Jacob found his first dog after work one night. It was late. A stray black Lab was sniffing trash cans behind a restaurant.

Jacob was a foster child. He grew up in the Foster Pinball Machine. Birth to graduation. He was never adopted by a family.

He and I weren’t good friends, but we knew each other. I lost track of him at age fifteen. He moved away to a group home.

We got in touch a few years ago. I expected to learn he had a wife and kids, but that wasn’t the case. Jacob has animals.

Six dogs, three cats.

I don’t think Jacob would mind me saying that he marches to the beat of his own tuba.

He’s had little choice. His childhood was spent bouncing from family to family, looking after himself, remembering to eat regularly.

Today, he leads a good life. He’s a restaurant cook, he likes to hike, camp, and he’s had the same girlfriend for ten years.

I asked about all his animals.

“I dunno,” he said. “Just love animals. Growing up, I was never allowed to have any.”

Jacob found his first dog after work one night. It was late. A stray black Lab was sniffing trash cans behind a restaurant.

The dog bolted when it heard footsteps.

Jacob tried to coax it with food. The dog wasn’t interested. So, Jacob resorted to heavy artillery.

Raw ground beef.

He left an entire package on the pavement. The dog still wouldn’t come. Jacob gave up and crawled into his car to leave. Before he wheeled away, he glanced in his rear mirror.

The dog was eating a pound of sirloin in one bite.

“Started feeding him every day,” Jacob said. “I just wanted him to know somebody cared.”

For two months, Jacob cared. He fed the dog from a distance seven nights per week—even when he wasn’t working.

And on one fateful night, the old dog walked straight toward Jacob and had a seat.

“You shoulda seen how he was looking at me. He was like: ‘Can I really trust you, man?’”

Jacob pet the dog. They carried on in the parking lot until they both fell asleep. And if you’ve read this far, you can probably figure out the rest of this story.

It wasn’t long before that animal was wearing a collar and scratching on the back door to go tee-tee.

He slept at the foot of Jacob’s bed and ate in the kitchen. His name was Pat.

Pat had his own fluffy bed. His own toys. Pat won the canine lottery.

But nothing lasts forever.

Six years later, the vet discovered Pat had cancer. They put him to sleep in the vet’s office. Jacob rubbed the animal’s head, speaking in a soft voice. Pat’s eyes rolled backward.

Jacob cried—and you won’t see a man like him do that often.

“As a kid,” Jacob said. “All I ever wanted was a home I could say was mine. At least Pat knew he had that with me.”

As a matter of fact, Pat had more than a home. For once in that dog’s life, he knew what it meant to have an honest-to-goodness family.

And so did you, Jacob.

So did you.

17 comments

  1. Catherine - July 9, 2017 12:37 pm

    Your writing makes me feel I know Jacob and Pat. Superb.

    Reply
  2. Mary C - July 9, 2017 1:29 pm

    Feel the same way about animals. Don’t have any human family, but thankful for my three kitties all of who showed up on my porch searching for food and love. Thank you for reminding us some people have a calling just to love and care for God’s creation!

    Reply
  3. Mary C - July 9, 2017 1:30 pm

    Feel the same way about animals. Don’t have any human family, but thankful for my three kitties all of whom showed up on my porch searching for food and love. Thank you for reminding us some people have a calling just to love and care for God’s creation!

    Reply
  4. Donna Holifield - July 9, 2017 1:34 pm

    ❤️

    Reply
  5. Sharon - July 9, 2017 1:42 pm

    Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way - July 9, 2017 3:03 pm

    *sigh* Not every story has a happy ending but this one did. They both found love and companionship. Not everyone can say that.

    Reply
  7. Connie - July 9, 2017 3:26 pm

    So sweet. We have two dogs, both adopted from the animal shelter. The oldest was about 3 years old when we got him, with heart worms, stitches in his neck from being attacked by another dog at some point, and buckshot in his side from being shot. He weighted 10 pounds. What kind of demon person shoots a 10 pound dog? From all his abuse you would think he would be afraid of people. When my little girl and I went in looking for a baby, he walked up to the edge of the crate and laid his head in my head. That was that. It’s now two years later. He’s up to 15 pounds and is snugly in my lap, where he usually is if I’m sitting. His “sister” was small enough to fit in my palm when someone found her in a ditch and took her to the shelter. We got her just a few days later. She’s a year old now, and wild as they come, but she’s loved and safe and fed. Everyone needs love, and my house is a way station for kids and animals who need a place to be loved. It sounds like your friend found his place in the world and opened his heart, when he didn’t have to, and had never been taught to. Thank you for sharing. I wish him joy.

    Reply
  8. Robin cotton - July 9, 2017 4:59 pm

    I comment because I want you to know how much I appreciate you And to let you know that your stories bless me ❤️

    Reply
  9. Jenny Young - July 9, 2017 6:28 pm

    I am so proud of Jacob! Did you know that when foster children turn 18 they’re aged out of the system & totally on their own with now support?…even if they’re still in high school, at 18 they have no support & often no place to live. Most of them, having grown up without a family, have no idea how to survive as an adult.

    So Jacob has every reason to be proud for making a home for himself those he loves.

    Reply
  10. Gail Stewart - July 9, 2017 10:06 pm

    😢😢😢😢😢😢God Bless all of you who give their love to the unloved. ❤️ Bless my Daddy’s heart for all the Pat’s I brought home.

    Reply
  11. Jill - July 9, 2017 11:55 pm

    Sean, you are a very good writer and story-teller…so glad a friend introduced me to your posts. Yours are certainly a first, must-read!

    Reply
  12. Sean G - July 10, 2017 12:20 am

    It suddenly got very dusty in here . That dust always makes my eyes water, too.

    Reply
  13. Faith Black - July 10, 2017 12:38 am

    I was an abused child. I lived with a mother and stepfather (I use that term on the literal sense) who didn’t love me or treat me with love. Oh, but I had a dog who was an angel sent to love me deeply and unconditionally. She knew everything in my heart and head because I told her each and every night. I thank God for her presence through such a tumultuous time in my life.

    Reply
  14. Jack Quanstrum - July 10, 2017 3:29 am

    Precious story. Beautiful, wonderful. I could go on and on Sean. What a privilege it is to read stories that are authentic and emotionally captivating as well as inspirational.

    Reply
  15. Janet Mary Lee - July 10, 2017 4:57 am

    Crying so hard I got the hiccups.
    Love dogs.. Love animals… Love Jacob…and your column…

    Reply
  16. Lisa Bowman - July 10, 2017 5:19 pm

    Loved this one especially! I take in strays, but have also found that not all strays are animals…..

    Reply
  17. Martha - July 11, 2017 4:13 am

    God bless you Jacob!!! Thank you for loving the homeless!!!

    Reply

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