It was my master’s wife’s fault from the very beginning. I really didn’t even find out about it until I was older, old enough to have earned some respect. For the first six months of my life, I thought my name was Kipper, a reasonably fun name for a studly square-faced boxer like me. I don’t like to brag, but I was beautiful with my brindle coat, perfectly cut ears and tail and a “chest line” to die for.

I didn’t walk, I pranced. I was the master of my domain, until of course, my master came home.  He was one of those kind of humans who tried to act stern, but I could win him over with just a bounce or two and a tail wagging for all its worth.

“Hi Kipper” he’d say.

I would shake with excitement. I’d jump around, wag and being a boxer, salivate, or as “she” called it, “slobber.” She was very nice and fed me well and regularly. But the master was the MASTER, and boy did I love my master. He had a couple of kids, a girl and boy, but he was the real boss. Anything to make him happy was my main goal in life, and when I heard that proud-of-me tone in his voice, it was a thrill and a chill. I could be deliriously happy for days.

The boy kid was named Rand. He was great fun and played with me all the time, but he knew who my heart and loyalty really belonged to…his dad.  At about 6 months after my ear forms were removed, I remembered a conversation the boy had with the master’s wife, his mother.

They were talking about my name “Kipper” and he asked his mother where she’d gotten the name. To my shock and chagrin she said “Oh, I took it from a can of Kipper Snacks.  What did she think I was a fish? I was burned. I’m not a fish. I have papers to prove that I’m a full-fledged registered, good-looking if I do say so myself, Boxer. I have my pride, ya know! But it only got worse.

The wife tells the kid that Kipper was just my nick name.  Oh great, if my nick name is taken from a can of kippered herring, what name did this woman put on my official registration papers. I dreamed, of course, that if I could read, I would read on my papers: “King the Magnificent,” “Lord of the Manor and Grounds,” or “Glorious Idol of Dogdom.” My mind flew into ever more fanciful dreams of my glorious name.

Then I heard it. I was more than bummed. It was, well, embarrassing that a splendiferous specimen like me had the officially registered name of, I can hardly say it: “Jotta, Jotta, Jing, Jing.” Where in heaven’s name did this female person come up with that? I should have taken a dump on her kitchen floor! That would have taught her.  She told the kid that they used really strange names on the official registration papers so that was the name she gave me.

I’ll tell ya, I could hardly prance for nearly a week after that. But my master always loved me and was my real link with my inner perfection. I quickly suppressed my ignoble name deep into my brain and regained my princely place in the den.

When I was about a year old I began hearing a strange word these humans started calling me. They kept saying I was really smart. I didn’t know what smart meant, but the respect with which they used it meant something so I decided to accept it with honor.

I think I started hearing the “smart” word when I learned how to hold the screen door open, push on the inner door and come into the house all by myself.  I was supposed to be invited in, but because everybody loved me, I always got away with it.

As great as I was, I had this one tiny, little, trivial habit that was not welcomed by my master. Frankly, I didn’t think it was a flaw at all. It was just me and my natural “talent.”

I told you about my ability to get into the house. Well, when I did that I headed straight for my master’s chair, settled beside him and reveled in my closeness to the alpha dog.  But there was this “thing” I kept doing and my master would explode furiously because most of the time, I’d snuck in beside him usually without him knowing I was even around. He’d read the newspaper and watch TV and I would bask in his glory dreaming of coming to his aid in his time of need in an instant.

But, there was that one little flaw that kept interfering with our harmonious communion. The humans called it “cutting the cheese.” I had no idea what that meant, but with me, they called it “cutting the blue cheese.” My master would rail and scream.

“This creature is turning the air blue!!!”

Since most of the time he didn’t realize I had crawled flat on my belly to my position of honor right beside him under the arm of his chair, the only way he knew I was there was when the air turned that unmistakable shade.

He’d come unglued and I knew I had to get out of there before it all hit the fan, so to speak. I’d scramble like a scalded squirrel, legs flailing and sliding on the linoleum in every direction just to get out of there. Hey, it wasn’t my fault that I was blessed with a prodigious digestive tract.

Life in the master’s den was heaven. But one day I decided to head out to see what was “out there.”  Having lived in luxury for all my years on earth, I was not prepared for the outside world. Within a few blocks of the den, I got lost and was forced to eat anything I could find. Posters, rewards, searchers and animal lovers looked for me.  But I was gone a whole week before I was found. When I was found and brought home I was emaciated and sickly. Weeks of the best food and veterinary care, unfortunately, were not enough.

The report from the vet was grim. He said I’d eaten something that had hurt my heart. I was only seven.  Now, when I played with the boy, I’d jump up on his chest and then go completely stiff and collapse shaking onto the ground.  My master said it was cruel to allow me to continue in this pain, so with what the humans call prayers and tears I was taken to another place.
Of course, I never knew my end.  My master took me to the Humane Society.  The boy went with us.  I didn’t know what was happening, but then I was terribly sick.  The kindly man at the society told the boy that he knew a lot about dogs might be able to fix me.  My master knew the story was to give the boy a little hope that Kipper was with this kind man.  But the truth was, my heart could not be repaired.  The man’s story was simply a way to alleviate an excruciatingly painful experience for the boy.  My master knew the impossible truth. Later that day I went to sleep.
My master said he could never have another dog because none would ever match up to “Jotta, Jotta, Jing, Jing,” Also lovingly known as Kipper.

— Rand from Springville, UT