"Contrary to Ordinary"
The Black Pearls of the Dog World
~Making a difference: one black dog at a time through education, awareness and action
Please adopt responsibly through a heart adoption of a lifestyle and personality match~

It is with overwhelming sadness that I type that my (our) beloved Jake has passed. Words do not even begin to express the deep and raw sadness that our hearts are experiencing. So please read between the lines.

Jake fought against his cancer with such distinction…so much so….we didn’t even know he was fighting. Even in the initial and last 24 hours of our awareness he shared his giant heart, the rapid thump of his big ole tail and full face slobber kisses. And in the final moments he tasted our tears as we shed them freely out of our love and awe of who he was and realizing we were drawing close to the edge of saying “see you soon my sweet Jakey boy”.

But that is how he did everything in his life, completely and empathetically. He died as he lived.

Jake knew instinctively how to bloom where he was planted. He knew his purpose and never wavered one inch from it. He never expected more than “the moment” and lived it all with the enormous heart put into him the day he was born. And yes…we love and lose so many in life and while it never ever gets any easier… each one of those bonds…each one of those connections… shapes our hearts into a unique outline so we can emotionally mature in an unparalleled way because of that very love, that very bond and that very loss. It is because of that change we can then love others....the others that we might not have been tenderized enough to do before and with this the growth then fulfills its purpose.  Jake shaped everyone he met to go past themselves and their biases and mostly he shaped a rescue worlds indifference for the under-adopted and overlooked.

He became the poster dog for big black dog syndrome in 2004 and set a spark that ignited and spread across the world into dog lover hearts. Furthermore, with a bold and unassuming potency, he went straight into public awareness through the website made in honor of what he represented in the canine adoption world. The pages of major magazines, newspaper articles and mostly his very own personal representation of the BBD movement followed close behind to solidify his purpose. His adoption story has helped big black dogs everywhere to become appreciated for their hearts which hold no coat color, and for the love, devotion and character that arises out of that heart.  His life became an icon for animal adopters everywhere to consider the personality and lifestyle match that needs to happen on adoption day instead of it being a personal preferential beauty pageant of taking home the “waiting dog that catches our eye aesthetically”.  He walked his person (me!) into my “not so comfortable zone” and made me stand in the spotlight of the world to speak on behalf of all the waiting BBD’s. He made a space for me to pour out my heart with the cause that was sitting inside of it…to adopt through your heart and not just through your eyes.

Oh my heart: it is broken today because I miss him unbearably. Yet I continue to remind myself as experience has taught me that soon it will form to be a scar. A painless scar that I will look at and run my emotional hand and eyes over as it will remind me of how much we meant to one another. I will carry it always..... as it is.....because these scars that are reshaping my heart...are making me a more beautiful person on the inside. They change me and I will never get to be the same person I was when Jake and I met. For this I will always be indebted to Jake and to the others before him. Jake always willingly wore the collar and tags to show he was very exceptional to someone, namely me... and now the departure scar on my heart will show that I too belonged and was cared for very deeply otherwise the wound that produced that scar would have never happened. I am so thankful for my scar soon-to-come because it means that we took the time to make that difference to each other and in this I find peace.

Jake: how do I even begin? You looked at me on that very cold, very windy December day at the rescue and buried yourself straight into my heart with the look in your eyes and the bark that you gave. Thank you for being patient and for waiting for me to come back to bring you home. Thank you for howling at train whistles with that crazy bark only you could give, I always hear it when I hear any train whistle. Thank you for alarming me to the black bear in the woods and for keeping our back door always safe and secure. And thank you for shaping the adoption world to be better place for waiting black dogs.  But mostly thank you for being my 90 pound lap dog that could throw your head over my shoulder, tuck it in and make so many things better with one body squeeze and a doggie nose in my ear.  I know you know how much you were loved. Thank you for easing my heart the day you passed. Those final 3 face slobbers to my nose and eyes will always be held in my heart. You were my Ford truck in a dog suit: powerful, capable, always willing to do things, classy and yet not complicated at all and actually quite the lug of a teddy bear ready to be worn out with love, care and adventure…you were what you were…take it or leave it. I am so glad we took it. You offered it to us freely, no strings attached and with this you were able to change the path for so many. The pain now of losing you was worth every minute we shared together.  I am so grateful to have had you by my side as my big black dog and more importantly in my heart….then, now and always. Love you big guy. You will live on forever with every black dog who finds a home through a heart adoption.

September 11, 2000 – July 1, 2009


(as always click on Jake and he will take you home)
There are many people who were an intergal part of Jakes mission.

First and foremost to Jen Wold who became his initial frontlines rescue angel and kept him safe and well while he waited the 3 years for us to find him. Jen, you know how I feel about you and what you do. Thank you again. May you never lose heart and may many come alonside you to keep you going. You are like a sister to me. http://www.blackpearldogs.com/Gemini.html

To Deb Hipp and BARK magazine who sought Jakes story out and agreed to write and make public for the first time nationally the stigma of Big Black Dog syndrome and what it meant for waiting dogs and for allowing Jakes story to travel around the world. Again, thank you for setting the spark ablaze. http://www.thebark.com/content/black-dogs-face-hard-choice-shelter

To Hsin-Yi Cohen & Claire Horton-Bussey with DOGS TODAY in the UK who compared the noticeable trend of how both all- black-dogs and all-white-dogs fair being born to lose out in the adoption stakes. Hsin-Yi you took us international and we are forever indebted to your committment to help all dogs with your beautiful talent and for making an awareness in every corner of the world. You are proactive in your thinking and we thank you.  http://www.blackpearldogs.com/files/Black___White.pdf   www.bighoneydog.com

To Jill Smolowe of PEOPLE magazine who threw the gas on the fire and really lit the cause straight up. Jill I know I have not thanked you enough but please know we are indebted to you for your willingness to see past what could have been seen as a "household pet" story and for the depth you offered to really make the general public aware of what they didn't even know was happening. There are dogs today who have homes because you took the time to come to nowhere WI and make the story known. http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20061132,00.html

To Animal Voices Radio and The Lucky Dog Show who brought to the table for their listeners an opportunity to learn and discuss what Big Black Dog Syndrome was all about. You keep the fire going and we appreciate you more than you know.

To Heather Rosenwald who was inspired by Jakes story and then took her heart into action. Heather...you became living proof that you can change the world one dog at a time and one person at a time. With each person like you the baton gets passed and more and more BBD's find refuge, support and love. Thank you for becoming family and most importantly thank you for taking your corner of the world and making it the best place for every BBD waiting. I am honored to be called your friend.  www.startseeingblackdogs.com
To Chris who represents all the everyday causes out there of the folks who take care of "that one" who crosses their path.  You are incredible with your neverending committment to save the "easy to cast away" and to love them up and take care of their physical needs so they can offer their hearts to someone who will cherish them just as they are...you are the living example of the Starfish Story. Thank you for choosing so many BBD's to help.  May you receive back in life in how you give. You deserve every bit of it.

To all the shelter and rescue workers who have emailed to take action and be proactive to help as many as you can. You are awesome to go upstream and take and give time...the lost art in todays world.

To all the friends of, readers and adopters at Contrary to Ordinary....you....you are making the difference happen with each adoption, with each moment you ambassador for the BBD as you are out and about and for every minute and penny you offer to help another one find their forever home. Jake is alive and well through your continued actions. We need each and every one of you. Keep the home fires burning.

Personally I want to thank:

Dr. Keller, Dr. Smith and Mary along with staff at Countryside veterninary clinic....you guys don't know how well you do your jobs. Thank you for being there for us and for helping us through these hard times as the well the good times.  Your patience, care and sensitivity is appreciated more than know as well as your willingness to come in at all hours of the night and on your days off.

To my husband Jim and my children Michael and McKenna. You know how important you are to me and I want to thank you for allowing me the space, the time, the money and to be who God created me to be. Thank you for saying yes to Jake based on what I said and for loving him up to the very last minute. It is never easy but always worth it. You are beautiful to share this journey with me. http://www.blackpearldogs.com/Inspiration.html

Most importantly to Jesus because without knowing you personally I would be lost. Thank you for giving me all this amazing creation to see the thumbprint and to hear the heartbeat of who you are. I look forward to it everyday, now and will forever.  You are my fortress, my strong tower. Thank you for your ultimate gift of the original "passionate and unconditional love" and "no-strings-attached" forgiveness for without it I wouldn't know or understand what "I love you" and "rescued" really means.  You are the initial and the biggest rescue organization around and I am thankful to be in yours.