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Posts Tagged ‘Labrador Retriever’

Jesse

Jesse

During the past 12 years, I’ve frequently said that I wanted to be like my dog and I really meant it.  I considered him my role model for life.  The dog is Fallsview Jesse Cleveland, whom I also called Angel Puppy, Sweetie Pie, and The Boy.  I had wanted another girl dog, but I still remember making the decision one morning in the shower, a few days after seeing photos of the litter, that a boy would be OK.  The pups were 4 weeks old when I visited and they were adorable, as are all Labrador Retriever puppies, especially yellow ones.  While the other pups climbed over each other in my lap vying for attention, Jesse was off playing in the woods.  He was the wild boy and the prettiest pup in the litter.  The breeder would donate one puppy to a service agency and expected them to choose Jesse; I would get one of the calmer boys.  But it was like being back in junior high school; I was secretly in love with the beautiful bad boy.

Three weeks later, I drove the 2 hours with my friend, Karen, and my standard poodle, Ruskie, to pick up my new puppy.  We were greeted with a surprise; the service agency tested “the slug” first and found him perfect!  They didn’t even test Jesse or the other male.  So, the breeder quickly re-assigned puppies and asked if I was willing to take Jesse!  One the way home, he whined on Karen’s lap, so I suggested putting him in the back seat with Ruskie.  He immediately snuggled up to her and fell promptly asleep.  Jesse only had his big “sister” for a year, but she helped him get a great start in life.  When she was lying down and he wanted to play, he would grab her “topknot” and pull upwards.  She usually obliged and played with him.  After we lost Ruskie to cancer, Annie, another yellow Labrador Retriever, came into our lives.  Annie was only a few months older than Jesse and they seemed like doggie soul mates right from the start.  Their play was so entertaining that some evenings I didn’t turn on the TV; I just watched the dogs.  One favorite game was for Annie to lie on her back on the floor while Jesse grabbed her by the throat and spun her in circles.  Yes, it sounds rough, but Annie seemed to enjoy the game as much as Jesse did.

So, what made Jesse so special that I’d want to be like him?  I present the following list that I wrote on December 1, 2002, just a few weeks before Jesse’s third birthday.  I envisioned a little book with a rule on each page and an appropriate photo.  While I don’t have a photo for each “rule”, they all bring back wonderful memories and images of Jesse, the sweetest dog I’ve ever known.

Rule #1:  Don’t admit you’re a dog.  You are just as good as anyone else.

Rule #2:  Keep the pack together.

Rule #3:  If someone tries to kill you for taking their pig ear, don’t do it again.  But assume that they still love you and keep on playing.

Rule #4:  Don’t play politics.  Just ignore those who want to be alpha.

Jesse demonstrating Rule #5

Jesse demonstrating Rule #5

Rule #5:  Humor those who love you.

Rule #6:  Treat guests like family.

Rule #7:  Be persistent in making friends.  If someone doesn’t want to play today, ask again tomorrow.

Rule #8:  Share.

Rule #9:  Be relentless in going after what you want.

Rule #10:  Be happy.  Wiggle your butt and thump your tail.

Rule #11:  Enjoy the simple things in life.

Rule #12:  Relax at the end of the day.

Jesse shows how to perform Rule #12

Jesse shows how to perform Rule #12

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Losing Jesse

Jesse

Jesse

Recently, I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life.  I decided that I did not want to see my beloved dog, Jesse, struggle any longer.  Jesse seemed to be in perfect health until his diagnosis of diabetes nearly two years ago.  We managed the diabetes well, but something else happened at the same time causing Jesse to become very weak in the hindquarters.  The weakness progressed to stiffness, falling, apparent pain, and finally the inability to stand up at times.  Severe arthritis was a factor, but I always suspected that there was also something more.  We did everything reasonable – blood tests, x-rays, a test for Addison’s Disease – but couldn’t find anything to treat, so only administered insulin and pain medication.  It became harder and harder to see Jesse struggle.  I can’t begin to describe the difficulty of my decision.  Guilt played a big part in it; thinking about how I’d feel guilty if I ended his life too soon and guilty if I let him suffer too long.  And then I felt guilty for letting my guilt play such a big part in the decision.  I wanted my decision to be based upon what was best for Jesse, not what was easiest for me.  While I was in Texas in April, my dog-sitter found Jesse on the floor unable to get up without help on several occasions.  I thought that I could see an overall decline, too, in the two short weeks that I’d been gone.  But he still had good days; his tail still wagged; he still greeted visitors at the door with a toy in his mouth.  How I wished that the signs had been clearer and consistent.  Finally, I decided that I wasn’t willing to risk Jesse suffering a serious injury in a fall down the steps and I couldn’t bear the thought of his being “trapped” on the floor, unable to get up.  And there was the ever-present awareness that he was in pain.  So, I made the decision that no one ever wants to make; I decided to say goodbye.  Jesse lived a little over 12 years and gave me a lifetime of love and devotion.  I will write about Texas and I will write about China, but please indulge me with my next post about my dog.

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