This post is two-fold. It’s about life with Jake, and it’s about a post I read on Facebook.
Jake came to me able-bodied and ornery as all hell. While his gait always seemed a little off, I’d never had a Frenchie or any short-legged dog for that matter so it was really hard to tell. Dude ran, and leapt and when walking him, he could almost pull you over with all 33 lbs. Unlike with Melvin and his severe allergies, I had no idea what I was getting into with Jake. I mean more often than not, you really never know.
One year after getting Jake, we woke up one morning and he got out of bed and his hind legs did not work. He was terrified and I was terrified. Melvin even freaked out a little, why was his little buddy swimming on the floor? Fine one day, unable to walk the next day. After emergency vet visits, neurologist visits and many tests (MRI, Spinal Tap and CT scans) I found out that Jake had the most messed up spine imaginable and that one day (not at that point but one day), his hind legs would fully stop working. He regained use of his hind legs a few days later (thank you steroids) but his legs were never the same and his gait has continued to decline over the past year and a half. I did what I do best, I went into plan mode.
Along with his legs issues, he started losing control of his bladder and meatball making schedule. One of the reasons I like older dogs (oh let me count the ways) is that the housebreaking days are long over. And while Jake’s issues were not about housebreaking, they suddenly became about all the things you hate most about housebreaking. Pee and crap.
Fast forward to today. I change Jake’s diaper about 4-5 times a day. We go through 12 maxi pads during an average day. They are not magic diapers or pads, they often leak. “Little Jake’ wiggles out about 4-5 times a week and I have to get on my hands and knees and clean up the floor. i have a flashlight that shows pee (doesn’t everyone?). He sleeps diaper-free at night (in a contained area) and I get up (on average) about 4 times a night to change out his mattress cover or pick up some meatballs. I do my own laundry, once a week. I do Jake’s laundry, twice a day. The duties contained in this paragraph, I did not plan for them. I’d love for these issue to go away (for me and for him) but I also never let it weigh me down. If he pees or poops, I clean it up with the same thought process as if someone spilled some water. It’s just something I do now. When you love someone, and they start down a road of declining mobility, you don’t wave good-bye. You say, wait for me, we are going this together.
This week I read a post about a woman whose dog had started marking in the house, and she had ‘tried everything’ and ‘just couldn’t take it anymore’. The last straw had been the dog marking near/on her child’s toys. People made suggestions about belly bands, training tips, etc, but the woman said with complete certainty, she wanted the dog gone. I could write a book for this woman, but I could tell she’d never open it.
I mean we all read posts about people who have given up on their pets. If people are not going to be there for their dogs (and yes it’s easy to say they never should have gotten the dog, but they did, so…), I do believe they should give them up. Sure, I wish the person would MIRACULOUSLY change, but that is not the reality. And this person’s frustration rang true to me, I got it. I mean she does not even have a clue at how much I GOT IT. Jake leaks pee 24/7. She had not even scratched the surface on the amount of pee a dog can unload.
But she and I only had that in common. The fact that into our lives, some pee did fall.
There are people who don’t have to say I’m in this with you forever because quite frankly, it goes without saying. And there are people who are only in it for as long as it works out. Maybe one can’t be, without the other. I mean, my little family was formed because of those differences. And it could be pee, or behavioral issues or illness and the cost of vet care. So, even when reading her post and thinking, I WISH JAKE ONLY MARKED!!!… I realized, that dog of hers, deserves better. He deserves true love. He deserves guidance and maxi pads. And I looked at Jake and thanked God that I was capable of that love. I have quit plenty of things (diets, jobs, gym memberships, people who suck), but I will never quit Jake.
The whole thing reminded me of post I did about Melvin’s first family. A letter I wrote (never sent) to them (HERE). To thank them for letting him go.