The following story was written by my loyal dog walker and friend to Jake, Annette Arrowsmith, and posted to her Facebook page. Her tale is so poignant, that I wanted to share it. The story is a tribute to Jake, but could easily apply to many warm and wonderful dogs who have touched our hearts and enriched our lives.
I found Jake through the Washington Animal Rescue League, and brought him home in March, 2000. I may have “saved” a shelter pup, but I know who really saved who.
That’s it for my brief introduction. This is Annette’s story to tell:
Jake, The Ambassador of Doggy Love (2000 – May 27, 2014)
May 27, 2014 at 11:05am, by Annette Arrowsmith
It was a Friday afternoon, around 3:30 PM, the time when the route supervisors and a few of the regular doggy walkers returned to the office just to yak and tell tales about the week’s adventures.
In the midst of one of our laughing bouts, when I was putting away some keys, a tall thin guy strolled through our open door. Beside the guy and off leash, carrying a brand new tennis ball in his mouth was young Jake, a carefree big black shepherd mix. From just inside the key closet, I could hear the conversation. Steve needed a doggy walker and he lived in my route area. In fact, he lived three blocks from me. I was thinking, “Oh Man, I have too many clients, already. They are going to ask me to take Jake.” As Steve plopped down in the only free chair, my boss strolled over to me and gave me an expression like, “Please, Annette.” I could see Jake drop the ball at Steve’s feet and while everyone “oohed and ahhed,” over the cute pup, Steve tossed the ball, Jake retrieved it, dropped the ball again and waited for the next toss. This volley continued and then Jake took turns dropping his ball in front of anyone who was willing to play. Jenn introduced me to Steve and Jake. When Jake put the ball at my feet for the umpteenth time, Steve chuckled and said, “He will bring it back until you say, that’s enough.”
On September 7th, 2001, I agreed to be Steve’s (Jake’s) new doggy walker. Our first day together would be Monday, September 10th, 2001. As I approached the house, I realized that I had been there before and I had met the man and the adorable little puppy, on Halloween 2000. My daughter, Rachel, and two of her friends had dressed up in a group themed costume and we strolled over to the nearby neighborhood to go trick or treating. As we approached one of the open doors, a jovial guy with a bowl full of Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Roll Pops greeted us. At his feet was the cutest fluffy little black and tan puppy. I remember all four of us falling in love with that little guy. Steve always said Jake was a chick magnet.
So on that gorgeous autumnal day, in September, I unlocked the door for the first of nearly four thousand times and went up the stairs, to the top floors, to find my new friend. Jake was in his dad’s room. He was standing in the middle of the bed. Apparently a “no no” but it seemed the norm to me. He was excited to see me and his whole body wagged from head to toe and back again. I said,” hey buddy, ya wanna go outside?” In a flash, he was racing out the bedroom door and down the two flights of stairs to the foyer. He was ready to go! Steve said Jake was good to walk off leash yet it was policy to put the pups on a leash before going out. Lord have mercy! That boy dragged me down those four or five steps, straight into the street and out into the field. He had stopped only to get his ball. Once into the big open green space, he sat as I unleashed him and he waited for me to throw the ball. Over the next few years, I must have thought of a zillion ways that I might keep from getting Jake slobber on my hands. Finally, someone invented the “Chucker” and there was no stopping us. Actually, on really hot days, I had to keep him hydrated because he would literally exhaust himself. I even watered him down, beforehand, on those infamous hazy, hot and humid days.
Jake was super cool. He had some amazing skills. He could poop on command. All you had to say was, “Jake, go poop.” He would walk directly to his favorite landscaping and do his biz. He LOVED riding in the car and sat in the front seat. No other dog fit so well or was so well behaved up front. I drive a stick shift but Jake insisted on holding my hand in between stops, starts and shifting. One year, Steve and I were both going out of town at the same time. I was going to the beach and staying with my sister, Sharon. Jake went on vacation with “his Annette.” I could take him anywhere and almost everywhere. We went to doggy parks, outdoor events, big open spaces like Iwo Jima and we went to cafes. I would hook him to a railing or a table leg and he would wait as I went inside to order. Every few seconds, he would let out a short but loud bark as if to hurry me up. I’d always say, “I’ll be right back” but he still did it. And he always got lots of pets from strangers. Jake would go up to anyone he thought might give him some love, offer him a treat or throw his ball. Sometimes that made me just a tad jealous. But, at the same time, it made me smile because Jake was an ambassador of doggy love. He made everyone smile. In his neighborhood everyone knew Jake. Hell, most of my neighbors knew Jake. Anyone important to me knew Jake.
I could go on forever about the sweetest guy in the world. He taught many a puppy to play ball, he stayed with me a few nights a week when Rachel first left for college and he spent more than a few Valentine’s Days and New Year’s Eves with me. He distracted me from the deep sorrow of the loss of my father. After the funeral, I spent nearly an hour out in that field just throwing ball after ball and then just sitting with my buddy. Jake was with me on 9/11 when his Daddy struggled to get home and out of the city and through the DC Sniper days. Jake was there when I broke my arm. He and his buddy Loggie knew something bad had happened and they stayed close while I fumbled for ice and wrapped my arm. He was gentle with me through so many difficult days. Jake loved me and I loved him. We were the best of friends…
I just don’t want to think about driving alone but I can’t imagine anyone taking his place. I said “goodnight” to him yesterday because I could not bear to say “Goodbye.” I sat with him, looked deeply into his gorgeous caramel and dark chocolate eyes, played a frail version of our laughing game, massaged him, kissed him on that lovely head that had the most comforting smell, rubbed his ears and his chin and held his “hand.” God, I pray that he is there to greet me when my time comes…