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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

JAKE THE DOG 2006 - 2011

We are dog lovers and I make no bones about it. And I probably prefer dogs to most people.

Jake has been one of the best, and he adopted us when he was eight weeks old back in central Wyoming. He moved in with us just in time to take Sarah's place before she died. She was one mighty fine Australian Healer, and she was more my dog than my wife Pat's. Jake was a mix of Border Collie and Healer. Great combination--smart and loving; and he knew how to have fun.

Jake adored us both, and he accompanied me on every photography field trip I made, and that included many outings in Wyoming. Last week we made our last trip into the San Juan Mountains together. For whatever reason, he developed a terrible phobia toward wind and we have had a lot of it since February. It finally did him in. But his fear started a couple of years ago and grew worse as time progressed.

We bid him farewell last Monday as the local vet put him to sleep. We could not deal with his suffering any longer. The experience of being with him as he went to sleep was an experience which I never-ever want to go through again.

This past week has been a dreadful one for me personally, but an old artist friend--a dog and mule lover in northern Idaho-- told me to march right down to the nearest animal shelter and find another dog. "No one can live without a dog", she said.

The advice was taken to heart, and I did, indeed, visit the local shelter, but I almost changed my mind as I drove up to the entrance. I didn't have to introduce myself to the dogs. They took care of that; particularly the two lovely coon hounds that were waiting for an owner. You could have heard their welcome atop our hill north of town. There is no cry like that of a coon hound.

There was one smallish black dog that remained silent, and I almost passed her by. When I glanced down at her and our eyes met, I almost did a melt-down on the spot because they were exactly like Jake's. She was about his size and when Pat returned with me a bit later, she had exactly the same reaction. "It was those eyes," she said.

This morning we will be going into town to pick up Sammie. For me she will be Sam. I guess that's a guy thing, but Sammie won't know the difference. The sound of either name will be about the same.

This is one of my favorite photographs of Jake, and it was made in September 2007, prior to the move to Colorado. It was quickly voted in by a stock agency which I have been working with for nearly forty years. Jake's memory will continue to live on for years to come.

We made our trip into town and Sam is now at home exploring the house and surroundings. She is a real charmer and fits in perfectly with our life style. There will be no problems with this family member. It seems that she was cast just for us.

Oh yes, Ringo the cat! Ringo grew up with Jake and they became close pals from day one. They learned to play and wrestle early on and for us, they became a joy to watch during those chilly winter days as Jake was gaining size and experience.

Ringo was in the house when we brought Sam home, and I am sure he was watching intently as we led Sam up the steps into the kitchen. I honestly believe that he thought Jake had returned because when we entered the house Ringo went right up to Sam and they touched noses. Only then did Ringo back off a little and watched Sam explore the house while he observed the scene from under the dining room table. They have hit it off just fine. Mission accomplished.

It is hard to imagine what all has taken place in such a short period of time, but sometimes it just seems that certain things are destined to happen. And this is one of those special happenings. We now have one happy family with many more fun adventures awaiting us down the trail.

There is nothing like having a charming dog and a cat around to keep watch over us humans.

Will Sam live up to Jake in terms of being a model? Just stick around, and before the summer is over, I would bet good money that more than one nice photograph will show up on my blog. And the agency will have another nice image of our newest family member. I have yet to have or see a dog that didn't look forward to a great day trip into the wilderness. In a week, we will be heading off for another week of camping at the foot of the San Juan's.

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