Yellow Lab Jake howls with joy in his new forever home


Jeanne and Oliver Downs were delighted to add Jake to their happy home in Suntree.

Photo Jill Blue

Two days after being adopted by Oliver and Jeanne Downs of Suntree on Jan. 15, Jake still was wagging his tail and barking with glee. Perhaps, a little too much.

Before that, the 8-year-old Yellow Labrador’s plight was sad and all too common in Florida.

Jake’s best friend, a man, died two years ago. The man’s wife took care of Jake the best she could, but Jake never fully recovered from the loss of his forever buddy. Forever was too short for Jake, who gained weight and became a portly 83 pounds.

The 72-year-old woman was hospitalized on Oct. 31. Jake was left alone. A neighbor came in once a day to leave some food, and a door was left open for Jake to relieve himself as needed in the yard.

Without a single friend in the house, Jake barked a lot. His shots also expired.

“A mutual friend told me that a woman at Viera Rehab (Viera Health and Rehabilitation Center) had no family and no one to visit her and help her with the dog,’’ said Kasie Hope Brautigam, who owns 2nd Mama’s Pet Sitting business. “I fixed up a plate of food on Christmas Day and we had a nice visit. I learned that she would never be able to go home. She was going from Viera Rehab to nursing care.’’

Brautigam received advice from Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida about the surrendering process. They also helped her in finding options on social media to share Jake’s sad story to find him a new home.

While reading a story on the Internet about prescription drug prices in Canada, Jeanne Downs saw Jake’s story and picture when it popped up on the free Nextdoor App.

The Downs have Winnie, an estimated 7-year-old West Highland Terrier mix. She was found wandering just off State Road 528. They adopted her in May from the Brevard Humane Society in Cocoa.

“It took us three months to get to the point where she wasn’t scared anymore,’’ said Jeanne Downs, 71. “Now, she’s just laid back and goofy.’’

They thought Jake would be the perfect dog to keep Winnie company.

“We were going to start looking for another dog,’’ said Oliver Downs, 73. “We hate to leave Winnie alone. We knew how friendly Labs can be. When Jeanne showed me that picture, I said, ‘let’s go for it.’ We’re just too old to get puppies and go through that again.’’

Jake walks a little slow right now, but it shouldn’t take long before the weight comes off and he’s ready for long jaunts.

“He’s starting to get over his anxiety,’’ Oliver Downs said. “I got down on the bed next to him and talked to him quietly. I let him know that he’s ours.’’

Nine people showed interested in adopting Jake and more were soon to follow as people read about his plight on the Nextdoor App.

Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida has several homeless dogs available for adoption. Anyone who considered adopting Jake should contact