Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Rescue Jake

“No, Jake!  Don’t jump!” I shouted to my dog as he hunched down and prepared to launch himself off the bridge.  Had he jumped closer to the center, over the river, I wouldn’t have worried.  But he had run close to the bank and from there, the drop would be ten feet down to a pile of large boulders.

I guess I should have known it would come to this three months ago on Jake’s first day in our family.  Having spent the weekend in a shelter, Jake was displaying some serious separation anxiety.  He hated to be in a different room than me, so when I prepared to take a bath, I was careful to make certain he was in the bathroom with me.  I went about my typical routine, shaving my legs and shampooing my hair.  I went under the water and began to swish my hair from side to side to remove the suds.  Suddenly, I was covered by one very wet Border Collie who had apparently felt the need to rescue me from the perilous danger of my bathtub.

I wasn’t the first to jump from the bridge.  Actually, I wasn’t even the second.  We brought one of Adam’s friends along for our Idaho adventure, and Trae was the first to make the 25 foot drop into the frigid river.  After Trae’s jump, Jake jumped in from the far bank, crossing the river easily and getting out only after it was clear that Trae was safe.  After significant coaxing, Adam went second.  Technically, according to him, he actually slipped and fell instead of choosing to jump, but I’m applauding even that.  Having promised to jump if he jumped, I went third, leaving a very anxious Jake atop the bridge.

I could hear him whining above the wind and the current, and I could see his nubbed tail shaking furiously at me for having jumped off a bridge.  I shouted up to him.  “I’m okay, Jake!” but he was less than convinced.  For a moment, I thought he would actually make the jump in after me, and I wasn’t too worried about that.  Then I saw him hurry to the bank and assumed he would climb down and swim in after me.  I laughed at his commitment as I swam closer to the bank, knowing I was completely safe and in no need of rescue at all.

I stopped laughing, however, when I saw his focus shift.  He was going to take a shortcut and jump onto the rocks.  I worried for his safe landing; not only was the bank steep and the boulders smooth, but Jake has genetically bad hind knees and limps most of the time.  Although we plan to have doggie knee surgery done this winter, for now he gets by on two pain pills a day and rests when his limp gets too horrible.

And so I shouted up at my dog, but he didn’t listen.  I watched him jump.  And I watched him land.  However, verbs like “crash,” “slide,” “roll,” and “bounce” may have been more accurately descriptive.  He found his footing as quickly as he could and navigated the rocks down to the river’s edge.  He jumped in and swam to me, accompanying me the rest of the way to shore.

It was almost funny to watch how little he cared for the safety of other jumpers at the bridge.  He never once hurried to the side of a stranger.  But each time one of his family (extended to include Trae for the week) jumped, he insisted on chaperoning them to safety.

And it didn’t stop there.  We changed locations from the bridge to a place the locals call Flat Rock.  This area features a small jump into a shallow, sandy pool – perfect for the younger kids we had with us.  For fun, I decided to make the three foot jump.  I was prepared to be startled as my feet abruptly met the sand; I was not prepared to have a dog jump right on top of my head.  Which he did.

In fact, he wouldn’t even let me swim to the middle of the river without him.  If I went into water any deeper than my ribs, Jake insisted on checking on me routinely.  Sure, he kept an eye out for the big boys, but he wouldn’t let me out of his sight.

And then the little boys (Ryder and Dylan) wanted to jump.  I stood in the pool ready to catch them with Jake circling me much like a shark.  He wouldn’t leave the water until the small boy had safely completed the jump.  I didn’t understand the height of his anxiety until he actually nipped at Dylan – not out of aggression, but in an attempt to grab him by the skin and pull him out of the water.

Jake may not be a perfect dog.  He may poop in my house on occasion, bark at my visitors, and eat the cats’ food every single day.  Sure, he needs expensive surgery this winter.  Yes, it is inconvenient to have to make arrangements for him when I go out of town.  But in only 3 months he has become so loyal to my family that he will drag my son out of a river and jump from a bridge to try to save his Mama.

Welcome to the family, Rescue Jake.