A Bittersweet “Father” Story During the Dog Days of a Pandemic

Father’s Day is an annual celebration on the third Sunday of June in the United States in honor of fathers everywhere and has been since 1910 — the day is now celebrated in various ways in most countries around the world — but regardless of its 110 years of history, it is not always a happy day for everyone…

A Bittersweet “Father” Story During the Dog Days of a Pandemic

…and as today, Sunday, June 21, 2020 is Father’s Day, I want to share a couple of bittersweet stories with you — specifically, one about a man and his faithful companion since August of 2007.

A West Highland White Terrier named Jakie had been a loyal companion of Christopher Muise ever since he was selected from the same litter as the puppy chosen by Robert Holmes — who was a friend of mine who was known as underpressure as a member of FlyerTalk and as Jim in “real life” — almost 13 years ago.

Chris and Jim first met each other in person through a mutual friend and frequent flier named Josh Wilde — the name of this member of FlyerTalk is actually a pseudonym which was used when he authored this book called Wilde Is The Joker: Gambling Humor and Satires and is still being sold via Amazon — years ago at the international airport which serves the greater Atlanta metropolitan airport. At that time, Chris had been working for years at Delta Air Lines in various capacities…

…and one of his most notable achievements during his tenure was as one of the architects of the Keep Delta My Delta movement back in 2006, which was instrumental in successfully warding off a hostile takeover of Delta Air Lines by Douglas Parker, who was then the chief executive officer of US Airways. Thinking that he could take advantage of the perceived vulnerability of Delta Air Lines in 2006, the plans of Parker backfired significantly when employees, stockholders, politicians, creditors and customers of Delta Air Lines rallied together to ultimately fend off the lofty ambitions of Parker, as the hostile takeover bid was soundly rejected. “Parker wanted to be the chief executive officer of the largest commercial airline in the world when US Airways attempted a hostile takeover of Delta Air Lines back in November of 2006; but his intentions were thwarted by the Keep Delta My Delta campaign”, I wrote in this article pertaining to the combining of the operating certificates of US Airways and American Airlines into one single operating certificate as approved by the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States back on October 17, 2015. “He finally realized his dream officially as of today.”

Delta Air Lines emerged from bankruptcy protection as a stronger airline on Monday, April 30, 2007 — fewer than a scant six months later.

Jim Holmes underpressure

Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Jim sadly passed away on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at the age of 58 after battling a long illness, which caught Chris and I by surprise. As a side note in honor of Father’s Day, I found this short article called A Father’s Story which I wrote here at The Gate on Wednesday, May 13, 2009 pertaining to how Jim publicly expressed his gratitude to Hilton Hotels Corporation for the success of the honeymoon of his son and new daughter-in-law who were at that time recently married: “This joyous period in their lives is the culmination of earning points by spending 120 nights per year away from home, and it is what makes it all worthwhile.”

Through the untimely death of Jim — as well as other countless moments which fluctuated between tumult and celebration, misery and joy, sadness and happiness, despair and hope — Jakie was a form of solace and comfort to Chris. He was always there to lovingly greet Chris whenever he arrived home after an eventful day.

The advent of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic led to Chris working from home on a full time basis instead of commuting to work or traveling both domestically and internationally for his job. That meant spending substantially more time with his devoted West Highland White Terrier — which is also known as a “Westie”, which is a breed of dog that originates from Scotland — on a daily basis for several months.

The Passing of a Loyal Companion

dog pet Jakie

Photograph of Jakie in Tennessee ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

That all ended abruptly and unexpectedly on Thursday, June 11, 2020 at approximately 3:00 in the afternoon Eastern Daylight Time, when the body of the normally rambunctious Jakie was found laying still, peacefully resting on a chair in the home where he and Chris lived. The cause of his death is still unknown to this day.

“Jakie died today. He is gone.” I was stunned by that gut wrenching text message from Chris when it appeared on my mobile telephone. He was absolutely devastated. When I asked if there was anything I could do, he replied, “No. Just be there if I need to melt down. He was the world to me.” Jakie “went through so much loss in my life and he was always there for me. So it’s a crushing loss.”

Chris was quite emotional when I met with him three days later. I attempted to give to him all of the patience and understanding that he needed to get through this traumatic time in his life — but I tried to concentrate on the positive aspects of what happened: that he shared a love with a loyal companion for many years; that Jakie did not knowingly suffer prior to his death; and that Chris was able to spend quality time with Jakie — especially during the last few months, when the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic brought him the unexpected gift of spending hours with his loving companion every day for the last days of his life.

Summary

Chris is excitedly expecting a new arrival to his life — another Westie who was born recently and will be named Jakie, which is short for Jacob Earl III — sometime in July of 2020. Another silver lining is that he he anticipates working from home until sometime in January of 2021 — which means several more months of working from home and therefore able to housetrain a new companion; and when feasible, he plans on returning to traveling around the world…

…so this story will ultimately have a happy ending after all — including the countless memories which Chris has of Jakie, as he will never forget him. Chris told me that “In this dark space and time in which we find ourselves, silver linings always exist.”

I agree. I have always said that something positive always exists in the bleakest and most negative of things; and something negative always exists in the brightest and most positive of things.

Happy Father’s Day, if you celebrate it.

Articles pertaining to Father’s Day — or to the stories of some fathers and grandfathers in general — which have appeared at The Gate over the years include:

All photographs ©2007 and ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “A Bittersweet “Father” Story During the Dog Days of a Pandemic”

  1. NB_ga says:

    Rest In Peace, Jakie. He sounds like a dear companion. Much excitement for your friend’s upcoming little furry arrival.

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