Oh my. I just read the following story on one of my Golden Retriever lists (h/t Sandy). It is simply amazing … on so many levels — clearly a story that refuses to leave one’s consciousness. I will simply cling to the desire for Jake’s perceptions to have been spot on.
BEN AND JAKE by Debra Easterling
Ben and Jake were inseparable.
Sure, Ben loved me. We had been married thirty years or more. But there was a bond between him and that Retriever tighter than a three-ply cattle rope.
Every night like clockwork, my husband, Ben, would come home at 6pm, shake off his boots, and hang up his coat while Jake danced back and forth. He’d always be rewarded for his performance as Ben stooped to rub his ears. The grateful dog would then immediately run to our room, pick up Ben’s slippers as if they were as fragile as egg shells, and then he would bring them to Ben’s big easy chair.
Once the fuzzy slippers were snug on Ben’s feet, Jake would walk around in circles until he found just the right spot beside Ben’s chair. It was always the same spot, but the dog relentlessly made a ritual of settling down.
After the evening news, Jake would take his place beside Ben at the dinner table. He didn’t beg for food, like other dogs. He merely rested his golden head on Ben’s lap until my husband was through with his meal. With the dishes washed and dried, Ben would stagger into the hallway and find Jake waiting beside the chair, leash in his mouth, waiting for their nightly walk.
Without fail, Ben would say sweet terms of endearment to his buddy as he again donned his coat and boots. No matter what the weather, the two of them would head out to embrace the elements together..
Last year about this time, a drunk driver drove his truck into Ben’s path. My husband did his best to veer the bus out of the way, but there wasn’t enough time. Ben and three passengers went to live with Jesus that night. I lost the only man I ever loved and his passing was extremely hard. I was grateful we had no children to break the news to, but there was Jake.
The poor thing couldn’t understand why Ben didn’t come home. He waited at the door every night at 6pm for a month. Ben never came in to rub his ears. There was no one to dance for. I walked him every night, but he only sat at edge of the property, waiting and watching. Jake barely touched his food. He never joined me at the table. I tried to make him feel better every once in a while by placing some of Ben’s clothes by his old chair, but Jake preferred to sleep now by the door. Jake spent many evenings with his big yellow nose poised on the doorstop, whimpering in his sleep. I thought my heart would break.
Last night was the one year anniversary of Ben’s passing. I didn’t bother to cook a meal. Food had little appeal. Even with Jake by my side, I felt so alone.
Then suddenly, promptly at 6pm, Jake jumped to his feet and ran to the door. He danced back and forth wagging his tail, whining like a puppy, full of glee. He dipped his head, and then he bounded to the top of the stairs, grabbed the slippers, and raced down to gently lay them at Ben’s chair. Jake then walked in circles, over and over again, until he found the right spot, and laid himself down.
Naturally, I thought the poor old dog had finally lost it. His grief caused him to recreate his nightly ritual. I bent down to pet sweet Jake with the intention of whispering comforting words into his floppy ears.
As I did, I found that my darling Ben had come back for his faithful friend so they could both live with Jesus. The two of them went for a final walk to embrace the elements together.