Saturday, August 7, 2010
Jesse from Ellen Frasheski on Vimeo.
For most of my life there has been at least one dog in our home except for a few short years while I was in college. Growing up we had at one time a boxer named Humprey, two Miniature Poodles named Pepe and Charlie and then an Akita German Shepard mix named Nikki.
When my Love and I had been married for a year and finally bought our first home I begged for a dog. I had fallen in love with Shetland Sheepdogs after going to the Golden Gate Dog Show in San Francisco. After that day I read up on Shelties to find out all I could about them. My constant talk finally got the green light to get one. I called the Northern California Sheltland Sheepdog Association for help on finding a breeder. After a few calls from that connection I found one nearby. Our first Sheltie we named Heidi. She was 10 weeks old and I was in love. I took her to dog school were she was smart as could be. Shelties are truly an intelligent breed and learn quickly. Heidi lived till the age of 12.
When Heidi was around 7 we bought another Sheltie we named Tess. I loved those two very much. Two little dogs who followed me everywhere whether at play with our girls, cleaning house or doing yard work. I would walk them tandom with the stroller around the neighborhood when the girls were young. I was stopped often by children thinking they were "baby Lassie's". When Heidi died I was blessed to still have Tess. Sheltie's are extremely loyal to their owners but primarily to the one who trains them which was me. Tess just picked up the slack without Heidi and became closer to me. She was always alert keeping her eyes on me. Tess was quite devoted to me and I to her. When I was 7 months pregnant with R. Tess suddenly developed serious anemia and passed away at the age of 7. I was shocked and distraught. My "Little Shadow" as I had called her was gone.
Months went by and though we had another dog who we all loved, our merry Golden Retriever Dixie, I felt lost without my shadow. So when R. was three months old we found another Sheltie and brought him home. We named him Jesse. I have a thing for the runts of the litter. Like Heidi and Tess, Jesse was the runt as well. I was told I was crazy to get a puppy while I had a three month old baby. I would pick R. up and pick Jesse up with the other arm to take him outside to housetrain him. It really was easy to me. Evey two to three hours I was breastfeeding R. and when I was done I would take Jesse outside. As I said, Shelties are smart! Dog school was a breeze where he was the smartest in the class. R. and Jesse grew up together and though Dixie and R. bonded the most, Jesse was always nearby or in the mix.
Jesse's puffy tail with the white tip whipping around and around as he would "attempt" to herd R. Well we know you can't herd a child but try telling that to Jesse!
When you own a dog you try not think of how long they will be a part of your life. It is never long enough. That true companionship where they come with you on vacations, go on hikes or walks, having them in family photos, simply being a part of the family.
Yet time marches on and that friend begins to age and slow down. Walks become harder till they can't keep up. One of the last trips Jesse was with us to Lake Tahoe and part way through our hike we had to carry him. He just was too tired. He began sleeping more and not always getting up with ease. His breathing became labored with panting more. The night he passed away I had made plans to take him to the vet the next morning. He ate his dinner like normal though he was not steady on his feet and really just wanted to lay down. His look on his sweet face was sad and I felt awful seeing him this way. We went into watch some TV with R. and my Love on the couch along with our other dog a Chihuahua mix named Stewie and our Golden Annie on her dog bed. Jesse came in with us and lay by the door. He watched us for awhile and then we thought he was asleep. When we got up later I called the dogs to go outside. My sweet Jesse did not move. I felt his little body and knew then he was gone. Gone, gone from us.
The peace I felt was that he died with his family near him where he was watching us. He didn't have to be put to sleep which I had dreaded to have to do. He was with his doggie friends and people family. We all said our goodbyes to him that night.
I miss having a Sheltie. It has been two years since Jesse died. We have our Annie and Stewie who we love very much. We play, walk and hike together and those two are just the best buddies to each other. While I would love to have another Sheltie we just can't right now. And you may ask why I need or want another dog let alone a Sheltie. Until you have had one it is hard to explain that would make much sense. Their sweet almond shaped eyes that melt when you look at them. Their happy little gait and the way they run. Yes they do bark but they bark for good reason! When someone comes to the house, when they are playing but I never minded. Yes they need to be brushed and often but what a glorious coat they have. Yes they have teeth that seem to get dirty real easy even when they have bones to gnaw upon. But my heart will always love them. That loyal relationship of trust and friendship is like no other.
Missing you Jesse...and all my doggie family....Heidi, Dixie, Tess....