Acquired: Other (stray, given dog by friend etc.)
Granger, Indiana, United States
Posted July 21, 2014
The first pet I can remember was my collie, Jesse. Her full name was Jessica Anne Paquette, but we only heard that when my mom was upset about some accident on the rug. Jesse was a classic “Lassie” dog, in color, shape and size. For those of you who are too young to remember, Lassie was the star of her own television show many, many years ago. She was the canine heroine of her own series, where week after week she would catch the cattle rustler, find the young boy who had fallen into the abandoned well, or save the sleeping family from the fire that started in the barn in the middle of the night. Collies have been judged against that standard of heroic standing ever since.
Jesse looked like Lassie, but she was never able to reach the same pinnacle of show business success as her television counterpart. Jesse had her own strong points, the first and most important one being that she belonged to me. Back in the days before we had seven hundred channels to watch and video games on our phone, we used to actually play outside. Jesse was an expert at the long, lost game of “fetch.” She would literally fetch anything, as long as you said the word “fetch” when you threw something. I’m not sure how my mother and I taught her to do this, and it’s entirely possible that she learned it all on her own somehow. I would play with her for hours with a ball or a stick, and eventually she would bring it back to me and lay down at my feet, as if to tell me that the game was over, for now.
She and I took the game to a new level however, with the invention of indoor fetch. This consisted of the two of us going down in our basement, where I would throw rolled up socks, old plastic panty-hose eggs, styrofoam craft balls, and anything else I could get my hands on, and she would fetch it and bring it back. This game lasted much longer than the outdoor version, probably because Jesse only had to walk about ten feet to grab the target. In my youthful exuberance, I tried to teach her other games, like jump rope, hopscotch, and baseball, but I was sadly unsuccessful. When my little brother was old enough to play with us, he tried to dress her up like a super hero, with a cape and a mask, and Jesse put up with all of it. As a breed, collies have an unbelievable amount of patience and tolerance. Every once in a while she would tilt her head and glance over at my mother, as if to say, ”seriously?” But that incredibly loyal dog never complained. She was so dedicated to the two little boys that she watched over, that she didn’t care what we were all doing, as long as we were together.
We did what we could to return the favor. We brushed her every day, as far as my mom knew anyway. I only found out years later that the wire brush was the one we were supposed to be using, not the super soft one. I guess that’s why she was shedding her coat year round. She slept in our room every night, right between our beds. We took turns walking her around the neighborhood, which actually resulted in her walking us, at her speed, where she wanted to go. But as a youngster without many friends, Jesse was irreplaceable. She took care of our family for many years.
I still remember the night that she passed away. Old age had caught up with her and she was lying on her side, breathing very methodically and looking around at all of us. My brother, my mother and I were all lying there with her, petting her and talking about nice memories. Somewhere in the middle of one of the stories, she sighed deeply…and was gone. If every child could have an experience with their pet, like the one I had with Jesse, we would be a healthier, happier society. I learned about friendship, love, caring for another, and in the end I even learned about death, all from my relationship with my dog. Thanks girl. We still miss you.