I always thought that when Jessie passed away, I would pull off a TS. That is, a Taylor Swift. She wrote her beautiful smash hit, "Love Story" in all of twenty minutes. I've got tears streaming on to my keyboard. Twenty minutes is a long shot.
I'll never forget March 9, 1999. My girlfriend Mary opened her front door and I of course said hello with flowers in hand. It was also time to meet her mother. But soon after, my eyes turned to a dog named Jessie. Her eyes turned to me as well. My heart fell to the floor and I said to Mary and her mother, "Can I take her out for a walk?"
Over the years, Jessie followed Mary and I everywhere. Walks around endless neighborhoods. Road trip to Savannah, GA. Trips in the car to the vet and various parks. Trips in the car to her favorite trail some five miles away because she wouldn't complete her business otherwise if the weather was stormy. What a peculiar and precious dog!
In her prime, Jessie logged at least sixteen miles of exercise a week. She did this for several years. I'd come home from work during the week and we walked the neighborhood for two miles. Come Saturday, we drove up to the Silver Comet Trail in Hiram, GA and walked at least five miles. After the voyage, she would fall asleep smiling on the ride home. Half her body would be in the front seat, the other half would be nudging my right leg as if to say "Thanks for the walk Daddy!" Oh, Sunday counted as a rest day. No arguments there.
My wife Mary knew when we went to the Silver Comet Trail for our voyages because every Saturday night Jessie woke us up - snoring. Yep, snoring away. Mary couldn't help but smile because she knew how deeply I adored Jessie. She would say, "Hmmm.. you took Jessie to the Silver Comet Trail again, huh?" Each time created new memories. Each time it meant something. Happy times.
Well, even the best of times have a way of temporarily turning sour. Jessie was diagnosed with cancer at the age of ten. It seemed my marriage was also coming to an end. After Jessie's surgery, we were told she only had a month to live. They couldn't get rid of it completely. But Jessie beat the odds and we eventually moved to Nashville for a new start in every way possible. Bebe cat came too.
Bebe cat absolutely adored Jessie. Every time Jessie came in after a hearty stroll, he groomed her. Bebe groomed her face and head. He groomed her ears to the point half his head would be in her right ear. I don't think Bebe realizes he's a cat! Jessie appreciated it every time. Endearing companionship 24/7. They were together for over ten years.
Unfortunately, you can't stop time. I saw that muscle was slipping away. I saw that the cancer wasn't going to fade away. It became harder for her to get up in the morning. A graying face to boot. Fourteen years is phenomenal for a mixed German Shepherd. Nevertheless, Jessie ate like a horse, drank plenty of water, jumped up and down to go out, and smiled like a Cheshire cat. She knew she was living on borrowed time.
But ugh. The cancer became too much for her right arm and I had to put her down. I believe Bebe cat knew this was coming. I'll always be grateful for the compassion and treatment Jessie and I received at the Elm Hill Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Doug King and his entire staff felt like angels watching over me and Jessie as we said goodbye. When Jessie's beautiful eyes could no longer open on their own, I kissed and hugged her some more. Like any other day.
She may "physically" be gone after fourteen years, two months, and a day, but on a "mental" level, she's still by my side. Listening to Taylor Swift Cd's in the kitchen. Eating dinner together. Playing hide and seek. Walking trails. Looking for Bebe cat. Her food bowl has not moved. Her treats and her purple bag of Iams dry food remain in the pantry with the cat food. Her ashes, leash, candles, cards and pictures shine brightly on my mantel above the fireplace.
Jessie will always be my Love Story.
Tony Zizza is an animal lover who lives in Hermitage, TN. He writes frequently about the bond between animals and people. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org