T-Bone Jarvis 2008-2017
A life cut horribly short, T-Bone Jarvis is the first non-human Jarvis to grace this website with his story.
He was born in Scottsdale, Arizona on December 8th 2008, one of a litter of eight Jack Russell Terriers born to champion stock. He stood out from the rest of the litter due to his stockiness so his breeders called him Prince. It turned out that he was also double-jointed in his front legs - a delightfully eccentric feature that made him look a little awkward when he sat down, but endeared him to me even more. It was love at first sight.
I picked T-Bone up in early February 2009 when he was so small that he could sit in the palm of one hand and brought him back to the Bay Area where he instantly found a buddy with our labrador called Bacon. We'd got Bacon in mid-December so suddenly we had two puppies to deal with. As it turns out, the two of them were a perfect match as Bacon was a very laid-back dog who tempered T-Bone's terrier tendencies. As time went on, T-Bone became the boss of Bacon - telling him off with a bark and a growl if he got too rambunctious.
Some people refer to T-Bone's breed as Jack Russell Terrorists on account of their single-minded intensity but T-Bone was a little more balanced - he knew how to be mellow if it was required; but he did have one characteristic that all Jack Russell's seem to have - no "off" switch. T-Bone combined those traits with great temperament and faithfulness but the thing that set him apart was his personality.
I quickly fell into a daily routine with my dogs. T-Bone was my first thought when I woke up because he would come running up the stairs and growl until he was placed on the bed. He would then join me for tea, diving under the covers and snoozing at my feet until I got out of bed to get dressed. He would then emerge from the covers and wait patiently on the bed until I lifted him off and went downstairs. After breakfast we would walk three or four miles along the beach or on the bluff top before returning home for treats for the dogs and coffee for me.
We took a long dog walk every day no matter what the weather. In the course of the last nine years, we walked more than 10,000 miles together, wearing out multiple pairs of shoes and braving torrential rain, sleet and snow. T-Bone enjoyed every minute of his walks - you could tell how excited he was by how he would proudly stick his tail straight up into the air and then scamper along, his little legs going twice as fast as Bacon's. If you said the word "walk" he would twist his head to indicate he knew what you were talking about.
After our walk Bacon would happily spend the rest of his day snoozing whereas T-Bone would attach himself to me and follow me wherever I went, assisting me when I was working outside and maintaining a constant guard of the perimeter of our property. He would regularly go on gopher digging trips and spent countless hours looking for lizards, but he always knew where I was and never strayed too far away from my feet. He absolutely hated me leaving the house without him.
A few years later we adopted a rat terrier called Kobe who became T-Bone's crate companion. The three dogs blended together perfectly with Kobe keeping both Bacon and T-Bone playful and youthful. But T-Bone remained the boss and would always keep the others in check if they stepped out of line.
In truth, T-Bone's personality resulted in him being given special dispensation over the other dogs; something that I make no apologies for. While I insisted that Bacon and Kobe remained on their beds when indoors, T-Bone had the run of the house with me. If he was alive right now, he would be sitting behind the chair in my office as I write this, content that he has me wedged against the desk and unable to escape without taking him with me.
Bacon and Kobe were always happy to sit together in the garden but T-Bone was never satisfied unless he was with me. If I was indoors and he was outside, he would bark at the door or look inside and issue a low growl to indicate his displeasure at being outside. His faithfulness and need to be with me was something that I never fully grasped until he had matured and I carry some guilt for not allowing him to spend more time with me. It took his death for me to realize that his contract with me was simply to be my constant companion irrespective of what I was doing whereas I would sometimes leave him to his own devices. It is something I now regret enormously.
Unlike many Jack Russell Terriers, T-Bone wasn't too interested in tennis balls but he absolutely adored squeaky toys although they never squeaked for too long once he got his teeth on them. T-Bone ripped more stuffing out of cuddly toys than any dog I have known, all with the objective of getting to the source of the squeak.
As night came he would cuddle up with Melissa on the sofa or if we were watching a movie he would always settle down right next to me - he loved movies, particularly ones with dogs in, and he adored popcorn too. My last duty before I went to bed would be to take him out for a pee and then tuck him up for the night in his crate with a treat.
Apart from a walks, T-Bone loved going to the lake where we would put on his life-jacket and he'd jump aboard the boat and enjoy swimming around chasing the ducks.
He made friends with every dog he met, apart from two dogs that for some reason irritated him - the first being Thunder, a big friendly golden-retriever owned by a friend of ours, and ironically another Jack Russell Terrier called Cooper who happened to come from the same breeder as T-Bone. They were probably related.
2017 turned out to be a tough year for T-Bone. In February he tore the ACL in his left rear leg which resulted in surgery followed by eight weeks of recovery. Then in May he got stepped on at a party and tore his ACL in his right rear leg. His surgery and convalescence only strengthened the bond I had with him because we spent all our waking hours together.
Just after Thanksgiving T-Bone started to squint. I just assumed that he'd got dirt in his eyes during one of his digging expeditions so treated him with a topical eyewash. Then on Wednesday 29th November, T-Bone and I were sitting on a bench at the mall, watching the world go by, when I noticed that he seemed to have limited sight in his right eye. A quick visit to the vet confirmed he was blind in the right eye but also found that he had minimal sight in his left eye. The vet postulated that T-Bone's sight problems were a secondary symptom of something more serious. One day later as we set off on our daily walk, T-Bone went totally blind.
Undeterred, I fitted a small bell to my shoes and taught T-Bone to follow me. He rapidly got used to his new situation, learnt a few new words such as "step" and "hole", and within a week he went from slowly walking with his nose close to the ground to maintaining a trot with his head held proudly high. No one would ever have guessed that he was blind.
Determined to try and get to the bottom of his medical issues and fix them, I took him to an ophthalmologist and back to the vet's for further tests and the general conclusion was that T-Bone had a lymphoma in his liver and spleen. The outlook was not good.
We settled into the normal daily routine again. December 28th was a day of pleasure and pain - it started off as a great day. T-Bone veritably bounced out of his crate in the morning and enjoyed his walk with gusto, walking ahead of me rather than following my bell. We had visitors that evening for dinner so I spent most of my day in the kitchen and T-Bone was never more than 12 inches from me the entire day. At the time I thought it a little odd that he wasn't taking the odd nap but in retrospect it was as if T-Bone knew that his time was up so dedicated himself to having one final special day. Later that evening I took T-Bone out for a pee and he was violently sick. I put him to bed as normal and told him I loved him like I do every night but when I went to wake him the next morning he didn't want to get out of his crate. As I lifted him out, I noticed that for the first time in nine years, he hadn't eaten his treat.
We made T-Bone as comfortable as we could but as the day wore on it became clear that he was suffering and in pain so we took the awful decision of taking him to the vet to be put down. At the designated hour I wrapped T-Bone in a blanket and we started his final journey. But while sitting in the vet's office, T-Bone decided to go out on his own terms and promptly died in my arms at 4.40pm, gasping for breath as he slowly expired. The vet administered a drug to help him on his way because although he wasn't breathing, his heart was still strongly beating in his chest.
The next day we buried him in a peaceful spot where he can witness the changing seasons and I can greet him first thing in the morning and say goodnight to him last thing at night.
It took me nine years to understand how much T-Bone needed me and nine minutes after his death to realise how much I needed him. T-Bone's death has crushed me. It is impossible to describe the depth of the grief that I feel. It's as if a little part of me died with him. The sense of closure that I felt as I buried him has been replaced with the haunting memories of his absence as I go about my day. Dog walks without him are absolute torment and I am constantly reminded of him every few minutes. Despite his illness and his blindness, his life was taken away too early and I have yet to come to terms with it. But I will be forever grateful and lucky that I knew him and spent a wonderful nine years with him.