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!