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The end of a journey

By DOUG DAVISON, Houston Herald

It’s undeniably true that all good things come to an end, and Jamie’s life journey ended last week.

To me, how and why he’s gone isn’t as pertinent as the way he lived, and I’ve definitely focused more on that over the past several days. He did it with gusto and a yearning for experience, and it was me who was the lucky one in our relationship.

A lot of people love their dogs, and they become more a part of the family than a pet. Jamie was certainly a member of our family, and he knew it, too, and didn’t for a moment take that for granted.

He would often make a point of stopping me from doing whatever I was doing, so I would crouch down and he could stand on his hind legs for a huge Big Lug hug. You could see the gratitude in his eyes, and he would sometimes make little woofing or rumbling sounds as if trying to verbalize his thanks.

I know Jamie knew the feeling was mutual, too. He had a knack for making me – and others around him – smile without even trying. His mere presence was enough to invoke joy and even laughter, and when I bent over to pet him and say “you’re such a good boy,” his expression made it clear he understood he was appreciated.

Jamie was such a character.

I miss hearing his nails clicking on the hardwood floor as he slowly and deliberately approached the kitchen early in the morning. I miss seeing his short little legs sticking up in the air as he napped on his back in the living room. I miss watching him run, I miss feeding him dinner, and I miss hearing him snore.

And I really miss the anticipation the Big Man often displayed for what was going to happen next.

But I’ll never forget the good times, and I’m so very thankful that God allowed him to be a part of my life (and my family members’ lives).

What fun it was to have him sitting next to me in the front seat of the truck as we headed out for an adventure. What a pleasure it was to have him at the end of a leash while we walked around in a place neither of us had ever before been.

How nice it was to rub his belly, stroke his ears or brush his back. And what a blessing it was to simply squeeze him.

It was all awesome.

I received an email the other day that had an attachment entitled “Just a dog.” I don’t know where it originated, (and it doesn’t matter, anyway), but it described how dogs can go beyond their status as a quadruped canine mammal (and how not everyone understands that). Tears came to my eyes as I read so many sentences I completely related to.

Jamie wasn’t just a 35-pound Pembroke Welsh Corgi, he was much more than that. He was a comedian, a companion and a reliable, trusted friend. He was something wonderful to be occupied with, and something to look forward to.

From the moment I first laid eyes on him behind a chain link gate at an animal shelter in Oceanside, Calif., I knew Jamie was something special. When I saw him willingly (even excitedly) jump in the truck to “go home” to Missouri as if it had been his destiny forever, I knew then that it really was.

When I saw he and our youngest daughter (in her mid-teens at the time) running at full speed up and down a deserted freeway onramp on a starlit night in the middle of New Mexico, I knew there were great times in store with him.

Jamie was indeed far more than “just a dog.”

He was an inspiration, a sight to behold and even a business partner. And he was an incredible example of God’s creativity.

It was great while it lasted, but the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Thank you, Lord, for such a fine gift.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Jamie was a big ol’ Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Email ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Jamie; Aug. 18, 2006 – Feb. 28, 2014.

Jamie; Aug. 18, 2006 – Feb. 28, 2014.

Jamie smiles during one of his last Journeys in the Jillikins, a walk through Texas County pasture on a warm February afternoon.

Jamie smiles during one of his last Journeys in the Jillikins, a walk through Texas County pasture on a warm February afternoon.

Jamie.

Jamie.

Jamie.

Jamie.

Jamie and his leash-handler Doug Davison hang out next to a rearing pond full of rainbow trout at Montauk State Park.

Jamie and his leash-handler Doug Davison hang out next to a rearing pond full of rainbow trout at Montauk State Park.

Jamie hangs out with his sidekick amongst some of the ancient exposed granite that makes up Elephant Rocks State Park in Iron County, Mo.

Jamie hangs out with his sidekick amongst some of the ancient exposed granite that makes up Elephant Rocks State Park in Iron County, Mo.

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A full day’s work

For quite some time, Jamie has been bugging me about going to work with me.

After years of hearing me talk about what I do, he has time and again insisted he could perhaps help.

He would often say, “you need a Corgi’s perspective.”

Last Thursday, the Big Lug got his wish.

The day began as usual, with Jamie heading outside to do his business, and then getting a bite to eat on the Sidewalk Café on the east side of our house, and me sitting down for a couple of cups of coffee. Then I brushed a Walmart bag or two of fur off of his 35-pound frame, and we were ready.

“Let’s do this,” Jamie said. “Stay close to me and I’ll get you through.”

“We’re not negotiating a field of land mines or heading to the front lines of a battle,” I said. “We’re going to work. I do this five days a week.”

“I’m just saying,” Jamie said.

When we got to the Houston Herald office, Jamie wasted no time getting started. He worked with editor Jeff McNiell on processing some digital photos that were downloaded in a computer, helped production manager Leesa Smith proofread an ad or two, and looked over accounting paperwork with publisher’s assistant Deanna McKinney. He then sat with me for a while proofing more ad copy.

“I think you might want to try a different font for that phrase right there to make it really pop,” Jamie said. “You have to do something that gets peoples’ attention.”

“That’s not bad, big man,” I said. “It’s almost like you know what you’re talking about.”

“Almost?” Jamie said. “I’m not here for my looks. Although that would be a valid reason.”

After tackling several other tasks, Jamie turned his focus to a lady who walked in to renew her subscription to the newspaper. She said she wanted to renew her “prescription.”

“So did your doctor tell you to take two Heralds and call him in the morning?” Jamie said.

“C’mon, Dawg, don’t be rude,” I said.

“You never know,” Jamie said.

One of the office women with thumbs took care of the customer, and I took the canine jack-of-all trades on the road to take care of some of the day’s out-of-the-office business.

We stopped first at the Houston Police Department station, and Jamie looked over some incident reports submitted by officers. He then met with Police Chief Jim McNiell and Mayor Don Tottingham about the prospects of beginning a city K-9 program.

“This is something you really need, and I’m your dog,” Jamie said. “No law enforcement agency should be without state-of-the art ability to locate clandestine pork chop stashes hidden in vehicles or at crime scenes.”

“Uh, Jamie, what they might need even more is an animal that can detect drugs,” I said.

“No chops?” Jamie said.

“Nope,” I said.

“No ginger snaps?” he said.

“Nope,” I said.

“Right then, moving on,” Jamie said. “Thanks for your time gentlemen.”

Next we went to the new Farm Bureau Insurance office just south of town, where an open house was taking place to celebrate the firm’s move.

“Where’s Flo?” Jamie asked. “I want Flo’s autograph.”

“Uh, wrong insurance company big guy,” I said.

“What about that British lizard?” Jamie asked. “Where’s he?”

“Again big man, wrong company,” I said. “Farm Bureau’s advertising campaign has to do with a guy named Dan who hangs out with a puppet named Clay who cracks corny jokes and says ‘you don’t have to be a farmer to get insurance from Farm Bureau.’”

“Oh yeah, him,” Jamie said. “His jokes aren’t that funny.”

“Yeah, that’s what Dan sometimes says,” I said.

“They need a better mascot,” Jamie said. “I can think of one that would draw millions more customers.”

“Let me guess – you’re referring one that’s long and low and has big ears,” I said.

“Yeah, that’s the ticket,” Jamie said. “All I’ll ask for as a salary is unlimited pork chops. And maybe ginger snaps.”

“Right,” I said.

“Speaking of food, I smell grilled hot dogs,” Jamie said.

“Yep, they’re offering a free lunch here,” I said. “You want a couple of weenies?”

“Does a Corgi shed in the spring?” Jamie said. “Mmm, that’s the good stuff.”

After making another stop of two, we headed back to the office and Jamie sat in for publisher Brad Gentry while he left for a spell. The interim boss didn’t take many calls.

“Just transfer them all to my voice mail,” Jamie said. “I’m a little busy over here trying to get a paper out.”

When the Big Lug was no longer needed at the helm of the good ship Herald, he helped print manager Tyson Troutman get some brochures put together for a local business.

“Hold that a little closer so I can read the fine print,” Jamie said.

As is seemingly the case with many Thursdays, the day went by quickly and late afternoon arrived before Jamie and I knew it. We finished the day by visiting Emmett Kelly Park to view the completed tree planting project.

“Wow, what a difference,” I said. “This is going to be awesome when they get big. It’s already awesome.”

“Yeah, but it looks like I need to get busy,” Jamie said. “Drop me off here and come back in about 45 minutes. I should be done by then.”

“No way, chief,” I said. “There’s a leash law in this town and I’m not going to escort you around to the base of every tree here.”

“Aw man,” Jamie said. “A great opportunity wasted.”

When we got home, Jamie almost immediately went horizontal on the hardwood floor. He was completely exhausted from a hard day’s work.

“I’m dog tired,” he said.  “Make sure to wake me up in the morning – I’ve got a lot of unfinished business to take care of.

“There’s work to do.”

“I know what you mean, big man,” I said. “I know what you mean.”

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Jamie is a big ol’ Welsh Corgi. Past versions of this column are posted on the blog page at http://www.houstonherald.com. Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Jamie proofs ad copy with Houston Herald reporter and advertising representative Doug Davison.

Jamie proofs ad copy with Houston Herald reporter and advertising representative Doug Davison.

Houston Police Chief Jim McNiell and Mayor Don Tottingham check out the city's proposed K-9 unit.

Houston Police Chief Jim McNiell and Mayor Don Tottingham check out the city’s proposed K-9 unit.

Jamie and Houston Herald editor Jeff McNiell work with digital photos downloaded to a computer.

Jamie and Houston Herald editor Jeff McNiell work with digital photos downloaded to a computer.

Jamie assists Houston Herald publisher Brad Gentry with paperwork.

Jamie assists Houston Herald publisher Brad Gentry with paperwork.

Jamie looks over accounting paperwork with Houston Herald office worker Deanna McKinney.

Jamie looks over accounting paperwork with Houston Herald office worker Deanna McKinney.

Jamie prepares to look over some incident reports at the City of Houston police station.

Jamie prepares to look over some incident reports at the City of Houston police station.

Jamie proofreads a copy of a brochure being held by Houston Printing production manager Leesa Smith.

Jamie proofreads a copy of a brochure being held by Houston Printing production manager Leesa Smith.

Jamie squints to read the fine print on a brochure being held by Houston Printing print manager Tyson Troutman. "Hold it just a little closer."

Jamie squints to read the fine print on a brochure being held by Houston Printing print manager Tyson Troutman. “Hold it just a little closer.”

Jamie takes care of some publishing duties in the Houston Herald office. "Go ahead and trasfer that call to my voicemail, I'm kind of busy trying to get this paper out."

Jamie takes care of some publishing duties in the Houston Herald office. “Please transfer my calls to voice mail. I’m kind of busy trying to get this paper out.”

Jamie hangs out on the Sidewalk Cafe before heading out for his big day at work.

Jamie hangs out on the Sidewalk Cafe before heading out for his big day at work.