Four weeks ago today our dog, Jacoby, passed away. It has taken me nearly that long to start writing something, anything. I just couldn’t think about him much without missing him so terribly that it becomes debilitating. I still can’t, but I feel that he deserves to have something written about him.
He was a legendary dog who came into my life when I needed him the most. My previous dog had just passed away and I was going through the death throes of a terrible relationship. When I found Jake, he was two months old and in pound with the rest of his litter, so I guess we both needed each other pretty badly.
A year after I got him, he and I moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. Well, to be honest I came up about a month and half before him. Which is the longest he and I had ever been separated. My parents brought him up later, I can still remember when I got off the bus and crossed the street. My dad had brought Jake to come see me, but they were still half a block away. I could hear Jake’s whines and barks as he recognized me. He was pulling so hard my dad had to let him go. Of course he came running right to me and jumped on me very hard. Repeatedly.
That was Jake’s custom greeting. Rocketing into you as hard as he could. Leaving bruises and scratches. Tearing and puncturing clothing. Just jumping, again and again and again. There was nothing to be done. Turning around only meant your defenses were down. Throwing your knees up only egged him on. That is how he greeted us his entire life. Although he did finally become acceptably gentle sometime when he was about nine years old.
In October of 2005, my future wife moved in with me. We always joked – at least I think it was a joke – that Jacoby was the deal sealer. That I had coaxed her into hanging out with us, but Jake was the reason why she stayed. Either way, he loved her and after I came home and she told me she had made him scrambled eggs, I knew we were meant to be.
We had to move to another apartment the following February, just a block away from the previous place. It wasn’t as nice, but it allowed two dogs. At least we think it did. Thinking back, we are pretty certain that we just figured since the property managers didn’t seem to care about the place, we felt like we could get away with two dogs. We got Bleu on Canada Day of 2006. Jake’s world changed forever. Rarely were these two guys ever separated. Jake seemed to teach Bleu almost everything he knew about being a big dog and Bleu was an apt pupil. Other than swimming, Bleu and Jake shared the same interests. Chewing, trails, eating. Bleu was little and could have been a real weenie, but Jake made sure he was awesome.
Both of these dogs have been a huge part of our lives. When I proposed to my wife, they were not only present, they were part of the question. I said that “Jake and I were wondering if she and Bleu wanted to make it official.” They were both at our wedding too. We always joked that they needed to take back their tuxes or that they were born ready for our wedding.
Jake was such a huge part of all three of our lives. Each one of us is struggling to get by without him. We can tell when Bleu kind of forgets for a minute. He will be really excited as we come in the door from a walk and then, he will just mope and lay where Jake used to lay. My wife and I catch ourselves doing and saying things that we have said for years. Only to pause for a moment while the realization washes over us and the tears come.
We loved Jake so very much, for so very long. He loved us right back. We will alway remember, just a few days before he passed, how he rallied. It was a Thursday and my wife went for a run on the trail and I walked the boys behind her. I let them off leash a little soon and Jake caught sight of her and he just ran! He wasn’t listening to me. His only thought was to get to his mom. It was so good to see him gallop, he hadn’t moved like that in so long. In some way, I guess we should have figured that could have been his last hurrah.
The next day he was tired, but in good spirits. On Saturday though, we were both really starting tell that he wasn’t feeling better. On Sunday morning he woke up and climbed into bed with us. This was something else he hadn’t done in awhile, even though we had pulled the box spring out so the bed was no higher than our couch. He crawled up between us and rolled over on his back wanting a belly rub. It was weird, but I knew it was coming then.
Later on that day we made the call to our vet and I left a tearful and whispery message on the machine. That night we pulled our pillows, blankets, and all the dog beds into the living room. All four of us slept nearby. Sometimes he slept on the couch with my wife. Other times he was down on the rug with me. At one point I moved my hand and touched his soft fur and then realized that he and Bleu were lying right by each other.
In the morning, I made the call again because I wanted to make sure they had gotten the message. He was no longer comfortable and we knew we were just delaying the inevitable. Then we just spent our last few hours together. I pretty much cried all day and kept hugging him. I was dreading what was happening. I couldn’t believe that the time had come. The time that had always felt so far away that it seemed like it couldn’t happen.
All four us waited for the elevator and when the door opened a guy that I’ve never seen before was on it. My wife and I stifled the tears as we got on. Jacoby, in his most truest form walked up to the guy and said hi. Even at this moment in his life he was still trying to make friends and grow the pack.
When we got to the car, he didn’t have the strength to get in. He did let me pick him up, which was something he hadn’t let me do in ten years. There was the overwhelming nostalgia as I held him in my arms. I kissed his head repeatedly and told him how much I loved him and how I had been so lucky to find him that day. Then I gently laid him down in the back seat.
I have had such a difficult time seeing the screen for the last few paragraphs. I don’t even know if I am going to proofread them. What I do know is I am going to skip ahead.
When we picked up his ashes my wife and walked up the street, eyes misty. As we waited to cross the street we both whispered to each other and placed our foreheads together. Then I felt a gentle touch on my arm and a woman gestured to the bag that we both held in clasped hands. She said that she was sorry for our loss and that she had recently lost a pet as well. We thanked her and said that we were sorry for her loss too. As soon as we got in the car the tears broke out. Somehow I choked out “Classic Jacoby, still meeting people at the crosswalk.” We both smiled and cried some more.
He was a great dog who touched many people’s lives. He made a lot of friends. He turned some people into dog lovers. Even people who don’t care much for dogs, seemed to like Jake. He was a dog’s dog. A dog in the truest sense of the word. He was our best friend. He never had any other plans than to simply be with us. He, was our biggest fan.