Putting it in that context has always made it hurt a little less. I was always meant to find Melvin, and so was Jake.
Losing Jake was so hard, something this community knows very well. Melvin was gone and Jake’s last year was so difficult. His soulmate had left him and he didn’t know why. His beautiful googly eye formed a hole from an ulcer and after emergency surgery, struggled to heal (never forget hamburger eye!). He went fully paralyzed in his hind legs. He got MRSP. His body had a much harder time fighting infection and then cancer came knocking again, this time with two different types for Jake.
I have conflicting feelings about his last year. He was so lost without Melvin and there were moments, where it was just me and him, that I saw how small and lonely he was without his big brother. But he and I got to have that year together, just the two of us, and I really do believe that is how it was meant to be. He got all the love, something he had never gotten from anyone, ever.
We made the best of that year. Many moments of me holding him in my arms, dancing around the house. Trips to the beach, rolling around the hood in his stroller. Owning the front door watch post like a boss. Him doing all the meatball production and me doing all the meatball clean up.
A lot has happened in the last three years, and in some ways, nothing has changed. I said goodbye to Jake and hello to Doug; my little family may look different, but Melvin and Jake are still part of it. Jake is still my baby, I don’t think any dog will ever need me as much as he did. Melvin is my co-pilot and Jake is Doug’s. He is the little voice that whispers inside Doug’s head, some are really good ideas and some are really, really, really bad ideas.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jake told me to do it.
Every year around the time of Jake’s death, I try to find a dog in rescue who needs a cart. It started with Oliver, just before Jake died, and this week, we bought our 4th cart in memory of Jakey, paid with love, for a little nugget named Declan. Declan is about to regain his mobility, and every joyful step he takes with his new wheels, will be more of Jake’s beautiful love living on, and one more step closer to Declan finding his forever.
I am so thankful this wonky-googly-eyed ball of comedy rescued me. I’m so happy to have been chosen to watch over both Jake and Melvin and watch their love grew. They brought me more happiness than I could ever explain! If you ever ask my advice on how to navigate all of life’s beautiful and soul crushing moments, my response is always: Be the joy. So this week, in memory of someone who’s love should live on, be the Jakey joy. I promise, you won’t regret it.
Saturday: Jake’s eye with the little ulcer had improved. Jake’s eye with the ‘very deep’ (seriously, they repeated the very deep part about 15 times) was not improving. We’d been doing eye drops for about four days and they expected to see improvement with both. So, they took Jake’s blood, and made eye drops out it. I 100% expected the drops to look like blood and that after I put the drops in Jake’s eyes, he would look like one of the vampires in True Blood when they cried. (In case you didn’t see True Blood, the vampires cried blood). Instead, the drops were a milky liquid derived from his blood. And in a test tube. Add this to the list of things I never expected when I became a dog mom.
Sunday: We woke up, I fed him and then got him up on the couch for his eye drops (this is also known as the time he thrashes around like I am performing an exorcism on him). After I put the drops in, I looked into both eyes (knowing full well I had no idea what I was looking at or knowing if I’m qualified to notice a change). The left eye seemed fine. His right eye, the one with the deep ulcer, had A HOLE IN IT. I looked around the room and thought, it must be a reflection of a light or something, THERE CANNOT BE A GAPING HOLE IN HIS EYE. But there it was, a perfectly round hole and I could see into it and it was deep. No one had mentioned a hole but I knew it wasn’t good (I’m that smart). We were at the ER 20 min later.
ER: The ER was packed but they put Jake in a room immediately and the dr came in pretty quick. When Melvin and Jake are your dogs, you know the ER vets by name. He looked at Jake’s eye and said ‘it’s bad’ and left the room to call the ophthalmologist for an emergency consult. When he left, he told me to hold Jake very still, that any sudden movement could rupture his eye. Uh…what? I’m not qualified. I held him and then as any parent would do, I replayed all the sudden movements he’d had since seeing the hole. I then had a silent conversation with my crazy self that I of course didn’t try to rupture his eye and that I didn’t know there shouldn’t be sudden movements and then I continued along the silent conversation route saying there was no way to not jar him a little when putting him in his car seat since his body is not flimsy, it’s more like a cinderblock. And then I had an out loud conversation with Jake about how I needed him to hold his eye together. Crazy person, room three. The doctor came back and said he’d consulted with two ophthalmologists and both agreed that Jake should be admitted, sedated and have emergency surgery the next day. I sorta knew this was coming since they day the ulcer formed. My dogs like to push the limits on how far they can take each health conundrum.
Sidenote: You all know the extent of vet visits I have had with both boys. There are very few things we have not faced and very few tests we have not had. We have been to the ER so many times, I lost count. There have been surgeries, MRIs, Spinal taps and issues that vets had never seen before. Melvin almost had to have a lung lobe removed for cripes sake! But never, ever, never (and I don’t know how this is possible) but never have I had to leave a dog overnight. So I started sobbing. SOBBING. Which turned into an ugly cry and mumbling about things that didn’t even make sense to me. (For example, we were currently in the room that I was with my friend Virginia in when we thought we’d have to put her beagle MollieAnne down and I had gone out to get her (the dog) fast food and the only fast food close by was Roy Rogers and the cheeseburger and fries I brought her that night brought her back to life. And in my crying fit during the present time visit part of my mumbling was that being in the Roy Rogers room would certainly have to work in our favor too and Melvin would be with Jake in his condo and maybe I could bring them both Roy Rogers). The doctor just looked at me and nodded, even when I said ‘ROY ROGERS ROOM’. And the thing is, I have complete faith in this hospital. The Life Center is one of the premiere vet speciality hospitals on the east coast. But mama was overwhelmed and the thought of abandoning leaving Jake seemed impossible. They told me my reaction was normal (sometimes it’s kind to lie) and they let me come back to the ICU with Jake while they got him settled in. He pee’d on the way into his new condo and that made me laugh. So I sat with him for a while and then when they were ready to sedate him, I left. It sucked. I called every 15 minutes regularly to check on him but since he had to remain calm, me visiting him was not a good option.
Tomorrow, I’ll finish the hospital and surgery story. And we have a Melvin’s Project Joy giveaway for August coming too!
Until then, here is a little check-list for sanity. It’s some preparedness tips for ‘a just in case’ ER visit with your pet:
Write out all your pet’s meds and take a picture of that list. When in the ER with your pet, you will not be able to recall the name of the meds they take nor will mg/dosage be within your brain’s reach. Even if the pill your dog takes is called ‘pill’, that word will escape you.
If you think for one minute that the emergency will require your pet to stay, bring their critical meds with you. I had to go back and get Jake’s meds and True blood eye drops and bring them back over.
Have an emergency plan for the car (a blanket in the garage you can throw down, easy access towels, a plan to secure your pet (this is just a good idea in general for regular travel). I learned this one the hard way when Melvin had is first (of several) bout(s) of bloody poop. I know, I know, the glamour.
Keep a leash in your car. You will forget it and unless you can carry your pet, you’ll need the leash.
When your pet has blood work done, have your vet send it to you via email or print it out for you. Bring that most recent blood work report with you. They almost always want to do blood work. In Jake’s case, he had just had a full panel done a few days prior and having that saved us a lot.
Ask the ER vet about payment plans. Regular vet care is expensive. ER vet care is crazy expensive (albeit worth it).
If you’ll recall, Jake had surgery the next day and the term ‘hamburger eye’ was introduced after that. Here are a few photos that came after this conundrum….