Passion 4 Pooches, Articles by Laurie Buckley
Jake taught important life lessons
You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will e there long before any of us.
Robert Louis Stevenson
On Sept. 2, at the age of 16 1/2, Jake Buckley was laid to rest. It strikes me as unfortunate that we don’t write obituaries for pets. But I would like to share his life story, which also serves to illustrate a few important reminders about pets.
Jake arrived at our home in Maryland 12 years ago. Prior to that, he had lived with my sister’s neighbor, a single mom and her young son. And here is the first thing Jake would want you to remember. He was given to this woman as a gift. Gift giving of puppies rarely works out. Shelters are often bombarded with Christmas puppies from people who didn’t want them or were not prepared for them. Jake’s former mom was no different. She did not have the lifestyle or time that is conducive to having a young dog. She often went away for weekends, leaving Jake outside in the yard. That is how my sister came to know him. Because of the experiences, Jake had barked himself bark less as a pup. He also developed a fear of thunderstorms.
So, on a Friday afternoon, Jake arrived at our house with his bed, food and a few toys. And here is the next point that his life exemplifies the beauty of adopting an adult dog. New, granted, Jake had lived in a home for more than four years so he didn’t have the same experiences that can sometimes cause behavioral challenges in shelter dogs. But, we put his bed in a corner of the living room and he settled in. He was already housebroken and brought with him none of the chaos that a puppy brings to a household – a point which was brought home to us in a BIG WAY six months later when we brought Mae home as a 12-week-old puppy and she proceeded to turn our lives upside down for the next year. We fed Jake, exercised him and loved him. That was the extent of the effort we had to put out. And he poured all the loved he had been saving up for 4 ½ years, onto us.
Jake was also the poster dog for adopting a mixed breed dog. He was a (pick your top two favorite) Golden Retriever, Husky, Great Pyrenees, German Shepherd, Collie, etc., mix. I certainly understand having a preference for purebred dogs – I myself have a few favorite breeds. But Jake was a beautiful and unique- looking dog. Often people would stop us on the street to comment on his looks (much to Mae’s annoyance) and inquire about his breeding. And he had none of the health and temperament problems that sometimes accompany purebred dogs. In 12 years, he had virtually nothing ever wrong with him. No chronic ear conditions, no skin problems, no arthritis or joint ailments. And his temperament? Well, that can be summed up in one word: gentleman.
He was an old-fashioned kind of guy. No sloppy kisses from this dog. If Jake decided to kiss you, it was after careful consideration. Even then there was a certain hesitation as he slowly approached you and placed the most delicate kiss on your face. Never an accident in the house from the day we got him. Even at the end of his life, when his bodily functions were not always his to control, he did his best to make it to the bathroom, where tile made it easier to clean up. And despite being sick, you could tell that he was terribly embarrassed by this breach in good manners. Except for his fear of thunderstorms, he never gave us a moment’s concern. He was good with other dogs (and in fact, did more to curb Mae’s obnoxious puppy behavior than I ever could) and children, never stole food, didn’t bark excessively, never bit or growled, never destroyed anything or jumped up on people and was generally, obedient. In fact the only time he got out of the back yard himself, I found him in the front yard, enjoying the cool evening breeze and listening to the crickets. I am embarrassed to admit it now, but I never even did any real training with him. He just seemed to know how to behave properly.
I fear that a dog like Jake only comes around once in a lifetime (and Mae is a testament to that fact!). I hope that his life will cause you to consider adopting an adult pet from a shelter and maybe even making a donation to one of the local shelters or rescue groups who give these wonderful animals a second chance.
Laurie Buckley is the owner/operator of the newly opened A Passion 4 Pooches Pet Spa, located at 1881 South 14th St., Suite 3. The spa offers grooming, a massage and training. She resides in Fernandina Beach with 12-year-old Border Collie mix, Mae. Send your question on basic pet care, training and behavior challenges to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call 491-1767 for more information or to schedule a grooming, spa or training appointment.