Wisselwood Jane Marple de Jones
Leighton Coleman, an old pal who has been consistently supportive of this website and of my earlier efforts in launching and editing the Social Register Observer, had long dreamed of sharing his life with a Jack Russell Terrier. A few years ago this dream became a reality and he adopted Nipsy, a sprightly and adorable older dog. When Jane, my cherished Pug, was introduced to this new lady on the scene, she immediately decided that an interview for this website was in order. Herewith, the results of their collaboration.
Jane: Where and when were you born?
Nipsy: I was born a little over eleven years ago in the beautiful Catskill Mountain region of New York State and shortly thereafter adopted by a loving family who were devoted to my breed.
Jane: Exactly what breed are you, Nipsy? The truth.
Nipsy: I am a personable and perfect Smooth-Coated Jack Russell Terrier—a breed that has stayed steadfastly devoted to humans and enabled all classes of them to live rodent-free existences and to enjoy far fewer domestic problems than they might otherwise have experienced. (All this while Pugs, your breed, were just keeping laps warm for the lah-di-dahs.)
Jane: Watch it! Despite the fact that we are two female canines, this is NOT going to disintegrate into a bitching contest. But by the way, just who were your parents?
Nipsy: I’m told they were breed nobility. These things don’t matter very much to me. And isn’t there “line breeding”—a nice name for incest—in your family?
Jane (rising above the question): What is your full AKC name?
Nipsy: I regret it was “Sedona,” a stage name when I was a show dog. Before you mention it, I agree it does sound “New Age-y.” Leighton, my current human, would never have tolerated that!
Jane: Where did you spend your childhood?
Nipsy: Newburgh, New York—a city on the banks of the Hudson River in Orange County which is about sixty miles north of New York City and ninety miles south of Albany.
Jane: Do you remember your childhood home fondly? Were there other dogs (and/or cats) in that childhood home? How did you get along with them? Were you suitably pampered during that phase of your life?
Nipsy: Yes, I recall my childhood home most fondly and this home was blessed with another Jack Russell as well as a Pit Bull Terrier and a superb cat. I LOOOOVE cats; I’m what they refer to as a “Cat Jack”!
Jane: As you mentioned, Pugs, of course, were the pampered companions of the aristocracy and often called on to keep laps warm in those drafty castles, palaces, and big houses. Explain a bit more about the Jack Russell’s role as a human companion.
Nipsy: We were first bred for fox and rat hunting around 1820 by Rev. John “Jack” Russell (1795–1883) who was known as “The Sporting Rector” since he liked to fox hunt as much as he enjoyed giving a sermon. He discovered my direct maternal ancestor (named “Trump”—can you just imagine?) in Oxford while that noble canine was helping a hard-working milkman with his deliveries! My human suggests I remind you that my humble origins are similar to those of the Duke of St. Albans who descends from an orange seller named Nell Gwyn and King Charles II. I should also mention that unlike the foxhounds that stay in kennels, we Jacks were immediately invited in to the best country houses. We are not only excellent ratters but we are fun and provide good company for all ages and social classes.
Jane: What do you consider your own most noteworthy talent?
Nipsy: Since coming to live with my current human, I have become something of an arbiter of taste. Not too different from you, sweetie, in that regard! And, of course, I’m still a top ratter which brings up an amusing story which I’d like to share. As you well know, my best canine pal currently is your own dear sister, Wisselwood Jinx, a lovely black ex-showgirl Pug who is the pampered pet of the Pooles, great friends of my human. In any case, Jinx, like most others of her breed, could not be less interested in ratting and totally ignored one of those deplorable rodents who was making inroads on the Poole’s property. Well, I was visiting one day, noticed the intruder, and took action. What else is a Jack to do? When I pointed my achievement out to Jinx, she was gracious as always and applauded my efforts—almost as enthusiastically as the Poole humans did who shrieked with delight when I dropped the carcass at their feet! Another thing I should mention is that along with being an arbiter of taste and a superb ratter, any secret you share with me will never get repeated! A very important trait in the household I currently grace with my presence. There is something about my deep fathomless eyes that makes it easy for my human to share all kinds of confidences with me. Will I ever tell? Never! (Are those liver bits on that table?)
Jane: Do you admit to any faults and, if so, what are they?
Nipsy: As far as I can tell (and what others have enthusiastically supported) is that my only fault is that I’m “too damn cute!”
Jane (under her breath): That’s as may be. (Audibly) When and how did you relocate to your current home and human?
Nipsy: A few years ago when sad circumstances required me and my original family to separate.
Jane: Were you unhappy about leaving your childhood home?
Nipsy: Yes, one is sad about losing one’s childhood home, but hey, have you seen where I landed? Seriously! If you haven’t, let me give you a hint: have you heard of the book Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett?
Jane: Have you found then there are certain advantages to your current living arrangement?
Nipsy: Well, having risen to peerage in 2013, I’m told that I’m now The Lady Nipsy Russell Coleman of Leeward Castle, so for one, my name has changed. When I arrived here at Leeward Castle, it was very daunting at first. Luckily, I was made welcome by two feline siblings: The Lady Topsy of Highland Castle, “Chief of the name and arms of the whole Clan MacPeanut,” and her twin brother, “The Master MacWiggles of Highland Castle.” Alas, they have both now gone to heaven, but they taught me the ways of the household, divulged secret shortcuts to the beach, and let me know where to stalk chipmunks and voles in the hosta beds. Every one in town knows me as Nipsy and recently I’ve been made the official mascot of the village of Head of the Harbor by Mayor Dahlgard. As I may have previously mentioned, because of my impeccable taste, I often accompany my human companion, a Society decorator, to many of his meetings and on his rounds to showrooms and galleries. Every one seems to make such a big fuss over me wherever I go. I just can’t imagine why!
Jane: Have you made friends in this environment? How well do you get along with other canines you meet? Is this typical of your breed?
Nipsy: Since moving here, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve come to know your sister Wisselwood Jinx, now of Poplar Avenue, Stony Brook, Long Island, New York. I assure you that I count her as my very best canine friend! She is part of a very active and busy household with two children. The village we all live in is called Stony Brook and the center of town is nearby. It is full of the most interesting dogs and cats most of whom I regularly meet on my daily walks.
Jane: How well do you get along with your current human? Do you feel protective toward him? (Examples, please.) Does he pamper you to a satisfactory degree? Do you love him?
Nipsy: How could you ask if I love my current human companion? Do you love yours? In any case, I just adore him to bits; we get along famously. With my special empathetic gifts and his OCD, we’re an inseparable team. I seem to anticipate his needs before he does, like for example where he misplaced the car keys . . . when it is time to take a nap or go out for a walk, etc., et al. Oh boy! He certainly pampers me. Now I know all about Hermès, Vuitton, Goyard, and the rest. I’ve got my own monogrammed towels, comfy beds, and full access to any sofa in the place.
Jane: What is your favorite way to spend a day?
Nipsy: Well, my days are what would be expected for a lady of leisure. I slumber at the foot of my human’s bed whilst he makes himself his breakfast. After his morning (extensive) ablutions, he comes and tickles my belly in order to rouse me for my breakfast. Then I poke my nose outside and look for the perfect spot in the pachysandra patch to do my private business. Sometimes, and I don’t know why, but I like to pee on his all-too-perfectly manicured lawn. Brown spots? What brown spots? In any case, I do mostly like to tease my human companion, who spies on me through the kitchen window (he thinks I don’t know). I enjoy hiding once I’ve finished with nature’s necessities and I’ve learned to slowly move around a boxwood bush so as not to jingle the tags on the collar which would give away my location. It is hilarious to see how worked up he can get wondering where I am. I know it is naughty but it’s too fun to resist.
Jane: What is your favorite food? Favorite snack?
Nipsy: My favorite brand of canned foods are those by Wellness, especially the turkey duck stew; for dried food it is Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance, lamb flavor; for snacks I love those apple and bacon bite-size Fruitables!
Jane: Are you willing to share the story of your most embarrassing moment(s) to date?
Nipsy: Sometimes when I’m visiting Jinx and her family, I break wind whilst on their sofa. It’s all that wonderful food! And, entre nous, I’m deathly afraid of thunder. Not cars or strangers, but thunder. What’s up with that?
Jane: Have you had any health issues which you care to mention?
Nipsy: Last winter I broke my tooth whilst gnawing on a bone, which resulted in very expensive dental surgery and subsequent teeth cleaning.
Jane: What is your idea of heaven?
Nipsy: My idea of heaven is a large English country house, filled with antiques, and a kindly white-haired dowager countess who looks like Margaret Rutherford. She would certainly appreciate a fierce ratter and enjoy having my beloved human as a live-in companion to help her dust her bibelots. Do you like that word? My human teaches me all kinds of wonderful words. So useful!
Jane: Apart from conventional terrier talents, what do you consider your most outstanding gift?
Nipsy: My ability to listen to others and provide very comforting snuggles. What else could any human want?