Puppy Stew

Looking at the last post I wrote, this title might seem odd. Of course, once you read what has happened since the last post maybe not. I promise-I have some great St Patty’s day retro fun to post after this post. Then Easter or maybe then fun stuff sent from another dog lover first THEN Easter retro fun. But first I must post this post.

Here is the quick summary: we had an old dog named Jake. Really old dog. His official name according to “the papers” he came with is “Big Jake” and big he was, for a cocker spaniel. Was is the key word in that sentence. This afternoon he went to the vet for the final time. Two weeks ago, he was an old, deaf, blind dog with a cold. 10 days ago he was an old deaf, blind dog with a cold and a gooey eye. Six days ago, he was helping me make dinner. He often did. I noticed as I threw him some leftovers before I tossed the dish in the sink that he was wheezing. Four days ago, he went to the vet. The vet gave us some antibiotics he didn’t believe would work. Some eye ointment that might help and some bad news. Well, he gave Denise bad news. She didn’t take me. She probably should-we could have made the decision then and not spent the last four days thinking about life without him. Instead she brought him home and he spent the last four days confused, sick, hurting, petted, fed a billion treats, expensive moist food that came with fancy script, covered with his own goo, and the snot of a 14 yo girl and yeah maybe a little snot from a 40 year old woman.

Jake did not have a bit part in my woo-ing of Denise. Jake “belonged” to Denise. Or Christopher. Officially, he belonged to Christopher. He was one of a pair of dogs, Jake and Chanel. I pondered often that I was falling in love with a woman with GIRLY dogs. Cocker Spaniels. One named Chanel. I like big dogs. Real dogs. She got them pre-named and in typical Denise circumstances. Jake had a reputation by the time I met him. I got warnings about how Jake “tried to eat people.” I paid no attention. Dogs love me. I don’t love all dogs-but I have no problems with dogs.

After driving all night the first time I showed up at Denise’s new house in SC, I met the two dogs. Sort of. She grabbed leashes and wrangled them and barricaded them in the kitchen. There they would stay most of the time when the kids went with me to SC to see her before we were a family-at least Jake would. Chanel loved everyone. But Jake became my dog in those first minutes. I knew his blond mother was not my type of dog. I spoiled him rotten. I liked him. I trusted him. Denise not so much with trusting Jake. She was careful. She had reason. I understood and understand that. For a long time my AIM buddy icon was a picture of him that I had cropped and added the words Double Treats.

A few months after the first time I met Jake, I surprised Denise by showing up after she had gone to bed. I had had a bedtime call with her on the phone with her having no idea I was on my way there. I let myself in the house. Jake had met me at the door…without a snuffle. I went up to the attic where she slept. Her first words were about how Jake might have bitten me. No, baby. Jake won’t bite me. He never did.

He got neutered. Soon after we became a family with one house, numerous kids (how many this week? 5? 6? 7? 4? 3?), 2 dogs, a cat, oh wait, more cats, more critters, (turtles, sea monkeys, a rat, some snakes (secret!), spiders, frogs, skunks) a bird, and always Jake.

He never bit the kids either. A combination of introducing them and letting him know they were family helped there. Yes, we were cautious-both of us on that score. No, you never leave ANY dog in a room alone with little tiny kids-no matter how even-tempered and definitely not one with a reputation like Jake. He was oddly the first member of our family that I always knew where I stood. We couldn’t break up in those early days because Jake was mine and I was Jake’s-but Chanel and Jake were a pair.

In the kitchen is where Jake and I met and cemented our relationship. I broke the no table food rules. (Ok, I broke ALL the rules from the “No surprise Denise” rule to the “No feed the dog anything but kibble and ONE dog treat” rule)

He stood underfoot while we cooked. You could tell if I had been baking (or the kids) by looking at him-his black fur no doubt had a splash of white or more. Flour and powdered sugar were attracted to him like a magnet. Everyone says Denise cleans up after me in the kitchen. It really mostly was Jake for many of the bigger messes. Though, he really didn’t much like romaine lettuce.

We moved here with just Jake and the bird. Jake rode with me in the truck. Denise rode with the bird. I got the better deal. After many years of confusion, after years where we thought that it would be Chanel’s last-we had her put to sleep right before we moved here. It wasn’t as hard as today. We had many times woken up in the morning and been unable to wake her. We had practice thinking that saying good night was good bye.

Despite Jake being old, increasingly deaf and blind-we just didn’t think goodbye. In the past year, he had stopped threatening people as they came into the house and as they left. He only gave it a try if they turned their back on him OR they tried to leave the house with one of HIS kids. Meaning-for the first time in years, my ex could come in and chat without me having to hold Jake until the kids went out the door with him. In the last 6 months, the UPS man could get to the door and back to the truck without tiptoe. One dark rainy night, we got delivery without Jake knowing what was up until the delivery driver walked away. He wasn’t really sick-until last week-just old, blind and deaf.

Denise said no more dogs after Jake dies. She has said this for years. I don’t really want another dog today-really I wish all people would keep their dogs at home for a few days so I don’t even see them.

I just want Jake-Jake that I tripped over while I cooked. Jake that drove me crazy because I would be stuck holding him when we had company-particularly male company. Jake that smelled and drooled. Jake that would need cleaning up after if we were away too long. Jake who loved me.

Wrapping Christmas

A Christmas picture of Jake-with Michelle-the other unpredictable wild creature I got with Denise. Both in the middle of everything-always. I can’t find a flour covered picture of him today-just as well.

As for Puppy Stew…after getting back from the vet, we went to see my daughter in the opening night of her performance project show. The first scene in the show is a Baba Yaga tale that starts at the funeral of Vasalisa’s mother. The last scene in the show-my daughter is in…from A Girl Named Zippy-and they were talking about the neighbor Zippy suspected of making and eating puppy stew. Put a Neal Gaiman piece in between and it perhaps it was the oddest,saddest inadvertent memorial of a dog, who really would eat you if you weren’t family. Girl child came over to say goodbye right before practice on Saturday. She said puppy stew kept tearing her up. She is the baker whose batter spill we decided not to wash off of him before we took him to the vet. It was a part of who he was and what he meant to our family.

No, I am not done with the snot. Not yet. I don’t know why. I have lost pets before. I have even taken them to be “put to sleep” before…this time was tougher or I am softer. Or both. Shrug. I will butch up soon. I promise. In the meantime, you might find me in the shower. Keep your dogs at home. Don’t try to say my mother’s dog is just the same. For goodness sake, don’t trot out the rainbow bridge thing. Just know that I loved him-every over bred, brainless, loving, protective shedding, smelly hair of him.


  1. Sending good thoughts to you, your family, and everyone else that loved Jake.

  2. Sorry for your loss. It sure is hard to lose a beloved dog isn’t it. We lost our Mony six months ago and I still miss him.

  3. I still cry if I think about Sybil, the cat I moved to Kansas City with and who was my only friend in the city for months. Or Bella, the monster-eating cat who appeared in our lives when we desperately needed a cat who had long enough fur to soak up a lot of late-night tears. The pets are more than just themselves. I’m sorry you lost Jake.

  4. The most special dogs in our lives aren’t always the too-good-to-be true Lassies or Rin-Tin-Tins. They are real dogs with real quirks, a few flaws, a bit of the devil in their eyes, but always huge hearts full of love for the right people. I am so sorry for the loss of yours, and I know how much you will miss your Jake. My own Jake has now been gone 7-1/2 years and although I love the dogs who came after, there will always be an empty Jake-sized spot in my home and heart.

  5. Hugs.

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