Mom’s dog, Jake, died yesterday, and it occurred to me that when a good farm dog passes on, he ought to get the tribute he’s due. Here’s mine.
Jake has been on this farm since puppyhood, about eight or nine years—we’re not entirely sure of the date, but he lived here a good long while. The thing that stood out the most to me about him was his soulful eyes. Although quite large, even for a lab, he tended to be a gentle giant. He had quite an appetite and was not one to miss a meal, or a snack, or anything else you might want to give him, like a pat on the head. He was particularly sensitive to Mom crying, coming to her side to comfort her.
He had a deep bark for strangers when they approached, and he took his role as Mom and Dad’s protector seriously. And then just Mom’s. He’d felt Dad’s absence, too, since January, sleeping many nights beside her bed.
I remember taking care of Jake and his sister Honey about five years ago when Mom and Dad took a ten-day vacation to see my brother. I felt sorry for them because they didn’t understand where their masters had gone, and they were out of sorts. Jake took to spending his days outside my house, needing that connection. Days later, when Mom and Dad pulled into their driveway and Mom called him, he bounded over the field, finding the shortcut through the holes in the fence to get to her side. Pure joy. Made me smile.
Jake had many human friends. Brian the postman, various UPS drivers who tolerated Jake jumping on to their trucks in anticipation of a treat, family friend Bobby who has helped my parents immeasurably since Dad’s decline. Jake also never fussed when my nieces and nephews hopped on his back to ride him like a horse.
Admittedly, Jake had a habit I wasn’t so crazy about. In the summer time, he’d sort of sneak up on me and lick my toes whenever I wore my sandals. I’m going to miss that.
His absence is already felt, particularly when Honey stopped by today, alone, wandering but not staying. Something not quite right. She feels it, too.
Mom texted me last night, saying that Jake was up with Dad now. A picture came to me, then. Dad on a dirt road walking, Jake bounding toward him for that pat on the head. Dad bends over to oblige, saying, “What are you doing here, boy?”
Rest in peace, my canine friend. You were a good and faithful dog.
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