Jason: 26 December 1978 - 30 December 1992

Jason was my first Golden, and both suffered and gained from my inexperience, I would do things with him that my later Goldens never got to do: he came to work in Cambridge, and is immortalized in several annual Statistical Laboratory photos (see, for example, http://www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/Dept/Photos/pic81.html). He was the most verbal of all, with a large vocabulary. He understood the concept of a name, knowing the names of all his young human neighbors and friends before even his own. He was a worrier, whose concern often seemed to be, "but what will happen if ---". He liked to know what was happening; liked order and disliked change. He hiked with me on summer camping trips and winter hiking holidays in all parts of England and Wales. He understood that a map somehow gave instructions -- if I showed doubt, he would stand and clearly say "Get the map out". He had an incredible memory for both people and places. Returning a year later to a hike done only once, and attempting to start out by a slightly different route, it would be a stubborn: "No, we always go this [other] way". He hated circular hikes: after about 12 miles of a 15-mile round hike he would stop and say "We must go back now". Persuaded, with difficulty, to continue, he was clearly upset to soon approach the car from a different direction; he hated to get things wrong. By the same token he was an infallible guide at retracing our steps, something I relied on probably more than was wise on Dartmoor and in the Welsh mountains.

As a young dog he loved to run, and on Sundays we went for long Cambridgeshire walks with my "Sunday dog" Bella, whom I had walked on Sundays since before Jason was born, and Jason soon accepted as a friend. Jason would run ahead, but invariably responded instantly to "Jason, that's too far `head". Sometimes we would take a bus, to Ely, or a village 10 miles or so outside Cambridge, and then hike back. Quy Fen was a wonderful place to run, where he could let off much excess energy, but he really preferred the one-dimensional walks -- the Roman Road, Devil's Dyke, or the river tow path between Ely and Cambridge. He knew he could not get lost there. As a puppy he hated the car, but soon came to realize that it was his safe mobile home -- if he was in the car, he felt I could not leave without him. His memory extended even to car routes. He loved our visits to Oxford, where my parents' large young labrador Scipio was a bit younger than he was. While Jason was still a young dog, my parents moved about 1 mile south: on driving into Oxford the next time we visited, Jason told me "No: you are driving the wrong way" in no uncertain terms.

Despite his caution, Jason was also a scavenger of rubbish on Midsummer Common (resulting in rounds of gastroenteritis), and occasionally lost track of where I was. Several times, after a morning walk, he was brought back by neighbors walking their own dogs. He was only once more seriously lost, on the night before our final August Bank Holiday in Cambridge. He had gone off following fish-and-chip papers, down pedestrian ramps on the Elizabeth Way roundabout, and must have emerged via the wrong entrance. He went several miles down the Newmarket road. Early the next morning, he lay down on the verge and howled for help. A kindly dog owner initially thought that it was just a dog left for the holiday, then that he might have been hit by a car. He rescued him, and phoned me, and all was well. Both Jason and I spent the rest of that August Bank Holiday sleeping, and that was the end of off-leash walks at night!

Jason was very much my dog, and suffered from separation anxiety. He did not take well to kennels, but accepted his minders when I was away, sticking to them like glue and demanding much attention. At the friendlier kennels I eventually found outside Cambridge, he was well liked, but it was noted that he did not go play or explore in the lovely fenced wooded area the other dogs enjoyed, but would stand at the gate and demand human attention. Jason hated not to know what was happening. He knew that packing might mean kennels, but as soon as I packed his food he instead knew and anticipated a wonderful upcoming camping trip. On one occasion, in early Seattle days, I delayed packing until after taking him to kennels, thinking this would be kinder to him. He was seriously shocked and upset: I never made that mistake again, although I did try to shorten the interval between packing and departure. As an old dog, he went to kennels with Ptolemy and became far more accepting. However, on one occasion he went to kennels alone, being too old for the strenuous camping and hiking trip I took with Ptolemy and a friend. Despite having perhaps thought this was to be a camping holiday he went happily enough. However, the next occasion some months later, he refused point blank to move, until Ptolemy had gone ahead: he was not going to allow himself to be left alone again.

Jason hated the rules, even of a fun game, to change, and was very upset if he made a mistake as to what was a command vs what was a game. He loved toys, and distinguished his favorites by name. He loved to help with housework, especially brushing the stairs, both in Cambridge and later in Seattle. Among his soft toys, he had innumerable "cushions", mostly made from stuffing old clothes into the legs of old pairs of trousers; each one was treasured. In his view that was the sole purpose of the sewing machine; its emergence was a source of great excitement, and it was a great disappointment if no new "cushion" resulted. In later years, Jason accepted with surprising patience the destruction of many of these cushions by Ptolemy. He had very clearly decided that it was my job to repair or replace them.

For a dog so insistent on routine, he very easily travelled to Seattle and settled into being an American dog. Even as an older dog, he enjoying hiking in the Cascades, and some memorable camping trips in Manning Park and on Vancouver Island. He travelled further, spending the winter of 1988 in Salk Lake City with me, and learning the joys of cross-country skiing. We also had some memorable Christmases and New Years in California, in Santa Cruz, Petaluma, and in Riverside, with briefer visits to friends in Paulo Alto, San Rafael, El Cerrito, Murphys, and Los Angeles. Although he mellowed, it was far from clear how he would react to a new puppy at 10 years old. He took his self-determined responsibilities very seriously; he was strict with Ptolemy, and occasionally would reprimand him. But he was a kindly leader, and they also played, although always according to Jason's strict rules.

At almost 12 years old, with a young Ptolemy by then also in tow, it was at Murphys, after a long drive on the way to Los Angeles, a meeting at UC Irvine, and then to Riverside, that Jason had a fall -- perhaps a minor stroke. He was suddenly a much older dog. However he recovered and at 13 was much fitter again when he travelled with Ptolemy and me to Baltimore for Christmas 1991, and then New Jersey for the winter of 1992. During that trip he remained the leader, keeping Ptolemy firmly in line. I even had to be cautious about reprimanding Ptolemy in Jason's presence, as Jason would chastise him for upsetting me. However, he also showed anxious concern at Ptolemy's unthinking antics. When Ptolemy leapt into the Raritan Canal on a very cold day, and on emerging became a shivering "hedgehog" of ice prickles, Jason picked up his pace to hustle him back to a warm car. Returning to Seattle, Jason gradually abdicated his responsibilities; Ptolemy energetic and unthinkingly rambunctious with others, was unfailingly gentle with Jason in his final months.

Jason's love for order was reflected in his life: exactly 7 years and 2 days in UK and then 7 years and 2 days in the US. If he could have known and understood, he would have appreciated that.