SNIFF NOTES: A Jack Russell’s Mischievous Homecoming


The first thing that made me realize something was amiss was the white ball of cotton in front of the door when I opened it.

I knew immediately it was batting from a pillow – the stuff they put inside to make them fluffy.

I also knew immediately that it shouldn’t be on the rug by my front door. It should be inside a pillow.

I looked about a foot and a half further down the foyer and, lo and behold, I found another piece of fluff. Indeed, there was a whole trail of them in what appeared like some messed up version of rose petals or something.

The detritus led me to the middle of my living room where it looked like a bomb had gone off – one made of batting. It actually looked like the fake snow I’ve seen in Christmas displays at the mall – that’s how much of it was covering the carpet.

I dropped my head for a second. After the day I had just had, this was, quite literally, the very last thing I wanted to come home to. I was starting to think somehow the universe had it out for me. I seriously debated whether or not I had the energy to clean up the mess.

At that exact moment, I heard a small noise that seemed to be coming from the under the middle of the mess. It sounded like a snort.

That’s when his head popped up and I was able to meet his brown eyes.

It was Zeke. My Jack Russell Terrier whom I had just adopted two months ago.

Truly, I figured it was him from the get-go, but I wasn’t completely sure he was actually inside the mess.

When he pulled his head completely out of the fluff, I could see his little tail wagging, pushing more of the batting around the floor.

He had pieces sticking to his hears, his mouth and his chin. He looked like some kind of a messed up canine Santa.

He also looked ridiculously happy to see me. I swear he seemed to be saying, “Hey, ma, you gotta get in here. It’s so much fun!”

You know those moments in life where you teeter on the verge of either tears or laughter? When it could seriously go either way and whichever way it falls, the outcome is going to be pretty drastic? Like the tears are going to be the ugly crying and the laughter is going to be the maniacal kind?

That’s where I was, suspended in the silence. I could actually hear my mother’s grandfather clock ticking in the other room. There were no other sounds. I really didn’t know which way my reaction was going to go.

That’s when Zeke sneezed.

It shot a whole mess of batting off of his chin and even moved some of the pile on the floor.

His tail never stopped wagging.

That’s when I felt the laughter come up from my abdomen. I actually half stumbled, half fell over the recliner in front of me and just let it rip. I laughed so loud and so hard, my stomach actually hurt. Tears were, in fact, rolling down my cheeks.

And Zeke? He was in my lap, dancing around like he was so proud to have been the cause of my joy.

I couldn’t help but kiss him. He returned the favor.

They had warned me at the shelter about Jack Russell Terriers and the trouble they could get into. They said Zeke loved to destroy squeaky toys. I had learned that myself, but I didn’t think he’d go after the pillows on my couch.

I was still wiping tears as I cleaned up the mess. Zeke thought it was a game of keep away.

I still couldn’t get mad at him.

Because when I signed those adoption papers, taking responsibility for this four-legged ball of madness, I knew I was taking the bad and frustrating with the good and heartwarming.

I knew Zeke was just…being Zeke.

After the vacuum came out and we both had dinner and I was searching online for a dog crate for my boy, Zeke came up and put his paws on my knees and for a split second, he looked like he might be trying to say he was sorry for the mess.

I leaned down to kiss his nose and I told him, “It’s okay, baby. We’ll learn each other’s little quirks as we go along. You and me are the forever kind of love.”

He seemed to get exactly what I was saying.


Jennifer Vanderau is the Publications and Promotions Consultant for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter and can be reached at [email protected]. The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at 263-5791 or visit the website CVAS also operates a thrift store in Chambersburg. Help support the animals at the shelter by donating to or shopping at the store.

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