Chapter 17 — Young Love, First Love

I believe Greta fell in love with Jaxson  the day they first sniffed rear ends.  They met at the park, where Jaxson accompanied his pack mate, Josie, and their  owner on daily walks, and Greta accompanied me.  As the photo shows,  Jaxson was a big, handsome Chesapeake Bay retriever, deep-chested and solidly built.  He was several years older than Greta.  I thought he was a little taciturn, but he was the dog of  Greta’s dreams.

Greta had graduated from obedience school, and after she learned that it was unnecessary to try to beat up every dog she encountered, she became open to a relationship.  School had brought one other happy change to our lives:  I was able to take her off the leash,  reasonably secure in the knowledge that if I called her, she would come.

When she spotted the Chessie duo, Greta would race forward, bypassing Josie.  “Jaxson, it’s me, Greta, I love you!  Let’s run in big circles!”

Greta was, Jaxson’s owner once said, the only dog that he would allow to invade his personal space.  He didn’t see much point in running in circles, but he would amble over and pee on a nearby tree for her.  Greta would go to the tree and sniff.

When I told the story of their love at a party, one of the men said, “Man, I wish I’d known back in high school that that would work.”

Jaxson was a serious dog, deeply involved in his career.  He was good at it.  He had  “back,” “left,” “right,” and  the individual whistle signals a retriever must know down cold.   His pinnacle moments came when he could bring a downed duck back to the blind or the boat, but he liked to keep his skills sharp with daily practice in the grass or on the pond.  After an interlude with Greta, he would look at his owner.  “Don’t we have some boat fenders for me to practice fetching?  Let’s go, let’s go.”

Greta had enjoyed going to the park before she met Jaxson, but daily walks are sweeter when you know you may meet your true love down by the cedar trees or out on the grassy field. The two of them might have gone on together indefinitely, romping whenever they happened to encounter each other.  But inside Jaxson, evil cells were growing, and no one knew.   By the time he showed symptoms, the cancer was advanced,  and it was kindness not to let him linger and suffer.

Greta knew only that Jaxson didn’t come to the park anymore.  She would see Josie and her owner, but she and Josie had never been close.  Josie is not a socializer.  She is Daddy’s girl, and she clings  to her person.

Time passed, and Josie got a new pack mate.  Juno is a sweet roly poly English Lab who never met a dog or a human he didn’t like.  Yes, Juno is a male, and if he has a gender identity issue from being named after a goddess, he’s handling it well. Greta likes Juno so much that sometimes she even foregoes growling when he tries to pick up her squeaky toy and allows him to play with it for a while.  But I don’t believe she is in love with Juno, the way she was with Jaxson.  Jaxson was her first love.

Jaxson was special.

(c) 2011 by Donna R. Engle

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