This is from our first visit to Los Gringos. Jake was a stray mongrel that was there only on this first trip. At dinner with Ginger and The Earl, the owners of the property on the Playa Magante (that’s right, new names to protect the innocent, how exciting), we named this stray Jake and took to calling him Jake from State Farm after the commercial which was airing on television back in Canada.
My wife and I decided to go for a walk up the beach and make it a long one. We were joined by three dogs, Captain, Tricon and Jake from State Farm.
Captain is a large dog, measuring about 26 inches at the shoulders and has a majestic bearing and a regal gate with his long strides. He is six or seven years old. Tricon and Jake are teenagers by dog standards. Maybe two or three years old at best, and are far more playful with each other. They measure around 18 to 20 inches. Tricon has a fast gate like that of any herding dog. Jake has neither a quick or graceful stride. Jake has a handicap.
Jake’s left hind leg had been broken and had not been set. Patrick believes that after his injury he had been abandoned and left for dead. Since he also has a clipped tail, this is signs that it was by a gringo as the Dominicans do not do this to their dogs. There is no way of knowing how Jake made it to Los Gringos but on the day we arrived he was there with the other two to greet us.
Jake walks funny, has kind of a sway from side to side. He uses his left hind leg only so he doesn’t fall over and puts his weight on his right. He has to use the stairs to get on our deck, where the others can just jump up. But when he runs, that boy moves fast. He has a big bark and can appear quite fearsome when he joins the others in their unofficial roles as guardians of all that is Los Gringos. Jake is a dog that is just happy to be part of the pack. When Captain and Tricon run, he runs. When they lay down, so does Jake. Captain and Tricon have taught Jake what the accepted behaviour of the pack is and Jake just fell into line because that’s what dogs do.
As we walked down the beach, the three dogs would run ahead, then stop and look to see that we were still coming. Then trot along ahead again. They would return to us if for any reason we would stop to look at something or pick up a shell, any pause made them return to be sure we were okay.
After he realized this was going to be a long walk and not just up the beach a few hundred yards and back, Captain took a position at our side. Tricon ran ahead with Jake hobbling in pursuit. The only time poor Jake could catch Tricon is when he let him. When I threw a stick for them to chase, Jake never got it. That didn’t matter to Jake, he was just happy to be part of the game. I don’t know what the other dogs think when they look at Jake but they don’t exclude him because he is different. They don’t have any hang ups when it comes to dogs that are different, they don’t look away or ignore him. Of course, they don’t let him get the stick out of pity either. He must hold his own.
Although my wife was concerned that the distance we travelled would be too far for Jake and she would have to carry him back to Los Gringos, he made it all the way because that’s what dogs do. He did collapse on our deck and sleep for the next hour but I’m sure that if we had moved ourselves, he would have been right by our side.
My wife and I do not have a dog; we did when our children were young but not since they have moved away. I think that if we could have put him in a suitcase, my wife would have packed up Jake and brought him home. After only a few days Jake had attached himself to us, he would lie by our table when we ate and sleep on our deck at night. He would occasionally stick his head in my wife’s lap when she was reading, seeking a little affection, that he always got from her.
The day we left Tricon and Jake from State Farm followed our vehicle all the way to the main highway. Something they had never done to any vehicle before. In fact Jake in the entire time we were there had never left Los Gringos except for walks on the beach. Did they know that we were leaving for good? My wife told me later that she had tears in her eyes as she watched Jake gamely try to keep up with our vehicle. Jake from State Farm had found a permanent place in our hearts not because he had a disability and we felt sympathy but because he was good and loyal companion for the short time we spent together at Los Gringos.
Patrick sent us an email and told us the dogs had returned safely. I’m sure they have attached themselves to the next set of guests that have replaced us. That’s okay because that’s what dogs do.