Tears for a Neighborhood 'Greeter'

Jacques was an unlikely neighborhood mascot.

The papillon-terrier mix with imposing pointed ears weighed just 10 pounds, but his personality outweighed his poundage.

With his 25-foot leash tied to a stake in the frontyard of his owner's Palm Street home, the black-and-tan dog played daily with about 50 visitors--and many of their pooches. He became known as a "greeter," "mood lifter" and "security guard."

So outgoing was Jacques that he had to be forced inside at night by owner Jennie Lee Hanson, who rescued him from the pound a year ago. Hanson and her children, Heather, 10, and Nic, 6, sometimes kept Jacques on a leash inside to keep him from charging the front door.

But on Labor Day, the 2-year-old pet's eagerness got the best of him. Jacques broke free to chase after a German shepherd playmate and ran into the street, where he was struck by a car and killed.

"I wanted to keep him bunched up in the house with me, but I let him be who he needed to be," said Hanson, who works as a manager at UPS. "He would never do anything but be out front. That was his life. He always wanted to be with whoever would walk by."

Hanson soon learned how much the neighborhood loved Jacques. As news spread, neighbors placed flowers on her lawn. Not just stems plucked from their gardens, but store-bought bouquets of daisies, sunflowers and carnations.

Her next-door neighbor made a white cross for the lawn, Jacques' blue collar and heart-shaped tag wrapped around it. Next to the cross is a copy of "Dog Heaven" by Cynthia Rufant, a poem written by Hanson, and snapshots of Jacques with Heather and Nic.

"I loved him a lot," Nic said. "I liked to lay down and sleep with him, but I had him on the leash because he'd try to go away from me and go up to the front door."

Said Heather: "He pretty much loved everybody, and he just loved to be around people."

Also on the lawn are soup bones left by other dog owners, a chewed Frisbee, a work glove that once belonged to Hanson but was ceded to her dog, and balloons, one reading: "We'll miss you."

"I can't even wake up in the morning," said Toni Demers, who lives across the street. "I am waiting to hear him bark--my little alarm clock. Every day I'd know it's 7 o'clock. Now I am waking up at 7:30."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World