Jake is my parents dog, our family dog since 2001 and a Black Lab/Dane/German shepherd mix. He was at the local SPCA, in a cage that had links all the way to the top because he was one of the few who could actually leap that high. His name was Norris (as in Chuck Norris). He was 2-3 years old and a bundle of energy- but still well behaved. He was a very dark shade of black with dark eyes and the cutest ears that would only perk half way, looking more like wings than ears (or as my father puts it "heli-chop-ter" ears). My family quickly decided he should be called something quick and easy (I was away at college so I was not involved in the renaming process) it turned out he responded very well to Jake.
Why I am posting this has more to do with one particular idiosyncrasy of Jake's. One that used to make me laugh but also drive me crazy. He hated cameras. He was very scared of them and knew one when he saw one. Whether it was a folding Polaroid, a DSLR, a point and shoot, a cell phone, a video camera or even my old Rolleiflex, he would head for the nearest exit.
If I put a long lens on my DSLR to try and shoot from a distance, he would see me bring it up to my eye and disappear in seconds. In fact, I have maybe five decent images of him over a ten year period and only two with his eyes open (the others are sleeping). He just would not be in the room if you had a camera in your hand.
|A typical Jake portrait, sleeping circa 2008|
In November my mother heard about degenerative myelopathy. It was obvious after some research that he had this condition. In all honesty he's just slowed down. The disease hasn't incapacitated him and he still has a very healthy appetite. His back end just doesn't respond like it used to. He doesn't respond like he used to, and to many people he just looks like an old dog.
Angus, my English Bulldog, tries to keep him young, never hesitating to provoke Jake into a quick wrestle. But those short bursts of activity last only seconds now and then they both go back to sleep.
Then it occurred to me: Jake may have changed his view of cameras.
Well not exactly. He won't run into another room but the ears go back and he won't look into the lens. That being said, I did manage to get a few portraits of the old guy the other day.
|Scratching the ears helps|
|Angus checking on Jake as they wait for a treat|
|Trade mark Jake ears|
The body and the face has thinned, but the hunger is still there...literally.
Probably the only time I've ever got a straight-on look from Jake (but in all fairness, I tricked him into looking my way). Even though his hair is a bit salt and pepper, he's still the dog obsessed with cheese. The dog who will hit his head on the floor when he sneezes. The dog who would rather not have his picture taken.