I've loved my family's miniature beagle since she first charged into our lives in 2002. My grandfather had just passed, and this little dog was a kind of inheritance. My dad drove all the way back to Maine from Florida with her. For this reason he was always her favorite human, the person her whole life revolved around.
But we all loved her. Loved the way she rolled over on a moment's notice. Loved how she raced through the house after a bath, flinging wet clumps of hair onto the carpet. We even loved how she would commandeer my parent's bed and try to become the new Mrs. Cole by not-so-subtly nudging my mom off the bed.
Lately, we've all known that her life was winding down. Rolling over was an impossibility. She couldn't bring herself to hop onto my parent's bed, and even struggled at times to climb the three wooden steps of our back porch. A tumor had grown exponentially on the side of her face. Worst of all, she was nearly beside herself whenever my dad was away, pacing around the house and howling for his return. And when he would come home, Jessie didn't even seem happy or relieved to see him. Just...tired. Worn out.
Knowing that this week would be her last has weighed on me almost every waking moment. But my family tried to make these final days joyous ones; I took her to corners of the neighborhood she'd never sniffed out before (the dirt alley was a hit) and fed her just about every item on her "no-no" list. In fact, her last full meal consisted of two cut-up bacon dog from Wasses, a local hot dog stand.
Jessie passed at 4pm this afternoon laying on the couch, her favorite piece of furniture in the whole house, surrounded by a loving family. The vet was attentive and compassionate, so much so that Jessie didn't panic or seem upset in the slightest.
Even though I knew the date of time of my dog's death, and had time to prepare for it, the anguish has been almost indescribable. In the past year, as she began to become more needy and I remained an unemployed college student with no classes in the morning, Jessie seemed to look at me as a kind of surrogate dad, a passable helper that could fill her hours until my dad, her real master, came back.
Which is why it meant so much to me that the last thing Jessie felt, before she went to bed for the last time, was my father's hand patting her head.
RIP Jessie. You turned a 8th grader terrified of canines into a twentysomething who loves them unconditionally. You turned a family that never planned on getting a dog into one that spent as much time as they could making your life happy and adventurous. You could have never known the tremendous affect you had on all of us.
I'll leave you with this little video I shot of her last spring.