Shortly after my husband and I got married ten years ago, we started considering starting a family…beginning with a dog. We did lots of research and knowing we wanted to have children eventually, we landed on a Brittany since they were known to be wonderful family members as well as good companions for hunting.
We soon reached out to ABR. One day, our rescue coordinator emailed me a picture of an orange and white Brittany that was a local stray and had just come into a local shelter. He was holding a huge blue toy ball in his mouth and I swear he had a smile on his face. We were smitten instantly and upon meeting him, knew we had to have him.
Despite having four different types of worms – including heartworms – our Jesse was the happiest, most special dog we’d ever met. From day one, he aimed to please us.
It was rough at first, despite our immediate bond, we had some hurdles to overcome. He had to undergo heartworm treatment. Not fun for him and not fun for us. Limiting exercise for a one year Brittany puppy is a challenge!
Crate training was a disaster. He would claw himself to the point where he was bloodied and cry endlessly. Upon opening the door, he would jet out to drink excessive amounts of water. It was as though someone previously threw him in a crate with no water and never let him out.
He was initially very frightened of large men and kids. He refused to let my dad let him out to use the restroom when we were at work. He would go in a corner and start to shake excessively.
After heartworm treatment, we were able to start obedience training. By this time, I had become pregnant and was struggling a lot with nausea. In training class, Jesse would pull me nearly to the ground, increasing my nausea from being moved too and fro by this little ball of energy. After a few weeks of this, the instructor suggested the gentle leader collar. I guess she figured I was no match for his nose! The gentle leader became a life long friend to Jesse as well as us:)
As the months rolled by, Jesse began to settle down. With sufficient exercise, he was calm when around us, his people and extremely friendly with all people and dogs. When I was at the end of my pregnancy and would lay on the couch on my side, he snuggled up behind by legs and laid his head on my hips. It was a precious tradition we continued for years.
When we had our first daughter, I experienced severe postpartum depression. Many days and nights I would be crying in despair, so tired and unsure how to properly console my colicky child. Jesse was there for me, every moment. He would place his head on my lap as if to so “it’s okay. You’re a great mom”.
He had a special relationship with both our daughters. The first time both of them giggled out loud was watching him jump in the air to catch popcorn I threw to him. I have numerous pictures of him allowing the girls to smoother him with hugs and kisses. He was also known to turn up with bows in his hair. He’d simply look at me as if to say “don’t they realize I am a boy??”
As the years went by, Jesse mellowed. At a checkup with the vet last year, the vet commented “he’s turned out to be such a good dog. He was WILD when you first got him. I didn’t know if you all would make it!” 9 years later, I had forgotten what a ball of fire he was at first. All he needed was some exercise, love and attention.
By last year, Jesse lost nearly all of his hearing. When I would return home after being out, he would be curled up in a ball on the rug by our front door. You could see the nose marks on the front window where he’d been watching us, probably thinking “come home soon! I’m much happier with you here”. I would gently wake him and he’d greet me with a vigorous tail wag and a kiss on the nose.
In November, we lost Jesse in a tragic accident. It was so sudden. Even today, when I arrive home after being out, I occasionally tear up when I see that rug by the front door, looking so empty without his sweet orange and white body curled up in that ball. Our girls still pray for him every night when they do bedtime prayers.
Jesse taught us so much. How to love unconditionally. How live happily through pain. How to trust again after someone has hurt you. How to experience pure, unadulterated joy in the little things (mainly, a tennis ball and a game of fetch). How to comfort someone with a gentle touch.
I will forever be indebted to ABR for the joy and cherished memories you made possible for our family through introducing us to Jesse.
If anybody sees this story and is considering a Brittany through ABR, all I can say is that your life will be so much richer for it. Several months since Jesse’s passing, we have already adopted with ABR again. We discovered our home is just not the same without a fuzzy friend – or friendS. We adopted two Britts this time (which we highly recommend)!
Thank you ABR for the beautiful gift you gave us through Jesse.
The Sher Family