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The All Too Short Life of Junebug

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My dear little Junebug

My dear little Junebug

Only those who have lived with dogs understand how pure, unconditional and non-judgemental is the love a dog gives.


One hot summer afternoon, many years ago, a small dog crept out of the underbrush and approached a group of chatting adults. Without hesitation, the little dog trotted past several uncaring faces, and headed straight for her target, a young woman with smiling eyes and a caring heart. Junebug was immediately picked up, hugged, and cuddled, and on her way to the safety of a no-kill shelter.

That young woman was my daughter, the mother of 'Five Rescued Dogs'. The little dog became mine, and stayed with me for twelve wonderful years.


After returning home, my daughter immediately began worrying about the little dog. Would they have time to bath her? What would happen to her in the future?

My son-in-law had the perfect solution. Knowing I wanted another dog as a companion for Maggie, he suggested they retrieve the little dog next day, and have her flown north, to me.

At the shelter the little dog patiently waited, very dirty, and harboring an interesting collection of insect life. My daughter immediately set to work, picking off fleas, and gently washing away the dirt and grime. Below was a soft, fluffy little blond dog.

She was not destined to fly north alone. I went to get her.


My daughter was never short of suitable names for dogs, such as those of her own dogs, Beau, Ranger, Zoe, LuluBelle, Stevie Ray, and Hank. When I arrived to take her home, Junebug was already Junebug. It was a done deal.


I soon found Junebug enjoying life with my daughter's pack, which at the time, consisted of one mature male dog, one female, barely out of puppyhood, and another female about the same age as little Junebug - about three months old - the vet estimated.

Oh dear, chaos was an understatement. We were constantly chasing after young dogs, wondering who had done what and when. This small mound, that small puddle - who did it belong to? Regarding activity, it simply never stopped. With puppy yips and growls they went round and round, up and down stairs, in and out of every room, and around again. The only one not involved was the mature dog, Ranger, who lay on the couch, viewing the chaos with ill-disguised disgust.

The only way to stop the bedlam was to corral the two youngest, tie one to one table leg, and the other to another. After a lot of tugging and muttering, and adults 'shushing', they would finally fall asleep and peace would reign again, briefly.

At night Junebug slept with me on one side of the house and the rest of the crew slept on the other side of the house. Sleep was a relative term as, all too soon, someone wanted to be taken out. Of course, everyone else tagged along.

All would be quiet for a while, until someone else felt the need for fresh air.

And so passed the days and nights until the time finally came for Junebug and I to go home.


Maggie was, at this time, about two years old, well established in her home with all the routines known and understood. This certainly did not involve sharing it all with a new resident.

To make the introductions as peaceful as possible I left Junebug with a neighbor before picking up Maggie from the kennel. When Maggie settled on the couch, I went to get Junebug.

Carrying Junebug in my arms, I brought her to Maggie and cheerfully said; "Look Maggie I brought you a little sister". Maggie was having none of it, looking first to the right and then to the left, then up, then down, ignoring completely the little blond bundle. The indifference continued. At least there was no fighting.

A few days later I put the two dogs outside, tying each to a different tree, while I worked. A few moments later I looked up to find them lying side by side, almost touching. I quickly took a picture. It is one of my favorites.

And so began a wild and wonderful friendship.


Junebug was an extremely stoic, gentle little dog, tolerant, undemanding, and openly appreciative of all she was given. I wondered what ancestors produced this precious little soul.

I guess I wondered often, and probably aloud, because one day my son-in-law presented me with a kit to check Junebug's ancestry.

Junebug was a combination of an American Bulldog and a Cocker Spaniel, the combination going back several generations. Now that was a surprise! But Junebug was very soft and gentle, and a bit mischievous, as are Cocker Spaniels. Bulldogs are also gentle, stubborn, and stoic. In some ways, it all made sense.


When Junebug was about one, she developed a limp. The vet soon discovered that the radius in both Junebug's arms (front legs), was longer than the ulna, putting joints out of kilter. A wonderful orthopedic surgeon cut a small piece of bone out of both radii, and Junebug spent the next few months in a small kennel, carried outside only to relieve herself and to be massaged, then for thrice daily one minute walks, then five minute walks and on up to full thirty minute walks.

One morning, after we had done all we could, I got up early, when no one was around, carried Junebug out behind the house, and gently put her down on the ground. Without hesitation off she went like the wind, joyfully, round and around. The operation was a success. My sweet, wild girl was back.

Apparently Junebug had a penchant for eating stones, necessitating another surgery.

Years passed, wonderful years full of great adventures, and then, when Junebug was about seven, dear Maggie left us.


When we were ready, into Junebug's life came little Willie. The balance had changed, and though the two became good friends, Junebug was always the boss. What would you expect. Willie was after all a baby, and - a boy.

Life went on peacefully enough, but, inevitably, age caught up with Junebug. A bit of arthritis slowed her down, and eventually she needed her ACL repaired. As always, that stoic little dog recovered and went on about her business, supervising Willie, and enjoying long, very slow walks - with me.


One day, like so many before, Junebug and I had our usual slow ramble together, nothing special, just a sweet peaceful day. At dinnertime, I put down the dishes of food and the dogs started to eat, but Junebug ate only briefly, then walked away. She never refused food. Following her into the living room I offered her the food again. She tried to eat but instead stumbled to her bed. I could feel her little heart racing.

It was evening, too late for my regular vet.

To the emergency vet - an admission - she was not going to make it - to my vet, the next morning.

As I held her in my arms, the little blond dog took her last breath.

Every day I miss her.

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