I’ve always believed the dog lover’s adage that your departed dog helps your new dog find you. After I lost my little Justin Timberlake, I wanted nothing more than to find another dog just like him. Because he was a fantastic dog, a dog unlike any I’ve ever had or known. Make no mistake, all my dogs past and present have been wonderful, each with their own quirks and personalities. But Justin was something else. In many ways, he was an old soul in a puppy’s body. And he had a special bond with me that was almost telepathic. I can’t count the number of times I’d be reading or working on the computer, look up and think “Where’s Justin?” Almost before that thought could be completed, he’d be looking around the corner at me or would come running into the room. Not that he was seldom in a room I wasn’t in. Because little Justin made it very clear that he preferred me over all others. He would choose me over food and that’s not something that’s easy for a Smooth Fox Terrier! Seriously, I could call him from a full food bowl and he’d come to me. Which strengthens my contention that he was clairvoyant because, of course, he knew I was never going to stint on the treats and meals.

Justin had a noble profile and a calm and dignified manner.

So after I lost Justin, I found myself, even though I knew I shouldn’t, consciously looking for another Justin. Some of this was practical. I’ve fallen in love with the the looks and temperament of the Smoothies with lots of European breeding like my Sally and Justin who had blood from the famous Belfox line. I especially loved Justin’s big head and noble Roman nose. He looked so much like the dogs in my collection of vintage Smooth Fox Terrier prints from the turn of the last century.

It was the nose that got me with little Spartacus. He’s a brown and white whereas Justin was a black and white, but the profiles are the same. Otherwise, no two dogs could be more different. Where Justin was a preternaturally wise little soul, Spartacus is a little babyish. He seems to have a daily quota of cuddles and lapsits that must be met or exceeded. Justin was so trainable, it seemed I only had to show him once for him to learn a trick. But Spartacus makes up for a slower learning curve with ten times the enthusiasm. Once he got “sit”, he owned that trick and gave it his own style spin. He doesn’t just put his little bum down for a sit. He leaps up, plops down and gives an exaggerated tilt of his head as if to say, “You want sit? I’ll give you sit.” If I go to the cookie jar, he’ll run over to me doing sits all the way across the floor until he scoots up to me ready for his treat. We’re still finding some challenges with house training — which Justin had down pat. But I’m sure when Spartacus masters it, he’ll be flushing the toilet and turning off the bathroom light.

Yes, Spartacus has mastered the sit.

But he’s not always ready for his close-up.

I’m completely happy with my wonderful little Spartacus, but I was having a hard time believing Justin had a paw in steering him to me. As I say, no two dogs — certainly no two dogs sharing so much of the same bloodlines — could be more different. Then I had that moment I’d been looking for. During those dark days when Justin was in the emergency pet clinic fighting for his life, a fellow Smoothie enthusiast sent me a Justin Timberlake video to cheer me up. I’d almost forgotten that I had it in my playlist among the thousands of Classic Country tunes. A few weeks ago, while driving with little Spartacus riding shotgun, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” came up in the rotation. At the exact moment where Justin Timberlake goes “Whooo!” in the first chorus, little Sparty opened his mouth and, in perfect synch, gave that Smooth Fox Terrier high pitched “Rowwwwww!” yawn.

And that’s when I knew my little Justin Timberlake had sent me the perfect puppy. Not a serious little pup, but a goofy funny clown in a fur suit who will always make me laugh.

And this my friends is why all dogs go to heaven.

Now take it away Other Justin Timberlake. This one goes out to Justin (the pup) and Sparty. (Second :33 is where little Spartacus comes in with his Rowwwwwwwww!)

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