(C.A.R.E. Name: Caesar)
We adopted Jake on June 25, 2000. Originally named Caesar, he was rescued as a puppy by C.A.R.E. along with his twin brother, Julius. We couldn't adopt both and Jake immediately went for the sure bet to get a seat in our car - my husband, Mark. Mark, who outwardly professed no desire to have a dog, had been reluctantly dragged into the adoption by three determined daughters and wife. When Jake was brought to us, he immediately went to Mark, knelt at his feet, wagged his tail, and licked his hand. His and our fate were sealed at that moment and he became the much needed male balance to a dominant female household.
Every pet is extraordinary to his or her owners. Jake was no exception. He was somewhat timid and never strayed far from home despite his doberman/shepherd heritage. He posed a threat to no one - unless being licked to death is a defined method of homicide. He did, however, passionately drive the mailman away every day and wasn't a big fan of FedEx or UPS either. It was Larry, our mailman, that explained to us that Jake was just doing his job - keeping the house secure from that ominous guy in blue - and every day he succeeded. Too bad Jake wasn't as good at chasing away the countless teenagers who entered his life through our daughters - and early on learned how to keep Jake silent when entering or departing the house "after hours." My sister made the observation that he probably bore witness to a lot of unauthorized parties.
His never-ending tail wagging, begging and unconditional love affected all he encountered. Jake was with us for nine years - enough time to make countless friends and turn professed dog-haters into fans. As we journeyed through life - the crazy pre and teen years and empty nesting - Jake remained a constant in our lives. I can't imagine the number of times his fur wiped away tears as we all confessed our concerns (or misdeeds) in the middle of the night as he kept us from being alone with our fears. He took it all in a stride and provided unrelenting, unconditional love to his immediate family and an extended network of friends and strangers. For me, he provided a welcome safety net as I suddenly had a rather privileged life buffeted by my job loss, family illness and empty nesting. At my side always, we took countless walks in all kinds of weather as he healed me from sadness that was threatening to consume optimism.
We were stunned to suddenly learn that Jake was suffering from cancer as he had taken such good care of us - we never imagined him needing us. Jake left us on October 23, 2009 after telling us it was time. The emptiness that we feel is tempered somewhat by the knowledge that he left without suffering and from our arms at home. His three mistresses were at college and we continue to comfort each other as best we can from a distance. Even the mailman misses him - having not heard his familiar growling for a couple of days, he rang the doorbell to pass along his condolences.
I originally adopted Jake because I wanted to rescue a dog. I now realize he rescued me by teaching me just how true-blue, wonderful and good an animal can be. Such kindness is infectious - perhaps dog ownership should be mandatory for elected officials and heads of state.
He was a good boy. And he is missed.