Wednesday, September 30, 2015

30 Days of Memories: Day 11

I unpacked some more pictures for the shelves today and ended up with more than 30 pictures, so today is a two-fer day.

I think kids need dogs, and I have always had a soft spot for Dalmatians, but there was no way we could afford to buy one from a breeder. When my ex-husband and I bought our house in Loveland, we went on the hunt for a dog for the kids. We applied to adopt from the Dalmatian rescue and when we were approved, went to see the dogs they had on hand.

Jake was this emaciated skeleton of a dog, but he had the best personality and he had to come home with us. Jake's original name was "Sunny" because of his disposition, but that was a dumb name, so it got switched pretty quickly. We were warned that he couldn't digest beef proteins, which is a problem for a lot of Dalmatians, but rescues feed the food that is donated and can't be too terribly picky.

Jakers quickly decided that he was my dog and did not care for my husband. In fact, one night, my ex came home late from a night of drinking and Jake wouldn't let him in the house. He quickly adopted the kids as his pack and never showed one ounce of aggression toward them.

I cooked his meals for months, just to get weight back on him. He went from looking like a walking skeleton to a well-fed (okay, maybe a bit obese) working dog. We had Jakers for about seven years before he started getting cranky. I chalked it up to old age, but when he snapped at one of the kids' friends, I knew something was wrong and took him to the vet. They couldn't find anything wrong and also decided that he was getting old and hard of hearing, but just to be on the safe side, they decided to run some blood work.

I griped about the cost of the blood work - the kids and I had NO disposable income and getting hit with a vet visit and a $90 blood test was definitely not in the budget - but I grudgingly agreed even though I knew it would be negative.

I was wrong. I got the call at work the next day. Jake had end stage renal failure. We could treat him, but there were no guarantees that he'd live any longer and his quality of life (as I could see it) would be in the toilet. He might have two weeks, he might have two months, but the fact was that our beloved dog was dying. I set the appointment with the vet to have him put down, burst into tears, and dreaded telling the kids that night.

How was I going to explain to the kids that we were going to kill their dog? Jake had been with us through so much - a divorce, moves, a flood, first days of school - every major milestone in their lives that they could remember, they had Jake with them.

I explained to them what was happening with Jake and let them decide if they wanted to be with him when we put him down. He was feeling pretty good, excited about going on a car ride, on his last day. The vet and his tech were amazing and took us to a grassy hill away from the clinic. All of our hearts broke as we petted him and watched our Jake take his last breath.

Our trip to Mexico a few weeks later was exactly what we needed to get away and begin the healing process. Jake was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime dog for all of us.

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