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Jessica.... a memorial

11/18/2002 to 6/30/2004

"Jessie, come home..."

When a friend offered me the "pick of the litter" - a litter of Irish Wolfhound puppies - I had no idea how it would change my life.

I've had dogs all of my life, and all had been rescues. My Aunt Nell Hudson was a well known breeder in the 60's and 70's, and the whole family was "doggy".

At the time of the offer, I had been the not too happy owner of a magnificent 5 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback for 6 months. Riley had been surrendered after he mauled his owner and was felt to be unsalvageable, but needed one last chance with someone who understood dogs with his social problems. I had successfully rehabbed several "vicious" dogs and I needed something to love me.

The summer and fall of 2002 had been an hard for me. I got Riley at a time when I was coming to terms with the fact that I had made the mistake of buying a retail business I knew nothing about.

Hound of Ill Repute

Taking Riley was a gamble, and I rehabbed him to the point where I could trust him to a limited extent, but he remained a Jeckle and Hyde case; extremely loving and playful some of the time, situationaly vicious at other times. I took good care of him, he obeyed and respected me, but I couldn't love him.

When Libby offered me a puppy, I shook my head and said "No, no, no." "No!!"

I looked at Riley, accepting the truce we'd created, knowing I couldn't hold him, hug him... If I'd accept his offer to love me? He'd take advantage. I needed a dog to love. I'd never had my own puppy.

" I only want to look. No promises that I'll take one." Libby had to laugh, knowing that promises weren't necessary.

Jessica was born in a litter of 9 pups on November 18th 2002. My careful inspection of the the litter was a futile effort... she picked me, chose me, when I saw her at 4 weeks, and howled a baby wolf howl when I left her that first time... I still hear that plaintive call in my dreams. I lost all of my baby pictures prior to her 6 month pictures... but I don't need them.

From the time I took her home in January, I spent all of my time with her, with the exception of her infrequent hospital stays. She went to work with me, to town... when I went riding, she guarded my truck. When I showered, she often popped in to join me while I was washing my hair, her big mischievous grin erasing my exasperation immediately. She slept by my side, head in my lap, in the car and on the couch.

Her favorite toy was a small felt carrot that she stole from a bunny toy when she was several months old. She cherished that trophy of her stealth and prowess, and it survived 18 months of steady play... it was tossed into soups and salads, laid carefully in the tub or in my purse... she slept with it under one paw, or placed it on the book I was reading...

Jessie was the picture of health when I got her, but refused the kibble the breeder suggested I use, and thus began her history of medical problems.

She had IBD - bowel disease, and the special diets and medications never offered more than temporary relief from the excruciating pain. She had contracted Erlichiosis at an early age, she had many tests (the shaved hips are from a spinal tap) and several great vets but... no cures.

We had tried everything possible, drugs and raw diets, acupuncture, homeopathy... nothing brought lasting results.

I'd celebrate recovery after recovery, but every week or two she would turn into a drooling zombie, unable to escape the pain.

Each time, I'd do more research, try modifying her diet, her drugs... sometimes she'd go three weeks without an episode, but... the attacks continued.

I couldn't leave her alone, literally couldn't live without her.

Over The Hump

Jessie and I had a very special relationship; if she had been less dear to me, I would have put her to sleep much earlier. The pain she endured was horrible, but once an attack was over, Jess enjoyed life with a very special enthusiasm that kept me searching for answers. The hope kept me going... the expenses were horrible... but her pain was worse.

Worst of all was accepting that she wasn't long for this world. We began to take each good day as a gift.

Our hope began to be for good days, and easy attacks. I began to resent my retail tack store business; I worked 90 hour weeks on it or on my part time web design job.... it drained my finances and energy. I was great at some aspects of retail, but was a terrible bookkeeper. I didn't have the funds to hire an expert full time, but I had a patient bookkeeping coach and several folks who would watch the store for me, so I stayed home and tried to take care of the books myself.

The more time the tack store took from my life, from enjoying Jess and my horses the more I resented it. The last straw came soon.

Riley the Ridgeback succumbed to cancer on June 28th. My precious Jessica suffered a horrible IBD attack the next day.

I had lost Sammie two years earlier, and Riley the day before, so I drove Jessica to the vets for her final visit feeling cheated, jinxed. I kept wanting to turn around. I couldn't accept what I had to do.

She felt only pain. I couldn't let her suffer anymore... it was too much, too often, with no hope of a cure.

Jessie died on June 30th. I still miss her horribly. Of all of the great dogs I've known, she was the greatest.

Run, Jessie.... run home. I still miss you.

.. .

Sometimes you just have to laugh...

Jessica, with her strange leg angles, was anything but agile, while Riley was blessed with athletic agility. These pictures were taken after Jess, watching Riley spring from one side of the road divider to the other several times, managed to make the hop in one direction, but didn't clear the barrier coming back.

I had the camera ready to catch this feat of athletic prowess and couldn't help but take pictures and laugh at her predicament... she looked up at me laughing...

She tried, and that's what mattered. Jess always gave it her best try.

.. .

Linda Cowles Hoof Care
Serving the greater SF Bay Area & Northern California
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