One of the wisest decisions I’ve ever made was to rescue my dog Jake. Sure there’s been a few instances when I wanted to choke him or beat him senseless with the latest issue of Modern Dog Magazine, but the few bad moments we’ve had doesn’t even begin to over shadow the benefits of sharing my life with a great pet.
Jake is always there for me no matter what. He’s also a great source of entertainment. I can watch him play for hours chasing a little red dot or his little cat buddy Cider or other neighborhood dogs when they visit or when we visit them. I’m often surprised at how in tune he can be with my feelings. He just seems to know when I’m upset, lonely, sad, and/or need a friend and he always makes time for me to make me feel better. He never judges me, he never says the wrong thing, and he’s always happy and wagging his tail.
And if that wasn’t enough, Jake has also taught me a few life lessons; like enjoy life to the fullest, don’t sweat the little things, and stop living in the past. Jake never has a bad day and he never sits around wondering what could have been or why bad things have to happen. He lives in the moment and at this moment, he is sitting there–licking the empty space where his balls used to be! JAKE!!! Stop that!!!
Jake is somewhere around ten years old. We don’t know how old he really is because he was found roaming around the streets of Schenectady as a stray. I would like to think that he ran away from home or maybe got lost and his former owners just never found him again. I know that is a sad story, but believe me, it’s a much better story than what could have been.
See, Jake is a pit-bull/lab mix. The area where he was found, unfortunately is known for dog fighting rings. Jake could probably hold his own, but he’s certainly not a fighter. If he was in fact gotten for dog fighting, I can understand why they would have abandoned him. He’s a big wuss!
When he was found, he was really sick. In fact, he was so sick that they only gave him a few weeks to live. The shelter took good care of him, gave him medicine, treatment, lots of love, and his name: Jake.
The treatment lasted a couple of weeks, but the poor pooch wasn’t getting any better. It wasn’t looking good for him and the decision was made to put him to sleep. However, he had won the hearts of so many at the shelter—some of them still keep contact—and they decided to give him one more day to show improvement or that was gonna be it for him.
I don’t know if Jake realized what was going on or not, but as I was told by the staff at the APF in Scotia, NY, Jake made a remarkable recovery the very next day. I was told that he was like a new dog as if he knew they were going to bring down the axe on him and he just wasn’t going to have that.
It took him a few days to recover completely, but eventually he did. After passing the temperament test with flying colors, he was put up for adoption. However, Jake sat at the shelter for another two months being passed over and over by would be forever families. No one seemed to want to adopt him. To this day, I can’t understand why. Yes, he’s got a lot of energy, but he also has a lot of love to offer. Or perhaps it was just kismet for me and my wife at the time, Liz.
When we made the decision, we went down to the Scotia APF shelter. We knew we wanted to adopt, but we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to that day. See, Liz was not interested in adopting a pit-bull. I am sure you’re probably aware that bully breads come with a certain stigma. I know that pit-bulls are probably some of the sweetest dogs around, but they have an unfortunate and undeserved reputation, given them by the disreputable individuals, like Michale Vick, who have abused them for money. Unfortunately, Liz had bought into that stigma long ago.
We looked at the APF’s website prior to going to the actual site. We were disappointed that about 90% of the dogs at the shelters were bully breeds. Liz was not convinced we were going to find a pet that day because of it. However, I convinced her to go anyway and to keep an open mind.
When we got to the shelter, we met some of the staff and filled out the necessary paper work. After talking to them for a bit about what we were looking for, and about our lifestyle, they finally gave us the go ahead to browse through the shelter. The second we opened the doors it was like suddenly stepping foot into the New York Stock Exchange. The cacophony of barking, whining, and rattling cages was a bit overwhelming. The puppies weren’t looking to hurt anyone, or sell stock; all they were trying to do was get our attention. However, as most of them were pit-bulls, the barking did not do much to reassure Liz.
We did our best to ignore the barking and we walked down the corridor. About half way down we noticed this brindle coat, skinny pup. He was just sitting there, minding his own business. He looked happy, but he was not barking–at all! In fact, he was as cool as a cucumber, just sitting on his hinny and wagging his tail. This was odd because all of the other dogs were either barking, howling, circling or jumping on their cages, but not him.
We stopped and took a good look at him. I noticed his information tag read Jake, male, Am-Staff/Lab about 4-5 years of age. Liz looked at me and without saying a word I knew she wasn’t interested. However, dogs have a funny way digging into our hearts. Just as Liz is giving me that look of no way in hell, Jake had managed to come closer to us and licked Liz’s hand through the fence. Amazingly, she didn’t freak out. She just laughed and thought it was really cute of him to have done that.
He was still so calm and of course happy. His tail was wagging and he had a great posture. It really didn’t take us long to ask if we could have a few moment with him to really see how and who he was.
After playing with him for a few minutes. Liz and I decided to go home and think about adopting Jake. However, we both knew in our hearts that he was going to come home with us that week. The next day, thinking that it was going to take a few days to complete the adoption, we went home with him. We have yet to buy the essentials for him like: beds, crates, food bowls, toys, all that stuff. We had nothing! We really weren’t ready for him, but we didn’t care. And we never regretted adopting him, not even once. He turned out to be a sweet dog. Always wagging his tail. In fact, he wags his tail so much that when we met him, the tip of his tail was raw from hitting the fence constantly.
That day, we saved a great dog’s life. We gave an unwanted pet a chance at a happy life and he in return gives us love and affection and plenty of laughter. I often wonder what would had happened to him if we hadn’t gone that day. If we had never thought about adopting a pet. Where would he be? Come to think of it, where would I be?
Last year, Liz and I separated and eventually divorced. I was lucky enough to have kept sole custody of Jake because he got me through some rough patches. No matter how amicable break-ups are, they are never an easy endeavor, but he was there for me. I think back on that day when we rescued him, little did I know he would rescue me in return.
Pets are amazing creatures. In the short time they are in our lives they can have a huge impact. That is why for me, a pet is more than just a pet. They are close friends, companions, even family. They deserve nothing less than unconditional love. It’s only fair. If only people took a moment to realize that, we wouldn’t have the epidemic of homeless pets we have today.
Our pets love us so much they will do just about anything to please us. They will even fight to the death. Think about that the next time you read about a dog fighting ring that was shut down. Contrary to what you have seen on TV or read on the news, it’s not in the nature of dogs to kill each other for sport. That is a human trait. Dogs will squabble, but it is exceedingly rare they kill each other. It takes years of neglect and abuse to get a fighting dog ready. The sad part is that because dogs are so willing to please us, they do it. You don’t see many cat fighting rings out there, do you?
I can’t imagine not having him in my life and I know that one day he will be gone–the thought of Jake not being around anymore is enough for me to forget about how inconvenient it is to walk him or let him out at night. I’m happy to do these things because I know one day I would do anything to do just that. They say that you can’t change the world by adopting a pet, but you can change the world for that one pet. I say adopting a pet not only changes their world, but yours as well.