A tribute to a beloved pet

Posted on Governor Mike Huckabee’s Facebook page yesterday.

If heaven is a place of the best, then Jet will be there. When I make it, I won’t be surprised to see him there. I just hope he isn’t surprised to see me there.

Inconsolable. That’s pretty much how I felt as Janet and I held our Black Labrador Retriever, Jet, in our arms as his life slipped from us. It was a heart-wrenching ending of the life of a dog that has been my inseparable companion and confidante for almost 15 years. His wonderful disposition won the heart of all who met him. No one or nothing could make him angry or cause him to lose his temper. His life had one purpose—to please me and to be with me. If I could be as good a Christian as Jet was a dog, it would be as close to perfect as a human could achieve. I got Jet as an anniversary gift in 1998 when he was not quite 7 weeks old. I held him in my arms nonstop for the first 5 hours we were together, and we bonded as surely as man and dog can unite. It was only fitting that in his last hour on this earth, he was again in my arms. He lived his first 8 ½ years in the Governor’s Mansion of Arkansas which was about as great a life as a dog could have. When I wasn’t there, he was pampered 24 hours a day by the rest of the family and the staff of the mansion, all of whom knew that “nothing better happen to that dog!” He was my fishing buddy and my hunting dog. Some of the best days of my life were spent in the flooded timber duck woods in Arkansas during duck season when Jet would show his speed, focus, energy, and sheer tenacity to retrieve. In my boat, Jet had his very own place riding at my feet as we ran full speed across Lake Greeson or down the Arkansas River. Once the boat slowed to idle or a trolling speed, Jet immediately took his place on the bow, always with his face joyfully positioned as far forward as was possible. News stories were written about him, he graced the cover of magazines and a campaign billboard, and he even had his own trading card. His life as “First Dog” was one to be envied. My staff used to joke that in another life they wanted to come back as Jet, meaning that my devotion and unconditional love for that dog was exceeded only by his even greater devotion to me and his unconditional love. He taught me patience because it never irritated him if I was late, or had “one more thing to do.” He taught me forgiveness for he never withheld his affections or love even when I broke a promise to throw things for him to retrieve or to reward him with a treat. He taught me to relax—so much so that in campaigns, the staff actually plotted for ways to keep him with me because his ability to lower my blood pressure and keep me tranquil was visible and palpable.

Jet asked for nothing except for basic necessities and a little bit of attention. For that, I enjoyed his unflinching loyalty, fidelity, and his calming presence. I loved that dog and always will. There was never a day that Jet didn’t make me laugh in the almost 15 years we were together. Only on his last day with me did he make me cry. Please don’t tell me “He was just a dog.” You might be “just a person, “ but Jet was my best friend and was there for me when everyone else had given up on me, or simply had gone to bed. It was never too early in the morning or too late at night for Jet to be with me. He fathered some great dogs who are spectacular in their own right, but as far as I’m concerned, there will never be another like him. Some people doubt that dogs go to heaven, but I don’t have any doubts. If heaven is a place of the best, then Jet will be there. When I make it, I won’t be surprised to see him there. I just hope he isn’t surprised to see me there.

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