I keep looking for him, it’s hard not to when for 17 years he was by my side. He was my Jack Russell, Harlan, often called the best dog in the world. Yeah, for some unknown reason I won the dog lotto. Countless times I was told how awful Jack Russells were with their barking and energy, and how often did Harlan prove them all wrong. When people saw him unleashed and quietly stopping at street corners next to me, they gaped and I gloated. The smart ass in me retorted it was the Prozac I put in his water. But honestly, Harlan just gave new meaning to the term “good dog.” For almost two decades my free-roaming long-legged Jack walked loyally next to me. He never ran away, never hurt a soul except a rat once, grrrr, and was seemingly the smartest and most obedient creature I had ever met (my children will never even be a close second).
Harlan was my first child. Like a giant hamster, he came to me at just four pounds. By four months old he could sit, stay, roll over and melt my heart. He took his role as “stand in” for husband and children seriously and I showered him with more affection than my first Snoopy doll. I used him to justify my move to Key West. He needed pools and an ocean to play in and a sunspot registering 108 degrees in which to sleep. He loved chasing cats and iguanas but left the roosters alone; roosters scared the @#% out of him. Only once did he meticulously chew a dozen chicken wings and I had to annoy a vet on a Sunday. Otherwise he had no special diet except bacon grease on his kibble and still lived to 17, folks. He was perfect.
I was told a tri-color dog was lucky and maybe that’s true. Everyone knew Harlan – maybe not me, I was less interesting, but they knew that old friendly four legged doe-eyed wonder. And thanks to my buddy, I got to know everyone in Key West. Walking the same routes daily in Old Town, Harlan and I made friends we cherish forever. When he passed last week, the kindness and affection I received was overwhelming, but that’s what happens when you live in a dog town. Key West was just as much Harlan’s as it is mine; he was even on the New York Times cover the day after Irma, such a local. Everyone gets one good dog in their life and I got Harlan, and I am just so thankful we both got Key West.