Monday, April 03, 2017

The Saga of Jake and the Best Dogs Ever

We missed the “Best Dog Ever” so much.  She was only 2 months old when I rescued her from the Roanoke (TX) Humane Society.  Rude Dog was the first and the BDE above all others. She was mine and I was hers from the moment we saw one another. 

She got her name because she had a sensitive stomach and would turn the air hot and blue with her emissions. She started off life with the name of Priscilla. We were still searching for a good name for her when we felt/saw the first gas fog she emitted (until we finally found a food she could eat without killing us all). By that time, Rude (pronounced Rudie) had stuck. 

Rude was such an important part of our lives. I didn’t think I would ever have another dog I cared so much about. We had several other dogs and they were good and well loved but they were not Rude. I think it was the fact that she was half Newfoundland. That makes them special. Or it could have been because she went through some really hard times and she was always near me. We had her for 13 years.

A good while after we let her go, Debbie surprised me one day with a picture of this forlorn big dog standing in a corner with his sad face looking over his shoulder. He looked ashamed, as though he could not understand why his foster parents had sent him to this cell.

She showed me that picture and I knew he was waiting on us. So off we went to the Fort Worth Humane Society. I knelt in the middle of the floor and he came over to me and crawled up in my lap…as best he could. We all fell in love. All my Rude love came washing out of me and covered him up.

He was two when we got him. His face had not even filled out fully. He was a small Newf, weighing only 100 lbs at his best weight but shorter than average. He never did get much taller – just broader. He only looked like a full blood Newf after he turned five, after he broaden out some.

He traveled across the U.S. with us. Texas born and raised, he loved St. Louis and the snow. He loved being loved. He loved loving. I am sure he was far from perfect but I can’t remember anything negative. He was just the Best Dog Ever II.

And then he got sick. Ten is and was a good span of life for a Newfie. A full blood Newf may only live between 5-7 years. That is not very long at all for an animal so full of love and devotion.

So, it is probably easy to see why we wanted another big guy. But we didn’t want one like Jak because we didn’t want to compare. We should have known that each one of them is different from the other. Jak was nothing like Rude, except in the best way – their love of being loved and of loving.

One day, a picture of a brown Newf appeared on one of the Newfie rescue sites. We had to go see him. Brown was different and nothing like Black Jak. 

The foster people he was staying with had him in a barn stall. He was covered in thick fur mats and hay. And he was seventeen months old and wild. He had no collar nor leash training. His instinct was to get that noose from around his neck as quickly as possible and to fight with all his might. It took four adults to get him into our car. Once we got him home and up the back stairs (finally), he paced for 24 hours. He was exhausted but it was just too much.

Brushing, touching, talking, over the next couple of days finally calmed him down some. Then he got his first bath.

He was a different dog! Two six-week sessions of classes at obedience school (for us, not him) taught us how to help him understand what we wanted. He became as big of a love (actually about 40 pounds bigger) than Jak.

He came to us with the name of Zeus but 1) it didn’t fit him and 2) he did not respond to it in the least. Some might think that we named him Jake after Jak. But no. The State Farm commercial was playing at the time and Jake (from State Farm) just sort of stuck. Plus, when we called him Jake he looked at us.

We signed him up for the big dog wellness plan at Banfield (PetSmart). We got all the work done, fully intent upon making sure we took good care of this big guy. Sometime during the first few months of his acclimation, we realized how much he was drinking and peeing. We realized how much he was peeing because we would come home from work and through the living room, hallway, kitchen, dining room there would be a line of pee. Yep, he walks and pees. Not inside any more, thankfully.


Jake is the product of a breeder. He was raised in a large concrete outdoor kennel. His hair was bleached from the sun. I don’t know if the mats were from the breeder or the foster but he was a mess. Obviously, he had never been in a house before, nor had any training at all. When he had to pee, he did. Thank God, he likes corners away from everyone and thing to poop, otherwise, I suppose we would have found huge dog piles in the house.

We became much more diligent about taking the big guy outside. We monitored his water intake. Slowly, he began to understand. But he was still peeing literal rivers and drinking buckets of water. We asked the vet about it. I was worried about diabetes.

The results of all the tests (not covered under our wellness plan) showed that he already had damage to his kidneys. The diagnosis was Chronic Kidney Disease. The vet had us put him on a very expensive dog food. He ate it for a while. Then, suddenly, he stopped eating as much. We added pumpkin. That helped for a little while. Then, no. We added egg. That was better but then, he just stopped. He would walk up to the bowl, look at it, shake his head and back away. Then he would turn and go to his bed. He lost from 140 pounds to 117 in a short time.

The vet said keep on trying to feed him the prescription dog food. But Jake didn’t care what she said. What were we supposed to do? Just let him starve? She said he needed the low protein diet. She thought he was being stubborn. She just didn’t understand that he knew something she didn’t.

I began researching Chronic Kidney Disease in canines. There are a couple of good sites that offer help. However, I am not sure they fully understand either.

We tried several different recipes. We tried raw foods at first but he couldn’t digest those. So, we tried Raw turkey, sweet potato, and soft cooked egg. That worked for a while but he started tossing that up. The mess was easily identifiable. If the sweet potato was not cooked enough, it came back up. If the egg was cooked too much, up it came. And if the food was anywhere close to chilled, all of it came back up.

We tried the raw turkey, smushy cooked sweet potato, and raw egg. That worked but it certainly wasn’t putting any fat on him. He was bones and hair. He seemed to have plenty of energy though and he seemed happy. He was just incredibly thin. But he has been eating.

Yesterday, he had to be coaxed to eat. This morning, nothing. He would not, could not be convinced that eating was a good thing. I even went through all that soggy mess and picked out as much sweet potato as I could, thinking that maybe that was offending him. But he still was not interested. So, I offered him a small hunk of raw turkey by itself. He sniffed it and walked away.

So, here we are. The Saga of Jake and his quest to be a BDE. Maybe he will eat later today. Maybe he just doesn’t like the same old food every single day. Perhaps I will leave out the turkey tonight. Or the sweet potato.

Thankfully, we have two chow-hounds who will eat anything. Theo’s nickname is Hoover because he inhales food without even chewing. The Queen London thinks she should not be eating lowly dog food, anyway. So, it is good that the food won’t go to waste.

But meanwhile, Jake is wasting away. We worry about this big guy leaving us too soon. He is only three. That’s just too much dog to love in a short year and a half. We want more time of him being healthy and energetic. He hasn’t earned the BDE III award yet. But he is working on it. He just needs a little more time.  

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