Jake The Wonder Dog
Jake is our family dog. We found him by way of the local newspaper’s classified section. A family adopted his mother “Mickey Blue Eyes” (a jet black lab with two crystal blue eyes) without knowing she was expecting puppies. Jake inherited one of those crystal blue eyes, which makes him both adorable and interesting.
Anyone who lives with a dog knows how much they are in tune with their family of humans. They seem to keep a mental log of who should be where at any given time of day. I think the routine gives them a sense of comfort. Jake is definitely one of those dogs.
After Jeff’s death, I moved into his seat at the dinner table. The empty chair at the end of the table was a symbol of sorts for the gaping hole his absence left in our family. It just felt awkward and made the room seem empty. It bothered me.
Jake made it clear that he did not approve of the new seating arrangement. Every night at dinner he would stand in front of me and make this deep sort of humming sound – not a growl – more of a low hum. “What did you do with the big guy?” he seemed to be asking. It drove the boys and me crazy. They would yell at him to stop, which of course made him hum louder. We tried just about everything to get him to stop – treats, putting him in his crate, putting his leash on, putting him outside and snapping a newspaper against the table. Nothing worked. In fact, it got worse. One day I called the vet and asked for advice. The vet tech informed me that Jake was looking for a new pack leader. He needed someone to step into the role and take control of the household. This made perfect sense. I was not projecting the energy of a confident pack leader, as Cesar Milan, “The Dog Whisperer” would say, and he was telling me so. If the dog saw this, the boys must see it too. This thought was quite disturbing and eye opening. It made me realize that I needed to look inside myself. I needed to take inventory of my strengths, weaknesses and the energy I projected. I needed to make some changes. The wheels of transformation were in motion.
That day “Operation Pack Leader” commenced. I took care of the basic dog stuff – out to “go”, water and food in the dish, toys to play with – before we sat at the table. If he started humming, I stood up and walked toward him with a confident stride and said in a stern voice “quiet!” Sometimes I would tap him on the head with my finger to get his attention. I then had him lie down on the carpet near the dining room door. Gradually things improved. It took a few weeks, a great deal of work and patience, but finally – peace at the dinner table! It wasn’t pretty, but it worked for us. This was a turning point and at some level, we all sensed the change in the air.
Thanks, Jakers! You earned a new tennis ball and a belly rub.