John Joe died yesterday.
Maggies dog and great companion is gone after 10 years.
[to any reader who’s saying ‘what’s the fuss … it’s only a dog’ … go away and do something else because you just won’t get this post.]
John Joe died on Monday morning … his head resting in Mags arms.
His tumour had burst and his heart stopped at the vets … he revived long enough for him and Mags to say goodbye … then he died.
I heard about it on the train to Dublin and just cried.
I rang Mags who was at her parents home. They were preparing to bury John Joe.
Yup – he had a great and long life for a dog.
He had Mags and her parents as his willing slaves … as well as many of Mags friends … myself included.
I loved that wonderful dog.
He also died quickly and in his own time.
And you know what?
That doesn’t really matter at the moment … because he’s gone and we’re all feeling his loss. No one more than Mags … whose love for John Joe (and all animals) is legendary.
What do I remember about John Joe?
His bark … always happy.
He was the Zen Master of ball chasing … never distracted … always focused.
Like a laser he’d watch the ball and run like a pup (even at 13) to get it.
Oh yeh … and then he’d drop the ball at your feet and implore you to throw it again … and again … and again … and ….
See how John Joe just stared at humans … until they gave in … it was hypnotic
If you didn’t throw the ball then expect to get barked at [one short sharp swift bark to let you know he wasn’t impressed by your tardiness] … and then a long look … and then another bark [because humans can be so slow sometimes].
It was a battle of wills that he nearly always won.
And if there wasn’t a ball?
I remember walking with Mags and John Joe and Coco out at Garadice lake one day.
Mags and Coco were way way ahead of John Joe and me.
John Joe saw a water bottle … picked it up and ran up to me … dropping the bottle at my feet and giving me THAT look.
‘No’ says I … and I walk on.
He picks up the bottle and runs ahead of me … waits til I get close … and then drops it at my feet again.
‘No’ says I again … and again …
Picture me saying that about 6 or 7 times.
Eventually I had to reward both the effort and persistence … and I threw the bottle.
His joy in running after it and bringing it back was infectious.
John Joe was the patient and generous host to many other dogs in his house … Boysie … Millie … Trigger … Coco … Ella … and Patsy cat.
Millie Ella & JJ Trigger & Patsy
Boysie & Patsy
Boysie … JJ’s best mate
And as Mags can tell you … Millie and Coco run around the house like demented gerbils …
… and John Joe would settle himself in a quite corner … sigh … lay down … and ignore the madness of the young ones.
John Joe hadn’t been well for a while and Mags did everything (above and beyond) to care for him and build up his strength.
The funny thing is that you couldn’t tell John Joe was ill as he kept wanting to chase the ball like a puppy.
Coco and I saw John Joe on Saturday for the last time. I was walking Coco back to my cottage and Mags was just letting John Joe out of her car.
Our 2 dogs woofed happily at each other and jumped around as Mags and I had a quick chat.
I gave John Joe a big pat and cuddle … not knowing it would be the last time I saw him.
Mags has millions of memories of John Joe and I’d like to share a few that always left me helpless with laughter.
I can’t tell the stories in Mags brilliant style but here’s a wee taste.
When John Joe was a pup and at Mags parents home [love to both of them … JJ stayed with them on the days that Mags worked and they are bereft] he took a real fancy to the chickens.
Not in a ‘kill and eat them way’ … more in a lick them with love kind of way.
He’d get a chicken and place his paw on it … then lick all the chickens feathers up the wrong way.
A strange kinda love.
You can just imagine how disgusted the chicken must have felt … they’d just lie there and let off a tired braaaawk every now and then.
When John Joe got back to the house Mags would tell him off ‘ don’t be going down and harrassing the chickens’ she’d say.
‘what chickens?’ was John Joes look … with a mouth full of feathers!
Adrian sent me a story about John Joe that always has me laughing
And … there was the time Mags had parked her car (and Mags tells this story much much better than me) in a street in another town and left John Joe waiting inside.
Next thing she knows … the car is rolling down the street with a calm (and JJ always looked calm) looking John Joe sitting behind the drivers wheel!
I would have paid to see that.
When our friends Derek and Lynda lived here they loved John Joe [and Mags of course … but we’re all a bit soppy about our animals] and Derek used to tell us about something they’d say in America when someone was really liked …
‘Bruce, do you know him? Great guy. Just a great guy.”
He and Lynda started saying ‘John Joe, do you know him? Great guy. Just a great guy.”
And we started saying it … John Joe … great guy … in fake American accents.
Derek sent me a wee note to add to this blog [and Mags has been very touched by all the kind comments on Facebook … texts … calls and visits she has had].
He had such a dependable charm about him.
Good, honest character. Rare among humans… hence why we connect with our pets who exude such qualities so strongly, I think.
I loved tossing the ball with him because he was always committed and focused, just like the best footballers. I’m going to miss him.
And what a face! Yep, he was a great guy alright.
Ah John Joe … I’d say you’re in some kind of doggy heaven … where someone who looks like Mags throws the ball all day long … and you get to run and run.
I send my love and best wishes to Mags & her parents who are feeling the loss of John Joe very deeply.
John Joe … ever meet him? Great guy.
RIP John Joe Cassidy. Sept 14 2009.
Beloved pet and companion of Maggie Cassidy.