BEN AND JAKE
by Debra Easterling
Ben and Jake were inseparable.
Sure, Ben loved me. We had been married thirty years or more.
But there was a bond between him and that Retriever tighter than a
three-ply cattle rope.
Every night like clockwork, my husband, Ben, would come home at
6pm, shake off his boots, and hang up his coat while Jake danced back
and forth. He'd always be rewarded for his performance as Ben
stooped to rub his ears. The grateful dog would then immediately run
to our room, pick up Ben's slippers as if they were as fragile as egg
shells, and then he would bring them to Ben's big easy chair.
Once the fuzzy slippers were snug on Ben's feet, Jake would walk
around in circles until he found just the right spot beside Ben's
chair. It was always the same spot, but the dog relentlessly made a
ritual of settling down.
After the evening news, Jake would take his place beside Ben at
the dinner table. He didn't beg for food, like other dogs. He
merely rested his golden head on Ben's lap until my husband was
through with his meal. With the dishes washed and dried, Ben would
stagger into the hallway and find Jake waiting beside the chair,
leash in his mouth, waiting for their nightly walk.
Without fail, Ben would say sweet terms of endearment to his
buddy as he again donned his coat and boots. No matter what the
weather, the two of them would head out to embrace the elements
Last year about this time, a drunk driver drove his truck into
Ben's path. My husband did his best to veer the bus out of the way,
but there wasn't enough time. Ben and three passengers went to live
with Jesus that night. I lost the only man I ever loved and his
passing was extremely hard. I was grateful we had no children to
break the news to, but there was Jake.
The poor thing couldn't understand why Ben didn't come home. He
waited at the door every night at 6pm for a month. Ben never came in
to rub his ears. There was no one to dance for. I walked him every
night, but he only sat at edge of the property, waiting and watching.
Jake barely touched his food. He never joined me at the table. I
tried to make him feel better every once in a while by placing some
of Ben's clothes by his old chair, but Jake preferred to sleep now by
the door. Jake spent many evenings with his big yellow nose poised
on the doorstop, whimpering in his sleep. I thought my heart would
Last night was the one year anniversary of Ben's passing. I
didn't bother to cook a meal. Food had little appeal. Even with
Jake by my side, I felt so alone.
Then suddenly, promptly at 6pm, Jake jumped to his feet and ran
to the door. He danced back and forth wagging his tail, whining like
a puppy, full of glee. He dipped his head, and then he bounded to
the top of the stairs, grabbed the slippers, and raced down to gently
lay them at Ben's chair. Jake then walked in circles, over and over
again, until he found the right spot, and laid himself down.
Naturally, I thought the poor old dog had finally lost it. His
grief caused him to recreate his nightly ritual. I bent down to pet
sweet Jake with the intention of whispering comforting words into his
As I did, I found that my darling Ben had come back for his
faithful friend so they could both live with Jesus. The two of them
went for a final walk to embrace the elements together.
-- Debra Easterling