Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jake


He was about five months old here. Isn't he cute?

I loved my dog Jake more than anything else in the whole wide world as I told him every day of his long life. But I might as well tell the truth here - he was not a good dog. He was not an easy dog, maybe I should say.

When the dog rescue people discovered Jake with his littermates and mom in an abandoned warehouse in West Oakland, California, they were quite sure that the dogs had all starved to death. Somehow they revived the animals, though. It's kind of a miracle. Unfortunately one result of that near starvation was that Jake's digestion was always dodgy, especially as a very young dog. I cooked for him for a year and a half until he could tolerate commercial dog food. It was a labor of love, but it was a labor.

Indeed I nursed him back to good health. In his prime he was 90 lbs. of pure rippling muscle. His head was huge and he was a first class chewer. He ate shoes, books, underwear, woodwork. He tore supposedly indestructible dog toys, like kongs, into shreds within five minutes. See that cow femur in the above pic? He ate the whole thing within a couple of hours. Had a terrible stomach ache as a result. Oh yeah, he was never easy.


In his prime, about nine years ago

Jake had many redeeming qualities. For one thing he was beautiful, right up until his very old age. He could run like the wind, too. Damn he was fast. Both a blessing and a curse for Jake was his passion. He was wildly enthusiastic about everything and his moods could fill any room.

I remember one time in San Francisco when, in a fit of happiness he began to run huge ovals around the perimeter of Precita Park. His joy was so contagious that all the dogs joined in. None could beat him, but they all ran and ran. It was like the chariot scene from Ben Hur. From inside the oval of racing dogs, the energy was incredible, all of us dog owners agreed. I'll never forget that moment.

Unfortunately he was just as passionate about the things he hated, like men in uniforms (mailman, UPS, Fed Ex). When one of these guys dared to approach the house he would bodyslam the front door in an effort to get to them. It was very frightening, actually.

People on bikes were ok, also folks with baby strollers, but anyone on a skateboard? He believed with every bone in his body that those people had to be destroyed, as quickly as possible.


A couple of years ago

Caring for Jake during his final days was one of the hardest jobs I've ever had. Harder still was coming to the conclusion that it was time for him to go. I deal with clients all the time who are extremely ill. Several of my clients have succumbed to cancer, one of them while I was visiting at her house. I'm no stranger to the sadness of death.

But the death of Jake? This one has kicked my ass more than I could have imagined. With no offense to anyone I love, I can honestly say I've never loved so unconditionally. He was not a good dog, but I loved him with all my heart. I really did. And he loved me. I've never felt that before. His presence in my life was extraordinarily healing.

He had a big personality that faded over time, though it came back full force in his last minutes. He went out fighting, as a pit bull/boxer should, or so my wise sister Deborah says. I am devastated, like everyone who has ever truly loved a dog. And I'll recover, because we humans are incredibly resilient.

Many many thanks to everyone who sent love and support while I moved through this rite of passage. Jake is gone; that era has ended. I'm taking deep breaths, letting the tears come as they may. What else can I do?

Onwards & upwards, great friend and teacher! I'll never forget you or anything you taught me. Fly high, brother. I love you!


Yesterday

85 comments:

Steve said...

Reya, I'm so sorry. I'm glad you're remembering his mischievous and even fierce nature...it brought a smile to my face, imagining him eating that huge cow bone. I've been thinking of you both all day.

lacochran said...

A wonderful tribute. Sending you love at this difficult time. Please let me know if I can help in any way.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thank you both. That cow bone was bigger than he was! He was only about 35 pounds when the pic was taken.

Lacochran I want to get on your schedule for some drinking and feasting, soon after the 4th. OK?

Lynne said...

Beautiful. That made me cry. I didn't expect to see a new post from you but decided to check just in case.

I too have been thinking of you.

Dear Jake, we'll miss you ...

Hugs to you, Reya.
XXOO

tut-tut said...

What a wonderful tribute, Reya. What a difficult day. I've been thinking about you, too, all day.

Copper Asetemhat Stewart said...

A poignant tribute/testimony of a loving and profound friendship.

The Bug said...

Made me cry too - what would it be like to be loved so fiercly - bad dogs and all?

Jeninacide said...

I am so sorry for your loss. It is never easy or painless to watch such a good friend pass on. My heart is with you as you grieve.

Tovah S said...

I love this chronicle of Jake's life. What a fantastic tribute! It was so moving (obvious by the fact that it left me and most others here in tears). He was to put simply, freaking adorable as a pup--and never knew he was that much trouble, but SO worth it.

More love heading your way xoxoxo.

Again, I'm so sorry for your loss.

Chris Wolf said...

you are loved by us as fiercely as you love. Warm breath from Minnesota, Grace and peace,

Hammer said...

I met Jake once, and the two descriptors that immediately came to mind were "completely devoted to Reya" and "ornery."

Needless to say, I took to him right off.

The story goes that the following line was said by a Hatian farmer: "A dog is a dog except when he is facing you. Then he is Mr. Dog."

I kinda always felt the same way about Jake. Jake was Jake, except when he was facing you. Then he was Mr. Jake.

Big ol' hug.

janis said...

Reya~ A wonderful tribute to a wonderful dog. Jake was as Blessed to have you as you were to have him. I am greatful you shared him with us and we got to know him a wee bit in BlogWorld.
I believe that God gives us each other. My dogs love me as unconditionally as I do them. I can't imagine life without them. Even my dogs (& cats) that had just a short time with us, touched our lives and bettered it. Sergio did not grow us with pets and it was a learning experience for him. Through our marriage we have had: 6 dogs, 9 cats, and a hedgehog. That's not even counting the many I was blessed with prior to marriage. We loved them all and so glad they were a part of our lives.
Hang in there girl! Jake will be with you always, in your heart, in your very being.
Love and prayers to you.
My Jake candle will burn bright tonight.

Fidgeting Gidget said...

Oh, honey...I'm so sorry. That was a beautiful post, though, and he was so lucky to have you as his mommy and companion. He's in a better place now, that's for sure. Great pictures and a wonderful rememberance. Hugs to you.

lettuce said...

lots of love reya, I've been thinking of you so

xx

steven said...

hey reya, all through the day i was thinking of you and the jake boy. let it flow. steven

ArtSparker said...

I am very sorry to hear about Jake. I made a little book after my cat died and wrote down the times when his personality had showed most vividly. A very hard thing you had to do.

Lover of Life/ Nancy said...

Tears streaming with you, dear Reya. He was beautiful, a handsome specimen of a dog. After two golden retrievers, for their lifespans, I'm with you today, have been since I woke up this morning. Wrapping you in a great big hug...

That cow bone was amazing! A couple of hours?

smith kaich jones said...

Reya - I began an email to you late Sunday night, but before sending it I checked here & saw you had turned off comments, so I didn't send the email. But you were in my thoughts, and have been for the last few days. This is a wonderful tale about the dog who could. He could steal your heart, and he did. I have begun to sit outside in the night air with my cat, who won't come in, so I have to go out. We sit in the silence under the stars. My hand is still holding yours. Take care.

Debi

Reya Mellicker said...

Ornery? Oh yeah, that was Jake. That's MR. Jake to y'all.

Thanks so much to everyone who has chimed in and sent love.

Grief sucks and is only possible to survive with friends like you and wonderful people like my family and "real" life friends.

Elizabeth said...

A wonderful tribute to one really cool dude.
I loved the chariot race image.
HUGS AND HUGS from here.
You need them.
Much love.
Yes we can love characters quite as much as our quieter friends.

Reya Mellicker said...

During his prime I used to say, "I could have had a poodle - but instead I ended up with this!" It was said with love, but Jake, in his prime, was truly formidable.

JOY said...

You and Jake have been in my thoughts the last few days. I've called on my beloved Zeus to meet Jake at the Rainbow Bridge and greet him. Healing mercies Reya.

debra said...

I am no stranger to loss and grief and losing one who is absolutely unconditional in his love and acceptance is by far one of the hardest things. You've been in my thoughts, too, Reya.

Tom said...

Nice bio on Jake...also a keen reminder to cherish all the moments...keep on truckin'!

True Blue Texan said...

I'm so sorry, Reya, to hear of your loss.

There is nothing like the love of a dog. Absolutely nothing. It's unconditional and forgiving and enthusiastic and every thing that is good in the world.

I believe dogs are more than just our boon companions. They are providers of a missing part of ourselves hidden there by God herself. And to paraphrase Robert Louis Stevenson, I think dogs will be in heaven long before any of us.

I'll be thinking of you and Jake.
Bad dog or no.

lakeviewer said...

Reya, we feel your loss. This post tells your love for Jake beautifully. We are all here for a short time.

Andrea said...

I've been thinking about you all day. And about Jake. Maybe his not being so easy to take care of is just a testament to the unconditional love you mentioned. He deserved it. And you deserved having him in your life. Cry as much as you need to.

Maythen said...

Hi Reya,

I'm really sorry to hear about your loss. Like everyone who reads this blog, I've grown used to seeing Jake in your (great) photos. It'll be sad not seeing his golden coat in your pictures from now on.

Thank you for such a wonderful tribute to a fantastic companion.

Maythen

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Such a beautiful memorial to Jake. I feel as though I have known him through your posts. I know how it feels and how badly it hurts, but he is out of pain and truly resting. I have thought about you & Jake all yesterday & today. Best wishes my friend. xxxooo Cheryl

Siobhán said...

Oh Reya.
Sucks is right.
You've described him and his life beautifully in both words and pictures.
My thoughts are with you now.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

what a beautiful tribute to jake.

what a loving human jake had, maybe he wasn't a 'good dog' but he sure sounds as if he was one great dog!!

and oh my goddess, how many traits, besides looks does he have with dixie.

I was thinking of you from the moment I woke and really send lots of loving energy your way at 9:30 and 10:30 this morning (I couldn't remember exactly which was the time of transition)

xxxx

Robbin'sMama said...

I have been thinking about you since your last post. Went through this in 06 with our 16 year old poodle. IT is hard. What a wonderful tribute you wrote for Jake.

rothko said...

It's weird the bond people feel with dogs. The unconditional love thing. Really gets you. I feel that way about Honey, too. You both were very lucky to have each other. Hugs, kisses.

rutibegga said...

I'm so sorry. I read your blog daily, but don't often comment. I myself have a "hard" dog who is loved like crazy, and loves me like mad. Losing someone who loves you unconditionally is simply losing a part of you. I'm so sorry you lost a piece of yourself today. Thank you for giving a tough pup a life full of love.

Mrsupole said...

I cried last night and early this morning for you and Jake, then I baked you some cookies. I wanted to give you some comfort food. I am sharing them with you the only way I can right now on my site.

I cannot truly know what you are going through, but I had to take my beloved Scotty in after 18 years together, and it is still hard to think about it after 14 years, but I have never forgotten one moment of that day. He comes to visit me in my dreams and I know Jake will come to you too. We are all with you and you are in our blessings and prayers. Jake may have been difficult as you say, but that is what made him so special and lovable.

I thank you so much for sharing him with us and by doing this, I have grown to love Jake and he will be missed so much. He is at the Rainbow Bridge waiting for you and will be as cantankerous as always when you cross over to greet him some day. I think you would want him to be no other way.

You are both in my prayers and my heart.

God bless.

John Hayes said...

So sorry Reya-- I've also thought about you & Jake over the past few days. Your tribute to him here is lovely & memorable. He sounds like a most amazing dog, & a most amazing friend.

Vivian said...

My heart aches for you...

willow said...

A beautiful tribute to dear Jake. You've been in my thoughts all day today, Reya. Peace to you, dear friend. Extra big hugs from WM.

ellen abbott said...

A loving dog, a loving mistress, a loving end.

Verily I go. said...

for me...Pom/taco dog/Pug/Labs/. As any one has ever loved a pet. Sweet Dreams Jake.

fish/bird/hamster/snake/turkey/rat

Joanne said...

A tough goodbye, Reya, but a loving one. How wonderful of you to give that poor pup a chance at life.

Mary Ellen said...

I, like so many others, have been thinking about you and Jake over the past hours and days. I'm glad, with this post, that you have been able to gather together the whole of Jake, rather than being haunted by the painful last bit of his life. He's well now, and free from the humiliating weakness that has sapped his magnificent being. A great energy has been released into the mystery! And that unconditional love you have shared is part of you, and flows on.

Barbara Martin said...

An excellent tribute to a well loved friend. I cried when I saw his puppy photo, and I felt your pain mixed with love.

Some of the dogs in my past were difficult too, but loved all the same. It's hard not to.

My thoughts and blessings to you and Jake's spirit.

blackbird said...

It's what we can do- love them completely and then let them go when it's time. You are so lucky to have found each other.

It's great to see the photos of the young Jake on this sad day.

Rebecca Clayton said...

He was golden, wasn't he? I've also been thinking about you and Jake. He sounds like that special once-in-a-lifetime dog some of us are lucky enough to have. And I love the picture of him with that bone--a couple of hours? What a splendid soul.

Butternut Squash said...

I'm so sorry Reya. You and Jake are in my thoughts and prayers. You were a wonderful mom to that puppy. I know it really hurts.

Ali said...

Just came across your blog through Fidgeting Gidget. I just found out my dog has cancer and has about a year left, so she directed me over here. I am so sorry to hear about your boy. And I love your blog.

Rain said...

Oh that really was a wonderful tribute to Jake! I felt your anxiety all morning. I wish you all the best, letting out the sadness and allowing time to heal you. xxx

Joanna said...

Tears are running down my face reading all these loving comments. What an amazing tribute to a special dog. Our dear canine companions are so wonderful at bringing out the love in all of us. Rest easy Jake...and Reya.

Celestite said...

I posted about you and Jake here...http://stumblinguponthepathofthegoddess.blogspot.com/2009/06/gold-puppy.html
Some of my readers sent you good thoughts.

California Girl said...

Reya: looking at the photos of Jake at different stages, I see how much he resembles Dewey, our pit bull, shepherd & maybe some yellow lab dog. He's a pain too because he will pee or poop right in the house, on the berber (i'll never have that kind of carpet again( AND he'll do it in front of me!

I ache for you.

Hilary said...

I'm so sorry. You wrote a beautiful tribute to your pal. I so get the unconditional love for the less than perfect pet. It's the only way there is to love them. Jake had the best.

Cyndy said...

A beautiful tribute for a beautiful dog. He looks like champion. So sorry he is gone.

Delwyn said...

Dear Reya

Vale Jake...

Happy Days

Merle Sneed said...

All my best, dear friend.

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

It is us who are left behind that have the difficult job of adjusting to life without our beloved partners. They are more than companions, they are what gets us out of bed in the morning; what has us rushing home at night for a nuzzle; and they are as dependant on us as we, them.

No, life will not be the same from this day forward, but the past will always have him in it. I stil have the favorite chair of my very first cat, can't bear to recover it though it is shabby. It is part of my heart, just as she will always be.

Not long before she lost her battle with intestinal lymphoma, I had a friend come and take photos of us together...I must get out that album and remember those days again.

Thinking of you...

Natalie said...

Reya, that was a beautiful tribute to your beautiful boy. I know You must be hurting so much to see him go.
Sending love and healing to you, wishing peace and love to Jake, may his journey be light filled.xx♥

Dani said...

OH Reya- that last photo of him yesterday! I have a tear in my eye.

Let the tears come- cry it out!

duty free said...

He rests now.

A lovely farewell, Reya.

Ronda Laveen said...

I have a bad boy too. Sometimes there is something about the challenge that takes the relationship even deeper. There are days that I long for him to pass from his prime to mellowness but I know that will come all to soon.

I loved seeing his picture from yesterday. What a beautiful, gold puppy he was. Blessings.

e said...

Jake and his adventures always made me smile. I'm sorry for your loss, too and send positive energy and love to you as well.

sarah said...

sending you big hugs, blessings and grace.

poietes said...

Reya,
What a beautiful tribute to a handsome, vivacious dog.

Saying goodbye to our pets, even when we are allowed the moments to do so, is never without deep regret and heartbreak.

We regret that they did not live longer. We regret that we may have prolonged their stay.

But one thing is certain, Reya. Jake was loved completely, and he knew it.

And yes, dogs have souls. It only takes one look deep into their eyes to know that. So Jake's time here is over, but he will go on.

With hugs to you,

Lita

sciencegirl said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Reya.
Such a character! Such joy!
We'll remember Jake always.

Gemel said...

Bless you, how beautiful. He will never wander far from your side, still there waiting for you, watching you, loving you.

I agree with you, I have never loved like I love my Blossom, and as she battles to live at this very moment I know what you went through and feel.

Our animals give us love so pure, that it is too difficult to explain how they merge within our souls, we become part of each other, the love they give is nothing like I have ever felt with an other human.

mum said...

Been there, know the feeling. Good thoughts to you, Reya.

♥Mimi♥ said...

I just happened to find your blog and to read about the passing of your wonderful boy. We could spend one thousand years with someone we love and we would still ask for one more day. There is never enough time.

I have been where you are and know your immense pain and heartbreak. You are knocked to your knees and a cold wind blows through your soul making you feel as though the world will never be the same again.

I'll be where you are again because I cannot, and will not, live my life void of animal contact. I crave it and I need it to survive. So before I die there will be many more times for me to be knocked down only to have to get up again.

I do hope that after your healing has begun you bring another to share your home and life. That would be the best tribute to the friend you just lost. To show to him, and to the world, that even though the pain was unimaginable, the real unimaginable would be to never travel this journey again.

Just me said...

So, so sorry. :( I feel the same way about my dog. She is my best friend and no one will ever love me the way she does. She is also a rescue, and had terrible separation anxiety for the first year I had her. I think those trials and tribulations make us love them more.

Thinking of you and sending hugs.

Moonroot said...

Dear Reya,
I'm so sorry to hear this news. What a lovely tribute to Jake you have written. I love the story of all the dogs running around the park... it brought such a great image to mind.
I'm thinking of you and sending much love.

Sara said...

Hi Reya.
I loved reading your blog...I'd look forward to seeing the pics of Jake as he was a lovely dog. I am saddened to hear that he is no longer with us. You captured his life perfectly in your blog today. jake will be rememebered fondly. Love and thoughts be with you Reya. xx

Washington Cube said...

Just remember, he would never have had the life he had without you.

I know the pain of your loss. Our pets are a source of unconditional love. Losing that goes to the depth our our being.

I will always think of him running his boundless oval energy as leader of the pack.

Madtexter said...

Reya, I feel your pain. Last year we lost our dog of 17 years, Alexei. He was stubborn as an ox, and impossible to house train. He did what he wanted whenever he wanted. But the love was there.

After a while I just stopped trying to change him and just let him be himself.

The blessing in all of this is that I still hear his toenails clicking on the hardwood floors in the hallway, and remember jokingly yelling at him, "Al! Take off those damned stilettos already!"

analogman said...

I was reading your post as I was watching my little girl, Scout, eat her breakfast this morning. A huge lump in my throat welled up as I tried to imagine what my life will be after she leaves us.

We spend over $300 a month for vitamins, medication, and to feed her special food. We love her as if she is our own flesh and blood.

We will soon be at the crossroad that you are standing in right now and I can't tell you how much I dread it's coming.

We are sending all of our sincerest sympathy and healing love your way.

Empathetically yours,
Danny and Marla

Sandra Leigh said...

Reya, I'm so sorry. I know this is a terrible time for you. After all this time, I still hear Lupa breathing beside me when I'm walking down the trail, and occasionally I see a flash of her Golden tail "feathers". In the same way, Jake will always be with you, and in time that will be a comfort to you. Meantime, I'm sending cyber-hugs your way.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thank you so much.

Cyber hugs are really effective! I never understood that until now. Wow.

Gary said...

Reya, I am sorry to read about Jake. From your writing I knew it was coming but as someone who has been through this, I know there is really no way to prepare for the loss. It comes at you at the strangest times, those moments that you forget and are suddenly reminded that things have changed.

There is nothing like the love of a pup. It is not always easy but it is rewarding in so many little ways. When I am stressed and don't think I possibly have time to walk the dog, but must, I find that on the walks I come back to a certain peace.

Are you still going to take yourself out for your daily walks? It might be a good idea for a while.

Sending you love and healing thoughts.

Marguerite said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Reya. I read about it on Cal. Girl's blog. As I read this wonderful post, I fell in love with Jake, too. He reminded me of a dog that I had for 13 years named Buster, also a Boxer. I will keep you in my thoughts.

Kristina Bradford said...

Reya,
This is truly beautiful. I know of your love for him as I feel that for my dog Cowboy, we share the same personality. I really am SO sorry for your loss but at the same time I am so grateful that you were blessed with the love and friendship that only Jake could offer you. They really are such amazing creatures. You are such an amazing writer, you describe many things that remind me of Cowboy and many emotions that I share for him. I know one day it too will come for me I only hope I can be as strong as you. I am sending as much warm and healing feelings as I can, Love you.

Chuck Dilmore said...

Ooo, so sad about Jake.

he is very fortunate
to have had a beautiful
compliments of you.

now he's a star. forever.
now he's all around you.

peace to you~
Chuck

uought2b.a.dog said...

So sorry to hear about Jake! I have lost dogs before and can relate to you...they are more than a dog!

Hugs and kisses,
Shamu, Prissy, and family

Nairam said...

Reya, your stories of Jake and you are a treasure. I didn't know he was like that--what a unique dog--others look so boring by comparison. I LOVE the Ben Hur image.
Marian

AquaSass said...

Love, from me and my little black chihuahua best friend.

Lori Witzel said...

Very belated condolences. I remember the pain and grief when my cat Queenie finally gave in to age and old bones and failing kidneys. Mrs. McGillicuddy predeceased her -- failed kidneys.

Anyway, words are not adequate -- sending you a hug, and then another. {{{{{Reya}}}}}

Nairam said...

I'm so bummed that my comment earlier didn't get to you. I was so touched by your stories of Jake. What a wonderful dog. I had not idea he was so naughty! (that being one of my highest compliments).

I will try sending this again. I wonder if you will be notified that there is a new comment on an old post.

Ralph Suarez said...

Hi Reya:

Just wanted to send you a note, to tell you that I got my very own Gold Puppy:

Lucius

He is 12 weeks old and he is an Olde English Mastiff.

I really love him. Loveable Lucius. If I could cut and paste his picture here, I would do it but I don't know how. I looked for your email but could not find it.

Thanks for the inspiration and theencouragement to look for my very own gold puppy.

Ralph