Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Part 10, Jake finds a home

Some of the first applications for Jake were from homes in the St. Louis area. However, even without the home visit, I had already decided that they were not going to be good homes for him. I suppose because he is not a traditional-looking border collie (and at the time I think we said that he was probably a mix), the really good applicants were looking at other dogs, and not Jake. And the ones that wanted Jake did not meet my expectations. But I was patient, knowing that the perfect home was out there waiting for him, somewhere.
I began doing some general obedience with him, and gradually began increasing the length of time that I asked him to sit. In the beginning, I was happy with 20 seconds, but we were working up to over a minute. Some days we would take a walk, but even a short walk would leave him lame a few hours later. He wanted to run and play with Maggie, but we really had to limit the running especially, or he would be almost unable to walk the next morning. We continued to visit the vet and talk about his hips and his strength. We also discussed the complications and cost involved with hip replacements; and we talked about keeping his weight low so that someday he might be a candidate for removal of his femoral head when his hips finally gave out. But, he did remind me over and over to keep him moving… keep pushing him as far as I could without causing him any pain or lameness. And so we kept working on walks, a little farther all the time, and sitting… a little longer every time. I tried to get him to swim, but he was terrified of the water, so it just wasn’t worth the trouble.
By the time Jake had lived with us for 3 months, his coat was becoming more shiny, and he was gaining strength in his hips. He was now able to play with Maggie, though I would have to intervene if it got too crazy. He was becoming a great little dog; yet most of the applications that arrived showed interest in one of the other dogs, and not Jake.
In the fall, we headed to the Kansas City area for the rescue reunion. Once a year the rescue invites everyone that adopted a dog for a get-together. Obviously, I would take Maggie to see her foster family and some of her littermates. I took Jake along for the ride and maybe drum up some interest in getting him adopted. I also took my daughter who was about 16 at the time. We stayed at a nice hotel that had a patio door that opened to a courtyard, making it easy to take the dogs out. A little after midnight they whined to go out, and she offered to take them both. Armed with poopy bags and a flashlight, she went out. Not long afterwards, she returned crying. A truck with several drunk young men and driven up to her. One got out and was walking toward her, making lewd suggestions. Maggie hid behind Sarah and cowered, but little Jake turned into an attack dog. She said that Jake lunged at the end of the leash with all his might. She said he growled and barked and foam flew from his cheeks. She said that the young man stopped in his tracks and returned to his truck saying something about a vicious dog. And as soon as they had gone, Jake went back to his happy-go-lucky self and finished his potty trip.
As soon as she told me the story I realized how foolish I had been to let her go out. And how Jake had likely saved her from who-knows-what. And I knew at that moment that I owed him a debt that I could never repay…but I promised him that I would never stop trying. And on that day, in Independence MO, Jake found his perfect forever home-ours.

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