Remembering Rex, Celebrating Jamie

Remembering Rex, Celebrating Jamie

Today is Jamie's 5th birthday, November 14, 2014. In celebration of his birthday, I've put together this page about the dog that inspired me to get Jamie, a Samoyed named Rex.

Rex is the reason we have Samoyeds in our lives today. Well, our good friend Kody up in Yellowknife helped out, too. In December of 2009, while sitting at the Oakland airport with Megan discussing dog breeds, I did an image search and showed her a photo of a cute Samoyed pup on Flickr. That was Kody, a dog we'd never met or heard of before at the time. Little did we know then that within a year we'd have two Samoyeds of our own, and through their Facebook page they would meet Samoyeds all over North America and become playmates of Kody and his sidekick Quinn.

I was searching for Samoyed photos to show Megan because I had fallen in love with the breed when I met Rex, who came into my life in the summer of 1990. His sidekick, a Malamute named Mia, arrived on Halloween that year, and they were an inseparable duo for five years.

Rex was the first Samoyed I had ever met, and he was a sweetheart. He loved people, and was full of happy energy. He watched me closely at all times, more so than any dog I've had before or since, and as a result he learned many words including a few that reflected my lifestyle choices at the time, such as beer, pizza, golf ball and forest preserve.

I hadn't had a dog for over 10 years when I got Rex, and I dove into life with him. We often spent the whole day together (I was working at home in those days), never more than a few feet apart, and then at night he would sleep right below me, next to the bed. I could reach down and touch him at any time, and he usually responded with a nuzzle or a lick.

Rex and I shared many intensely happy times, but it ended much too soon. At age 5 he suddenly developed a painful and debilitating case of granulomatous meningoencephalitis(GME). His condition deteriorated quickly, and didn't respond to drugs or treatment.

Soon he was comatose, but even in that state he still seemed alive and aware. I'll never forget when I walked into his room at Animal 911, where he lay connected to a heart monitor with IV tubes running into his shaved forearms. I held his limp head in my hands and kissed him softly, and the vet pointed out that his heart rate had immediately slowed down on the monitor, just as it had when I visited him earlier that day. Even unconscious, Rex was taking comfort in my presence, and that made me feel like I owed him a solution to his problem, some relief from his pain.

But I couldn't do a damn thing for him, and the next day he was gone.

I had written thousands of words of notes about Rex's life and personality, intending to some day write up his story in much the same way I've written about my childhood dog Kingo. But then the GME came, and my final pages of Rex notes are a brutally sad and personal story that I doubt I'll ever want to finish, but it would feel strange to write up a sanitized version of Rex's life that leaves out his noble suffering at the end.

So I just like to think about the good times with Rex occasionally, remembering the things he loved to do, and the things we loved to do together. That's enough for me.

Resting with Rex and Mia after a vigorous game of towel tug-of-war.

Christmas, Coincidentally

Jamie came 20 years later, and in many ways he was a continuation of the life I had enjoyed with Rex. We play together in much the same way I loved to play with Rex, and Alice even plays a similar role to the one Mia had played, the aggressive and athletic female sidekick, although Alice is more teddy bear and Mia was more arctic wolf. I sometimes call Jamie "Rex" in error, and it's a mistake I enjoy making – remembering Rex reminds me to spend as much time as possible enjoying life with Jamie and Alice.

A couple of years ago, I was remembering Rex's short life and wondered when Jamie would outlive Rex. Being a math geek, I calculated that Rex lived for 1867 days (from May 22, 1990 to July 2, 1995) and then added 1867 days to Jamie's birthdate of November 14, 2009. To my surprise, I found that the date on which Jamie will become older than Rex is an easy one to remember: Christmas Day, December 25, 2014.

I'm not much into Christmas normally, but I've been anticipating this particular Christmas for two years and it's finally almost here. On that date Jamie will become the the oldest Samoyed I've had, and he's still a young, strong, healthy happy boy. We've shared so many amazing adventures already, and with any luck we still have many years to share ahead of us.

Jamie, Month by Month

I only have a few photos of Rex, but I have thousands of photos of Jamie and Alice. Here below are some of my favorite photos, one from each month of the five years since Jamie came into my life.

Happy Birthday, Jamie!

January 2010
October 2010. The day after Alice came into Jamie's life.
September, 2011
July 2012: the day Jamie and Alice met Noodles in Montana and hatched a plan to get our pack to move to Montana, too. Left to right: Alice, Noodles, Jamie
August 2012: viewing the northern lights in Yellowknife with Quinn and Kody
January 2013
September 2013: Jamie meeting Levon for the first time
September 2014: Sauk Mountain
October 2014: Earl Peak
November 2014: Jamie on his 5th birthday
December 2014: hanging out with friends in Oregon (Brio, Moxie, Jamie, Alice)