Hero Highlight: Laurel and Hardy Jackson, Heroes 652 & 651
“All I know is just how to make people laugh.” ~Stan Laurel
Carl Jackson, of Williamsburg, Virginia, has two dogs enrolled in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, Laurel and Hardy. We asked Carl to share a little bit about his dogs and his life.
How did you become aware of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, and what made you decide to enroll Laurel and Hardy in the study?
We became aware of the study through the AKC. When we got the pups, we elected to register them with the AKC since they were purebred. We had no intention to breed them, but we ended up choosing elaborate names for the two after joining the AKC and looking at some of the lofty-sounding names of the registered dogs. Laurel’s became “Laurel Belle Reve on James” and Hardy was dubbed “Hardy Glenlivet on York.”
We live in Williamsburg, Virginia, between the York and James Rivers and their middle names came from “A Streetcar Named Desire” and my wife’s favorite Scotch whisky. We didn’t really think about it before we got the boys, but when we heard of the study through the AKC we realized that except for one of our dogs, all of our rescued dogs, as well as one dog we raised from a pup, all died of cancer. We were shocked by the realization and sought to support any organization that was researching the cause.
Our dogs were fortunate to live full lives and they were generally older when they died, but it was cancer that finally caused their deaths. If there were something we could do to help find the cause of this heart-breaking reality, then we would do what we could. We enrolled the boys.
Can you share with us a little about your life with Laurel and Hardy and the things you like to do together?
Laurel and Hardy are the first dogs that my wife and I have had in 37 years that picked me as their person. I love it. They follow me pretty much everywhere I go; from room to room, upstairs and downstairs, inside and outside. I’m their pack leader.
When I’m gone from the house, they wait at the window in the dining room for me to come back. It’s both cute and a little sad to see their little heads looking over the sill. I would take them with me in good weather but alas Laurel gets car sick and despite thunder shirts and other attempts to resolve the issue, he dreads the car. Hardy loves car rides but hates to be away from his brother so they stay at home together.
I don’t know why I’m their person but my wife refers to me often as “the third puppy.” I retired last year and the three of us spend our days together. First, it’s a 90-minute early morning walk/run on the golf course. The maintenance crew knows them and doesn’t mind a little running around as long as it’s not on the greens or in the sand traps.
After breakfast, naps are in order (for them, not me) and then we begin the endless routine of inside/outside. My mother-in-law, who lives with us, feeds birds from multiple feeders off of her porch and a lot of seeds fall to the ground. The seeds attract squirrels, and the squirrels attract the boys. They watch at the lower level window and when enough squirrels have gathered Hardy gives a single “woof.” It’s the same “woof” he gives for everything (e.g., “I’m locked in the laundry room” or “I want the toy Laurel has”) but this time its squirrels. I open the door, the squirrels scatter, the boys give chase and dog tails are curled up high in their show of dominance. So far the score is dogs zero and squirrels getting fatter.
Tell us about Laurel and Hardy’s personalities. Do they have some favorite games? Toys? Basically, what stories do you tell about them when chatting with friends?
Laurel and Hardy are from the same litter with the same parents but have very different personalities. Laurel is the alpha but is the more sensitive of the two and Hardy is the more sanguine and is the long-suffering recipient of his brother’s antics and craziness.
Laurel is a cuddle dog and will fall asleep either with his head on your lap watching television or will lay his head on your shoulder at night when you sleep. Hardy has to be busy all the time. He loves to play and has a number of squeaky toys that he will squeak for 2-3 minutes continuously to get someone’s (anyone’s) attention. After dinner, Hardy will sit down opposite you, squeaking his toy repeatedly until you get on the floor and play.
Hardy does not chase his balls, sticks or toys. He waits until it stops rolling or bouncing and when he is sure it’s “dead,” he slowly walks over to it and retrieves. His brother likes to nap and, after a hard day of being alpha, he recuperates on the couch. Laurel loves sticks and has been known to create his own by pulling small live limbs off of trees. To see the two of them carrying a branch (definitely not a stick) around the yard turns some heads.
When either my wife or I come home, Laurel will run around to find a “present” to give us to welcome us home. He isn’t choosy. It could be a shoe, a paper, a towel or piece of your clothing but he just wants to bring you a present. He used to be fond of my glasses. The same thing happens in the morning. When you wake up, he presents you something, often clothing, and often from the clothes hamper which is always nice. He’s praised and then when you try to retrieve the article he plays “keep-away” and he parades around just out of your reach. Mornings are fun.
How did they get their names? Was there something about those characters that just seemed to fit their personalities? Or, is there some connection for you to their films?
We named them when we first picked them up. Actually, we were looking for rescue pups that we could raise together but we wanted two brothers or two sisters from the same litter. Most rescue facilities did not have puppies and those that did would not let us adopt two at a time. No good reason. The search went on for several months and then our best friends took matters into their own hands and went to a quality breeder and got the boys without telling us first.
Obviously a bold move, but they knew us and knew what we needed even before we did. It was love at first sight and the names just came to us. Hardy was a little “fluffy” as a pup and continues to be. He is very stoic. His brother is thinner and has a goofy, Laurel-like personality. We wanted names that fit their personality. So, with their looks as well as personality, the classic comedy duo of Laurel & Hardy fit perfectly. Our first dogs were named Byron and Shelley so you can see we go a little beyond the “Butch and Spike” genre.
Do you have other pets? Tell us about them.
My mother-in-law (Zoe) lives with us and she has a rescued poodle (Clementine) who is much the opposite of my boys. Quiet, loving and totally committed to my mother-in-law but doesn’t do a lot of dog-like things. No rolling in smelly unknowns, no eating inappropriate things, no being outside when it’s wet or hot. Nothing like the boys, who we generally refer to as “the hooligans.” However, she is a great companion to my mother-in-law. She is a deliberate watcher and can stare most people down. Clementine follows Zoe everywhere she goes and uses my mother-in-law’s bed as “home base.” She has a special talent in hearing the sound of chicken being sliced from anywhere in the house which, for her, comes in very handy and very rewarding.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, too; things like career, hobbies, any volunteering that you like to do.
I am retired in Williamsburg, Virginia, and spent 20 years as an infantry officer and another 23 years working for the City of Richmond, retiring as a Staff Battalion Chief in the Fire Department last year. My wife is an Associate Dean at William & Mary Law School and she plans to retire next July. We are looking forward to spending time together with our dogs and my mother-in-law. There are many, many, things my wife wants to accomplish around the house and she is very active in both the church and P.E.O. (Philanthropic Education Organization). Me, I just hang with my dogs, do a little swing trading, and bike. Love to bike. I used to run marathons and play racquetball but that requires good knees. I also am a strong supporter of our local GRREAT (Golden Retriever Rescue, Education and Training) organization.
Tell us anything else that you would like to share with our little Golden Retriever Lifetime Study community.
I sincerely want to thank the Morris Animal Foundation for supporting this incredibly important work. It very much needs to be done. The unconditional love our dogs give us needs to be acknowledged and rewarded in ways that make their lives better and ultimately with less pain. I remember each time a veterinarian would tell us our beloved companion had cancer and that it was a matter of time and their offering of extraordinary measures. Thinking about it makes me tear up even now. I don’t think there is a dog lover in the world who cannot relate to that feeling of helplessness when all you really want to do is help ease their remaining time. I also would like to thank all the Golden Retriever parents who volunteered their companions for this study. We all share the common goal of eradicating this horrible disease from our companion animals.