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.
Great post! Jake and you are lucky to have found one another. I had a similar moment, a few weeks ago when I was helping transport for a rescue. I was asked to give the owner a ride back with her dog from an adoption fair. She spent the car ride telling me about her lab and how energetic he is, how bouncy he is and how she can’t tire him out and needs him to go to someone who can. All I could think was….he is a young lab of course he is bouncy, energetic. I have two of them and both are insanely energetic (even at almost 8 yrs of age for the older one) throw in some leash reactivity issues and man can it be a challenge to tire them out. But we work on it and we found outlets for it. And heck its why I rescued both of them, their excitement for life and adventures.
Then I took a step back and realized, it is probably better for this lab to find a new home where his crazy energy can be released and more importantly appreciated.
I get it – I almost feel torn, like I want to grab them and say ‘it’s a lab! and labs are crazy full of exuberance, embrace it because they turn into soulful giants’! But you realize, they won’t get it. It was not what they thought it would be.
Oh my gosh, I literally can’t even get through this post without tearing up a little. I believe pets–whatever the variety–are a lifelong commitment–the good, the bad, and the ugly. I would get angry when I saw/heard people dumping off their pets the minute it was no longer convenient for them, I don’t know how often it turns out better for theses pets that people abandon, but you are absolutely correct in that they deserve better.
I had a cat..rather THE cat for 15 years. My husband hated him, he peed all over my bedroom carpet and we eventually stopped trying to clean it and pulled it all up, he would pee on the bed when I was gone for more than a few days, after the second time I wised up and bought a waterproof mattress cover, my husband and I would argue about him but it didn’t matter. He was my boy, no matter what. The point is, and you clearly already get this, there are “forever” people and “for now” people. It’s been 6 years since I lost him to cancer and my heart still aches, I still cry, and I would give almost ANYTHING to snuggle him again.
Jake is so lucky to have an awesome mom to love him so unconditionally!
Well I can’t get through your comment without tearing up a little! Our pee machines…we may not enjoy that part of the ride, but you can’t argue that the company is worth it! And it’s so true, when they are gone, no matter what the issue you faced, you’d face it for a million more years to have them back. THE cat found the right home with you.
We will forget the pee and we will forget the poop but the love lives on forever. I really have to pass out some hugs and kisses right now. Thank you for loving your boys unconditionally.
Exactly! What pee? What poop? The thing is, Jake would probably rather pee outside, not wear a diaper all day. He and I are both making adjustments, together! I am going to pass out some kisses too!
Aw. This is wonderful. Thank you for this post <3
Thank WordPress for posting it! I wasn’t done and I got the email that it was posted and was like ‘nooooooooo’! I had to go back in and lightening edit for the folks who get it via email!
This post resonates perhaps a little more heavily this week after an incident my husband had with the family cat, which resulted in a call to the behavior help line of the shelter he came from and a call with their adoptions director. Spare the details for now, but I have an appointment to see a veterinary behaviorist for a cat…something I never would have envisioned for my life with pets. It remains to be seen what the outcome will be, but among the many thoughts and emotions that I have been going through is a need to do do all I can to do right by him. Am I nuts? Maybe. But at least I can say I’m trying everything and in my heart of hearts know that it’s the truth.
If anyone will try everything in their heart of hearts, it’s you. And I should clarify… never giving up on a family member does not mean that there are not situations where despite every effort, safety is being compromised (for the pet or the humans). I hope the behaviorist can help! I can give you the name of the one we just went to, she was amazing! In Leesburg.
Thank you! Sometimes it feels a little like a very unfunny karmic joke. We’re seeing a vet behaviorist up in Gaithersburg that has been great for my friend’s dog, so I’m holding onto some hope. Apparently holding onto that hope involves spending lots of money to the DMV veterinary community, which I imagine you empathize with greatly. 🙂
You never do know what’s going to happen… with people, pets, anything. Stories like that break my heart, and as sorry as I feel for that poor dog, the reality that you eloquently point out is that he’ll likely be better off with someone who will love him for him, pee and all, than a woman who can’t see past that inconvenience. I feel sad for people like her because somehow they ended up short on love in their hearts.
I’m sad for her too. You don’t know how much you can love something until you have traveled down an unexpected path together. I look at every rescue dog and think “that dog will end up being someone’s Melvin”. I know you get it.
I feel ya.
You are such an awesome Mom to Jake (and Melvin!). My Rico (aka my clinger) is slightly incontinent due to a previous bladder stone surgery. He does take an incontinent medication that helps, but it may not work forever. If it comes down to having a completely incontinent pug, I will wholeheartedly accept that and become his diaper changer because HE IS MINE. No amount of pee or poop will change that. Plus, I now know who I can reach out to if I need advice!! Anyway, I wish everyone loved their family members (human, four-legged, etc.) as much as you do. The world would be a much better place if that were the case!
Deanna, I am always here for you! And let me be very clear, I hate pee more than anyone! But I love Jake more than I hate pee. So we find a way and thankfully, for our dudes, there are some great solutions out there!
I would never in a million years give up on one of my furbabies. But what you do is amazing, you are such an awesome mom!
I am not very good with smells, blood I handle just fine, pee I can deal with but poop is hard for me. I used to want to be a vet but HS biology taught me that smells send me reeling..
About a year after we adopted Dante he came down with giardia, when I came home from work (unknowing) and opened my front door the stench sent me backwards it was sooo bad. Poor Dante felt terrible and he was embarrassed cowering by the back door. I put him outside, opened all the windows dry heaving the whole time.. Called my mom crying for emotional support, put on my big girl panties grabbed a bucket of bleach water, gloves, boots and set to work cleaning my wood floors (thankfully we didn’t have carpet!)
So thankful that Jake came into your life, and not someone like ‘the fb lady’. And while we’re at it, I’d much rather be ‘friends’ with you than her ANY DAY 😉