Monday, March 12th, 2007 https://adamkhan.net/rambles/still-got-the-jam
ince writing here about Maddie a few days ago I’ve felt her presence more. Perhaps it’s not exactly her presence, more that I’m feeling her within me, or rather, that I feel within more like I did when she was around.
So I think it would be good to focus today on my other dog, Jam, who is still in Italy due to my disorganization when moving from there, and she’ll be there for a little while longer yet. It’s a little strange that even though she’s plenty alive and kicking I’ve felt Maddie more over the last few days.
Jam was one of Maddie’s nine puppies, the one who remained after the others were all taken I must admit, and that’s how I ended up with her. That was always my plan, to keep the runt. She and they all were born in my little hideout on Witkin St in north Tel Aviv. The first to be taken were two oversized white ones that I didn’t like hugely much; they were so plump I found them a little scary. Back then Jam (initially named Jen) had pretty eyes and she still does, but she’s not beautiful like her mother was. Whereas Maddie was perfectly formed from every viewpoint (I get a shock reading over that clause in the past tense — see what I mean about her still seeming to be around? Is that so good or perhaps not quite so good I wonder), Jam does looks pretty from some angles, but not from others; her proportions are not perfect; her head is too small, body too thick, legs too short. Jam can be a joy, but her presence is not transformative, as Maddie’s was. Reminds you of the power of the beautiful.
Jam is happy-go-lucky, which makes her easy and light, and since Maddie has been gone she has become more decisive in what she wants. I’ve only lived with her in one place since Maddie went, the apartment in Rome where Maddie died some five weeks after we moved in, and our daily walks for the following 17 months were through the Villa Pamphili park nearby. She had her favorite route through the park. Like Maddie, she goes the way she wants to, and waits for me, and if I’m determined to go another way, she good-naturedly and excitedly bounds up to go my way, with no resentment that she didn’t get her way. I like that.
Spazzes at Spania
Sunday, January 29th, 2006
She is a bit irrationally unpleasant with other dogs, sniffing them then suddenly barking loudly and aggressively at them. Though the occasional dog she can just adore. Ever since she was a puppy however I’ve felt the demon within her. When she was barely two months old I got stoned once and caught her looking at me with the most horrible teeth-baring yawn of devilspawn that gave me the willies. Maddie too used to give me yawn when she thought I wasn’t looking, showing a bit of fang, but Jam’s expressions when doing so can be mortifying. Also, as she was growing up from puppy to young dog I was working fulltime at Amdocs, and she spent most of her days cooped up in the apartment that I moved to in Florentin (I’d been kicked out of Witkin due to, well, puppies). There she destroyed things, which infuriated me. I tried to block the dogs from going up the stairs, which meant that she was stuck in a pretty unstimulating environment during her formative months and year. I feel guilty about that, and I think it stunted her mental growth. Maddie in contrast during that amazingly fast transformation from puppy to young dog was with me almost all the time, and I tried to raise her by playing mental games with her, like putting her out the room briefly and hiding some dog food in a cranny then bringing her in to find it, playing hot and cold, so that she’d learn it was worthwhile listening to me. Jam didn’t get much of that sort of thing.
Jam has learned basic good behavior, listening to me, as a matter of course, just by following her mother. And there are things that are more fun about her than Maddie. She loves to go into the water, something Maddie never took to much. She likes interacting with other species, such as ducks and goats, also something Maddie wasn’t much interested in. She’s a bit more wild in fact than Maddie, having been brought up more or less by her mother more than by me. For instance, at Even Sapir, below the house were chicken batteries, and Jam would regularly bring a dead one up in her mouth and over the span of an afternoon demolish the thing until all that remained was a pile of feathers. I was kind of proud of her wildness in that. Once I pointed her out a dead one on the steep steps connecting the back yard with the batteries below, and she put it in her mouth and it jumped — it was still alive, barely. She dropped it hastily. A dog, not a cat.
It’s a combination of things that make me feel less of a connection with her than with Maddie. The lesser beauty. Her happy-go-luckiness, so that I think she cares less for me than Maddie did. The evil yawns, which make me doubt her goodness. In fact I sometimes wonder if I made a mistake keeping her, that Maddie would have been perfectly happy having me to herself. I thought it was better though for Maddie to have a companion of her own species as well as me. Better for me as well, I think, letting me off the hook a little emotionally from Maddie. Once in Even Sapir I thought Jam had been poisoned to death and I was terribly tearful, but hours later she trotted home fine. Ah, the relief and happiness when a dog you fear is gone is not!
Now that Maddie is gone, I’ve been without Jam, without a dog at all, for three months, the first time for a decade. I do find myself staring at dogs, missing their presence, unnerving their owners, but I can do without it now. I underwent the terrible loss already. I can live without her, see. In the morning my first thought and utterance is no longer a Good Morning to Doggies and I have to say I’m not entirely sad about that.
But it will be a delight to have Jam here finally. Right now I’m sitting at the Frank-in-Steine cafe on this sunny day, and a spaniel is scampering happily around the grass. I do wonder if Jam’ll like Britain. I always thought she wouldn’t care that much, and had the ludicrous notion that she’d prefer America, and that it was Maddie who’d find subtle affinities with England. But it is Jam who lives, and I hope that she’ll enjoy and appreciate it here. She’s not as emotionally articulate as her mother was, but I’ll know.