How I Became a Pavlov’s Dog

Jakespeak!  Memoirs from the Heart of a Labrador

Jake and Boogie
Jake and Boogie


This blog is dedicated to pet owners world-wide, and it comes “by interpretation” of my human, Mrs. P, who can see my heart. She said Labrador’s are made out of love and my heart is as big as my home state, Texas.  Maybe she’s right.   I love everyone, especially the two legged (humans). When I see them coming, my tail thumps like a door knocker. In this blog I  share my experiences of “Greeter” at Pavlov’s Dog and Cat Hospital, and offer pearls of wisdom.

Welcome to JakeSpeak!

My Story:

In 2004 Gordon picked me out from my mother’s litter of puppies and named me Jake. I came from the classic line of large Labradors, with a shiny black coat and a slight wiggly wave of hair across my spine. People often asked if the tip of my tail got dipped in white paint.

I lived with my two best friends Sugar (a beautiful yellow lab), and my then owner, Gordon before I came to be “Greeter at Pavlov’s”  One day he noticed my normal behavior was drastically different. Typically, I acted like a crazy ball of energy and jumped into any puddle or pool of water to splash and swim. I never met a ball , stick,  or Frisbee that I didn’t fetch.  A change in me came gradually and Gordon didn’t notice I’d lost the spring in my step, and had  become lethargic. I could barely breathe, and I developed a deep cough.  I felt rotten.

He called to make an appointment with the veterinarian. This sizzling August day our owner brought Sugar and me to Pavlov’s Dog and Cat Hospital for a check-up.  The hot sidewalk stung our paws when we jumped out of the truck. I felt an uncontrollable urge  to bolt to the nearest pool of water next door, but I could barely walk.

When we entered the front door,  I knew I would like this place. Two very nice humans said “Hello. Is this Sugar and Jake? We’re happy to see you!” I felt welcomed.

On top of the counter, I saw a giant yellow and white feline still as a statue. Is he …catatonic’ ? I wondered.  He lazily squinted his eyes at me, and starred down with a condescending look. Being a three year old lab, my first instinct was to jump up and goose him! I think he sensed this urge and sauntered just far enough away that I couldn’t reach him. The sides of his mouth  curled up and I thought he smiled. Was that a snicker or was he being catty? ” I wondered.

After Dr. Pavlov ran a blood test on Sugar and me, we got bad news. The worst.  We both had heartworms.

The doc explained, ”These parasites live in the pulmonary blood vessels and can be as long as twelve inches.  They cause severe damage to the lungs and if not treated, will kill the pet. Unfortunately, Jake’s condition is extreme. His lungs are gravely damaged.  Both Jake and Sugar need immediate attention.”

The news got worse.  Heartworm treatments were very expensive, and the recovery time would be long. I would need careful attention daily, for up to a month.  My owner seemed deeply sad and was quiet. I saw tears in his eyes.

“I am so sorry I didn’t give you heartworm preventative. Now, I’ve lost my job and I can’t afford the treatments. I may have to move and I don’t know where I’ll keep you and Sugar. Another problem is that I won’t be at home much while looking for a job.  I’m between a rock and a hard place and I just don’t know what to do.” Gordon said

“The heartworms have done a lot of damage and Jake’s health has been greatly jeopardized.  It’s possible he might not make it. Dr. Pavlov said.

“I just can’t watch him die a slow painful death.” Gordon said with great sadness in his voice.

“I’ll give you a few minutes to think about it.” Dr. Pavlov said and left the room.

Lucky for me, Dr. Pavlov held a soft spot for black Labradors. He’d lost his favorite Chester, from cancer years earlier.  He was part of the family when they first opened the hospital for business in 1993.

A few minutes later, Dr. Pavlov came back into the exam room. “Gordon, I’ve got an idea. Would you consider allowing me to try to treat Jake? There are no guarantees, just lots of prayers.  If he makes it, may I keep him?  Since his condition is so bad, even long after the treatment is finished, he will be required to stay in a kennel and be kept still.  He will need a close watch every day for at least a month. We could do that here, and give him a real fighting chance to make it. Jake’s really in bad shape, but I want to try to save him.” Dr. Pavlov said

Gordon burst out in tears.  “Thank you Dr. Pavlov! Yes!  I would be so relieved and grateful.”

“I think you made the right decision, Gordon. We will do our best to help him recover.”  Dr. Pavlov said

“If it all works out, Jake will make a perfect greeter for the clinic.  For the rest of his days he needs a quiet lifestyle due to the damage caused by the heartworms. He will have the perfect home. The receptionists and techs will spoil him rotten.  And of course you are welcome to come by any time and say hello.”

That sounded good to me I thought, as I weakly thumped my tail against the table.

The treatment was tough, and the healing process took months to fully recover before I regained, my slowed-down wonder-dog status. As a result of heartworms, my lungs suffered permanent damage and breathing even years later, is difficult.   It means no more lake swims or runs in the park, rather only limited activity for the rest of my life.  My new appointment at the clinic of greeter for dogs and cats, suited me perfectly.  I never realized that my strong calm spirit might help so many four legged friends. In addition, a few two-legged (humans) benefited also.

My blog is dedicated to dogs, cats and their owners. I admit, the help I’ve received from my cat greeter friends Calvin and Lucy at the clinic, is invaluable. They are a different breed to say the least and require, well, interpretation from a cool Labrador ambassador like me 🙂

From the heart,


Do you have a big hearted Labrador? Or a pet whose had heartworms?  Tell me your story.

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