These are the dogs that Jake and I have met in the past few months.
This is Stanley. I loved Stanley. The reason Stanley was ultimately was not for us was because in his first life, he was chained in a basement and his new life, he was learning how much he loved to play! Jake can’t play, his spine can’t take it. Stanley deserved a life of romping, so we (me and the rescue group) decided that he was better off in a different home. A few weeks later, Stanley was adopted!
This is Norman. Norman was awesome in just about every way. Norman also happened to be the dog that alerted me, and our trainer (which prompted a visit with a behaviorist), that something (not so great) was going on with Jake. Norman was in our house for four days. Jake flipped out the entire time Norman was here. They were separated the entire time but just knowing Norman was in the house had Jake ramming doors and gates and walls trying to get to him. Norman was terrified of Jake (hell I was terrified of Jake too). The only way I could get Jake to stop flipping out when Norman was here, was to take Norman into the garage, then take Jake upstairs (making him think Norman had left) and putting him to bed. The moment Jake woke up and sensed Norman was still here, the ramming started all over. Jake rammed and scratched so much in those four days, there was blood. I really loved Norman but Jake being unable to come down at all made me realize that we still had some work to do. Norman got adopted the day after his visit here ended!
This is dog #3. I can’t even recall his name! We met this (type of) dog on the recommendation of our behaviorist. To set Jake up with a Melvin like dog (light-colored and soft looking). Jake actually did ok with this dog on our meet walk but not so much when we neared our house. Either way, I didn’t feel like this dog was right for me and he didn’t have a ton of patience for nice-Jake so he was probably not going to love not-so-nice Jake.
And finally, Gus. To this day, Gus not being here haunts me. Jake bit Gus twice (within the same 4-5 seconds)(and even though Jake has worn down teeth and didn’t leave a mark, poor Gus yelped both times). This was another situation where had Jake calmed down AT ALL while Gus was here, I would have adopted Gus and made it work. But Jake foamed and flipped and rammed doors and walls and furniture the entire time Gus was in our house. Until you have been in a situation where you cannot calm your dog down for hours upon hours, you don’t know how alarming it can feel. (sidenote: Gus was adopted!)
I know many of you are thinking, it takes time. And I wholeheartedly agree with you. Jake and Melvin were separated for two weeks to start and Jake was then on tie down for two additional weeks. And I’m willing to separate for as long as it takes. But when I tell you that Jake can’t calm down, I’m putting it mildly. He is like a wild, rabid, caged animal when these dogs are in our house. I had trainers come over and asses him. I talked to behaviorists that told me even in extreme cases where a dog reacts, they eventually do calm down (even if they re-escalate later). Jake’s reaction is more stuck on loop, of reacting. If Jake had lunged the crate or the gate but then went and laid down, and then rammed the crate, and then went and laid down, I would have ten dogs by now!
I don’t know what happened between Melvin and now, but my guess is that, Melvin was more to Jake than just a brother. I think as Jake’s mobility continued to fail, he still felt safe with Melvin. He does not seem as confident now. I believe Jake can find that again but I’m not sure what the path to that looks like for us. There are others that feel that he may not find it again, that as his mobility fails, Jake changes. At the end of the day, it’s Jake’s safety I worry about, he can barely stand up, so any altercation that might be brought on by him would result in his own injury. I also worry about Jake’s mental state when a dog is here. You know the kid in Target who has a meltdown because they are tired and hungry and can’t have everything in the toy section? They are flailing and screaming and arching their back to get out of the cart and the parent would give anything for it not to be happening or for their child to not feel inconsolable. That is Jake, the entire time a dog is here.
I think you guys know that I am willing to go a pretty far distance for my dogs. And had Melvin and Jake had an issue where living separate lives became a necessity, I would have done that. For them. But I’m not in that mindset (crate and rotate forever) at this point for Jake and a new dog. And all signs so far have suggested that is good possibility with the dogs we have met. To those of you that eternally crate and rotate…I stand in awe of you.
We are still working on this! Mostly because, I’m feeling a bit selfish — I couldn’t need another dog more. But family is about compromise. So we shall see. And I share this with you so that you know what our path looks like. Even though Jake and I are on the same journey, sometimes we take different routes to our destination.