I’d like to share a story about a dog that captured my heart.
I had encountered Jesse a couple of times before he was an official shelter resident. I had picked him up wandering in the down town of Meadow Lake a couple of times. The first time I scanned him for a microchip, and much to my amazement a number popped up. That rarely happens! I contacted his owner straight away and he was returned. I never thought that that dog would come back into my life again.
Soon after we received a call that someone picked up a large white spotted dog. When they came to the shelter it was Jesse again. I gave them the location of the owner and they returned him home.
On another occasion as I was driving down center street, I saw none other than Jesse in front of the liquor store. He took one look at my car and started smiling and wagging. I pulled over and he hopped in, and I brought him home once again.
In August 2011 the dog catcher finally got his hands on Jesse and another dog. There was no get out of jail free card this time around. His owner was contacted, and unfortunately only claimed the other dog, and left Jesse to find another home since he obviously had a bit of wander lust.
I never imagined that 13 months later we’d still have him.
He became a favorite of the volunteers. He was like our Walmart greeter; he would be at the front gates with his famous Jesse smile, happily wagging at whoever was approaching the shelter.
If there ever was an underdog, his name is Jesse. He was picked over so many times for younger, smaller dogs, if he was even noticed at all. He watched dog after dog find a home, and patiently waited for his person to find him. The shelter wasn’t the best setting for Jesse, as he got stressed out and didn’t always get along with the other dogs. Away from the shelter was another story. He was a completely different dog and was great with the other dogs. He went on off leash hikes and walks and got along fabulously. Just like you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, you can’t judge a Jesse by the way he behaved in the shelter.
Jesse was a favorite in our shelter. I think a lot of the volunteers felt bad for him because he was at the shelter so long, which was evident in his increasing waist line. One too many sympathy milkbones….not to mention McDonald’s cheeseburgers!
In July I brought Jesse home to give him a break from the shelter for a weekend. Unfortunately (or fortunately), dogs kept coming in, and Jesse’s cage was filled so he had nowhere to go back to at the shelter. So he became one of my pack.
He settled in better than expected, but I discovered that he had never been in a house before. As soon as he got in the front door, he hit the floor and stayed there for awhile. It took him hours to leave my living room and explore the rest of the house, but once he gained his confidence, there was no way he was going to be an outdoor dog again, especially once he discovered sleeping in my bed!
Jesse settled in to life in our home. He discovered a love for my cats. I have never had a foster dog that was so loving with my feline fur kids. Twiggy became his best friend.
For his anniversary in August we celebrated by showcasing him on Center Street. He had lots of visitors and someone wanted to adopt him, but due to his wandering tendencies and their lack of a fence, we declined. We weren’t just going to send him to ANY home. It had to be the right one.
Part of me thought I would end up adopting him. I had grown quite attached to the big lug. Jeff and I discussed it and we would keep him as long as it took to find a home, as we didn’t want to return him to the shelter after he had gotten so comfortable in a home.
Last weekend we got not one, but TWO applications for Jesse. That’s the way it usually goes: a dog can go months (in this case, 13 of them!) without interest and suddenly get a double hit! We chose the second applicant as it was a perfect match for Jesse, and the ball got rolling on his adoption!
This family also wanted to adopt Maddie, a blind senior dog who came in last weekend.
I worked on getting Jesse used to Maddie. Jeff had brought her home while I was away in Edmonton and had kept her separate from all of our dogs as she was blind and he didn’t want her getting stepped on and getting hurt. Jesse wasn’t quite sure what to do with her. He growled when she kept bumping into his legs. I reminded him that she’s blind and to give her a break…but he just stared at me blankly. What do you mean, dogs can’t understand me?! He eventually warmed up to her…as much as he could warm up to something that continually bumps into him and annoys him.
On Thursday, September 6th, his adoption day finally came. I brushed him out and attempted to give him a bath, but as soon as he saw a bottle of shampoo in my hand he took off. Very smart dog. We compromised on a waterless shampoo bath to get him nice and spiffy, followed by another brushing. After grooming I took him to McDonald’s for farewell cheeseburgers for old times sake, where he received well wishes from the staff.
Jesse and I waited for his new family to arrive. Jeff and I said our goodbyes while we waited. Mine were much more tearful. Sad tears, happy tears, tears of pride for our amazing shelter and its volunteers for never giving up on this amazing boy. Jesse just leaned into me and smiled as I hugged him and blubbered like a baby.
Jesse’s first meeting with his new family went really well. They brought their spaniel Sadie to meet him, and it couldn’t have went any better. He happily sniffed her, tail wagging.
He spent some time introducing himself to his new owners, happily wagging the whole time. He hammed it up!
When all the paperwork was signed, we walked with Jesse and his new owners to their truck. They opened the door and he hopped right in as if it had been his truck forever. Jeff reached in and gave him a hug and a pat on his head and told him to be a good boy. I reached in and hugged him tight, kissed him on the head and told him I loved him that I’d miss him, and he’s a great dog. He just smiled in true Jesse fashion.
We closed the door, said our goodbyes to his owners and thanked them for giving Jesse and Maddie a chance. The tears rolled down my face as I walked back to my car….and I swore I’d never foster again…until Jeff reminded me we had 8 puppies at home. Damn.
That evening while preparing supper for the dogs, Jeff filled up Jesse’s dish, and then he remembered he wasn’t here. We both felt sad, but our dogs were happy as they benefited from the mistake and happily ate Jesse’s food. As I went to sleep that night both Twiggy and I were missing our snuggle buddy, but I hoped that he was happy in his new home.
His owner emailed me the next day letting me know how he was doing, and I was so thankful for that as it put my mind at ease to know he was doing well. A couple of days later we got another email that he was doing really great and had already enjoyed a trip to the lake! A successful Happy Tail!
Thank you Nancy and Byron for giving not only Jesse, but also Maddie a chance at a forever home. Your huge hearts and compassion are apparent in your love of the underdogs!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There is a home out there for every animal in our shelter, they just haven’t found it yet. Some may take longer than others to find their perfect match, but it does happen. Jesse has taught us all the virtue of patience, and to never ever give up. And most importantly…never forget to smile.