I know that the norm in rescue, is to not know your pets actual birthday (or age). Melvin and Jake were both turned into to rescue by their original owners, so I knew both for them.
Doug’s age was guessed and his birthday was chosen by me. On December 1st he is ‘officially’ three. But there is a chance he’s four. Or five. And there are 364 chances that his birthday is not December 1st.
The only thing we know for sure, is that Doug is living his best life.
The time he has lived in this home, exceeds the time he lived as a stray in South Carolina. If I’m doing my job right, he doesn’t even recall his first life. He only knows stability and routine; his belly is always full and his legs are now built to ferociously chase joy.
He is unlike any dog I have had before and at the same time, he reminds me of his brothers daily. Love lives on fiercely in this one.
We are opposites, in so many ways. He has so much energy and a party animal mentality. I’m laid back and calm. He likes mobs of people, I like intimate crowds. He seeks to destroy, I like mending things.
There are a few areas we agree on. We both like the same spot on the couch. We both are food motivated. We both like a good nights sleep and we both give all we have, to spreading joy.
Doug – your entire existence in my life was unexpected. The only thing I know for certain is that you have my heart. I can’t wait to watch your glorious life continue to unfold.
The dogs have never gotten birthday gifts – they live lives of leisure and safety and they want for nothing. Instead, to celebrate, we donate items to a shelter so that a dog in need will know about comfort and love.
Happy Birthday, baby! Three (or four or five) looks great on you!
I had surgery last week and spent an extra few days at my parents so they could help with Doug and my recovery. I’m so thankful to have family close by and that they are so generous with their time.
This week, someone from the blog reached out to ask me about the grief Jake experienced after Melvin died and to find out if we tried any medication to help. They needed some guidance on their grief journey. I have written before that Jake had a very hard time the hours and days and weeks after Melvin died. He was not Jake, he was hollow, and unsure and broken-hearted. He howled at the door Melvin had gone out of. I couldn’t use words to tell him what had happened. I couldn’t use any language to explain to him that I understood. I could only be as strong as my grief would allow and somehow try to cushion the hardest moment of our lives for both of us.
Photo credit: Kate Juliet Photography
We did try medication. Prozac. And it helped tremendously.
After Melvin died, Jake and I had an appointment with a well-known behaviorist in our area. So much was going on with Jake in the Melvinless world. His sadness. His confusion. His physical decline; all he did was lay at the door. Waiting for his soul mate to return.
I told her stories of them, from their first days together, to their last.
She took everything in.
She said: Jake needs Prozac.
We had a two-hour session with her, it was VERY expensive and when she delivered that line, I stared at her waiting for more. This couldn’t be all she had to say and why did she say it so matter-of-factly? I could have suggested Prozac and I’m only a fake vet.
I said: Ok, why?
And then she delivered words that gutted me the way that “Melvin has cancer” and “Jake has Cancer” gutted me.
She said: He needs Prozac because from the day he arrived at your house, having lived a life of little interaction with humans and having felt no real love, he suddenly received natural Prozac in the form of Melvin. Melvin cured life for Jake. And now Melvin is gone and Jake feels alone.
My whole body went hot, she was still talking but I felt more emotion than I had been ready to feel at that moment.
So many images flashed in front of me. What I had seen between Melvin and Jake had been Jake idolizing Melvin, Jake obsessed with Melvin’s butt, Jake following Melvin around and sometimes trying to antagonize him. But all of a sudden, I saw it. Something I had never noticed. Melvin always the one to move closer to Jake, standing near Jake, waiting for Jake. Melvin allowing the invasion of his butt. MELVIN LEADING JAKE. Melvin giving Jake understanding unlike any creature I had ever seen.
Melvin saw who Jake was from day one and he accepted the all of him without pause. When Jake leapt of the couch onto Melvin’s head, Melvin met him with stability and forgiveness. Melvin made Jake feel safe, and cherished, and loved. When Jake’s legs gave out, or he’d fall, Melvin was by his side before I could get to him. Melvin was in the house, all day long, everyday, even when I was not. Jake was never alone.
Until Melvin died.
I may have signed the papers, but Melvin rescued Jake.
That moment with the behaviorist felt sad at first. Mostly because I got a glimpse into Jake’s grief and it was way too heavy for his sweet little soul. I felt Melvin after he died. He never left me. But Jake needed the visual of Melvin. The smell of Melvin. The feel of Melvin.
I would rather Jake have found and lost his soul mate, then to have never known what true love felt like. In all sadness, there is still joy. No one hopes their dog will need medication to exist joyfully in the world, but I am always open to the dogs getting what they need to have full lives. That might be special diets, that might be appointments with trainers or a behaviorist and it might be Prozac. I’m glad we live in a world with options.
Jake’s gotcha day is Thanksgiving weekend. It is so poetic that he came to us at that time. I gave a lot of thought this Thanksgiving to when Jake showed up in our lives and how he and Melvin were destined to be. I live a grateful life, and there are very few things I am more grateful for than my boys.
Hoping you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with much to be grateful for!