Best Friends Blog

Jaunty Jimmy

We had to say goodbye to our little border collie mix, Jimmy, yesterday afternoon. He was getting on to about 15 years and had compound terminal issues. Jimmy was perfectly ordinary and wonderfully unique, just like countless rescued dogs. He was a stray who was never claimed and came to live with Silva and me. And as I like to say, rescued pets are like rigged slot machines – you get a dollar’s worth of payback for every dime’s worth of attention you give to them. There are Jimmys at every shelter in the country waiting to be someone’s new best friend.

My first encounter with Jimmy was memorable. Of course you remember how you met each of the animals who come to share you home, but Jimmy’s entrance was particularly memorable.

There was a blue grass festival in Kanab on July 17, 1999, and Silva was helping to man a Best Friends booth at the event. I stopped by to offer my support and to check out the music. July is monsoon season here in Southern Utah, with warm, moist air from the south producing frequent afternoon and evening thunderstorms and the occasional gully-washing flashflood. Storms out here can be pretty spectacular, with sharp cracks of thunder echoing off the cliffs and through the canyons. Crystal blue skies turn leaden gray, and the lightening branches dance on the ridges like a Hollywood special effect. These isolated storm cells tend to move on in under an hour to be followed by a return of blue skies and sunshine.

On this particular day, a spectacular and very loud storm moved in during the early afternoon and temporarily shut down the festival. I left and headed back to Best Friends – about a five-mile drive up Highway 89. About two miles up the road, I got stuck in a line of cars moving at under 10 miles per hour. This is normally the result of some huge piece of mining equipment being hauled up the winding two-lane highway at a snail’s pace with wide-load signs and flashing lights. There was nothing of the sort in this case, just a line of about 15 to 20 cars crawling along. Did the lead car have an engine problem? Was I at the end of a funeral procession? Maybe it was a carload of tourists taking in the red rocks?

As the line snaked around a curve, my irritation turned to concern when I caught a glimpse of a small dog in the center of the lane leading the procession! I started passing cars as fast as I could until I passed the frantic black-and-white dog, pulled over, jumped out of my car and called to him as he passed. Jimmy ran to me and jumped into my car … it would be the last time he would ever voluntarily get into a car. His paw pads were entirely worn bloody from his flight. He was just terrified of thunder – something that only failing hearing in his later years cured.

He quickly fit into our household and appointed himself to a position similar to that of the sergeant at arms of the Little Rascals clubhouse, deciding who could enter our office and who couldn’t.

Jimmy was a wonderful friend who had many friends, both human and animal, and apart from his unfortunate habit of wanting to nip guests from behind on their way out the door, he was the most charming of little rascals.

We buried him this morning, and as Silva tossed the last shovel of dirt onto his grave, I heard unusual birdcalls. Looking up, it was a rare flyover of Canada geese in an uneven chevron formation – one wing of the V was missing a goose. It was the famed missing man formation. Truth.

Goodbye, Jimmy. You will be missed.

Francis Battista
Best Friends Animal Society

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  • Nancy

    I’m so sorry about your beloved Jimmy, we have all been down a variation of your last days, and all share your pain & sorrow. May your memories bring comfort to you & Silva.

  • Sharon

    Francis, I’m so sorry to hear about Jimmy. Thank you for his beautiful story.

  • Godspeed, Jimmy. You were loved, and loved in return.

  • Lin Hiril

    My baby Circe who passed on 3/27 came into my life by providence. I used to tell her this story every year on our “anniversary.” It was the Monday before thanksgiving and it had been very cold the night before. My 20 year old Maine Coon had passed of cancer a couple of months earlier. While I was taking care of her in her last illness,,I was watching Circe’s mom, a feral on our college campus. I knew she was pregnant and I was hoping I could get one of her kittens but didn’t know how. That morning, though, when I got to school I had a message on my machine from one of th librarians to say that when they arrived they had found two tiny kittens inside the library. They must have crawled in through a vent or something. She asked if I wanted one. Well Circe was the image of her mother so as soon as I saw her, she was mine. But I used to tell her she was God’s gift because at that point I had no idea how I would have gotten her if she had not made her way into that library. She was feisty, gentle, beautiful, graceful, musical, my “ballerina” my comforter my beloved.

  • Squeakie42

    Oh, Francis, thank you for this lovely memento of Jimmy. He knew that once he’d hopped into your car, he’d found his own “wonderful life.” Thank you for loving him, despite knowing that they always leave us before we’re ready to say goodbye.

  • Lisa

    What a wonderful tribute to your sweet doggie. I love what you said about a rescued dog being like a rigged slot machine. It’s so true. I have adopted several unwanted, discarded dogs (my newest addition was returned to the shelter at least five times for “behavioral problems”). Each dog I’ve rescued turned out to be wonderful treasures under the disguise of temporary, solvable issues. Thank you for all you do and thank you for sharing Jimmy’s story.

  • objoyful

    Holding you and Silva in the light at this sad time; and remembering, with thankfulness, that whenever we lose a dear furry friend, they always leave a small slip behind for us to cherish within our hearts. Thank you for sharing handsome Jimmy’s story.

  • PegSue

    So sorry for yourloss , our family just had to let our Germen Shepard Diamond 14Years of age go. It is not easy at all but those sweet memories help the tears be push aside. God Bless us all!

  • What a beautiful tribute to a great friend. My condolences to you and Silva.

  • Patti

    I am so sorry for your loss. My deepest sympathy to you and Silva. May the years of wonderful memories with Jimmy live on in your hearts forever. Gone, but never forgotten.

  • Carmel

    What a beautiful and tearful story for such a beautiful dog. My deepest sympathy and may Jimmy rest in peace with our lord.

  • Shirley

    Such a touching story. Today (Earth Day), I am remembering my precious Chloe who died 6 years ago today. I still get tears in my eyes when I think of her. I feel your pain. Let’s hope Jimmy and Chloe (and my sweet Tess and Odie) are playing in sunshine and waiting for us at Rainbow Bridge.

  • Madeleine

    Francis, my deepest sympathy to you and Silva on the loss of precious Jimmy. And thanks for sharing this beautiful obituary.

  • pagan

    My condolences to you both on the passing of your beautiful may he sleep peacefully in gods arms

  • Lynda

    My condolences to you and Silva on the loss of your much beloved pet, Jimmy. These little rescues have a way of wiggling deep into our hearts, our minds, our souls. In the end it is we, the people, who are enriched with their presence. Godspeed, Jimmy.

  • BB

    That was beautiful. Thanks for sharing.