As I was updating my website the other day it occurred to me that this year marks my 20th Anniversary of owning Chessie’s or maybe them owning me! I thought back to my first Chessie, Shadowdancer, she was a wonderful dog and I miss her terribly at times. She is the Aunt to Riva and Cheyenne and Great Aunt to Maia and Titan; I can see her in my girls now and then with certain actions and attitudes they have. She was definitely my heart dog but you know as each one comes in my life I think they all become my heart dogs just in a different way. I truly love this breed and could never imagine my life without them.

When I went back to school I had to take a Comp I class and in the very first class our assignment was  to write a short paper on anything we wanted so the professor could see how we wrote. My first thought was oh great how am I supposed to write a paper when I have no clue what I am doing, I am not a writer! So I decided to write about Shadowdancer, I felt that if I wrote something I was passionate about maybe it would turn out okay. Because I am feeling a little sad and happy at the same time as I think back to my time with her I would like to share that paper with you, so here goes.

My Chessie

     I met my dear friend Robin about twenty years ago at a group home for severely

developmentally disabled adults. We worked the midnight shift together, and every night she

would bring her Chesapeake Bay Retrievers to work. I had never seen a Chessie before or even

heard of them. I soon fell in love with her dog Jessa. She was a seventy five pound deadgrass,

which as you might guess is the color of dead grass. She was always so gentle and loving to the

residents. They would light up when she came to greet them, and she would sit by their

wheelchairs and lay her head in their laps. At meal times the residents could be pretty messy so

Robin would call the cleanup crew and the dogs would come running to clean up every last

crumb of food on the floor. The more I got to know her dogs I knew this was the breed for me.


     In 1993 Robin gave me my first Chessie from Jessas’ last litter for my birthday. She was a

deadgrass just like her mother. I had a difficult time coming up with a name. Nothing seemed to

fit, until one evening I was outside playing with her when I noticed that she had discovered her

shadow. She was jumping around trying to catch it, so she became my Shadowdancer. She was

one big bundle of brown fluff. She loved to go everywhere with me. Nothing ever seemed to

bother her. When she was four months old we traveled out west through many states with Robin

and three other Chessies. They all traveled well with each other. We saw a lot of interesting

wildlife, elk, bear, moose, buffalo, which never seemed to phase any of the dogs. The dogs

especially liked hiking through the mountains with us. When she was six months old I started

showing her in conformation dog shows. That proved to be quite a learning experience for both

of us. I made a lot of mistakes but she always forgave me. She loved to retrieve for me and

would bring anything I threw for her back to me. Her favorite thing to do was swim. That is

when I learned the stubborn deaf ear side of a Chessie. I would stand on shore calling and

bribing but nothing was more enticing than the water to her. Eventually she would come out at

her leisure so I would have to be quick and grab her. I always ended up soaked.


     The years rolled by and when she was eleven I took her in to the vet to have her leg checked.

I never thought it would be anything serious. When the Dr. came back into the room to talk to

me I could tell by her face it was bad news. She showed me the x-ray that revealed bone cancer.

She then informed me that bone cancer is very aggressive and most dogs only have about

fourteen weeks left. So we went home with medication to make her comfortable. I started to

prepare myself for the day I would have to make the decision of euthanasia. I prayed that she

would go in her sleep so I would not have to make that decision, but in the end I held her head in

my lap and said good bye to my best friend as the Dr. gave her the shot that would stop her pain

and her heart. I will forever miss her.

As I read through it again I see how I could have made it much better and some day maybe I will!

This is me and my sweet girl in 2004 a few months before I lost her. She was my best friend and protector, loving me with her whole heart and I tried my very best to return that love to her.

Me & Shadowdancer

Ro-Lyns Jessas Shadowdancer

Eleven years old


22 thoughts on “Sweet, Sweet Memories

  1. So incredibly sad but such wonderful memories. Your Shadowdancer was like my Jasmine (rescued Dalmatian) was to me. We love and adore them all but sometimes, a particular, inexplicable bond forms. It hurts but I wouldn’t change it for anything. We are lucky to have been blessed with these experiences.


  2. What a wonderful, heartfelt remembrance. It must speak to our character when we grow to love a certain breed and return to that breed again and again.


  3. Beautiful writing, always is when you write with your heart. Your beautiful Shadowdancer definitely came from the heart. It also make us remember our heart dog (Tyler) whose greatest joy was making sure we were loved, had fun, were safe and well, and always being by our side.
    Such great memories and yes remembered in our heart 🙂


  4. I don’t think it’s possible to make your essay better. It’s already perfect and heart felt for a heart dog. I know what you mean about each new one touch the heart in a different way, but still there always seems to be one who stands out.

    I don’t mean to take the limelight from your lovely remembrance, but I couldn’t help remembering my first encounter with a Chesapeake. When we moved to the house I live in again now as a much older adult, I was a shy, lonely, young city kid living in a rural/suburban development where all the kids were in tight cliques. Our next door neighbors had a Chessie female called Maggie. I adored her. We became fast friends. She was choosy in who she allowed close. Got along with my father too, who got misty eyed whenever he recalled her years later. Maggie helped draw me out of my shell. There is something special about the breed – standoffish and stubborn at times, but so loving and dear. I enjoy Maggie’s presence time and again through your dogs. Thank you! 😀



  5. Nanina,

    thank you so much for your very kind words!

    You are not taking away anything from my remembrance, I love to hear how people met their first Chessie’s. Your story is so touching and thank you for sharing. You describe a Chessie personality so well, some people call them hard headed but I like to use the same description you did, stubborn 😉 They are choosy, I told all my puppy people that although their new pup would bond to the whole family don’t be surprised if they choose one person to call their own 🙂

    I am so happy that we can bring back such fond memories of your dear Maggie!


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