JEFF AND JESSE
Several years have gone by since we lost our two beautiful Golden Retrievers Jeff, and Jesse. The pain has not totally subsided and sometimes I wonder how long it will take for my heart to completely heal.
Jeff, the seven-year-old, was the larger of the two dogs. He was snow white, majestic, and as gentle as a lamb. Jesse was my fifteen-year-old auburn girl. She was loyal and sweet and kind. Both pups were therapy dogs and had earned their Outstanding Therapy Dog Awards for making 338 visits in less than eighteen months. They spent time with nursing home residents, at-risk teens, and children in all twelve grades. They visited inner-city schools, spent many hours with special children and adults, and had been assigned numerous hospice patients. Jeff and Jesse loved us and they also loved as many other humans as they could fit into their day.
One summer, I noticed that Jeff’s abdomen was expanding and thought he might be eating too much dog food. I cut his portions down, yet his girth widened. We made an appointment with the vet. He had a massive tumor. The doctor opened him up and removed an eleven-pound mass from my one hundred pound boy. His incision wouldn’t heal so they opened him up three more times. More cancer.
Jeff died on Tuesday, October 20, at 9:15 a.m. Jesse mourned the loss of her close companion. She lost her hearing completely. She went blind. Her bodily functions ceased.
Jesse died on Tuesday, November 20, at 9:15 a.m. Through my tears, disbelief and stabbing pain, I wondered: Jeff and Jesse—what were you here to teach me that only your deaths could show me?
The answer was that my pups did more living in their seven and fifteen years than most people do in a lifetime. They played. They dashed. They frolicked. They hugged and cuddled and kissed. They were full of joy and loved each moment as though it was their last.
Jeff and Jesse’s lives were gifts to me. Their deaths were also gifts to me. The pups showed me how important it is to slow down, to dance, to look up at the stars, to spend time with family, to talk about God, to share my love and trust.
For me to escape the gravity of despair on my own was an impossible task. God in His great mercy lifted me up on wings like eagles.
Thank you, pups, for showing me what God’s unconditional love is like. I know for sure angels come in all forms.
Dianne Hammontree, Secretary of Homeward Bound Dog Shelter