(Or… Is Jacques Still Outside??)

Neither Niko nor Rocky were really outside dogs. They went outside to take care of business and, unless I was outside with them, would typically want back in the house soon after they were done. (Unless I left the back door open… then they would wander in and out of the house coming to check on me every so often.) It might have been the Shepherd in them which made them want to stay close to their person. Or it could’ve been that I somehow turned them into pansies who didn’t like to brave the elements unless they absolutely had to. (My husband would vote for the latter.) Whatever.

I’m not sure when or how it started, but Niko and Rocky developed a “system” of letting me know when they were ready to come back inside. Niko would paw at the door a few times, wait, then paw at the door again until I came to let him in. Rocky, in his younger days, simply barked incessantly (and he had a LOUD, booming bark). As he got older, he added head butting the door to his barking – apparently I wasn’t moving fast enough so he added the head butt for emphasis. Whatever the method, I always knew when they were ready to come back in and even if I didn’t hear them, I could always see them sitting by the door when I walked by.

And then there’s Jacques – who couldn’t be more different if he tried. Jacques LOVES to be outside. He would stay out there for hours if we let him… and we’ve come close to doing that.

This is a good time for a disclaimer – Jacques has never been left outside for any lengthy period of time. Trust me, this dog is not mistreated, nor does he suffer… regardless of his mumbling and grumbling.

Anyway, back to what I was saying. Jacques loves to be outside. Unfortunately, he hasn’t grasped the idea of making noise at the back door to let us know when he’s ready to come in. And, he’s pretty small and hard to see when he actually does come to sit by the door. All of this has led to more than one “Is Jacques still outside?” exchanges between my husband and me (or even with myself). It goes something like this – and honestly, the roles can and have been reversed:

Me: “Where is Jacques?”
Husband: “I don’t know… I think I let him out earlier.”
Me: “Is Jacques still outside?”
Husband: (laughing) “Oops.”

This was the scene this morning: I was walking through the house and realized I hadn’t seen Jacques for a little bit. I looked in his normal nap spots and didn’t see him. I had a brief moment of panic and then thought, “Crap! Jacques is still outside!” I flung open the back door, but Jacques wasn’t sitting there. He was around the side of the house sunning himself. I laughed. I might have felt a little guilty too but since he was no worse for wear I figured no harm, no foul. And, he wasn’t think slightest bit interested in coming back inside after I found him, so…

Since Jacques isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed (it did take a year to teach him to speak), I doubt he’ll be learning any “Hey! I’m ready to come inside!” signals anytime soon. So after 16 years of big, noisy dogs announcing their intentions, it looks like my husband and I are going to have to retrain ourselves to look for the little, quiet guy who never complains when we ask “Is Jacques still outside?”

Rocky eclipsing the light from outside.

Rocky eclipsing the light from outside.


Jacques is barely visible…


When Rocky was alive, he would let us know when he was ready to come inside and Jacques would often just sneak in with him.



Speaking “Jacques”

Though I don’t speak “dog” (that would *totally* be my super power if I had one), I think my interpretation of what Jacques is “saying” is pretty accurate…

IMG_2253“Hey. You. Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Wait… What are you looking at?”

IMG_2249“Aww… I am so cute it is ridiculous, no? I am so cute, even I cannot stand it.”

Dear Rocky – A Letter

Dear Rocky,

You were “special” in so many ways. Those who knew you thought you might have been a few fries short of a happy meal. I knew you were just happy go lucky and goofy and that you were smarter than most people gave you credit for. Sometimes. Occasionally.

You were my kindred spirit. We both liked to explore but were just as happy to relax and take a nap. We were both a little out of shape and a little lazy.  We were silly and goofy. We were fighters and could survive tough times. We might have been a little stubborn too. Maybe just a little. We were never very good in social situations – though you seemed to do better than me and made friends almost everywhere despite your crazy antics (or maybe it was because of them).

On my good days, you celebrated with me. On my bad days, you were there to comfort me. And I could always count on you to do something to make me laugh. During your 14 years, you were with me during most of my life’s biggest events – graduating from grad school; moving cross-country (and then moving home because it was too cold up north); moving to a new city where I knew no one; three major operations; buying my first house; meeting the man of my dreams; losing our beloved Niko; getting engaged (I love how you patiently waited during the actual proposal and then how you barked and jumped around after I said yes); getting married and starting a new life – new jobs, new city, new home. Regardless of where we went or what happened, I was happy and “home” as long as you were with me.

Your wet sloppy kisses and bear hugs were some of my favorite things in life. Some of the things I didn’t appreciate as much – your loud booming bark, the trail of water on the kitchen floor after you drank, you hogging the bed, head butting the back door when you were ready to come in – I dearly miss now. I miss YOU. I miss the essence of you – all the crazy, annoying, hilarious, sweet, wonderful things you used to do. I miss them all.

You were such a good boy – so full of joy and happiness even in the end. It was so hard watching you slip away from us. That brilliant light in your eyes started to flicker and then would only shine occasionally. But when it shined – it lit up my heart.

My Rocky Doodles… I love you so much. I miss you so much my heart hurts. But through the pain, I can feel the happiness and joy you radiated as I think about the silly things you did. I also feel extreme gratitude – I am so thankful that the universe brought us together. You were my constant companion and my snuggle bug. My life has been so much better because of you.

I don’t know if there’s a heaven, but if there is, I hope you and Niko have been reunited and that you’re able to run, play, go and explore like you used to. You are always in my thoughts and forever in my heart.

I love you buddily boo.


Rocky_July14_2014 Jacques and Rocky on July 14, 2014. Rocky crossed the Rainbow Bridge later that day.

I have way too many pictures of Rocky to pick a favorite… but here is a glimpse of Rocky through the years.