We quickly discovered all the books about the breed were right on target. Joop was a ball of energy. He didn't run. He bounced. He was highly excitable and barked at everything. Jason may not appreciate the analogy but the two of them had a lot of the same attributes. They were both energetic, enthusiastic and ready for an adventure around every corner.
All too soon it seemed it was time for Jason to go off to college. It was a difficult transition for our entire family because we've always been so close. I can't say I took it well, but change is a necessary part of life. Or so they say. I'm not a fan of change. But I am a fan of my kids and their dreams, so we got through it one day at a time. Joop still loved his boy the most, but he decided to humor us and adopt us as foster parents. He kept us company and quickly became our constant companion. He started sleeping with us and still does. It's his bed. He just lets us share it.
Joop, like any dog, has his own distinct personality. He loves me but adores Neal. Given a choice, he curls up in Neal's lap to watch television. They share chicken gizzards together. Personally, I can't figure out why anybody would eat something called a gizzard but Neal and Joop have an understanding about these things. He loves cheese, green beans and an occasional piece of popcorn.
He and Justin have a love/hate relationship. Early in the morning Joop has high hopes for a renewed friendship. He scratches at Justin's door until he lets him in. He jumps in the bed with him and is perfectly content until Justin gets up. After that it's all downhill. Justin agitates him and he does everything in his power not to bite him. It's a complicated relationship.
Joop likes to curl up on any fabric available so if a throw is nearby that works. If not, he will find any article of clothing he can confiscate and wrap himself in it. You can't make him understand that a sock will not cover him. He grabs it with his teeth and repositions it over his back again and again until he's comfortable.
He collects things and hides them under the couch. We pick it up about once a month and clean under it. None of the things make sense. They are not things a dog needs. There are paper cups and pieces of paper, pens, pencils and socks.
Earlier this week we noticed a badly swollen place on his foot. I called the vet and scheduled an appointment. Because I had to work, Neal had to take him. I woke him up this morning with just a few instructions. "Don't let them do anything to him. You know, like try to operate or something."
Neal is used to this. He humors me. "I'm sure they won't do anything. They will probably give him an antibiotic."
"Well, I'm just saying if they want to do something, tell them no. We want to try an antibiotic first."
Neal just doesn't understand why I can't let doctors and vets do whatever they want. "They know what's best."
"That's entirely possible. But don't let them do anything." He promises. I only called him once..maybe it was twice from work. "He tries to bite them. He hasn't forgotten getting his ears clipped when he was a puppy. And remember...don't let them do anything." I ended up meeting him there. At least one of them was glad to see me. "You didn't have to come." he said. "I know but I wanted to." I answered.
We were ushered into an office and a tech brought in his chart. "Well, Jupiter. You're getting to be an old man." She looked at us. "He's going to be 10 years old this month. I have to let you know that we offer special geriatric care and bloodwork to check for diseases that commonly affect older dogs." It hit me between the eyes. I knew it, but nobody had said it out loud. I told her we would wait a few months for that and schedule another appointment.
The doctor came in and gave him all his booster shots and prescribed an antibiotic for his foot...just as Neal had predicted. Joop tried to bite all of them as usual. I fuss at him but secretly I want to bite people who give me shots too. So I don't really mean it and he knows I'm on his side.
Today my thoughts keep going back to the words "geriatric care." My Joopie, my dog, my friend is getting older. Not old. Older. He still has bounce but he enjoys a good nap. Then I console myself with the fact that I'm not all that bouncy myself anymore. And I'm a champion napper. He and I will do this together. And we'll figure it out one step at a time. He's always been here for me and I plan to be here for him.
If you've never really loved an animal you've missed out on one of the true joys in life. They don't ask for much...a bowl of fresh water, some food, a scratch now and then behind the ears and a belly rub occasionally. They love you unconditionally and would stand between you and any enemy that dared attempt to touch a hair on your head.
Joopie, we're not getting older. We're getting better. The best is yet to be. We'll take our Geritol and sail into old age gracefully. We've got a lot to do on the way. You're my good boy and I'm honored to be your person.