Friday, October 17, 2008


Last weekend was a bit tough on me. It was the weekend I had to deliver Jake, my dog, to his new foster home.

I grew up on a farm with lots of animals. The cows were our bread and butter. With the exception of a few bummers that we bottle fed, they never achieved pet status. One calf that we bottle fed eventually ended up on our table. My sister, brother and I weren't happy about it, but I'm pretty sure we only really complained if we weren't very hungry that night, or if mom was serving something we hated, like stuffed bell peppers.

Cats were infrequent 'guests' at the Chapman Ranch. I don't think dad thought much of cats. They could serve a purpose if they were good mousers but they weren't ever going to be allowed inside and not one dime would EVER be spent on a cat in the way of a vet bill. I learned early that barn cats have a way of slipping quietly away. At the time I am sure I imagined the great adventures they were off on, when in reality, they were only one step up from the bottom of the food chain. Coyotes, owls and fast cars were probably the cause of most disappearances. For that reason, even though I have had a handful of cats in my life, even indoor cats, they haven't really counted for much. After all, they are just cats.

Dogs were a different story. I can't not remember a time in my life when we didn't have two or three dogs. Dogs were not allowed into the house either, however, dogs were definitely a more important species to my dad. Though infrequent, there were occasional vet bills incurred for the dogs. My favorite dogs growing up were Hilde our German Shepherd and Hippie the English Sheep Dog my Grandpa got from the pound. Dad's dog of choice was usually a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd.

Once we moved to our new house with acreage I decided I had lived long enough without a dog. It was time to add a four legged friend to our household. I began looking on-line at rescue shelters. We took a few trips to the Walla Walla and Hermiston animal shelter, looking for dogs. I figured that rescuing a dog would keep a dog from being put down, and it would be a good way to avoid typical puppy problems. I did not pick out the first dog I saw in the kennels. I think it was the 2nd or 3rd time we had looked at dogs...and I didn't even take Jake home the first time I saw him...but I knew I wanted to.

I came home and called Athena. "What do you think about a Weimaraner?" I wanted to know. Athena grew up with dogs too and spent time in college working in a vet clinic. I needed her input before I did anything crazy. I also did searches on-line about the breed. It seems silly to me now, because I had already made up my mind. Jake was going to be my dog.

We brought him home three days later.

Our honeymoon period lasted quite awhile. Jake had kennel cough pretty bad, and was very skinny. We fixed him up in no time. Jake was crate trained and never had accidents in the house. Jake only ate one sandal, one time. Jake loved to go for walks. Jake loved to chase a tennis ball. Jake got along with other dogs (except for one-one time). Jake was good and he was clearly mine.

Summer came and so did vacation time. Athena volunteered to keep an eye on Jake while we traveled to Montana. The day we arrived home...the honeymoon was over. Jake had missed us. He missed us so much in fact, to let us know he promptly brought us Cougar, our pet cat, dead in his mouth. I remember pulling into the driveway and seeing Cougar on the front porch. I actually thought to myself, 'You're not going to want to hang out there very long. Jake is going to be wound up about us being home.' Little did I realize what was about to happen.

The girls were pretty sad, and so was I, but remember...I had been conditioned...Cougar was, after all, just a cat. He was a cat that had snuck pretty near to 'pet' status in my book. Cougar was going to be missed. We reprimanded Jake. But as with any good parent, I forgave him quickly and found all sorts of excuses to justify his terrible choice.

Then 4H season rolled around. Not only was the honeymoon over...but D-I-V-O-R-C-E was looming on the horizon. When Jake and Minnie (the lambs) moved to the pen next to Jake, he wasn't impressed. He would bark at them through the fence...and nibble (ok, bite off) the tips of their ears if he had the chance. This wasn't looking so good.

One day when Taryn and I returned from a field day with the lambs, Jake got out of the house while we were unloading the sheep. He took off like a shot...straight towards Taryn and Max. Taryn screamed, dropped the halter and the race was on. Marc caught them pretty quickly, and drug Jake off to his crate. I took charge of catching Max. Thankfully we hadn't sheared Max yet so Jake didn't do any damage to him. Not for lack of trying, but he couldn't bite through all the wool on his next to get to his throat. Tragedy, avoided. Well, with the sheep anyway.

I realized then, that Jake wasn't going to live happily-ever-after with us. It broke my heart, but I contacted the Oregon Weimaraner Rescue organization, and asked for them to list him for adoption off their site.

Months came and went with no interest in Jake. Two more cat were caught...there was only one fatality. Then came the bunny incident. The one where Jake leaves the yard to try and find the wild bunnies in the bushes across the street. Yeah, then when he finally gives up and decides to head home he runs smack into the tire of a passing pick up - on a Sunday afternoon. And, being that he tore his face up terribly, but has NO LIFE THREATENING injuries, I agree to pay a $600 vet bill for the gravel to be removed from his chin and 30+ stitches to be sewn shut rather than the $50 bill for euthanasia. UGH. Only to be followed with the previously posted SKUNK run-in.

Yes, it was time to say farewell to my dog Jake. He was a good dog - if you didn't mind dead cats - sheep with no ears - very large vet bills - and skunk scented everything - yep he was about perfect. I really will miss him. I hope his next family is able to keep him forever, scratch his belly and throw lots of tennis balls.

I have said that I would NEVER own a 'drop-kick' dog. You know the type...any dog that weighs less than 30 pounds. One that curls up on your lap. One that you can pick up and carry if you need to. One that doesn't scare anyone. Yeah, one of those dogs. Never say never...I haven't decided on a breed yet...but I'm pretty sure that is the type of puppy we will get this spring. Wish us luck.

In the meantime I'd like to introduce you to our newest family members:

Mickey Mouser

Minnie Mouser

I kinda like them. I hope they stick around awhile.


Mom said...

I feel so sorry for Jake! I wish I could have adopted him but with the neighbors chickens on the loose it would have been deadly. Will you e-mail the new people and check on him or just hope for the best?

Stacy B said...

I'm sad for you and your family. We lost our dog, Seeley, last weekend and I have been feeling a lot of these same emotions...mostly denial, tho. I don't know how to be a person without a dog! Maybe we can dog hunt together.

Take care.

Pam M said...

Never say never, Anne! How about a miniature schnauzer?? They don't shed and they are kind of medium sized...

A Cop, A Teacher, and Two Princesses said...

I agree with the minature schnauzer idea :) I have a couple of other breeds I have been thinking about for you.

Jake is in my thoughts. I was pretty wierd to walk into your house yesterday and not be greeted by him. I know he is going to be seriously loved in a small furry animal-less home.