Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Our Dog Jake

Life with Jake began in May 1994 when 12 year old Catherine came to us with a proposal. "Mom and Dad, all I want for my birthday is a dog. If you can help with the cost of buying a Golden Retriever , I'll take care of him and you won't have to do anything." Catherine was becoming a teenager and her greatest desire was for a dog? We were in. Despite Catherine's best efforts to train Jake, the day came months later when Jake started taking Catherine for walks instead of Catherine walking him. He would see or smell something interesting and run as fast as he could; she had to hold on for dear life. Perhaps Jake contributed to Catherine's fine career as a runner! Fred spent a day installing an invisible fence which worked for a while until Jake decided it was worth the pain to break free and say hello to someone walking down the street. After many attempts to repair and improve the invisible fence system, Jake won. He took his welcoming duties at home very seriously, and greeted all visitors with wild enthusiasm. "Jake went nuts when he saw a new person at the door. He would jump up on them and speed around their feet. To our surprise, he never injured anyone," Fred remembers . One of our teenage male visitors described Jake as "the Pierce's moat". In order to enter our home to see one of the girls, a young man had to get through the moat. True to Jake's retriever nature, he loved water, and our pool suited him fine. He would get in for a nice cooling dip, roll in the combination of grass and mud near the pool, and shake himself off right next to someone. Why not make sure that they were cooled off too? He was very thoughtful that way. Like all dogs he loved to forage and chew things not usually considered edible (including my bathing suit).
Somehow we all survived Jake's prolonged adolescence. Jake began to show his true nobility of character when Jen had a burst appendix in the summer of 1996 and a long recovery at home. Jake slept near her, and provided the comfort of his watchful presence. For many years, Grandma was one of Jake's biggest advocates, and enjoyed spoiling him with treats. With that extra snacking at Grandma's place Jake became chubby, weighing in at over 100 pounds one year. He did slim back down eventually. Grandma loved Jake's company; she was the one at home the most during the day so they were a good pair. Jake loved everyone, and was especially gentle with children. He usually won their confidence that he could be trusted despite his great size. Some avowed dog haters among our dear family and friends were converted because of Jake's affectionate ways. When Jake was five Catherine went off to college, and four years later after marrying Tom she moved to Minnesota. The baton of caring for Jake was handed off to us; what a surprise! Jake slept at the foot of our bed, and I remember one night when Jake woke us up at 3 AM and just had to make an emergency trip outside. True to his sacrificial nature, Fred put on his coat and trudged outside into the winter cold with Jake. Fred and I took Jake for meandering walks, since Jake enjoyed the lovely smells in each person's yard and added a few of his own. Jake was well known by our closest neighbors, especially the Martinos and their dog Bailey, Jake's best friend. They wrestled and chased each other like puppies. Bailey always looked envious as Jake jauntily trotted through the invisible fence surrounding the Martino's yard. Our neighbor across the street, Mr. Courtney,was very sad after his dog died, and Jake paid him frequent visits, and was often invited in for dog biscuits. Jake was gloriously happy when the whole family was together and he could plop down in the middle of everyone. Of course he wedged himself under the table during family meals. What could be better? Jake knew who would slip him a few treats from the table at holiday gatherings. When his family was outside playing, Jake was ecstatic. That was his idea of heaven! He would joyfully run around the yard with his favorite people, in his favorite place, the beautiful outdoors. The golden years of Jake's life began when Fred returned home from the hospital after almost a year. From April 5, 2005 until his death, Jake's mission was to protect and comfort Fred, always at his side. He pressed his body against Fred's bed; anyone visiting had to step over Jake. Despite his aging body, weakened hind legs, and difficulty in walking the last few years, Jake was never more than 10 feet from Fred. Jake's zeal and unflagging love resulted in painful encounters with Fred's wheelchair; he had his paws run over a few times! Jake lived with great gusto and joy until the very end. He taught me so much about basking in the presence of your loved ones, and just being. Jake's devotion and unconditional love will never be forgotten. Thank you, Catherine, for the gift of Jake!


Jacks3607 said...

What a dog! It sounds like he had a wonderful life with the Pierce family!

Catherine Berg said...

Wow! I laughed and cried reading this, Mom. Great memories of our beloved puppy. He was a terrific dog!! I will miss him alot, but I am sure that you and Dad will miss him more. I can imagine the house feeling a little empty without him. Thanks for the great post and picutres, Mom.
Love you,

teresa anthony said...

You even got Scott, Lorrie, and that's a tough sell! He choked up at your eulogy, and I had tears.

Your memories revealed to me what a truly noble dog Jake was, and if you didn't read what I wrote on Catherine's blog, my dear Cecilia sobbed for quite a while the night Jake died.

May St. Francis lead Jake romping through the pearly gates!

Mary Kate said...

Cecilia sobbed when she heard about Jake. We will all miss him when we come to visit again.
Love, Mary Kate

John said...

What a great dog Jakey was!
I miss him so much already!

And for those who haven't done the math, Jake was over one-hundred and one in dog years!

They say cats have nine lives but Jake had about 20. I think his greatest feat was dying of old age, considering his complete lack of regard towards vehicular traffic and myriad death-defying stunts performed on king road.

Rest in Peace Jakey!!

our little brown life said...

Awwww Mom. Your post has made me feel only tender thoughts in my memories of Jake- a true staple in our family history over the past 14 years. Thanks for taking the time to share the whole thing. At the risk of sounding irreverent, I'll say that your post made me think about the similarities between dogs and toddlers. So it may be safe to say that even with Jake gone, at least while you have some of us visiting you'll have plenty of little bodies running around, spreading smells ad getting in the middle of every family circle for quite awhile.
Thanks again for this post which warmed my cold little heart. Even I might miss Jakey!
Love ya,

Anonymous said...

I am grateful that Jake was a part of my life for the last 14+ years. And he was no doubt very grateful for me and the rest of our family for giving him a good lifestyle. Jake came to realize he was very fortunate when he was bought by the Pierce family from his original owners. The original owners only had him for a short time because they thought Jake was too wild for their 8-year-old son, who had recieved Jake as a gift. Because of Jake's rambunctiousness, he wasn't a good fit for the young boy and his protective and maybe somewhat uptight parents. At the time, Cath and I with some help from 5-year-old John were begging Mom and Dad to get a dog. As a 9-year-old, I remember how important the prospect of having a dog was. Finding our new dog became a reality with a newspaper listing. It was Dad who had the nice find: a 12 week old golden retriever available. The excitement level was very high that night as we had found a golden retriever (#1 on our list for potential dogs) who was available only about 2 miles away and priced affordably given his re-sale status. Cath became his official owner for around $350 or $400 if i remember correctly. Pretty good deal!
The Jakester was a truly precious pooch. It was only fitting that he lived to such an elderly age considering his exuberant personality and strong-willed nature. His loyalty was demonstrated in his last few years in how he behaved towards Dad. He grew to be laid back, gentle, and mellow and this enabled him to become a favorite among the young ones. He had a very happy life and wanted to live as long as he could. He was a trooper in his old age in the way he fought through his physical deterioration. It was great to be around him during his final weeks and days. Old age never broke his spirit. I had the privilege of carrying him to the Sienna with Mom, in his final hours.

RIP Jake

We will always love you Jakey!!!

Anonymous said...

oh wow, what awesome tributes. Greg, i was okay until i got to yours. The image of you carrying him...that's just too much! But i know he was at peace in your arms!
I'm so glad there is a picture of Sharon in there, because Jake was a huge part in Sharon's learning to walk! She took her first steps (without holding someone's hand) with Jake. She would grab his collar or his fur and he would walk so very slowly. Lorrie, i'm sure you remember the circles we took: Fred in his chair, Jake just behind him with Sharon holding on right when your house was first being renovated and Fred was able to explore. We were so excited for Fred and Sharon for their new levels of mobility!!!

And i have to say, that never in my wildest dreams would i have thought Jake capable of such calmness 8-12 years ago! He was a force to be reckoned with, even when i would visit every day after school he'd act like i'd been gone a year!!
And i have told many people about his devotion to Fred these past years...never ever out of his sight. I remember it raining and I brought Jake inside while Lorrie wiped down Fred's wheels after a walk outside and Jake was beside himself for that 3 minute span when he didn't know where Fred was...
What an amazing companion he was.
I know he is so missed in your home.

Catherine Berg said...

Okay wow! Greg you have the most incredible memory!! I was definitely brought to tears reading your post. Thanks for sharing your memories of bringing Jake into our family. I remember well searching each week in the classified section for that perfect dog with you and John. He was meant for our family, and he really was a terrific puppy. It was amazing that the first owners lived right down the street, and a few hundred dollars was a fantastic deal for a pure bred golden retriever. He was such a good dog.
Greg, thanks for sharing your memories and thoughts on Jake. I just LOVE hearing from you, please post more if could. Love you so much!!!!

teresa anthony said...


Thanks so much for sharing your memories of Jake. I'm glad you were with him and your mom on his last day, I can imagine that it was a difficult task - to let him go.

It's pretty amazing to think that God had always had a plan for Jake to be a part of your lives - his rambunctiousness was a good fit for the younger Pierce household years, and his steadfastness was a beautiful gift to Lorrie and Fred in Jake's later years.

Love you, and I hope you've had good luck settling in.


The Schultz Family said...

Dear Lorrie and Fred, I was so sorry when I heard that dear Jake had died. I always loved Jakey, and your beautiful post reminded me of all of his endearing qualities. My kids were quite sad when I told them. He will be missed!

Love, Cathy

CheneAmelie said...

Oh my. I can't believe it that Jake is gone. I have tears in my eyes. I could tell so many stories about this guy. Some funny, some terrifying, some scary... I wouldn't know where to start though. I do remember Cal teaching me the dance to keep Jake from Jumping on you... kind of raise your knees and twist your body at the same time using your hand for back up.
I do have to say that I was always scared of dogs before Jake came around... he taught me to get over that quickly!
Much love to Jake