My grandfather raised Golden Retrievers in the ’50s and he told my Mom one day, “You’ll have one dog in your life who’s more special than all the others.” For me, that was Java.
I didn’t imagine my life would change the way it did when Java showed up. I mean, all I did was pick up the phone that snowy day in February 2001 and say, “Yes.” I wasn’t even looking for a puppy, but you can imagine what happened. I mean, look at that face!
If you’ve been an avid Edge reader you’ve no doubt seen something about Java. She was just that kind of a dog — an equal amount of public and private, serious and funny, devilish and angelic, yin and yang, peanut butter and chocolate.
Java was smart enough to unzip suitcases with her front teeth, cover up messes with Kleenex, kill a squirrel before the pet sitter knew what was happening, and get her needs met through manipulation, brilliance and charm.
Her fuzzy mug shot was found on the cover of TC Dog, Essential Wellness, The Edge and her book. Even though Java became a public dog, thousands of people worldwide “knew her” yet didn’t get the chance to meet her in person.
The following is just a glimpse of Java’s specialness.
She was special in a way that some people understand and accept, and others might judge because they don’t understand. Regardless, she was the most special dog I have yet to meet. (Well, except for your dog. Don’t we all have the best dog ever?)
Java came into this world an amazing being. I just allowed her to be more of herself while we shared space on the planet. For over 12 years, Java and I danced through life together — like two peas in a pod we raced down the stairs first thing in the morning to see who could get to the back door first. We filled the house with playfulness, wrestling, games, tricks and a whole lotta love.
Java showed me how Tellington TTouch® Training could help balance even the most concerned dogs, how to talk to the animals, and that Harley Davidson motorcycles are far more interesting to watch at stop signs than crotch rockets.
She showed me that love trumps fear, and that going after whatever you want in life far exceeds the risk involved. No pain, no gain. I mean, have you ever seen a dog run after a squirrel at full speed and then end up wearing an entire tomato cage? I have.
Java taught me what it means to accept and respect. After a violent attack at a young age, she showed concern around other dogs until six weeks before she died. For almost 12 years I had people asking if she was mean, asking what was wrong with her, and judging her for being who she was. And when people took the time to meet her in her true essence, they fell in love. Java was lovable. So what does that teach us?
What I learned from Java is that we all have days when we’re mean, where something’s not in sync, and where we behave in a way that can cause other people to assume, judge and be fearful. She taught me that nobody’s a saint 100 percent of the time. We’re real.
It wasn’t until those last few breaths she took last year while in my arms that I fully realized the impact. When she finally let go that night, the house became really still and really quiet. And then the waves started to hit. The outpouring of fans and friends still sends ripples across the airwaves a year later.
Recently, a man I’d never met stopped in front of my house while I was standing outside and asked if I lived there. Then he asked how he could get a signed copy of my book. We may never know the impact we’re making.
So, take a little extra time tonight to hug someone you love. You never know when they’ll decide to be done being an angel on the planet and to move on to wherever angels go next.