See C. Aubrey

I miss Nelson terribly.
I missed his sunny and sweet companionship so much that soon, very soon, after losing him, I found myself seeking a new canine friend with whom to walk and talk and play. Googling, I discovered a Michigan breeder of Jack Russell Terriers whose young brood, consisting of two little boys and two little girls, looked promising. Two weeks ago, I brought home, from among this furry quartet, C. Aubrey – informally, just plain Aubrey. I wanted a moniker both very British-sounding, as the breed originated in England, and one I wasn't likely to encounter in my travels. (I don't seek my inspiration from names stitched on dog beds or Christmas stockings in pet catalogues.) Who, I ask, is more English than Sir C. (the C., I discovered, stands for Charles, as I'd suspected) Aubrey Smith, kindly but imposing presence in countless Hollywood films of the Golden Age?

Aubrey, born May 13 (the birthday of powerhouse trumpeter in the Goodman and T. Dorsey orchestras, Ziggy Elman), is ten weeks old. He's teething, gnawing happily at my hands and wrists and learning, without treat incentive (unlike the highly food-motivated Nelson), the sit, down and rollover commands (I mean, "requests"). His breeders were calling him Mr. Chubsters, as he was the biggest in the litter, outweighing, at birth, the closest in size by a full ounce and had maintained a well-padded lead. He doesn't seem especially interested in his chow now, though, and his svelte little body rather reminds me of a ferret's. My Nelson was a bit of a chunk, I must admit. I think Aubrey, whose mother was the long-legged variety of JRT and father the short-legged, will be a bit taller as well as slimmer than Nelsie (I pronounce the s like a z).

He doesn't look much like C. Aubrey Smith

A few days ago, I was listening to some Gus Arnheim sides, and Aubrey was fascinated by Bing's trademark whistle. Just as Nelson and I had our little songs, I sing to this young lad as we go about our activities. As his middle-section still can be spanned by one of my fairly small hands, I often say, "Scoop of Aubrey," as I lift him from danger (killer bees!) or naughtiness (tassel destruction is a favorite pastime); sometimes I croon "You're the Scoop of C. Aubrey," to the tune of "Sheik of Araby." A holdover from Nelson's and my repertoire is the winning Harry Warren-Al Dubin "Would You Like to Take a Walk?" Nauseatingly precious, aren't I/we? Please forgive the tales of the sister of a tail-wagger.

It still seems only yesterday that Nelson was limping around, awaiting knee surgery following a tumble he took – one week to the day after his twelfth birthday – in jumping from a rock to pursue a chipmunk. We couldn't go for our daily strolls, so we'd sit in the yard, communing with nature. Literally overnight, he developed a distended stomach that was clearly causing him pain. An observatory stay in the hospital was followed by a visit to a specialist's clinic, at which he underwent an ultrasound, which didn't prove illuminating: perhaps he had a duodenal ulcer or had swallowed something that created a blockage. Back at the local hospital, exploratory surgery was the next step. Before my little baby was taken in, I told him just to make it through the surgery – pet people know about anathesia and older dogs, cats, etc. – and we, the staff and I, would take care of the rest. He then gave me a kiss. The doctor wasn't gone long; upon opening his tummy, she found that he had a tumor on his pancreas that was positioned in a way that prevented him from releasing fluids in his stomach. Too, his liver showed indications of cancer growth. Presented with the options, it was apparent to me that the purpose of any treatments, surgical or chemotherapeutic, would have been merely to give me time for a longer goodbye and Nelson time for more pain. I asked, "Does this mean there's no good way this can come out?" I didn't want to be selfish; I opted for euthanasia ... and the doctor told me that she felt I'd made the right decision: to let go. It was difficult, extremely difficult, to say the least.

Aubrey's here now. He's not a replacement for Nelson – no dog will ever take Nelson's place. Aubrey is a new friend. I've been sleeping with Nelson's collar under my pillow. At this point, I can't imagine developing with Aubrey the rapport that Nelsie and I shared. But taking care of the new lad and taking pleasure in his antics takes my mind off the loss.

Even the liveliest among us requires rest occasionally.

Aubrey's a cute kid – cute, where Nelson, even in puppyhood, was handsome. And Aubrey's affectionate, like his brother, whom he didn't know. If I can just keep him away from the damned tassels!