The one and only Jake Dog Hassenger

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 …


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2 Responses to The one and only Jake Dog Hassenger

  1. Carol Menke-Clark says:

    My won­der­ful Jake died about the same time as your Jake. I miss him to this day even tho I’ve res­cued three elder dogs since. Jake was a stray and wan­der­ing near a busy high­way when I took him in and he was my lit­tle buddy for nearly 15 years. Your story brought tears and smiles for me.

  2. Ben says:

    That’s a nice story, Carol. Our ani­mal bud­dies bring so much joy to our lives — I’m glad you had the time with your Jake then and the other dogs you’ve res­cued since.

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