licked my face. I miss that dang dog!


  1. I have no recollection of him sending me sailing. I do however, remember him moving for me, lots of times, when he flat out wouldn't for you.

  2. I remember that dog and I still think about him. Especially since the high school mascot that my two kids went to is the timber worfs