So today I wanted to take a second and have a stroll down memory lane. I wanted to share with you the story of my first dog, Jake. I like to believe that the adoption of Jake was the leading factor to almost all animal-related events that happened in our life. And sometimes it is better to take a look back and understand your past so you can be more prepared for your future.
I need to preface this post with some callouts. As I said before, Jake was the first dog I had, we adopted him when I was around 4. So my memories of his adoption are blurry. Actually, a lot of childhood memories with him are a blur or bits and pieces. And as he got older, he was the first pet I was going to lose. I did not handle death well, I still don’t to this day. Therefore, I have since blocked out a lot of negative memories that happened before he passed. So I apologize in advance for a less detailed blog post than I normally do for my pets.
But the reason behind telling Jake’s story is not to give you every single detail about him and our lives together. It is to share the memories, lessons learned, and the next steps our family took because of him. It is also a reminder that there are a lot of times we take our pets for granted until they are gone. All of my first memories INVOLVE Jake, he’s in all the pictures of my first days of school and lounging around the house. But as a kid, I just imagined him always being there. It took me getting older to truly cherish him as a pet. So if you are reading this and have a pet, make sure to make them a priority because there will come a day when they are just a memory and you don’t want to look back and have regrets.
Alright, back to happy tales. Let’s talk about Jake! Jake was a Maltese puppy. We kept his hair short so people always asked if he was significantly younger than he was, or a Bichon Frise. We got Jake from a breeder and he was the runt of his litter. (Which obviously made us love him even more!). We got him right after my youngest brother was born, so we would always associate his age to Jake’s.
Adventures with Jake
Like I said before, Jake was involved in ALL our memories. And while I was young and growing up when he was in our lives, there are still so many wonderful memories we have with Jake. When we were kids, we would LOVE going for ice cream. (I mean who doesn’t). And I have memories of us coming home and feeding Jake our leftover ice cream! He would sit there and just lick it straight off the cone and get vanilla ice cream all over his fur! (Sorry mom!).
Jake was such a calm dog. When we would leave, he would just sleep on the couch and be in almost the same position when we got home. He did not add any stress to our lives growing up, even though I’m sure we added plenty to his. Jake would put up with us dressing him in clothing, picking him up and dancing him with his hind legs. (I promise we loved him greatly and this is not animal abuse). He was the perfect dog for us kids. He put up with pretty much everything.
And best of all, Jake was a cuddler. Not just an ‘alright human, I’ll allow you to cuddle me’ cuddler. No, he was a curl up in your arms like a teddy bear cuddler. I cannot tell you the number of flashbacks I have to curl up on our couch, grabbing Jake and just sitting there for hours. Nowadays with Phoebe, I’ll grab her, she will sit for a couple of minutes, then be done with me. Such a difference between dogs and cats sometimes.
I could continue on for ages about the funny memories of putting Jake on a diet, my first time cutting his hair…BADLY, and some of his funny quirks like “hiding” his bones in plain sight. I don’t have a great adoption story that goes along with Jake, but what I do have is a lifetime of memories and adventures that he provided both me and my family.
Adding a friend
So this is parts where my memory starts to come back a little more clearly. Probably age, possibly significance, who knows? But I remember us sitting on the couch looking at Jake sleeping. We noticed he slept a lot for a dog and wasn’t as playful of a dog as we might have expected. My father self-diagnosed him as lonely! And that started to bother my family. We starting thinking about getting another dog.
And then one eventful day we can home with his new brother, Norman. Who I will talk about in another post. We were ecstatic! Finally Jake had a buddy to run around with! Well, not so much at the beginning. Norman was the complete opposite of Jake. High strung, an alpha dog with a lot of energy. Immediately those two butted heads because calm and collected Jake wanted his peace and quiet and Norman was NOT about that life.
Fortunately, as time went on, they grew to love each other and look after each other. I am still so thankful that Jake had Norman and vice versa because I truly think it helped make them much better well-rounded dogs, and brought them more job. Which brought even more joy to our family while they were here.
When Jake was about eight years old, we got some sad news. He was diagnosed with Diabetes. Our family was heartbroken. The vets reassured us that it was not a death sentence and that his diabetes could be handled with insulin. They did warn us that his life expectancy was going to be shorter than most dogs and there was a very real chance of him going blind.
Our family did not care. We were not worried about insulin or going blind. It was not a death sentence was what we heard. The vet educated my mom on how he required insulin shots twice a day and was NOT to be fed table scraps anymore. Time went on and we continued to regulate his shots. You could always tell if his insulin was on or off by his mood. As I got older, I learned how to give him his insulin to help take the pressure off my mom. Jake was such a good dog when it came to insulin. Every day when we grabbing his neck skin to give him his shot (don’t worry as directed by the vet). He would be still and take it, shake his head afterward and continue on eating. As I said, Jake was such a good dog!!!
The doctor was right about two things. First, it was certainly not a death sentence. If you looked at Jake, you would never guess he had diabetes and required insulin. The second was that he did eventually go blind. And while it broke our hearts at first. He was resilient and did not seem to mind after his eyes went. So we didn’t mind either. When he first started going blind he would bump into things or be easily frightened. But after they went completely, it was just another normalcy for him. He would barely bump into things and was able to run around with Normal like normal!
And then yet again, we got spoiled. Jake was immortal! I would also tell everyone. Trying hard to face the fact that there would come an event in my life where Jake would not be a part of could never seem to stick in my head. He was beating diabetes! He was killing it with being blind and still had a spunky personality up until his last few days. Jake being sick or old never seems to happen…until it happened.
Over the Rainbow
Obviously, you have to know by now Jake is no longer with the family. He would be over 20 years old by now. And while he lived an amazing 14 ½ years. Eventually, age, and not diabetes or blindness was what took Jake from our family. And while he is no longer in pain, can see everything clearly, and can eat as many table scraps as he wants, there is not a day that goes by that we don’t miss him. I remember the day I got the call. I was off at college, and so upset because I had no idea that my last goodbye to Jake was actually going to be my very last goodbye to him.
As I said, he was just always there. I always took him for granted. But not that day. And unfortunately, because I was not there, the next day seems like it didn’t actually happen. Life went on as normal and it was not until I went back to my parents for the first time that it really hit me. Jake was not there to greet me at the door. And I cried, of course. Heck, I’m tearing up just writing this entire post, because it was sad. It felt like there was something missing in the home.
Life Lessons He Taught Us
Jake taught me a lot of things throughout his years on this Earth. He taught me that animals are capable of showing love, laughter, and annoyance when you are trying to pester them to wear funny outfits. He taught me how to be gentle and treat animals with respect and patience. But most importantly, Jake taught us to love animals and started my passion for helping animals.
I like to believe that Jake was the starting path to our animal journey. If we had not adopted Jake, he would not have needed a friend (Norman). If we did not have Norman, I truly believe we would not have been able to save Penny. If we had not saved Penny, I don’t think we would have opened our hearts up to cats as much as we did. That means that I would have found Phoebe a home rather than keeping her myself. If I didn’t have Phoebe, I most certainly would not have adopted a second cat and thus rescuing Wobbles.
Jake was the starting path to a chain reaction that has brought so much joy and happiness to our family. It is crazy how one small diabetic dog could start a chain reaction which eventually led me to start blogging and sharing my insights and stories with others.
While many of you won’t feel as connected to this story because there are no helpful tips, no training advice, and does not related to you and your family at all. However, if you could take two things out of this post, I would want it to be these. First, never take your loved ones for granted. Whether that be pets or family, one day they may not be around. And while the day to days seems normal with them, eventually you will look back and cherish those everyday moments.
The second thing I want you to take from this post is that you never know how one small action could change your life. There are so many stories out there of people who stumbled upon an animal and on a whim decided to keep him or her. Next thing you know, they are the CEO of a big animal company (okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration but Hey! You never know!). Jake was brought into my life to help start me down the path of my dreams, even if I was too young and too stubborn to actually see it. Animals come into your life to fill a hole and help lead your life into a positive path even long after they have had to leave you.