How Jake Came Home

Jake the Semidachshund
(Nov 1, 1991-Feb 26, 2007)

Someday the reaper will call Jake's name and, despite Jake's increasing deafness, he will hear and respond and vanish one last time over a hill where I cannot follow to bring him back. It's already breaking my heart, thinking of it, and yet today's he's healthy and happy and active--but closing in on 15 faster than I could have imagined. --First draft, Mid-July, 2006


I first saw Jake shortly after Remington joined my household, before I had any inkling that agility existed. Remington and I signed up for basic obedience classes from Pam Hartley, who always had one or more of her 8 dogs along as a demo dog. She had at least a couple of Border Collies, a Pug, some Golden Retrievers, and Jake, whom she identified as a Semidachshund because he roughly resembled a giant long-haired Dachshund (in dim light, from the right angle).

Pam's the one who told us about dog agility and recommended us to Power Paws agility, where she was taking classes. We encountered each other up there occasionally, where we were both training with Nancy Gyes and Jim Basic.

I started competing with Remington in January of 1996, and I think she started competing with her dogs (certainly with her Pug, not sure about the others) around the same time. Through some random conversation that I no longer remember, we ended up teaming up her Jake and my Remington for novice pairs (back before it was qualifying) at the Bay Team's Labor Day trial, and the two of them with Karey Krauter's Inyo for our first-ever DAM team. (Did we qualify? Probably not. I have no clue, didn't know what it meant, didn't write it down.)

I decided that weekend--if not well before then--that Jake was an adorable, sweet, talented dog. He was very fast on the course and seemed eager to please. Although I also remember Pam hauling him up by the neck, making him yelp, for what seemed to me to be a minor infraction that I thought at the time he hadn't done deliberately, he had simply just not completely understood what he should've done (maybe it was a start line stay? Or knocking a bar? I no longer recall).

The one other thing that stood out about Jake from that weekend was that his back showed signs of soreness at some point, and Pam said that it happened sometimes, just as it does with Dachshunds and their long backs, and she was trying to decide whether to scratch him from his runs.


Somewhere around that time, Pam and her husband started the first professional-looking agility magazine, Agility Spotlight. They were both doing dog training. I think they also had regular jobs. And then they had a baby. Late in 1996 or early '97, they gave up the magazine, gave away most of their dogs, and disappeared from sight.

I found out about this when I discovered that Nancy Gyes had taken Jake. I think she thought he'd be her next Toaster-man, a little mixed-breed dog to compete in a different way than her other dogs (Scud was 6 at that point, Riot just getting old enough to compete, Toast going on 4, and Winston 3). I told Nancy right then that if she ever decided that she didn't want to keep Jake, to let me know, that I might be interested. See, I was already thinking about adding another agility dog.

My husband was set against having a third dog in our household. Sheba, our Siberian Husky, was 16 and growing feebler; Jim didn't feel that it would be a kind thing to do to her, to bring a new dog into the household, and anyway he felt that 2 dogs was plenty for 2 people.

Then 1997 came along. In January, I developed a stress fracture in my foot and could not compete or run with my dogs. Sheba grew even feebler and started having trouble walking on her own. I subsumed my own need to not put weight on my foot to try to help her to stand and walk. We just couldn't quite make the decision to put her to sleep, as she was still fighting to live.

Meanwhile, in early spring, Nancy added the puppy Wicked to her collection of competing dogs. Jake jumped 24" in USDAA, same height as most BCs, and it would always be hard to compete to win with his shorter stride. Somewhere in there, Nancy told me that if I was still interested, she had decided to rehome Jake.


It took a while, though, because the spouse said No until Sheba died, and we didn't want to rush her along, but Nancy was willing to wait for a short while, and indeed Sheba got to the point where she could never stand up on her own, and in fact if she lay on her side, she couldn't even get back into a vertical lying position. Putting her to sleep was heart-wrenching, but within a week I was up at Power Paws with Remington, checking whether the boys would be compatible.

It was iffy--they really weren't particularly interested in each other--but that was good enough for me, and both boys came home in my back seat, studiously ignoring each other and staring out opposite windows.

To be continued...?

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Last updated February 27, 2007
OK, good boy, GO HOME