Thursday, October 30, 2008


When Jake came into our lives, we really were not actively looking for another dog. My husband and I had talked about adding another German Shepherd to our pack, but that is as far as it went. Then one morning one of the US Marshall's was talking to my husband at work about his knowledge of a breeder looking to rehome a German Shepherd pup. So it was my job to contact the breeder to gather all the information I could.

Jake was sold as an 8 week old puppy to a nice family, but at 7 months old, the family returned him to the breeder because Jake had Panosteitis. They also said he was too big. The breeder had sent me all the paperwork on Jake, his hip x-rays, parents x-rays, registration papers, pedigree info,vet visits, parents vet visits, and pictures. Jake is from a German working line.
Jake was in another state, so all of our conversations with the breeder were over the phone, asking plenty of questions. Oh, Jake's name wasn't always Jake. His previous owner named him Ajax. Who names a German Shepherd Ajax? The breeder called him Jack. Poor boy, probably had no clue what his name was.

After a couple weeks, we made the decision to add Jake to our family, yes, we quickly changed his name as soon as we made the decision to add him to our family. Jake sounds so much nicer, don't you think?
My husband drove to the airport to pick Jake up, and he had no idea what to expect with their first meeting, we had only seen pictures. Well, from the day they first seen each other, let me just say, their incredible bond, started immediately. A man and his dog. They became quite the team.

Jake was almost 8 months old when he arrived, and he was already 88lbs. A big boy, not fat, just large boned. He had no manners. He was very mouthy and would jump up on us and grab our arms and legs every chance he got. We couldn't have a big Shepherd being so mouthy, and have ill manners running around our house, so training started immediately.

I would have to put Jake in the dog run outside right before my husband would arrive home from work, because as soon as Jake would have him in his sight, he would run with all the force of a charging bull and plow into him with pure excitement, to welcome him home. They had to do there greetings outside, until Jake learned to control himself.
It didn't take long, with all the training we did, for Jake to become a very well mannered and obedient dog.
My husband handled him in Obedience, his obedience career took off and he had done very well. He loved to work, but mostly he loved being with his dad.

Just about a month after Jake arrived home he was diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia, in both hips. Surgery was recommended. We were devastated. How could this be. We had seen the x-rays from the breeder, we went back and forth with conversations with his breeder, and those conversations went well. They were really good people.

Anyhow, after two weeks of crying, and worrying, trying to make a decision on what we were going to do, we decided to not go through with surgery. Jake wasn't showing any signs of Hip Dysplasia, no pain, no limping or lameness. We would just take it easy with his training, and take one day at a time and see how it goes.

Jake went through all his training fine, when we would practice his jumps, we didn't do many, so not to over work him. He is a very smart boy, and learned quickly, so not over working him was easy for all of us.

We certified him as a K9 Therapy Dog. Every weekend if he wasn't at a dog show, he was at a nursing facility doing visits. He was a huge hit, and everyone was always excited when they knew Jake was coming.

Jake also did the Reading To Rover program. That is held at our local Libraries. Children that have difficulty reading out loud, get to read to Jake. It helps the children become more confident. Every summer, we would take Jake to the Library and head for the reading room, where children were signed up to read privately to Jake. He was such a good sport, and enjoyed the children.

Jake's best friend was Princess. We were so worried with bringing Jake home that we might have issues with Princess. She didn't like other dogs. She walked to his crate his first day home, and bit the crate, and growled and barked at him something fierce! She was smaller then him, but she didn't care. We knew that very day, everything was going to be fine with our pack. Jake just put his head down in his crate and allowed her to have her say.
From that day forward, he had the utmost respect for her, and they were inseparable. A very close friendship the two developed.

Jake has never liked cats. Can you imagine, here I am rescuing feral and stray cats, and I have a back yard full of cats! No matter how hard we tried, we could not get him use to cats. The good thing about Jake, he is a soft dog, and he aims to please us. As much as he would love to chase a cat, he respects us enough to know, the cats are off limits.

Jake's favorite toy is a tennis ball. We always buy many for him. Something about a fresh smelling, brand new tennis ball to crunch for a few seconds, then pop it! You can see how excited he gets with the first pop of a tennis ball.

Jake use to go to work with my husband quite often and enjoyed spending the day with him. It is always nice to have a well mannered obedient dog that you can be proud to take places. He was always our demo dog during our training classes.

One night after class, our students were watching Jake retrieve his tennis ball. Just as my husband threw the ball and Jake took off full speed after his ball, a border collie came running and grabbed the ball before Jake could reach it. This could have been a disaster. Luckily Jake was able to demonstrate his recall abilities. As soon as my husband noticed the border collie, he called Jake back. Jake did a quick about turn and headed back without his ball. A very proud moment.

He loves water. I regret that we have no pool. He has to be happy with just a wading pool, but that is ok with him. He screams and cries the minute we start filling it. He can get pretty possessive over his pool. We have taken him a few times to a friend of ours that has a built in pool to go swimming, and we can not keep him out of the water. he just loves swimming.
Jake has lots of allergies, and gets many ear infections, which mostly can be handled by watching the ingredients in all the foods we give him. He also has many environmental allergies, and some of those we can't help, so we often manage those with frequent ear cleaning and medications.

Jake was diagnosed with Neurofibrosarcoma last year. At the present he is doing fine. Jake is 10 and half years old. It is sad to see him age, which is part of the reason it has taken me so long to get this page posted. Jake is that once in a lifetime dog.

There will never be another as special as Jake. He is strong, confident, loyal, smart, fun, forgiving, very very obedient, and goofy. My husband is still his favorite person. He has gotten very lame now, and has slowed down with age, but boy does his face light up when his dad comes home from work every evening.

Jake is now retired from competing and Therapy work. He spends most days sleeping on the couch, chewing a tennis ball, and getting massages from me and looking forward to when his daddy comes home.


Anonymous said...

What a heart-warming story and pictures. I giggled when I saw how much he loves his wading pool because we bought our doxie a wading pool just like that and she's scared to death of it even with just an inch or so of water!!! You and your husband are an inspiration.

Mrs.Ruiz said...

I love Jake!! What a great boy, my daughter reads to my dogs and they love it. Animals are the best companions. Thanks for sharing Jake with me:))

Anonymous said...

Lovely story and pictures T.

Dog_geek said...

Awww, what a special guy! I can see why he has such a big piece of your heart. I love all the pictures (but I think my favorite is the pic of Jake in the wading pool!)

elsie said...

i love love love this write up of jake!!! my fav pic is the one in front of the hydrangeas.

he and dylan share a birthday, so i'll always think of him, too, on that day.

i can just picture in my head the scene with princess and jake in the crate. what she must have said to him!

thanks for sharing this special guy with us :-)

Betty said...

Oh, my, I can hardly wait to meet Jake (and everyone!)...what a beautiful guy! Everyone has a favorite picture....I like the one with the caption "Pleeaassee! Can I have a kitten?" What a hoot! See you SOON!

Stacy said...

I have a soft spot for Germans. My dad had two (one after the other) when I was a baby/younger. They were my protectors and were so obedient and gentle (when playing with ME).
I think some day I'll have a German Shepard but it may not be for quite a while.