Friday, February 25, 2011

A Kind of Peace

Dave from 9News accompanied me and Jake on several outings over the last couple years. An NFL football field, a art museum, an NBA basketball court, a fashion show, a cancer walk, and more than a few vet appointments. He shot hours of raw footage of Jake and his final piece on “Jake’s Journey” ran tonight. Coincidentally, my Dad just happened to be in town so he was able to watch it live with me and Dan. Dave did a fantastic job with the story.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wonderful Life

Some numbers for you. It’s been a year and a half, or 621 days, or 211 posts since Jake and I started this. I’ve taken 12,520 of photos of him. I just looked at the folder on my laptop and it tops out at 13.8 gigs. This picture may be far short of our best ones, but it is the very last one I ever took of him, so that instantly makes it one of my favorites.

And in closing, I will just say this…echoing our first post on May 1, 2009…when his final journey seemed like it was going to be a 50-yard dash, but turned into a marathon instead:

This is Jake. This was a story about him and the people in his life. He was so white. And he will always be that soft dog.

Every little piece in your life
Will add up to one
Every little piece in your life
Will mean something to someone

“The Weight of the World” – The Editors

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Life's What You Make It

Jake had an appointment at the CSU Animal Cancer Center at 11 am this morning. Paul took him up there for restaging, so we could check on the spread of the cancer. I got a sad call from him late in the afternoon while I was at work, telling me the ultrasound indicated that his spleen had ruptured. He was bleeding internally and would be gone soon…a couple days at the most…maybe even just a few hours.

Paul and I talked about whether I should make the drive up to Ft. Collins or if Jake could make it back to Denver. We decided that we would try to do it in Denver. The vets at CSUACC called Dr. Hedlin at Aspenwood Animal Hospital to let her know that we’d all be there in about an hour and to have a room set up for him. I left work right away and waited for them at the clinic.

When Paul arrived, Jake was laying on his bed in the back of the SUV. His eyes were looking around but not really registering anything. It took a few moments before he recognized me and managed a few taps of his tail to let me know he was back.

We carried him into the room on a stretcher and waited for Dr. Hedlin. Jake looked worn out and exhausted but fortunately did not seem to be in any pain. We spent about an hour in the room, talking to him and brushing his fur, as soft as it was the day he came home on 9/10/2001. He seemed ready.

The vet techs came in, shaved a small patch on his forearm, close to the furless scar tissue left over from the original tumor in 2009, and set the catheter. Dr. Hedlin came in and sat with us for awhile. We talked about how many times we had brought him to Aspenwood over the last 9 years, and what an amazing dog he was, particularly over the last couple years during his up-and-down battle against cancer. We all cried and said goodbye. She pushed the chemicals in the syringe and he fell asleep quickly, much faster than I expected.

As I watched him take his last breath, I couldn’t help but remember watching my mom do the same, a few months later the same year he was born. If you’ve never witnessed something like that, you may think that it’s tragic, or painful, or something to avoid. But it is truly an honor and privilege to be there when it happens to someone you love…when they leave us in a familiar place…surrounded by people who cared about them, and for them.

And so, if there’s a message here, you already know what it is. It’s a bit like the ending of that Monty Python movie, “The Meaning of Life” where everything is distilled to a few basic instructions. So simple:

Go for a walk with your dog.

Call your mom or dad, or someone close to you.

Try something new.

And don’t forget to take some pictures.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Denver Parks #36

Another quick storm moved in last night. Jake was ready to go outside for a walk and probably would’ve settled for the usual destination. But I thought the roads were decent enough to drive to a new park rather than the one a block away. Time to add another one to our Denver Parks series. (Plus, we were out of beer at the house! Jake’s no stranger to liquor stores.) This park is a half a mile from our new house and it was beautiful today. The snow was still coming down steadily and no one had been here yet so it felt like we were alone on a field someplace. Jake was exploring more than usual, walking far off in the distance to check out the smells, occasionally looking back to make sure I was following.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Sometimes in Winter

Finally a little snow in Denver! Jake and I went to Jefferson Park. He was fixated on all the kids sledding down the hill, laughing and screaming, so almost all of the photos today were profile shots. You can tell that he loves to eat snow because he’s wearing a frosty goatee in almost pic. Happy New Year to everyone!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Toy Jackpot

Dan and I are in Mexico with my family for the holidays. So Jake got to open his present early before we left. It is actually the same damn duck from Walmart that he gets 4 or 5 times a year. It’s called a Hartz “Nose Diver” and it’s his favorite. But after about a month of playing with it, he finds the seam in its head and conducts brain surgery. Cotton stuffing is everywhere and eventually it goes in the trash. Only to magically reappear completely healed and ready to be destroyed again.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ghost Return

Time to put up the lights and decorations at the new place. Last year, we bought one of these electric dogs at Home Depot. It was by our front porch for the entire holiday season and looked pretty cool combined with the rest of the lights on the house. Then some scrooge knocked its head off on Christmas night! So I was pretty excited to see them in stock again. This new lit up dog is 3 floors up on our deck now. Ain’t nobody gonna decapitate him this year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Happy Birthday

Well, what do you know...Jake has now helped me celebrate two birthdays in a row. Last year was pretty special but today is even better. By the way, this one is #50 for me. Hard to believe that it’s possible Jake could turn 10 this year, if his health remains somewhat stable. Here’s a shot of him and my dad at our new favorite park.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Life of Surprises

Jake and I went out for an early morning walk over to Jefferson Park. It doesn’t seem like winter will ever come to Denver this year. The last couple months have been so mild, with barely any snow (not that we’re complaining or anything). My dad was flying out today to celebrate my 50th birthday tomorrow. Dan and I were standing on our deck when he pulled up in the rental car. The passenger doors opened and my siblings, Kelly and Rhett, got out of the car. Surprise! My family is full of trickers. Papa Bob may be the best but I am a close second. Here’s the group on the rooftop deck of the new place.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sign of the Times

Jake lives just a few blocks from Invesco Field now. He’s familiar with this area, having been across the highway last year, and also had an exclusive opportunity to go on the Broncos’ field. Traffic can be heavy on game days but the traffic control plan is smooth. On the way back from our new park this Sunday morning, we spotted this cluster of signs prior to setup. Funny message with conflicting directions.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Walk Across the Rooftops

View from the new place’s rooftop deck. What a great view of Denver’s skyline. You can see Elitch Gardens, Pepsi Center, Children’s Museum and more. Jake has been to all of those places.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Denver Parks #35

After hundreds of visits to the place that started this all, Mayfair Park, Jake now has a new favorite park. This one is less than a block away from his new house. We’ll be here a lot, but there are so many parks nearby.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bright Lights Bigger City

We closed on the new place a couple days ago. Here’s the view from our patio. Jake is officially a city dog now.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blue Hotel

Jake is thankful that there are plenty of pet-friendly hotels these days. The Loews Denver was our temporary home for awhile.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tougher Than the Rest

Jake went to CSU Animal Cancer Center for what was supposed to be his last IV dose of chemo (liposomal clodronate). However, during the physical exam, the vets thought they should do an ultrasound. The cancer is back. But we’ve heard that news before. It doesn’t seem to stop us. We still have a few more places to go.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Resignation Superman

There was too much going on this year so we skipped the Halloween costumes. Besides, how many kids trick-or-treat at the Loews Hotel? Here’s an outtake from last year’s photo shoot. You can always check out the full entry for 2009.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ready to Start

It’s about time for Jake’s next chemo treatment at CSU Animal Cancer Center. He always needs a blood draw prior to treatment and once again, it looks fine.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pack It Up

Well, what do you know? The house sold pretty fast and the closing is scheduled for next week. Jake is a good luck charm. The buyer wanted a quick possession so we’re packing up. We’ve put an offer on a new place but it will be a few weeks before we can move in. Luckily, there’s a cool company called PODS, which drops a storage unit right on your street. You fill it, they take it away, and then they bring it to your new digs when you’re ready. We’ll be in a hotel for awhile but Jake doesn’t seem to mind. He’s stayed at the Westin Riverfront in Avon last year in May and July.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Denver Parks #33

Jake and I thought we were done but on the drive home, we passed this off-leash dog park on 29th & Franklin.

Denver Parks #32

Second stop of the day, near 36th & Vine.

Denver Parks #31

Jake and I decided to visit a few more parks today. No particular agenda today. Just picked a direction and stopped here first. This one is on 37th & Clayton.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Denver Parks #30

This one is brand new and it just opened today. Downtown Denver now has its first off-leash dog park, thanks to a group called Railyard Dogs who raised funds to build it. About a month ago, we got an email from the organizers. They had seen Jake’s blog and wanted him to be the first dog to run in the park after the ribbon cutting. We love all of the Denver Parks and were honored to be included!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Everyday Is Like Sunday

Jake and I were asked to speak at Camp Bow Wow’s annual meeting at the Omni Interlocken. The Bow Wow Buddies Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for canine cancer. They also fund a yearly scholarship at CSU Animal Cancer Center. The oncologist that oversees Jake’s clinical trial, Dr. Scott Hafeman, was their first recipient.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Walking Wounded

Dan drove us all down to Stapleton’s Central Park for the K-9’s for Cancer walk today…me, Jake, Mary Ann and Maggie. The weather was so much better than last year when the high was 17 degrees. This event, like Project Ruffway back in April, supports the CSU Animal Cancer Center. We love to attend these events, help raise money for a great cause and reconnect with the amazing staff from CSUACC. After the walk started, we went over to Jaime Rowe’s tent to do “paw-tographs” for people buying her new book, “Survivors – Your Best Friends’ Journey with Cancer”. Jake is one of the featured dogs in the book. He was very patient while we gently pressed his paw on a green ink pad, and then stamped each book.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lunch Break

OK, this was more like dinner. After lunch today, we went back to the house to do some work. One of Danny’s co-workers, Mary Ann, was spending the night with us, along with her dog, Maggie. Like Jake, Mary Ann is a cancer survivor. She was attending a fundraising event at the JW Marriott for the Cheryl Shackelford Foundation, which supports ovarian cancer. Dan and I would be dog-sitting Maggie for the night, and tomorrow all of us will be going to the K-9’s for Cancer walk. After dropping Mary Ann off at the event, Dan and I took both dogs to one of our favorite restaurants, Locanda del Borgo. We sat on the patio and enjoyed a couple Moretti’s.

Lunch Break

It’s been a LONG time since I took Jake on a Lunch Break. This time we ventured over to The Squeaky Bean in the Highlands area. Nice long dog-friendly patio. Like most places the dogs have to stay on the other side of the fence, but they have plenty of water bowls out for them.

Denver Parks #29

Next up: another great Denver park. Like so many of our posts over the last year or so, I’ve driven by this one hundreds of times but today was the first time we actually got out of the car and walked around.

Denver Parks #28

Dan and I took Jake on a big road trip around town today. First stop: the next in our Denver Park series. This is an incredible spot…don’t be fooled by the raggedy sign. Jake even met another “Jake” today…a 13-year-old black Lab.

Why Go?

We put the house on the market a week ago and have already had a ton of showings. Why try to sell now in this crazy market? Not entirely sure. While Jake was recovering from surgery this summer, we were sitting in the front yard and I had a “what if” moment. There are so many variables. Will the house sell fast? At a good price? Where will we move? When? Who knows, but it sounds like a fun experiment. We’ll see what happens.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thank You For Sending Me An Anglel

Hard to believe Jake came home from the breeders 9 years ago today, the night before 9/11. Here’s another old photo from the puppy days. I shoulda taken more back then, but hey, no regrets…we’re making up for it now.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Hope You Dance

This is an odd time of year. We’re in the middle of a bunch of anniversaries right now, especially ones from 2001. I always try to find something distracting on August 16th but September 8th is a good date. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010


Time for Jake’s 2nd round of chemo at CSU Animal Cancer Center. The treatment last month went really well so we’re not expecting any problems with side effects today. Dave from 9News joined us to shoot more footage so I actually got to the sit with Jake during the infusion of Liposomal Clodronate. This cool device administers the drug through his IV over a 1-hour period.

All things considered, Jake is compliant while this is going on. However, towards the end he got a bit restless and kept messing with the IV. We managed to distract him with a toy but you can see the carnage he can inflict when he’s focused on something. Thank god the puppy stage is long gone.