Feb
24

0


Our Sweet Abby

There will never be another dog like Abby (and that’s probably a good thing).  She was the classic “bad” dog; she was fat, loud, and not housetrained.

Abby started her time with us as just another foster beagle.  She wasn’t supposed to stay.  But I fell in love with her at the first adoption day we brought her to.  We sat there, on the floor at Petco, for 4 hours and no one even looked at her.  Everyone wanted to adopt a fun, cute puppy.  No one had any use for a fat lemon bagel who snored.  She looked at me that day, with her sweet face and big, loving eyes, as if to ask, “why does no one want me?” and from then on, I was in love.

We kept up the farce of her as a foster dog for 7 months after that, each month going to the adoption day, and each month no one looked at her.  I was secretly happy because I didn’t want to lose her.  No other family was going to love her as much as we did.  Finally, in the car on the way to yet another adoption day I resolved that it would be her last.  She was coming home to stay, even if having 4 dogs seemed absurd.  She was part of our family.

Wouldn’t you know it, that day several families wanted to meet Abby and swarmed us when we got there.  I didn’t say anything, I just let them meet her and pet her, but even if they were the best family in the world, they weren’t going to be good enough for our Abby.  I signed the paperwork and she was finally ours.

She never really refined into a “good” dog but she was just so darn sweet, it didn’t matter.  She loved to chase squirrels in our yard, though she could never catch one the way she charged at them, arroooo-ing.  I’m sure the neighbors loved hearing the Abby squirrel-alarm first thing every morning.

She lost almost 30 pounds on the green-bean diet, but never lost her love for food.  We called dinner the best 30 seconds of Abby’s day.  She figured out how to open the closet door and get into the dog food bin, and once helped herself to a significant portion of a 20-lb bag.

She ate an entire box of freshly-picked tomatoes from my parents’ garden and on another occasion, a 5-pound bag of flour intended for Christmas cookies.  Abby’s motto was always, “eat first. ask questions later.”

Her zest for life was intoxicating.  She was so bad she was good.  She loved to give over-zealous, sloppy, wet kisses.  Her whole body wiggled when her tail wagged, as though it couldn’t contain her excitement.

She was with us for less than two years before the mast cell tumor took hold.  She put up a good fight, but it had spread too far.  Despite the pain she was in, she was Abby until the end.

In the month before she died, though weakened by the cancer and the chemo, she still figured out how to use the step stool to get on the kitchen counter and helped herself to a pizza, a loaf of bread, a stick of butter, and a pound of cheese.

We love you and miss you, Abigail.

Keira and Jeremy Rupon


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Feb
24

5


Jake the dog (aka CrazyJake, the Evil Beagle, Chad, Hanging Chad, Sad Chad, Mr. Naughty, Mister Man, Mr. Dog, Mister Pupperdog, Hurricane Jake, Daddy’s Little Dog, the Dog Pill, Pilli-vanilli, Pill-bert)

Feb. 1998 – Aug 13, 2010 (My dog buddy Nov. 1999-Aug. 13 2010)

Jake the dog came into my life Nov. of 1999. I had to euthanize my old beagle Pokey after a short, but traumatic illness. I had adopted Pokey-dog from the pound so I was determined to find another beagle to adopt. I was fortunate to find BREW, which was in its first year as an organization. In a truly weird coincidence, I began corresponding with another Laura Johnson, founder of BREW. I attended the BeagleFest in Sept but didn’t find my own beagle Jake until Nov.

From what I understood, by the time he was 20 months old when he entered my life, Jake the dog had been born and bred in Mexico, ostensibly for hunting but that didn’t turn out, ended up in the Virginia area, been adopted out, and then returned to BREW because the previous owner didn’t have enough time for a dog. I remember the drive home from VA with Jake excitedly swaying as he stood looking over my shoulder from the backseat. He came home with me to Catonsville, MD fat (his previous owner apparently had been giving more treats than exercise) and this purple rubber squeaky bone from his puppyhood.

The first few weeks I was exhausted, adjusting to what I now called a “toddler in a fur coat.” Especially compared to my dearly departed elderly beagle, Pokey, Jake was a bundle of BOUNDLESS energy. Since he was a good 10 lbs overweight, we went on walks. Lots of walks. Lots and lots of walks. If I could have tied him to my bike and taking him out for a 50mi ride, I would have done it! I swear I spent every waking moment at home, walking him around greater Catonsville.

Given his dominant personality, I decided until he knew his place in the household, he should be crated at night. The first night is was fine, he willingly went into his crate, settled down, I went to bed. Everything was fine…..until….he started squeaking the purple rubber squeaky bone. Which one could eventually ignore until….he started “talking” to his purple rubber squeaky bone, “rowr, rowr, rowr”. Squeak, squeak, rowr, rowr rowr, squeak squeak. And then the tail would start thumping on the side of the crate with doggie happiness…. Squeak, squeak, rowr, rowr rowr, thump, thump, squeak, squeak, rowr, thump-thumpity. Every single night, he’d squeak and talk and thump and squeak-rowr-thump. He loved that purple bone. When he would get let into the house, the first thing he’d do was run over to the damn bone, squeak and talk to it, rowr, rowr. Not other toy came close. Eventually, 4 or 5 years later, he’d finally loved it to pieces. Since then I’d try to find good squeaky bones or even squeaky plush toys but none ever lasted a tenth as long as that original bone.

Well it was me who learned the real lesson when my brother-in-law finally met Jake the dog. I had told him Jake’s backstory of Mexican origin. Well my brother-in-law looks at Jake as says “Sientate! [sit]”. Jake immediately snaps to attention and SITS DOWN. Then my brother-in-law calls him in Spanish, Jake comes. Wow, a bilingual dog! That would have saved me a whole lot of trouble, learning Spanish instead of going to dog obedience school!

I know the nose-attached to a stomach, covering in a coat will find anything remotely edible while out walking. What I was not prepared for was Jake’s fondness for anything small, round-ish and hard such as small stones, glass (glass!), and acorns. Yes, acorns. On our first walks, I could barely get him around the block because he was pupping down EVERY SINGLE ACORN he put it pup lips on. Did I mention glass and rocks? I spent more time doing fingers sweeps of that dog’s maw. He’d pick up something, I could see him working on it. “Whaddaya have?” “Noooothing”. Finger sweep, can’t find anything. Look over, lip smack, lip smack, lip smack. “Dammit, what DO you
have?” “Nooooothing…..” Finger sweep, finger sweep. In the saliva, a rock or piece of glass or bit of metal. “Dammit, don’t eat THAT!” Sheesh. Look of sheer dog disappointment as gastronomical delights such as bones, hot dogs, trash wrappers, sticks, goose poop (ok you can HAVE that, ick!) etc are summarily yanked out and discarded.

The first Christmas with Jake was a special time with a young dog in a new home, new squeaky toys and rawhide bones. A time for family, for giving thanks, for enjoying the season. My buddy Chris suggested we drive out to Ellicott City, walk around and check out the live nativity scene. Of course, we took Jake to wear him out. We arrived at dark, the manager brightly lit, families crowded around, talking in hushed tones, parents pointing out the donkey, cow, sheep, goats, the holy family in full dress, the wise men, the manager. The nativity people stood stock-still in poses of adoration around a plastic baby Jesus. Even the animals were placid, dozing under the lights, blinded to the crowd of onlookers. We craned our heads but couldn’t quite see the whole scene.

Meanwhile, Jake was pup-a-lating around, “ploup, ploup, ploup” picking up scents. Chris and I edged towards the front row, finally working ourselves up to the fencing for a better view while Jake contentedly pup-a-lated along the ground. We had just settled in for a good look when Jake, suddenly stopped pup-a-lating, raised his head, and before I could even grasp, let out an earthshattering beagle BAROOUWW!!! The entire holy family levitated, headdresses askew, the sheep milled in panic, jostling the donkey and cow who began stamping and nervously tossing their heads. Jake was in full voice, BAROOW! BAROOW! The whole scene just disintegrated into…well…a SCENE. “Oh SH*T”. I said a bad word or two and hastily tried to exit through the crowd. Though we dragged the beagle away, it only worsened the sound, with a strangled yet surprisingly unmuffled “BARRR-ARRGH, BARRR-ARRGH, BARRR-ARRGH”. Somehow we managed to shove the still barking beagle into the car for a hasty exit. Needless to say we didn’t go to any more nativity scenes.

When Jake was a young lad, I had fostered a beagle-mix for BREW for a few months. The “boys” got along fairly well, curling up together on the couch and doing dog things together. However, Flop had an incessant tenancy to pace, apparently much to Jake’s eventual annoyance. I’d come home to the boys in the backyard, Flop, circling around the doghouse with Jake sitting atop, Snoopy-style to get some peace. This pretty much flabbergasted the neighbors who’d never seen anything like it. Well the boys were also responsible for a memorable trip out to Michigan. I’d packed up both boys and my gear for a trip out over the Christmas holiday. All was fine, the “boys” were curled in the front seat like two tri-color peas in a pod. Just outside of Breezewood, PA, as I’m doing 80 mph, there’s a sudden dog commotion,
“This is MY seat!”
“No, it’s MINE”.
“No MINE!!!!”.
“GIMMIE!!!”
[Loads of irritated baying] “I don’t care WHO started it, I’m finishing it!”

Blindly, I grab the first collar I can find and shove whatever beagle into the backseat. Without warning, I have turned into my FATHER. As I rather embarrassingly reflect on past car trips as a child, the ejected dog finally slinks back into the front seat, curls up with the other one, with nary a peep from either for the rest of the trip.

Jake was fond of water. Not for swimming, that’s best left to the retrievers, but for drinking. Now some dogs drink out of the toilet but Jake loved bathtub or shower water. After every shower, I’d hear the distinct thump of dog paws in the tub and discover Jake happily licking out the bathtub. In my other house, he’d stand outside the shower door the whole time, whining softly. “Listen dog, this is MY shower, not your water dish!” Well I had forgotten to warn my sister about this particular habit. We were visiting her and my nephew who was 3 at the time. He had just finished a bath but I thought nothing of it until I heard “GET OUT OF THE F-ING TUB!!!” A frantic scrabble of dog toe nails ensued as the dog shot out of the bathroom, my sister (who normally never swore) chasing him in a torrent of bad language.

How to exercise your beagle without leaving the house….My former partner Phil discovered that a laser pointer, aka the Dot, was the perfect beagle energy dissipater. As soon as Jake saw the Dot, he’d tear after it, baying. Up and down the hallway, stairs, back-n-forth. He’d watch it climb the ceiling then bay and bay until it “fell” back down. We wore out so many of those things. Unlike cats, Jake was smart enough to realize the pointer was the source of the dot so we ended up hiding it atop the fridge. Of course Jake would start dancing and whining, all the while glancing at the fridge, ’til the dot came out to play. After awhile, we had to refer to the “dot” as the Dee Oh Tee, then the Department Of Transportation, and finally the You-Know What, since Jake learned each nickname. And they say beagles aren’t smart.

Kitty Galore…..
My husband-to-be (who shall be known as my ex-husband) had tried to dissuade me from bringing Jake into his household, suggesting perhaps I should find a home for him on a farm, especially since the household had a cat who was a well-known Intimidator of Dogs. Of course this was completely unacceptable. In retrospect, I should have never married the HTB as my relationship with Jake ended up being until-death-do-us part one.

But back to the cat….Now this cat had built a rather solid reputation of intimidating dogs, not by physical violence or threats, but by sheer psychic puddy powers. She had a 90 lb German Shepard, a large Sheepdog, and a Lab completely frightened of her, to the point where she could keep them from crossing the threshold back into the safety their owner’s homes. Well my HTB had warned me a small dog like Jake would be NO MATCH for the Prowess of the Puddy and feared, yes feared for Jake’s well-being. The test came when Jake and I relocated to Michigan to join the HTB. I carefully opened the door, Jake surged in on his leash. The cat waiting in smug supremacy was unperturbed as she readied her Look of Intimidation which Jake apparently ignored as he pup-alated into the house. Finally, he caught sight of her majesty and without even a hint of respect for the Intimidator of Dogs, let out a powerful BAROOUW!!! I believe the puddy levitated from the sound wave alone. Sure she was Mardi Gras, Supreme Mistress of Dogs, but this one was loud, very very LOUD. Poor puddy, even hiding under the Bed of Protection was no escape from the hound. Jake would come into the house and immediately track down his puddy, even under the Bed of Protection.
“Have you seen the cat?”
“No, I think she’s downstairs.”
Open the backdoor, Jake runs back in the house. [sound of muffled baying].
“Sounds like the cat is under the bed again.”
“Yup”.

Mardi Gras was rather fond of fresh water, but she preferred the dog’s water bowl and would patiently sit by it waiting for a fresh refill. My HTB would pour fresh bowl for Mardi, who in classic puddy style would thoughtfully ponder the water prior to drinking. Her contemplation was frequently interrupted by Jake, who’d rush over (“oh boy! Water!!!”) and slurp up the entire bowl before Mardi had a chance to properly appreciate, let alone DRINK, the water, leaving Mardi sadly contemplating the now empty bowl. “Did that stupid dog just drink ALL my water?!”

However, Mardi Gras quickly learned that the dog, while utterly ANNOYING did have its advantages, specifically it’s far more successful approach towards getting dinnertime started and the power washing capabilities of the dog-tongue. She’d allow Jake to lick out her ears, wrinkling her face with disgust. “It’s just so GROSS, yet my ears have NEVER been cleaner!” I swear I saw the dog tongue poking out into one ear and out the other.

During the winters, I would join Scott in the basement for bike trainer riding, while his daughter chased Jake around and around the basement, to the delight and exhaustion of both. One day, we sat down to a post-training lunch of Scott’s homemade corn chowder when we realized the dog was curiously absent from under the dinner table. Never a good sign. We took a peek around only to discover somehow Jake had nosed open the door to the garage where the chowder was stored, and was headfirst in the 20 qt stockpot, chowing away! As we dragged the dog away, I apologized profusely for my dog eating his family’s food for the week. Luckily Scott is a dog lover so he shrugged it off.

The long short goodbye

I want to celebrate Jake’s life, not dwell on the end of it. In late June 2010, I noticed he was looking bloated and his nighttime snoring was impressive. Finally, I realized he had ascites (fluid in his belly), so I took him to the vet, expecting a diagnosis of kidney or heart problems. Unfortunately the vet discovered an inoperative baseball sized tumor below his spleen and gave him a week or two to live. It was the worst and in some ways the best part of our lives together. The vet recommended a high protein diet (eggs, cooked turkey, etc), so I got to spoil Jake in a way I’d never spoiled him (though there was that awful day at the grocery store I was in tears trying to decide what variety of eggs to buy). Since he was an empathetic dog, who wilts terribly when people are upset, I kept the tears to a minimum in his presence.

We went on w-a-l-k-s, visited friends, and hung out together. I just enjoyed being with him and I think he enjoyed extra quality time with his human. He was a happy dog for 6 more weeks, well past his anticipated expiration date. Though I didn’t want to euthanize him, I promised him a life free of pain and suffering. I think he probably could have hung on for another week or two, but I wanted his last days on earth to be enjoyable, not struggling to hang on, so on Aug. 13, 2010, I let him go.

Now Jake wasn’t exactly a saint but if there’s a dog heaven, he’s pupalating around there. He delighted small children with his soft, floppy ears, interest in whatever they were doing, and tolerance of hugs and such. Yet he caused torrents of childish tears as he nabbed sandwiches from plates tipped at dog nose level, stole poorly guarded marshmallows by the campfire, snatched cookies waved by small hands, and ate napkins off laps. He cleaned up Nicole’s great flour spill of ’09. He hated mushrooms but still had to try one every time to double-check.

Though Jake could get in a LOAD of trouble, he delighted my heart. He was always happy to see me. If I had to leave him with the dogsitter for a couple of days, his enthusiastic reunion was touching, albeit deafening. He loved to shove himself next to me on the couch or on the bed. He stole the covers and hogged the bed. He’d leave the warm couch and come down to the freezing basement to keep me company every time I rode the trainer. He’d snooze on a pile of old down pillows, while I huffed and puffed and sweated, the fans and stereo blasting. When I was recuperating after knee surgery, he was insistent about being next to me, but so gentle around my bad knee.

He ignored any commands when he was on a scent, but he was a first responder if he heard “ooops!” from the kitchen. He wilted when I was sad or hurt and licked away tears, ’til I laughed for him to stop. Though I miss him terribly, thoughts of him and his doggy goodness and naughtiness fill my heart with love.


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