One time, my wife and I took a trip to Taos and of course, we took Waylon with us. Neither Waylon nor I wanted to participate in a grueling shopping trip with my wife, so we sat there on the square in Taos, soaking up the sun. When my wife finally returned, we began walking to our next destination. About every ten yards, someone would walk our way and say, “Hello Waylon.” After several of these encounters, my wife turned to me and asked if we had met everyone in Tao. In fact, we almost did. People were attracted to Waylon because he radiated warmth and friendship.
He loved music…John Lennon’s “Imagine” was his favorite song…and one of his regrets was that I never let him sing harmony on any of my albums. He was apolitical. Two of his favorite people were my friends Ramblin’ Ralph Estes, a flaming liberal ACLU kind of guy, and Sheriff Jim Wilson, as conservative as a former Texas lawman can be. He sensed that they were both good people. He also sensed that they both understood a good dog deserves to be petted. From Waylon, I learned the power of unconditional love for a living creature. He also made me believe in the concept that all living things have a soul.
My wife and daughter snuck Jessie (we kept that Waylon Jennings theme going) in when I was out of town performing. What none of us fully appreciated until we’d had her there for a little while was how damaged she was because of her two previous failed adoptions. She had full-blown separation anxiety disorder and couldn’t stand to be away from us. She was intrusive, jumping up on anyone around her. One day, she managed to let herself into the garage but couldn’t get out. She proceeded to scratch up every door of my new SUV…I let her live. She woke me up repeatedly in the middle of the night…I let her live. Finally, she viciously attacked Waylon and it was all we could do to get her off. I was ready to kill her. I’m not joking; I was going for my gun. My wife stopped me and the next day, with the help of our vet, found a company that worked with dog behavior problems. Turns out, it’s mostly dog-OWNER behavior that’s the problem. He taught us some things about dog psychology and Jessie mellowed out. She’s still a little weirdo…she gets unmentionable articles of both mine and my wife’s clothes and sleeps with them…but she’s OUR weirdo. She’s very smart and sweet most of the time, and I believe she is as good as she knows how to be. I learned patience as well as the importance of looking at myself first when there is a problem in my life.
Colter came to us right at the end of Waylon’s life. My wife found a four-week old puppy on the side of a county road beside his mother who’d been killed by a car. She called me and said she needed to rescue him and find him a “good home”…RIGHT! He was Waylon’s replacement. He has a crooked nose and congenital nerve damage that causes the left side of his lip to curl up in a spot-on imitation of Elvis. He grew from a charming little puppy into an eighty pound behemoth. Apparently, he hasn’t received the memo that he’s no longer a puppy. He has crept into my heart…actually, he’s sort of bounded…and showed me that I can love more than one dog.
They say all dogs go to heaven. I hope that’s true. No living creature ever deserved a heavenly afterlife more than our Waylon. I used to tell Waylon he was not just a “good boy,” he was the “Best Boy.” That he was. Hopefully, I’ll see you some day, bud. We’ll go for a walk and you can chase some rabbits.