My parents recently took a trip to Germany and to coax me into house sitting jokingly used the “well, we can either put Jessica to sleep or you can stay at the house for the week” trick. I mean, come on. What could I do? I wouldn’t be able to live with myself knowing my selfishness was the reason our poor collie’s life was cut short. Honestly, I really didn’t mind. I was kind of looking forward to catching up with some people I haven’t hung out with in a while and hit up some of the local week-night spots I used to go to before I got a job. Let me just say, I give you people who make that commute from Central Jersey to the City everyday a lot of credit. I felt emotionally and physically drained after doing it just a week. How my father has done it the past 30 years, I have no idea.
Jessica was a great dog. I would say by far one of the sweetest and loving beings I have ever met my entire life. She got along with all animals and people and truly wanted to make you happy. As she got older and older, her legs gradually got weaker and weaker, to the point of not being able to make it down stairs and often slipped on wooden and kitchen floors.
So around day five or so of house sitting, I came home to a horror of a sight. I walked into the kitchen and Jessica was sprawled on the kitchen floor, laying in her own filth, looking up at me so helpless and ashamed. I had absolutely no idea what to do. First, I tried to pick her up to help her stand, but her legs were so weak that she couldn’t hold herself up. I carried her outside to the deck and started cleaning up the kitchen and calling people. First Hennessey to tell her I couldn’t work out that night (which thankfully, she came over immediately to help), my brother and sister, and my mom & dad in Germany (ooops forgot about the time change. Cousin Juttah was NOT happy with me for calling at 1am). I then began to put the kitchen back together and sponge Jessica down. She was so sticky and sweaty and the stench that combination made was unbearable. She was so sadly uncomfortable and I could tell it hurt her, but what else could I do? I carried her to her bed and it was heart-breaking to see her unable to sit down and relax. Every few moments she would attempt to stand and then fall immediately after. For the rest of the night, Hen and I hung out with Jessie. I knew I would have to take her to the vet the following day if she didn’t sleep through the night or mildly improve. I may have only slept an hour that night because Jessica wouldn’t sit still. She couldn’t get comfortable and was so frustrated with herself for being so weak. Around 4, unable to sleep, I called my mom in Germany and we agreed that I’d take her to the vet the next day and do whatever he thought was best.
Mind you, I didn’t even want to be there when my family put her to sleep. I don’t know. No offense to Jessica, but I just didn’t think I’d be able to see my mother go through that and watch her die. But there I was, carrying my super old collie into the vet, tears rolling down my face, because I knew that was it. When he looked her over, he confirmed that there was nothing more to do. She was dehydrated and in pain and this was the point in her life he’d recommend putting her to sleep. So he talked to my mom in Germany to make sure and I called Hennessey. She knew Jessica for almost her entire life and wanted to be there for me.
Before it happened, I sat and hugged our puppy, put my head in her fur, and took a deep breath. I hugged my dog that was so comforting and felt like home. I got panicky knowing that I’d never see her again. In just minutes I’d never be able to look at her face that contained so much love and hope. I told her over and over again how we couldn’t have asked for anything more and how much we were going to miss her and love her.
Around December, my mom had some friends over for reiki practice (side note, my mom does a lot of energy work, which includes reiki. It’s a Japanese form of healing). Anyway, she had people over and they concluded with a healing circle. Little Jessica, as weak as can be, somehow dragged herself over and sat in the middle. My mom’s friend the psychic, who knew nothing of Jessica’s condition or the fact that my family was debating when the right time to let her go, said, “Jessie isn’t feeling very well right now, but she wants to stick around to the spring. It is her favorite season”.
It was amazing that the day Jessica chose to move on was by far the first really beautiful spring day.