Last night I had to put my sweet friend Jesse to sleep. For those of you who don't know, Jesse is my dog. He's made many, many, many, appearances here on this blog, and he was just shy of 13 years.
The story of Jesse is a tale (I spared you from writing "tail") like any other. I wanted a dog my entire life, and right when I got out of college and moved into my first ever big girl apartment, I went to the North Shore Animal League "just to look". I planned on getting an adult dog, walked around, assessed my options, then went to leave. When you walk out, they make you go through the puppy room. Yes, there's a room full of puppies. Yes, I only thought they existed in my dreams. It's kind of like being a single gal leaving a bar full of perfectly nice young men, when a bus full of Brazilian soccer players pulls up. It's just not fair. So, I looked around.
I was just about to leave when I saw him. A little puppy hound mix with the sweetest face and the hugest paws I've ever seen. Apparently someone had tried to adopt him but that person's references didn't check out, so they were bringing him back in the room. Our eyes locked. I thought, "F@#k, I'm going home with a dog today."
We had our share of adventures. In his "wily" days he liked to eat my friend's underwear, panty hose and expensive moccasins. And that was in just one afternoon (hi, Sharda). He loved to eat. A lot. My friend Ed was watching him one time and Ed decided it would be a perfectly good idea to make a burrito and leave it alone on the counter for one second. Silly Ed. When he came back in the room, my dog was up on his hind legs, licking the cheese off of the burrito. Wouldn't you? We've gotten hours of entertainment from that one, "Hey, I guess my DOG likes to lick CHEESE off of your BURRITO. GET IT? It's a EUPHEMISM and it's DIRTY."
Another time Jesse ate an entire stick of butter. And a bag of chocolate covered pretzels. And a bag of whole wheat bread. And that was in just one afternoon (kidding).
As the years went by, he got a little mellower, but was still spry nonetheless. He's survived two dog attacks, numerous trips to the vet for eating all the wrong things, and a tooth abscess. He's been to Connecticut, The Adirondacks, Vermont and even Manhattan. He was amazing with children and kept me company many, many a night. He had a really good heart and always knew when someone needed a snuggle. On the night of 9/11 we were at our local dog-friendly bar, in shock, watching the news huddled along with our neighbors. At one point I realized Jesse was missing - he liked to wander around behind the bar, like his mom. I looked down and saw that a random stranger was clutching him and crying, and he was sitting sweetly with her, rubbing his face in hers. They were like that for almost 20 minutes, it was beautiful. I can't say he's a faith healer or anything (that's for other people to say) but I know he helped that woman that night. And really, that's what having a pet is all about - companionship. And adventures. And learning that you have an incredible tolerance for picking up feces on an average of three times a day. That's love.
My friend Sonya's favorite story about Jesse happened when she was watching him one time. They were on a walk, and Jesse spotted a slice of pizza on the ground. It was covered in ants, but that didn't stop Jesse from swooping in. The way Sonya tells it, although by this point in the story she's breathless from laughing so hard, Jesse was both vigorously eating the pizza as fast as he could while simultaneously trying to rub ants off his face.
Jesse was recently diagnosed with Laryngeal Paralysis, which basically means he had a lot of trouble breathing and could technically die from choking to death. His arthritis was also getting worse, and a few days ago he tore his ACL from said arthritis and quickly lost his ability to walk. I knew it was time.
On one of his last walks, he was hobbling down the street when he saw a piece of pizza on the ground. At this point, I couldn't deny him his favorite thing so I didn't even try to pull back on the leash. But out of habit, he lunged towards it, and, in doing so, fell off the curb and into the street. But that didn't phase him. Splayed on the ground, pizza crust in his mouth, he ate that thing like a honey badger devouring a live snake. You may call that dumb, I call that dedication. I always joked that Jesse would steal food from the ground (or a counter top) until his dying day. And he did.
Jesse James "Bones", 1998-2011