Puzzles.

(Sometimes, when all the diapers are in the wash, Jake has to wear the pink diaper.  Don’t tell him I posted a video of him wearing that).

Puzzles provide a good brain workout for dogs.  Puzzles are also good for dogs with mobility issues as they have to not only figure out the puzzle, but also how to remain upright during the process.  Sometimes, easier said than done.

As for Jake and puzzles, 100% of the time, he cheats.

 

 

The little chicken is 8!

Happy Birthday, Jake!!!  It’s funny that Jake is only eight because he has always come across as the oldest dude in the house. Melvin was exuberant and jolly and Jake is a little more ‘reserved’ and ‘grumpy’.  But in a way that I love.  Come as you are baby cakes!

Jake was turned into to rescue on his 5th birthday.  I always wonder if his first family knew it was his birthday. From what I was told, it didn’t sound like they celebrated Jake very much so I doubt they knew.  His life has changed a lot in three years.

When Jake was five, he really only knew existence.  He sat and waited a lot.  Affection was not something he wanted nor was it something that seemed  familiar to him. His behavior with Melvin was primarily to snarl and lunge at him. But as his life progressed in his forever home, he learned that life here was soft.  That we were kind, loving, wanting to be near him.  That five-year-old Jake seems like a distant memory now.

Also at five, his legs worked fine.  But here is how I know he knows that this is where he belongs… when his legs gave out that fate filled day in December, his first, terrified glance was to me and his second, ‘help me’ glance was to Melvin.  He’d found his family and we vowed to never let him struggle.

Eight looks good on Jake. Even though he can only see it through one eye.  He owns his life like a boss. He’s more confident with his mobility issues now, he just moves forward in any way possible.  He has experienced the greatest love. I don’t know that he will ever love another dog the way he did his brother, but I do know that their beautiful bond transformed Jake and I do believe that because of their great love, he can do it again if he chooses to.

Jake is funny, stubborn, vulnerable.  He will lean into you for snuggles but if you stop petting him, he will leave.  He is unhappy when I leave a room without him, but will leave me in a room alone any time he pleases.  He is noisy, he almost always smells like pee (even post bath), and if you are a creature that is smaller than him, he will hunt you and he will kill you. He is a lover AND a fighter. But when he loves you, it’s fierce and it’s deep. Same with his hunting style.

I never knew I wanted Jake.  He found me.  I never knew I’d be a dog clothes person or a woman who would order a dog stroller. We have grown together, we have suffered great loss together. No dog has ever made me laugh as much as Jake has. We have taught each other about perseverance. He is my baby, I love him and I know that he knows that I am his forever.  He no longer sits and waits, he is found.

Happy Birthday, nugget!

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What’s happening?

There are always moments with our dogs (or cats) where we say ‘what in the world are you doing, you goofball?’.  And although we don’t really expect an answer, we ask it out loud anyway.  Probably to communicate to others that yes, we are in fact crazy and crazy people talk out loud to their pets.

But there are some moments with Jake, where I ask that and I really need to know.  Bud, what’s happening?

I came out of the office yesterday to find him like this. He’d left the office about 30 minutes prior so I guess he got five steps away and thought, too far, must rest. But why not lay down?IMG_5694

And he sat at the door, a door he never goes out of, staring at the closed blinds for 20 min.  I have been saying all along that I question if he has any vision in his bionic eye but perhaps his vision is now so spectacular that he can see through wood. IMG_5691

And this one from a few weeks ago.  Staring out the door, to the lovely landscape of the wall. IMG_5469

Pretty sure he expects me to rename this blog, Oh Jake! And in case anyone is worried, Jake sees a neurologist regularly for his spine from hell.  So from what we can tell, this is just Jake.

 

Five months.

It’s been five months since Melvin died.  The grief has settled in, it no longer feels like a foreign body trying to take me down.  It’s a part of me, like my hands and my thoughts. It’s still grief, but slowly it becomes bonded with memory.  One day it will just be the latter.

I can now go days without crying.  Photograph still plays on the radio when I walk in the house. It makes me smile and take pause in the most beautiful way. He may not greet me anymore but when I walk in and hear the song, I’m reminded that he no longer needs to greet me, he travels with me.

Losing Melvin was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.  That is not to say that losing people in my life wasn’t difficult, it just goes to show you that you don’t get to choose what breaks you the most.  I will always miss him.  But slowly, it becomes less of a void and more of an awareness.

I have been using the ‘on this day’ feature on FB to reconnect with old blog posts and they make me smile.  So much.

I think I can safely say that Jake has gotten through his grief of Melvin.  I’m so grateful for that.  I’m guessing that after five months, there are no longer scents of Melvin in the house.  His ears still perk up when I say Melvin’s name in conversation however he no longer looks up or looks around when he hears his brother’s name.

Having Melvin here made me a really good person.  I can’t explain it but Melvin’s existence compelled me to be better, giving, compassionate and loving. He made me patient, which is odd since he was anything but. Since losing him,  I have to encourage  myself to do better, do more, be selfless.  It came easier when Melvin was here. With a single glance from him, I always strived to be more. For example, I get a little frustrated in the middle of the night after 6 or 7 bedding changes for Jake.  When Melvin was here, he’d sit up each time I got up to change the bedding and I’d see him and his face would say ‘poor little guy, he was sent to us for a reason’ and I’d never get frustrated.  I’m working harder on that patience and trying to channel my inner Melvin.

I have donated  a lot of his stuff.  Stored things that I will probably never be able to part with and set aside things that a future dog might be able to use. It’s funny the things I have not been able to purge.  There is a vial of his allergy shot medication in the refrigerator.  I am not sure why it remains.  I also still have his box of meds that I would pull out every Sunday to do his am/pm pill box for the week.  And I still have the plastic covered feeding instructions for him and Jake for the dog walker.  Grief is funny.

I have lost fifty pounds since the day I found out Melvin had cancer.  I jokingly call it the sadness diet.  At first, when he was diagnosed and I thought he’d die at any moment, I just couldn’t eat.  After he died, well after he died I just didn’t look at food the same way.  Food has always been a source of joy for me.  Melvin however was the greatest joy and when that was removed, my love affair with food changed. Other joy sources just didn’t stand a chance.  And as far as the food part went, that is a great thing for me. So it’s funny when people ask ‘how did you lose the weight’ and I smile and say the sadness diet!  It’s like, why is she smiling and what the hell is a sadness diet!?

Five months. We are surviving.  There was never a doubt that we would persevere but there were certainly moments when we didn’t want to.  #loveliveson in the most beautiful ways.

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Now watch me whip…

I was video taping Jake the other day because he was giving me slim-shady eye.  He would look at me, then if I was looking at me, he’d dart his eye away (keep in mind he can only look at me with one eye at a time).  So I started recording him.  There is about 10 seconds of his shady eye movement and then a liquid burp (keep it sexy Jake) and then he does a few moves that I am pretty sure are…

Now watch me whip…now watch me superman.  Then more eye darting.  Enjoy!

 

The eye saga continues.

Jake’s eye.  That eye really likes center stage.  It does not want to be a pair with the other eye, oh no, this eye would move to the center of his forehead if it could.

The good news is that the graft is starting to heal nicely.  We went in for our fourth appointment (the one month since surgery appointment) and the graft is FINALLY healing as they want it to.  Yay!!!

The concerning news is that, the red growth (that had started growing a week post surgery), was continuing to grow.  It is near the area where they harvested the graft  tissue (under his eyelid) and it is so big that his eye lid either can’t let it out or can’t let it back in. It actively bleeds, all day long. It is about the size of a marble.  We are seeing one of the premiere eye surgeons/ophthalmologists on the east coast and her exact words were ‘I have never seen anything like this’.

If I had a $1 for every time I’ve heard that.

I put a photo of Jake’s eye on our our adoptive parents FB page for the rescue I got Jake from and again, everyone said, never seen anything like that.  And that group has seen A LOT!

So the doctor removed it and sent it to pathology.  We are still awaiting those results.  In the meantime, within only days of being removed, it’s growing back.  I’m trying to stay on the positive side and patiently (ok, fine, I call to check on the arrival of the pathology report several times a day) waiting to see what it is.  Until then, although he has been cleared for the cone for the graft part, this growth is keeping him in the cone longer.  We are now in our 8th week of that mother bleeping thing.  There is a bonfire in that cone’s future.

Here is Jake, mean-mugging after I woke him up trying to take his picture.  IMG_5653

Where the wild things are.

You’ll recall the poisonous toad story from two-weeks ago (here).

This past weekend, we were out back for the before-bed-potty-break, standing in the glow of the motion light set up on one side of the backyard.  Jake was sniffing and peeing and then I saw it, ANOTHER LARGE TOAD WITH POISON SPRAYERS.

Just as I saw it, Jake saw it.  And the bleeping motion light went off.  I scooped Jake up before the light could even register my movement and got him inside.  I then went and got ‘the’ shovel.  It was dark and raining but for the love all things good, I was not stopping until I found that toad.  He was under a tree.

Crisis averted, although not loving my new career as a toad evictor.

This morning, I was having patio repair done (thanks a lot chipmunks) and one of the guys came up to chat with me.  At the end of the update of what they were doing he said: “oh, did you want us to leave the dead bunny in the back yard?”.

WHAT THE WHAT?????? Come again?

He said there was a dead buddy, a ‘jugular kill’.  I may or may not have passed out.  I somehow motioned with my hands the universal signal to ‘remove slashed necked dead bunny from my yard’ and went inside.

Jake did not kill this bunny.  I weeded the flower bed where they found it in just yesterday and I was with Jake on all his outings out back after that.  Also, it was an adult bunny with a big head. Jake can barely open his mouth and he has tic-tac teeth. He lifts food into his mouth with his tongue (meals take forever!) so so his killing is usually of the sitting on it variety. Unless you have a little head like frogs, birds and baby bunnies, then he will put you in his tiny mouth and suffocate you.  And often attempt to swallow you. So… I worried a little about what is using my FENCED IN back yard as a killing ground. After many conversations with me talking in a pitch only dogs can hear it was decided that the bunny was likely attacked outside my yard (probably by a dog) and crawled into my yard to die.  Otherwise, the hunter would have eaten his or her trophy.

Poetically, the bunny died in a little garden I made that houses memorial stones for Max and Melvin.  So it was a good choice on its part.  It’s not getting a burial stone, but it was a good choice.

In relate news, I still don’t enjoy nature.

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Melvin’s Project Joy: Giveaway three!

Time for more giving!

As a reminder, each month, we will do a giveaway that celebrates the unique nature of our furry friends. There will be monthly categories, so if you have a dog that falls into that one, you can nominate them to win. If your dog does not fit into this month’s category, do not fret, we have a pretty all-encompassing list for the entire year – we eventually got you covered!

This month, a category near and dear to our googly-eyed, cone-wearing, Jake and to our angel buddy, Rufus (from Our Waldo Bungie) (And Jen at Sirius has a one eyer!!!)…

Dog’s who are visually challenged — one eye, no eyes, blind, limited vision — let’s celebrate you! 

Here is how it works…

This goes beyond just a giveaway (but yes, there is of course some loot!). Our goal is to remind each other that we are all in this crazy life together. That through these giveaways, we can all bring empathy into play. As you share stories of your visually challenged dogs, read the stories of others. You may nod, and realize you are not alone. You can message others and share your experiences and advice. Friendships will form. Support can be shared. Joy will be spread!

Share your visually challenged dog (your dog’s name, a photo. and the story about their vision) on either our Facebook page containing this post, on Sirius Republic’s Facebook page when they share this post. If you are not of the Facebook world, you can email your info to ohmelvinyojake@gmail.com. You can also post the info below in the comments, although you probably can’t share a photo on here (and that’s ok). No matter how you submit your info, you will be entered to win.

READ ALONG AS OTHERS POST. DON’T FORGET TO REACH OUT.

We will pick one female and one male winner at the end of September!

Next month, it will be a new category!

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It takes a village to raise Jake.

The whole ‘it takes a village’ concept, it’s applicable to Jake. While I may take care of him, and clean up after him, and buy him bionic eyes, there are just some solutions that I need help with.

You might wonder why all our giveaways include Sirius Republic.  It’s because Jen (the heart and soul of Sirius Republic) is one of the best people I have ever known.  And I know a lot of wonderful people, so Jen is pretty spectacular. Supporting a company that is owned by an AWESOME person, yes please!  During the late nights before I lost Melvin, when Melvin’s Project Joy came to life, Jen was the very first person I reached out to.  Without her, the Joy would not be as lovely and powerful as it has been.  I’m forever grateful.

Jen is the person who when you are at the beach on vacation with her and your monkey named Jake smells like a pee factory, she says ‘lets give him a bath’ (said with a lot of enthusiasm that you do not share!).  And she gets in the tub with said stinky monkey, even when you warn her that HE WILL PEE and when he does pee ON HER she says ‘awwww, he loves me!’.  Good people.

One of the biggest, life changing things has been Jake’s belly bands.  Without those bands… well I can’t really think where we would be without those diapers.  Jake’s body is so odd that custom was really the only way to go.  When Jen reached out last year and said she was making him diapers to help out, I cried.  I cried because I was at my wit’s end and she is an angel who swooped in to save us.  And over the past year, she has worked with Jake’s changing situations to perfect the belly band (we recently got a new batch that allow for more room now that we are doing cloth inserts instead of pads).  Rumor has it belly bands for boys might be something she adds to the Sirius Republic mix one day (Girl diapers are much more difficult to do, sorry ladies!)!!! But boys, rejoice!!!!

Recently someone reached out to me, asking about the belly bands.  This person said they had a dog in their rescue who had Spina Bifida and they were in need a diaper solution similar to Jake’s, but more elaborate due to the structure of the sweet boy’s hip and spine issues. Finding a solution for Bart the Pit Bull (on Instagram @Bart83014) could make the difference in him being adopted.  I reached out to Jen “do you think you can help”?  I knew the answer already, she got to work on the item and design.  And she donated her time and talent  and materials to help this sweet boy out. Best of the best of all the people.

Today’s lesson:  surround yourself with awesome, loving, giving friends.  Together, you can start to change the world!!!

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The weekend.

We love us a good long weekend!  We had a house guest this weekend, of the 5-year-old-niece variety.  We have not had that much exuberance in the house since Melvin was here so it was fun to see her running zoomies and bouncing off of things. Also, Jake loves Maddy, he leans into her like he leans into no other (this might have something to do with her love of Oreos).

I worked with her to help her understand that Melvin is in heaven now and answer questions (why, why, why, why) that she had about that. Why he was there, why he couldn’t come back, that she wished he could come back (me too sister!!). The importance here is that, it’s pretty obvious Melvin is not in the house so she needed answers and also, one of her dogs has cancer so this is something that will help her in the next few months.

Maddy is a song-and-dance-firecracker, she will dance if she hears any music, anywhere and she will break into song (original songs that she makes up on the fly) throughout the day and night.  A lot of this weekends songs were about Melvin, sweet songs about him being a beautiful angel or watching over her or helping Jesus (she heard me, yay!).  But there was one song that she sang (and it was so heartfelt that it was impossible not to laugh hysterically (silently of course))….

Melvin’s in heaven with Jesus, We really miss him so much.  TT (that’s me) only has one dog left, if Jake dies she’ll be all alone.

I mean, life through the eyes (and song) of a five-year-old, brilliant!  I of course assured her that Jake was not going to die (even though his eye started spurting blood while she was here and she claimed it might be Jesus calling him to heaven) and that if he did die, I wouldn’t be alone to which she said, ‘well you will have people, but all your dogs would be dead’.

I love her!

She was very amused by Jake’s love of destroying stuffies.  “Destroy another!”IMG_5541 There was quality fairy time. IMG_5567 Jake started drooling excessively when she ate an apple and she proclaimed ‘what’s wrong with his mouth? It’s leaking!’ IMG_5570

This was a dramatic reenactment of ‘fairy is dancing so dog needs cone to protect bionic eye’. IMG_5569

That time I chased a poisonous toad to save Jake’s life.

Jake hunts frogs (or anything else that dares to come into his yard).  Problem is, there are some poisonous toads so I try to keep an eye on his safari adventures, especially at night. Lately, it’s been a non-issue because he can’t really see.

Which is good since I found a GIANT POISONOUS TOAD IN OUR YARD. (Just typing that takes me back to the horror filled moment).

Thankfully I found it and not Jake.  And thankfully my dad stocked my tool closet with a shovel. Melvin would have sensed that thing and ran inside, never to return outside again.  Jake would mount that toad and hold on tight, even as it sprayed poison into his face, He’d die trying to wrestle that dinosaur thing.

This is the toad I found, please note it’s size in comparison to a normal size brick. In addition to its gianormous length, It was easily as high as the brick.  I thought it was pregnant. It was the size of a large grapefruit. IMG_9580

Our dog walker will confirm that this is how big it was (not our photo, just showing this to explain to you the GIANTNESS OF IT!). She was there when then war went down. Cane Toad 158

And here it is tainting up the bucket I captured it in (I threw the bucket away, I mean I can’t keep it now, it’s a reminder of frogmagedon). It is honestly the size of an adult turtle. Look at its fat arms, I think it’s on steroids.IMG_9581

I don’t really enjoy nature.  I certainly do not enjoy poison.  But if any animal threatens the safety of my dogs, well you might have poison sprayers on your neck, but I have a dad-issued-shovel and an industrial sized bucket and I will take you down.

PS.  If you are wondering how to tell if  a toad is poisonous or not, see, those kidney-shaped lumps on its back, just below his head — those are the glands that house the poison.  Normal toads do not have those.  You’re welcome.