So I get to talk trash about Jake because he’s off on a play date with his new girl, Ducky. Poor Daisy. Jake’s soul mate moved to Phoenix ten days ago. Waaaaa!
His last Daisy play date was bittersweet. The two have been pals since they were three months old. Daisy is one of the few dogs who matches up with him, energy-wise. Daisy is a Border Collie so she don’t take no crap from him. He behaves around her or else…
Jake is super smart. This was clear from the moment I met him at the breeder’s. He was seven weeks old, hanging out with me on a raised fenced wooden deck– a place he’d never been before– pushing a tennis ball around with a stick, i.e., holding a stick in his mouth and golfing the ball.
However, hubby and I have had many discussions about him during the two years we’ve had him – discussions like:
“It’s a good thing we got Jake because no one else would put up with him.”
“It’s a good thing we got Jake because anyone else would have returned him within a month.”
“It’s a good thing we got Jake because anyone else would have turned him over to German Shepherd Rescue.”
“It’s a good thing we got Jake because anyone else would have sent him to the dog pound.”
That’s for shizzle! Did you know the word shizzle originated in Vallejo, California? Since Vallejo is just down the road a ways I can appropriate it.
I think the only thing that saved Jake is the fact he knows I’m the mom. He respects me and trusts me. What I say goes, at least 99% of the time.
Shortly before we got Jake I’d cut way back on my day job to spend more time with our GSD, Louie. Not that Louie was sick, but he was ten years old and my husband got this weird vibe and asked me to spend more time with the dog. A month later Louie was dead and my world came to a screeching halt.
So I got Jake.
It’s a damn good thing I stopped working part time because it has taken all my energy and most of my time to civilize this dog. Living with Jake is like living with a wild animal. He’s part wolf, part lion, part hyena, part dingo.
Jake is the sweetest dog on earth. He’s affectionate, loving, protective, great with his cat and his birds, follows most commands, he’s never destructive– he has not chewed up a single item, nor has he dug a single hole, yet he’s exhausting. His energy is off the charts. His intelligence rivals that of a twelve year old boy… notice I said boy. He understands so much English, he can even spell. Gaaaaaa!
I have never ever owned a dog like this. I swear the average dog owner would have given up by month two.
Jake’s brother’s owner did. She couldn’t deal with the high energy level. When Casey was a year old she turned him over to German Shepherd Rescue. Made me sad because like Jake, Casey is the sweetest – but these dogs take time, more time than most owners are able and willing to put into a dog.
Jake’s older sister, Tula, who is gorgeous by the way, spends time herding sheep. Her owner decided that was the best way to keep her occupied.
‘Round these here parts Jake’s reputation precedes him. He’s known as the Playinator for a reason. He will not stop, ever, until your dog is dead. There are a whole lotta dog owners who cross the street, or leave the park, when they see Jake coming.
He also has a prey drive to end all prey drives. When he goes to Montana he will chase a herd of antelope– forever. He will not stop. He’s convinced he can catch them. It’s just a matter of time. He will get them, his own safety be damned.
And he can outrun Greyhounds. Unbelievable, I know. I warn every Greyhound owner that my dog will chase down their dog and nip its butt, and every single Greyhound owner scoffs, until Jake does it. He’s made true believers out of the entire local Greyhound Club.
Reading the book, Trident K9 Warriors by Michael Ritland, opened my eyes. Gave me incredible insight into Jake’s brain.
Mr. Ritland discusses ‘drive’ and the combination of a dog’s willingness to go after something he wants, unrelentingly, and unwillingness to quit. Jake is unrelenting in everything he does. Yesterday he tried so hard to find that dang mountain lion that by the time he finally returned to me he was dragging himself along by his front claws and he still had to climb up a cliff to reach me. Which he did.
Mr. Ritland says, “…what I want to see are behaviors that would drive most pet owners nuts. The dog should express its desire in leaping, barking, turning and spinning. And I don’t just mean the dog does that for little while, but persistently, for a long duration. Their desire must be over the top, and they almost literally exhibit that trait by jumping up to nearly my eye level to get that ball….”
He says, “If you’ve ever seen a dog that just shivers with excitement and pent-up desire to get a toy, then you have some idea of what I’m talking about. It’s as if every fiber of its being is twitching with its genetic desire to get at prey…. For the dogs at the top of my list, the object of their desire is nearly immaterial… They want it and they will do nearly anything to get it. They are so highly motivated that is is nearly impossible to describe their behaviors… In addition to wanting it while it’s in your possession, they will tear off after it at high speed as soon as the object leaves your hand when you throw it. Their aggressive pursuit of that object, the speed at which they go after it, is again at the very top of the charts. To say that they take off after it is an understatement. They launch themselves.”
He says, “I want to see a dog use its nose and not its eyes to locate that object. Just as the dog has to possess a hyper prey drive, the ideal canine candidate has to possess a hyper hunt drive… Instinctively, these dogs should immediately go into a serpentine-shaped search pattern or a figure eight. Their noses will either be lowered or up in the air scenting, using the wind and the scent molecules to locate the object.”
I cannot tell you how in awe other dog owners are of his scenting ability and his innate serpentine search patterns when looking for his ball in the tall grass. We can’t take any credit for that, it’s all Jake.
I could go on, but I won’t – you should read the book.
From the moment I brought this puppy home I realized I had an usual dog on my hands and I would have to work my ass off to civilize him– come up with a plan to make him a house pet or we would both fail miserably. Like I said, I don’t have a dog, I have a semi-domesticated wild animal. Which is why he’s fun to write about.
Our current project is city street safety. Jake’s prey drive is so powerful he wants to chase cars. Especially any Prius. I’ve worked until my hands are blistered and bleeding, but we’re doing much better. Well enough that I no longer feel as if this will happen: (Because when I tell you the following has happened to both my husband and myself due to Jake chasing a car, a deer, a squirrel or, worst of all, a rabbit, I ain’t kiddin’.)
From Mr. Ritland– “Barco had a real talent for forging ahead, wrapping around a manzanita bush, doubling back, coming around again, straining against his lead, and wrapping that bit of fabric tighter and tighter… One night, I was out with Barco and a few others, and we came to a downhill section and Barco was on point. He took off like a shot, and suddenly we were in the middle of an old Hollywood western, where the cowboy is being dragged by his horse or behind a wagon or whatever. His handler… went down the hill like a rag doll, gravity and Barco determining his speed and direction, bumping along and kicking up a cloud of dust… Barco’s forward progress was only arrested because his handler’s limbs were entwined within that tangled manzanita.”
I’ve been there, folks. Oh, you know that uneven area on Jake’s nose? He ripped it up on barbed wire going after some animal.
That’s my Jake. My kids think he’s insane, but I love him with all my heart. I trust him with every fiber of my being.
Jake in profile. His favorite perch at the top of the stairs.
P.S. Sorry for all you folks in Colorado and the Midwest. It’s like a million degrees here and you’re getting hit with blizzards. Yikes! Happy May Day, I guess.
P.P.S. You all must wonder what on earth is wrong with me… why I talk about my dog and never my kids. My kids told me long ago I am not allowed to talk about them. So with rare exceptions, I don’t.