Some dogs are like River, they move into their house, and while they don’t fill the hole of the lost pup, they suddenly and seamlessly begin to build new parts of their parents’ hearts, and ease their pain.
And then there is my friend Amber’s successor Jake. It seems, hopefully, after 9 months of illness and aggression, Jake’s Mom has learned how drama and healing can make the bond between dog and Mom even stronger.
Here is his story.
When Amber sadly went to the Bridge her family was in a stage of transition. There was a new house, employment changes, and many hurdles to overcome before they were ready for a new pup. Thanks to our friends Jackson’s and Morgan’s Mom Aunt Jane, Jake went from being Jackson’s foster brother to being the new dog in Amber’s home.
His parents got the impression that Jake might be a bit or trouble on his first walk when he was invited into a neighbor’s house for a proper homecoming and pooped in their entryway. From that moment on his parent’s should have known his pup hood would be more challenging than Amber’s.
Jake showed a puppy’s speed and desire for food when his Mom dropped a single coffee bean and Jake lasered in on it and sucked it down. His Mom decided not to take him to a vet for a coffee bean, which was a good decision, because soon Jake would be well known at the vets.
For two months there were only normal puppy issues with Jake but on Mother’s Day his Mom informed her online friends that the little pink pimple that Jake arrived with had gotten bigger, scabbed over then bled, scabbed over again and got much bigger. A trip to the vets was in order.
The lump needed to be removed and the vet said that he had a histiocytoma. Jake proved the be a very patient patient. He also had a previously diagnosed infection in his anal glands treated by having antibiotics stuck up his butt. He went home stitched up and a little loopy. His parents hoped his vet trips would be few and far between.
Soon the good news came in that the tumor was benign. He was ready to get his stitches out.
Then came the leg issues. He had trouble with with his rear right leg and his front left leg, which caused him to hobble around the house. He was put on non-steroid anti inflammatory drugs to help. The vets had hoped it would work itself out but during Jake’s puphood few things worked themselves out.
Perhaps understandably, for a young with so many health issues, Jake began to act out and show aggression. He nipped at his Mom’s nephew. He growled at some nice elderly women who came to visit, and barked through most of their time together, even while wearing a citronella collar. With his Mom starting work soon she was worried about having a stranger take care of Jake, not knowing how he would act with them given his unpredictability with strangers. .
To help with some of his behavioral issue Willie’s Mom Sandy sent Jake a Gentle Leader to control him on walks. It stopped him from lunging and pulling when he saw strangers, although Jakes still exercised his freedom to bark. Also his Mom bought, and used, the dreaded clicker, which made him more cooperative to her wishes, although her still nipped at her toes when he wanted to play.
But even with the Leader Jake was still a challenge when he met people. He would spin around on his leash in what his Mom called a “demonic fit” when he saw a stranger. When a woman saw him, and wanted to pet him, his Mom suggested she let Jake sniff her. She put down her hand for Jake to sniff and he nipped at her. His parents began to dread walking him because of his barking and lunging (or, in dog terms, doing what is called “The Pocket.” He also barked at every sound in the house (also called the Pocket) and wore out the battery on his bark control. He also played rough, snapping at his Daddy’s hand and breaking the skin as he tried to grab a toy.
Then began another round of vet visits. He had tummy issues and skin issues, chewing the fur off his front legs. One trip to the vet was for chewing the fringe off a rug. Then he began to chew the fur on his tail and his paws. He had to wear the dreaded cone of shame. He didn’t take to wearing it well, standing in a corner and staring. His parents resorted to praying over him, which gave him the strength to finally to get up and eat. But he still had occasional tummy problems and had to wear the cone to keep him from chewing his fur.
Jake did improve slowly, although he did develop a strange crusty film on his nipples and was still very itchy, The Prednisone he was taking did make him drink and pee more. During on of these pee trips his Mom discovered he ate an entire paper towel.
Then his limping began again with his front leg coming out from under him until he was walking like a tripaw. He did get to sleep in the big bed because he parents thought this would keep him out of trouble (known in the dog world as pulling a Pocket) but when he got out he couldn’t get back in. When it came time to take him to the vet he started walking better. It was determined he had a foot infection which led to more expensive vet visits.
Jake finally began to stop itching. His foot got better. And, after months of research, his Mom discovered natural products that helped with the itching, put him on a healthy diet, gave him lots of baths, and with lots of patience the itching subsided, and, as the itching subsided, so did the behavioral issues. Also a stricter training technique taught Jake that he was not the boss of the house.
But Jake still had what his Mom called the Terrier Tirades. Her stepson and grandson came for a visit. At first he did his barking madness and was protective of his family. His Mom knew that someone was mean to Jake before she got him and his accepting strangers would take time. But my Mom can tell you having your grandchildren and your dog not get along makes things very hard
Now, after nine months of experimenting, training, bathing, praying, and patience Jake is becoming the wonderful pup everyone knew he could be. He did a 3 ½ hour drive with only minimal barking. He sat on his Mom’s lap where he now feels secure. He didn’t nip at the grandchildren or lunge at anyone, and even walked off leash. He rode happily in a golf cart in the arms of one of the grandchildren. The only problem was with another dog, but Jake is on the right track, and has come a long way, so I am sure he will vanquish this to.
It has been a long, hard road for Jake and his parents but the end is in sight. A big tip of the tail to all of them, and to Amber, who was watching over them, helping every step of the way.
There have been a lot of hard earned victories in Jake’s fight to be the perfect dog for his parents, and now that he is getting there, their bond will be even stronger.