“As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals.”
Yesterday, our 4-legged family member passed away. Jake was 15-1/2 years old.
I don’t even know where to begin.
15 years makes for lots of memories and adventures. I can’t include every story here but I hope you take the time to go down memory lane with us while we remember our faithful companion.
We found Jake at the Idaho Humane Society in March of 2002. He was the third dog we visited that spring. In 2002, Bev’s dog Cody helped us in picking out just the right dog for us. You see, Cody was going to be our new family member’s camping and hiking buddy and the two had to get along. So we brought Cody to the shelter to visit possible recruits. I found Jake in a group kennel and he was the first of the dogs Cody didn’t attack. So we all hung out together in the shelter’s yard for awhile and got along.
After making arrangements to have Jake neutered, on March 20, 2002 we brought Jake home. We paid $65.00 for the honor of having him join our family that day. The records from back then state he was 9-1/2 months old, putting his birth around June 2001.
There are many things one can say about their canine companion. “He was a good bird dog.” Or maybe, “He was a great hunting dog.” Even, “She was a great camping dog.”
Jake was our companion, our security, our road trip partner, our hiking partner and an international traveler. He traveled all over Idaho camping and hiking. He swam in 4th of July Lake, Hell Roaring Lake, Kane Lake, Red Fish Lodge/Lake, Lake Stanley and hiked throughout The Seven Devils, the Sawtooth Range and the Smoky Mountains just to name a few of his adventures.
Then there were numerous summer and winter Yurt trips to the Idaho City area.
In his years of traveling he visited Washington, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Alberta, Canada. He drank salt water out of the Pacific Ocean on his trips to the Washington and Oregon coasts. He hiked in the Cascades and the Olympics. He got to meet mountaineers at the Rainier Mountain Festival in 2010. He went on treks around Bend and Leavenworth and he even walked on the Athabasca Glacer in Canada.
You were a good outdoor dog, Jake.
When we went on trips to the outdoors, he would run off into the woods to find whatever he could find. Chipmunks and squirrels were his lifetime nemesis. They would taunt him on camping trips and then run one way, while he looked another. But he had perseverance. He would wait at the base of a tree for hours, just hoping they might slip and fall back to him. Ah, the ever elusive chipmunk.
You were a good exploring dog, Jake.
The weather never bothered Jake. Rain, wind or snow. Hot or cold. He seemed to enjoy every season and every climate. He really did act like every day he woke up was a miracle and he wasn’t going to waste it. I don’t think he ever wasted a single minute.
Jake never barked in anger or attacked another human. He would never bite food from your hand, always being careful and gentle when you offered him up a treat. And after we brought Ripley into the house in September of 2002, he became her protector as well as Shelley’s. He never seemed afraid to come to either of their defense when necessary.
You were a sweet dog, Jake.
Jake had a routine around the house. I’m sure he was more OCD than I am. He liked to see the world as his domain. Keeping an eye on things from a top the hill behind our house, looking out over the city. What he was watching for all these times, we don’t really know. Maybe the local fox or the deer that would stroll by on occasion.
At night, he would walk the perimeter of the fence line one last time before coming into the house to go to bed. He even would walk a perimeter on camping trips. Just keeping an eye on things, I guess.
While I worked nights, Shelley felt safer knowing he would alert to any intruder. Even if it was just a fox walking around on the deck.
You were a good security dog, Jake.
As anyone who knew him from 2002, he was not very fond of men being around the house. Including me. And he hated men in beards and hats. This issue with men did not apply to our good friend, Skip, however. No, he loved Skip from minute one. Go figure.
Jake even was one of the star attractions on our wedding cake in 2003.
Shortly after bringing him home, I traveled to Seattle for a weekend trip and when I came home, Shelley and Jake had bonded.
I was out of the picture.
It took years, close to a decade, before he would start to trust me more. He always tolerated me, but never really trusted me. The odd thing was this behavior was only in our own house. On walks or on trips, he was a totally different dog. But not at home. Over the last 5 – 6 years, something changed in him and he became more relaxed and trusting around me.
As an explorer, Jake had a tendency to get himself into trouble. We had some landscaping work done in the back yard and had trenches dug to run electrical wires to our patio and the trees out back. Yep, he got stuck in that 4 foot deep trench. Wedged in like a cork.
Back in Seattle we had a massive hole dug in the back yard of our house to repair a sewage pipe. The hole was about 12 feet deep and 6 feet wide and long. The top was covered, but that didn’t stop him from falling in that one either.
Sometimes he would be the victim of his sister’s malfeasance. When Ripley decided to get into Shelley’s luggage and eat an entire bottle medicine, we had no way of knowing if Jake partook in the pill popping party. So, along with Ripley, he had his stomach pumped. Of course, he didn’t eat any pills.
You were a tough dog, Jake.
His love of fast food french fries and cheese got curtailed sometime around 2010 when he was diagnosed with canine pancreatitis. I guess that was good for us too as we had to stop eating fast food fries on road trips too because we felt so guilty not being able to give him any in the car.
We started noticing an obvious decline with Jake in the spring of 2016 while visiting Seattle. He was having trouble standing up on the hardwood floors at my sister’s house. Later at home, in the early summer, his back left leg started getting worse and he became trapped on our hardwoods (he couldn’t stand himself up) one day while we were out. He probably had been down for a number of hours and couldn’t stand on his own when Shelley came home. It took hours for him to get the use of his leg back. By the next morning, he was walking like normal again. We made the house more “friendly” to him by using throw rugs in strategic places in the house. During this time he was fine on rugs, grass and outside. Just not on hardwoods.
When we took him to the vet, Jake was diagnosed with canine degenerative myelopathy which has no treatment and no cure. This is a progressive disease similar to ALS in humans.
In watching his behavior decline over the last year, we suspect he was also suffering from undiagnosed Cushing’s Syndrome and dementia. But we cared for him as best we could. We still included in him in all our trips when it was physically possible. He loved going on walks, even if we could only walk down the street to the stop sign in our neighborhood and back.
In July of 2016, we went on a camping trip to Stanley Lake. Jake really struggled on that trip. He was very slow and the waves at Stanley Lake and Redfish Lake would knock him over when he tried to wade into the water. When we made one last trip down to the lake before leaving, it would be his last visit to a mountain lake.
Our final trip was just a few weekends ago when we took a long weekend up to McCall. Jake got to be out among the trees and snow one last time as we hiked up a service road. His spunk was visible even if his body wouldn’t allow him to do all the exploring he’s been used to over the years.
Jake was sweet dog. Yes, he was neurotic dog. He was a protecting dog. He was an exploring and an adventurous dog. And, yes, he gave us many sleepless nights as well.
But you were a great companion, Jake. Thank you for those 16 years, buddy.
Sometimes, the biggest compliment one can bestow on another is the most modest and humble of compliments……………………………..
You were a good dog, Jake.