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.
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.
Ro-Lyns Jessas Shadowdancer
Eleven years old