This is Jake and he’s a Californian.
For the last 23 years, Jake’s owners had two Westies – “Thatcher” and “Rocky”. But they have both passed on and by January of this year they desperately needed another furry friend to fill that gaping hole. They spent hours on the internet looking at kennels and rescue centres for another “Thatcher” or “Rocky”.
Instead they found Jake, a beautiful white 8-month old Labradoodle on the internet and inquired about him. The ad said he was blind in one eye. Regardless, they had fallen in love with the photo of Jake and the rescuer brought him to be introduced to his potential new home.
Though the photo of Jake was precious, in real life he was beautiful.
The rescuer had told them that it will take a while before he would warm up to them but otherwise, he is a mellow little guy. They fell in love with him and the next day they went to bring Jake home.
The rescuer was right. Jake was at first a bit standoffish, but quite mellow. After the second day, he was able to manoeuvre through their home without any problems. He was no longer banging into walls or running into furniture. Within the week they took Jake to a opthomologist for animals, hoping to find out if there was anything he could do for his left eye. After a thorough examination, the ophthalmologist informed them that it wasn’t just his left eye but that Jake was blind in both eyes. There was nothing they could do for him as he was totally blind since birth!As shocked as they were about the results, they were in disbelief at how well Jake coped with life!
How could he have manoeuvred his way around his new home only after the second day? And when they threw his toy in the air that he would find where it landed.
His owners got a trainer to make sure that they were approaching Jake’s disability with good care and understanding. He told them that of the three senses that a dog has – sight, smell and hearing, sight was the least important. His other two senses have probably become heightened to compensate for lack of sight.
The trainer had some good ideas but something seemed to be missing. There were rules and behaviours requested of him. They also watched and studied him. He became aggressive when family and friends came to the door. The two smallest (loudest, craziest) grandchildren were held at bay, precautions were made. They stayed home or took him with them whenever they could. Leaving him alone might have sent the wrong message and set back the sense they wanted him to internalise, i.e. he was safe and they would keep him from harm.
However, it took them awhile before they realised they forgot to ask what Jake needed before he could settle to any degree, into his new life.
You see, Jake had arrived in his new home, in darkness, with no one or anything familiar, completely unsure what fresh smell that might be. Each day he woke to a nice home, lots of hugs, toys and sweet talking while he walked the rooms in darkness. He ate little and drank less.
No amount of anything can help if trauma and fear have been the order of the day.
It has been four months since Jake became a part of his new-found family. He’s been phenomenal and a blessing. They are enamoured with his ability and sense of everything, and he has also become less wary of strangers. He loves his walks and even meet little friends along the way – sometimes he is immediately smitten with them, and at other times, he sends out his low-level growl.
May’s comment: Jake’s owners Dick and Melanie contacted us after reading our blog – and wanted to share their story about Jake.
In Melanie’s own words – “Jake didn’t want fanfare and luxury. He needed space and time so the muscles in his chest relaxed and his heart was free. It is now 4 months since he came to live with us and we smile to ourselves when people, in chance encounters, “praise our kindness” for rescuing a blind dog. You have to live this to know that he is our gift.
Jake is getting centered and increasingly strong emotionally. It is all his doing. He walks in darkness now as always but he has forgiven the unknown and embraced it. He knows he can do that because he has internalised that things were bad but they also can be good. He lives a mindful life as we all should. His life is as our life is, like the exquisite title of Anne Lamott’s new book “Small Victories spotting improbable moments of Grace”
As from the example of Jake, dogs just seem to get on with life and live without complaining about their misfortunes and mishaps. They may have been hurt, disfigured and rejected but they just take life one day at a time, making the most of everything around them.
It is also a story about the never-ending tale of how dogs can steal our hearts even when they have physical or emotional issues. It brings out in most of us a sense of maternal/paternal instinct to protect and care for them. These fur babies who give us unconditional love and their loyalty just because we are there for them.