I first published this in my old blog the day after Jake died in 2009. I looked it up for some background on a piece that a magazine may do on my song “Dog is My Co-Pilot” and I thought I’d repost it on my website. Re-reading it brought back many memories, laughs, and tears for me — I hope you enjoy it.
25 August 2009
Hope your dreams are full of sun and squirrels …
Jake Dog Hassenger
b. 12-1-1993 d. 8-24-2009
I first met Jake in the early summer of 1994. I was dating a woman from Ferndale at the time and we went to the Royal Oak Flea/Farmer’s Market as was usual on the Sundays I was visiting. An animal rescue organization was at the market and in one of the cages was a frisky and incredibly cute little white and black terrier mix. My girlfriend was gushing over him and thought I should adopt him. I had just started my sales rep job, which required me to be on the road quite a bit, and I said that I was in no position to adopt a dog. She said “Let’s take him for a walk”, we did and it was all over — I just fell in love with him. Everyone that passed us by commented on how adorable he was and I had to agree. I half-heartedly tried to resist taking him home, but when the woman that ran the rescue said she wanted me to take him because he might otherwise go to a guy that owned a junk yard (I think she must have been pulling my leg), I caved and signed the papers.
I had to leave him off to get neutered, when I picked him up a week later in West Bloomfield, he promptly peed on the vet’s floor and the pooped all over the inside of my car — we were off to a great start. I had a softball game that evening in Lansing, so I left him off with my friend Chris. Jake was bouncing all over the place like he was on springs, Chris’ wife at the time was horrified when she was told they had adopted the dog and was greatly relieved when I returned after the game to get him and bring him home. A couple of days later, my son Ben met him for the first time and was pretty freaked out by Jake’s energy. Ben wasn’t used to pets and I was worried that they wouldn’t get along, but we all went for a long walk down the railroad tracks and everything was fine after that. The two of them grew up with each other (Ben was about 9 at the time when I adopted Jake), and I think Jake, as well as my cats, really helped Ben become comfortable around and affectionate with animals.
As with most dogs, Jake hated delivery people. He would bark furiously every time the mailman came up to the porch to the mailbox. One day I came home and there was a note that said “I hope your dog is OK”. I went inside and found that Jake had busted the window with his head when he ran up and jumped on the couch to bark at the intruder. He was fine, the window got fixed, and that didn’t happen again.
Between various relationships and other friendships over the years, Jake spent time with a variety of people and animals and got along well with women, men, cats, and other dogs. He could destroy any play toy he was given and took a special joy in tearing apart the “indestructible” ones. He also loved to chew up clothes and had a special taste for women’s underwear (he transformed them into those special crotchless panties), socks, and the armpits of my t-shirts. He put the “tear” in terrier for sure.
He adjusted nicely to moving to Barb’s house in Haslett when we got married. He had 10 acres of invisible fenced-in property to roam and Barb’s dogs Buddy and Harry showed him the ropes. He loved to wander around with his nose in the air sniffing all the scents of the country and was a good deer and squirrel chaser until his later days. He also enjoyed drinking water out of the pond, which led him into big trouble a couple of years ago. It was the middle of the winter and Barb and I were upstairs puttering around on a weekend morning. I looked out our bedroom window toward the pond and commented on the fact that there was something that looked like a swan in the middle of the pond, which doesn’t freeze over because of the windmill that aerates it. All of a sudden I realized it was Jake and threw on my clothes, boots, coat, and gloves and ran out there. Jake was in the water and was shivering and barking very weakly. When I made eye contact with him, he looked at me like he was asking me to save him, and I rushed out to the edge of the ice without a minute’s hesitation, picked him up out of the water, and carried him back to the house. He wouldn’t stop shivering and I held him close to me for a couple of hours until he warmed up, relaxed, and we both fell asleep. I was very wary about leaving him out while I was gone for the winter, but he seemed to have learned his lesson and we didn’t have to go through that with him again (although we did have to rescue a neighbor’s dog earlier this past winter).
Jake never left my side, unless someone else was going to give him some food. When we would have parties or house concerts, everyone would comment on how he would follow me around everywhere. Whenever I was sitting around playing guitar, reading the paper, or watching the Tigers on TV — Jake was there. That’s probably the hardest thing for me right now; I keep looking for him lying on the floor sleeping at my feet. When he was diagnosed with kidney failure a few weeks ago, I tried to spend as much time with him as possible and spoiled him more than usual. I took him out to the Meridian Farmer’s Market last Saturday, and he lay in the grass at my feet while I performed. Little kids came up to pet him and he accommodated them with much patience. One little girl in particular just stroked his head and ears for the longest time, it was hard to tell which one of them enjoyed it more.
He was an incredibly good friend and companion; it was the hardest thing in the world I have ever had to do when I called the vet on Monday to put him to sleep. Dr. Harris at the Haslett Animal Hospital is the most compassionate and caring vet I have ever known, he came to the house and gave Jake the injection as I held him. He went to sleep gently; as he had been sleeping so much over the last year or so, it seemed very natural. I dug a hole by the windmill in the backyard, next to Harry who we had buried a few months earlier, and laid him down wrapped up in a beach towel. In a sealed plastic bag, I left some photos of him along with the Blue Jello CD featuring songs I wrote for him, and covered him up with dirt.
We still have two dogs; Rusty and Noche, along with our cats Freckles and Pepper, and are not at a loss for animal companionship — but it’s hard right now to believe I will ever again have a relationship like I had with Jake. Goodnight my little co-pilot, you will be missed and forever loved and remembered …