Meet Jessie: A Sick Puppy Who Found Her Healthy Forever Home

When the Emery’s adopted Jessie, they didn’t realize the health problems she was bringing with her.

One of Jessie’s defining physical characteristics—perhaps the trait her owners, Rebecca and Mark Emery love most—is how her forehead wrinkles whenever her eyes and ears lift. “We call that her worried face,” chuckles Rebecca, as Jessie paws at a pesky patch of snow on her snout.

Today as Jessie happily pounces through the snow on a frigid Maine day, it’d be hard to convince an unknowing observer that just a short time ago, “worry” was something Rebecca and Mark knew all too well in regard to Jessie.

The eight-month-old Anatolian Shepherd mix’s first months were spent in several foster homes and marked by critical health problems. A fun day in the snow, free of concern, would have been hard to imagine.

Jessie's "worried puppy face" at 6 months

Jessie’s “worried puppy face” at 6 months

Searching For a New Family Member

Rebecca and Mark had spent the last year and a half mourning their dog, Sadie, who lived to be 18. This past summer was the first time either of them had even considered getting another furry family member.

“Mark was still on the fence because of Sadie, who had been such a big part of our lives—it’s not easy,” Rebecca says, “there’s a little bit of you that feels like you can’t [get another pet]—you feel guilty.”

One night this past July, Rebecca and Mark sat on the couch together, each with their own laptop, scrolling through dozens of photos of dogs available for adoption. In the online search, Rebecca landed on one photo of an adorable shepherd mix puppy and turned her computer screen to show Mark.

“Mark says to me ‘you’ve got to be kidding’,” recalls Rebecca. Mark had the same photo of the same 4-month-old puppy on his screen. They had found their new family member.

Baby Jessie as a young puppy

Baby Jessie as a young puppy

Bringing Jessie Home

Rebecca and Mark contacted Jessie’s rescue called The Pixel Fund, and discovered that Jessie, along with five siblings and their mother, were saved just one hour before they were scheduled to be euthanized. They had since been transferred through a series of foster homes and had finally landed in Orrington, Maine—a short 28-minute drive for Rebecca and Mark.

About a month after first seeing Jessie on the adoption site, the Emerys drove to Orrington to give the puppy her loving and permanent home.

A Sick Puppy

“But she was so incredibly ill when we got her,” Rebecca remembers, “we didn’t realize that [at first] because she was all over the place—she was playing and all of that—and it wasn’t until she was in the car coming home that we realized something was wrong.”

Jessie’s digestive system was in crisis and the Emerys knew because “she had the worst release of gas” Rebecca had ever experienced in her life.

“We both said ‘Oh my God! Something is wrong!’,” says Rebecca, but it was the next morning, in the daylight, when the scope of Jessie’s health problems really set in. “I looked at her belly and it was just blood red. It reminded me of what shingles looks like when people get it.”

Jessie’s hair was falling out in chunks and she wasn’t eating to boot. Rebecca took her to the vet right away for tests. The results came back as red mange, the non-contagious form of the bacterial infection that is not harmful to humans. Jessie was given antibiotics, but she still wasn’t keeping down any food. “Everything went right through her,” Rebecca says, “she couldn’t hold anything down.”

Finding a Healthy Puppy Food

That’s when Rebecca called her sister, also a dog owner, and asked what she fed her pets. “She told me to check out The Honest Kitchen, so I went online and read all the blogs, looked at all the pictures and learned about the company. And that’s when I called them,” Rebecca says.

A customer service representative at The Honest Kitchen answered and talked through Jessie’s health issues with Rebecca, and sent puppy food samples right away. “There wasn’t one thing in that sample pack that Jessie didn’t like—she ate everything,” Rebecca recalls, “they sent Embark, Love, and Thrive.”

Rebecca mixes up a batch of Jessie's favorite Honest Kitchen recipe, Embark.

Rebecca mixes up a batch of Jessie’s favorite Honest Kitchen recipe, Embark.

Rebecca says that she liked that The Honest Kitchen food is human-grade and that the company knew all of their suppliers. “I liked the company itself! The dogs go to work with them, they are right there with their people,” she says. Rebecca also noted that The Honest Kitchen contributes to shelters. “It’s kind of like that thing,” Rebecca says, “practice what you preach? I really believe they do.”

Jessie’s digestive issues virtually disappeared once she was introduced to The Honest Kitchen products. In fact, by the second day, she was having normal bowel movements.

The Emerys spent several hundred dollars due to Jessie’s illnesses, in addition to routine shots. They firmly believe that over Jessie’s lifetime the benefits of The Honest Kitchen diet will be significant. Rebecca and Mark believe that good food and good medical care go hand in hand.

The Emery's and Jessie enjoy playing in the snow.

The Emery’s and Jessie enjoy playing in the snow.

In Good Health & Bad

Today, Rebecca, Mark and eight-month-old Jessie warm up in their living room after playing in the backyard.  “I was missing a dog,” Mark says as Jessie lounges in his lap, “and now that I have Jessie I wouldn’t trade her for anything. She has brought so much joy.”

“We laugh every day, truly,” Rebecca says, “we didn’t realize how much we missed having another family member until we got Jessie. She cracks us up.”

The Emery’s now enjoy the relief that comes with knowing Jessie is healthy and will lead an active, normal life. “Once you make a decision to adopt, that’s it, that’s your family,” Rebecca says, “they’re yours for their life span.”

“We laugh every day, truly,” Rebecca says, "She cracks us up."

“We laugh every day, truly,” Rebecca says, “She cracks us up.”

Want to discover more True Stories and how diet has played a positive role in the health of over 1,400 pets? Click here

Meet the Author: Claire Jeffers

Claire Jeffers is a freelance writer living in Portland, Maine.

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