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Me and Jessie, the Dog Who'd Shiver in Fear When He Saw My Dad

Jessie was a beautiful brown German Shepard-Husky mix. My high school boyfriend gave him to me when he was a puppy. I loved him, cherished him.


My dad did not.


He’d beat him and he never bathed him bc “he’s a yard dog,” he says and “he doesn’t need to be washed.”


With every strike and whimper, I cried. But by this time, I was used to crying inside or into pillowcases, so my cry was tucked deep within me.


I did yell sometimes for him to stop but I knew it wouldn’t stop him. He’d laugh at me like he did those other times I raised my voice.


I tried to wash Jessie when I could. He became a big dog and I needed help so I would try to suggest, in kind, that we bathe him.


He didn’t go for it.


Jessie got mange, ticks, patches of hair missing (and the patches weren’t just missing with this dog. There were ones before him and after).


You could see his callused skin. The patch was on his back, near his tailbone. The skin blackened, thick, bumpy, flaky and riddled with ticks.


I even recommended taking him to the groomers. I was young but working and saved money.


Still no, because he was afraid they might report him for animal abuse. A coward.


Jessie later killed himself. It was a slow, agonizing death.⁣


He was chained to a pole because he kept running away.


There was too much slack.


He jumped the fence.


The next morning the neighbor found him in her yard. His feet weren’t touching the ground but they were close, I was told.


I imagined him trying to touch the ground because he knew it was a safety net. Maybe he could have found some footing and some strength to stay alive.


Instead, he died painfully.


He was trying to get away from my dad, and he died.


Funny how some people will give you just enough slack to hang yourself.


I bear the weight of his death. He wasn’t just a dog, he was my friend. He was there for me and I should have been there for him when the beatings happened. I should have been with him during his death.


It was my fault bringing him into our home, where such pain could be placed on him.


Jessie wasn’t the first or last my dad would treat like this. Somehow I thought letting my dad name him would make him kinder, that this dog would be different.


But I guess I never told you the story of when dad made me pry open our sick dog’s mouth while he manually forced food down his throat?


That dog died that night.

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