But the thing that brought me the most delight had nothing to do with laughter. It was a feast for my eyes and a song in my soul all the years I had him. It was a sport Jake discovered when he was young, and he engaged in it at every opportunity: Fishing.
Jake would spend hours patiently stalking elusive little fish in all the ponds, rivers, and bays we visited, and gleefully making them dart through the water. He had a special gait that barely disturbed the water: tiptoeing as lightly as a fairy so as not to scare the fish, intently scanning the water for them, and when he had one, pounce! He would dive under clear up to his chest. Whether he ever caught one, only he knew.
Jake fished all his life. Top: Stalking fish, age 7.
Middle: scanning for fish and pouncing, age 3.
Bottom: Age 9, age 11.
I shot hundreds of photos and created many paintings of Jake fishing, but no picture could capture, or words describe, the poetic beauty of Jake dancing through the water, his sleek, mirror-smooth coat brilliant in the sun, muscles rippling, with his shimmering reflection mimicking every graceful movement.
I already know what heaven is.
Artwork by © KEVIN ROECKL
Top row: “The Minnow Hunter”, “Gone Fishin’”
Middle row: “Southwest Colors”
Bottom row: “Purple and Gold”, “Dog and Goldfish”
After a few years, Jake and I moved down off the mountain to the little town of Petrolia. One day a family moved into a cabin nearby. The husband, Steve, was a man who had obviously grown up with abuse and was now continuing the same pattern with his own wife and children. The two kids began spending a lot of time at my house to escape their home life. Jake, true to his nature, was very kind to them.
At right: Jake with Steve’s daughter Jenna.
One day the wife barged into my house hysterically, begging me to protect her from her husband, who had threatened to kill her. Foolishly, or chivalrously, (take your pick) I tried to help her. Steve took the children and went into hiding. For the next two weeks, while I tried to locate a rehab center that could take the wife, Steve inundated me with phone calls telling me the violent things he was going to do to me. He also had a Chow mix and was proud of how mean his dog was. Steve’s phone threats always included a promise to bring “Rosco” over to whip Jake in a fight.
One evening while I was sitting in the living room, a car roared up outside. Steve had made good on his threats. I wedged my foot against the bottom of the front door to hold it shut while I turned the deadbolt, but Steve tackled the door, tearing it off the hinges and taking me down under him. He immediately began pounding me in the head with his fists. Struggling to defend myself under the rain of blows, it quickly dawned on me that Steve meant to kill me. Just then a black whirlwind appeared. Steve fled the scene, ran to his car, and sped away, not even taking time to gather up Rosco, who was cowering in my yard. Jake, who had never had any protection training, and who had been taught to always be gentle with human beings, had dispatched Rosco within seconds and then come to my rescue. I found out later that Steve had been badly bitten.
It was not the last time Jake saved my life. Twice more my adventurous lifestyle led me into situations where Jake became my protector.
"Self Portrait with Jake"
By now Jake was 7 years old. We had become so close, and my admiration of him was so great, I had no desire to paint any subject except my beautiful Doberman. So that’s what I did.
Then I met Cheri McNealy, who was running the Genetic Health program for the Doberman Pinscher Club of America (DPCA). Genetics and genetic health are subjects that have always interested me. Cheri and I arranged that she would display some of my Jake paintings, prints and stationery at her fundraising booth at the 1991 DPCA National, and I would donate half of my proceeds to her genetic health project. Every painting and product sold out. Since then, my images of Jake have sold on thousands of notecards, t-shirts, prints, and other products.
Thanks to Jake and my need to capture his noble beauty on paper, I changed the focus of my career, and have made a living doing portraits of Dobermans ever since.
The 1991 National that launched my canine art career was my very first National. I began traveling to West coast Doberman Specialties, and to the Nationals each year, as a vendor. Jake was always with me, keeping me company on the road, greeting visitors at our booth, comforting me in the hotel room after a long day selling products. Jake was my best friend. The drive back from the Nationals was our vacation, exploring America in lovely fall weather. Some of the best times I’ve ever had were my travels with Jake on those long, leisurely trips home with a pocket full of money.
A painting inspired by our explorations of the Oregon coast.
Since we were already at shows, I entered Jake in the tests and competitions that were offered. He breezed through his WAC, ATT, and BH titles with no prior preparation (and handicapped by a really nervous owner). I also certified him as a Delta Society Therapy Dog, an area in which he served until his death at almost 12 years old.
Jake was shown a handful of times in conformation. I was a bumbling idiot in the Breed ring. Nevertheless, Jake won his class in five of eight shows, including very large Open Black classes at two West coast Doberman Specialties. With a pro handler on the lead he would surely have taken points. Jake was not trained for the show ring, his natural showiness and athletic beauty carried him.
In 1994 , since I was at the National as a vendor anyway, I decided to try showing Jake with a professional handler, Marj Brooks. Marj worked with Jake for a few minutes teaching him to stack, then handled him to win Best In Veteran Sweepstakes, against all-Champion competition. A few minutes later Jake returned to the ring for the regular Veteran Dog class, and again succeeded in defeating a ring full of Specials, all considerably younger than he, for a class placement behind Cryptonite. Jake was nine years old.
He continued undefeated in his age division at the Nationals at age 10 and 11, and at every Specialty where he was shown.
Veteran Sweepstakes, DPCA National, age 11
Jake was a mighty crowd-pleaser as well, always putting on a show for the people. He enjoyed himself in the ring just like he did everywhere else, with a twinkle in his eye and a proud spring in his step.
Age eleven and a half
At the age of 9, after his first Veteran Sweeps win, Jake launched into the only undertaking he hadn’t tried yet: a producer.
When I acquired Jake I didn’t intend to breed him, but before long I realized what an incredible dog I had. As the years passed I made plans to own Jake’s offspring after he was gone. Jake passed extensive genetic health testing, most of it performed when he was already a senior. All his life Jake enjoyed robust good health. Research of his pedigree revealed that he was descended from lines that were prepotent for health and longevity, as well as exemplary temperament and show-winning structure.
I spent three years searching for a bitch who would uphold those same qualities. I settled on Revimar’s Glory and Grace (major pointed), a black bitch with a very solid temperament and lovely personality. Glory was bred by Roz Wheelock, a 25-year veteran breeder who started out as a “backyard breeder” but who has become obsessed with breeding quality dogs with sound health and steady temperaments. Jake was bred only once in his life, and in that litter he proved himself: out of 6 puppies 3 are show quality, including one Specials quality. All of them inherited Jake’s intelligence, outgoing personality, superb athletic abilities, beautiful movement, and steady, stable temperament.
Update 2008: Jake's kids proved that they also inherited Jake's sound health and longevity. All lived to 10 years or older except one. April and Rose lived to 13 1/2.
(Pictured below at age 2)
Rose, Luke, April, Jade, Sydney.
No photo available: Angel.
Sterling v Essence Revimar CD WAC CGC (Rose)
Int. Ch. Sterling Winter Fire Revimar CD CGC (Luke)
Sterling April Wine Revimar CD CGC Therapy Dog
Sterling Black Jade Revimar
Revimar Sterling Rose (Sydney)
Jake, age 10, with young daughter April, 10 months.
Jake took his role as a teacher very seriously. He developed a wonderful relationship with his daughter April, who worshipped the ground her daddy walked on.
Jake remained in marvelous health until just a few days before he died of cancer, shortly before his 12th birthday, in 1997. Losing Jake was the deepest devastation I have ever experienced. Jake brought me pleasure every day of his life. I purchased Jake as a puppy intending him to live outside in a doghouse. By the end of his life Jake had become my heart and soul, my joy, and the light of my life. I was honored to be asked to write about such a special Doberman for “Greats from the Past”. There was nothing about Jake that was not Great.
Romping in the surf with daughter April and friend Harley.
You are on Page 14
Page 1 - Puppyhood
Page 2 - Growing up: grace & power
Page 3 - Working abilities
Page 4 - Swimming
Page 5 - Herding sheep
Page 6 - Popular with people and animals
Page 7 - Sense of humor
Page 8 - Fishing
Page 9 - Artwork of Jake fishing
Page 10 - Protector
Page 11 - Titles
Page 12 - Show dog
Page 13 - Jake's kids
If you liked the artwork in Jake's story, and haven't seen my Pet Portraits, please visit!