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JETT: FROM JUNKYARD DOG TO LOVE OF MY LIFE

When I first met Jett in 2002, she had already had two other names, two previous owners, ten puppies, and no shots.

I wasn’t sure she was right for me, but I desperately wanted a companion. I spent most of my week away from home in a cabin in the woods, where I write. I warned my wife that unless she quit her job and hung out with me, I was going to be forced to get a dog or a mistress.

“Get a mistress,” she said. “If you get a dog you’ll only bring it home with you on weekends. If you get a mistress, you’ll have the good sense to leave her where she is.”

I opted for the dog.

First stop, the vet’s office.

“What’s the dog’s name?” the receptionist asked.

I was not about to admit to any of her former names. A crime fiction writer with a dog named Ladybug? Not the image I wanted to project.

“I haven’t decided yet,” I said. “I have about ten names in my head.”

“Give me one.”

“Jett.”

She typed it into the computer. And that was that.

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The vet determined Jett’s date of birth. January 1, 2000. A millennium baby. She was undernourished, had Lyme’s disease, and obeyed no one. Especially me.

I hired a trainer who told me to keep a leash on her in the house for the first few weeks. Day One, I’m at my computer, the leash wrapped around my leg. I get Jett to lie down on the floor. Five minutes later, I look down. No Jett. She had chewed through the leash and was trying to get out through the back door.

The next few days were impossible. Finally, the trainer made a suggestion. Rehab. So I sent Jett off to live with the trainer for 28 days. When she came back, she was perfect. She did whatever she was told. As long as the trainer was the one telling her. But she had no interest in listening to me.

I got another trainer. Kyle. He was 22 and had been training dogs since he was ten. He’s great with dogs. And even better with people. Kyle trained me.

Seven years later, I am the best-trained dog owner in the world. I cook for Jett, clean up after her, and if she wants to go for a ride, I’m her car and driver.

But to her credit, Jett can sit, stay, heel, fetch, come, and write a review of my new book.

Every Thursday she and I spend an hour in doggie socialization class, and while she’ll hang with them, she doesn’t particularly care about them. It’s people she loves. If she meets you, she’ll cuddle up to you in a heartbeat. To meet her you’d think she gets no love at home.

She goes absolutely bonkers when she sees a Biscuit Delivery truck coming down the driveway. Some of the trucks say UPS, some say FedEx, but they all bring biscuits, and Jett can’t wait to jump on the truck.

She had cameo roles in my first two books, but in Flipping Out I had her move in with Terry Biggs and his family, so now she’s got a speaking part.

I tell her that she gets more fan mail than I do, and she looks at me with those big brown eyes, and then rolls over to let me know that the only thing I’m good for is a belly rub.

Which is what I do.

Sometimes she can be such a bitch. I love it.