When you have two dominant female Jack Russell’s in the house things can get rough in a millisecond. If I don’t stay vigilant to body language a ‘Russell Tussell’ can break out so fast you wonder what happened. Pair that with a very dominant pack leader of the two-legged variety and it can become like an episode of Jersey Housewives gone bad. Hard to imagine it could get any worse – I know.
When Marshall came to live with us things began to change in a very slow, almost imperceptible way. Sharkey and Charm, generally what I call the UNWELCOMING committee accepted him with ease. In the beginning they were aloof, which in itself was amazing. Sharkey then began to make a concerted effort to avoid him when the zoomies overtook her, and went around him rather than over him. Charm began to sit near him in the sunshine, when he would sit. After a few months went by Sharkey would follow him in the yard as if protecting him from unknown assailants, and watched carefully when he interacted with the neighbor’s dogs. The disagreements between Sharkey and Charm became less, almost as if they had a mutual project between them.
Marshall’s inherent gentle nature began to have a profound effect on us all. With less strife there came more tenderness. His efforts to learn to love, to trust and to accept seemed to create a unity in the pack. In order not to startle him I routinely spoke in a quiet voice, we all moved less quickly, and disputes between us were solved with less rancor. We spent hours just watching Marshall blossom and learn about the world. Sharkey and Charm didn’t challenge him or even seem jealous of the attention he received from nearly everyone that came in contact with us.
His effect on our lives is sorely missed. Some say he got along in our household because he was a male. Others that knew Marshall are convinced, as am I, that it was the innate gentleness he managed to keep intact despite the grave circumstances of his life. He was, indeed, remarkable. As I was mowing the lawn this past weekend I noticed with great sadness that his little pathway around the yard was beginning to grow over. I made a mental note not to let the tenderness he invoked in us all vanish along with it.