In her puppy years, her owners had battered, starved and neglected Jesi, a petite five-year-old German shepherd. Her second family saved her and treated her broken ribs, leg, and front paw. But the owner became pregnant and had to place her for adoption.
My daughter, Brie, met Jesi while working at Caton Crossing Animal Hospital. Jesi was staying there for temporary foster care and Brie adopted her from the German Shepherd Rescue of Northern Illinois in August of 2003.
Jesi Comes to Her Forever Home
When Jesi bounded into our backyard for the first time, she immediately met Gus, our younger Golden retriever. They were instant buddies who ran and chased each other in circles and later got into trouble together sometimes. “She
Brie often did homework at the kitchen table and if a shiny book cover or calculator caught the sunlight, Jesi intently followed the reflection up the wall. She loved a good healthy game of flashlight tag, too.
Jesi once used her pointy nose to pry open the dog food container in the garage so that Gus could eat at his leisure. He still acts like he’s never been fed in his life every time we feed him! But Jesi ate like a lady having tea at Tiffany’s.
Guard Dog Extraordinaire
Jesi was very aware of the happenings in her yard. She knew when a squirrel was out and would pace by the back door until someone let her out so she could tree him. He’d cackle back to her and she would stand on her hind legs to try to reach him. The squirrel taunted her, just out of reach. She wouldn’t have hurt him, but she liked the challenge of patrolling her yard.
And at one point, we had three faux suede pillows in our living room. She loved chew toys and we think she just figured these pillows were just variations on a theme.
We came home from work to find the remains of the collaborative efforts of her and her sidekick, Gus. They had ripped one pillow to shreds. At that point, we decided it was appropriate for them to each have their own kennel during the day while we were gone.
Jesi’s Last Days
In August of 2004, just a year later, Jesi’s temperament changed. She became somewhat lethargic and even less interested in food, and didn’t seem to want to play anymore. She declined quickly and had multiple seizures during the course of a morning. We raced her to the vet. They ran tests and sedated her, but she had a brain tumor that had probably been present for a while. So we decided to lay her to rest.
We were all sad, but Gus had the saddest reaction. For three weeks, instead of sleeping upstairs with the family, he would go down stairs and sleep in Jesi’s kennel. We tried to call him upstairs, but he would lie with his head rested on his paw with despondent, forlorn eyes.
“It was a good feeling to rescue an animal and love and take care of it,” Brie said.
The German Shepherd Rescue of Northern Illinois puts out a newsletter a few times a year and has dedicated a column to Jesi, its first adopted rescue, called “Jesi’s Corner,” for all of the group’s adopted shepherds who have passed away.
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This story was published in the weekly Not Forgotten column in The Ark section of The Herald News of Joliet, IL. (11/27/06)