Sponsored by: Rosemarie & Jan deRuiter
Jake is a gorgeous 11-year-old purebred golden retriever. He is in every way classic golden...sweet, gentle and loving. But one thing sets Jake apart from most other dogs...for Jake is blind. He lost his vision due to a condition called progressive retinal atrophy. To be perfectly honest, when I first found out that my new foster dog is blind, I thought that it just would not work. Surely our home and yard would be much too complicated for Jake to navigate and I had no experience caring for a blind dog. But I am thrilled beyond words to tell you that Jake proved me wrong...he is learning to find his way around our home so fast! And much to my surprise, caring for a blind dog isn't all that different from caring for a sighted dog. Jake loves all the things that any other dog does...going for long walks (and he heels better than our resident goldens!), exploring the yard, and rolling over for tummy rubs. He gets along great with our three resident goldens, our three cats, and our 5-year-old daughter. And aside from his vision loss, Jake is in excellent health. He went to see our wonderful vet Dr. M. on 7/25 and the only minor problem found was an itchy skin infection secondary to an allergic reaction. So Jake enjoyed a spa treatment with medicated shampoo and is now on antibiotics. He's already scratching less and should be just fine in a few days.
We are also fostering Jake's mom Suzi 08-299. Jake and Suzi are very close....in many ways she is his "seeing eye dog".
Jake has settled in nicely here. He finds his way around the house and yard pretty well. He does bump into things from time to time (especially if a chair is not pushed in or a door is left open), but he doesn't move that fast so the bumps are gentle. And now that Jake is more at home, we're starting to see more of his silly side. He loves to roll in the grass and get tummy rubs. De-fuzzing tennis balls is his specialty, and believe it or not, Jake has learned to sneak up on the sofa when we're not around! Not that we mind all that much, but it's pretty cute that he only does it when we're elsewhere. We still go for long walks and, as always, he is a perfect gentleman on a lead. And last but not least, his skin infection has cleared up beautifully and he hardly scratches at all now. What a gorgeous boy!
When I first started fostering Jake, I needed to learn about blind dogs very quickly. A fellow RAGOM volunteer who also fostered a blind dog sent me the following link, which has been very helpful - http://www.blinddogs.net/. I love their motto..."Where dogs *see* with their hearts!" There are lots of tips for living with a blind dog and the stories are truly inspirational.
On behalf of Jake, I would like to thank Rosemarie and Jan deRuiter for sponsoring this extraordinary dog. I have had the pleasure of meeting Rosemarie and Jan. They too know that living with a dog who has a disability is not a hardship, but rather a chance to know and love another in ways we never before imagined.
One day I was checking my email and I heard our daughter Abigail gently cooing to Jake behind me. I turned to find them sharing a beautiful, caring moment in our big red chair. Jake is one of the gentlest, most loving goldens I've ever met. And we don't even think of him as "the blind dog" anymore. He is just Jake....the dog who can smell a hot dog a mile away, the dog who finds me wherever I am in the house so he can nudge for pets, the dog who still sneaks up on the sofa, the dog who leaves trails of tennis ball fuzz around the house, the dog who does a little happy dance when we all get up in the morning and another happy dance when he hears me take out the bag of rawhide chips. Sometimes I think Jake can teach us all a little lesson...when life gets too hectic, just stop and smell the hot dogs!
Sir Jake (I decided that dogs should be knighted too) continues to be a most delightful addition to our family. And much to my surprise, Jake is a huge hit with the neighborhood kids. They are fascinated by the fact that he is blind and love to shower him with affection. I'm starting to wonder whether Jake can help children learn to understand and help other children who have disabilities. It certainly seems like a worthwhile endeavor and Jake almost craves that type of physical contact. Seems like a win-win strategy to me!
My apologies for the belated update, but Jake and I have been working hard on a special surprise for everyone. Jake is learning to run with Team Retriever! At first I tried holding Jake on a lead, but he was reluctant to go very fast and my shoulder got really sore. So I decided to let our resident goldens, Buddy and Lili, help guide Jake. It may be hard to see in the photos, but each dog is wearing a harness and Jake is tethered to both Buddy and Lili. It works like a charm! Jake keeps the pace and sometimes even takes the lead! As you can see in one photo, sometimes Jake nuzzles one of the other dogs for guidance and reassurance. Every couple of days, we increase the distance a little bit and right now we are running about two miles. My goal is to run one of the 5K races in town with Team Retriever. When we meet people along the way, most are very surprised to hear that Jake is a blind senior. All of my foster dogs have taught me something. Jake has taught me never to make assumptions about anyone's abilities....whether young or old....blind or sighted...everyone can reach for the stars!
It has been a rough week for Jake, because his mom Suzi (08-299) passed away on Monday. For the first few days, Jake seemed to be looking for her and it just broke my heart. But he's doing better now. Jake is good friends with our three resident goldens and I think they help fill the void. And tonight, for the first time this week, Jake and I went for a walk through the field where I used to walk with Suzi. When Jake first came to live with us, I tried to help him feel comfortable and safe. It's almost as though Jake is now returning the favor...helping me through this sad time. I guess that's what love is all about.
Happy Birthday Jake! Jake turned 12 years old today and celebrated with a homemade party hat (courtesy of our daughter) and a birthday rawhide chip. He may be a senior, but Jake has the heart and soul of a young dog. Jake, Lili, Buddy and I completed a 5K charity run recently and Jake had a great time. We had to slow down and walk a little because of the crowd, but we finished! Go Jake go!!
Apologies for the delay in updating, but foster mom had shoulder surgery (dog walker's shoulder) and was unable to type for awhile.
Jake is still doing great! With the cooler weather, his skin allergy is subsiding and he is much more comfortable. Jake continues to be an integral part of our running team and is becoming rather well-known about town. Most people are surprised to learn that he is blind because he trots right along with the pack.
Jake thoroughly enjoyed Thanksgiving and did his very best to help us gobble up the turkey. And our daughter once again created a special holiday hat for Jake. I think he looks rather dapper with his turkey feather crown!
It is with great joy that I write this last update, for we have decided to adopt Jake. We love him dearly and cannot imagine our family without him. As we all know, it takes a village to rescue a dog. So on behalf of Jake, we would like to thank RAGOM for bringing him into rescue, Rosemarie and Jan deRuiter for their generous sponsorship, Dr. M. for excellent veterinary care, and all the amazing RAGOM volunteers behind the scenes who make it all work. Finally, we would like to thank Rae Ann for letting us join her in loving this beautiful soul. Welcome home Jake.
|I am sorry it has taken me so long to send in this final note about Jake. Our beloved Jake passed away in April, but I just could not bring myself to write about it until now. Jake's kidneys were failing and he was so very, very sick. So I took him for one last walk across his favorite field (the same field where I used to walk with his mom, Suzi) and then I brought him to Dr. M. who gently ended his suffering. Jake was one of the most extraordinary dogs I've ever known and I am forever grateful that is his former owner Rae Ann entrusted us with his care. And I would like to thank RAGOM for opening their hearts to a blind, senior golden.
My dear Jake - I love you with all my heart and we are better human beings for having had the honor to care for you. Every Saturday night is still rawhide "chippy" night. And Lili, Dylan, Buddy and Hupi always take a moment to bow their golden heads in memory of their missing friend. You will live on in our hearts forever.