Losing a friend

My parents adopted Jake as puppy from the Animal Lifeline of Iowa. He was tiny as a puppy, and he was definitely a puppy.

Those are my shoes he’s near. Size 12. Yeah, he was small as a pup.

On one afternoon I was outside with him, he engaged “full puppy mode” and decided to dig around near some loose dirt on the side of the house. When I tried to get to him to pull him away from it, he’d sprint away but only just far enough that he seemed to know he could turn around and sprint right back to the loose dirt and continue digging. It took a few iterations of that before I was finally able to catch him and take him inside, but unfortunately not before he had dug around enough that his entire front was dark gray from the dirt.

Some puppies are “all paws”. Jake was “all ears”. My dad would poke fun at this by calling him “batdog”, and we’d also take him out to the end of the yard and run back toward the house. He’d come running back as well, his ears caught in the wind like kites. I still wonder if we could’ve gotten him running fast enough that he’d fly…

As an adolescent and young adult, Jake discovered a new favorite pastime: trying to take my jeans off me while I was still wearing them — or perhaps he just developed a slight disdain toward me since it was typically me taking him to the end of the yard and running back. Anyway, Jake would clutch onto the hem of my jeans and hang on for dear life. He definitely had strong teeth, because in doing this I’d also be trying to pull away from him, pull him off, or I’d be flinging him around trying to get him loose. If I succeeded, he’d just sprint back over, clutch back on — sometimes taking me to the ground in the process since I’d sometimes be running away, which only egged him on — and start tugging again. Thankfully he never tried to latch on farther up than just the edge of the pants leg, and never tried this when I wore jean shorts instead of long jeans.

When we lost Velcro, our cat, to complications of feline diabetes in March 2001, Jake, was barely a year old at the time, but he had definitely tuned himself in to the solemn air around the house at the time, being a comfort to everyone in the family. I was still in community college at the time and had class that day. Vel had been at the vet overnight, if I remember correctly, so that morning we were all a little down since we felt the end was approaching for him. Jake wasn’t too far away, climbing onto me while I sat in my desk chair in my bedroom. I think he knew something we didn’t.

After moving out, his loud, high-pitched bark would be part of the puppy choir whenever I visited. As he got older he got more relaxed, and we could hear the echo of his “diesel engine” whenever he was revving down to sleep. He took to my wife almost immediately, as did the other dogs, and has been a regular feature of the household until he passed away this morning at the age of 13.

Visiting for Memorial Day is not going to be the same…

Meetings and partings, hand-clasps and farewells, loving nearness and grieving tears,— these are the lot of friendship on earth.
— Anna Robertson Brown Lindsay, PhD

Correction: I originally stated that Jake had been adopted from Animal Rescue League when he was actually adopted from Animal Lifeline.