A Tribute to Jonathan

by DeAnne Hawkes

Jonathan takes baby Niko home to Michigan

Through our Black Russian Terriers and their puppies, our Guardian Bears family has grown to include some of the most special human beings we’ve ever known.

Our first litter of puppies, born to our foundation bitch Zoya on November 21, 2014, led us into a beautiful friendship with Dr. Jonathan McClinton. When Jonathan took Niko (Guardian Bears American Dreamer) home to Detroit, the two became inseparable. They were best friends, together every hour of every day. Jonathan loved Niko with every ounce of his being, and the devotion was mutual.

Through the years, Jonathan became a dear friend not only to us but to countless fellow BRT owners around the world. His sunny and supportive social media posts, and his huge heart and sense of humor made him a treasured presence throughout the BRT community. Jonathan loved Black Russian Terriers - and the humans who are owned by them.

We were devastated to learn of Jonathan’s passing in early September 2017. His best friend Niko was with him in his final moments on earth, just as he had been at Jonathan's side since the day they met. One of Jonathan’s friends and walking partner, also a BRT owner, became concerned when she didn’t hear from Jonathan. When it was discovered Jonathan was no longer with us, Lisa took Niko under her wing until I could get to Michigan to bring Niko back to North Carolina. My trip was delayed due to a hurricane, and Lisa was a true angel in caring for Niko until it was safe for me to travel.  

Niko did well on our road trip but for many days and weeks he was very depressed and disinterested in everything, understandably. He came around, though. He has a beautiful temperament and has become good friends with his original BRT family at Guardian Bears. He is going to be just fine.

Jonathan was so thankful to have Niko in his life. Niko made him want to live, be healthier, and go walking every day. Jonathan's devotion to Niko was awesome. Niko wanted for nothing – just his friend by his side. As shown in the photos Jonathan shared over the years, he and Niko had a wonderful, fun and love-filled life together.

Jonathan's legacy lives on

Richard and I spoke with Jonathan so often that we felt like his family and still do. He was the kindest of souls. He was also a very strong person and a military veteran with an extensive past, and it was amazing to listen to his stories. We love and miss him.

Rest in peace, dear friend and brother, and know your boy will always be looked after and loved. You are missed by many people whose hearts you touched with your signature grace, kindness and humor. None of us will ever forget you.

Most of all, know that your best friend Niko will never, ever forget your love.

Jonathan and Niko take a selfie together

Best friends forever