Jake won't hang out any more
ARCADIA -- Jake got around.
Got to be pretty well known in Arcadia, in fact. He liked to hang out near the downtown courthouse. Folks grew to expect to see him there during daily walks. He got along with everyone.
Some thought of him as "Arcadia's dog."
"I think just about everybody who came to the courthouse has seen Jake," Garry Phillips said.
Garry and Jake were buddies. Lived under the same roof.
One day, while hanging out on the courthouse lawn, Jake met U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, who fawned over him and petted him. Cameras snapped pictures. Jake loved it.
"She made a fuss over him," Phillips said.
Those pictures would join hundreds of others taken by Phillips and his wife Kim.
Now there will be no more pictures.
Jake died Monday.
He was pretty old by the standards of a 142-pound Great Dane. Really old, in fact, although Phillips said Jake's exact age can only be estimated, since the big black dog was adopted from a rescue service seven years ago by the Phillips.
In the end, it was a stroke a week ago Thursday that felled Jake.
He grew weaker Friday and was weaker still on Monday, when a veterinarian told Phillips it was time to let Jake go.
In sadness, the Phillips family did just that.
"I moved here in March of 2001," Phillips said, "and Jake came with my wife in June of that year. We used to live above Kays-Ponger Funeral Home and Jake would walk with us around that area. Lots of people got to know him."
Unlike many dogs, Jake liked to dress up, Kim said.
He had special costumes he'd wear for just about every holiday. Instead of shaking off fake antlers, Jake would offer his head to them. He also had boots and a red winter coat.
"He was just a gentle giant," Phillips said. "He never met anybody he didn't like."
In one photograph, Jake is wearing a cloth around his huge neck, adorned with stars and stripes.
"Oh, he was a conservative Republican," Phillips said. "He'd hear the theme music of the Rush Limbaugh show (on radio) and he'd come from wherever he was to lie on the couch near the radio. He'd stay there until the show ended, then he'd get up and go back to his place."
Jake had his own couch and recliner chair, Phillips said.
"He led the good life."
Kim Phillips said she didn't recognize Katherine Harris when the "well-dressed" woman approached her as she walked Jake by the courthouse.
"I'd seen her picture but I didn't recognize her," Kim said. "That's probably good since I would have been intimidated to talk to her. But she saw him and came running over to him, hugging on him, and I'm thinking, 'That lady is going to ruin her nice clothing.'"
The two women talked, Kim said, and it was only later than Kim learned the woman who fawned over Jake was a member of Congress and currently a candidate for the Senate.
"I've had people pull over and stop in the courthouse parking lot and want to buy him," Kim said about the times she walked Jake on his downtown loop. "People were always stopping me to ask about him. And everyone in the courthouse knew him."
Among her favorite memories:
"He dreamed a lot," Kim said. "I used to like to watch him sleeping and he'd have these doggie dreams. He'd kick a lot."
In his prime, Jake weighed 162 pounds, Phillips said. When they adopted him a little more than seven years ago, he was an undernourished 89 pounds.
"We weighed his head once," Phillips added. "Lifted it up and laid it gently on a scale we slid under. His head weighed 16 pounds."
That's more than either of the Chihuahua dogs that the Phillips still have at home.
Jake and the Chihuahuas were adopted from rescue services that try to prevent any of their favored breed from being euthanized. "I can't say enough for them (Central Florida Great Dane Rescue)," Kim said, "or Crankshaw Veterinary Services that helped through this."
You can e-mail Robert Bowden at firstname.lastname@example.org