They say that the worst thing about having a pet is that they are most likely to die before you and that certainly does not prepare you for the day it actually happens.
Jessie was a much loved Welsh Border Collie, so we were told when we got her from what was then the St Clears dog rescue home, in February 2002. My then wife and I had been looking for a bitch to be a companion to Randolf, who we rescued from the Bristol RSPCA Dogs Home in June 2001. Randolf was becoming rather protective of us, especially Ann. Not a fault, but we thought it best we got him a doggy friend so he could look out for her as well as us, and would be a companion if we happened to be out of the house for a few hours. The dog had to be bigger than him, so she would stand up to him.
The St Clears dogs home said they had Jessie, who had been passed all down the line along South Wales, to all the dogs homes, to ensure she was not put down. So I guess we were her last chance. We were told that her last owner had been elderly and had returned her as she couldnt control her.
Randolf and Jessie seemed to get on OK at the dogs home and we asked what we needed to do now. We were taken aback to be told that we could take her home, there and then. A £25 fee paid and off we set, back to Johnston.
That night, I commented to Ann, had we made a mistake as she seemed off the wall as she had obviously not been accustomed to being in a house. The first night was a nightmare, but we don't believe in giving in any more than we believe that a healthy dog should be put down.
Jessie was obviously used to being on a farm, in our eyes, but it was quite obvious, if she was born on a farm, that she was not suited to farm work. She was too nice and too timid.
It didn't take long for Jessie to settle down and Randolf and Jessie became good friends, or Bonnie and Clyde as they should have been called.
Before the 5' chain linked fence was put round the back garden, they did manage to escape a couple of times, but once they'd got out, they wanted to get back in. But couldn't.
Jessie's fur colour was absolutely beautiful and I havent seen it on any other dog since, of the same breed and everyone commented on how beautiful she was.
Whilst her bark was deep compared to Randolf's, I guess neighbours assumed she was male. But she never had a nasty bone in her body and she was so loving to us and all of the family.
When Ann and I divorced, Ann took Jessie, but we had an arrangement like other divorced families have with their children. I had Randolf as he loves coming in the car with me when I am out on the road, working. Whereas Jessie, was like Tigger, in a car. Yet Jessie was more my dog and Randolf was more Ann's.
Ann and I keep in regular contact and see each other quite regularly, but made easier when she moved to Caerphilly, after 3 years in the Fens.
A few months ago, Jessie developed a sciatic condition and we knew that combined with arthritis, that her time was limited. And until late October, she still had some quality of life and the spark was still there in her eyes and the smile on her face.
The decision was made on 3rd November and Ann called the vet out and Jessie was put to sleep in what Ann can only describe as a most moving and sensitive manner. To say we didn't cry is an understatement and I think more tears were shed for her than any HUMAN member of the family that I can recall, dying.
We had decided that burial in the garden was not an option any more than being taken away as waste by the vet and dumped, wherever pets are taken. Ann had already made arrangements with the Summerleaze pet crematorium, near Caldicot. For just over £200, they cremated her separately and her ashes were returned in a lovely wooden casket with a plaque and a beautiful dried floral display.
The original plan was for half the ashes to be scattered in my back garden here in Johnston where she spent many happy hours, and the other half by the lake on the Castle View estate in Caerphilly. In the end, Jessie made a return journey, when Ann came to stay here for a week and she bought Jessie's ashes with her. As the casket looks SO nice, they now sit in Ann's lounge in Caerphilly.
It may seem strange, but Randolf acted quite strange at times after Jessie died and indeed, he actually changed and it was as if Jessie's spirit had taken him over and it was Jessie there. This happened on and off for a couple of weeks. It was as if Jessie had come back to see me and let me know she was fine. I don't normally believe in the things that you hear about when some people die, but it was spooky!!!
Jessie was put to sleep on Thursday 3rd November. Much loved by all who knew her. If only people were like dogs!
Within 10 days, I found Ann another dog, a Staffie called Scooby, aged 2. I found him on Freecycle. So Scooby is now diverting Ann's attention after the loss of Jessie, but he is NOT a replacement. No dog can replace Jessie. So now Scooby is getting all the love and he is a gorgeous dog and is very loving. So whilst Jessie is now at peace, she lives on in Randolf and Scooby and in our happy memories. RIP Jessie.