I've met a number of people named Justin in my life but none has quite captured my heart as this particular one...
He has four legs, is a Jack Russell cross Whippet and is almost 13 years old - he is by far the oldest of the 'The Hounds' and he has wormed his way into my heart. This is how he came to live with us.
Say hello to Justin...
I love him dearly and I know the feeling is reciprocated
Acting all shy for the camera after being caught napping on the bed!
Surveying the land before we left our home in Johannesburg for Durban in August
Chris arrived home one day, about three and a half years ago, asking me if we'd like to adopt a dog. Now at that stage we only had the Jack Russell's - Max, Cleo and Jessie - all three of which we had since they were puppies.
I was apprehensive at first, as I thought three was more than enough (our family has since grown, so obviously my apprehension went flying out the window a while back!) and I wasn't too sure how we were going to introduce an adult dog to the pack but after Chris told me that Justin was almost 10 years old and from what we have seen, nobody really wants to adopt older dogs. So caution to the wind, I agreed with Chris and Justin arrived a few weeks later.
He is often found snuggled in a nook, under a blanket, preferably next to me
Chris was looking forward to his arrival more so than I was, as he knew Justin's previous owner and had met 'Juzzie' (as he is affectionately called) as a youngster. I still had reservations - I always have some sort of reservation come to think of it - but that all dissipated within a few weeks of him arriving, he fitted into the pack as if he was finally arriving home.
In fact if you were to visit us now, you'd never know that Chris wanted him more than I originally did - he follows me everywhere!
He loves nothing more than chilling on the back seat and going for a drive
When we take the hounds for a walk, Juzzie walks with me - he loves a good outing by foot - and considering his age, you'd never say he is the oldest of the pack by 7 to 8 years, he can walk for miles. He truly is the sweetest little dog - so well behaved in that respect. The first year or two after his arrival I'd get terribly sad thinking that I never had the chance to meet him as a youngster, that both Chris and myself had never been given the chance to raise him and give him the love he so rightly deserved from the start of his life.
I have made peace with that fact - I've had to - and try my best to ensure that every year we have with him is treasured, this is part of why I am blogging about him now as his life expectancy can range between 12 - 15 years. He is almost 13 now and I know that that day will come when he will no longer be around - getting under my feet, being shouted at, being adored, being my gatekeeper, being loved - so I thought I'd share him with all you reading this now as I try not to think of what that time in the future will be like for me.
That's the one thing about Juzzie that I have never understood. Prior to his arrival, Max, Cleo and Jessie would go about their day doing their thing and have never been particularly clingy - bar Max who worships the ground Chris walks on (we tease and say that he is Chris' shadow) - perhaps they were just used to having me around? Don't get me wrong, all our gorgeous dogs are loved.
We don't know much of what happened to Juzzie before his arrival but we assume that he was left for extended periods on his own and once he realised that someone - me - was at home more so than others, he just locked onto me. At first I wasn't too sure how to deal with it - in a way I never had the muscle developed to understand what it means to be wholeheartedly adored, in this case, by a pet who sees me as the centre of their life - and all I was doing was just being me.
I am not someone who shows love easily, so in a weird sort of way, he has forced me (and so has Chris for that matter) to jump beyond myself and that it's ok to love someone and / or your pets unashamedly - I can't imagine life without him now, how ironic is that, I was apprehensive of adopting him and he has now ended up becoming mostly my dog - he loves Chris and everyone who comes to visit but even Chris will tell you that Juzzie latched onto me from day one.
We treat each of our dogs exactly the same - so that no animosity arises amongst the pack - but I'll admit that if I catch him having a nap on the bed I let him be, what's the point of reaching old age if you can't have a sneaky nap on your dads' bed, right?
Most parents get to raise their children and watch watch them grow, from childhood to being teenagers, then onto adulthood. When it comes to having pets, you watch them grow from puppies to adults to old age in the space of less than 15 years. It is very bittersweet - even more so when you adopt an older animal - you realise that you have even less time to spend with them.
Just coming to say I love you and that the couch looks like it could be a comfy place to chill
He recently went for his annual check-up (we are very strict in that sense) and I am proud to say that our Vet assured us that his heart is in excellent condition and so are his joints. We had a bit of a scare earlier this year when he pinched a nerve in his back and had to have an injection for the pain but apart from that, all is well! So we still have plenty of time to love him.
Just randomly chilling alongside the couch, watching me
So glad to be able to say that Juzzie will be spending his fourth Christmas with us - love you dearly, my little Jack Russell cross Whippet!
Until next time,