Top dog

Fluffy dog

Jagger is black, fluffy, very cute and is not what you would call the Top Dog.

It’s not that he’s dumb. He’s actual whip-smart. Too smart, in fact, to catch, fetch or have anything much to do with home defense.

He was a tiny bit older than our late German Shepherd, Ace, when we got both dogs within a month of each other 13 years ago.

In every way, he was V.P. to Ace’s presidential status.

Ace was all that a dog could hope to be. Jagger was the emergency backup dog.

He would be called into duty only if Ace was unable to perform and even then, just barely.

We all enjoy the story of the time that a commotion arose from behind the barn. In reaction to the unseen din, Ace tore off toward the back of the barn, bent on putting an end to the mayhem.

Jagger, lounging on the porch, raised his head and made one half-hearted bark in the direction of the barn. He then went back to lounging.

The message was clear. “You get that buddy, I’ve got this doormat here.”

To be fair, no one ever attacked so much as a porch pillow on his watch.


Still, the life of an emergency backup dog is pretty easy for the most part. Jagger’s job was basically to be cute.

He is the dog formerly nicknamed “ottoman” for his short and wide stature. He is very fluffy and black.

When he was a backup dog, he basically stayed out of the way, let Ace call the shots, take most of the attention and basically, do most of the work.

Jagger lived for food and belly rubs. I’m sure he would have cheerfully given us up for either.

Now that Ace is gone, may he rest in peace, Jagger has been promoted to Top Dog.

In his first week as an only dog, we showered him with love and attention. It was probably a sort of survivor’s guilt.

He has a freshly made bed, new to him, rug, a bevy of new toys, treats and even went to a new groomer.


Frankly, he went a bit diva on us.

He obviously believes that porch water tastes better than house water. It just does, don’t ask too many questions. Therefore he needs to drink porch water but then wants to come back in the house because the house has better snacks.

Then he wants to go outside because after the water and snacks nature calls. Then he gets some of that delicious porch water and back in. More snacks. Those snacks are going to make him thirsty so back out to the porch water.

Repeat as necessary to 99 times per day. If Jagger could talk, I believe his instructions would go something like this: “Look, I don’t fetch. I have never fetched in 13 years, I am not about to start now. Our fetcher is gone now. You’re going to want to get your own balls and sticks. Better yet, stop throwing them! There is just no reason to keep bringing them back to you if you’re just going to toss them again. Exercise some self-control. Honestly.”

We had a tense few hours Friday afternoon when Girlwonder came home from school to find him shaking. We were unable to get into the vet, but he soon calmed down.

A dear friend who is a vet tech sent advice and solace. It was a relief that we didn’t have to speed to the emergency vet. After putting the entire family on red alert, he spent the evening sitting in the kitchen watching BoyWonder’s beautiful girlfriend cook.


He’s such a faker. I feel like if he was ready to go to the light he wouldn’t have been so eager to cadge some calzone.

I was held hostage to his whims for 15 minutes when he refused to exit the truck in our driveway. He seemed happy and healthy and the best guess for this behavior is that he simply did not feel like getting out.

I know you can’t leave a dog in a car because I’m pretty sure the Humane Society will actually sky-dive out of airplanes to kneecap you immediately.

Leaving him with the doors open wasn’t an option because Jagger can’t jump out of the truck without assistance at his age, so we were at a stalemate.

I’m not going to wrestle an elderly dog. I’m not in great shape myself. So there we were. Him happily snuggled in the far rear corner of the back seat, me standing in the driveway begging him to please come out.

I am a woman who brooks no nonsense from children, but the dog, he owns me.


Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!

Previous articleSpotting the American Woodcock
Next articleCollegiate competition names hog invention as finalists
Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.



Receive emails as this discussion progresses.