|Wicked Uncle Cliff shuffles|
Anyway, when they were together and living in Manchester, Cliff was offered a German Shepherd dog in exchange for a motorcycle. Cliff was working in a pub and the man used to come in with his dog and Cliff always thought it was awful that this man should have such a lovely animal and be so cruel to it. The man said he had a job offer in London but he couldn't afford to get there and had no way of taking the dog. Cliff offered him a motorcycle in exchange for the dog and the deal was accepted.
This dog was Jake. We went up to visit soon after and I fell in love with this huge but incredibly gentle animal who listened intently to everything I said and then looked at Cliff to make sure he understood.
Jake was now being fed good food. He had his own bowl and water dish. He had a ball to play with and was taken for a walk twice or three times a day. He no longer had to rattle pebbles against his teeth or pick up chips in the street although that habit took a little while longer to break. He would walk alongside Cliff and ignore every other dog even if they yapped in his face. Put him on a lead and he immediately started to pull and choke himself.
We walked to the petshop one day to get him some food and biscuit and while we were there he examined every box of toys but didn't touch them. Then he spotted the ones that are made of animal hide and he carefully lifted out the biggest one and brought it to Cliff.
"Do you really want that?" asked Cliff. Jake carefully stood on his hind legs and put the bone-shaped thing on the counter, then he looked Cliff in the eye. "OK, if you're sure you want it" said Cliff and it was added to the list. He gave it to Jake to carry home.
When we got back to the house Jake put the chew onto the chair that Cliff preferred. Cliff picked it up and put it into Jakes's bed and then sat down. Jake went to his bed, picked up the chew and took it to Cliff, dropping it into his lap.
"I don't want to play, Jake, take it and lie down" Cliff never shouted or raised his voice so this was said quietly, almost conversationally. Jake just looked at him. Cliff tossed the chew into Jake's bed and then Jake went and lay down. Over the next two days Jake persisted in putting the chew onto Cliff's chair at every opportunity until we suddenly realised that he was not wanting to play he was giving it to Cliff as a gift.
He had chosen the thing that he most wanted in that shop and brought it home for Cliff because Cliff had given Jake a safe home with food and fun and lots and lots of love. I think that this experience has to be one of the most precious things I have ever seen. Jake lived to a very good age for a German Shepherd - until his hips began to fail and he could no longer walk far. Even now when we think of him we have a smile on our faces as we remember special, precious times with a very intelligent dog. So intelligent he could speak Arabic, but that's a whole other story.