Losing My Best Friend

I stumbled my way up the stairs and dropped all of the crap I was holding into the hallway.  I listened for a moment before bee-lining to the fridge and rummaging through it until I settled on carrots and ranch dressing.  I plopped onto the couch and stuffed my face, waiting for my parents to come home from church.

The house was silent as I flipped through the On Demand screen, knowing this was my chance to catch up on all of my favorite Bravo TV shows (because I'm too cheap to add it to my cable lineup) before Dad came home and usurped the remote control from me.  I wanted to shout into the house, but I knew no one would respond.

Later in the day, I was sitting at the kitchen table and looked out the window.  My dog Jake's favorite place to rest was on the back deck furthest from the door, but for some reason he was lying next to the barbecue.  I was about to comment on it but burst out in tears instead.  My mom asked me what was wrong.  I told her I'd mistaken a bag of coal for Jake.

On Thanksgiving of 2006, I arrived home in the middle of my first semester of college to meet the newest member of our family.  During the week of my high school graduation in June, we had to put down our Golden Retriever, Sandy.  It was rough on all of us, especially my brother.  When we moved to Pittsburgh in 1997, we nagged our parents relentlessly until they finally gave in and were rewarded with Sandy, a three month-old pup.
By October, my family felt the itch for a new four-legged friend and found an adorable year-old dog they named Jake.  He was the shyest dog in the world.  When the shelter found Jake, he was wandering the streets with a tiny dog of a different breed.  They believed Jake was a German Shepherd/Lab mix, but we only once saw a dog that resembled him.  The owner also found his dog at a shelter and wasn't exactly sure what breed he was.

I loved Sandy, but Jake was something different from the beginning.  When he trusted you he stayed by you, following you around the house.  On New Year's Eve, he cowered from the fireworks and banging pots and pans, gluing himself to my side.  He made me feel special.
If we talked too loudly, Jake ran and hid upstairs, fearing an argument.  In 2010 during a thunderstorm, I let Jake lay on my bad to comfort him and he forever after assumed that when it started storming he had a right to any bed he desired.  If you had food in your hand at the dinner table, he rested his head on your lap in an effort to appear cute enough for a bite of whatever you had.  He loved cheese.  His eyes appeared eternally sad, like he was always begging.  He loved big stuffed animals to curl up with.  If you let him sleep in your bed, you were guaranteed to wake up in the middle of the night to find him sprawled out next to you, effectively kicking you out of the bed.  He only barked when someone came to the door and only because he thought the visitor was there to see him.  He was slightly terrified of other dogs, especially Pugs, because they breathed too loudly for his taste.  He'd do just about anything for a cookie.  Anyone could pet him and love on him.  He never bit you, even in play.

Almost ten years to the day when we had to let Sandy go, Jake started to have issues.  We were lucky to stretch three extra months out with him but had to let him go too in the beginning of September.
My brother and his wife adopted a puppy a week later.  My parents were babysitting and immediately, little Pongo seemed to know all of the Jake's favorite places (like where we hid the dog biscuits).  Dad insists its the spirit of Jake leading Pongo around the house.

Wherever he is, I miss the crap out of him.  I'll have other dogs, but there will never be one like Jake.  So here's to my cuddle buddy, my best friend.

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