It never fails.

The moment I settle in to my favorite chair in the morning, mug of coffee at my side, the dog paws at the storm door to be let in. Sometimes I ignore it, hoping he’ll change his mind and just lie down on the porch.

There it is again, that rattling, banging sound. I sigh, put down my book and get up to let him in.

Jojo is 12 years old now and showing his age. We got him when he was 4 at the SPCA here in Augusta County.

We’d been without a dog for about a year when we got Jojo. In addition to companionship, a dog is handy when you live in the country. In particular, it will chase varmints away from the garden.

Our previous dog, Whitey, had done that. Sometimes we’d see him chasing rabbits, but didn’t realize the impact he was having until he died. The next year, our garden was nearly destroyed by bunnies and deer.

That’s when we realized we needed another dog. Since Whitey was a terrier mix, we thought we should get another like him.

At the SPCA, P.J., as he was then called, was the only non-barking dog in the room. Even though he was medium-size (Whitey was small), he appeared to be a terrier mix. He resembles a wheaten terrier.

However, a sign on his cage warned that he should not go to a home with children. Apparently he had sometimes nipped at the previous owner’s young grandchild. At the time, our grandchildren were young and spent a lot of time at our house, so this was a concern.

Then we thought, maybe it depends on the child. Some children don’t know how to treat dogs and may pull on their tails or hit them. So we decided to bring our young grandson — who lived with three dogs — to the shelter to observe how the dog behaved with him.

The dog loved Thieron. He licked his legs and relished being pet by Thieron. That was all we needed.

As it turns out, Jojo loves children. He would get so excited when they came to visit and his behavior with them was exemplary.

However much Jojo may look like a larger version of Whitey, he’s not much like him. He will chase rabbits if they are close by and if he’s in the mood, but otherwise has not performed well in the farm dog department.

A few years back, Jojo got Lyme’s disease. The vet treated him with 30 days of antibiotics. This relieved his symptoms — his appetite returned and he became more active — but the vet said the symptoms would return and that Jojo would get arthritis.

This has turned out to be true. The symptoms come and go. He favors one of his rear legs, holding it up close to his body. But he does not seem to be in pain.

As he ages, Jojo prefers to spend the day dozing on my office floor as I work. He also likes to snooze out in the husband’s shop, even spending an occasional night out there.

He gets along well with our cat, Odin. They even kiss when they greet each other. Our other cat, Olive, doesn’t like other animals at all, so Jojo has learned to keep his distance from her.

Jojo does sometimes follow the husband around on the property and looks forward to taking walks with me. Indeed, even when I take a walk “around the block,” a distance of 5 miles, he is able to keep up.

He is a faithful companion.

Luanne Austin lives in Mount Sidney.

Contact her at RuralPen@aol.com, facebook.com/ruralpen or care of the DN-R.

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