Link to Grand Rapids Herald-Review

...And here's how -- on September 20, 1998 -- I reported the sad news of Jabe's passing:

Scruffy animated dog In my last column, I shared with you the incredible intelligence and unique communicatin' ability of my old yaller dog, Ol' Jabe.

It is now my sad duty to report that, in the early morning hours of August 27, 1998, Ol' Jabe passed away. He was 127 dog years old.

Ol' Jabe is survived by his owners and their offspring and by his long-time companion, Lady. He was preceded in death by his parents -- Tuffy and Snoopy -- several siblings and his canine companions Blackie and Rascal. One of his owners' children, Matthew, also preceded Jabe in death. Jabe was laid to rest between the trees that once held the Lemen kids' tree house.

The Lemen home place just ain't the same without Jabe. For many years, if he wasn't playin' with our youngins, you'd find him curled up in a sunny spot on the sofa or the floor -- savin' his energy for the next game of "Chase the Rabbit."

The Lord was good to us -- Ol' Jabe passed away quietly in his sleep in the hours just before dawn. His nervous system had deteriorated badly in the past couple of days, and we knew the end wasn't far off. Ma and me each spent a few hours comfortin' Jabe as he lay on a pad on the kitchen floor. I finally hit the sack about three a.m. and Jabe departed a short while later. One of my good friends, Amanda Teske, had prayed that night that Jabe wouldn't suffer, and the Good Lord answered her prayer.

I ain't ashamed to admit it: I cried.

Now some folks may wonder how an ol' cowboy like me could get all worked up over a little mutt like Jabe. Well, maybe I feel like that Russian fella, Solzy-knee-son, does about people and animals:

"Nowadays we don't think much of a man's love for an animal; we laugh at people who are attached to cats. But if we stop loving animals, aren't we bound to stop loving humans too?"

Even a battle-tough soldier like general William F. Butler wrote how, after the untimely death of a favorite horse, "...I went back to camp, and, sitting down in the snow, cried like a child." (The Great Lone Land, 1872.)

As I see it, a person who hates dogs and horses is probably someone you shouldn't let drift behind your back.

Deb Roufs asked me what Ol' Jabe's last words were. [Deb was one of Jabe's favorite people -- he was always talkin' about "Roufs, Roufs!") Well, toward the end Ol' Jabe was too weak to move, so I had to turn him from side to side to keep him from gettin' too sore. The last time I turned him, I'm sure I heard him sigh, "Ahh, that's better!"

Rest in peace, Ol' Jabe.

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