OK - we lost our black lab about 3 years ago...this was the most amazing dog...his name was Jake... you know, after that country song..."If I should die before I wake, feed Jake"...do you know it??? Well, years before the kids were born, this puppy literally came into the housing complex that my husband and I were renting our first home together in before we even got married. He knocked at the door - ok, he probably pawed at the door...but still, it sounded like a knock. My then boyfriend or fiancee...don't really remember...was taking a nap on the weekend in our bedroom. I picked up the puppy, took him in and put him in the bed with my honey and told him that he had knocked at the door and I had to let him in. He finished the nap with my husband and when they got up we said that as long as he got along with our young Rottweiler that we would keep him...so that the Rott would have a friend when we were at work all day. They got along great...and that was the start of our time together.
Don't get me wrong - that lab wasn't all love and kisses...he was a terrible instigator! Where as our Rott knew the rules of the house, the lab bent them until they broke! He even escaped a couple of times, taking our Rott with him and it cost us over $300 each time to get them back from the pound. Please understand, it's not like we were bad pet owners, we had a solid wood fence at least 6 or 7 feet high all around their yard. But that lab had wanderlust...and every once in awhile he just had to escape...so much so that he would actually hurt himself trying to wedge himself through holes in fences that were really only small enough for a cat at the most.
Somewhere along the way, we had two kids...and after our dogs' second trip to the pound and the tongue lashing they got when they got home...they never left again. Our Rottweiler made it until he was over 12 years old. And it was quick, thankfully, because he was my first baby. It killed me. Truthfully, until my Rott passed away, I had always thought of my lab as the trouble making, pain in the butt child that we just kept to keep the "chosen one" happy. Then, once my Rott was gone, the lab's true heart shone through. He was so heartbroken at his friend being gone that he could not, would not stay in his yard...he would really shred his skin trying to squeeze out through the fences so that he could come lay on the front porch. That's all he wanted was to be on the front porch - he missed his buddy too much to stay in the back yard. This isn't a rural neighborhood...you can't just let your dogs run wild like we could growing up in Vermont or somewhere. So, after careful observation, and realizing that he would bark at anyone who came near the fence - but he would not charge them...I went to all the neighbors and told them that my dog was heartbroken over losing my Rott...and introduced them to Jake. I told them that I was sure that 98% of the time he would stay on the front porch, since he was already an older dog himself (11 yrs. or so), but that occasionally he might come for a visit. He became the neighborhood dog. The neighbors didn't just fake it to be polite, they all loved it. Daily he would go visit each of them for just a minute or so, and then he would come back to his porch. Everytime we would come through our front gate, he would be there to greet us with his tail wagging. He was even the first person that my neighbor, Diane, said "Happy New Year!" to one year.
About a year before we knew we were going to lose him, we got a Rottweiler / Boxer mix (Rider). He's the newest love of my life. I had hoped that by getting him early enough, Jake would teach him how to be a trustworthy neighborhood dog...but that didn't happen. Rider has only one interest in life and that is to guard me and the children...so he's not suitable as a neighborhood embassador. Finally, it happened. I got a call on my cell phone at 6am or so from one of my neighbors, telling me that Jake was having a seizure in their driveway...it was like he was trying to see if anyone was awake to say good-bye to. It was horrible. I made my husband get up and load him in the truck and take him to the vet before my son (who had deemed Jake as HIS dog) got up for school...my poor husband was so upset. Jake never came home, the vet said that a brain tumor had caused the seizure and he had probably had it for quite a long time.
His death and absence affected the whole neighborhood, but of course mostly our family, more than I ever thought it would. We missed him so much, someone we had taken for granted, he was always there...no matter what your mood, he was always there - happy to see you with a tail wagging and excited eyes.
My Rider dog will be 3 years old this summer, and Jake has been gone for 2 years. My son has never gotten over it. He loves the other dog, but the sight of a lab, any color, not just black, makes him so sad. We all wanted to see the movie Marley & Me when it came out on Christmas day this year, but it was sold out...and we're stubborn. If we couldn't see it on Christmas well we would just wait until it came out on DVD...that was today. It's rated PG. There is one scene in there that isn't bad - but I wouldn't want to explain it to my kids...but I had rented it tonight with the intent that hubby and I would watch it tonight and then since I have to drive on a LONG field trip for the kids tomorrow, that they could all watch it in the car on the way, NO WAY!!! That movie had me bawling for the last 1/2 hour! My kids will never see that movie on my watch! It's a great movie...and if I wasn't me...I would have loved it.
My son's 9th birthday is next week and I was really thinking of getting him another lab for his birthday - and also a friend for my Rider dog. But how sad would it be if everytime we looked at this dog we were sad and thinking of Jake? Or worse...we expected him to live up to a legend that just can't ever be again?
Well, now that I have had my personal melt down / rant...it really is a good movie...if you have a strong heart, I suggest you watch it...if not, save yourself and avoid it at all costs!