Heaven help us, my family accidentally brought a 40-pound Jack Russell terrier into the house.
And the vet says he’s not done growing.
He’s not all Jack Russell. Not even mostly Jack Russell. But when our dog’s DNA test results popped into my email last week with the news that he has a good dose of that breed, everything about this pup’s personality suddenly made sense.
One look and you can see why the shelter where we found him called him a hound mix — although even if the staff had known about the Jack Russell in his bloodline, they might not have been too eager to mention it.
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You can say that a cute little puppy will probably grow to 40 or 50 pounds and there’s going to be a line of people who want to take him home.
You can say he might have the tightly wound energy of a Jack Russell and the line will be just as long. But put those traits together and a lot of sensible people will step aside for some careful contemplation.
I’m glad my family wasn’t prompted to pause for that sort of deep thinking, otherwise the couple who asked about adopting him minutes after we started the paperwork would surely have beat us to him.
Maybe the fact that the shelter had named him Jack should have been a warning.
As rambunctious as Jack is, though, we’ve grown attached enough that it’s usually hard to think of our family without him. Usually.
There was the day he decided to demonstrate that he could get all four paws up on the kitchen counter, in case we ever needed that from him for some reason.
Nobody being around to recognize his success with an immediate “Good boy!” he found an important check up there and chewed it to confetti so we’d be sure to notice what a clever dog he was for reaching it.
And tonight I may have indulged in a brief thought back to our pre-pup days when I found the chewed-up remains of an intricately layered wooden letter opener my dad made for me years ago.
Dad will be able to commiserate when I break it to him. After all, he and my mom shared their house with a purebred Jack Russell for some time.
Two families had given up trying to share their home with her before she went to live out the rest of her life with my very patient parents. She returned the welcome by immediately chasing a skunk into the house.
Much less attention was paid to Jack’s breeding than to that of my parents’ stinker, so the energetic tendencies are probably somewhat dampened.
Jack’s DNA report came back showing a full 50 percent of his bloodline as “mixed breed,” which must be how the testing company says, “Heck if we know,” after you’ve given them $75 to figure out what Fido is. The other half is an even split of Jack Russell, bassett hound, cocker spaniel and Weimaraner, but it’s his namesake breed that drives his personality.
We’re making the best of it.
My wife was out with friends the evening after we got the news about Jack’s ancestry, and my sons and I couldn’t agree how to spend our guys’ night. Jack Russell blood is handy for breaking that sort of logjam.
We wrote down our choices, wadded each one up and threw them over the dog’s head on the count of three. Jack, with his genetic predisposition for running down balls, snatched one up.
We chased him around the house until one boy was quick enough to catch hold of him, and then pried the soggy paper from his mouth and unballed it so we could see where the dog had decided we were going for dinner.
It wasn’t enough to work off that check he ate, but you add in the excitement he brings us every day, and I have to admit that Jack earns his spot in the family.
Richard Espinoza is a former editor of the Johnson County Neighborhood News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.