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Jake ... a sad farewell.
Tongariro Update.
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Jake ... a sad farewell.
Tue 30th July, 2013

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I feel unbelievably sad writing this but I'm afraid I have to tell you of the unexpected loss of my best mate over the weekend. Jake was a well known character not only in Waikanae but also along the banks of the Tongariro and we'd had a lot of fun together. He'd been a trusted family member and my constant companion for over six years and I know I'm going to miss not having him around.

Over the years I've owned a lot of dogs, I think Jake was number nine but he was the only dog I'd ever got really attached to ... that special one. When we came to New Zealand we'd had to leave our last collie behind in the UK, he was getting on a bit so we decided to re-home him with friends. Eventually after living in Wellington for a while we moved up to the coast and when the house was finished decided the time was right to look for another dog. I spotted Jake looking very sorry for himself in an ad on Trade Me and arranged for Gail and I to go up to Fielding to meet him.

When we arrived later that day a quick glance around at what was left of some of the furniture and the numerous craters in the back yard gave us a clue as to why this 11 month old Collie was up for sale.

But when the " monster " was brought into the lounge it was love at first sight and a chat with the owner provided us with an explanation for all the mayhem.

It was his first dog and because he worked long hours for the NZ Air Force Jake was left alone for much of his day and was venting his boredom and frustration on whatever he could lay his paws on.

The way he was licking my face and wagging his tail he was pretty keen for us to get him out of there so we bought him straight away and agreed to pick him up a week later on our way back from the Coromandel.

Jake was the easiest dog I've ever trained. Most Border Collies are pretty smart dogs but he was something else and could almost read your mind. He was intelligent, funny and incredibly loyal and gentle. He'd never seen the ocean and after being couped up for eight months loved the outdoors and especially water. During his training walks he'd race along the shoreline trying to scoop the water up with his face and we nicknamed him happy dog because he enjoyed being with us so much.

After a few weeks I decided to introduce him to fly fishing and first of all tried him on the small Waikanae river just around the corner from where we live ... that's where I discovered his fascination with ducks. Many's the time after creeping up on a spooky trout ... just as I was about to make that all important first cast, I'd hear loud quacking and the clatter of wings in the undergrowth. Then the duck would come bursting through the bushes with Jake in hot pursuit and he'd launch himself like superman into the middle of the pool. It seems funny now but at the time I could have throttled him. But he soon cottoned on that this was no way for a fishing dog to behave and left the ducks alone ... at least he did when I was looking.
It wasn't long before I felt confident enough to try him on the Tongariro and by then he was an absolute pleasure to take fishing. We had one little mishap early on when he got too close to a Deer Hair Cicada on the back-cast. But after a chaotic scrap during which time he took me down to the backing twice he learned where to position himself so that his ear was out of harms way.

Over the next six years we became inseparable best mates, he was fantastic company and I loved having him around. If I was on the river then so was Jakey boy, clients loved him and he loved them back ... especially at lunchtime.

Then suddenly last week things began to unravel following his annual check up and booster jab. The day after his visit to the vet he wasn't quite himself, unusually disinterested in things and his back-legs seemed a bit stiff. We made another appointment a couple of days later but they couldn't find anything specific and we decided on a course of anti-inflammatory pills. These had an almost immediate effect and within a few hours he was back to his old self. I packed the truck and keen as ever he jumped into his rear seat and we headed back up to the bach ... unfortunately the improvement was going to be short lived.

By the time Gail joined us in Turangi later that afternoon it was as if he he couldn't quite co-ordinate the movement in his hindquarters.

I was having second thoughts about fishing but he loved being on the river and was rearing to go, so I decided to walk him the short distance to the Braids. We went to his favorite spot and he lay on the sand with his front legs outstretched like a great big furry Sphinx watching me fish just like he always did ... little did we know.

The next day things had gone dramatically down hill but it was now Sunday evening and there was no on call vet in town. We spoke to one by telephone and decided the best course of action was to get him home so that he could see his own vet. He wasn't in pain and was sharp as a tack but his back-legs just wouldn't work properly.

We stayed up most of the night with him but by the time we set off early next morning he was paralysed and couldn't stand.

It was heart-breaking and I had to carry him to the truck. Gail and I knew then that we had to make one of the hardest calls of our lives.

The drive back to the veterinary practice in Otaki was a long and incredibly sad one. We shared a bag of lollies on the way like we'd done a hundred times before and I tried to disguise the emotion in my voice as I talked to him ... but he knew ... I think they always do.

He was quiet and trusting and gave the vet his paw when asked. With tears streaming down our faces Gail and I cradled his head and he watched us with those big brown eyes as he slipped into the long sleep.

Sleep well Big Bear


February 2005 - July 2013
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