By Treva Bjerke
Jesse came to MWCR when he was about 18 months old. I was the MWCR treasurer at the time, and at 10 p.m. on a Sunday evening, I got a call that there was a young collie at the Oakdale Emergency vet who was dropped off with GI Bleeding due to Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) on Friday with instructions if they couldn’t find him a home to euthanize. The vet said he was a wonderful dog, and they were able to stabilize and was wondering if MWCR would be willing to take him in, otherwise they would euthanize at 6:30 a.m. Monday morning when they close.
The Board approved bringing him in. So I went to Oakdale and got this lovely guy. He was HUGE, and definitely not your normal collie. He was big, and thin, and long, long legs. He looked more like a borzoi than a collie. He had a long history. Jesse was also a barker, so his previous owners had him de-barked, then he had issues with IBD and they could no longer afford to keep him. He had bled about three times, was on meds since he was a puppy and the special diet, was sent to the gastroenterologist, was on IVs many times, had received blood, etc. When Jesse came out of the ICU, he looked at me with those big brown eyes and my heart melted. I fostered him, and failed, and adopted him shortly after bringing him in. When he came to us he was on a special diet of venison/duck, and 38 pills a day (combination of GI drugs, antibiotics, and steroids). Within six months, he was stable. No more bleeding. He was weaned off all medications and just being maintained by the strict diet. He thrived.
He was my Velcro dog. He’s the only dog I could completely trust off lead – he never left my side. He was great with the kids and other dogs. He was smart, and goofy, and funny, and a joy. Jesse was not your standard collie. He was tall, big, he couldn’t close his mouth because his teeth were deformed, so he swallowed his food whole. He had cluster seizures and was put on medication for that. Everyone loved Jesse.
After we stabilized Jesse’s IBD, he only flared (bled) twice and needed to be put on short term meds. Not bad for the last 11 years. Three years ago, he had a bout of aspiration pneumonia. He went to the ICU for three days and almost didn’t make it. The vet felt that due to his de-barking procedure, he was more prone to aspiration. So he survived that too. Last year, his pneumonia came back for the fourth time, and we put him on long term antibiotics.
Over the last year, Jesse became weaker and weaker. A few months ago, often he couldn’t get up without one of us lifting up his be-hind. But he remained happy. We were in the routine of lifting his back end when he would go in and out. If he fell, we’d pick him up. If he couldn’t get up, he’d whine and we’d come and pick him up. It sounds worse than it was, but it worked. Lately the bad days were more than the good days. So last week, I made the appointment.
I’ve been with every dog I’ve ever owned when this time comes. And it’s never easy. But with Jesse there was this bond. I knew it was time, and I knew it was the right thing to do. He never struggled, didn’t pull back his paw, just looked at me with those big brown eyes, closed them, and laid down his head. I’ve never had a dog relax to the point of closing his eyes when they passed, but Jesse did. I know he was ready.
Last night I had a dream. Jesse was in a field of sheep. He was running and jumping, and he had a booming collie bark – the way a collie should bark … not the hoarse “huff, huff” that was typical Jesse.
Thank you MWCR for giving me the opportunity to be his mom and have him in my life. I will miss my Jesse for the rest of my life.