Taking a trip down memory lane today!! I thought I would tell you my story about my first Chessie, Ro-lyns Jessas Shadowdancer “Shadowdancer”.
I met my first Chesapeake around 25 years ago, her name was Jessa. She belonged to my soon to be very good friend Robin; we both worked in a group home for the developmentally disabled. I started working the midnight shift and my first night I was met by two big brown dogs. Their names were Jessa and Feather. This wasn’t a problem for me as I have loved dogs my whole life, I get that love of dogs from my dad. I had never seen dogs that looked like these two, Robin introduced us and told me a bit about the breed.
I fell in love with them immediately, especially Jessa. She just had a way about her, laid back but on alert when she needed to be. They were both so very gentle with the residents. They made for a great clean up crew every morning after breakfast too. They waited patiently while the residents were eating but the minute they left the table and Robin gave them the “clean up crew” yell they came running.
Robin had decided she was going to breed Jessa one last time and knew how much I loved her and wanted a Chessie of my own. So on February 17, 1993 my best girl was born. I helped Robin with the whelping so I was the very first person to hold my special girl, what a thrill that was. I watched her and the siblings grow and I had many puppy play days. Sire and Dam ~ NBISS CH**/CanCH*Parklake’s Lordship Sir Oliver X CH Ro-Lyn’s Blustry Jala Jessa
That day started a journey that I will never forget.
So first things first I had to come up with a name, boy that’s harder than you might think. Every name I came up with just didn’t seem to suit her. I was looking for something kind of Native American. So one day we were outside and I was just watching her play and I noticed that she had spotted her shadow. Such a sight, she started dancing around her shadow and pouncing on it. So from that day forward she was called Shadowdancer.
She loved loved loved to swim!! I had never had a dog that swam so the first time and many times after I would stand on the shore holding my breath, I just knew she was going to drown. I learned after about six months or so she not only knew what she was doing but it was in her genes and she was a pro. She had a very deaf ear when being called to come out of the water so we could leave. I could have stood on the bank with a side of beef and she would not come out until she was good and ready.
We went on many trips together. Traveling out west when she was just four months old with Robin and two other Chessies, Jessa and Greta. We went through many states including Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Colorado and we saw many sights together. We hiked around one of the areas where Dances With Wolves was filmed, not sure it really thrilled her but Robin and I were pretty excited! She swam in the Snake River in Wyoming with her mom and Greta. We hiked on many trails and mountain areas. We went to Mackinaw Island and biked around the whole island. Then we continued that journey to the most northern tip of the UP, Copper Harbor.
When she was six months old she started showing in conformation and did pretty well. She really seemed to like strutting her stuff around the ring. I was very new at the whole show thing so Robin showed her in the early days and then I took over once she was an adult. She was a great dog for me to learn how to show with. 1996 being shown by Robin
As she got a bit older I started seeing some of the Chesapeake attitude come out, she could be stubborn and wanted to do things her way. We always managed to work it though. She had one little quirk that I used to kind of get a kick out of. If she really liked you she would give you little love pinches. She would walk up behind you and give you a little pinch right on your butt. She was careful not to hurt you, how she only got that small bit of skin with her front teeth amazed me. I always told people they should feel honored because she only did that to people she liked.
Our bond was like no other dog I had ever owned. I adored her and she me! When she looked at me it was if she was looking deep down to my soul. Her eyes seemed to say it all. She was my constant companion and went everywhere with me. It didn’t matter what we were doing just as long as she was with me. She loved my nieces and nephews.
Then in 2004 she jumped out of my van one day and started limping. I thought she probably just jammed her leg and landed wrong but after a few days it wasn’t any better. I scheduled her to see her vet, I was still thinking it was probably nothing but wanted to get it checked out just in case. So off we went to the vet, she did an x-ray but 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 (osteosarcoma), I never expected the big C to come out of her mouth. She then informed me that bone cancer is very aggressive and most dogs only have about fourteen weeks once diagnosed. If she were a younger dog we could have tried amputation but at eleven years old I did not feel that was something I wanted to put her through. So we went home with medication to make her comfortable. I started to prepare myself for the day I would have to make the dreaded decision of euthanasia. I prayed everyday that she would go in her sleep so I would not have to make that decision. But in the end I held her beautiful head in my lap stroking her face; she laid there calmly as if saying “this is right and I am ready”. On a very warm sunny afternoon in August I said good bye to my very best girl as the Dr. gave her the injection that would stop her pain. I will forever miss her. Even now after all these years I tear up and get a huge lump in my throat just talking about her.
I had eleven and a half wonderful years with her, she was a fabulous companion and my best friend. I could ask for no more!