Tale of a westie

Tale of a westie

I’ve dreaded the day I would have to write a piece about my beloved westie, Jake. I always knew I would need to when he left us, to help me in the grieving process.  The time has come and I feel so empty, but I think it may help to sort out my feelings. Or it may make me feel worse.  In any case, I can’t run away from the sadness so I’m forging ahead and writing about this sturdy little Westhighland Terrier that stole our hearts.

This is really a love letter to Jake, who made our home more than stylish. He made it, well, home. It was lively and loud at times, but always full of heart because of him. I have so many pictures. Here he is, one of his favorite stations, on the landing at our old house where he had a great view of people walking or driving by.

Another spot, on the couch, but this struck me as funny because he didn’t know quite what to make of the westie ornament on the end table!

And this look got me every time.  That innocent beautiful face.

After my previous westie, Abby, died suddenly fourteen years ago, we knew we wanted another one but waited til we found Jake near Old Hickory Lake.  Make that Jake and his little brother, Willie. Two comedians actually raised the westies out on the lake, and I think their sense of humor rubbed off on the dogs, seriously!!!

(In this 2004 photo, Keith is holding Jake. I’ve got Willie, the runt of the litter!)

I don’t know what we were thinking at the time.  Well yes I do.  Two would be twice the fun and they would have each other. But Willie was a handful,  chewing off the woodwork, and right after getting the brothers, my husband Keith had to have back surgery. He couldn’t bend over to pick them up and I was working five nights a week as a news anchor at the time so we were overwhelmed.

We called the breeder and asked if they would consider taking Willie back. Sounds awful I know, but it really worked out for all. They kept Willie and ended up breeding him, and Jake quickly adjusted to being an only dog.  He loved digging around our back yard, and we’ll never forget the day he came to the back door like this.

(What Mom? I’m just a tiny bit dirty.)

A friend of mine had a fit over this picture, noticing the perfectly formed ring of mud around his nose!!!!!! Obviously he’d been quite busy burrowing down to get a mole which sadly he didn’t get that time. Wish I had a picture of the time the skunk did get him though.  We tried everything to get the smell out. Finally we realized it was his collar we hadn’t washed. That must have driven him crazy. Another funny story my friend Robin Campbell reminded me of was the night she watched Jake when I anchored the news and Keith was out of town. I didn’t want to leave him alone because of a big storm. She said she was cleaning out a cabinet, and Jake tinkled on her pasta pot! Thank goodness she thought it was hysterical.

Jake adjusted to life at our lake house in northern Alabama where we soon found out he loved fishing as much as Keith.

It almost looks like he’s smiling in this picture.  He, like Keith, is probably happiest on the water.

He would stand at the front of the boat, following Keith’s fishing line.  Once he even fell in trying to bite at the fish. He was made for lake life.


Even with a cone on his head during the healing of one of his many skin or eye ailments, he was not about to back down from a decent fish.

He enjoyed all our gatherings, including the big Handy Fest concert on the river which was held at our dock several times.  He was well behaved, for the most part.

A little mud never bothered him either as you saw in an earlier photo. Or alot of mud.  After this escapade, traipsing through a swampy area at my brother’s lake in Ohio, he could barely walk the next day from overexerting himself.




We called him our two toned westie. He was also made for hunting in wood piles. An elusive chipmunk taunted him for hours near our garden shed at our lake house.  Poor Jake.  He hunted and wore himself out searching but not finding.  We laughed so hard as he barked and kept at it.  Determined little rascal.

He was with us when we officially broke ground for our new house.  We included him whenever possible.

He mixed well with others and was invited to friend’s lake houses, like the Ellises, and the Newtons at Center Hill.

But as time stole Jake’s hearing, vision and strength in his hind legs,  it was time to think of him and not ourselves.  What a horrible decision as many of you have undoubtedly had to make for your pet’s sake, not yours.  We rest assured that he’s better off. We’re definitely not, but we are all the richer for having this spirit in our lives for as long as we did.  A friend, Joy Huber, shared this beautiful quote from Pope Francis that is hanging in her home. I need to get this for us.

He enriched our lives beyond measure.  But I wanted more time with him.   Selfish, but true.


I could say Rest in Peace little buddy, but I’d rather say, keep chasing those squirrels and chipmunks Jake.


     Thank you for reading this blog.  Anyone who loves dogs like we do understands, but I promise not to post another sad one anytime soon.  xoxo Amy







  • Sarah R
    Posted at 16:56h, 09 October Reply

    Such a beautiful tribute. I myself am owned by a Westie.

  • Nick Edrupt
    Posted at 14:23h, 29 September Reply

    What a touching tribute to your beautiful Jake. Had me in tears. His cheekiness comes across in your photos. Westies enrich our lives so much

    • Amy Marsalis
      Posted at 06:50h, 18 October Reply

      I just am seeing your comment about my tribute to Jake. Thanks very much!

  • Ken Matthews
    Posted at 14:08h, 29 September Reply

    God bless Jake
    You get dogs and you get websites
    From a Scotsman

    • Amy Marsalis
      Posted at 06:51h, 18 October Reply

      Ken- just reading your comment about Jake. Thank you!

  • Leeann scheer
    Posted at 03:27h, 29 September Reply

    I lost my beautiful westie snowy at 141/2 years old in August this year I feel sad and lonely without her I haven’t decided whether to get another one she was a life saver for me she was.my best friend and i took her every where she loved every one and enjoyed mixing with other westies she new lots of westies and had a friend called Bundy and they were like sisters she was my first westies and the most photogenic she could have done calendars and my dog commercials she was.my angel

    • Amy Marsalis
      Posted at 06:52h, 18 October Reply

      Hi Leann- somehow I missed all these kind comments and shared westie stories. Thx very much!

  • John Savill
    Posted at 12:15h, 28 September Reply

    Your Jake reminds me so much of our first “pestie”…westie poodle cross Spike. So much energy and loyalty. We have similar two tone pictures and stories of chipmunks who were never quite fast enough for Spike. We had him for 15 years and we went through the exact feelings of selfishness vs mercy ….it is best.
    Now we are so lucky to have Fynn the Westie who carries a lot of Spike with her…we love her dearly…

    • Annette Williams
      Posted at 20:24h, 28 September Reply

      Great story about Jake. Westies are the best! Sorry for your loss. May those happy memories keep coming to make you smile. M westie lily is 16 yo 7 months. Best companion.

    • Amy Marsalis
      Posted at 06:54h, 18 October Reply

      Thank you very much for your comment you sent long ago. Somehow I missed it!

  • Jim Estabrook
    Posted at 09:19h, 28 September Reply

    RIP Jake. I all too well remember the sad day I said so long to Sage, our rottie/Aussie Shep mix. Also, I remember the day we were blessed with Ellie May, our Westie runt, her sister Gracie and sister from a year later litter from the same parents, Boo Bear. Oh how our lives have changed, for the better, all the laughing, all the baths and with Gracie turnibg out to be the better hunter, all the bird bodies. Not to be outdone, Boo when playing ball solo (I don need no partner), the clown. And Ellie (daddy’s girl) who will brook no one else getting g on her bed once daddy lies down (until she drops off to sleep).
    I remember the pain, as it was. The joy as it is. And looking toward the day when our little trio of joy, each make their trip across the rainbow bridge. I know our lives were made all the richer because of them.
    Our sincere sympathies

    • Amy Marsalis
      Posted at 06:55h, 18 October Reply

      Jim- what a lovely message you sent me that I somehow missed long ago. Thx very much!

  • Barbara
    Posted at 07:17h, 28 September Reply

    Love westies you have wonderful memories of Jake x we have had five westies since 1984 RIP our dear Friends

    • Amy Marsalis
      Posted at 06:56h, 18 October Reply

      Thank you Barbara! Just seeing your kind comment!

  • Sadhna Williams
    Posted at 19:37h, 18 December Reply

    Jake was a true gentleman dog. He will be missed. The pics of him over the years are heartwarming…a beautiful story of true love.

  • Michele Buffler
    Posted at 21:14h, 17 December Reply

    Such a sweet tribute to Jake! 💗

    • Amy Marsalis
      Posted at 06:57h, 18 October Reply

      Thx so much! Just now seeing these comments!

  • Bitsy Husband
    Posted at 19:23h, 17 December Reply

    I want you and Keith to know how lucky Jake was to have you all for 14 years!…… my heart goes out to you both, what a precious tribute to your sweet Jake❤️

    • Amy Marsalis
      Posted at 06:59h, 18 October Reply

      Bitsy- somehow I never saw your comment about my Jake tribute til now. Thx very much!

  • Sara Webster Marsh
    Posted at 09:02h, 17 December Reply

    Amy ~ This was such a beautiful story about your beloved Jake. I never had a chance to meet your little Jake, but I understand fully the love, loyalty and pure happiness they bring to our lives. This story shows how lucky you, Keith AND Jake were to have had each other. 💖

    • Amy Marsalis
      Posted at 07:00h, 18 October Reply

      Hi Sara! I just am seeing your comment about my Jake tribute. Thx very much💕

  • Bell Newton
    Posted at 06:06h, 17 December Reply

    No words. Jake was so, so special, just like you. Thanks for sharing from your heart–words don’t come any better.

  • Beth Molteni
    Posted at 01:59h, 17 December Reply

    What a wonderful and heartfelt tribute to one of the sweetest dogs I have ever known. Even when he was a muddy mess, he was still adorable, always a pleaser and so easy going.. You and Keith gave him a wonderful life and he repaid you with unconditional love and devotion.. I know Jake will always be in your heart, and as one of your avid Stylish Retreat followers he will be fondly remembered each time I open your blog.

  • Pam
    Posted at 21:27h, 16 December Reply

    This is your best post. Thank you for sharing.

  • Eva
    Posted at 19:45h, 16 December Reply

    Amy, I have tears in my eyes reading this sweet love letter to Jake. You truly personified your little buddy and described him with such love and humor. Your writing is beautiful and I hope it gives you peace.

  • Susan oelker
    Posted at 16:52h, 16 December Reply

    Beautiful Amy. Jake was loved by all that met him!

  • Dana
    Posted at 16:36h, 16 December Reply

    This was definitely written from your sweet heart Amy. I will miss little Jake too. He was such a special little guy.

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