"My husband Adam arrived home to find this dog sitting in the spot where he always parks his truck. It was as if the dog had been waiting on him!" That day in 2007 also happened to be Jennifer and Adam's anniversary. They had no idea what a special anniversary gift Jake would turn out to be.
"When I got home, I found Adam in the backyard literally hugging this dog!" Jennifer says with a laugh. "They had their arms around each other. I knew." After determining the dog had been intentionally abandoned, the Coles adopted him and he became Jake, their beloved family pet.
"He was a wonderful dog from that first day." Says Jennifer. "So chill!" The Coles had twin toddlers at the time and Jennifer says Jake earned his keep by cleaning up the food that rained down from their high chair.
"I've always believed that pets are a part of the family. And Jake was an amazing addition to our family. He and our girls grew up together." From sunup to sundown, he filled their home with his constant, loyal presence and his sweet nature. He especially loved his girls.
In September of 2017, Jake was diagnosed with spinal cancer. The Cole family rallied around him and truly lived out the "whatever it takes" mentality to help him get healthy again. They did surgery, acupuncture and radiation treatments. Jennifer tells the story, "Adam drove him to Texas A&M for radiation every day for a month. He'd take him in the morning, go to work, and then drive back to pick him up every evening."
Everyone was thrilled to hear that Jake was improving thanks to the treatments. Jake rallied and was on the road to healing. They were hoping this would mean several more years of life and laughter with him and didn't realize that they only had a handful of days.
In January of 2018, the Cole family lost Jake in a tragic accident. Jennifer remembers how confusing that time was for her family. "He survived cancer! And then, this freak thing happens and we lost him. There were so many layers of devastation."
After Jake's passing, Jennifer received a rose bush as a gift. Jennifer planted it behind her house in memory of Jake. For months that little bush grew, but refused to bloom. No matter how carefully they tended it, that stubborn little rose bush refused to produce a single rose.
After months of grieving the loss of Jake, the Coles decided it was time to rescue another dog to add to their family. With the help of Operation Pets Alive, they found Jackson, an adorable black lab mix puppy. The day Jackson arrived, they were delighted to find a single rose had bloomed on Jake's memorial rose bush.
It was a sign! They felt that God was sending them a sign that He and Jake were pleased that the family had rescued another dog. After that first bloom, the little rose bush stubbornly refused to bloom again. For months, it lay dormant. In July of 2019, Jennifer noticed a social media post about a momma dog and her NINE puppies who were going to be euthanized that day unless someone stepped up to foster them. "I didn't even think about it! I just knew that I had to save those dogs!" Jennifer called her husband Adam and he agreed that they should step up and rescue the entire dog family. They brought home "Nebula" and her NINE puppies that day. (Read more about Nebula's story here.)
"On the long drive home, I finally had time to slow down and think about what we'd just impulsively done. Did I do the right thing? What were we going to do next? Have I lost my mind? NINE PUPPIES." Questions and doubts were flying through Jennifer's head from every direction until they arrived home that day and discovered what had bloomed in the backyard. 11 Roses. One for each of the Cole's rescued dogs - Jackson, Nebula, and her NINE puppies.
The day Jake showed up at their home all those years ago began a story that continues to unfold. The void he left in their home was the first of many markers in Jennifer's life that paved the way for her to discover her new calling: To rescue, restore, and rehome dogs in distress.
When Jennifer decided to name Jake's House of Animal Rescue after Jake, it wasn't just because of how deeply he was missed or how much he meant to her. He truly embodied the beautiful image of a rescued dog perfectly completing a family. At Jake's House, our goal is for every dog to receive hope and healing. We are giving forgotten dogs the opportunity to be found, loved and restored.
We believe we are not just helping dogs in desperate need of our intervention and care, we are also helping the humans that each dog ultimately belongs to through adoption. Every dog should have the chance to love and be loved inside of a safe and happy home. Every dog has purpose. Every dog uniquely fits with the humans that they are meant to help. Our mission is to prepare rescued dogs for that very special day they go home with the forever family they will beautifully complete... just like Jake.
*With a special thank you to Deb Evans for Chronicling Jake's story.