HE STARTED out as a dog in need of a home and a good grooming and turned out to be a natural guard dog and beloved pet.
Jake, a mutt “with floppy ears that weren’t quite matching,” was rescued from the Thornhill animal shelter by Mario da Costa 12 or 13 years ago.
As soon as he got to his 10-acre Rosswood home, he instinctively would go out with Mario or other members of the family, find the high ground and sit and watch for wildlife to protect the family from, said da Costa.
“He would basically run them off,” he said.
“I did see him get thrown by a bear. After that, he started to run faster. He was fearless.”
When da Costa would go into the bush to harvest fallen trees for his business Spruce Tone Wood, which sends the wood to guitar makers all around the world, Jake would again get up high and keep watch while his owner worked.
Earlier this year, he was playing with the new puppy when he overheated and died in da Costa’s arms.
Da Costa decided that the last fallen tree that Jake helped him get – an old growth tree more than 100-years-old – would be named “The Jake Tree” and used to help other rescue dogs.
Da Costa sectioned the tree and sent it to guitar makers around the world to be used for guitar tops in memory of Jake.
And The Jake Pawject, a worldwide effort to help animal shelters, was started.
The first guitar top made from the tree was on a guitar made by Calgarian Joel Michaud and auctioned off for $2,500 at The Calgary Humane Society’s Cocktails for Critters 2012.
Another guitar top is being made in the Netherlands to benefit African wildlife.
And it all started with a mutt that was nearly put down at the shelter. When da Costa first saw him, Jake’s black fur was all matted.
“He just looked horrible but he had the gentlest personality,” said da Costa.
“I think people should go to the local shelters because you’re going to find the gems, you know. These incredible dogs, all they want is a place to belong.”