Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jake the Three-Legged Wonder Wiener, 2002 to 2011

Jake the Three-Legged Wonder Wiener died this morning. He'd stopped eating some time ago, but fought the good fight as long as he could. We think he was 9 1/2.

I told Jake's story a few years ago, but I'm going to repost it here. He was a special dog who danced with death more than once and walked (hopped?) away, but it was his time. We gave him the best life we could, and his memory will always be with us. I added some pictures at the end.

So here's the story of Jake, and just remember that all dogs go to heaven. I know he's there now. Maybe with all four of his legs back, who knows.

The Three-Legged Wonder Wiener

So, I gathered from everyone's responses last week that the How I Met My Hubby story went over real well. Darn it all, I hate it when my sister Leah is so right all the time.

But I thought I'd keep the quirky story thing going this week by talking about my dog, Jake.

Jake the Three Legged Wonder Wiener.

That's right. Three legs.

This is Jake's story. Everyone has one, even the dog.

So Jason and I had gotten married and bought a house. And you know what that means for young professionals on the fence about starting a family right away - yup. A dog.

I grew up with wiener dogs and wanted to get one. Jason didn't care a whole lot one way or the other, but he wanted veto power. My mom's wieners were a handful back in the day (known as the terrorists from the family we adopted them from) and Jason didn't want to be sued by people who'd had their ankles broken by a tiny dog with an size complex. And being a frugal bleeding heart liberal, I didn't want to pay $500 for a purebred when there were plenty of perfectly good dogs in shelters.

Thus, the quest for a dog began. We lived in Chicago, which had a dedicated dachshund rescue organization. But for every wiener profile I brought home, Jason found problems. Not good with kids (pretty common for wieners). Antisocial. Kills bunnies in the yard. (Although, Jason fondly thinks of Red Fred, the dog who killed bunnies, when Jake sits 10 feet from a bunny and has no idea it's even there. What he wouldn't give for a bunny hunter these days.) Every dog was not right for our family.

So I broadened the scope of the search. Wisconsin wiener dogs. Indiana wiener dogs. Missouri wiener dogs. And Jason found problems with each and every one.

I kept searching. I enlisted the help of my sister Hannah. Hannah has the unique gift to find the most pitiful animal available and fall in love. So she started trolling Petfinder.com, where she'd gotten her high-strung cat, Dulcie (Love you, Dulc!). And I got an email from her. "He's so cute!" she gushed. So I clicked on the link, and saw a cute little red wiener dog.

With no left front leg.

"He's missing a leg!" I wrote back.

"But he's so cute!" she repeated.

So I printed Jake off and took him home to show Jason. And the man went, (and I quote), "Awww."

Problem was, Jake was in Tennessee, and this was December. So I contacted Jake's keepers, Jerry's Rescues, and they agreed to hold him until April (our vacation) if we paid $125 to cover the two for one cost of leg amputation and neutering. Oh, and we had to have a home visit to make sure we were appropriate people for a wiener dog.

Jason still rolls his eyes at that. We had to be interviewed by other wiener dog lovers to make sure we we're some sort of deviant wiener dog fanatics. Although he did make them cookies. . . I love that man.


Vacation time approached. We planned our vacation around a trip to Tennessee. A few days in Nashville, then on to Lewisburg where Jake was at. We ate pralines and saw Little Jimmy Dickens do his thing at the Grand Ole Opry. And then we left the touristy parts behind and headed for the hills.

Literally. Lewisburg is a small burg, famous only for the Tennessee Walking Horse Hall of Fame, which is an actual Hall between the lobby of the National Tennessee Walking Horse Association building and the secretary's office. A hallway with pictures.

And we had a few more hours to kill. We spent them in the Piggly Wiggly. And then we drove out to The Middle of Nowhere.

Cue freaky banjos playing ominously in the background.

Jerry's house was way out in the hills, several miles from paved roads. No one but about 100 dogs were home when we got there, and they were all barking. Jerry apparently subscribes to the never-throw-stuff-away philosophy, popularized during the Great Depression, because there was stuff everywhere.

The banjos got a little louder.

We waited for an hour in our little car, rain pouring (of course rain was pouring). Finally, Jerry showed up. Picture Grizzly Adams holding a chihuahua, because that's what he was.

"I'll go get that Jake for you," he said after we exchanged nervous pleasantries. "You don't wanna come in the house . . ."

Somehow, I figured. I didn't even want to imagine the carpet stains.

So he directed us to what looked like an outhouse with a shower curtain. "You stay here, out of the rain."

I swear to all that is holy, there was a chainsaw in there. I knew we were agonna die, all for a three legged wiener dog.

But we didn't. Jerry came out with a mildly nervous 12 pound wiener dog and told us the story.

A church secretary had found him tearing into the garbage behind the church, his leg dangling useless. He was on the verge of starving. She kept him for the day, but then took him to the city pound. Now, I'm not saying the pound people are heartless, but they have a job to do, and a mangled, half-starved wiener is not high on that to-do list. He was going to be put down that night because he was in bad shape.

Enter Jerry. "I stop by the pound every night to see if there's someone who needs savin'" he explained as I only mildly quaked in terror in the shed with the chainsaw. "And, boy, did this one need savin'. Figure he only had another 15 minutes on that clock." As you might have gathered, Jerry is one big softy beneath that Grizzly exterior.

Yup. 15 minutes. That close.

Jerry's vet took off the leg - "jes' a dangling by a tendon," Jerry explained as my stomach turned - and tossed in the neutering, and three days later, put Jake's picture on the web. Hannah found him two days after that.

It seems that Jerry had found Jake's original people, but they didn't want him back. I'm not sure if they dumped him at the side of the road, or if he ran off after the UPS truck (because let me tell you, he's got it out for the UPS guy, bigtime), but he'd been hit by a car.

I like to tell the kids who say, "Hey! Did you know your dog's missing a leg?" that he forgot to look both ways before he crossed the street. For the younger ones, I toss in how he forgot to hold his mommy's hand.

Jason likes to respond by gasping dramatically and saying, "He is?? OH NO! Where'd it GO!" But he's funny like that.

Every year, we send Jerry's Rescues a Christmas Card and a check for saving our dog. They're good people doing good work.

Now some of you might think I have a predilection for those who might be termed "special." But it's not just me. My sisters have dogs (and a cat) that all belong on a far shorter bus than Jake does, but we love them anyway. And just because he's special doesn't mean he doesn't get tortured. Just look at the things I have done to my poor dog.

He drives.

I love his ears. The toddler does, too.

His ears get cold in the winter. I tried to keep them warmer. He hates it.

And this is my favorite picture of my dog. 12 inches of snow can be pretty daunting for a pup who's only 8 inches tall.

We love Jake. My son calls him "Jakey Wiener Dog" and will stop mid-stride to hug and kiss him. Jake's pretty okay with the kid, too, if only as a primary food source.

But there was one time he almost didn't make it. And this just drove home the fact that Jake was lucky to have us.

Being purebreds, wiener dogs are suseptible to a variety of genetic flaws. They have a lot of back problems, what with being long and low. And we accepted that Jake's problems might be worse after the accident and missing leg thing.

And true to form, he slipped two disks. Couldn't walk, couldn't stand, couldn't even pee. I was 3 months pregnant and not exactly rational, but I refused to let them kill my dog. He'd come so far, I just couldn't do it.

So we plunked down the $3,000+ smackers to have that dog fixed. So much for vacation that year. And you know you're screwed when the surgical center has a 10,000 aquarium tank and marble countertops.

But they fixed my dog. And left him with another scar.

Jake's probably about six, maybe seven now. He's mellowed as he's aged, unless someone rings the doorbell or the UPS guy drives by. (Nothing beats the UPS guy ringing the doorbell, in Jake's opinion.) I don't know how much time he's got left. Maybe he'll live to be 10, maybe 13. But I knew that going in - his time was shorter than a puppy's might have been.

But that's okay. Because he will have spent that time with us.

First Place, Wiener Dog Races, 2010

The Yin and Yang of Dogs with his buddy, Gater.

His supermodel pose.

Jake the Three-Legged Wonder Wiener
2002 to 2011


Blythe Gifford said...

Shoulda read this before I put on my mascara. My thoughts are with you all on his loss.

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Sorry, Blythe. I went without makeup at all today for obvious reasons. Thank you for your thoughts.

lucylucia said...

Oh Sal, I'm so sorry! He was a great little dog!!

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Thanks, Lucy. He was a great little dog, indeed.

RAFinley said...

Awww. *sniff*

When I was about 2 years old, Remus (German Shepherd) passed away. I have vague memories of him--mostly a comforting warmth along my back & pressing against my shoulder & head while I reach up & pet something scruffy-soft. That would've been about right, given our respective sizes at the time.

Anyway, that's it as far as conscious memory goes. But a few years back, I found myself thinking about him, & that night I had a dream. Remus was running through a field behind an unfamiliar apartment complex. Just running & running, happy as could be.

I told my mom about the dream & she said, "Well, sure. I told you about that."


No, I don't believe she did. I don't believe I saw a figment created from an anecdote I don't remember hearing.

Like you said, all dogs go to heaven.

J.C. Hanks said...

I'm sorry about your losing him. Our fur kids go far too quickly. I'll have my grandfather keep an eye out for him and round him up for you. He's got all my fur kids that have passed on waiting for me anyway, what's one more? :)

Carolyn said...

Jakey was truly a three legged wonder weiner. He was always a wonder in how he overcame so many horrid health probs, and was always a happy hoppy buddy of mine. I got to have the honor of being allowed to sleep with him on visits. He taught us all you can conquer many rotten obstacles, and come out on top. Hugs, Mom

Anonymous said...

I dreamed Stella was running the other day and playing around. But it was actually that day in my dream. She is in heaven. She can see and Jake can run (even faster now!)and the friends are reunited.
We love you and pray for healing.


Sarah M. Anderson said...

Rebecca, you're making me all sniffly. J.C. I think Jake will have plenty of good company. I know he will. Thanks, Mom and Pauline. Love you guys!

Janet Canavan said...

I will miss Jake! The parades & wiener dog races will never be the same! You & your family are in my thoughts! I did love your story, & Jake will be remembered by so many because of your love!

David Lucas said...

I love the pictures. Hugs to you on losing him and yet happy that you got to have his uniqueness in your life for so long.

Hannah said...

Goodbye Jakey. We love you!

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Thanks so much, everyone. We had a nice funeral for him. We were so thankful we had time to say goodbye to him.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Sarah, so sorry to hear about Jake. My mom adores the doxies - has 3 of them. I do the yorkie thing, but the heartache is the same no matter which breed, huh? My heart is with you.