By Stephanie Waritz
Thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers past and present who work tirelessly to find Chessies in need the perfect home.
Jae holds such a special place in my heart. He came into my life a few months after I said goodbye to Gus, who was my first Chesapeake. I saw Jae’s picture on the Chesapeake Bay Retriever Relief and Rescue website and fell in love with his smile immediately. I was at work at the time and I’ll never forget emailing his picture/info to our office manager, then running down to her office and asking her what she thought. She took one look at his gorgeous smile and said, “oh, you have to get him”. I ran back to my room and started the process of adopting him.
I made arrangements to meet a volunteer for CBRR&R at a random diner in Mill City (sadly that diner is no longer there due to our recent fires). I walked in, introduced myself, and she said, “He’s in my truck, it’s unlocked, go say ‘hi'” and continued to eat her breakfast. I immediately knew it was a test. You don’t just walk up to a stranger’s truck, open the door, and say “hi” to a Chesapeake you don’t know.
I had one chance to do this right and lucky for both of us, he accepted me immediately. He let me open the door, put a leash on him, and take him for a walk. I put him back in the truck, he curled back up on the plaid sheet that was on the seat and grabbed his tennis ball. I went back in to the diner and let Sheri know it went well and I was ready to take him home.
He stared out the back window of my Subaru the whole way home. While I was excited to bring him home, he was leaving everything he had ever known. His first family, which I later learned included three children and all the volunteers who kept him safe. He had been in 3 foster homes in less than 3 weeks.
I found out about the kids in his first family after driving past Bear Creek Elementary school at the same time school let out. Jae went into a frenzy, looking at every child, whining and crying. I emailed CBRR&R about the behavior and they let me know that there were 3 kids in his first family. My heart broke for him. He was searching for his kids. Jae knew how to do 1 thing when I adopted him, play fetch! I’m guessing his kids played that game with him daily. He didn’t know any commands and he wasn’t house trained. He was 14 months old. He was a handful!
For his entire life, every car ride, no matter how far away, he always looked out the window. He wasn’t going to miss a second of what was happening around him. We could drive two hours away to run 15 miles in the mountains and he still wouldn’t lie down for the ride home. He would sing and smile the whole way there and the whole way home! He had a zest for life and adventure.
Jae and I ran countless miles along the Deschutes river and in the mountains all around Central Oregon. His goal on every run, walk, or hike was to find the perfect stick! He always succeeded in his quest!
He was such an amazing trail companion that I decided to bring another Chesapeake home. I wanted another pup to learn from him, to follow his lead. After helping CBRR&R pull Odis out of Three Rivers Humane Society and into the rescue, I learned about Reba. A 4 month old CBR that had been returned to the breeder and was available.
I looked at pictures, watched videos, and could tell from her disposition that Jae would probably like her as she was a lot like Aspen, a dog we watched frequently. I drove to Washington to pick her up from the breeder.
Jae and Reba met at Camp Koop (a colleague’s house who watched Jae whenever I went out of town). For Reba, it was love at first sight too, she ignored the other 3 dogs at Koop’s, and just started following Jae around with cartoon hearts emitting from her eyes.
This continued for every walk, hike, run we went on together for the first couple of years. She watched, she learned, she engaged him in games of tug of war and chase. While it wasn’t exactly love at first sight for Jae, she made it impossible for him not to fall in love with her too.
Eventually, Jae began to look to Reba for guidance and stability and she began to take care of him. She’s the one who would wake me up in the middle of the night if he had an accident. She’s the one who would find every lump and bump on his body. She’s the one who would go wake him up whenever we returned from an adventure.
However it was Jae that lead us on every walk around our neighborhood every morning. Even on his last day with us, he was excited to go for a walk. He sat in the garage and barked at me to “hurry up” as I put my shoes on. In his younger years, that bark was coupled with him running in circles in front of me while chasing his tail, which he never did catch.
Thanks to the volunteers at CBRR&R, Jae had a wonderful life and was able to live just a bit beyond 14 years. A few days after his passing, Reba and I ran to the top of Pilot Butte and I slowly walked around the top looking at the mountains and hidden meadows all around us, I thought about all the amazing adventures we had together.
Miles of smiles with sticks!
Never lose your zest for life and adventures no matter how close or far, short or long, fast or slow.
– Jae’s Motto for Life