By Jennifer Richardson

I never thought of myself as a dog person. I never had a dog growing up, only cats. I loved cats. After I lost my family cat, I wanted my daughter to continue to have a pet in her life. Our cat Tessie was a lot like a dog. This cat would never miss reading time with my daughter, and always tucked her in at night. Since I assumed I would never find another cat/dog, I decided that I would adopt a dog.

I could go through all of the details of how we were able to find and adopt Jake from a local shelter, but those details are not important. What is important is that Jake became part of our family. He truly thought of himself as a brother and a son and we treated him like a brother and a son. Jake would be known to reprimand his sister when I was talking to her sternly. He would bark right along like he was disappointed too. When my daughter would hog the couch, Jake would trot into the kitchen to tell me that his sister was not sharing.

At Christmas, Jake would require presents wrapped under the tree. If he did not have enough to open, he would help himself to his sister’s gifts. If his sister received a package in the mail, there had better be something for Jake, or he would take hers. At Easter I would load plastic eggs with dog treats and hide them around the house. As my daughter looked for her eggs, Jake would find his. He knew how to open the egg to get his treat.

In the mornings and evenings we had “doggie snuggle time” which would involve the three of us in my bed hugging and kissing. Jake would assume the “bunny-dog” position to get his belly rubbed. There would be lots of snuggles and laughs.

Last summer I woke to Jake seeming under the weather. I brought him into the vet and he went through a variety of tests. The vet told me that Jake had some sort of mass in his chest and would need to go to the emergency vet clinic a mile away. Jake and I made the trip and they took him into an exam room to do additional tests. Hours later I was told that Jake had a massive cardiac tumor and there was nothing that could be done. He would not go home that day.

I contacted my daughter’s father and he brought her down to the vet hospital. We would say our goodbyes there.

Months have passed and we still miss Jake. We tell stories regularly of his silly ways. Whenever I see dog pictures or videos, my heart fills with love. I have realized that I have been a dog person all along, it just took a dog to teach me that.IMG_0636