Jack the Dog

Jack vs. Sir Jackson Esq.

Jerry Schuster  |   Sunday Aug. 31st, 2014

Meet Jack. Jack is a real dog who lives in Wolf Point on the Fort Peck Reservation in Northeastern Montana. My wife Theresa and I “semi-retired” from there (old town) recently and moved to Bozeman (new town). You’ve heard this before. Sorry to bore you. Please continue reading. It will pick up.

Enough background, back to Jack. Since this story is about Jack, he will occasionally “jump in” to assist. You will recognize his remarks as “woof-woof” or such.

So Jack, tell us a bit about yourself. “Woof-woof… etc…. ad infinitum...” (Here is an amazing thing. I can translate this quasi-Orwellian “dog speak” for you, the reader, as we go along. Do not share this information with anyone, as I do not want a bunch of calls regarding dog speak translation services. I have plenty to do.) The above states:

“I am eager, friendly, occasionally moody and often muddy. Generally unkempt in appearance, black and white. One blue eye and one brown. I have no “lineage” as such, but in Reservation parlance, I am referred to as a “good dog”; a real mutt. Everyone loves me, but not all like me when my big friendly muddy paws come in contact with their clothes…”

Thanks Jack. Good job.

Now Jack has a real owner and all, but along the popular walking/jogging route near his home, he “belongs” to everyone. Jack greets you as you come into his territory, often leaving nice paw prints on your pants, shirt or jacket. Down Jack, down—“Woof-woof.” Oh, it’s okay, let me scratch your ears.

I like lots of things about Jack. He is along on a walk and then, suddenly, will leave to go “greet” another person coming along the trail. Then, like magic, Jack is back and will follow you home, hopefully for a nice treat.

One day, Jack hobbled out with a cast on his front leg. We were sad. But Jack still greeted all passers-by. He did take a few days off; authorized sick leave I assume. I sent a “get well soon” card; it read….Woof-woof….i.e. in “dog speak”:  “My friend Jack, get well soon. We miss you on our daily walks…come out and play in the mud. Sincerely, etc.”

Theresa found Jack to be too eager when it was wet out, so she devised an “alternate” jogging route on rainy days. “Here I go, a few blocks south and lucky me, I’m way past Jack’s home territory…Oh, my, hello Jack, what are you doing here?”  

Theresa got frustrated at Jack once because he wouldn’t quit jumping on her with his very muddy paws. After a scolding, Jack quickly left the scene. He then avoided Theresa for about a week, gave her the silent treatment and all of that. I had to mediate a settlement to resolve disputes and behaviors, complete with non-disclosure clause. Translating that thing into dog-speak for Jack’s paw-print signature was a real pain.

In short, everyone loves Jack and Jack loves everyone. See Jack run; run and jump; jump and …oh my shirt!

Okay, now we move on to Bozeman. Lots of dogs here. Well groomed, pretty, handsome, well-educated. Some bark several dog speak languages, Spanish being the most popular. Since I can translate, this is how a Bozeman dogalogue goes: “Woof-woof, Bow-wow, bow-wow, wow,” i.e.:  “Look at me. I am very pretty and smart. My pedigree is “Chihuahua Rottweilean Robustus.” You can follow me on Facebook, as my numerous friends do. Cha cha and bye bye for now…must be going to my therapy session. Let’s do lunch sometime…vegan, gluten-free, organic, local, etc. please. Tres bien, superfinnessimo, gracias.”

Dogs here are, we found, are not named Jack, Spot, Lucky, or my favorite, “Dog.” No, here, in the new town, dogs are “Sir Jackson,” “Petite Maselle,” or “Bear’s Nemisis in Extremis, Dog.D., (Dogma cum lauda).”

Dogs here do not run loosely in the street; no, they are gently guided to the massage parlour, for an afternoon luncheon, tea and biscuits, or a pedicure.
What do I love about Bozeman? Some dogs here actually drive SUVs! Yes, recently, while on Kagy, I came behind a newer model SUV (nice, Audi, silver, heated leather) being driven by a well-groomed dog. Yes, I’ve had my vision checked recently. On further inspection, though, there was a rather short lady who was near the driver’s door and probably provided instruction to the dog. But “Agape Myrna Querida” had her paws on the wheel. Very cool.

Okay, I will cut to the chase here. (There is something hunting dog-like in that phrase.) The new town dogs are very pretty, handsome, well kept and educated. Nice to look at and experience. I still miss my friend Jack, though with all of his foibles. Oh, it’s raining out, here comes Jack across that big muddy field…Nice to see you Jack. Down Jack, down.

There is one common thread here, people in the old or new town love their dogs and their dogs love them. That’s all that really matters.

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