Sir Jameson Wentsworth, the Second Red Shepherd

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WARNING: EXCESSIVE PICTURES AHEAD.

Jameson.

One night in early June, a group of friends gathered at Harvest House, the new outdoor beer garden and patio just east of the square. Only two months earlier, HH premiered its bare bones establishment during the annual(ish) 35Denton festival, and the bar had since taken off. Filled with earthy tones and decorated with green foliage, it was a perfect balance between the hipster and country demographic of the city. Wooden pallets lined the shack-like structure of its patio and protected pool tables from too much sun. Lights hung in crosses atop the open, graveled area, providing light for the long wooden benches of its main area. HH drew a lot of crowds through its rustic simplicity, along with its diverse array of craft beer – an array we took advantage of frequently.

With so many grad students out at once, we were celebrating either a birthday, proposal, or defense. I sat next to Alvin and Heather as we discussed the conflicting feelings of a “free” summer during graduate school. I’m pretty sure I brought the change of topic up first.

“Did anyone see that corgi mix that DASF posted yesterday?”

jamesycrop

Heather’s eyes widened. “Do not tell me Nathan’s thinking about it. Another one? In his tiny apartment?”

Nathan was making 600-sq. feet work as well as he could with an additional dog and a girlfriend. So when I brought up this post and showed him, I let out a heavy sigh once he gaped in that way people do when their dreams appear in front of them.

“Well. Now he’s thinking about it.”

He had a full day of networking in Irving to establish a new line of research, so if anyone would pick up this dog, it would be me. And again, he left it up to me. So, that morning, I got ready, asked Akita if she felt like going out (tail wag), and we left for the Linda McNatt Animal and Adoption Care Center.

About the shelter: the protocol for when multiple families want the same dog is a lottery for all who arrive BEFORE 10am. The one who gets picked gets dibs to take or leave the dog at their discretion. I arrived at 9:56am with Akita, bypassed another family who was letting their terrier take a piss at a tree, and knocked on the door. The lady opened it.

“Not open yet!” She yelled through the crack. I nodded in confirmation.

“I’m here for Jamesy Jack?” I said.

Adoption Pro-tip #1: Always declare your intentions with the volunteer when you arrive for a highly sought dog up for adoption.

“Okay, you’re the only one so far. Come in, just sit here.” She pointed to the very chair that Nathan sat in to grieve over Lucy. I watched as more families came up declaring their intention to adopt other dogs. Four quick minutes passed by, and then the lady came back out.

“Jamesy Jack’s in the meeting yard…. You can meet him there.”

The first observation I made? This dog was definitely not a corgi/collie mix. His head was WAY too big. The first observation everyone else made:

“Well, they’re not snapping at each other. That’s better than most meet and greets,” the animal control officer said.

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I would ask several questions about his behavior, if he was housebroken, submissiveness, etc. I learned too late, after too many “I don’t know” responses, that animal control officers get ticked when you ask too many questions, expecting them to know the behavior of all the dogs they capture. It often leads to high expectations – and sadly, multiple adoption returns – due to unprepared families who expected a “housetrained, submissive, lovable but protective and all around well-adjusted best friend” and instead, received “command-deaf, semi-housebroken, uncaring animal”.

Adoption Pro-tip #2: Ask animal control what they know about the dog thus far, and then leave it at that, knowing that shelter dogs will always need damage control.

After only ten minutes, both animal control officers and the volunteer began tapping their feet impatiently.

“We need this yard for other dogs, miss,” said the officer who was most frustrated with me by that point. Which never helps me make a well-thought decision. I walked back into the lobby to sign the paperwork; as I was doing so, the earlier couple with the terrier caught on and glared at me as I said,

“Yeah, I’ll take Jamesy.”

“What?!” The girlfriend exclaimed, putting a protective hand over her terrier, as if the furball’s heart was suddenly crushed. “That’s not fair, that’s not how it works! We were here too, she doesn’t get to have him like that!”

The volunteer planted her feet, squared her shoulders, and with hands on her hips, spoke back to them like someone who’s been yelled at for many, many a morning in the shelter.

“I got to the door at 10am. She was at the door, you were not. Now, there are other dogs here that deserve just as much of a chance to get adopted.”

I felt bad, knowing they were there at the same time, but had no intention of offering that info up. The boyfriend glanced between both the lady and his now fuming girlfriend. “Well, we just wanted a corgi that would fit with our terrier in an apartment you see…”

The girlfriend cut across his words. “This isn’t fair!”

I let the volunteer take her heat, given the girlfriend would otherwise blame me for her terrier’s stolen soulmate. Quickly, I filled out the paperwork and handed it to the receptionist.

Adoption Pro-tip #3: Make sure you prepare your backseat accordingly for two dogs who just met each other.

I thought putting Jamesy in the front seat would help give the two space. It worked for awhile, until Jamesy Jack and his noodle-looking self quickly scrambled over the center compartment and flopped onto my leg (think fifty pounds in the diameter of two inches), and proceeded to sniff my face.

Jamesy: “HI”

Distracted Driver: “Jamesy!”

Jamesy: “AREYOUMYMOMMY”

Distracted Driver: “Back… er… put your front half back!”

Jamesy: “LETMELOVEYOU”

Panicked Driver: *Seatbelt arm while dodging traffic*

Overwhelmed, I called on Alvin, one of my closest friends in the program. He also happened to live right across from us. He was the first one to see Jamesy as we walked toward Starbucks to decompress (and snap a few pics).

Later that afternoon, my friends Eric and Carmen came to play with Akita, and were surprised (but not unexpectedly so) to see her new brother. They were still over when Nathan came home from his trip to Irving, bristling with anticipation to finally see his first Corgi.

For ten whole minutes, he sat and laughed at the misshapen dog in front of him.

“How does a dog come out like that?!” he said between gasps, tears springing from his eyes. Jamesy sat in the corner, oblivious to the criticism while his dad continued to laugh:

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When Nathan finally calmed down, he patted the floor next to him. “Come here, Jamesy,” he said. It took awhile, but he went to his hands, and subsequently stayed.

“What will it be? Pepperonius, Cornelius? Cheeto?” I asked, listing off all the names he’d reserved for his future Corgi-horde. He stared at Jamesy for awhile.

“No, I like his name,” he said. “Except… I like Jameson better.”

Apparently liquor, in addition to corny Greek titles, are solid sources for dog names.

“Jameson,” I repeated. “Okay.”

When it comes to his breed, we are fairly certain he is a Welsh Corgi / Bassethound Mix, though others believe there’s some shepherd in him. Jameson, we learned, more than likely had a traumatic past. He hid chronically under tables, or settled with his back in a corner. Loud noises startled him, and he always stopped before doors and would rush through them quickly. Automatic doors were a one-two punch. He was a scared and probably abused dog. Potential abusers were probably brown and male as he frequently runs from both my brothers’ and our brown friends (to their chagrin). We also have to be careful about anything in our hands when gesturing wildly; if it’s big enough, he will duck his head in fear (see incidental photo below).

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Yet, he is starved for affection. While sitting on the couch, or in bed, he will jump up and get as close as he can to our faces to get petted, or lean into our bodies to be closer. He frequently climbs on top of us, using his big fat head to direct our hands until we had no choice but to give him pets.

“If I were a clinical or counseling psychologist,” Nathan mused, “I would say this dog has severe attachment issues.”

It’s my shallow belief that Jameson has given us a preview of that love-hate-mostly-love relationship that most parents develop once they have kids. For weeks, we’d find either poop or vomit somewhere in our new, two-bedroom apartment. We could not leave him alone in any other place for fear of him panicking and peeing everywhere (apologies to my brothers). Most of Nathan’s prized possessions (sectional cushions, tv remote, various electronic wires, basketball shoes) have been chewed through or pissed on. Where traveling with Akita was easygoing, traveling with Jameson was immensely stressful. For one solitary night, I was ready to give up on Jameson (Nathan reminds me of this night incessantly). If it wasn’t for his adorable dorkishness and his derpy good looks, I just might have (shamefully). But, aside from Nathan, I actually miss Derps – I mean, Jameson –  the most. He is a cuddling champion…

… and though he’s better about some of his fears, he’s still a work in progress. With me gone, Nathan has actually provided them an improved routine, meaning Jameson has yet to poop in his apartment since I left.  Suffice it to say, he’s unwittingly beta’d his way to alpha status in the house – daily cuddle sessions, more attention to his needs, and overall majority presence on Instagram. They get along pretty well now, once Akita had time to get used to him being in her space.

The moral of this story? Even though we didn’t get the perfect dogs we wanted, we couldn’t be happier with our adopted mutts with their unknown pasts. True, breeds like this come once in a blue moon in shelters, but each dog still comes with their own unique, sometimes sad, and inevitably challenging personality that goes far beyond looks. It’s stressful (particularly as graduate students), but I know our lives are much more enriched being responsible for this furbabies. I can’t wait to see them again! 😊

 

 

 

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