Our Life With LuLu: A Peek Into Jack Russell Behavior & Adventures!
I saw these cute little dogs at a horse show and had to get one. My son’s birthday was coming up and I thought what a great present it would be for him. My daughter had the love of horses; John would love having a dog to play with. But no one in my area had any of these strange active little dogs.
They were called Jack Russell Terriers and I found a dog magazine with an ad in it. The breeder was in Pennsylvania very far from my hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. This was way before the Internet, so snail mail and a telephone was the only way to buy a “mail-order” dog. The breeder sent me pictures and I picked her out from a Polaroid picture. The breeder nicknamed her pups starting with the letter of the state they were going to, so Lu, going to Louisiana was appropriate. She was to be shipped via Delta Airlines in the coat closet of the plane, as it was winter, too cold to have a 12-week-old puppy in the cargo hold.
She arrived in New Orleans as scheduled. Everyone at the airport was asking what breed she was as they all wanted to take her home. She was absolutely precious. Very small about 5 pounds, white body with a brown spot on her head and face that divided it equally down her face. She looked like the phantom of the opera. She was very friendly but quiet as they had given her some Dramamine to help her sleep. Little did I know what adventures we would have with this little dog and that life with Lu was just beginning!
John loved his early birthday present. He received Lu before Christmas, but his birthday was just two weeks away. After realizing that Lu was full of energy and very active, he chose to name her Lulu, which fit her perfectly.
IF SHE CAN SURVIVE THIS…
Every Christmas we received a turkey which came in a Styrofoam box. To keep the turkey cold it was placed on hot ice wrapped in paper. The box was still in the kitchen ready to be thrown away. John was playing with Lulu and called to me” Mom, I’ve hidden Lulu, I bet you can’t find her”. I immediately thought of the box and the hot ice and went straight for it. Opened up the lid and found poor Lulu gasping for air and shivering!!
I wanted to fuss at John for closing a small puppy in a box, but he didn’t understand what he had done. So this was her introduction to our family, one I am sure she didn’t like! I think she decided to get even with us for the rest of her life. Her dilemmas were just getting started.
LOVES TO JUMP
During her first few months, John and Becky (his sister) would bring Lulu on the top bed of his bunks and encourage her to jump off. I was shocked to see a six-month-old pup do this without hesitation. I was sure she would break something, but she was more than willing. She loved to jump off and climb up things. Learning how to climb ladders and heights didn’t scare her. She was determined to accept any challenge.
About a year later, some workmen were cleaning the eaves of the house. The doorbell rang and one of the workmen said my dog might have gotten stung. They saw her attack a wasp nest that had fallen from the eaves. John and I started looking for her. When we found her, her mouth was starting to swell. I brought her to the vet and she was given antihistamines to relieve the swelling. The vet said it could possibly be life-threatening if her tongue swelled up enough she could suffocate. So I kept a sharp eye on her for days. Poor thing, her nose, tongue, and throat all got so big she looked like a boxer, instead of a cute JR. Luckily she recovered, but she sure was funny looking for several days. This was one of our many visits to the vets with dear Lulu.
LITTER OF PUPS
The next Lulu excitement came after she had a litter of pups. She was about three I suppose. I brought her out to the boarding stables with me, which she loved. She would mouse hunt for hours. It was feeding time, and they were throwing hay to the horses from the aisle. My friend yelled,” Barbara, you need to come to see Lulu, hurry!!” She was in the aisle with her back hunched up and looking very injured. “What happened?” I asked. The feeding boy said when he had thrown the hay; Lulu went after it and chased the flying flake of hay into the stall. The horse it was intended for met Lulu at the hay and promptly proceeded to stomp her out of the way. This was a huge 1,200lb Appaloosa and wasn’t going to share his hay with anyone, much less an aggravating 10lb Jack Russell. The owner of the stable was a vet and we immediately took her to the clinic.
Because she had recently had pups, her mammary glands were swollen and sagging. When the horse pawed her, he must have thrown her sideways and severely bruised the side of her stomach, catching one of her teats. The vet was concerned about internal bleeding. She had to operate and found hemorrhaging and severe bruising. Turns out she actually had an uneven number of nipples, 9; I think a dog usually has eight, and it was her uneven one that was torn. The operation consisted of removing the extra teat, but she had to leave a gaping hole in her side to let it drain. It was horrible and required several weeks of TLC and not letting her move. We were very concerned about infection. She was a very sore dog and I didn’t know if she was going to make it. But she did and several months later, you never even could tell where she had been pawed. Her teats even heal up evenly. Leave it to Lulu to get cosmetic surgery in the process!
I don’t exactly remember how long it took for Lulu to give us our next heart attack. I had bred her again and kept one of the puppies, which my stepson, Jeremy, called China. We lived in a concrete slab house. One day Lulu and China did not come to me when I called, so I went to the backyard and started looking. No dogs! Couldn’t see that they had dug under the fence, no gates were open. Then I noticed that there was a dug hole, going under the house. I just knew Lulu had dug under the house and China had followed. I called and called, but got no answer. I went inside to wait until my husband got home, to see if he had a solution to getting Lulu out. Well, it started raining very hard. Now I was concerned because I knew the water was going to go down the hole that Lulu dug. About an hour passed and I couldn’t stand it anymore and went outside in the rain to check the hole, and sure enough, it was filled up with river sand. Lulu and China were trapped!!
My husband called and friend and said to bring his shovel. Luckily the rain had stopped and the men started to go to work. But now we couldn’t find the original hole. So we had to guess. I called and called, but didn’t hear a thing. The men dug. River sand is horrible to dig because it wants to sink back into the hole. It seems like you are digging for nothing. I started crying because they had been under the house now for several hours. How would the dogs breathe?
Finally, after about twenty minutes of digging, we listened for any activity. We heard a whimper!! Joe, my husband, started digging faster, but he didn’t seem to be digging towards the noise. Stopping to listen again, he realized that the dogs were in a different direction. He had to start almost all over again. Dig, dig, I just didn’t think he could get to them fast enough. Stop, listen. I was on my hands and knees looking for white dogs. Then he paused again and saw dirt moving from the other side, it was Lulu digging from her side!! Then he started hand shoveling and grabbed her neck and pulled her out, with China right behind her. Both were totally brown with sand and dirt. As dirty as she was I grabbed her and hugged her and she frantically licked me on the face. I was so happy to see her and wanted to kill her at the same time for causing me such grief. Luckily no vet’s trips this time. Lulu was living up to her name.
Not shortly thereafter maybe a week or two, a neighborhood kid came and told me my dog had gotten out and was under the apartment complex next door. ”What!!!” I screamed. “Not again!!!” Oh, I couldn’t go thru this again. I went next door and sure enough, I could hear Lulu barking under the slab of the apartment house. No chance of rain, so she was safe in those regards, but Jack Russells have been known to die in holes to get their quarry’s was after a cat. And God knows she hated cats. She was going to stay there until she got that cat!!
I spread the river sand smooth at the entrance of the hole. The footprints would be a grand way to tell who was in there or if they had come out.
I was frantic, as I had to leave to go to an important meeting. My husband kept telling me when she gets hungry, she’ll come home. Oh, didn’t he know Lulu by now!!! When we came home later that day, we checked the sand and sure enough, she had come out and gone back in again. We left food out to lure her out, but with no luck. I was so worried her collar might get caught on something under the apartments and she would definitely be stuck for good. I called the apartment manager to let him know what we were doing around the complex. Didn’t want him to call the police. We knew the approximate area where Lulu was. Were we going to have to break concrete to get to her??? That was expensively out of the question. But he didn’t want a dead dog under his slab either.
WAIT AND PRAY
The only thing I could do was simply to wait and pray she would eventually come out. I didn’t sleep that night, obviously. She had been under there more than 24 hours. When would she come out??
Early the next morning there was Lulu, covered with river sand and fleas. Her eyes were sealed shut and she had terrible scratches all over her face. Off to the vets!!! They gave her a good bath, medication for her cuts and she was good to go. The vet said you’ve got a real troublemaker here don’t you??? Little did he know I was going to be seeing him again.
VET VISIT, AGAIN!
Again not sure of the timeline, I don’t remember if I got a mental break from Lulu’s excursions or not. I was at work when Joe called and said,” meet me at the vets Lulu is seriously hurt. She got out and must have gone down a Nutria hole in the canal in front of our house. She is bleeding all over and can’t open her mouth.” I met him at the vet, he pulled up and got out telling me, ”you may not want to look”. He had put her in the trunk!! When he opened it up, Lulu was filthy dirty and had some blood on her, but not at all what I expected. We brought her into the doctor, with that, we’re here again look on our faces. He checked her over. She had severe puncture wounds on her nose where the nutria had bitten her. She could not open her mouth. The vet proceeded to put a pencil in the bite of her mouth and snap it open. She had dislocated her jaw!!
He was sure it was from her grabbing the nutria. Most dogs will grab the neck of the prey and shake it to kill it. She obviously was no match for the nutria as he must have shaken her good and dislocated her mouth in the process. Her mouth was fine, but I had to doctor on those puncture wounds for two weeks. Her records chart was getting bigger and bigger!!
A NEW HOME
The story now takes us to a new home in the country. My husband and I moved to Covington, Louisiana so I could raise horses. But we were so worried about Lulu. Country life for her was certainly a death sentence. She would be free to roam on 33 acres. But I went with the old saying “at least she’ll die happy.”
I have to say the old girl was going on about 9, but not slowing down at all. She loved the freedom she had and was the best mouse hunter in the world. But she had bigger things to hunt for. Every day she was out in the woods chasing or barking at something. The biggest problems were the skunks. She managed to kill a whole family that had taken harbor under our porch. We had to make sure she was locked up at night or else she wouldn’t let the night creatures rest.
But for a couple of years, she did well staying out of trouble, and content with killing the barn mice. I was constantly finding huge holes in the horse’s stalls, where she had dug to get to the mice. That I could deal with; it didn’t cost me a vet bill!!
But as you might expect, Lulu had to cause panic at some point. It was a warm spring day; Joe and I were walking towards the woods when Lulu buried her nose in the leaves. She jumped back and squealed. Joe saw a copperhead snake quickly slithered into the woods. I grabbed Lulu, knowing she would continue to chase the snake. Looked at her nose and not to my surprise, she had been bitten! I told Joe to run to the house and call the vet and tell them I would be there immediately. I jumped in the car and fled down the driveway. It was a 7-mile ride to the vets. I was crying, as I knew this was it. A copperhead snake against a 10lb dog? I knew who would win this fight. I screeched up to the office and jumped out. I told the receptionist who I was. She calmly went to tell the vet. It seemed like an eternity waiting, but soon the Dr. saw us. The vet seemed very calm, while I was a nervous wreck. I asked her why she wasn’t hurrying to do something and she said,” don’t worry she’ll be ok; dogs are not as susceptible to snake bites as people think. “ I was amazed and totally relieved. Lulu was giving a shot of antihistamine and sent home with some antibiotics for the infection. The vet told me if it happened again (God I hope not), just to give her some Benedryl and she should be fine.
Of course, the following spring, damn if she didn’t get bitten again! This time I was prepared and followed the vet’s advice.
Lulu always kept us worrying. One day we called and called for her. She never came. Joe had seen her go into the woods. He knew she had been out there for over three hours. Joe went hunting for her only to find her backing out an opossum hole, dragging the poor dead thing with her. It weighs much more than she did.
Staring to slow down somewhat at 12, she remained to kill things down holes and dig for mice. I am sure I could think of a few smaller incidences, but these are the ones that were the most nerve-racking.
Lulu lived to be 14. She was getting arthritis, hard of hearing and several times I had thoughts of putting her to sleep, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. She died one night in the barn. I am sure her very big heart just gave out. She is buried in the same grave with my daughter’s 30+ yr. old pony, we had for 17 years. I always think about what heaven must be like with Lulu. I am sure she keeps it lively!!!