The Dog Days
This post doesn’t really have anything to do with the Yankees. It’s about something that is even more important to me. As I hope my readers sense, everything I write comes right from my heart. Although not about baseball, this post is just the same.
Aside from the Yankees, one constant in my life has been dogs. There has been a dog in my home for as long as I can remember. My parents bought Jesse, a yellow Labrador Retriever, two weeks after their dog Wade passed away. I was just a little baby. Jesse is a third brother to me. He, I, and my brothers have all grown up together. Since we were too young to remember Wade, Jesse is the only dog we’ve known.
Jesse and five-year-old me.
And on Monday, February 28, Jesse passed away, leaving an emptiness in our hearts and home. He was a few weeks shy of what would have been his 16th birthday.
Naturally, my family and I are devastated. Jesse has been a part of our lives for almost 16 years. He was intertwined into so many aspects of our lives, that we don’t know what to do without him. Jesse’s passing is the first real death that I’ve had to experience. I miss him so much.
Jesse was with us all the time, but one thing he really enjoyed was baseball. During the summer, our family would gather around the television, and stay there together for around three hours, to watch the Yankees. What more could a dog ask for? At dinner, Jesse would bark at a certain point every night - when my Dad’s wine glass had about 1 sip left – and motion for us to go in the living room, as if to say, “Hurry up guys! The game’s about to start!”
Jesse nudged his way onto my homemade Yankees pillow.
Jesse had a lot of toys, and in his younger days he played with them a lot. As we watched the game, Jesse would dig around in his overflowing toybox for something, then approach one of us – either to hold his bone for him as he chewed, or to have us throw the ball for him to catch. But it never failed: every single time there was a tense moment in the game where we couldn’t take our eyes off the screen, Jesse would get up, go get a toy, and stand in front of the screen, showing it off. I can’t tell you how many exciting moments I’ve missed because of this, but it was all worth it.
Jesse relaxing in front of the screen. Notice all his toys scattered around.
As much as I look forward to this coming baseball season, I know as I watch the Yankees, there will be something missing. The Dog Days of Summer just won’t be the same without my Jesse.
This emptiness in our home is killing us. Jesse meant the world to us. The grieving will be hard, but when the time comes, we are definitely getting another dog – maybe even two. No dog can replace Jesse, but a dog (or two) can liven up the household like nothing else.
All I can say is that I enjoyed every minute with him. Jesse was one in a million – such a good boy. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body. I am blessed to have had him in my life for so long and blessed to have had grown up with him. He was perfect.
And isn’t it fitting that the last game he and I watched together on the couch, on Sunday February 27, was a game that the Yankees won.
Jesse, you will always be missed and loved, but you’ll never be forgotten.
And I hope Doggie Heaven has the YES Network.
Jesse James Califano. 4/12/95 – 2/28/11. Love you, buddy <3