I Wish I Had My Jessie Girl—and Her Snore

Sweet dreams,  sweet Jessie girl.
Sweet dreams, sweet Jessie girl.

Jessie was the kind of dog that, at 5 am, would ask to get up on our bed. And if I responded yes—how could I say no to sweet Jessie?—she'd launch herself up to the bottom of the bed, twirl around about seven times, and then tuck herself into a tight ball, seemingly wanting to disturb as little as possible. No licks, no wet nose, no stomping on my stomach, just happiness to be near my toes. And then, within about 20 seconds, her rumbling, rhythmic snore filled the air. I will take silence over almost any noise, but her rumble was my favorite noise. It was the noise of contentment. I'd press snooze more often than not just to soak it in.

She came to live with our family about six years ago, when Sarah, my younger sister, formerly a marketing manager at the Humane Society, realized  her tiny carriage house was a little too full of four-leggeds and fur. Sarah had adopted Ms. Jessica Simpson, named for her fab blonde hairdo and the way she sang when she saw her leash and knew a walk was imminent, shortly after Jessie came into the special needs section of the Humane Society. She'd been hit by a car, and the damage was pretty comprehensive: her head was split (thus the rad faux-hawk you can see in the picture above); her back was scabbed; her back leg was totally out of whack. 

Sarah brought Jessie to us the night of Thanksgiving in 2007. That night, after some whimpering when Sarah left and some aimless wandering looking for her, I heard her bulldozing beneath our dining room table. That peaceful noise made me realize she'd be as happy with us as she was with Sarah, and I was flooded with relief.

I promise, she was happy here, being smothered by her sister Dharma.
I promise, she was happy here, being smothered by her sister Dharma.

I know all dogs give unconditional love, but I also know, from plenty of experience, not all dogs are low-maintenance. Jessie was, by a mile, the most mellow, least demanding member of this house. Sure, she used to get into Ben's diapers back in the day when I'd forget to shut his door. Sure, she started asking for her dinner around 1:17 p.m., when I didn't feed her and her sister/brother until at least 3:30. And sure, her blonde fur stuck to every.single.thing in this house. (If I shipped you an AMR shirt and there was a blonde hair in there, apologies. I promise she never came into contact with them; her fur seemed to have legs of its own.)

While it's disgusting to deal with dirty diapers a second time around, those are minor details compared to her quiet gratefulness she  oozed into our lives. A sense that she was just glad to have a safe place to lie her head, that her itinerant lifestyle was over. She was, as I imagine most beings who have been significantly damaged are, just happy to feel pure love and live a simple life with a routine she could count on: breakfast, outside, walk, sleep, dinner, outside, sleep.

Jessie in repose. Her wound on her paw never healed when we had her: she'd obsessively lick it, and finally, after trying a variety of treatments, we'd just let her.
Jessie in repose. Her wound on her paw never healed when we had her: she'd obsessively lick it, and finally, after trying a variety of treatments, we'd just let her.

And while she enjoyed her uncomplicated existence, I was the one who truly reaped her blessings. In the middle of the day, I'd often take a break to talk to Jessie Girl about anything that was on my mind: work, news, kids, life, anything stressful. She'd moan and groan as I petted her, as if to tell me, at that very moment, she needed her left armpit scratched exactly in that place, exactly the way I was doing it. With each stroke, I grew calmer and calmer.

She was equally as vocal about her visits to the spa—our backyard, where I brushed her over and over to try to get her to a temporarily shedless place (impossible, btw)—that I'd turn a 5-minute chore into a 20-minute luxury treatment because her appreciation was so abundant.

Chocolate vanilla swirl: being overtaken by her brother Mason.
Chocolate vanilla swirl: being overtaken by her brother Mason.

Due to cataracts, her eyesight diminished over time, and her eyes became marbles. She gently grazed walls, capably finding her way to her necessities: water, the door outside, her bed. (I'd always put her food bowl right in front of her.) She could walk surprisingly fast for a dog with little vision, and it was only the past year or so when she stopped taking the stairs by herself. Grant or I would pick her up like a forklift—one arm under each set of her limbs—and carry her up and down the stairs, where we'd deposit her on her bed. Although I'm sure she wouldn't have complained to sleep downstairs, I was too addicted to hearing her snore.

Two happy girls, probably snoring in unison.
Two happy girls, probably snoring in unison.

About a week ago, Jessie, who, not surprisingly, had never been sick over the previous six years, had a really tough weekend. Eating, barfing, not eating, barfing, drinking water, barfing, eating grass, barfing, not drinking water, barfing. Sad, tired, skinny, drooling, banging around for a spot to find some relief. Again and again, I sat next to her to pet her, to try to get her to that relaxed place where she could snore. It wasn't happening.

Grant and I talked about what we thought might be options, but then we realized, our 13-year-old Jessie Pie was done. She'd been through enough in this life. The next morning, the vet agreed with our decision, and Jessie moved one last time. Once she landed in the land of forever healthy, bounding hounds, she found her snore again. I'm sure of it.


121 responses to “I Wish I Had My Jessie Girl—and Her Snore

  1. Not much of an animal lover here. But sooooooo sad reading this, and trying not to cry as I sit here at work. So incredibly sorry for your loss. Jessie sounds like a real special pup – I’m glad she found her way to you, and I know she will again someday. Many hugs to all in your family <3

  2. So sorry for your loss. Brought a tear to my eyes, as it reminded me of my KatieDid (aka, the best girl in the world) that we lost the weekend of my 1st 1/2 marathon.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss! My thoughts are with you. I truly feel that these animals rescue us! The memories will give you comfort, in time, for many years and put a smile on your face…even the diapers!

  4. My kindest sympathies for your loss. Our lab is close to eight years old and is a critical part of our little family. Thank you for sharing an important part of your family with us.

  5. It is so hard to lose a pet. I had to say good bye to my running partner of 14 years in May and it was tough.

  6. There is nothing like losing a pet. Hugs to you and thank you for sharing such a sweet tribute as it reminded me of my own lab Brutus who I miss daily. They are never far from our thoughts or our hearts.

  7. What a beautiful tribute to your dog. I too have a dog that snores. I will miss it greatly when she is gone. I’ve thought about recording it but it wouldn’t be the same. Never easy to lose a pet and loyal friend. 🙁

  8. A dog really can be your best friend. I’m sorry for your loss, she sounds like she was an amazing addition to your family.

  9. I’m so sorry for your loss. I just lost my boxer on Saturday, and your beautifully written story brings me comfort. You will meet again! We just have to believe.

  10. I am so sorry for your loss. Our pets are so much a part of our family that losing them is like losing a family member. Our Molly, who is 14 and a yellow lab, is slowly declining in health just like your Jessie did. We carry her up and down stairs and remind her she needs to go out so there aren’t any accidents and we are slowly preparing ourselves for what comes next. She was our first “child” and I still have a hard time thinking of her not there. Again, I am so sorry for your loss of Jessie.

  11. It appears you touched all dog lovers! I lost my beautiful Roxie 3 years ago and while I now can smile when I think of her, your post reminded me of what I felt when I lost her. I will go home and pet my other dogs a little bit more tonight!

  12. So very sorry to hear this. The wounds are still fresh for us as our Rottie rescue was hit on the road a month ago…even though we didn’t have her long she still snuck into our hearts after also having a rough life. Hugs to you all and may Jessie be snoring peacefully now!!!

  13. I’m so very sorry. I just lost my 14-yr. old dog a little over a week ago. It is so heartbreaking…they leave a huge hole in our families. Sending you a big hug and hoping you can hold onto the dear paw prints that Jessie left on your heart.

  14. So very sorry. Jessie reminds me a bit of a shelter dog we had that we lost too soon. We have had many animals come and go over the years and it never gets any easier.

  15. I feel your heart pouring out onto the webpage. I am sorry for your loss and grateful for your tribute. Know that you are not alone.

    The first evening when my ex-husband had moved out of our home, and I was eating dinner on our patio set (in our spacious breakfast nook because I had offered him the dinette set for his new place), I heard the sound of snoring. I thought, “But he’s not here anymore.” And then I realized that it was Mickey snoring. I looked over, and burst into probably my first chuckle in a while.

    Mickey, a one year old Shepherd-Husky with one blue eye and one brown, one flop ear and one up, was a constant loving companion from our meeting when he was one until congestive heart failure caused him to breathe his last breath in my arms at home when I told him it was “ok” – his release word – when he was fourteen.

    So many happy memories and great gratitude!

  16. I’m so sorry, Dimity. We said goodbye to our dear, sweet cat Maggie a few months ago. She was 11 and her last days were almost identical to Jessie’s. My heart aches for you. Thank you for putting on a brave face at the Denver party, but hugs for all the inside hurt.

  17. A beautiful tribute. You hit it just right about rescue dogs. My girl, Benna, is at my feet as I type this. She oozes appreciation for every little bit of attention, scraps, walks, and belly rubs that my family gives her.

    Sending a hug to you and your family.

  18. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing about your sweet Jessie. They are such wonderful members of our family. I lost my black lab a year ago and still think of him so fondly every time I see a lab out running. Hugs to your family.

  19. Thank you for sharing. We just lost our 12 year old Pomeranian last week. There’s something special about a family dog that can’t be explained. May you keep all of your wonderful memories of Jessie close during your time of healing.

  20. Thank you for sharing. Every day I wonder if I will come home to my 13 year old rescue sleeping forever or not. He was rescued from a single wide trailer with 22 other dogs, so matted he couldn’t walk. He has been by my side ever sense! He is so loyal, so low maintenance, and just so loving. He is also blind yet finds me no matter how many walls he hits on the way. I try not to get sad knowing his days are numbered, he has brought so much joy to my life! Thoughts your way!

  21. What a beautiful account of your lives together… I lost my girl two months ago and would love to hear her snore again too… They are in our hearts forever, prayers for us both to live this life without them, until we meet again….

  22. 4 months ago today that we said good-bye to our yellow lab, Maggie. Your words above express in great comparison to our life with her. We said she was our only daughter. She was 3 when we had a first son who is now 11. Saying good-bye was hard for all of us but just as quick as Jessie, she let us know she was done. It’s the least we can do for our fur babies. Your family served Jessie well, in life and death. Prayers as you guys mourn her absence. The ache is always there. Embrace it. Suffering the loss of a pet as a family is oddly a great experience. Hugs!

  23. I am so sorry for your loss. It is never an easy decision to say goodbye to a beloved fur baby. I had to do the same almost3 years ago on the day before Thanksgiving. Known that she is snoring and playing in a happy place.

  24. We put our 13 year old yellow lab Rosco down on Friday. Sending hugs and prayers to you and your family.

  25. My eyes are full of tears as I read this blog post. I have two aging yorkies and we know their days are numbered – sigh. So sorry you have had to go through such a decision. A huge hole is present in your household. . . . but what a memory you have and what a blessing your family was to Jessie Girl.

  26. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’ll be four years on Friday that we had to say goodbye to our yellow lab, Sadie. I still miss her and from time to time, still think I hear her collar jingling or her nails clicking on the floor, only to realize that she’s not there. And even after four years, I will occasionally find some of that white hair stuck in something! They are such an important part of our family and reading your post certainly brought tears to my eyes. I hope you find some comfort in knowing what a good life you gave her and that she is no longer suffering.

  27. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m also glad for both of you that you found each other and enjoyed those years together.

  28. Aww, Dim. I’m so sorry to hear about your sweet Jessie. My heart aches for you and your family. Love, hugs, and tears…Jodie

  29. Oh, Dimity, I am so sorry for your loss. Life is so much better with dogs, but it’s heart-wrenching that we always end up having to say goodbye. Your post really touched my soul. I’m just glad that sweet Jessie found your family. Okay, now I must fix my tear-stained face…

  30. What a beautiful tribute to your beautiful Jessie. My sympathies on your loss; she sounds like a sweet, lovely girl.

  31. Dogs are a wonder and add so much more to our lives than we do to theirs. And they leave such large emptiness when they leave us. Sending you and your family thoughts of peace and love as you grieve the loss of your Jessie girl.

  32. What a sweet face your Jessie had and so similar to our 15-year old Abby girl’s who we had to say goodbye to in March. It’s so hard to come home and see their spots empty, wishing they were there for a snuggle and scratch behind the ears. And the snores! Missing those right now too. 🙁 Hugs to you and your family.

  33. Having put down our own Brownie just 6 short months ago, the pain you are experiencing is all too familiar to our family. Virtual hugs to you and your family. We know the emptiness and sadness. May you find comfort in your love and knowledge that she was happy being with you.

  34. Dimity–I’m sitting here crying reading this. It’s almost been one full year that I wrote a similar post about my girl, Matilda’s passing. Somehow a year later her loss is still with me, hurting when I hear of other people’s pets passing. They are only with us a short while but their unconditional love is with us a lifetime. I’m certain Jessie is at Rainbow Bridge with all the others who have gone before, running freely, carefree, thankful to have been loved while on this earth with us. My condolences. <3

  35. I’m so sorry. We just lost our sweet 11 year old black lab Lance 2 weeks ago. Still miss him terribly, but we were lucky to have 11 great years with him. I’d like to think they are romping around together up there chasing rabbits.

  36. Dogs are the epitome of LOVE. I’m sorry for your family’s loss, beautiful pictures of Jessie and an even more beautiful tribute. Well said. 🙂

  37. Sorry for your loss. Pets hold a special place in our hearts and families. I’m glad you have many great memories with Jessie.

  38. Just sitting here with tears running down my face, thinking of your sweet Jessie and my sweet Marley who we lost just last Christmas. It is so special to be loved so much by a dog. They give the best kind of love. And she was so lucky to have you. Our Marley had a rough beginning as well and her contentment at finally being loved and safe was evident as it is in your pictures of Jessie. The “Jessie in Repose” is my favorite! Hugs to you and your family.

  39. Hugs to you and your family. You were blessed to have Jessie and I hope your memories of her will help to comfort you. We lost our 12yo yellow lab in 2009. She, too, was a sweet, loving soul. I will always be thankful that she was a part of our life.

  40. Awww, so sorry for all of you. I just had to release from suffering my sweet boy a few weeks ago & the pain is still raw. Jessie, look for Conan (the Barbarian – all 23 pounds of fluffy, sweet Westie), he’s a sweet, calm soul that will be happy to be your friend in the happy place you’re in now.
    Until we all meet again – rest well, sweet babies.

  41. Thanks for making me think of my lost Rita. She also snored and it gave me comfort and she spent every moment under my feet while I was in the house. She would get up just to follow me. She could relieve my stress thru petting her and laying near me, and was waiting for me at the door after EVERY run. The kids couldn’t let her out when I went running, or she would sprint off looking for me. She ended up right next to me a half mile from home on one such day. I kept her alive an extra 1 1/2 years while she was having heart failure and my vet said he was surprised she lived THAT long and was even walking around. She broke my heart when I had to put her down last August. Apparently, I still have not recovered. There is a precious gift in these canine souls.

  42. What a beautiful and lovely tribute to Jessie! Sounds as though you were both blessed to have one another. Sorry for your loss.

  43. I’m so sorry for your loss. We just recently lost our 14-year-old golden retriever, and it feels like the house is empty now. It’s amazing how those furry friends touch our hearts and what an impact they have on our lives. Much love to you and your family during this time.

  44. I’m so, so sorry, Dimity. Jessie sounds like such a sweet girl–and you gave her a great life. She knew she was loved.

  45. Sorry for your loss. My fur girl, Rita, lost her battle with bone cancer in March. She was about 10. I am still trying to get my run groove back as she accompanied me on so many miles.

    Take comfort in all your good memories!

  46. Jessie sounds like a truly special dog… you were lucky to have her, but she was just as lucky to have you. I can relate – we lost our beagle mix 4+ years ago and remembering his last weeks still makes me cry. However, we think sometimes that he lives in in our 3-year-old son, so he’s still with us in some ways!

  47. So timely and so sorry for your loss. We are dealing with having to put down our lovely Cookie this week. It is always so very hard to say goodbye and to decide when is the right time. I will be thinking of you and your family- my kiddos are not really coming to terms with it just yet. So hard.

  48. I’m so sorry for your loss. 🙁 Your beautifully written story really touched my heart. I can relate and have been in that same position with our 12 yr old boxer a few years back so I really can feel your pain. It’s such a hard decision to make.
    Thinking of you,

  49. So sad Dimity, I am feeling your pain…our fur babies are just as important and sacred to us as our human babies…So so sorry for your loss! She is in her happy place now!

  50. (((hugs))) dogs are certainly the greatest gift to man! I will imagine Jessie up in heaven snoring away at the end of an angel’s bed after letting him/her pet their stress away!

  51. I would forever take the hair our dog Ike deposited all over the house, than not have him.
    My deepest sympathies to you and your family. Your children must miss Jessie terribly. We all know how it feels and we are with you.

    XO XO

  52. I’m so sorry. Completely teared up while reading this. One of my sweethearts is really starting to show his age and I dread this day. what a beautiful tribute.

  53. In tears right now. I am heartbroken for you and your family. This post is such a beautiful homage to your Jessie. The pictures….ah…..yes how can it not touch us…..
    My Maggie is 11 now. She has a really hard time going up the stairs it is painful to watch…
    I fear the day that she will leave us…..she is my first dog…I waited 33 yrs for her….. I hope that you are all doing ok and that Mason is not showing signs of depression …. Thinking of you Dimity

  54. Sweet Jessie. This made me smile and cry, especially that pic of Amelia and Jessie together. We have many a pic with one of our boys sleeping peacefully with one of the dogs – there just might be nothing sweeter than that scene. How lucky she was to live out her life with your family and how lucky for you guys as well. You know, we have energetic Mac and big, sweet gentle Ringo who we got 2 1/2 years ago from a family that was going thru a divorce. Sadly, Bernese Mountain dogs are predisposed to a short life span and we may only have Ringo for a couple more years. I tear up just thinking about having to say goodbye to the big lug.

  55. Dimity, I am so sorry to read about your family’s loss of your beloved dog. Jessie sounds like a wonderful companion to your entire family. You were all so blessed to have her with you. I hope those memories provide you sweet comfort as you all go through the grieving process.

  56. I’m so sorry for your loss. Jessie sounded like a sweet, lovely girl. You have some beautiful pictures to help remember her by.

  57. My condolences on the loss of you beloved Jessie. Your tribute and reading the other BAMRs comments reminded me of the special relationship we share with our dogs. I want to recognize Rusty who joined our family three years ago from a kil shelter. We adore running together and wear our grins ear to ear. Love given unconditionally is a beautiful gift.

  58. Oh Dimity, I am so sorry for this loss. My heart goes out to you and your family. We lost our 20 year old cat in November, my husbands best friend since his early 20’s and I had the honor of his company for almost 13 years. Our hearts still feel the ache.

    What a loving home you gave to Jessie. She was a lucky girl, as were you to have had her.

  59. We have been contemplating getting another dog for some time now, but our middle daughter, although she loves dogs in theory, she is scared to death of them. We’ve come close at times since we had to put our beloved Basset Hound, Barney, down due to a back injury that took him out of the game far too early (10 years old) when I was pregnant with the aforementioned middle daughter back in 2002 when we still lived in Portland. Dimity — your touching tribute to such a beautiful creature was so beautiful! I hope one day soon to bring a dog like Jesse into our family. Thank you for writing this, and my heart goes out to you and your family. Rest in peace, Jesse-girl.

  60. So sorry for your loss. We just lost our golden retriever at Christmas. He left a big hole–in our kids’ beds, in the backyard, and on my runs. 🙁

  61. Oh, I’m so very sorry! As mom to a 16-year old pup, this story made me ugly cry. I know I, too, will soon miss the sound of peaceful dog snores. What a touching and beautiful tribute…may your beautiful memories ease your sorrow.

  62. After bawling my eyes out (your Jessie looks just like our yellow lab, who snores and sheds), I just want to say I’m so sorry. You must miss her so much. How touching that you let her into your family when she needed you most, and it’s clear she gave more than she took. Dogs do that, don’t they? I’m sorry you had to say good bye. Thank you so much for sharing this. Lots of hugs…

  63. So very sorry for your loss. What a heart warming story you shared with us all. Sending you all much love from Maryland.

  64. I just got back from my run and read this-what a beautiful tribute to your pooch. We had to put down our ten year old lab out of the blue in October, it’s so hard! Thinking of you and your family.

  65. Hugs to you and your family, Dimity! Your Jessie and our Charlie sound like kindred souls. I still miss our sweet girl, even 5 years later. After reading your post, I no doubt the two of them have found a cozy spot to snore together.

  66. So beautiful!! An animals love is always so unconditional. Thank you for sharing. Jessie will forever be snoring in your heeart.

  67. They worm their way into our hearts and leave a big ol’ hole when they go don’t they? SO SO SO much love. Peace to you.

  68. Our 15 year old Belle left us on Labor Day last year. She had been our “first child” since she was 8 weeks old. Heartbreaking doesn’t begin to describe it. She, like Jessie deserved to go with dignity and love. It is too simplistic to say that we will always treasure our memories of her. I send you and your family love during this difficult time.

  69. Oh Dimity – I am so sorry for your loss. It’s so hard to say goodbye to our beloved dogs – they become such a part of our lives and we become so deeply attached. We lost our first dog to cancer a few years back and reading about Jessie’s last week brought back sad memories. I hope you can take some comfort from knowing you gave her a wonderful life and in the love and memories you have of her sweetness and her snore. You’ll always miss her, but it will get easier. I’m so sorry.

  70. You made me cry this morning. Sweet dreams to Jessie. I dread the day my sweet chocolate lab, Salsa, joins her in the land of never ending wildflowers, butterflies and squirrels aplenty! Many hugs to you and your family!

  71. As a fellow BAMR with multiple dogs in the house (along with the 4 kids), my heart broke when I first read your post…but re-reading it made me realized, that while it was about a very sad moment, you spent your energy writing about the beautiful times you spent with Jessie. What a wonderful perspective! Once again, thanks for my daily inspiration! xoxo

  72. What extreme highs and lows for you this past month. We are on our second yellow lab, and I dread the day that she is no longer with us. Hang in there.

  73. I’m so sorry for your loss. (I’m also glad I haven’t put makeup on yet, because I’ve got tears running down my face.) What a blessing you were to her and she was to you.

  74. You have my deepest condolences. I can totally empathize with you as I had to say good bye to my black lab of almost 16 years. She was a lot like your Jessie as far as personality goes. They truly become a part of our family and it’s so hard to say goodbye to them. Judging from the pictures it looks like she had a wonderful life. RIP Jessie.

  75. So, so sorry, Dimity. That must be so hard. She sounds like she was a great dog, and a lucky one to be part of your family.

  76. Dimity-what a lucky dog Jessie was to have found your family and a loving forever home. I cannot imagine the sense of loss you must feel. We have 3 labs (all rescues) and each one brings something different to our family. All snore, differently. I hope you find comfort in your memories and stories about your sweet Jessie. XO

  77. I read this through tears…we just lost our beloved Golden at Easter. I’m having trouble putting words into a coherent post, so I will just say I am so, so sorry for your loss. Rest (and snore) in peace, Jessie.

  78. I am so very sorry for your loss. I can completely relate to the pain you must be feeling at the loss of such a special member of your family. It sounds as though you were very lucky to have had each other. Hugs…

  79. Very sorry for your loss! I know how hard it is because our pets become part of our family. She is resting now and in peace.

  80. Words can’t express how sorry I am for your loss. I, too, had the love of a snoring dog once. It indeed is the greatest sound every, next to the uncontrollable laughter of your child. NO doubt she is now somewhere safe and happy, snoring away…. Make sure you give the other pups lots of extra rubs and scratches.

  81. So sorry you lost a good friend, but it sounds like she enjoyed every minute of the second chance you gave her. Sleep well, Jessie.

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