Dear Jake.

I love you. You are one of the greatest gifts of my life.

It has been one year since I held you in my arms. I really don’t want to be marking this day on the calendar. I just want you here. Our time was cut way too short, Jakey.  I’m not sure I will ever makes sense of that. But, thoughts of you rarely make me sad. In fact, just the vision of you, brings on a flood of glorious joy.

You are my sunshine.

You were meant to be mine. There is no doubt. Your first family was to give up on you so that I could see you through your ‘special opportunities’. They were not joy warriors. They would not have been able to make sense of you like Melvin and I did.

You needed to know my love. In the process, I found more love than I ever knew existed.

You are the closest I will have ever come to having a child.  Not just because I changed your diapers and carried you, but because out of all the dogs I have had, you are the only one that relied on me completely. I doubt I will ever nurture anyone as much as I did you.

I was honored to be chosen to show you the way. But guess what little monkey, I think you guided me far more than I guided you.

Those months of intense grief that we shared after Melvin died, are forever, only ours. I would not have made it through if it were not for you. We grieved in exactly the same way and we needed space at the same time. Melvin was the Yin to your Yang but I was happy to fill in when it was just you and me. While I would have preferred you stayed here with me, I know that if given the choice between here and there, you would choose Melvin every time. Trust me. I get it. I love you even more for understanding so perfectly what Melvin love is all about.

Jakey, I love you completely, and beautifully and eternally. It’s a love that is woven through my bones.  It’s a crazy love, that even has me missing your damn meatballs sometimes.

You were not an easy puzzle to solve.  I hardly ever knew what to make of you.  I felt pretty confident, daily, that I had no idea of what you wanted or needed. You were my little cinder block. Impossible to read, unpredictable as F, and the funniest living creature that I will ever have the joy of laughing at/with/near.

I miss you. Some days, it’s still too much to put into perspective.

I’m not mad that life dealt you the hand it did.  I mean, I’d obviously prefer you lived a struggle free life, filled with joy and zoomies and peanut butter (and your odd carpet love making).  But that life may not have lead you to me. Sometimes, the road to true joy and unconditional love is paved by lessons in perseverance. That is our beautiful story, Jakey.

We earned our joy. We earned our love. I would only change that you stayed with me longer. It felt like there was not enough time with you. I will always feel that you deserved way more than eight years on this earth.  And this earth, deserved more you. There was just never enough Jakey to go around!  You brought the noise and the funk, and you were this tiny puzzle piece that when snapped into your forever spot, made our world come alive.

You made everything make sense.

Your eyes. I would give anything to stare into them (one at a time of course) again. But that is what all those photos and videos are for bud.  I can’t be a crazy dog person without admitting I have over 40,000 photos in my library. That library of memories of you and Melvin, is my most cherished possession.

There is something very soul changing about caring for a special needs dog. I remember how scared you were when your legs first gave out but Melvin rushed to you and I watched as you inhaled his love. I reached for you as your legs were swimming and you began to panic. You exhaled and melted into my arms and I knew and you knew and Melvin knew that no matter what was to come, we would always be there for you. Caring for you the last year of your life, with your eye, all the skin infections and the cancer, I learned so much from you. For all the shit that this universe dumped on you that last year, you responded with joy.

You and me, we won.

You and Melvin and me were meant to be. We are, and always will be, that little family who grew love and watched joy bloom.

Also, I know it’s  you who watches over Doug.  I know this with absolute certainty.  You are the perfect big brother for him. You guiding him makes my heart happy. I only wish you were here to torment him in person.  You would be the ultimate boss of him, bud! And, if you are taking request, calm him down any day now!

Jakey, my love for you lives on in so many beautiful ways. You changed me. I scroll my Facebook feed and I see a dog with no eyes or a dog dragging their legs and the old me would have said poor thing but Jake’s mom knows that there is nothing but opportunity in those photos. Because of you, I see the beautiful in the broken, I see opportunity for joy when faced with struggle. When the journey gets hard, I see you, and I’m reminded that all the obstacles, and all the twists and turns that occur, are part of my beautiful life unfolding. I know that you and Melvin and Max will always show me the way.

You know who doesn’t miss you?  All the neighborhood wildlife.  But they are stupid so who cares what they think.

I’m so grateful that I was chosen to love you. You are my beautiful purpose. My wonky, little-monkey. My googly-eyed, chicken nugget.

I love you. Your love lives on, in me. Forever.

xoxo

me.

 

 

Letters from Heaven. For mom.

Hi mom. It’s me, Jake.

Tomorrow marks one year since you and I were together.

I miss you.

I watch you cry. The same way I watched you cry after Melvin left us. I don’t know how to help you, I didn’t know back then either. But you knew. You always knew what to do.

From the first few months I was there and I would sit far away from you and Melvin because I was not used to interacting with anyone, you would say take your time bud, we are here forever. And when I slowly inched toward you, you didn’t smother me. You knew I needed space.  That seems like so long ago.

All I remember now, is the love.

You did that. You were the first person to truly love me. I didn’t make it easy sometimes. I made sweet love to all the rugs. I tormented Melvin. I thought for sure you would give me away like my first family did. But you never even suggested it. You just giggled, or said oh Jakey (and few absolutely nots, but I forgive you for those).

I never knew what unconditional love was until that day my legs stopped working. I was so scared. Remember how big my eyes got? Melvin was scared too but he ran right up to me. I mean he could have run away but instead he used his nose to try and lift me up. That was the moment with him, that I knew I had a soulmate. I know you were scared too and your eyes were leaky but you never left my side. You picked me up and I felt all the love in the universe through your embrace. Even when you said the vets said I had a wonky spine and would one day be paralyzed, you said this is why we found each other. We were meant to be, Jakey. 

And then you made it ok.

You got up with me every night when my bed got wet. You wiped me off so gently, I thought you’d be mad but you just sang to me. Even when the meatball factory started having odd hours, you still said it was ok. I used to think you were really strange, but now I know, you’re what love looks like.

You refused to go on walks without me. You said these are family walks and the whole family must go. Enter in my buggy!  I have never felt so boss as I did in that buggy.  Me and my Melvin man, ruling the hood!

You made me believe I could fly.

You and Melvin are my whole world. You are all I know. When Melvin left us, and it was just you and me, well I don’t know how I would have gotten through that time without you.  I know your eyes were leaky for him but you never missed any of my moments.

Every time I woke up, you were always there. When I couldn’t do something, you made it so I could. When my legs stopped working more, you carried me. I can still feel your arms hold me. I can still hear you say I got you bud as you kissed my head. The only thing more special about you holding me is how gently you would put me down and encourage me to try again.

I love you.

I love Melvin, it’s true. But please don’t ever think I loved him more than you. I wanted to come see him, I just sorta thought I could then come back to you.  Now we both sit and watch over you. Max too. I know you and Melvin have your own language, and me and you never really had that, but I also know you don’t need two dogs with the same super power. I have my own connection with you; I will always be your baby.

You are my only human. Not just the only one who was ever there for me, but the only one I would ever want. You are my beginning and my end and all the love in-between.

I want to thank you for knowing. That day when I got outside and I sat in the mulch, staring at a yard I could no longer run in. Staring at a space where Melvin and I used to be. You watched me. You even took a picture. And after you put the phone down, and you were leaning in the doorway, I looked at you, and you knew. You told me you would never let cancer win. Your eyes were so sad but I saw so much love in your face and I knew you understood. After everything I asked of you, the love you showed me at the end, well…those moments are ours. And they made my life complete.

Thank you for seeing me through what you did. I will never stop returning the favor of watching over you. I will never close both googly eyes until you are here with me (NO RUSH THOUGH!!).

For now, I will be with Melvin (and Max), but just like on earth, we are always your little family. Our love lives on. In you.

Love, your Jakey.

P.S. I love you so much.

 

 

 

One year.

Tuesday will mark the one year anniversary of losing Jake. Of all the days I have had to face after losing both Melvin and Jake, this one is by far the most difficult for me.

I don’t want it to be one year because I don’t want it to even be one minute. Most days, I barely accept that he’s gone. I still lose my breath during moments of missing him. I have theories on why this has been so hard on me, but the reality is that the theories don’t really matter.  Losing Jake has been the hardest thing I’ve gone through. It is what it is.

I know that some of you are thinking, even harder than losing Melvin?

Yes. Much harder.

Some of that is likely due to losing both boys back-to-back with Jake being second.  Some of that is that I had Jake during the year after losing Melvin. Some of that is Doug is not a healer, he’s a spaz who barely senses emotion (I still love him).  Mostly though, and I never thought I would be someone who would say these words but I say them with complete conviction: Melvin imprinted on me. I felt intense grief when he died, but then he reached out and played a role in my healing process.  He is a part of who I am. A part I can feel, call upon, and count on.  I will never be able to explain it, I’m only just grateful that it happened. He and I are one.

It is not the same with Jake. And it wouldn’t be fair of me to ask that the universe make it the same.  Each loss is different. Losing Jake left a wide void. I have not figured out how to mend it yet.

When I hit the one year mark of losing Melvin, I recall it being easier to celebrate all the beautiful moments we’d had, and sure, I was sad that he was not here (and always will be) but I was infinitely stronger to face life without Melvin than I have been to face days without Jake. I went through every photo I ever took of Melvin and made a few videos to share with you all. I was unable to do the same for Jake. I don’t feel guilty about this, I know he doesn’t care. I fully accept my limitations where grieving him is concerned.

I have two posts coming next week to pay tribute to my love for Jake. But I can tell you with all that I am, that I hope Tuesday will be a day that fades in and then fades away. I want the calendar to stop reminding me that he’s gone.

I’m not gone woman. I left my DNA everywhere! 3 5 14

For those of you who are new to the blog, here is the post that explains Jakey’s last days with me.

And here is my one year post after Melvin died.

Letters from Heaven. Letter two.

Doug, It’s me, Jake.

Bro, I know what it’s like to be an inmate. She kept me locked in the mudroom for twenty years when I first came (she will say it was two weeks but it felt way longer).  She called it two-week-shutdown, I called it bullcrap, am I right?! Melvin claims he was kept separate from Max for a few weeks too but I don’t know, she let Melvin roam the WHOLE house when I lived there.  The WHOLE damn house!

Anyway, I saw you had surgery and your leg is wonky.  Uh, welcome to my world!  You are more like me than everyone thought! And uh bro, we saw you the other day when you were pooping and you fell into your poop cause your leg gave out.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAH!  Max and Melvin even laughed.  That was too funny!  Also, been there, done that.

Remember in my last letter when I told you there would come a time that she would have to carry you.  I watched her lift you out of the car the other day.  She’s always so careful and gentle.  She kissed the top of your head to keep you calm. She did that to me too.  I closed my eyes and I could still feel her wrap her arms around me. I could still hear her say ‘I’ve got you bud’. You’re so lucky to have her taking care of you.  Heres a little secret bro, she cried the first few nights you couldn’t sleep upstairs. She’s so sensitive.

So, um, dork, maybe, stop with the death stares.  I mean she spends hours a day trying to keep you entertained with puzzles and frozen smoothie Kongs and shin bones from real cows! I never got no real cow shin bones (I mean I had tic-tac teeth but so what!)  I mean, don’t scowl at the hand that feeds you dude. We get that you’d rather be out running zoomies but we think you are really lucky to be there with her. Trust us on this, just breathe these moments with her in.

Life here is pretty glorious.  I pretty much just smell and stare at Melvin all day. You will have to take my word for it, he smells so delicious.  I really like Max too.  He’s so chill. He’s like Yoda, do you know who that is? People say I look like Yoda but Max actually is Yoda.

Melvin’s doing great.  He spends his entire day watching her. Their connection is something that everyone here is in awe of. Its like she can reach up here and touch him and at the same time he’s there beside her. He won’t even write one of these letters, something about it being too sacred. I don’t know, I’m not a rules guy so I do as I want. So anywho, I stare at Melvin, Melvin stares at her and Max is Yoda. Also, there is endless peanut butter.  But don’t be thinking it’s so great here that you need to come, the current plan is that you won’t be here for 14 more years. Don’t worry brother, we’ll be waiting for you.

Pretty sure after my last letter we decided you wouldn’t destroy any more beds.  I may not be there to physically jump you (but if I was I would jump on you so hard) but let me try going about this another way…we have some pull up here as your guardian angels. Now I’m not technically allowed to threaten you, apparently heaven is all about positive reinforcement, but um Doug, I’m Jake. I act first and worry about the positive reinforcement rules never. STOP DESTROYING BEDS. 1. I left a sleep legacy there. You are tainting it. 2. When you stress her out you stress WWE Jake out and don’t make me go all HULK ON YOU!  I’m being told to calm down. UGH.

Lastly. WTF is going on that you let a cat join our family.  I mean seriously, WHAT THE ACTUAL FUDGE? We don’t take in cats, we eat them.  There is no grey area here, Doug. Cats = food. This is embarrassing. Birds landed in our yard, I ate them. Bunnies hopped on by, get in my belly bunny cause Jake gonna eat you. Frogs hippy hopping, my tongue was their final lily pad.  But you? A cat walks by and the next thing we know is she has a rabies certificate for it and you’re calling the damn thing sister. Epic fail, brother, epic fail.

Ok, I gotta run.  We got a peanut butter eating competition against Corbin, Rufus, Dixie and Chilly.  Team Holupka all the way bro!

love, your favorite brother, Jake

 

These are a few of my favorite things.

Here are few of my treasures in the house.  I’m not sure what was up with my camera making everything look beige.  But you get the gist.

My most favorite photo of my guy. IMG_4636

 

My daily remider. IMG_4637

 

My superheroes. IMG_4639

 

My favorite guard dog butts. IMG_4641

 

A canvas I had made on ETSY. IMG_4644

 

Doug’s first framed photo! IMG_4647 (1)

 

Our Yellow Brick Home Pet Portrait treasures!IMG_4649

 

And the book I had made of the all the Instagram memories I have of Melvin and Jake. Sneak peek video below. IMG_4651

 

 

The other leg.

Doug is a lot like Melvin (the early days Melvin) ethusiastically.  But his hind legs are 100% Jake.

We have the ongoing saga of his newly rebuilt leg. That one takes us down the inmate path where Doug is jailed and I take his tranquilizers.

We also have the other leg. It now has a stage one luxating patella. It also, likely from several months of compensating for the other leg, hyperextends in the hock area.  The best way for me to describe this to you in a way we all understand is that his ankle area on the good leg, pops forward when he uses it.  Ankles probably should not do that.

Enter in the new brace.  When I tell people about the new brace they just assume its for the newly rebuilt leg and even when I try to explain it’s for the not new leg, they still say ‘yeah, it’s for his surgery leg’ and I say no, it’s for his non-surgery leg and then we all just agree to disagree but still agree that both legs are problematic. Then I get the vodka back out.

Here is Doug, and his new leg brace. He’s tried to eat it 4,672 times (we just got it on Friday) (bottom two videos). I break into a full sweat getting it on him. But look how nicely it accentuates his juicy thigh!

IMG_4578

Bob, the lady cat.

As you will recall, Bob is the feral cat that I started feeding last fall, when she was just a kitten. Then Bob got knocked up, and her gender became more obvious, but I kept her name anyway. She’s Bob. Bob was trapped, she nursed her kittens and they were adopted out.

Bob got spayed, vaccinated, ear tipped, microchipped and got a three-month tick preventative this past week and has come here to recover.

Bob is an angry, rebellious teenager. And everything is apparently my fault.

Listen Bob, I get it. You’re a slutty little vixen (that sounded judgy but I fully accept who you are) and after a few nights of unprotected boy-toy time you started gaining some weight. Then one day, kittens dropped out of your area. I imagine that was uncomfortable. I don’t know how you felt about being a mom but you seemed to step-up and kept the kittens well-fed. Then the rains came, you moved the babies to higher ground and then giants stole your babies, trapped you and forced you into a cage with the kittens to be their food source. It all seems pretty hurtful. 

Then one of the giants took you to a place where they poked and prodded you and then took out your lady parts. Then a different, yet familiar, giant picked you up and put you in a high-rise cage that she built with her own hands. Even though that familiar giant paid your vet bill, and is allergic to you, and reaches into the cage several times a day to feed you, give you fresh water and clean your litter box, you take time out of your very busy lying around time TO HISS AT HER LIKE VICIOUS LION.

Yes, folks, that’s right, inmate-Bob hates me too. I go outside and use soothing tones and feed her really, really good food and she basically gives the cat equivalent of a F U. Every time. It rained yesterday, so I went and bought a huge tarp to keep Bob dry and I spent a long time trying to aerodynamically figure out how to utilize the tarp and not SUFFOCATE BOB at the same time and still that little hussy (sorry, still no judgement) hissed at me the entire time. Every time I reach in to fill up her food bowl I wonder if that will be the moment I learn what cat attack feels like.

I don’t blame her. She does not have a clue as to why her life has been disrupted and when, if ever, she will back to walking the mean streets. The answer to that is, SOON, very soon. Once free. my guess is that she will return to the front of the house where I was feeding her before her teen pregnancy and that is fine. I will feed her wherever.

I am also moderately concerned that she and Doug are planning some sort of prison coup. They can probably communicate telepathically.

I need a sturdier lock on my bedroom door.

The only thing that I know with absolute certainty is that cleaning a litter box is a new level in hell for me. It’s not even that there is poop or pee, I mean the scoop makes it really easy. It’s the smell of the fresh litter. It’s so overwhelming. It’s like someone sprays a powdery,  deodorizing, air freshener directly into my face every time. The smell haunts me, all day.

Here is Bob being introduced to her condo. This is right before poop started flying out of her butt.  It made me miss Jake.

 

She looks super sweet. Until you look at, lean towards, reach into or try to help out in any way.

IMG_4519IMG_4522

It makes me laugh how much Jake would HATE the mere idea of Bob, let alone seeing her in his yard.  I’m not even sure I would have taken her in if Jake was here, his prey drive was so severe. Bob’s existence would have haunted him day and night. He is probably flipping out about her as I type this.