Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What I've learned from Jake

Cancer has touched so many areas of my life, but maybe one of the hardest for me was Jake. Jake is my dog, he is 12 years old, and he was diagnosed with cancer while I was undergoing chemo for mine. He had an entire leg removed, and now almost two years later, his cancer has returned this time on his back hip in a racquetball size tumor. :0(
Jake has taught me so much about life. Whenever I have a bad day and think about how horrible things are, I see him looking at me with his big brown eyes, hopeful and happy despite his horrible luck in life, and I just can't help but smile. Here are Jake's best lessons to me.

1. Some days are very hard, stick with the basics and you will make it thru. Eat, sleep, walk. Sometimes in life we do so much more even when we don't feel like it. Some days it's OK to stick with the basics and take a break.
2. Wag your tail and try your best. Jake hops now instead of walks. Since he lived as a pack leader for 10 years before loosing his leg, most days he still tries to pee like a boy. It's very hard to balance on 2 legs, so most days he falls on his face, sometimes in the pee. It breaks my heart, but every time he jumps back up wags his tail and starts hopping back up the sidewalk like nothing happened.
3. Have Patience. When we moved to the city we gave up a fenced in back yard. This means Jake has to be walked several times a day, something I would rush thru tugging on his collar when he would stop too much. Until one day an older man stopped me on the street and told me how lucky I was to have such a remarkable dog. Then told me how well taken care of he looked, and commended me for that. Feeling guilty I let Jake sniff every single good smell for the rest of the walk. And now I make it a point to take him every day on a longer smelling walk where he gets to stop as much as he wants, and I stand there and wait. It's become my favorite part of the day and taught me how to be more patient.
4. You can over come the odds. I didn't believe my dear friend Mary when she told me he would be OK if we took off his leg. But he has proven her right. So far he has been able to learn how to do just about everything he did with 4 legs. A feat I would have said was impossible he is determined to make reality.

Jake is an inspiration to me each day, that no matter what life hands you, you have to keep trying.

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