We only had one dog growing up so I did not have much experience when Mark started talking about getting a family canine. And I didn’t realize how much our family would change for the better that day in 2010 when I met those little girls outside a grocery store in Seymour peddling free puppies.
Jewel Tone Alexander
Jewel was the last female of the litter, the one with “the spot” on her head, her mama was a Bernese Mountain Dog and her daddy was a traveling Border Collie. She was playful, proud, smart enough to do taxes, an alpha protector and more loyal than 98.7% percent of humanity. She was absolutely gorgeous particularly when she was clean and especially if she would let us brush her afterwards (which she only let us do as part of a game she wrote the rules to).
Partners in Crime for all Times.
Jewel was a great name because at 18 months old Lucas could say it with a slur. Lucas and Jewel created an overwhelming bond. He wrestled her till she got tired. She would chase sticks and balls and steal toys. As a pup she followed him everywhere. For Lucas as a toddler she was a best friend. When Lucas would be due for a paddling, she often positioned herself between he and I. She was often referred to with the moniker of “Lucas’s Dog”. Jewel was “the baby” for a lot of years; after Travis came home and began to toddle about outside in the spring of 2015, she would walk right next to him and swing her hips just enough to knock him over. But I think by the end, she was proud to be the only dog Travis could remember always being there. She represented Home to him.
A Dog for All Jobs
Jewel and I had only one overwhelmingly serious disagreement in 12 years. One morning I woke to flower pot carnage strewn across the yard along with my lovingly planted tulip bulbs that were doing well that spring. The only thing left on the front porch was a large handful of silk flowers that I grabbed up and whopped her with while showing her what was left of my flower pots and loudly expressing my distaste. Till the end, Jewel wouldn’t hang around if were arranging silk flowers.
We took Jewel everywhere we could. She went to the woods to split wood, she went to grandma’s house, she went to hike trails, she went to the river, she went to work with me. She got to ride in the cab until it became obvious that she got carsick…every time. She loved riding in the back of the truck! We trained Jewel to simple commands. Because of our lack of knowledge she didn’t fulfill the potential of her collie genes, but she did fulfill her full potential of personality. We could trust Jewel to guard the farm anytime we were away for the day or for a weekend or longer.
Jewel lived with us at 3 houses on 2 properties. We worked hard with her on perimeter training. When we would call, she would always come….eventually. Even when we expanded the farm from 40 to 120 acres she quickly learned what new space she was responsible for patrolling. Predator and traffic perils are not in short supply on our farm. But I can’t ever remember being worried for Jewel. Her senses were impeccable. She did her best to pass on her knowledge to our current dog troop, even though each time we brought one home I think she rolled her eyes.
Over years Jewel transitioned to less playing, shorter patrolling, and more guarding. She kept up her patrols just in the yard until her last few days. We have watched her over the past few months for signs of her discomfort but she continued to meet us with a smile and a thumping tail. We promised her she could stay as long as she wanted, but also that we’d be okay and she could go ahead if she needed to. Just like us, Jewel wasn’t meant to be on earth forever, and we did our best to prepare for her departure. Putting her body to rest was easy. Looking through the pictures has been hard. The memories are good. But the porch and farm will never be the same.