Singing the Blues

Grand dogs are like grandchildren.We’re supposed to spoil them and send them home to their parents. This weekend we have our grand dog, Jax Waszak, not to be confused with Jack Waszak who is John’s father. Jax is a blue heeler cross, a one-of-a-kind velcro dog. By that I mean he sticks very close to us. His person is our daughter Krysteen who is at an art show in Lubbock earning a living, selling her paintings, keeping her daughter in college and keeping Jax in chew bones.

jaxJax is a very vocal dog with a unique singing voice. His routine at our house is mostly smooth. Since he suffers from loneliness and separation anxiety, he often goes to work with me. The drive-in window at the bank is his favorite because they give him treats, and he enjoys a rich social life while hanging out on the portal at the Frontier Mart.

Every evening after work and dinner Jax and John climb into John’s recliner and watch basketball. John likes Cleveland. Jax likes Chicago. Eventually they go to sleep.
Jax stretches out in all directions while John contracts into a pretzel to accommodate the expanding sprawl of Jax. In the dead of night John rouses and stumbles off to bed. Jax grumbles and moans, as if to say, “Get back in this recliner. Are you nuts?”

But by then John is under the covers with me and Jax is beside himself with frustration because John has screwed up a perfectly good sleeping arrangement.

So Jax jumps into bed with the two of us. We tell him no, but he stays. We explain that he cannot share our bed because there simply is not enough room. Then we put him in his bed which is nearby.
He jumps back in our bed and settles heavily on our legs. We explain to him that he cannot sleep with us, because I have allergies and he has dander. We put him back in his bed.

He jumps in bed with us again.

We explain that he simply cannot sleep with us because we don’t have that kind of a marriage. Then John uses a leash fastened to a table leg, to secure Jax in his own bed. That’s when the fun begins.

In the wee hours of the morning John and I have come to realize that Jax has a secret life as a country western singer. When he is forced to sleep all the way across the room from us, his country western soul blossoms and he breaks out in song. One of his favorites is “Oh, Lonesome Me.” It’s a heartfelt rendition and soon our bed is shaking with John’s silent laughter.

By 4 am everyone is wide awake. Across the room Jax tugs so hard on his leash that he moves the table.

“Don’t look at him,” I whisper to John. “You’ll only encourage him.”

But Jax can hear me better than John can, so John looks at Jax and Jax begins to wail a medley of “In the Jailhouse Now” and “Folsom Prison Blues.”

I lie awake feeling ashamed of my cold, cold heart. Soon I notice that John’s breathing has changed and he’s falling back to sleep. I continue to listen as Jax moans the blues, and I think that for once, John is fortunate to have lost his hearing.

Jax’s songs get quieter but they never actually go away, and finally it is daybreak. I turn over in bed and look at Jax who makes eye contact and bursts into a chorus of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Die.”

Somehow Jax and I have helped each other make it through the night. I get out of bed and unfasten Jax’s leash. He gives a yelp of joy and runs to his food dish. Some broken hearts never mend, but Jax’s does. He’s ready to hit the drive-in window at the bank and hang out on the portal at the Frontier Mart. Krysteen will be home today, and tonight he’ll sleep happily in her bed. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy an uninterrupted night of sleep and John will sit alone in his recliner watching basketball and thinking “Oh, Lonesome Me.”

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