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Jake. What can I say about Jake. Jake was born perfect. He's done a lot of 'wrongs' in his lifetime, but most of it can be stuffed into the 'chewing-up-shit-I-shouldn't-be-chewing-up" category. And he's a Lab, so who can blame him?

Jake was my first dog, and I'm honored to tell his story.

When I was 18, I got a job at a hunt dog training facility. It was a beautiful place, big climate controlled pole sheds with 24 kennels each and a high tech waste removal system. I felt like I was the luckiest girl alive the moment I got that job.  I got paid to spend my days with dogs. All. Day. Long. 

After working there for about 3 months, in the middle of winter, an opportunity presented itself to aide in the birth of one of the owner's prized hunting Lab litters. Most evenings I was out of there by 6pm. But on this particular night, it was pushing 9pm when I finally called it a night. As I was walking towards my Jeep, a pickup truck with a topper drove slowly down the long gravel driveway. The owner's wife was behind me and we both stop and watch, wondering why on earth someone would be showing up at this hour. Drop offs and pickups were no later than 5pm as a rule, and nobody was expected that day.

The man parks and steps out of his truck. "Y'all lose a dog?" he says to us. Tina and I look at each other. The caliber of dogs that are boarded and trained at this facility is high. These people invest thousands of dollars into their dogs in order to produce top notch, award winning bird dogs. Losing a dog here is simply just not an option.

He walks around to the back of his truck and flips open the hatch. We peer inside to discover an reddish/orage bag of bones, shivering against the flattened cardboard box he's curled up on. He looks up at us with big brown eyes.  The man says he found him curled up in a ditch and picked him up and immediately brought him to us.

I offer to take him to the humane society, since it's on my way home anyways. There is no way we could put him in a kennel in one of the buildings because there is no telling what kind of illness he could be carrying. He's sweet and friendly. He appears to be a young Yellow Lab mix, probably no more than 6-8 months old. He's emaciated and in rough shape. I load him into the back seat of my Jeep and away we go. I pull off the freeway and park in the humane society's lot. It's dark, by now it's well after 10pm. There is a 'drop box' of some sort, but I never understood how people could leave animals in these things.

I look back at the dog, who hasn't made any attempts to move on his own since I picked him up out of the bed of the truck. He struggles to a sitting position. He's so weak.  He leans forward and offers me his paw. Seriously? This is not the time for him to be charming. I'm 18yo, living on my own and I cannot take a dog.

We make a deal. I tell him I will bring him home with me that night and give him food and a bath, but only if he swears that he will behave himself. (Remember, I've never had a dog of my own before, and I'm a teenager.)  Then I will bring him to the HS in the morning on my way to work when people will be there. It was a deal.

He sleeps the entire drive home. I get him from the back of the Jeep and walk him around where he potties. Bring him inside, hoping there will be no accidents or barking or anything like that. He's the perfect gentleman. He eats a peanut butter sandwich with me. He stands still while I bathe him. Then he curls up and quietly goes to sleep at the foot of my bed until morning.

When I woke up and saw him so sweetly snoring on my bed, I knew he'd made a lier out of me. I would never bring him back to the humane society afterall. I would instead take him to the vet, get his shots and have him checked out. He was deemed in desperate need of some tlc, but otherwise healthy. My fellow employees at the kennel helped me make flyers and get word out that he was found. But nobody ever stepped up to claim him.

My little sister came over to visit and to see my new dog. When she asked what I would name him, I told her I was heavily leaning towards 'Drake' for his name. She made a face and hugging him said, 'He's not a Drake!" She studies him for a moment. "He's a Jake" she says.
Today, Jake is 10 years old and still going strong. He's active and feisty and doesn't act his age in the least. He sleeps a lot more of course. But when he's not sleeping, he's the same old Jake that he's always been. His deep golden red coat is lightening up as he ages, and a gray mask has formed over his beautiful face. But Jake is still as steady as the sun. He'll always be my first dog, and I'm truely blessed that God chose me for him. Jake is the reason I rescue dogs, if I'd never met him, who would I be? 

Never have I met a dog more perfect than Mr. Jake.

He's my rock.