Saying Goodbye to Our Best Friend

What Jake taught me in his too short life

Frank’s photo

This afternoon my daughter called me, bawling.

“Daddy, Jake isn’t feeling well. He’s throwing up and his breathing is shallow. I think he’s dying.”

My chest tightened as I listened and tried in vain to console her.

We were an hour away

My son works with me. I knew he’d want to say goodbye should the worst happen.

By the time he clocked out, his phone rang.

I was waiting at the car for him to arrive. His face told the whole story.

“Jake’s dead.” Tears flowed from his eyes like a waterfall.

We men are pretty tough. We don’t cry for just anything. But this hurt worse than being the loser in a boxing match that just went 15 rounds.

I felt some moisture in my left eye.

As we drove home, my son and sat in silence for a few minutes. Slowly, we recounted the good things Jake gave us.

He loved unconditionally

Drew said, “No matter how bad a day I’ve had, Jake could make it better.”

When we came out to see him, he’d run out of his house and wag his tail nonstop. He sniff the daylights out of your leg, even though he’d done it the day before. It was like he wanted to remember every single detail about every one of us.

How well do you know your loved ones? Do you hug them when you see them? Do you tell them you love them? Do you ask them how they’re doing and listen to every word?

Just over a dozen years ago, I was talking with a friend at church about his horses. When he started talking, his face lit up. We had such a good time, the parking lot emptied as the sun went down.

It was the last conversation we ever had.

He died tragically on his morning run the next week.

Love well while you can. Tomorrow may be too late.

He loved to walk

From his earliest days, we took Jake for walks through the neighborhood.

We met a few of our neighbors. If left to my own devices, I’d stay inside 90% of the time. Jake pulled us out of our comfort zones. Literally.

A few times he got away from the yard and into nearby yards. We got to meet people that way, too.

Where we live, it seems everyone has a dog. Jake brought people together to talk about our dogs and their antics.

I still like to walk.

Thanks for instilling the habit, Jake.

Our family walks won’t be the same without you.

He looked out for his family

One night a raccoon got into his house.

He barked all night to let us know.

One night he was bitten by a copperhead. We took him to the vet and got him all fixed up.

The next time the copperheads showed up we found two battered carcasses on the big rock behind our house.

These snakes didn’t make it. (Frank’s photo)

Go get ‘em, dog!

When strangers visited, Jake was on the watch. If we weren’t smiling when we saw him, he’d press himself against us and let us rub behind his ears.

His fur was as soft as a camel hair brush.

Fight for what you love. It takes courage, but it’s always worth it.


He loved whatever we fed him

Sometimes you just make too much food.

Jake was glad to help us get rid of it.

Sometimes your kids won’t eat what you serve them.

“Ew, that’s gross. I’m not eating that. I’ll starve first.”

Go right ahead, kid.

Give the same food to Jake and he’d clean the plate and beg for seconds.

Don’t worry, though. Table food was a luxury. Jake ate a giant bag of dog food every other day it seemed.

Enjoy your food. Life is too short to worry about all that.

It hurts, but time will heal us

Losing a loved one is hard enough.

When death comes without warning, you feel blindsided.

This evening I sat on my porch and just stared into the yard. I heard cars passing, but I didn’t see a single one. I don’t even know how long I sat there.

Take time to grieve.

You may not think so, but things will get better.

The tears will dry.

You’ll remember the good times.

And the lessons you learned will shape the rest of your life.

That’s what Jake gave us.

I’d love to hear what your best friend gave you.

Writer. Teacher. Bestselling Author. Shy Kid turned Fear Fighter. I write about communication, business, and personal growth.

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